2009 Epcot International Food and Wine Festival: New Tastes From Rio and Bangkok

After attending the Michael McMillan (Opus 39 in St. Augustine, FL) Food and Wine Demonstration, I headed back into the stormy World Showcase to capture some tastes and photos of a few of the new items in this year’s festival.

Rio!
First stop was the Rio de Janiero booth, where I sampled the Grilled Pork Skewer with Farofa and grabbed a snapshot of the Shrimp Stew with Coconut and Lime and the Pave de Maracuja (Passion Fruit Mousse). I always feel sad that I can’t possibly try everything (the size of the stomach AND my wallet prevent it), so I’m usually begging the CMs at each booth to let me see and photograph the dishes. ;) The folks at Rio were fantastic, and let me gaze to my heart’s content.

I did actually get to sample the pork skewer, and found it somewhat lacking. After trying the lamb in Melbourne and some of the other meat-based dishes around the festival (like the gumbo in New Orleans), this was pretty bland — even with the dusting of farofa.

Rio de Janiero Menu

Rio de Janiero Menu

Shrimp Stew with Coconut and Lime

Shrimp Stew with Coconut and Lime

Pave de Maracuja

Pave de Maracuja

Pork Skewer with Farofa

Pork Skewer with Farofa

Pork Skewer inside

Pork Skewer inside

Bangkok
Next stop on the “new stuff we gotta see” tour was Bangkok, Thailand. Lots of folks have been wondering about the Green Papaya Salad with Shrimp, and the gang in Bangkok were kindly willing to put together a plate for me to photograph. I love Disney CMs.

Bangkok Booth

Bangkok Booth

Selecting the Shrimp

Selecting the Shrimp

Green Papaya Salad with Shrimp

Green Papaya Salad with Shrimp

What the heck is Urumqi?
There was lots of confusion on this, so I asked for the low-down. Chicken Urumqi is a spicy chicken dish (explained as “chicken with cumin and traditional northwestern chinese spices”) that’s traditionally served like a kabob (on a stick). At the festival, however, it’s served plated. The spice “hot sauce” is a red pepper base, according to the Shanghai booth CMs.

Miscellaneous Shots
Along the way, I also grabbed a snapshot of some of the Mouse Catch Booth cheese, and “the making of” some Cape Town Seared Beef Tenderloin with Sweet Potato Puree and Mango Barbecue Sauce (this is one I hope I have room in my stomach to try in the next couple of days!).

Mouse Catch cheese

Mouse Catch cheese

Seared Beef Tenderloin with Pureed Sweet Potatoes and Mango Barbecue Sauce

Seared Beef Tenderloin with Pureed Sweet Potatoes and Mango Barbecue Sauce

More photos and information coming up soon! I’m here for another few days…

To see more info and photos from the Food and Wine Festival, visit our 2009 Epcot International 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

2009 Epcot Food and Wine Festival: Tequila Tasting Seminar

Tequila

“Welcome to La Cava del Tequila!” I was among the first group of taste-testers for the 2009 Epcot International Food and Wine Festival’s inaugural Tequila Tasting Seminar today, and I wanted to bring you along with me. So, shall we to Mexico?

La Cava del Tequila

La Cava del Tequila

The line was a little out of hand prior to the event, but sooner or later we were all checked off the list and seated in our assigned seats in the Cava.

Cava Seating and Mural

Cava Seating and Mural

Epcot’s Tequila Ambassador, Hilda Castillo, expertly led us through an informative and interesting seminar.

Hilda Castillo Leading the Seminar

Hilda Castillo Leading the Seminar

Hilda first described the background on Tequila, including its origin (Tequila, Mexico, where Hilda’s from), its source (Agave), its process, and its categories. There is a brilliant mural on the side wall of the Cava that depicts the life cycle of Tequila processing, including the growth of the Agave plant, the cooking down of the plants to create Agave juice, the fermentation into Agave wine, and the distillation of the Agave wine into Tequila.

A Section of the Cava del Tequila Mural

A Section of the Cava del Tequila Mural

From there, Hilda told us that we would be going through the tasting focusing on the following: Look (Sight), Aroma (Smell), and Flavor (Taste). She explained that different types of Tequila get their distinction based on the amount they’re aged. New Tequila, called “Blanco,” is very clear and very strong — think “gas fumes in your mouth,” because that’s what I tasted when we swished the Blanco Tequila! “Reposado,” or “rested” Tequila is a shade darker and significantly smoother than Blanco. Finally, the “Anejo,” or “aged” Tequila is a dark gold color and has a more “oil-like” consistency. This has the smoothest flavor of all.

