The Baklava Throwdown at the 2009 Epcot Food and Wine Festival

A kind soul brought it to my attention that there are two versions of Baklava duking it out to “reign supreme” at the 2009 Epcot Food and Wine Festival. You can fine one at the Athens booth; the other is at the Marrakesh booth.

Epcot Food and Wine Festival Athens

Marrakesh Booth

Marrakesh Booth

Now, for those who haven’t tried Baklava, it’s defined by Wikipedia as “a rich, sweet pastry featured in many cuisines in the area once controlled by the former Ottoman Empire, in Central Asia and in the lands in between. It is a pastry made of layers of phyllo dough filled with chopped nuts and sweetened with syrup or honey.” It’s not usually my favorite dessert, but I’ve come to enjoy the phyllo and sweet, nutty filling. I’ll take you through my thoughts as I tried both Baklava contenders, and you can let me know what YOU think.

I began with the Athens version of the dish. I was impressed by its looks. With honey oozing from the bottom layers and light-as-air phyllo perched on top; I couldn’t wait to take a bite. To its credit, the dessert was delicious. I had a difficult time cutting through the layers with my fork, but when I finally did get a chunk cut off, I was delighted by the taste. The Baklava layers melted on my tongue and I wanted to keep eating and eating (despite my promise to myself that I would just taste this year at the F&W Festival, not devour!). I wasn’t sure that Marrakesh had a chance… .

Athens Baklava

Athens Baklava

So around the Showcase I went, until I came to the Marrakesh booth. Now, Marrakesh serves its baklava in a pretty little pastry cup. (Advantage: Marrakesh.) I settled at a table outside Tangierine Cafe to sample, and found that the baklava was just as hard to cut through as it had been in Athens. Finally getting a bite into my mouth, I realized that the baklava tasted shockingly similar to Athens’ version as well. Hmm. I looked at the pastry. Almost identical. Maybe a few more nuts…one or two more layers…? I started to feel ashamed. Can I really not tell the difference between these two dishes? And I soon had to come to terms with my failure to determine a winner.

Marrakesh Baklava

Marrakesh Baklava

The moral of this story, folks, is that I’m no baklava gourmand, and I must admit that if you told me that both versions came out of the Boardwalk Bakery that morning and had simply been shipped to their respective booths, I would probably believe you. The differences, if there were any, were imperceptible to this palate.

Throwdown: TIE!

Now, if you’d like to add your thoughts to the baklava throwdown (hopefully yours will be more insightful than mine!), let me know via twitter, facebook, or email. Thanks!

2009 Epcot Food and Wine Festival: Taste of Puglia Seminars

he 2009 Epcot Food and Wine Festival features a wonderful, free-with-cost-of-admission seminar series called Taste of Puglia. Chefs from this region of Italy (Puglia — the heel of the Italian “boot”) visit the World Showcase outdoor kitchen several times daily to demonstrate cooking techniques and ingredients that make this region of Italy so famous. To see detailed recipes, click here.

Seminar Times for Taste of Puglia

Seminar Times for Taste of Puglia

Kitchen Set Up for Taste of Puglia

Kitchen Set Up for Taste of Puglia

On the day I visited, the chef was demonstrating her pasta-making technique. What I found very “authentic,” though some might find it distracting, was that the chef described the techniques in Italian, which was translated to the audience by an interpreter.

Chef Explains Flour Textures

Chef Explains Flour Textures

The Mirror Mounted Above the Cooking Surface Shows Detail

The Mirror Mounted Above the Cooking Surface Shows Detail

Close-Up View of the Dough

Close-Up View of the Dough

On the day I was there, and every time I’ve walked past the outdoor kitchen since, the seminars have been packed. It’s first-come-first-served, so consider arriving a bit early to ensure a seat.

Here’s a fantastic view of the finished product!

Finished Product

Finished Product

For more information and photos of the 2009 Epcot International Food and Wine Festival, visit our Epcot Food and Wine Festival Index Page.

Look Who’s Celebrating the Epcot Food and Wine Festival!

One of my favorite things to do during Epcot festivals is head over to the Germany Train Village and see what the people there are celebrating.

Germany Train Village

Right now, of course, they’ve got their Food and Wine Festival banners up, just like we do! You can see tiny Epcot Food and Wine Festival banners on the street lamp and the church…

Celebrating the Food and Wine Festival on the Street Lamps

Celebrating the Food and Wine Festival on the Street Lamps

And even on the farm!

