2014 Epcot Food and Wine Festival Recipe: Vegetarian Moussaka at the Greece Marketplace Booth

We have more delicious eats for you today from the 2014 Epcot Food and Wine Festival!

Welcome to the Epcot Food and Wine Festival!

Welcome to the Epcot Food and Wine Festival!

Disney has been lauded in the past for their commitment to serving guests who have special dietary needs. Whether you’re gluten free, vegetarian, or have other food sensitivities, your choices throughout Walt Disney World have been steadily increasing.

We’ve also seen this emphasis at the Epcot Food and Wine Festival. For the last few years, an entire Marketplace Booth, Terra, has been devoted to a vegan menu.

But beyond Terra, you’ll also find vegetarian offerings scattered throughout the other Marketplaces. (See the full listing of Festival Vegetarian options here, and a list of Festival Gluten Free options here.)

One of our very favorites was introduced this year — Vegetarian Moussaka.

Vegetarian Moussaka

Vegetarian Moussaka

A layered dish customarily consisting of Eggplant and/or Potatoes, a rich Meat Filling, and Béchamel, it’s a comforting dish that’s especially perfect for the cold weather months.

Vegetarian Moussaka --Inside

Vegetarian Moussaka –Inside

No lie — I have been dreaming about this dish since I first tasted it at the Food and Wine Preview dinner last Summer. When I had a chance to sample it once again at the Greece Marketplace Booth, it was just as amazing! It is truly one of the most delicious and satisfying vegetarian entrees I have ever tasted.

And now, you and I can both make it at home! Perfect for the next time you’d like to offer a meatless meal, this hearty casserole will please even the most die-hard meat eaters.

Vegetarian Moussaka

Greece Marketplace Booth

Serves: 6-8


Meatless Sauce:
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
6 bay leaves
2 cinnamon sticks
2 large yellow onions, finely chopped
2 (11-ounce) packages meatless crumbles
1/4 cup tomato paste
1 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes in juice, crushed
2 cups vegetable stock
coarse salt, freshly ground pepper, to taste

Béchamel Sauce: [Read more…]

Review: Chef Gale Gand’s Culinary Salted Caramel Brownies Demo at the Epcot Food and Wine Festival

Epcot Food and Wine Festival fans always anticipate the announcement of the Culinary Demonstrations: low-cost events where guests can enjoy presentations by a Disney or celebrity chef.

Food and Wine Festival demonstration kitchen

Food and Wine Festival demonstration kitchen

This year, I took the opportunity to purchase a $15 ticket to see Chef Gale Gand: pastry chef, author of cookbooks, 8-year host of the Food Network’s “Sweet Dreams,” as well as a founding partner of the restaurant Tru in Chicago (among a bajillion other accomplishments!).

I chose Chef Gand’s session because I love to bake. But I still consider myself a novice with just a few trusty recipes under my belt, and I don’t tend to stray from those. So, I was interested to find out upon arrival that Chef Gand would be sharing her recipe for Salted Caramel Brownies with those of us in the audience.

Before Chef Gand came to the stage, we enjoyed a presentation by a Master Sommelier who spoke about the choice of wine that we would enjoy with Chef Gand’s creation.

Master Sommelier

Master Sommelier

It really was interesting to hear him speak about the incredibly intense learning and examination process that it takes to become a Master Sommelier. But even with his depth of knowledge and expertise, I was happy to hear him share his favorite piece of advice when it comes to wine selection: “Drink what you like, when you like, with whom you like.” Works for me!

Viognier from Cambria Winery

Viognier from Cambria Winery

In this case, what we were drinking was the Tepusquet Vineyard Viognier from the Cambria Winery. Our Master Sommelier led us through the process of picking up the tropical, fruity notes in the aroma, and the floral notes in the flavor. I can’t claim to have picked up on all that on my own ;). As someone who prefers white wines over red, I can just say I enjoyed the glass.

When Chef Gale Gand arrived on stage, she greeted the audience with a smile and immediately continued in the personable, light-hearted tone set by the Sommelier.