Tequila Tasting Setting

Tequila Tasting Setting

Blanco

Reposado

Anejo

From there, Hilda led us through an aroma exercise. Because each type of Tequila had a specific aroma associated with it (lime with Blanco, cinnamon with Reposado, and coffee with Anejo), she had us smell a sample of the aroma before smelling each Tequila sample. Hilda showed us the three different ways to “perceive the aroma” of Tequila in order to gather the three different scents — sweet, alcohol-strong, and spicy/sweet — that are emitted.

Items to prime our noses for the Tequila aromas

Items to prime our noses for the Tequila aromas

Demonstrating one of the aroma techniques

Demonstrating one of the aroma techniques

Finally, we got to taste. Hilda began with the strongest of the three and moved on to the richest of the three. The Blanco Tequila exploded in my mouth. We were supposed to swish for five seconds, and that was practically impossible. This alcohol was so strong my tongue went numb.

The Reposado and Anejo went down much smoother, but based on my experience with the Blanco, I took MUCH smaller sips!

Once finished with the Flavor segment of the event, we were served three small appetizer tapas — shrimp cocktail, a crab tostada, and a chicken tostada — to complement our Tequila.

Shrimp Cocktail, Chicken Tostada, and Crab Tostada with corresponding Tequilas

Shrimp Cocktail, Chicken Tostada, and Crab Tostada with corresponding Tequilas

Overall, the event was lovely. Hilda is extremely knowledgeable and did a fantastic job as presenter, teacher, and adviser. I know that many of these are already sold out for the remainder of the festival, but if you get the chance, make a reservation (407-WDW-FEST). It’s a great experience!

I’ve copied out the Epcot Tequila Bar menu here. Happy perusing!

For more photos, links, and information from the 2009 Epcot International Food and Wine Festival, visit our Food and Wine Festival Page!

2009 Epcot Food and Wine Festival: Today’s Food Photos!

Epcot Food and Wine Festival welcome

This post is part of our series of posts on the 2009 Epcot Food and Wine Festival.  Be sure to check out more of the posts in the series.

Hi all! I’ll be putting up separate posts all about today’s Tequila Tasting Seminar, the Epcot Food and Wine Festival Center, the Taste of Puglia seminars, and the Festival Artwork artist — Tim Rogerson — with whom I had the chance to chat. For now, I wanted to share with you all of the delicious things I got the chance to try and see today. If your suggestion didn’t make it into this round of photos, don’t worry — I’ll get to it!

A radio station was broadcasting live from Epcot!

Radio Station Broadcasting Live

Radio Station Broadcasting Live

Around the World I go! Stopped in the San Juan booth for some Arroz con Pollo and Ham Croquettes.

San Juan Booth

San Juan Booth

Arroz con Pollo

Arroz con Pollo

Ham Croquettes from San Juan Booth

Ham Croquettes from San Juan Booth

Then it was next door to Santiago, Chile, for a taste of the Corn and Cheese Arepa and the Alfajores (Dulce de Leche Cookie). I also had a chance to snap a photo of the Rock Shrimp Ceviche. I love that they put popcorn in this thing — the CM said it was a Chile tradition.

The Corn and Cheese Arepa was nothing to write home about (basically, a cornmeal pancake — rather grainy on the inside — with a sprinkling of cheese), but the Alfajor was amazing. Served chilled, this little cookie was one of the superstars for me today.

Santiago Chile Menu

Santiago Chile Menu

Ceviche

Ceviche

Dulce de Leche Cookie

Dulce de Leche Cookie

Had to show you a pic of the delicious filling

Had to show you a pic of the delicious filling

Santiago, Chile, Corn and Cheese Arepe

Santiago, Chile, Corn and Cheese Arepe

Inside the Corn and Cheese Arepe

Inside the Corn and Cheese Arepe

Next came the first of two baklavas taste-tested today (thanks for the suggestion of the Baklava Throwdown!). I’m going to write the Baklava Throwdown as a separate post, but for now, here are photos of the Marrkesh Baklava and the Athens Baklava. Which do YOU think is better?