A Banner Marks the Crops for the Festival

A Banner Marks the Crops for the Festival

Stay tuned for more 2009 Epcot Food and Wine Festival posts, including reviews of demonstrations, seminars, and events at this year’s Festival. In the meantime, check out our 2009 Epcot International Food and Wine Festival Index Page for links to all the latest information, photos, and posts.

Food Post Weekly Round-Up: September 19, 2009

Eat hereLOADS of food posts this week! Everyone must be as excited as I am about the Food and Wine Festival starting on Friday and writing subconcious food posts as a result!

Before we begin, the big Disney Food news this week includes the grand opening of Kouzzina, the Wishes Dessert Party extension through January 2, 2010, and the D23 Expo reveal of upcoming Magic Kingdom Fantasyland restaurants! Be sure to check out these stories if you haven’t already.

And now, here we go!

The LA Times reports a new food stop in Disneyland that will open September 25th, and serve turkey legs, chimichangas, and corn on the cob.

The Orlando Sentinel shares a fantastic grand opening Kouzzina photo gallery and restaurant review.

The Orange County Register reports the resignation of Michael Jordan, Master Sommelier and General Manager of Disneyland’s Napa Rose.

The Touring Plans Blog asks “Does Free Dining Always Save You Money?” and comes up with some intriguing results.

Disney Food Blog facebook fan Scott Dickison posted a photo and some info about the new shrimp platter dish at Columbia Harbor House in Disney World’s Magic Kingdom. The meal is $9.69, and comes with fries and coleslaw.

The WED Page remembers The Empress Lily Riverboat character meal, complete with great photos!

Main Street Gazette posts about one of my favorite meals in Disney World: Casey’s Corner hot dogs.

Save Pleasure Island speculates about some possible restaurants rumored to be headed for Downtown Disney.

My Disney Mania has a report from Club 33, direct from guest reporter Donald Duck!

Disney Every Day reminds us about Cast Member Day at the Food and Wine Festival — cast member or not, you can sample some of the Festival offerings a day in advance!

Thanks for the great food writing, everyone!

Recipe: Mango Mousse from Epcot Food and Wine Festival

Since the 2009 Epcot Food and Wine Festival is less than 30 days away, I thought it’d be fun to look at a recipe from last year’s festival!

mango-mousse

This Mango Mousse is from the India kiosk on the World Showcase promenade! It’s not on this year’s Food and Wine Festival Menu, but it still looks pretty tasty to me! Especially for these last few days of summer… :-)

Mango Mousse, India, 2008 Epcot Food and Wine Festival
Ingredients:
1 ½ cups heavy cream
1 cup vanilla pudding
1 cup mango puree
¼ cup powdered sugar, sifted
1 tablespoon lemon juice

Method of Preparation:
1. Peel mangos and puree them.
2. In another bowl, whip up heavy cream until firm.
3. Add vanilla pudding, puree, sifted powdered sugar and lemon juice. Mix with spatula.
4. Pour into cups.
5. Garnish with a little mango puree.
6. Chill.

I’d like to do a few more of these Food and Wine Festival recipes before this year’s event begins. If you have photos or recipes of Festival food that you’re willing to share, drop me a line via facebook, twitter, or email. Thanks!

Photo Credit: Dragonfiregrill
Recipe Credit: AllEars

Interview: Celebrity Chef Kevin Dundon of Raglan Road

Chef Kevin Dundon

Chef Kevin Dundon

Huge thanks to Chef Kevin Dundon, TV celebrity chef, restaurateur, and Master Chef of Downtown Disney’s Raglan Road, for taking the time to answer a few questions from the DisneyFoodBlog (especially the one about his 2009 Epcot Food and Wine Festival appearance this October)!

Be sure to stick around post-interview for an information collage about Chef Dundon’s varied career (he’s a young guy, but he’s had some serious culinary adventures!) along with some fantastic recipes from Raglan Road and his award-winning hotel and restaurant, Dunbrody House.

DisneyFoodBlog: What was your culinary vision for Raglan Road (as an authentic Irish pub); has it changed over the 4 years of the restaurant’s existence?
Chef Dundon: I love Raglan Road, because I take Irish dishes and give them a face lift. I can be very creative there; the menu is always changing, which keeps us up-to-date with fresh and interesting new products and procedures.

Raglan Road

Raglan Road

DFB: What factors did you take into consideration when creating a menu for a theme park audience? How did this menu construction differ from those you’ve created for other restaurants and projects?
CD: I had to bear in mind that we would be catering for much larger numbers in Raglan Road. And also we, because of our location, get a large number of families. (Because of this, we have been voted in the top 50 in Open Table Family Dining.) Creating a meal experience for the entire family is our main goal, and the emphasis of our food is on fresh, additive-free food.

