Friday, November 17, 2017
Travel

17th annual Epcot International Food & Wine Festival opens Friday at Walt Disney World

RECOMMENDED READING


ORLANDO — Al Youngman says there's no secret to quality control at the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival.

It's good policing.

"We have three to four chefs at every zone around the promenade and we are always walking the kiosks the whole day," said Youngman, the chef de cuisine at the popular Le Cellier steakhouse at the park's Canadian pavilion. "The policing and the procedures are the kind of things we have to do every day."

After all, more than a million tapas-sized dishes are served over the course of Walt Disney World's annual culinary trip around the world. The festival, which opens its 17th year Friday and runs through Nov. 12, has tweaked its 2012 menu with offerings for kids, vegans and locavores.

As always, the challenge is to deliver consistent dishes in volume and in the Florida heat at the more than 25 international food and beverage "marketplaces" around the park's World Showcase. Youngman said the key to freshness is cooking the food as it's ordered.

"When we think about menu planning, we also think about how we finish (the dishes) on stage," he said.

For example, at the Canadian marketplace, the longtime salmon dish has been replaced by a filet from Le Cellier. The steak is seared to order on a flat top with salt and pepper before being sauced and plated.

The result: The Wild Mushroom Beef Filet Mignon With Truffle Butter Sauce is tender, tasty and perfectly cooked.

Some of the other new dishes, including those at two new kiosks, were made available during a recent media preview:

At the new Florida Local, the food includes heritage Mangalitsa pork from Ocala, Zellwood corn and Gulf of Mexico shrimp. We sampled the Shrimp Ceviche With Fire Roasted Vegetables, Fried Plantains and Cilantro, which strikes a good balance between heat and flavor while still letting the shrimp be the star.

For the first time, the festival offers vegan fare at the new Terra kiosk. We tried the Trick'n Chick'n Curry With Basmati Rice. The tasty curry sauce atop the faux Gardein Chick'n Breast likely will satisfy vegans and carnivores alike.

At Australia, the Grilled Lamb Chop With Mint Pesto and Potato Crunchies sounds better in theory than in practice. We thought the potato chip topping quickly lost its crunch.

There also are new drinks at the various marketplaces. At Desserts & Champagne, kids can get Nesquik frozen foams (chocolate or strawberry), while adults can sip foamy drinks at Craft Beer with a festival-only Devil's Triangle IPA from the Florida Beer Co. There is also a Florida Orange Groves Key Lime wine from South Pasadena, a 30th anniversary rum drink and a made-for-the-festival Iron Horse Fairy Tale Cuvee.

New at the Festival Center is the Chocolate Experience: From the Bean to the Bar hosted by Ghirardelli. Also, guests can now sample wines at the center's wine shop. (Away from the kitchen, HGTV designers will conduct seminars at the Festival Center on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.) There are also the usual events, such as culinary demonstrations from celebrity chefs like Cat Cora, the Party for the Senses grand tastings, chef-exclusive seminars and the Eat to the Beat concert series.

Peter Couture can be reached at [email protected]bay.com.

 
Comments
With Harry Potter’s Christmas, Universal Orlando proves holidays are big business

With Harry Potter’s Christmas, Universal Orlando proves holidays are big business

ORLANDO — Christmas has finally come to Hogwarts at Universal Orlando in a new holiday attraction opening Saturday. In addition, Universal Studios has completely upsized its holiday parade with more Macy’s balloons, stunning floats and snowy effects ...
Updated: 7 hours ago
First look: Harry Potter’s Christmas finally arrives at Universal Orlando

First look: Harry Potter’s Christmas finally arrives at Universal Orlando

Christmas has finally come to Hogwarts at Universal Orlando, with the promise of warm butterbeer, a Frog Choir singing carols and a magical light show projected onto Hogwarts Castle nightly followed by fireworks. It opens to the public on Saturday. C...
Published: 11/17/17
Flights of fancy vacation photography, courtesy of drones

Flights of fancy vacation photography, courtesy of drones

Rachel RaczkaImagine your favorite vacation photo: that perfect sunset shot with waves gently crashing and an amber crescent reflecting off the ocean’s glassy surface.Now imagine it from above.Drone sales in the United States doubled in the year that...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Explore underwater treasures at Sombrero Reef off Marathon in the Florida Keys

Explore underwater treasures at Sombrero Reef off Marathon in the Florida Keys

The Florida Keys seem like a world away, but they’re not too far away when you’re already in Miami.After departing from a cruise, my daughters and I wanted to keep the vacation going just a little bit longer. We headed south on U.S. 1, bound for Mara...
Published: 11/09/17
Updated: 11/16/17
Universal snaps up more land for potential theme park expansion

Universal snaps up more land for potential theme park expansion

Universal Orlando has purchased another big chunk of land in Orlando, giving the theme park company more than 570 acres to work with for expansions, possibly including a new theme park.The land is adjacent to the $130 million purchase Universal made ...
Updated one month ago
Busch Gardens offers 2018 Fun Card early, with a free Adventure Island pass

Busch Gardens offers 2018 Fun Card early, with a free Adventure Island pass

Busch Gardens has put its 2018 Fun Card on sale early, meaning you can get two free months to visit the Tampa theme park for the rest of this year and a free Adventure Islands water park pass in 2018. This is the fifth year that Busch Gardens has of...
Updated one month ago
17 days, 9 countries: One man’s jaunt through Eastern Europe

17 days, 9 countries: One man’s jaunt through Eastern Europe

USTI NAD LABEM, Czech Republice_SDLqYou know where I got to go when I was a kid?" I asked my daughter as we climbed the steps to a 14th century castle overlooking the River Elbe and this worn, industrial city."Where?""Texas," I said.It’s hard to reme...
Updated one month ago