2014 Epcot Food and Wine Festival Booth Preview: Greece and Puerto Rico

We are just a couple of weeks from the start of the most wonderful time of the year! The 2014 Epcot Food and Wine Festival gets underway on September 19!

food and wine festival logo

Today, we’re bringing you another preview of some of the Marketplace Booths that will be featured at this year’s festival.

It’s hard to figure out just which one of the more than 25 kiosks is our favorite. We love trying returning classics and brand new dishes every year.

Come check out what’s new and what’s returning at the Greece and Puerto Rico Marketplace Booths.

Greece Marketplace Booth

Night and day, it’s never surprising to see loooooong lines at the Greece Marketplace Booth. This exotic spot has been a favorite for as long as it’s been around.

Greece Marketplace Booth

Greece Marketplace Booth

But a few years back, it cemented its claim to fame when they introduced a simple dish — Griddled Greek Cheese with Pistachios and Honey. It’s a favorite, and it’s returning again this year.

2014 Epcot Food and Wine Festival Greece Booth Menu

  • Vegetarian Moussaka
  • Griddled Greek Cheese with Pistachios and Honey (gluten free)
  • Chicken gyro with tzatziki Sauce
  • Spanakopita
  • Domaine Skouras Moscofilero
  • Domaine Siglas Assyrtiko/Athiri
  • Alpha Estate Axia Syrah-Xinomavro
  • Tzatziki Martini featuring Crop Organic Cucumber Vodka and BOLS Natural Yoghurt Liqueur

Throughout the Food and Wine Festival, we continue to see a commitment on Disney’s part to offer inventive and delicious vegetarian dishes. Brand new for 2014, the Greece Marketplace will offer a classic dish – Moussaka! But this version is vegetarian, made with soy as a meat replacement. We tried it at the Food and Wine Festival Preview dinner, and it won rave reviews.

Vegetarian Moussaka

Vegetarian Moussaka

The dish was surprisingly hearty and full of bold flavor.

But our real reason for trip after trip to the Greece Booth is the super simple  [Read more…]

2013 Epcot Food and Wine Festival Preview: France and Greece

Just a couple more weeks, and we’ll all be checking out long-awaited 2013 Epcot Food and Wine Festival!

While we look forward to trying some brand new experiences, like the Scotland Booth, there are plenty of returning fan favorites as well. Two of my favorite booths over the past couple of years have been the France and Greece Marketplace Booths.

Boasting delicious bites and long lines, these are spots that you should try and hit early in the day before the crowds swell! Let’s check out what they’ll be offering in 2013…

France

The France Marketplace Booth is one of the original marketplaces that debuted for the very first Food and Wine Festival eighteen years ago. I can’t imagine having this event without it!

2013 France Marketplace Booth Menu

What’s back this year? Staples like snails and creme brûlée, but also a past festival favorite. This booth offers, really, a full MEAL when you think about it! Appetizer, entree, dessert, drinks!

  • Escargots Persillade en Brioche (Garlic and Parsley Snails in Brioche)
  • Boeuf Bourguignon (Braised Short Ribs in Cabernet with Mashed Potatoes)
  • Crème Brûlée au Chocolat au Lait (Chocolate Milk Crème Brûlée topped with Caramelized Sugar)
  • Beer Kronenbourg Blanc
  • Chardonnay, Macon-Villages, La Côte Blanche
  • Cabernet Sauvignon, Bordeaux, Château Bonnet
  • Sparkling Pomegranate Kir
  • Eiffel Sour Cosmo Slush (Vodka, Grey Goose Cherry Noir, Grand Marnier, Cranberry Juice)

For the last two years, the France booth has offered Coq au Vin with Macaroni and Cheese, and there have been rave reviews (from me especially!).

This year, Boeuf Bourguignon created with Braised Short Ribs in Cabernet and served with Mashed Potatoes are back on the menu — a return from 2010. Thanks, as always, to Kelly Amey from Changing Latitudes for this pic!

Braised Short Ribs

The Escargots Persillade en Brioche have been a [Read more…]

Guest Review: Disney Fairy Tale Wedding Reception Food and Wedding Cake

Guest author James Armstrong first shared his Disney Wedding Tasting with us. Now, James returns with a magical review of his Disney Fairytale Wedding! We wish Meghan and James a lifetime of happiness (and fabulous Disney vacations)!

