Disney Food Post Weekly Round-Up: October 11, 2009

Hi all! The top story in Disney dining this week is that Disney World is trying out a new seating system at four Magic Kingdom counter-service restaurants.

Disney has been restricting seating to groups who have already received their food, hoping to cut down on the amount of people “saving tables” while the rest of their group is still ordering food. It remains to be seen what the outcome will be. In the meantime, Robert Niles at Theme Park Insider has discussed the issue in his blog post: Pecos Bill and the Prisoner’s Dilemma.

But while that debate rages on, there’s still plenty of other great Disney food writing going on. The Epcot International Food and Wine Festival continues, brand new hotels have opened (which means brand new eating establishments!), there’s a new food spot for the Alaska cruises, and more! Here we go!

Epcot Food and Wine Festival News
Attractions Magazine takes a look at Epcot’s Party for the Senses, including photos and a video! Haven’t had enough? Laughing Place adds their Party for the Senses photos as well! This is one event I would LOVE to attend someday.

Etckt stopped by the Food and Wine Festival to sample some dishes from the International Marketplaces. He’s an incredible photographer, so be sure to check this one out!

And the Disney Parks Blog posted some great videos and recipes from celebrity chef team The Deen Brothers and Food Network’s Dinner Impossible Chef Robert Irvine. The blog also posted their highlights from the Wine chat with Gary Vaynerchuk.

Other Disney Dining News and Web Posts
Orlando Sentinel’s The Dish columnist Heather Mcpherson reports on honors received by Central Florida’s authentic Mexican restaurants, including two in Disney World!

Disney and More reports and comments on an expansion at the Last Chance Cafe in Disneyland Paris’ Frontierland.

Mouseplanet contributor Chris Barry discusses his Top Five Dining Moments in Disney World.

Main Street Gazette highlights some great themeing by Magic Kingdom imagineers via the Popcorn Kiosks in the park.

Scott Joseph Orlando gives us a first look at the Waldorf Astoria Orlando bars and restaurants.

Stuff From the Park shares a Golden Horseshoe menu circa the late 1970’s — back when there were waiters here! Hmm… that’s the first time I’ve seen Pepsi listed on a Disney Park menu…

Stitch Kingdom shares some photos of the construction of the Outlook Cafe on the Disney Wonder. The Cafe is being built in preparation for the upcoming Alaska cruises.

Thanks for all the great dining news and updates this week, all! We’re grateful for all the great writing you do!

2009 Epcot International Food and Wine Festival: Marrakesh, Morocco, Food and Wine Pairing

Here’s one I was really looking forward to — the Marrakesh Food and Wine pairing! This was the most expensive event we signed up for, at around ~$60 per person.

Marrakesh Sign

Marrakesh Tables and Pink? Lighting

Marrakesh Tables and Pink? Lighting

There were about 30 people there for the event, and we were seated in an upper corner of the restaurant at about four large tables. Each place setting had a wine-tasting placemat printed with the names of the three wines we would be trying: Les Trois Domaines, Guerrouane Rouge, from Meknes, Morocco; Now & Zen, Alsace White, Alsace, France; and Chateau Trois Moulins, Haut-Medoc, Bordeaux, France.

Trio of Wines for Tasting

Trio of Wines for Tasting

Once we were all seated, the event began with the Marrakesh chef introducing us to the restaurant, which was fully decorated with top-to-bottom mosaic art by the Moroccan King’s own artisans (as was the Morocco pavilion itself). It’s truly a stunning location for a meal.

The chef has been at the restaurant since its opening, and touched on a few of the differences between the American and Morrocan cultures and foods. He then announced the wine expert and presenter for the afternoon, who proceeded to lead us through the tasting.

Marrakesh Food and Wine Pairing Cast Members and Moderators

Marrakesh Food and Wine Pairing Cast Members and Moderators

Most of the afternoon was about the wines — their origins, geography, and taste profiles. The food, mostly in tapas-sized portions, was largely not discussed. I wasn’t expecting this, and really was quite disappointed that we weren’t talking about the food flavors, preparations, and choices very much. So although I was very interested in hearing about the wine choices, this was a “con” of the afternoon for me.

