2014 Epcot Food and Wine Festival: NEW Menu Item Spotlight

The 2014 Epcot Food and Wine Festival is RIGHT around the corner! With the countdown at just about a week now, we know that you’re just as excited as we are.

food and wine festival logo

Today we wanted to spotlight the NEW items that are coming to the menus at the World Showcase Marketplace booths this year. And with more than 30 new dishes and sips to sample this year, there’s plenty to experience!

We have a TON of stuff to cover, so to keep it all straight we’re gonna go alphabetically! Ready? Here we go! (And don’t forget, you can check out ALL of the menus from the World Showcase Booths — and many food photos — at our World Showcase Booth Page.)

Africa Marketplace

We had the chance to try a sample of the brand new South African Bobotie with Turkey and Mushrooms from the Africa Marketplace and loved it! The egg dish packed a spicy punch when we tried it at a preview.

South Africa Bobotie with  Turkey and Mushrooms

South Africa Bobotie with Turkey and Mushrooms

Lovers of South African wines will also appreciate the addition of the Fairview Pinotage to the menu.

America Adventure Coffee Cart

If you love the flavors of Fall, get ready to try the Apple Maple Spice Latte at the America Adventure Coffee Cart in the America Pavilion. It’s available hot or cold!

Joffrey's kiosk to the left of American Adventure

Stop by the America Adventure Coffee Cart for an Apple Maple Spice Latte

Australia Marketplace

Always a fan favorite, the Australia Booth will feature a new lineup of beverages this year, including Cooper’s Brewery Original Pale Ale, Chateau Tanuda Grand Barossa Dry Riesling, St. Kilda Chardonnay, and Nine Stones Shiraz. The menu looks to complement classic Food and Wine Festival dishes like the Grilled Lamb Chop with Mint Pesto and Garlic Shrimp with Roasted Tomatoes, Lemon Myrtle and Rapini.

Grilled Lamb Chop with Mint Pesto and Potato Crunchies -- Australia Booth

New Beverage Selections Complement Classic Dishes, Like Grilled Lamb Chop with Mint Pesto and Potato Crunchies

Belgium Marketplace

At the Belgium Marketplace, we’re seeing another hot trend — hard cider. We think that the Stella Artois Cidre will be a big hit with festival goers who are looking for a refreshing alternative to beer.

Stella Artois Cidre

Stella Artois Cidre

Block & Hans Kiosk

The Block & Hans Kiosk features a regular assortment of craft beer, but for the festival, they’ll add wines to the mix as well. Enjoy a bevy of American wines, which will include all of the following!

  • Robert Mondavi, Fume Blanc
  • The Great American Wine Company, Chardonnay
  • The Great American Wine Company, Red Blend
  • Robert Mondavi, Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Domaine Chandon Brut Sparkling Blanc de Noir
  • Still River Winery Apple Ice Wine
Chandon Blanc de Noir at Block & Hans

Chandon Blanc de Noir at Block & Hans

Great American Wine Company by Rosenblum -- Chardonnay -- at Block & Hans

Great American Wine Company by Rosenblum — Chardonnay — at Block & Hans

Brazil Marketplace

While Brazil brings back a favorite menu item from 2013, the Pork Belly, there are several new items to savor as well.

Moqueca de Pescado: Regal Springs Premium Tilapia with Coconut Lime Sauce and Steamed Rice

Moqueca de Pescado: Regal Springs Premium Tilapia with Coconut Lime Sauce and Steamed Rice

  • Moqueca de pescado: Regal Springs Premium Tilapia with Coconut Lime Sauce and Steamed Rice
  • Pao de Queijo: Brazilian Cheese Bread
  • Cocada: Brazilian Coconut Candy
  • Tannat Reserve

We enjoyed the [Read more…]

Guest Review: Dinner at Les Chefs de France in Epcot

Join us in welcoming guest author Eric Lane! Today, he’s sharing a review of Les Chefs de France in Walt Disney World’s Epcot. Bon Appetit!

Based on its location and consistently solid food quality it’s no wonder that Les Chefs is one of the most popular establishments in Epcot.

Atmosphere

Sitting right on the promenade of World Showcase Lagoon, Chefs de France is a prominent restaurant. Built to replicate a French bistro, the large open interior is fronted by a long, glass sunroom. Those walking along the World Showcase Lagoon can see the diners all the way in the back, and those in the back can see all of those walking by.

Les Chefs de France Window Tables

Our reservation was at 8:50PM and a positively bubbly maître d’ seated us right in the middle of the sunroom window. Seats against the glass were for two, we were one row away from the window. Because the whole restaurant is an open room, you can see all the waiters, everyone getting up and down, and all the people walking outside.