James and Meghan at their Fairytale Wedding!

The food has been chosen and the big day is here. There is nothing to do but wait. After the food tasting we waited six long months for the big day.

Rehearsal Dinner at Be Our Guest Restaurant

It all started the day before our wedding day with our rehearsal dinner at Be Our Guest Restaurant. They did not have group reservations open yet when we had to book, so we made a reservation for 14 and trimmed the list to the bare minimum.

They actually divided our table up into two groups of seven. We sat in the main ballroom and had an excellent meal.

The best part was they brought out six orders of The Grey Stuff for everyone to share at the table.

The Grey Stuff!

The Big Day!

The big day was here and it was starting to get real.

Disney’s execution of the wedding was excellent! They took care of everything and if there were any issues, they were never brought to our attention and were handled behind the scenes.

Bridge to the Wedding Pavilion.

Aisle Runner inside Disney's Wedding Pavilion.

Altar overlooking Cinderella's Castle!

After the ceremony, while we took formal pictures, our guests attended the cocktail hour. Our guests were more than happy to report to us that the food was excellent. They had [Read more…]

Guest Review: Wedding Tasting — Choosing the Food (and Cake!) for Your Disney Wedding

Welcome to guest author James Armstrong with a unique review of a Disney Fairytale Weddings Tasting Session! Congratulations to the happy couple!

So I finally decided to make it official and ask my girlfriend Meghan to marry me. I asked her via Red Velvet Mini Desserts.

Red Velvet Indulgences

Then came the question of when and where to get married. We are both huge fans of Disney World, and with her parents living in Orlando and us living in Tampa that makes Disney World about halfway in between — how convenient! We decided on March 22, 2013, as the day.

We contacted Disney Fairytale Weddings and set up a time for a site visit. We took a tour of Franck’s Studio and the Wedding Pavilion, and we were hooked on the location.

Wedding Pavilion

After we signed some contracts and formalized the dates we setup a time to meet with our Disney Wedding Planner Christy along with Meghan’s mother and father.The planning session takes up an entire day (10am til about 6pm for us) but then the entire wedding is planned from start to finish.

Appetizer Tasting

Our itinerary started with a private tasting in the Grand Floridian’s Event Center Kitchen at a Chefs Table. We provided a list of things we wanted to try for our menu as we were told they can do any of the dishes from around Disney — or whatever we could think of they would try to replicate.

The tasting started with Spanakopita with Artichoke and Tomato Tapenade. It was wrapped in crispy phyllo. It looked so good I forgot to take a picture before I dug in. We are planning on having this as a cocktail hour offering along with an Antipasto display.

Spanakopita

For the reception we are doing a buffet style dinner. One of the nice things about Disney is that they do not even start to cook anything until around the cocktail hour, so we expect all the food to be very fresh and hot — and hopefully not your typical wedding buffet food. If anyone can do it, Disney can.

Our tasting for our reception food started with a Salad Caprese. It had Tomato, Buffalo Mozzarella, Balsamic Vinaigrette and Olive Oil, dressed with Arugula, Red Onion, and Cracked Black Pepper. It also came with a little edible flower as a garnish. It was fresh and brightly flavored and a good way to start the tasting.

Salad Caprese

We also tried the Truffle Macaroni & Cheese with Lobster Meat Salad. I enjoyed the Mac & Cheese more than the others, but I love truffles.

It was a standard Mac & Cheese, but flavored with a hint of truffles. It was topped with some shredded lobster that was kind of like a relish, which I enjoyed.

Truffle Mac and Cheese with Lobster Meat Salad

Next came the Creamy Herb Mascarpone Risotto. This was definitely the group’s favorite. I am [Read more…]

Review: Dinner at Kouzzina by Cat Cora

I’ve been writing this blog for a loooooong time (since early 2009, to be exact), and you know we make it our focus to visit and review any and all Disney restaurants on an updated schedule.

Well, it had been a while since we had been to Kouzzina for dinner (for breakfast, this is one of my favorite spots!); so on a recent visit to Walt Disney World, we took ourselves over for a lazy stroll on the Boardwalk to have dinner at this rustic, Greek-style family restaurant.

Atmosphere

Kouzzina is the first signature restaurant developed by Iron Chef Cat Cora. We visited for dinner when the restaurant first opened, back in Fall of 2009 (you can read that review here). There has been a mini-renovation in the dining room and lobby since we last visited, and there are a few new menu items as well.