The Wines
Our first wine, Guerrouane Rouge les Trois Domaines, paired with a delicious, spicy lamb sausage, was from the Guerrouane growing region of Morocco and resembles a Rhone style blend. The primary grapes in this blend are Cinsault, Grenache, and Carignan.

And this wine carries with it a fascinating fact: while the first two grapes are fermented traditionally, the Carignan grapes are fermented through something called “carbonic maceration” fermentation. If you’re a wine gourmet, you’ll probably know what that means, but I was utterly impressed! Carbonic maceration means that fermentation takes place within the grape, and actually makes the grape explode! The result is a light, fruity wine, and the process can increase the alcohol level of the grape’s fermented juice.

This wine’s fruity aromas paired well with the spicy sausage; it was probably my favorite pairing of the day.

Lamb Sausage with Lamb Stock and Tomato Sauce

Lamb Sausage with Lamb Stock and Tomato Sauce

Our second wine, the Alsatian Now & Zen, is made from a blend of Sylvaner, Pinot Blanc, Riesling, and Gewurztraminer grapes, and hails from the long-contested segment of sometimes-France sometimes-Germany, Alsace, located between the Vosges mountains and the Rhine River. The cool climate of this area means the grapes ripen slowly, and, according to our wine moderator, this gave the the wine a wider array of aromas, including citrus and spice (coriander, nutmeg, cumin).

This was the only white that we tried (therefore, it was my favorite wine of the afternoon — I’m a white wine fan), and it was paired with Marrakesh’s delicious lemon chicken and couscous. The dryness of the wine paired nicely with the sweet and tangy lemon flavors of the dish. Overall, this was a more mellow pairing than the first.

Lemon Chicken and Couscous

Lemon Chicken and Couscous

Our final wine, Chateau Trois Moulins of the Haut-Medoc appellation of Bordeaux, is a Cru Bourgeois wine, which essentially means that it’s not classed as highly as some “bigger name” wines, but it is very highly regarded nonetheless. (This is the case for most Haut-Medoc wines, as I understand.) Made mostly from Merlot grapes, with some Cabernet and Petit Verdot as well, this wine has a deep color and flavor, with aromas of dark red fruits and deep tastes, like cassis, blackberry, cigar, and chocolate.

This wine was paired with the darkest meat we were served — a beef shish kabob, which included roasted mushroom. I think the pairing would have gone much more smoothly had the meat not been so badly overdone. The wine alone, though heavy, was tasty.

Shish Kabob with Mushroom

Shish Kabob with Mushroom

Tips on Wine Pairings
We were able to ask questions throughout the pairing, and we received a couple of great “pointers” for pairing food and wine:

  • Make decisions based on body and weight, not on colors, necessarily. Full-bodied and heavy foods and sauces pair well with full-bodied and heavy wines. Wines that feel lighter in your mouth will pair better with lighter foods/proteins. Wines that have deeper, heavier flavors will pair better with heavier foods/proteins.
  • Wines that are higher in acidity will turn up the flavors of other foods. For example, Chianti can be used, essentially, as a condiment to peak the flavors of the foods with which it’s paired.

Hopefully those are helpful to some of you. As I’m a wine novice, I found it extremely useful!

But Was it Worth the Money?
Now, a lot of folks have asked me if the more expensive events at the Food and Wine Festival are “worth it,” and while I can’t speak for every event, I’m not sure I’d do the Marrakesh food and wine pairing again. The food was consistently overdone, the portions were small for the price, and I didn’t find that it was a good representation of the dining opportunities available at the restaurant. Unless you’re a true wine-lover, consider spending the money to have a meal in the restaurant instead.

That’s just my two cents though, folks! I look forward to hearing about your positive AND negative experiences at Food and Wine Festival events.