Les Chefs de France Back Sunroom at Night

A large floodlight outside provided an amber warmth that calmed all the hustle and bustle.

Front of Les Chefs de France at Night

We ate as the restaurant closed and slowly cleared until it was just our table and about 5 others when we were finished at 9:45PM.

Eats

Since we were at a French restaurant I decided to start with the French onion soup. The cheese was a little sharper than I thought it would be, which caught me off guard. Although unexpected it added a welcome bite to the flavor. The onion and beef flavors were much more subtle, but the cheese didn’t overpower them.

French Onion Soup

French Onion Soup

Another unusual touch was that I got the heel of the bread, which made it a little difficult to cut out a good hunk of bread with my spoon. Overall good, but not enough to stop me from sampling another appetizer next time I eat here.

The next dish was the ungainly titled “Filet de Saumon, pommes de terre ecrasess, au buerre et chboulette, sur coulis de tomate et poivron rouge.” That was the bold faced name of the dish, but instead of saying it while ordering or the direct English translation of “broiled salmon, smashed potatoes with butter and chives, served on a tomato and red pepper sauce” I was able to get away with just asking for the salmon filet. I appreciated that the sauce was not served on the salmon, but placed on the plate before the potatoes and salmon. It let me dip the salmon in the slightly spicy sauce and get just the right amount on the fish for my taste.

Salmon

Salmon

The salmon itself was perfectly cooked and seasoned with a little black pepper and just enough other spices to bring out the flavor of the fish. The potatoes were simple and added nothing of note to the dish other than a starch. It was a good, straightforward main course. (Note; the accompaniments on this dish have changed on the menu since the review was written.)

My friend, who despite not being a foodie is my BDFF (best Disney friend forever), had the baked macaroni with cream and gruyere cheese. She enjoyed it but I absolutely loved it. Flavorful, simple, and among the best [Read more…]

Epcot Food and Wine Festival Recipe: Grilled Verlasso Salmon with Quinoa Salad and Arugula Chimichurri

If you’re like us, you’re already counting down the days until the Epcot Food and Wine Festival Begins!

food and wine festival logo

If you haven’t already done it, mark your calendars for September 19 — the date that the food and fun gets underway!

Recently, we had the opportunity to see and taste some of the brand new dishes that will be featured at this year’s festival.

Today, we have a recipe for one of our favorites — Grilled Verlasso Salmon with Quinoa Salad and Arugula Chimichurri. The dish will be featured at this year’s new Patagonia Booth.

It’s an especially interesting dish, because the Salmon is sustainably farm-raised. In fact, it’s the first and only ocean-raised farm fish to receive the “Good Alternative” buy ranking from the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Watch Group.

Salmon Quinoa Salad with Chimi-Churri Will Be Featured at the NEW Patagonia Marketplace Booth

Salmon Quinoa Salad with Chimi-Churri at the NEW Patagonia Marketplace Booth

And the Quinoa Salad is absolutely delicious, and among our favorite dishes that we tried!

And now you and I can make it at home with this handy recipe.

Grilled Verlasso Salmon with Quinoa Salad and Arugula Chimichurri

2014 Epcot Food and Wine Festival’s Patagonia Marketplace Booth
Serves 6

Ingredients: [Read more…]

Review: Lunch at Crystal Palace in Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom

Welp, boys and girls — it’s time to head into Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom and take in lunch at Crystal Palace! This is a beloved character spot for many Disney fans, and a must-do character experience for lots of you.

Me? I hadn’t been to Crystal Palace in foreva…not since an ill-fated late-night visit a couple of years ago when the food was AW-FUL! Yep, it was the end-of-the-night dregs of the buffet and we were pretty much just grossed out. (Have you ever seen a buffet about 15 minutes before a restaurant is about to close? Not pretty.) We ate very little and left as soon as we could. Sad, since we do love dining with Pooh and friends.

But it was time to revisit the 100 Hundred Acre Wood — after all, we’d had lots of great meals here previously — and I made reservations with some friends for lunch.

We have tons of shots to show you, so let’s get started!

Atmosphere

You’ll find Crystal Palace to the left of Main Street USA’s end, just as you approach Cinderella Castle. The beautiful glass building, inspired by ornate conservatories of the late Victorian Age, is a slice of Disney history as well. The restaurant has been around since opening day in 1971.