And even though Kouzzina is branded with Cat Cora, you can still catch little Disney touches like this hidden Mickey we saw in the lobby. See if you can spy it the next time you visit!

Entryway Decor - Hidden Mickey

The first thing you notice when you enter the restaurant post-renovation is that the lobby is now actually less “waiting area” and more “gift shop,” with Kouzzina and Cat Cora’s wares throughout.

Entryway Sales - Cat Cora's Cookbooks

You’ll find cookbooks for sale here, as well as the types of olive oils and spreads you’ll find [Read more…]

Recipe: Spanakopita from Chef Cat Cora, Kouzzina

Kouzzina Spanakopita

Kouzzina Spanakopita

I haven’t seen any Kouzzina recipes floating around since its grand opening last fall, so I found this Cat Cora Spanakopita recipe on the Food Network site. I figure, since the restaurant is Cat’s first signature restaurant, the Disney version can’t be too far from this one, right? ;-)

The main difference I see is that this recipe is in pie form, where Disney’s portions are clearly made individually. @gbastian suggested via twitter to swap out the pie crust for puff pastry, or you can go Greek and use phyllo.

We sampled Spanakopita when we visited Kouzzina last September, and, [Read more…]

Kouzzina Dinner Review

After reading about and looking at photos of everyone’s meals at Kouzzina by Cat Cora, I’m thrilled to say that I finally had the chance to dine there myself!

Kouzzina

We arrived a few minutes late for our 7:30 reservation and were seated immediately. The Boardwalk was pretty deserted, except for a small crowd watching a magician do a few fun tricks. The lobby of Kouzzina was even more deserted; my guess is that folks haven’t yet heard about this place, so they’re not storming it at the moment.

But that meant that I got to take some really interesting photos of the lobby, including Chef Cat Cora’s family pictures on the wall and her shelves of cookbooks and wine.

Lobby shelves

Lobby shelves

Cat Cora's Pappa at age 8

Cat Cora's Pappa at age 8

More of the Cora Family

More of the Cora Family

Wall Map

Wall Map

The staff at the restaurant were wonderful — extremely welcoming and attentive. We were quickly led to our table through the large, open dining room. It’s still reminiscent of the Spoodles “farmhouse” feel, with the light wood plank floor and big, hardy dark wood tables and chairs. But Cora’s added softness with the use of delicate, mismatched chandeliers and effusive ironwork curly cues as accents.

Dining Room

Dining Room

There is some booth seating around the perimeter

There is some booth seating around the perimeter

Cora has written on and signed some of the artwork

Cora has written on and signed some of the artwork

We passed the open show kitchen, in which I found some very kind and patient chefs (I took a LOT of photos later in the evening!), and the big, farmhouse tables set for what must be very extended families!

A proud Chef watches over his fires

A proud Chef watches over his fires

Show Kitchen

Show Kitchen

The kitchen staff yells Opa! when the saganaki flame goes up

The kitchen staff yells Opa! when the flame goes up

Staff and Chef Dee Foundoukis are eager to show off the restaurant

Staff and Chef Dee Foundoukis are eager to show off the restaurant

We went very light on lunch today so that we could order and taste lots tonight, which we certainly did! Once presented with the menu, I quickly ordered my Ouzo-tini and two appetizers: Spanakopita and Saganaki.

The Ouzo-tini, “Cat’s personal recipe features Absolut Vodka, Metaxa Ouzo, Pineapple Juice, fresh Lime Juice, and Pomegranate served in a Sugar-rimmed Martini Glass Shaken and served table side. I loved all of the flavors, and the licorice-like taste of the Ouzo was very present. My first thought? “This tastes like a Good -n- Plenty!”

Ouzo-tini

Ouzo-tini

The Spanakopita — Traditional Phyllo Pie of Spinach, Feta, Leeks, and Dill — was…fine. Maybe we were having an off night, but the heavy spinach taste wasn’t much to our liking (and my companion usually LOVES spinach). It’s hard to say that, as I know this is a traditional item on the menu. I can give very high marks to the phyllo pastry… .

