Sunday, October 19, 2003

Eat, Drink, and Be Disney 

(Day 7, Walt Disney World Vacation)
The EPCOT Food and Wine Festival started yesterday. During the rest of the year, EPCOT’s World Showcase includes tributes to eleven different countries (U.S.A., Japan, Morocco, France, U.K., Canada, Mexico, Norway, China, Germany, and Italy), which boast more than a dozen table-service restaurants and even more counter service places where you can get a quick bite to eat. During the Food and Wine Fest, an additional 25 counter service booths are set up, featuring small food samplings, wine, and beer from all over the world.

The festival also has an “Eat to the Beat” concert series (featuring artists such as Sister Sledge, Three Dog Night, and Chubby Checker), as well as informative seminars (such as Great Beers of the World), cooking demonstrations (saw Martin Yan from Yan Can Cook yesterday) and formal wine tastings.

I started out yesterday at the opening bell: 11 a.m. By 1 p.m. I had eaten my way from Russia to Germany!

Since we entered EPCOT through the “back door” – the International Gateway, we started in the U.K. Because it was a bit early, we skipped over the Great Beers of the World Booth (Bass, Boddingtons, Carlsberg, Lowenbrau, Labatt, and Stella Artois), and flew past New Zealand (lamb chops ands chilled mussels), Spain (gazpacho, paella), and Canada (cheddar cheese soup, salmon with honey maple glaze), heading straight to Russia & Eastern Europe for a favorite from last year: Beef Stroganoff with Buttered Noodles. It's topped it off with a squiggle of cold sour cream on the top. Yum! I was also going to have their potato pancake, but since we still had a whole bunch of booths to visit, I was trying to pace myself.

We hit Greece next. The lines were already 8-10 people deep and the sun was super hot. I was very glad that I'd remembered the sunscreen. Between my husband and I, we tried everything Greece had to offer: baklava, Greek salad, souvlaki, and a spinach pie called spanakopita. Lest you think we are professional eaters or independently wealthy, let me state that portions are very small – smaller than the average restaurant appetizer; three or four bites at most, and the prices are usually between $1-$3 per item. The Greek salad was especially tasty, and the spinach pie was perfectly hot and flaky.

Skipping over Mexico (saved for tomorrow), Ireland (line too long), and Scandinavia (no line due to odd offerings, such as cold poached salmon and smoked trout...I am Norwegian and I don't even eat that stuff), we made our way over to China. We didn’t try their mango mousse, although it looked interesting, but we did try dan dan noodles (perfectly cooked and chilled noodles in a spicy sesame sauce), chicken in peanut sauce (so-so for me), and scallion pancakes (not the best).

We bypassed Poland (although I loved their stuffed cabbage roll last year, the line was too long to try this on day one of the festival), South Africa (saved for another day), and Australia (line enormous due to shrimp on the barbie popularity). By this time it was afternoon, so I decided to end my grazing lunch with a nice Lowenbrau Oktoberfest…which took me about 45 enjoyable minutes to finish while sitting in the shade people watching and listening to oom-pah-pah music.

Today we decided to graze around the world for lunch again. We started by repeating Greece since it was so tasty yesterday. Then we headed to Mexico (lines were much shorter today), enjoying both the chicken taco al carbon, and the chorizo and chicken quesadilla. The corn tortillas have such an authentic flavor and texture to them…they must use lard, which is the only way they could taste that good I think. I went to a wine tasting given by the Trinchero Winery, which is in California. I liked their reserve cabernet, but the others (sauvignon blanc, chardonnay, and another cab), were sort of ordinary. The seminar itself was very good, though, as it focused on wine aromas.

Ahh, this is the life. Walking, eating, drinking, Disney.
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