Disney Food Post Weekly Round-Up: October 4th, 2009

Eat here
I hope you’re staying up to date on the goings-on at the 2009 Epcot International Food and Wine Festival on our index page! This week, we looked at the newest booths — Rio and Bangkok, the Taste of Puglia Seminars, and the Pruem Wine-Tasting Seminar.

But while I’ve been covering the Festival, there have been some other great food posts from around the globe. Check out these great sites and their “tasty” posts!

The Daily Mickey takes a look at Quick Service Restaurants in the Magic Kingdom.

Orange County Register reports that a new bar is opening in Anaheim’s Downtown Disney. Stop by for a Margarita!

The Disney Chick has compiled her list of tested Disney recipes, including Princess Cake from Akershus and Dulce de Leche.

All Ears’ Jack Spence reviews Epcot’s Bistro de Paris and includes some wonderful photographs!

DF ’82 discusses Au Chalet de la Marionette in Disneyland Parc, Paris.

The Daily Loaf gives some basics on the Epcot Food and Wine Festival.

The W.E.D. Page steps back in time to review the Diamond Horseshoe Revue.

Main Street Gazette analyzes the lives and times of the Dinoland USA students based on their treatment of Restaurantosaurus.

Finally, join Lou Mongello as he interviews Gary Vaynerchuk from WineLibrary.tv at Epcot’s World Showcase.

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.

2009 Epcot Food and Wine Festival: Festival Center

Whew! Back from another wonderful day at the Food and Wine Festival. I’ve got some great photos of the Festival Center for you! (For those who were asking, the Festival poster is $25.)

2009 Epcot International Food and Wine Festival Center

Festival Center in the Wonders of Life Pavilion

Festival Center in the Wonders of Life Pavilion

Epcot Food and Wine Festival Center Map

Epcot Food and Wine Festival Center Map

You can check in with the Information Booth to make sure you know where you’re going and when seminars take place.

Information Booth

Information Booth

Wonders Theater (called “Authentic Tastes”) is where several of the seminars, such as Authors Without Borders, take place.

Wonders Theater

Wonders Theater

Visit the Wonders Bar for some samples (not free…)

Wonders Bar

Wonders Bar

Wonders Bar Menu

Wonders Bar Menu

You can experience Seasons of the Vine, a film describing the lifecycle of a vintage in California. This runs continuously every 10 minutes.

Seasons of the Vine Film

Seasons of the Vine Film

Film Description

Film Description

Head over to Tasteful Chapters for an array (a BIG array) of cookery books. This is where you can grab some of the books by authors being featured in the Authors Without Borders seminar series (and don’t forget to have them signed!) There’s also a little cafe with pastries and coffee.

Tasteful Chapters

Tasteful Chapters

The Chef’s Showcase is the section of the Center where Food and Wine demonstrations are done. Don’t forget that Food and Wine Pairings — the ones that were REALLY pricey — are done in actual restaurants.

Chef's Showcase

Chef's Showcase

The Vineyard is the presentation area where wine tastings take place. I don’t have a great photo of it here, but the entrance is the area directly in the middle of this photo — under the series of archways.

The Vineyard

The Vineyard

Finally, we come to The Cellar, which is where you can purchase wines mentioned throughout the Festival. There are also designated times for bottle signings (usually immediately after a wine presentation has been concluded).

The Cellar

The Cellar

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

Food Post Weekly Round-Up: September 27th, 2009

Eat here
So much has happened this week! To start (and in case you missed them), check out my Kouzzina dinner review and photos post.