Chef Gale Gand

Chef Gale Gand

She also greeted us with a surprise: today, she would be demonstrating two recipes. Even though this was a pastry demonstration, Chef Gand started with [Read more…]

2014 Epcot Food and Wine Festival Recipe: Kielbasa and Potato Pierogies at the Poland Marketplace Booth

Craving some of those awesome dishes that you’ve enjoyed at the 2014 Epcot Food and Wine Festival?

Welcome to the Epcot Food and Wine Festival!

Welcome to the Epcot Food and Wine Festival!

It’s one of my favorite parts of the Festival — tasting my way around World Showcase, and then going home to try my hand at a few new recipes!

Today, we’re visiting the Poland Marketplace Booth for a taste of traditional fare. This year, Poland offers two varieties of Pierogies.

Similar to dumplings, you’ll find them stuffed with sauerkraut or potato at the Festival, depending on which dish you choose.

Today, we’ll take a closer look at Potato Pierogies served with Kielbasa.

Kielbasa & Potato Pierogie with Caramelized Onions and Sour Cream

Kielbasa & Potato Pierogie with Caramelized Onions and Sour Cream

If you’ve ever wanted to make your very own pierogies from scratch, here’s your chance!

Kielbasa and Potato Pierogies with Caramelized Onions and Sour Cream

Poland Marketplace Booth


Serves 4 (16 Pierogies)

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 large onion, thinly sliced
1 garlic clove, peeled and finely chopped
1 cup fresh diced tomatoes
coarse salt, freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 pound boiled Polish smoked Kielbasa sausage

Pierogies: [Read more…]

2014 Epcot Food and Wine Festival: Food for Thought with Chef Rick Bayless

With a full week plus a weekend, there’s still plenty of time to enjoy the 2014 Epcot Food and Wine Festival, going on right now at Walt Disney World!

Welcome to the Epcot Food and Wine Festival!

Welcome to the Epcot Food and Wine Festival!

Today, I’m back to tell you about one of the Food and Wine Festival Special Events I had the opportunity to attend recently.

While I love spending time strolling the Promenade around World Showcase and taking in all of the fantastic food and drink, there’s so much more to the Festival than the International Marketplace Booths.

Each year, I also enjoy attending a sampling of the Low Cost Demonstrations and Seminars as well as Festival Special Events. And one of the biggest highlights is enjoying time with chefs whom we’ve admired in an up close and personal way!

Recently, I was given the opportunity to attend Food For Thought, a Festival Special Event that’s new for 2014. Replacing the Kitchen Memories series from past years, Food For Thought events allow guests to hear the story of a favorite chef before he or she walks the audience through a demonstration of dishes.

Food For Though at Epcot's Food and Wine Festival

Food For Though at Epcot’s Food and Wine Festival

I was so excited when I learned that one of my favorites, Chef Rick Bayless, would be rejoining the Festival line up after an absence of several years! Bayless is the Chef and Owner of Frontera Grill and Topolobampo in Chicago, in addition to a collection of quick casual dining spots.

In addition, he’s about to begin the tenth season of his critically acclaimed PBS cooking show Mexico — One Plate at a Time. You can also find his line of Frontera Food Products throughout the country.

At My Place Setting

My Place Setting

Join me as we listen into his conversation with Disney’s Pam Smith, and watch as he puts his apron on and provides us with a dose of kitchen wisdom via authentic Mexican flavors.

Food For Thought with Chef Rick Bayless

My husband and I have followed the career of Rick Bayless for a while. We were first inspired to explore authentic Mexican cuisine by cooking our way through his books. Having the opportunity to hear more about his journey in such an intimate setting was a great way to spend the morning.

Food For Thought with Chef Rick Bayless and Disney's Pam Smith

Food For Thought with Chef Rick Bayless and Disney’s Pam Smith

If you’ve watched his PBS series Mexico — One Plate at a Time, then you know that Chef Rick excels at telling a good story and conveying the excitement of an experience. That combination, along with his wry sense of humor, made for an interesting chat session. Having grown up working in his family’s restaurant, his passion for Mexican cuisine was born out of his study of and love for that country’s rich culture.