DFB: What do YOU order when you go to Raglan Road?
CD: I love the gourmet shepard’s pie; or I sometimes think you just can’t beat the fish and chips. Because everything is so good, it is very hard to select a favorite.

Wildforest Mushroom Chowder

Wildforest Mushroom Chowder

DFB: Raglan Road, Orlando, was your second US restaurant. Since then, you’ve launched a third (with more on the way?). What do you enjoy about working and spending time in the US culinary arena?
CD: Yes — we are hoping to open a new restaurant within the next year! I love spreading the word on great food that originates from Ireland and Dunbrody House. I like to educate people of the great fun and sense of enjoyment that can be achieved through food.

DFB: You’ll be the host chef AND celebrity chef for the Culinary Adventure in Signature Dining at Raglan Road at the 2009 Epcot Food and Wine Festival this Fall. Any chance you could share a couple of the dishes the audience will get to taste at that event?
CD: Well, a lot of this is still under wraps at the minute, but I will give you a sneak preview by saying that we will be doing pan-seared Boston scallops and a suckling pig…can’t wait!

Battered Sausages with Mustard Mayonnaise

Battered Sausages with Mustard Mayonnaise

DFB: Is there a particular person or a memory that inspired your path in the “food business?”
CD: Yes. A chef called Dario Oterello. He was a Spanish chef, and he really gave me insight into flavoring food appropriately whilst letting the individual flavors stand for themselves.

DFB: Do you think your interest in architecture affects your recipe development and cooking?
CD: Yes; food is all about design, creativity, and putting the right “blocks” together.

DFB: Does your family like to spend time together in the kitchen?
CD: We would cook everyday together! I love to get my kids involved in cooking; it gives a very keen interest in food, which is my passion.

Dunbrody Kiss

Dunbrody Kiss

DFB: What’s next up in the queue for you? Any projects coming up that you’re particularly excited about?
CD: Yes, I’m always busy! At the moment, I’m finishing the final stages of preparation on the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival plans. I’m also starting work on my next (third) cookery book to follow on from “Great Family Food.” I’m also looking forward to beginning my own television show.

Chef Dundon’s Accomplishments Reel
Celebrity Chef Kevin Dundon has cooked for many well-known celebrities during his career, including Her Majesty, the Queen; President Bush; and Bono. He has spent time in kitchens all over the world, from Switzerland, to Canada, to the US, and back to Ireland, where he served as the Executive Head Chef of the Shelbourne Hotel in Dublin, widely recognized as one of the most prestigious Chef appointments in the country.

Dunbrody House

Dunbrody House

Today, Chef Dundon is the Chef/Proprietor of Dunbrody Country House Hotel & Restaurant, located in South East Ireland and established in 1997 by Chef Dundon and his wife Catherine. Considered one of Ireland’s Premier Hotels & Restaurants, it has earned many awards, including Andrew Harper’s Grand Award for best Hideaway in the World, Restaurant of the Year, and several Michelin Guide awards.

In addition to his work with Dunbrody House and other projects globally, Chef Dundon continues to film television appearances and documentaries for national and international networks (including The Food Network, ESPN, the Travel Channel, and NBC), write for several culinary magazines and newspaper columns, produce cookbooks (including Full On Irish: Creative Contemporary Cooking, and Great Family Food), and serve as Signature/Master Chef for two other US restaurants in addition to Disney World’s Raglan Road, The Nine Fine Irishmen in Las Vegas, and Raglan Road’s sister restaurant in Kansas City.

Dunbrody Cookery School

Dunbrody Cookery School

When he’s NOT working, Chef Dundon spends time with Catherine and their three kids. The family just put the finishing touches on a brand new home in Ireland (which Chef Dundon’s love of architecture and design keenly inspired).

For more information on how YOU can take master cooking classes with Chef Kevin Dundon, check out the Dunbrody Cookery School.

Also, don’t forget to book NOW (407-WDW-FEST) to attend Chef Dundon’s signature dining experience at the 2009 Epcot Food and Wine Festival: October 13, 2009, 6:15 p.m., Raglan Road at Downtown Disney. Cost: $115

You can follow Chef Dundon on twitter at @ChefDundon.

Just to finish up, here are a few of Chef Dundon’s original recipes from Dunbrody House and Raglan Road! (You can see photos of these scattered throughout the post.)