Spanakopita, Bread, and Butter

Spanakopita, Bread, and Butter

Spanakopita

Spanakopita

The Saganaki — Seared Haloumi Cheese with Lemon and Oregano — was my favorite of the two appetizers. It’s basically the Greek version of fried cheese, so why wouldn’t we like it? The cheese is firm — almost rubbery in texture. It’s quite salty, and the tang of the lemon adds an interesting layer. Although the cheese is a decent taste alone, it’s much better when eaten, as presented, with the soft, crusty oil-and-herb brushed bread. One more tidbit — originally, the saganaki was to be flambeed table-side. Due to dangerous conditions (not the least of which are kids + fire), the flames stayed in the kitchen; but the whole kitchen staff yells, “Opa!” every time the fire jumps feet into the air.

Saganaki

Saganaki

From there, we moved on to our entrees. I had been fantasizing about the Pastitsio since the Kouzzina menu was released way back when, so I ordered that. We also ordered the Flank Steak and a side order of herbed Orzo.

The Pastitsio — Greek-style Lasagna with Bucatini Pasta, Cinnamon-stewed Meat Sauce, and Bechamel — looks gorgeous. With a brown, crusted top and layers of rich bechamel sauce; thick, spaghetti-like bucatini; and spicy (as in cinnamon-spice) meat sauce, it looked heavenly. But the taste was…I hate to say it…a bit bland. I looked around for salt. There was none on the table, which was according to Cat Cora’s instructions, said my waiter. He brought me the salt and the Pastitsio got better, but it’s not something I would order again. My companion (a more adventurous eater than I) felt the same.

Pastitsio

Pastitsio

Pastitsio Inside

Pastitsio Inside

On the other hand, the Wood-grilled Flank Steak with fresh Herb Saltsa and Kouzzina Potatoes was rockin’! Grilled perfectly and settled on those beautiful little smooshed garlic potatoes, it was the hit of the evening.

Flank steak and crushed garlic potatoes

Flank steak and crushed garlic potatoes

We also sampled the Herbed Orzo side dish with Greek Olive Oil and Kasseri Cheese. This was light, fluffy, and had a stunning flavor — salty again, with that slight zing of lemon. The cheese in no way weighed this down. We enjoyed it.

Herbed Orzo with Cheese

Herbed Orzo with Cheese

For dessert, I knew we had to try the Loukoumades — Greek doughnuts drizzled with warm honey. I was also in a chocolate-y mood, and although I’m not usually that impressed with Disney World’s standard chocolate desserts, I ordered the Chocolate Budino Cake with a warm molten center and whipped sweet cream.

The Loukoumades came highly recommended by a food blog reader, and we’re big ol’ doughnut fans, anyway. They looked puffy and yummy and fried, and you can’t beat that. Better yet, they were delicious. The honey drizzle feels and tastes like a glaze, and after a quick crunch as you bite, the Loukoumades melt in your mouth. Add the tangy berry dipping sauce and you’ve got a jelly doughnut right there at your table. A truly clever, “interactive” dessert that the whole family can enjoy together.

Loukoumades

Loukoumades

The Chocolate Budino Cake looked innocent enough, and I almost discounted it as being another of the bland, (seemingly) mass-produced Disney World chocolate desserts. But I would have been wrong. The aroma when I cut into the cake was the precise one I smell when my Dad adds the butter to a bubbling pot of dark chocolate fudge at Christmastime. Every bite of this dessert was delicious.

Chocolate Budino Cake

Chocolate Budino Cake

And the inside...

And the inside...

I didn’t get the chance to try Cat Cora’s Greek Cookies, but I did get to take a photo for you!

Kouzzina Cookies

Kouzzina Cookies

Overall, I enjoyed the feel and service of this restaurant. And while the dishes (except the steak and dessert) weren’t spot on for my palate, I really do look forward to returning and trying some of the other items on the menu.

As with several of Disney’s newer restaurants, this menu has some adventurous dishes, such as the traditional whole fish entree. But it is actually more populated with more familiar items — such as the burger, steaks, fried cheese, and lasagne — that have been given Greek and Mediterranean twists. Overall, you (and your kids) are probably going to find something you like here, even if you’re picky eaters, but check out the menu to be sure you’re comfortable. It’s well worth the visit to the Boardwalk, and can offer a delicious and interesting evening out for the family or a romantic evening for date night.

Try it and let me know what you think via facebook, twitter, or email!

You can find other posts on Kouzzina here:
Kouzzina Grand Opening
More Kouzzina food photos, including the Whole Fish entree.
Kouzzina menus