Chatting with Chef Rick Bayless

Chatting with Chef Rick Bayless

Soon, however, it was time to turn our attention to the food! At that point, Chef Rick and Pam made their way to the exhibition kitchen for a demonstration of the food and drink we’d be sampling.

Cooking Demonstration

While a big draw of Food for Thought is getting to hear the backstory of a culinary notable, the event also makes for a delicious morning, as the featured chef shares a few of his recipes.



It’s always fun to see what the suggested pairings are for courses during an event. Typically, guests enjoy a few different wines with tasting portions of dishes, but on this occasion, we had the chance to enjoy a beer pairing instead. A glass of Negra Modelo stood at each place setting.

Negra Modelo Beer

Negra Modelo Beer

Normally, servings are tasting portions, but we enjoyed a full glass of beer as we’d be pairing it with each of the three courses. In addition, we learned how we might use the beer to create a delicious Fall-themed [Read more…]

Chocolate Sculptures on Display at the Food and Wine Festival “From Bean to the Bar” Experience

Greetings from the Epcot Food & Wine Festival Center!

Festival Center

Festival Center

Tucked in the waaaaaay back of the center is a small area hosted by Ghirardelli that’s dedicated to all things chocolate: From Bean to the Bar. This is a returning exhibit, but they’ve got all new surprises this year.

From the Bean to the Bar

From the Bean to the Bar

You can pick up packaged Ghirardelli goodies here, and get an education about the chocolate-making process. But today we’d like to show you something that’s easy to miss if you’re not on the lookout. There are some pretty amazing displays created by none other than Disney Pastry Chefs… and they’re made of CHOCOLATE!

Chocolate Sculpture Introduction

Chocolate Sculpture Introduction

Check out this gathering of many of our favorite Disney Villains created by [Read more…]

2014 Epcot Food and Wine Festival: Festival Center Tour

Whew! The 2014 Epcot Food and Wine Festival is half over, and it feels like it just began!

There’s been a ton to do and see, but we couldn’t let another day slip by without showing you around one of the must-visit spots — Festival Center.

Festival Center

Festival Center

Located in the old Wonders of Life Pavilion in Future World East, the venue comes alive each year for the Food and Wine Festival. This is your spot to attend low-cost seminars and demonstrations and other special events. You’ll find Festival information, Intermissions Cafe, and some great shopping here as well.

Festival Center Sign

Festival Center Sign

We recently toured the spot to bring you pictures of every corner. There’s a LOT to cover, so let’s get started!

2014 Epcot Food and Wine Festival — Festival Center

Festival Center is THE place to begin your Food and Wine Festival Adventure. Helpful Cast Members provide you with information regarding all aspects of the Festival — from Marketplaces to Special Events.

Check out this map [Read more…]

What NOT to Eat at the 2014 Epcot Food and Wine Festival

Can you believe it? We are nearing the halfway point of the 2014 Epcot Food and Wine Festival already!

Welcome to the Epcot Food and Wine Festival!

Welcome to the Epcot Food and Wine Festival!

So far, we’ve shown you delicious dishes — both brand new options and returning favorites — that are featured at the International Marketplaces located around World Showcase. But I’m thinking that leaves another question:

What are some of the items that we would definitely cross off the list?

Of course, in a perfect world, where there would be unlimited time, money, and stomach space, I know you’d gladly try everything on offer. But here in reality, those dollars (and Disney Dining Plan snack credits) must be spent wisely.

So while we’ve told you several dishes and beverages that we don’t think you should miss at this year’s Festival, today, I thought we’d run down the list of items that we plan to cross off. Because, well, something’s gotta give. :-) I’ll also give you some suggestions for what we’d get in place of these items.

Ghirardelli Sundae at Fife & Drum

In the past, Fife & Drum Tavern in the America Pavilion has had Festival success with extra menu additions like the Frozen Red Stag Lemonade. (That one proved to be so popular, it was added to the menu permanently.)

But while the Ice Cream Sundae with Ghirardelli Chocolate Sauce on the menu this year is good, it’s not “skip another awesome menu item” good.

The sundae is Vanilla Soft Serve with a few pumps of Ghirardelli Chocolate Sauce. There are way more tempting options all over World Showcase.