Epcot Food and Wine Festival Athens

Athens Baklava

Athens Baklava

Marrakesh Booth

Marrakesh Booth

Marrakesh Baklava

Marrakesh Baklava

I also snapped some shots of the New York State wines booth, as I’m such a giant fan of ice wine…

Wines of New York

Wines of New York

New York State wines menu

New York State wines menu

The ice wine is all the way to the right...

The ice wine is all the way to the right...

And I got the chance to chat with Tim Rogerson, the Festival Poster Artist. I’ll write a separate blog about his work, but I snapped a fun photo of Tim with his original masterpiece. (Note: I’ll grab the price on the poster tomorrow.)

Tim Rogerson with his original painting

Tim Rogerson with his original painting

Then it was over to New Orleans for a bit of some AMAZING Chicken and Andouille Gumbo and Praline Bread Pudding with Bourbon Caramel Sauce. I can’t tell you how many happy noises I made while chowing down on these two dishes. The Praline Bread Pudding tasted like a sugar-soaked monkey bread with the perfect crunch of sugar caramelization on the top. The Gumbo was spicy and flavorful — a meal in itself.

New Orleans Booth and Menu

New Orleans Booth and Menu

New Orleans Praline Bread Pudding

New Orleans Praline Bread Pudding

Chicken and Andouille Gumbo

Chicken and Andouille Gumbo

I realized that Big Bad Voodoo Daddy was about to perform at the Eat to the Beat Concert, so I popped in to listen to the first song. I’d seen them in concert back in the 90’s, so it was fun to reminisce!

Big Bad Voodoo Daddy Announcement

Big Bad Voodoo Daddy Announcement

Big Bad Voodoo Daddy Performing at Eat to the Beat

Big Bad Voodoo Daddy Performing at Eat to the Beat

Continuing my tour, I headed to Melbourne, Australia, for a bite of Grilled Lamb Chop, Red Wine Sauce, and Murray River Sea Salt.

Melbourne, Australia Booth

Melbourne, Australia Booth

Grilled Lamb Chop, Red Wine Sauce, Murray River Sea Salt

Grilled Lamb Chop, Red Wine Sauce, Murray River Sea Salt

Finally, I headed over to the China booth to try a Green Tea Plum Wine Cooler. This drink was absolutely delicious. I highly recommend it to anyone. In fact, I liked it so much, I went back and got a photo of the Plum Wine bottle! Also got a shot of the rice pancake.

Shanghai, China Booth

Shanghai, China Booth

Green Tea Plum Wine Cooler, China

Green Tea Plum Wine Cooler, China

Plum Wine

Plum Wine

The Plum Wine pour and some rice pancakes in the China booth

The Plum Wine pour and some rice pancakes in the China booth

Whew!! I hope you’re still with me! I’ll be back tomorrow with more — and stay tuned for my Tequila Tasting Seminar post coming soon!

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!

2009 Epcot International Food and Wine Festival Merchandise

Some great merchandise available this year! Here’s a sneak peek!

One of the many Festival Shops

One of the many Festival Shops

These are my favorite item. They’re messenger bags recycled from last year’s banners. Once they’re gone, they’re GONE! Get one soon!

Messenger Bags recycled from last year's banners

Messenger Bags recycled from last year's banners

Recycled Messenger Bag

Recycled Messenger Bag

Recycled Messenger Bag

Recycled Messenger Bag

This year’s Cookbook! I really like the styling of this.

2009 Epcot Food and Wine Festival Cookbook

2009 Epcot Food and Wine Festival Cookbook

A couple of recipes in the book

A couple of recipes in the book

Pins and T-shirts! This year’s designs offer men’s and women’s styles — and plenty of them! There’s a great selection this year; everyone will find something they like.

This year's pins

This year's pins

epcot food and wine festival tshirt

These depict this year's theme artwork

These depict this year's theme artwork

Women's shirt

Women's shirt

And other items…

Another t-shirt option and the tote bags

Another t-shirt option and the tote bags

Coasters, notecards, and wine charms

Coasters, notecards, and wine charms

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

New Dishes at Liberty Tree Tavern (And We Tried One!)

We were over at Liberty Tree Tavern for lunch today and found out about two brand new dishes: Chicken and Dumplings and Salmon Cakes!

New Liberty Tree Tavern Menu Items

New Liberty Tree Tavern Menu Items

The chicken and dumplings was not what we expected, and almost tasted like a very hearty, peppery chicken soup. A bit too homogeneous a taste for an entree (we like some sides with our meals), but not a bad dish.