Entrance to Restaurant

Entrance to Restaurant

And here’s a tip if you’re looking for an extra-special experience during your Disney vacation: try and book Crystal Palace for an early breakfast. You’ll be one of the first guests into the Park when you do this, and visiting a nearly empty Magic Kingdom is an event to remember.

Once you step inside, you’ll see whitewashed walls that carry the bright, light decor throughout. Artwork depicting inspiration for the architecture as well as photos of lush palms cover the walls.

Artwork and Framed Photos

Artwork and Framed Photos

The soaring atrium above is gorgeous — especially on a sunny day!

Crystal Palace Atrium

Crystal Palace Atrium

After you check in, you’ll wait for your table outside on the shaded veranda. But once you step in, pause a moment to take it all in.

Dining Rooms

Dining Rooms

Tons of windows and glass domes allow for plenty of natural light in the two dining areas.

Dining Room from Another Angle

Dining Room from Another Angle

And really — look up. Because the windows are really stunning. I love the beautiful stained glass detail.

Stained Glass Windows

Stained Glass Windows

The decor puts you in mind of a Victorian conservatory, with its outside-but-inside feel. Lush flowers and what reminds me of patio furniture finish the area.

Evening Light

Afternoon Light

Crystal Palace is, of course, a character dining experience, and you’ve stumbled onto a party!

Center Atrium -- Up Close

Center Atrium — Up Close

In fact, visit here, and you’ll take part in a Friendship Day Celebration with Winnie the Pooh and his friends.

Banner -- Up Close

It’s Friendship Day!

Just check out these gorgeous flower topiaries of the whole gang!

Pooh and His Hunny Pot

Pooh and His Hunny Pot

Eeyore Topiary

Eeyore Topiary

The sweet little figures appear to be made of dried roses, and foreshadow the characters you’ll meet while you dine.

Piglet Topiary

Piglet Topiary

Bouncing Tigger Topiary

Bouncing Tigger Topiary

And beautiful hanging arrangements of tropical flowers complete the classic conservatory feel.

Fresh Flowers

Fresh Flowers

Seating is standard and fairly comfortable. Heavy, padded chairs share the space with booths, but some tables are situated a bit too closely for our comfort.

Seating for Two

Seating for Two

Seating along windows gives you a glimpse of guests waiting to be seated! But beyond them, you’ll also see a beautiful view of [Read more…]

Review: Cape May Cafe at Disney’s Beach Club Resort

We are heading to the quaint New England shore today for a breakfast buffet at Cape May Cafe!

The expansive restaurant, located at Disney’s Beach Club Resort, is a favorite among guests for a couple of reasons: 1.) You get to see Minnie, Donald, and Goofy in their BATHING SUITS! SO FUN! (OK, that sounds weird as I read it over, but you know what I mean, right?), 2.) It’s slightly easier to get an advance dining reservation here than at one of the other, more well-known character breakfasts, like Chef Mickey’s or Crystal Palace.

We hadn’t been back to Cape May for breakfast in quite a while, so on a recent trip, we headed over one morning pre-park with AJ’s Mom and AJ’s Dad to see what was new.

Atmosphere

You enjoy the same open, airy feeling at Cape May that you sense throughout the rest of the Beach Club Resort. The stick-style architecture (I totally learned that from Samantha Brown back when she was doing “Great Hotels” on the Travel Channel…remember?) brings to mind Victorian beach house themes.

Entrance

Check in at the podium, and soon you’ll be making your way to one of two dining rooms — a large main room, or a smaller one adjacent to the restaurant’s entrance. I much prefer the large main dining room since it has a lot more to look at and has slightly easier access to the buffet. ;-)

Check In Area

The palette is pastel, and vintage-style beach umbrellas and chairs adorn the space to drive home the seaside feeling. The colorful carpet depicts beach umbrellas, too.

Seating

Seating is comfortable, with a mixture of [Read more…]

Review: “Best of the Fest” at the 2013 Epcot Food and Wine Festival Marketplace Booths!

It’s here! The 2013 Epcot Food and Wine Festival is officially underway!

We’ve been super busy over the last couple of days, taking in low-cost demonstrations and special events. I can’t wait to share all of it with you (FYI: Parisian Breakfast = AWESOME!)!

But first, while opening weekend was a whirlwind of activity, we made it a point to check out every Marketplace Booth and try it all! It’s always our goal to do this so that YOU know which dishes are not-to-be-missed and can plan accordingly.

2013 Best of the Fest Marketplace Booth Dishes

While this “Best of” list started out a lot longer than this, we wanted to give you a breakdown of the cream of the crop — our very favorite dishes so far from the 2013 Marketplace Booths. Some of these are returning from past years, and some are brand new! Let’s go with the Best of the Fest for 2013!

