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Epcot International Food and Wine Festival 2014 Preview - 4

 

The holiday season is the best time to be at Walt Disney World with little exception.  Luckily what leads into the holiday season is easily the runner-up and is right around the corner as the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival has become a massive experience that brings the magic of cuisine, to Disney guests for a sensational event at Epcot and the Walt Disney World Resort unlike any other.  With food and drink exemplifying the best from around the world, it is a time for indulging, sharing and smiling alongside beautiful vistas, great friends and unforgettable memories.  This year’s 2014 Epcot International Food and Wine Festival looks to carry on that legacy by combining new treats with fan-favorites and by providing the longest festival to date, a whopping 53 days of food fiesta that begins this September 19, 2014.  But we aren’t ones to keep you waiting, especially when food is involved so we’ve got a first look at what’s new and exciting about this years festival so that you can begin to prepare your chops for what is set to arrive in just a couple of months.

 

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Everyone who has been to the Epcot Food and Wine Festival can tell you their favorite dish but food and wine festivals around the world are always about the cutting edge of cuisine, introducing new flavors to the scene, reintroducing old ones in a new fashion or simply highlighting the exceptional tastes from across the globe.  At Epcot its no different and this year’s menu includes approximately thirty-five new creations ready to bolster your palette.  Puerto Rico plays an expanded role at the 2014 festival and we got to try “Carne Guisada con Arroz Blanco,” that consists of slow braised beef with white rice grown in Puerto Rico and a fried plantain.  This was paired with Medalla light beer and a Sangriiia Cocktail, both of which left much to be desired but the Carne Guisada made up for it.  The slow braised beef was tender and rich as you’d expect, reminding this Cuban boy of “Carne con Papa” but instead made with a tomato-based sauce like “Ropa Vieja.”

Patagonia is the southernmost region of South America shared by both Argentina and Chile, represents the newest Marketplace to join the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival.

From the Caribbean the festival makes its way to Patagonia that refers to the southernmost region of South America that is shared by both Argentina and Chile and represents the newest Marketplace to join the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival.  We previewed a decadent roasted Verlasso Salmon with Quinoa Salad and Arugula Chimi Churri.  I enjoyed the simplicity of the Salmon’s richness that was highlighted beautifully by the slightly bolder and fresh taste of the Arugula Chimi Churri.  And you don’t even have to wait till the Festival begins to try this wonderful ensemble of simple ingredients as the recipe has been posted for your home cooking pleasure.

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A Greek vegetarian Moussaka was one of the highlights of this preview event with its bold flavors that make you forget that no meat was involved, well at least for a moment.  If you have more of a sweet tooth you’ll be happy to know, the latest Craisins® featured dish is a Hops and Barley Carrot Cake with Craisins® and Cream Cheese Icing.  Simple but good.  Tagging along was a pair of Refreshment Port Croissant Doughnuts and a Bean to the Bar Warm Drinking Chocolate that was so rich and smooth, especially since it was paired with one of my personal favorite drinks Rosa Regale.

 

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Remember Hanson?  

 

Remember “MMMBop?

 

 

The night also featured a couple more savory bites as appetizers for the preview event that were amongst my favorites of the entire evening but we’ll save the best for last as we move on to some of the highlights of the drinks served, even if perhaps more for the story they tell then the underwhelming flavors they strike.  Remember Hanson?  Remember “MMMBop?”  Well now the brothers have their own craft beer featured at this year’s Epcot International Food and Wine Festival, with Mmmhops a full-bodied Pale Ale.  At first blush the beer didn’t pack enough flavor for me to warrant the overly hoppy taste but I’ll certainly give it another shot at the festival later this year.  A portion of the proceeds (10%) goes to fund the drilling of clean water wells in Africa through their non-profit, Take The Walk.  But Mmmhops isn’t the only drink with a story to tell at Epcot’s Food and Wine Festival.

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Saving the planet one glass at a time is a worthy and very marketable endeavor but the wine sadly just wasn’t as remarkable as the container and message that surrounds it.

This year sees the arrival of Paperboy Wine‘s Red Blend which thinks differently about the way we consume wine in an effort to create a more sustainable model.  The wine bottle is 100% recyclable through its use of paper material body and plastic interior lining.  The lighter recyclable materials also present a more portable product over glass which carries an approximate 80% higher weight count, useful when packing a bottle in camping gear and other adventures that could use a bit of creature comfort flair.  Saving the planet one glass at a time is a worthy and very marketable endeavor but the wine sadly just wasn’t as remarkable as the container and message that surrounds it.  But we did promise to end on a high note and these next two offerings might just be our top picks to keep an eye out for when you make your way out to this year’s festival.

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If you are looking for that feel good, hearty comfort food with just enough Epcot Food and Wine Festival uniqueness to it, then look no further.

First we have the Farm Fresh Nueskes® Pepper Bacon Hash with sweet corn, potatoes, hollandaise and pickled jalapeños.  If the ingredients alone don’t make your mouth water than we are sure our pictures will.  If you are looking for that feel good, hearty comfort food with just enough Epcot Food and Wine Festival uniqueness to it, then look no further.  The dish is filled with perfectly complementing flavors that are beautifully heightened by just enough heat from the pickled jalapeños.  If that was the early surprise of the night, then the next dish, is a classic standout that had to deliver on its reputation.  Luckily it did more than just that.

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Their searing was perfection but it is how these scallops naturally soak up the spinach, cheddar and bacon flavors that sends this dish into another stratosphere.

 

The standout of the evening is a toss-up between the Farm Fresh Pepper Bacon Hash and Scotland’s Sea Scallop that was bathed in a wonder of spinach, cheddar gratin and crispy bacon.  I could just leave it right there and you’d know it was amazing.  But just to confirm what your stomach is already hounding you to realize, it was fantastic.  Poor Chef Tim, who was tasked this evening with feeding the privileged attendees was cranking these sizable scallops as fast as he could.  The demand was as obvious as the execution of their searing was perfection but it is how these scallops naturally soak up the spinach, cheddar and bacon flavors that sends this dish into another stratosphere.

 

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Needless to say this night was a grand experience that we are overjoyed to share with you and bodes well for a festival beloved by so many.  Even this preview with every detail we could reasonably fit in is just a quick sampling of the nearly overwhelming number of events and entertainment offerings that are present during the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival.  So think of this as a toast to the beautiful beginnings of another round of Epcot culinary fun, brought to your senses through that very fine glass of wine that is Da Mouse.