One week from yesterday was my 26th birthday. Since I’m lucky enough to share this birthday with my boyfriend (he turned 36), we made a big celebration of it. The result was a three-day trip to Walt Disney World so we could eat and drink our way around the World Showcase at EPCOT.
This was our third consecutive Food & Wine Festival and it gets bigger every year. We stuffed ourselves silly all three days and there was still a long list of food and drinks we missed! If you like food at all, you need to put this festival on your bucket list. (The same goes for their Flower & Garden festival in the spring. It’s very similar, with flowers and topiaries everywhere and a focus on growing fresh food.)
A little disclaimer here: I like food, I usually know how to prepare it, but I still don’t have the proper vocabulary to talk about it like a proper food critic. This is especially apparent when I talk about alcohol.
Here were some of my favorite things:
Berbere-style Beef Tenderloin Tips (Africa) – Seasoned beef tips with a tomato/onion/jalapeno relish on a bed of pap (think polenta or grits.) These were on the menu last year and I was excited to see them come back. I was lucky enough to get this right off the grill. The jalapeno gave this just enough spice to be noticed, but still palatable to someone who isn’t a massive chllihead like I am. I had this with the Simonsig Pinotage as recommended, but last year I had the Jam Jar Sweet Shiraz. I preferred the Jam Jar, but I’m partial to sweeter wines.
Barbacoa Enchilada with Jalapeno Margarita (Mexico) – Well seasoned beef smothered with a tortilla and mole sauce. Can’t go wrong with that. Like the tenderloin tips from Africa this had minimal spice that isn’t about to burn your tongue off. But if you like more spice, get it with the full-sized jalapeno margarita on the rocks.
Greek Yogurt Vanilla Cake (Greece) – Despite it being a shameless plug for Oikos, this was an enjoyable dessert. The cake was more on the dense side, but flavorful. The ouzo wasn’t nearly enough to give you a buzz, but its presence was noted. That’s more than I could say for boozy desserts in certain other pavilions (looking at you, Scotland.) All topped off with a whipped yogurt/whipped cream mix that balanced out the tartness of unflavored Greek yogurt pretty well.
Lobster Roll and Chardonnay (Hops & Barley) – I approached this one with caution. Not too familiar with the traditional New England-style lobster roll, I expected something closer to seafood salad on a roll. I’m glad I was wrong. This has enough mayonnaise to it so the filling binds together, and that’s it. The recommended pairing was La Crema Chardonnay, and I can’t argue with it.
Bunratty Meade Honey Wine (Ireland) – I first learned about the dangers of mead at a New Year’s Eve party with some friends. It’s too sweet, too smooth, and it’s too easy to get yourself in trouble. Mead is wonderful stuff. Thankfully, you won’t have to worry about that with the ~4oz of mead you’re given, and it’s hard not to walk it all off. Just sip and enjoy.
Citrus Thistle (Scotland) – I’m not usually a fan of gin, but it works in this drink. The grapefruit and added herbs balance out the gin perfectly. It’s like drinking a garden, if you’re into that sort of thing.
Soon I’ll post about the dishes I didn’t quite like.