Belgium: Potato and Leek Waffle with Braised Beef

Belgium features three different waffles in their lineup this year — one savory and two sweet. This Potato Leek Waffle comes with Braised Beef that reminds me of Sunday roasts.

Potato and Leek Waffle with Braised Beef

The waffle is delicious by itself — but top it with the braised beef and MELTED BUTTER!!!! and it’s heavenly!

South Korea: Kimchi Dog

We’ve been raving about the South Korea Kimchi Dog since we first sampled it at the preview event for this year’s festival. The Spicy Hot Dog (which is specially made for Epcot just for the festival!) is topped with a fresh Kimchi Slaw and drizzled with a Spicy Mustard Sauce.

Kimchi Dog with Spicy Mustard Sauce

It has a bit of a kick, but it’s [Read more…]

2013 Epcot Food and Wine Festival Booth Preview: Scotland and Brazil Booths

Excitement is building for the 2013 Epcot Food and Wine Festival! And we know that you’re looking forward to it just as much as we are!

We’re keeping track of the Food and Wine Festival marketplace booths and menus carefully, and I wanted to share a preview with you today!

As always, the culinary team at Epcot is striving to keep this classic event fresh and exciting by introducing some brand new Marketplace Booths to the mix. New for 2013 is another entry from the United Kingdom, the Scotland Marketplace Booth! And after a year long hiatus we’re also excited to see a return of another South American hotspot, the Brazil Marketplace Booth!

Let’s take a closer look at what these two marketplaces will offer this year’s festival guests.

Scotland Marketplace Booth

While we are still awaiting our first pictures of what the Scotland Marketplace Booth will actually look like (soon!), we are excited already to know some of the fun additions that the menu will bring to this year’s festival.

And check out the new stamp from the Scotland booth that guests will be able to get in their Food and Wine Festival passports! (It’s in the bottom right hand corner of the slide.)

Scotland Booth Information

The menu offers some intriguing new flavors for guests!

2013 Epcot Food and Wine Festival Scotland Booth Menu

  • Seared Scottish Salmon with Cauliflower Puree, Watercress and Malt Vinaigrette
  • Vegetarian Haggis with Neeps and Tatties (Griddled Vegetable Cake with Rutabaga and Mashed Potatoes)
  • Scottish Banoffee Tart with Bananas, Scottish Whisky Toffee, Walkers Shortbread Crumbles and Sweet Cream
  • Innis & Gunn® Original Beer
  • Loch Lomond Cocktail featuring Glenfiddich® 12 year
  • Glenfiddich® Scotch Flight (12, 15 and 18 year)

Seafood lovers are already looking forward to the inclusion of authentic Scottish Salmon.

Scottish Salmon with Cauliflower Puree, Watercress and Malt Vinaigrette

And the Scottish Banoffee Tart will feature a pleasant kick courtesy of Glenfiddich Whisky Cream! I can’t wait to try this one!

The Scottish Banoffee Tart will be part of the NEW Scotland Booth at the Epcot Food and Wine Festival in 2013

I have no idea what to expect from the Vegetarian Haggis, but you know I’ll be first in line to try it!

The other real standout here will be a number of [Read more…]

Review: Chef Mickey’s Dinner at Disney World’s Contemporary Resort

It has been too long since I’ve taken a trip to Chef Mickey’s in Disney World’s Contemporary Resort!

We’ve shared with you our review of their breakfast buffet. But today, we’re heading there to see what’s new for dinner!

When many people think about a Disney character dining experience”, they immediately think of Chef Mickey’s. This one has it all — the Fab Five, a sprawling buffet of family-friendly foods, regular raucous celebrations, and monorails whizzing by.

But in the past, the food has had a reputation for being a little lackluster. Time to see how things are looking these days… . We have a lot to cover, so let’s get started!

Atmosphere

One of the coolest things about Chef Mickey’s is its location. You’ll find this well-known character meal at Disney’s Contemporary Resort.

Chef Mickey's Sign

This place is a stone’s throw from the Magic Kingdom in Disney World, which makes it a great place to stop and eat before heading into the park, or after a long day of rides and attractions.

Once you enter the hotel’s main floor lobby, take the elevator to the fourth floor. Chef Mickey’s is located on the south end of the concourse, right below where the Disney World monorail enters the building. (You can also arrive at the Contemporary via said monorail, of course — in which case you’d take an escalator down to the 4th floor).