Duncanon Seafood Chowder

Wild Mushroom Chowder (Eatin’ and Drinkin’)


Beer Battered Cocktail Sausages with Mustard Mayonnaise (Dalkey Duo)

Loin of Ham/Bacon with an Irish Mist Glaze (Kevin’s Heavenly Ham)

Dunbrody Kiss

Bread and Butter Pudding (Ger’s Bread and Butter Pudding)

Tables in Wonderland/DVC/Annual Passholder: 2009 Epcot Food and Wine Festival Discounts

dining
Epcot® International Food & Wine Festival offers Tables in Wonderland, Disney Vacation Club, and Annual Passholder Member discounts:
Members have a special opportunity to purchase discounted advance tickets to the culinary demonstrations and wine/beverage seminars at the Epcot® International Food & Wine Festival, taking place September 25 – November 8, 2009.

Beginning Wednesday, August 26, a limited number of discounted tickets will be available for Members to purchase online in advance of the general public. The discounted rate is $5 a person (regularly $8 a person) while they last. (Events are expected to sell out.) Please note that the discount won’t be available at the event, so advance purchase is required to get the discounted rate. Discounted tickets, if available, may be purchased until 24 hours before the start of any individual session.

The culinary demonstrations and wine/beverage seminars, which last about 45 minutes, let participants learn from featured chefs and wine presenters, pick up a few tips and taste the featured items. Everyone must have a ticket to attend, and attendees must be 21 years of age or older to consume alcoholic beverages.

To register for the culinary demonstrations and wine/beverage seminars at the discounted rate, visit http://www.register123.com/profile/web/index.cfm?PKwebID=0x173908616f

Thanks to Pinvestigator Cody at the Global Disney Pinvestigation Blog for this info (DisneyFoodBlog has to renew its Tables in Wonderland, apparently!).

Food Post Weekly Round-Up: August 23rd

Animal Kingdom eat hereBefore we get started with the round-up, I wanted to remind everyone that Chef Cat Cora’s signature restaurant, Kouzzina, “soft” opened this week at Disney World’s Boardwalk Resort! The restaurant, replacing Spoodles, serves breakfast and dinner dishes reminiscent of Cora’s Greek heritage. Check out all of our Kouzzina coverage, including menus and food photos!

The round-up this week includes some great Disney World Food stories, including some serious cheescake-making, mini-donut eating, dairy-loving deliciousness! Here we go!

Main Street Gazette sheds light on dining at the Boulangerie Patisserie in Epcot’s France: MSG does it again! They have captured a little piece of Disney World that I’ve never experienced…and desperately hope to! Please, click on the link. You will see muenster cheese like you’ve never seen muenster cheese before. It’s breathtaking.

Mousesteps captures preparations for the Food and Wine Festival: Some fantastic photos of prep work for the Festival, including landscaping and building! So excited!

A newer blog, Disney Every Day, composed a video dedicated to Typhoon Lagoon’s Mini-Donuts: I have never seen these at Typhoon Lagoon, but you can bet on where I’m heading next time I go!

A disney-loving blogger couple, Techy Dad and The Angel Forever, try their hand at the Pop Century Resort Tie-Dye Cheesecake Recipe: That link is to their second try (I really love the step by step photos!). Click over from Techy Dad to see The Angel Forever’s blog post about their first shot at the recipe, too!

Finally, ever wonder what it looks like when someone tries Beverly at Epcot’s Club Cool for the first time?: Thanks to @teruterubouzu for this link!

Thanks for all the great, and really interesting!, round-up articles this week! By the way, Disney fans — if you come across any Disney food posts in your readings online, let me know so that I can get them into the round-up! You can contact me via email, facebook, or twitter!

For more of the latest on Disney foodstuffs, check out our Disney Food News!

Disney Food Post Weekly Round-Up: Part II

Animal Kingdom eat here
Here’s the second in this week’s Round-Up series! Thanks to everyone out there covering such great Disney Food topics!

Main Street Gazette bids farewell to Spoodles: Main Street Gazette designer Eric Hoffman provides a tribute to Spoodles and memories of his family’s most recent meal there.

Scott Joseph discusses Party for the Senses changes and Paradiso 37: Legendary food critic Scott Joseph gives his view on this year’s Epcot Food and Wine Festival Party for the Senses updates as well as his review of Paradiso 37.

The Orange County Register analyzes Big Thunder Ranch Barbecue menu changes in Disneyland: Scroll down through the article to catch the info about the barbecue. It follows some other interesting info about Disneyland’s recent changes and construction.

SoloFriendly recaps her trip to Tangierine Cafe: SoloFriendly reviews the very popular counter service restaurant in World Showcase’s Morocco pavilion — and explains why the name has that weird spelling!

StitchKingdom shares the new Cap’n Jack’s All-Day Menu: WDW’s Downtown Disney has added Cap’n Jack’s to its list of all-day eateries.