20th Annual International Epcot Food & Wine Festival

It’s that time of year again! Every year I say Im going to blog about the festival and I rarely manage to do it, so YAY me!

Firstly, I realized that out of 20 years I’ve only missed about 5! Wow! (No Im not that old ūüėõ )

Here are some of the dishes I ate, my not really worth it picks and my festival favorites.

I spent two days at the festival and will surely go a few more times before its all said and done. That being said Annual Passholders are able to get a free commemorative port glass this year! Go to Innovations and get a stamp in your passport each day you attend. Third stamp = free glass! This may not seem like a big deal to some but especially with the new insane cost of passes, anything free I’ll take, please and thank you.

Warning: Food Porn ahead!

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Brazil -Crispy pork belly with black beans and tomato; this dish has been there before but it is most certainly one of my favorites! Its one of the ones I hope they never take away! **FESTIVAL FAVORITE 

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Japan -Spicy hand roll: Tuna and salmon with Kazan Volcano sauce; last year Iw as so disappointed this was not on the menu.. they had some sort of chicken sushi roll crap, wtf? Chicken is NOT sushi no matter how much you try.. and no, not even chicken of the sea. Happy to see it back this year!
**FESTIVAL FAVORITE

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France – Croissant aux escargots with garlic and parsley and a Sparkling Pomegranate Kir; The Kir was delish as always, but the new way they are doing the escargots, eh.. Ill take years past over this new version.

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America РHops & Barley Market; New England Lobster Roll 
NOT to be confused with the Lobster Roll of Festivals past. While the lobster roll was delicious, I kept hearing all this buzz about “the Lobster Roll is back the Lobster Roll is back” no… its not. This is not the same Lobster Roll we all fell in love with a couple years ago.. This was more like a Lobster Salad on bread. Delicious, but bring back the past please.

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Australia – Grilled sweet and spicy bush berry shrimp with pineapple, peppers, onions, and snap peas;
This was MUCH better than the shrimp they had in previous years! Little Tangy Little spicy, delicious!

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Festival Center – Drinking Chocolate

A lot of times unless you book a class many people don’t make it into the Festival Center. I however, always make a point to go see the Festival center shop, and more importantly, go to the Ghirardelli section to see the chocolate creations, get my little piece of free chocolate, and a cup of drinking chocolate.. To. Die. For.

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Chew Lab – Olive Oil-Poached Salmon with Fresh Corn, Bacon, and Pepper Jam
** FESTIVAL FAVORITE
Chew Lab is a new booth with food that The Chew TV Show host and hostesses created, Yummy stuff! I also had the White Sangria from the Sustainable Chew booth. The Chew was filming onsite this year, total bummer I had to miss it, but fun stuff!

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Japan – Miso Udon: steamed shrimp, vegetables, and noodles in a spicy broth
I LOVE LOVE Brothy dishes. I was excited to see this on Japans menu,  A New item this year, it was good, but not as good as I wanted it to be. If your in Japan, the Spicy Hand Roll is way more worth the money.

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China – Happy Peach with peach liqueur and dark rum
This drink was good, but it wasn’t as sweet as I expected it to be (nor as peachy) if you don’t like sweet this may be a great drink for you, but I won’t be getting it again.¬†On a side note, Candied Strawberries were one of my festival favorites for China. They didn’t have them last year, then they had them for Flower and Garden Festival, now they don’t have them again! What are they doing to me?!?! UG!

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Mexico РTacos de camarón: Battered shrimp, pico de gallo, pickled onions, and chipotle mayonnaise
**FESTIVAL FAVORITE 
While the San Angel Inn (inside by the ride) is one of my very favorite restaurants in Epcot, Ive always been a bit disappointed in the F&W Festival Kiosk in Mexico. This year they turned me around! Despite that they didn’t bring my my jalape√Īo margarita I love so much, the shrimp tacos were WAY better than previous years! Straight up Mexico! Love!