Ice Cream Sundae

Ice Cream Sundae Made with Ghirardelli Chocolate Sauce

Instead, why not go for a frozen treat with international flair? Skip the soft serve, and go for some Kaki Gori at the permanent Japan stand, Kabuki Cafe.

Guylian Seashell Truffles at the Desserts & Champagne Marketplace

So, here’s where we make a bit of a confession. If there were one booth I’d outright skip at the Festival it would probably be Desserts & Champagne.

It’s not that there’s anything wrong with it. It’s just that I find so many more compelling options circling World Showcase Lagoon. Case in point: one of the menu items here is Guylian Seashell Truffles. This is not a dish. This is something that the Cast Member takes out of the box and hands to me.

Guylian Belgian Chocolate Seashell Truffles

Guylian Belgian Chocolate Seashell Truffles

Sure, they’re only $1.75. But they can be bought at the grocery store…and when we are Food and Wine Festival-ing, we are definitely passing on this in lieu of more exotic fare.

If you’re looking for a truly satisfying chocolate dish, head to the Ireland Marketplace and try the amazing Warm Chocolate Pudding with Kerrygold Irish Cream Liqueur Custard, which is more than worth the price difference.

Dole Squish’Ems at Refreshment Port

If you want to stop at the Refreshment Port for a Croissant Doughnut, we are totally on board with that.

But one featured Festival food we will not be making time or money for is the Dole Squish’Em. The prepackaged, applesauce-based snack may be a big hit with the preschool crowd.

Dole Fruit Squish Ems

Dole Fruit Squish’Ems

But unless you’re under 3 (or you really, really like flavored applesauce), we wouldn’t worry about checking this box off your passport. If you’re looking for a fruit fix, the [Read more…]

2014 Epcot Food and Wine Festival Recipe: Warm Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Icing

Ah. We knew the day would come…the day that we started craving some of those wonderful dishes that we’ve had a chance to enjoy at the 2014 Epcot Food and Wine Festival.

Welcome to the Epcot Food and Wine Festival!

Welcome to the Epcot Food and Wine Festival!

And we figure if it’s happening to us, it’s probably happening for you, too. ;-)

While we’ve enjoyed some truly delicious flavors at this year’s festival, we had our favorites from the very beginning!

And one of the sweets we don’t think you should miss is the Fresh Baked Carrot Cake with Craisins® and Cream Cheese Icing.

Served at the Hops & Barley Marketplace Booth, this is one of the best entries into the Disney Carrot Cake Arena we’ve ever sampled!

Fresh baked carrot cake with Craisins® and cream cheese icing

Fresh Baked Carrot Cake with Craisins® and Cream Cheese Icing from the Hops & Barley Marketplace Booth

Warm and moist, the cake itself is chock-full of goodies. Dried cranberries give the mix an unexpected tang.

And the Icing. You know that amazing Warm Cream Cheese Icing you sometimes find on cinnamon rolls?

Yeah. That.

Cross section of carrot cake with cream cheese icing

Fresh Baked Carrot Cake with Craisins® and Cream Cheese Icing — Cross Section

Given our love around here for Carrot Cake, we were on the fence about whether this one would be mention-worthy or a total snoozefest. I’m happy to say, it’s amazing.

So here’s the recipe to make those Carrot Cake fantasies a reality.

Warm Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Icing

Hops & Barley Marketplace Booth

Yield: 12 Mini Cakes

Ingredients: [Read more…]

Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Food & Wine Classic: Highlights

More food and bev fun at Walt Disney World! The Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Food & Wine Classic returns with seminars, tastings, sweets, and beverages for another year.

2014 Swan and Dolphin Food and Wine Classic Thumbnail Logo

The Fifth Annual Swan and Dolphin Food & Wine Classic will be held Friday, October 31, and Saturday, November 1, 2014, from 5:30 – 9:00PM at the Swan and Dolphin Resorts in Walt Disney World. The resorts are just a short walk from Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios, making this event a convenient add-on to your 2014 Epcot Food and Wine visit.

Let’s take a closer look at all the event has to offer!

Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Food and Wine Classic Causeway

Immerse yourself in this culinary festival during an evening stroll of the Crescent Lake Causeway. Food, wine, and beer lovers will find delicious options while listening to live music.