Then head over to the Epcot Food and Wine Festival Page to see:

Once you’re up to date on Food and Wine, check out these other fantastic posts from this week (and a couple that were carried over from last week):

Everything WDW reviews Hoop Dee Doo Revue at Fort Wilderness

Scott Joseph Orlando breaks the news that Disney World is no longer serving all-beef hot dogs

BelleLovesTheBeast on SRSounds reviews Ralph Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen in Disneyland

etckt has created an Epcot Food and Wine Festival iphone application to help you make choices as you wind around the World Showcase

Orlando Sentinel’s The Dish posts a video of Cat Cora cooking in her new Boardwalk kitchen

Palm Beach Post Pulse takes a look at how Disney World has risen to Dining Destination status

OC Register posts a video of Disney employees learning in the Disney Culinary Academy

Samland has a photo pictoral and essay about the Napa Rose Patio at Disneyland’s Grand Californian

First Look!: 2009 Epcot International Food and Wine Festival

Epcot Food and Wine Festival Entrance

Just returned from my first stroll around the 2009 Epcot International Food and Wine Festival! Tarps were being rolled up on the booths, food was being prepared, and merchandise was out en force. It’s shaping up to be a wonderful Festival.

In the meantime, I’ll keep adding links to my main Food and Wine Festival page; you can always look there for the latest.

Today, I’m going to share with you some of the preparations that are happening and a couple food pics that I was lucky enough to snag. Here we go!

Foodie City Banners Line the Walkways

Foodie City Banners Line the Walkways

Food and Wine figures direct you to the Festival Center — the Wonders of Life pavilion:

Pointing to the Festival Center at the Wonders of Life Pavilion

Pointing to the Festival Center at the Wonders of Life Pavilion

Don’t forget to grab your Food and Wine Festival wrist gift card!

Wrist Gift Card

Wrist Gift Card

Champagne and desserts booth looked fantastic!

Champagne and Desserts was ready to go

Champagne and Desserts was ready to go

Yum!

Yum!

Headed over to Cork, Ireland, for a taste of some yummy cheese and apple chutney!

Cork, Ireland Booth

Cork, Ireland Booth

Kerrygold® Cheese Selection: Aged-Irish Cheddar, Dubliner and Ivernia Cheese with Apple Chutney and Brown Bread

Kerrygold® Cheese Selection: Aged-Irish Cheddar, Dubliner and Ivernia Cheese with Apple Chutney and Brown Bread

The Marrakesh, Morocco, booth was displaying some wonderful options!

Marrakesh, Morocco

Marrakesh, Morocco

Marrakesh, Morocco dishes

Marrakesh, Morocco dishes

Books Being Sold at Morocco Booth

Books Being Sold at Morocco Booth

Cape Town smelled AMAZING as I wandered by — they were putting together the seared beef tenderloin with sweet potato puree and mango BBQ sauce!

Cape Town was rustling up some great-smelling grub

Cape Town was rustling up some great-smelling grub

Sweet Potato Puree for the Seared Beef Tenderloin

Sweet Potato Puree for the Seared Beef Tenderloin

Seared Beef Tenderloin

Seared Beef Tenderloin

I even got a chance to sample an avocado margarita while I was checking out La Cava del Tequila!

Thanks, Rafael!

Thanks, Rafael!

Paris was unloading boxes when I first walked by, but in early afternoon they were “cookin’!”

Paris was up and running

Paris was up and running

...and serving escargot!

...and serving escargot!

Some of the booths, including New Delhi, displayed plants and herbs from which they took flavorings.

New Delhi booth

New Delhi booth

Peppers!

Peppers!

CMs from Canada and Italy were very excited to share their countries’ foods (and bevvies)!

The Moosehead Tap in the Montreal Booth

The Moosehead Tap in the Montreal Booth

CMs in the Bologna, Italy booth were having a great time

CMs in the Bologna, Italy booth were having a great time

Can’t wait to try this one out tomorrow!

The flavorhood

The flavorhood

Flavors at the Flavorhood

Flavors at the Flavorhood

And the Eat to the Beat pavilion is all ready to go.

Eat to the Beat is ready to rock

Eat to the Beat is ready to rock

Hope you liked today’s photos! More to come!!

Also, I’m looking for your suggestions. I can’t eat everything at the festival, and I’d love to hear what you’d like me to sample and photograph while I’m here. Take a look at the booth menus and let me know via facebook, twitter, or email. Hopefully you have some ideas, because I need direction! Everything looks too good!