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PatagoniaРGrilled beef skewer with chimichurri sauce and boniato purée paired with Terrazas Reserva Malbec
**FESTIVAL FAVORITE

Another year of Patagonia, another year of beef skewer goodness.

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Refreshment Port РPineapple Dole Whip soft-serve ice cream with Bacardí Coconut Rum
**FESTIVAL FAVORITE
This year they made this stand (Which is always there year round) and actual stop on your passport. We didn’t mind considering they had Dole Whip with Rum, but WAIT, don’t get TOO Excited yet.. This ain’t your mommas Dole Whip. This is just Soft Serve with Rum Poured on top, This is NOT like the Dole Whip Served at Magic Kingdom. But still O so Tasty!

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Dominican Republic РSoufflé de yuca: Yuca soufflé topped with riddled cheese
This is where the Puerto Rican booth was last year,¬†while I wish the cheese was a bit hotter so it didn’t harden up as much as it did, it was still delicious. and the Yuca Souffl√©? omg. So good!

I ate many more foods but these were the tips and thoughts I wanted to share for this round. Stay tuned in hopes that when I go again, I actually sit down long enough to do another blog post!

Thanks for reading!

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The Cellar.

My review for Floridian View Magazine Aug. 2012

The Cellar.

Growing up in this area I’ve known of the home my entire life, built in 1907 it was the home of our nations 29th president Warren G. Harding. Today it is the location of one of the most beautiful and delicious restaurants in the Daytona area, The Cellar. Owned by Sam and Lina Moggio it is listed on the National Registry of Historic Places.

With a desire for something different and to seek out an eating experience in a more tranquil setting, we chose the Cellar.  Would it meet our expectations?

Currently, the upstairs dining area is being remodeled so we were led to a lovely, cozy dining area downstairs.  Our waiter, Gene, courteously advised us of the specials and wine choices but ultimately suggested what we considered the best choice to sample everything The Cellar had to offer: the tasting menu.

The tasting menu is a five-course selection of pure, fresh, amazing food.¬† You can order the menu with or without wine pairings.¬† We elected to choose our own and selected a Chianti and a ‚ÄúMerchant of Venice‚ÄĚ which is a beautiful, crisp Prosecco with pomegranate syrup instead.¬† They were delish!

We made different selections from the Tasting Menu so that we could share a bit of everything. Starting with an Amuse’ of Tuna tartar, the tasting took us on a journey of culinary expertise and care that tickled our taste buds at every turn. The highlights of the evening for me were the Air-Dried Beef with arugula, peach vinaigrette and apple salad garnish, as well as the fettuccine, smoked duck & seasonal mushroom ragu.  The only misstep in our entire meal was that the potatoes in my main dish, which was a Paillard of snapper with fine chopped vegetables, potato galette and walnut oil, were a bit overdone for my liking.

One area of the Tasting Menu generated consensus with my dining partner and myself: Dessert!  We both insisted on ordering the Dark Chocolate Torte with creme anglaise and chocolate sauce. Served warm, the torte was delicate and rich every bite making us want another, it did not disappoint.

It’s clear from the flavors and presentation that Sam and Lina have a love for fine, fresh foods, and the flavors of Italy.   It shows in every dish, as well as the way Lina floats throughout the dining room greeting each guest with her beautiful smile and charming accent. I recommend you give this quaint old home a taste, you won’t be disappointed!

A Taste of Webster: Amuse-bouche; a single, bite-sized hors d‚ÄôŇďuvre. Amuse-bouches are different from appetizers in that they are not ordered from a menu by patrons, but, when served, are done so for free and according to the chef’s selection alone

 

 

Be Our Guest- Review

Although we have had a sneak peek of Be Our Guest restaurant in the new Fantasy land of Magic Kingdom in Disney World, We were finally getting the chance to eat there, with our reservations on December 21st, 2012.