With 17 restaurants and lounges, the Swan and Dolphin resorts have a nationally-recognized culinary team that will be showing off their talents! We’ve attended the event every year since it began, and it’s a delicious way to spend the evening.

The Causeway at the Swan and Dolphin Food and Wine Classic

The Causeway at the Swan and Dolphin Food and Wine Classic

Mulitple food and beverage stations will showcase food and drink from Shula’s Steak House, Il Mulino New York Trattoria, and Todd English’s bluezoo, among other great Swan and Dolphin restaurants.

Sip the night away with all of your favorites. And if you love wine, enjoy selections from around the world! Sommeliers will be on hand to answer all of your questions and help you to discover new favorites.

Enjoying an evening on the Causeway as I sample appetizer portions of dishes from some of my favorite restaurants is always a fun time! The Shula’s tasting station is always a popular one, and this year’s Beef Tenderloin promises to draw a crowd.

Beef Tenderloin, Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes, and Sauce Bordelaise From Shula's Steakhouse

Beef Tenderloin, Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes, and Sauce Bordelaise From Shula’s Steakhouse

Thirsty? There’s no shortage of beverage options, which include Wine, Beer, and Sake. Tasting stations will offer sips from all popular U.S. wine regions as well as celebrated wines from around the world.

Chefs and Beverage experts staff every station and are happy to answer all of your questions.

You’ll also have the chance to meet executive chefs from the Swan and Dolphin Culinary Team. And bluezoo’s Celebrity Chef Todd English will once more be on hand to greet guests and chat about the dishes he’s serving!


If you’re interested in a more hands-on learning experience, consider booking

[Read more…]

Epcot Food and Wine Festival Pictures and Review: France and Mexico Marketplace Booths

We’re back today with another delicious look at the 2014 Epcot Food and Wine Festival!

Welcome to the Epcot Food and Wine Festival!

Welcome to the Epcot Food and Wine Festival!

It’s always exciting to see what new Marketplaces and other experiences pop up each year at the Festival, but I’m always eager to indulge in my tried and true favorites as well!

Today, let’s take a peek at some always-busy booths — France and Mexico — to take a closer look at both classics and brand new flavors.

The France Marketplace Booth

When you visit the France Marketplace, you’re participating in Food and Wine Festival Heritage! That’s right — it’s one of the original spots from the very first event, which was held in 1996.

And though the menu has changed a bit from year to year, it’s always a favorite stop for guests.

France Marketplace Booth

France Marketplace Booth

You’ll notice that the France booth has a very robust menu. With three different savory items, plus dessert, you could easily make a meal out of the offerings here. Add to that wines and cocktails, and you would definitely want to visit the Marketplace more than once to try everything.

2014 France Menu

2014 France Menu

The big news at the France booth this year was a change to the classic Escargot offering. In the past, guests have enjoyed Escargots en Persillade in the perfect stroll-and-eat version; the escargots were nestled in rounds of Brioche.

But in 2014, escargot became an ingredient in a savory tart. The Tartelette aux Escargots combined the Snails with Spinach, Garlic, Bacon, and Parmesan, presented in a deep, rectangular savory tart.

Tartelette aux Escargot

Tartelette aux Escargots

This one has probably been one of the biggest controversies of the festival this year! We’ve heard from guests who love it, and from guests who hate it.

Me? While I’m not a huge fan of spinach or snails on their own, the combo of flavors is an absolute win here. But really, is there a way to go wrong when Bacon and Garlic are involved??

Cross section of Tartlette aux Escargot

Cross section of Tartlette aux Escargots

Also joining the line up this year is Gratin de Crozets de Savoie. The savory combination of Gruyere and Mushrooms makes this rich vegetarian dish a hit.

Gratin de Crozet de Savoie

Gratin de Crozets de Savoie

The pasta used in the dish, Crozet, comes to us from Savoie. It’s a uniquely French version of pasta, customarily a whole wheat variety.

Gratin de Crozet de Savoie -- Inside

Gratin de Crozets de Savoie — Inside

Also on the menu is another popular option from years past:  [Read more…]