Liberty Tree Tavern Chicken and Dumplings

Liberty Tree Tavern Chicken and Dumplings

Unfortunately, the pasta dish has been taken off the menu.

Tokyo Dining in Epcot’s Japan Pavilion

Special thanks to Christina Relacion, who writes Scenes From the T and recently contributed several photos for the food blog’s Best Restaurants for Thanksgiving post. She and her husband put together this great guest post about Tokyo Dining in Epcot’s World Showcase!

Tokyo Dining

Have you ever gone to a place numerous times and then found a hidden gem? Tokyo Dining inside the Japan pavilion at Epcot’s World Showcase is one of those diamonds in the rough.

My husband and I are WDW veterans and hadn’t even ventured inside the walls of the pavilion until our most recent trip. But being huge sushi fans it amazed us that we had never had an experience at Tokyo Dining.

Judging by the low number of crowds in the pavilion, it seemed that others were also not as adventurous to wander past the iconic pagodas, koi ponds and faux Shinto shrine gate. But inside the pavilion’s massive structures are the most mouth-watering and delectable sushi, sashimi and other Japanese delights.

Gate Outside of Japan Pavilion

Gate Outside of Japan Pavilion

When we first entered the second-story restaurant in the Mitsukoshi-owned building, Cast Members dressed in traditional Japanese kimonos greeted us. They all graciously welcomed us into the restaurant making us feel like visitors to someone’s home instead of guests at a theme park eatery.

We were swiftly taken to a table overlooking the World Showcase lagoon. The view was spectacular! We mentally took note that this would be a fabulous spot to enjoy Illuminations in the future. A large patio wraps around the second-story giving you an enhanced view of the evening fireworks show.

Dining Room at Tokyo Dining

Dining Room at Tokyo Dining

Tokyo Dining’s menu is comparable to other sushi restaurants. It includes the typical California roll (avocado, cucumber and crab wrapped in seaweed paper and rice) and other favorites such as Spicy Tuna and Salmon rolls, and tempura (battered covered vegetables or meat). One of the first things we noticed were the prices were right in line with other sushi restaurants we have visited (prices begin around $4).

Tokyo Dining Sushi Chefs

Tokyo Dining Sushi Chefs

The menu has enough variety that we were each able to order something different, whether it was a selection of sushi and sashimi or pre-selected meals such as a Bento box.

My husband, Brett, enjoyed a Spicy Philadelphia Roll (a spicy tuna mixture with cream cheese, green onions, and sesame seed, $7.50 for a roll of 5-6 pieces) , yellowtail sashimi (fish with no rice, $9.95 for 5-6 pieces) and salmon roll (salmon wrapped in seaweed paper and rice, $6 for a roll of 5-6 pieces). The Spicy Philadelphia Roll was a pleasant surprise of hot and cool contrasting tastes. The cream cheese nicely followed the tang of the spicy tuna mixture. This roll is one we had never found at any other sushi restaurant.

Sushi Selections

Sushi Selections

On the other hand, I enjoyed a Bento box. A pre-selected concoction of beef teriyaki, seaweed salad, tuna sashimi and tempura vegetables served with Miso soup (a clear broth with tofu) and a Japanese-style side salad with ginger-infused dressing, all for $23.50. I was a bit apprehensive of the seaweed salad, but it was one of the best parts of the meal. It had a sweet flavor with a little crunch.

Bento Box

Bento Box

Miso Soup

Miso Soup

To end the meal, our server brought out a special First Anniversary dessert for us. The chocolate-ginger cake (normally $5.50) is comprised of layers of ginger-flavored cake with chocolate mousse and a dark chocolate glaze. It was the perfect ending to our meal.

Chocolate Ginger Cake

Chocolate Ginger Cake

Although some people are apprehensive about eating raw fish, there are many items on the menu for vegetarians and those who are picky eaters. A great rule of thumb: tempura-battered items are generally fried. You can also select sushi rolls that are made of items such as sweet potato, cucumber, asparagus and other tasty veggies. For sushi rookies, we recommend trying something such as tuna for your first raw experience due to its taste and texture.

The service and quality at Tokyo Dining is some of the best in WDW. Cast members go out of their way to make your experience pleasurable. If you decide to make this your first sushi experience, you won’t be disappointed.