Walking into the building was beautiful. Between the structure, the statues, the waterfall etc. Well, you are walking into Beasts Castle after all. Disney has always Awe struck me with their attention to detail anyway, but this castle, they outdid themselves!

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The main dining room is enormous and is decked out with cherubs painted on the ceilings, beautiful dessert carts, and floor to ceiling windows in the back of the room. Now, we were there when it was dark, so out the windows it was dark, and snowing! As someone who has only seen snow once in her life and that was when it was already melting laying on the ground, I loved watching it snow out of the windows. The restaurant actually has other dining rooms as well, 3 to be exact, all with different decor. One with the beasts portrait that changes throughout your meal. Needless to say their is a lot of seating capacity!

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The napkins are folded like roses, another cool attention to detail.

DSC_0384During your meal, every so often they announce your “host” for the evening, Beast! Beast walks around and waves to everyone, saying hello, and being a gracious host, Then goes back into a room where you can get your picture with him. (Belle is not on scene at the restaurant just so your aware when you bring your little princesses)
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Let’s talk FOOOOOOD!!! The Kids menu is something that I loved. As a mother of miniature foodies, my kid’s would usually much rather have what’s on the adult menu than the kid’s menu. The Kid’s menu offered things like, ¬†Fish of the Day (Which was Mahi) Grilled Strip Steak, and slow cooked pork. My Sons both being of opposite tastes, one ordered the Mahi and one ordered the steak. Now, I decided to try a bite of each of their dishes.. I have to say the chef, while offering a nice selection for the kids, they were both under seasoned, my 10 year old even mentioned that his needed salt.

For a starter I wanted the Fresh Onion Soup! After all I’m in france! I have to say though, it was to my disappointment. Quiz: What MAKES French Onion Soup? Answer: The Broth! For some reason the chef has chosen to make Vegetarian French Onion Soup. Now, to me.. Your offering a French Menu, I’m supposed to be in france, You already have a vegetarian option on the menu for soup (Potato and Leek) and your giving me French Onion Soup made with vegetable broth?? I don’t get it. It tasted ok, but French Onion Soup it was not.

On to the main meals! My cousin, wanted the Layered Ratatouille which she had gotten there previously, and the chef accommodated her tomato allergy and made it without tomatoes. This time however, the chef (a different chef) came out and told her they could not accommodate her. So  being a vegetarian she ended up eating Soup and Salad.

The other meals ordered were Thyme Scented Pork Rack chop, very tender and tasty and the Au Jus was divine!

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Sautee Shrimp and scallops, it came in a¬†pastery and when it first came out, our thought was “Wow that’s not a lot, theres nothing else on the plate” but it proved to be the perfect amount, and it was delicious. The sauce was something I couldn’t put my finger on but it was rich and savory.¬†
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Pan seared Salmon on Leek Fondue.¬† I could tell the salmon was cooked using a french technique called “arroser”¬†and was cooked perfectly. It just flaked apart as I ate it. Wonderful, but even with this delicious Salmon the star of the dish was the Leek Fondue underneath, something I am determined to re-create. It was smooth and creamy and simply amazing.

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After Dinner the dessert cart comes around, and I asked the waitress (quoting a song from the movie) “can I try the grey stuff? I heard its delicious” as we all laughed, she said “sure” and next thing I know! Viola! I have Grey stuff!!! And it WAS Delicious! The pearls on top are like little cookies, and the “grey stuff” is like a Mouse, creamy, and just darn cute!

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The other Desserts are really a one person dessert, all we tried were delicious, but this Chocolate was the best!! Again, beautiful to look at and so rich and delicious. DSC_0410

Afterwards, we of course had to go Thank the Beast for our wonderful Meal.¬†DSC_0419All in All I will give Be Our Guest 2 thumbs up. They are still working on some of kinks, there were a few missteps in service and from the kitchen (we were brought someone else’s meal once) and I will never understand the vegetarian French Onion Soup. But everything else from the atmosphere to the food was a great experience and we will certainly be returning!