The Grand Canyon Concourse at the Contemporary

Head to the central desk to let the hostess know that your party has arrived. You can’t miss it — Mickey is smiling down with his fork and spoon, ready to greet you!

Central Desk Check-In

If your table isn’t quite ready, you can wait until your party is paged in this comfortable seating area. This spot features a view of Bay Lake and the resort’s pool patio — and offers plenty of room for running off excess energy.

Waiting Area

Before you’re seated, your party will [Read more…]

Guest Review: Boma Dinner Buffet at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge

Today we’re venturing to the exotic Animal Kingdom Lodge. Welcome back guest reviewer Katie McFarland with a review of the dinner buffet at Boma.

Boma restaurant is located inside the Jambo House of the Animal Kingdom Lodge resort in Walt Disney World. If you have never been there before, it really is a magnificent lobby with its thatched ceiling, tribal décor, and torch glass sculpture lights.

But beware: the couches are really comfortable –- especially after a big meal! You run a high risk of awkwardly falling asleep in front of total strangers clutching your stomach and begging “whyyyyy did I eat so much?!”

Animal Kingdom Lodge Lobby

If walking in through the main doors, the restaurant is on the right side of the lobby and is accessible by either the stairs or the elevator. If going by stairs, you will walk right past Victoria Falls Lounge, which is an intimate bar that overlooks the Boma “marketplace.”

Stairs to Lower Level

Atmosphere

Boma represents an open-air marketplace with the “huts” of the buffet lines divided almost by courses: salad, hummus and other dips, meats, sides, and dessert.

Looking down onto Boma!

The eating areas have many thatched panels draped across the ceiling with art glass shades supplying the soft lighting. Every location in the restaurant invites the diner to feel as if they’re in an open-air market in Africa.

Boma Dining Room

Boma Ceiling Decor

However, a seat nearest to the buffet line is always a plus! Like in other buffet restaurants, the [Read more…]

Review: Victoria and Albert’s Chef’s Table at the Grand Floridian Resort

Today, we travel up the elegant stairway to the pinnacle of fine dining at Walt Disney World, Victoria & Albert’s at the Grand Floridian Resort and Spa.

Join me for an unparalleled experience as I take you behind the opulence to the excitement and camaraderie of the Chef’s Table! And let me tell you… it’s AWESOME!!

Victoria and Albert’s is the crown jewel in Disney’s culinary offerings. And while it is certainly expensive (that might be an understatement), I aim to show you that for the true food lover, the Chef’s Table experience is worth every penny.

By the way, if you read through this review and decide the Chef’s Table is not for you, you can also dine in the Dining Room to the more intimate Queen Victoria Room.

Victoria and Albert's Plate

Reservations for Victoria and Albert’s go quickly. It is recommended that you book as close to 180 days out as possible. As for cost, the menu is prix fixe, meaning that you pay a set price for the meal. Expect your meal to begin at $135 per person for the Dining Room, with an additional charge of $65 for wine pairings. That price includes six courses. Queen Victoria’s Room and the Chef’s Table menus may include up to thirteen courses, and prices start at $210/person for dinner and $105 for wine pairings. Keep in mind that these prices do not reflect tax or gratuity, so be prepared.

While Queen Victoria’s Room offers the height of elegant dining, the Chef’s Table provides interested guests full access to the restaurant’s culinary team in a meal that is as much performance as it is sustenance.

Atmosphere

Once you check in for your reservation at the Chef’s Table, you are escorted through the well appointed (and very quiet!) main dining room. You’ll notice low light, beautiful fresh flowers, and the strains of harp music. The whole effect is quite romantic and very formal. There is a strict dress code here, and men must wear jackets.

Victoria and Albert's Main Dining Room

The Dining Room consists of a mere fourteen tables, beautifully set with spotless crystal and china. Very chi chi.

Victoria and Albert's Seating

We followed the debonaire Maître d’hôtel, Israel Perez, through this space and into the brightly lit kitchen. At that time, we were informed that Chef de Cuisine Scott Hunnel would not be joining us because of a conflicting event. In his place, Sous Chef Aimée Rivera would guide us through our meal.

Maître d'hôtel Israel Perez and Chef Rivera

Both Mr. Perez and Chef Rivera were phenomenal, and it’s clear that their passion and driving force is the comfort and enjoyment of their guests. Chef Rivera invited us to interact at will with the kitchen staff, and suggested that we voice any and all questions that we might have (Mua ha ha ha!!! She didn’t know just how annoying I can be!).

An interesting fact: once you are seated, you can’t [Read more…]