Sunday, October 28 - Sweet Sundays, Food and Wine Festival
After our late night with the Tower of Terror run we didn't get up very early - about 9:00. We had a Food and Wine event, Sweet Sundays, which started at 10:30, though, so we couldn't stay in bed for too long!
It was a beautiful sunny morning, but the humidity had to be close to 100% - it was really muggy, and even on a rather slow (for us) walk to Epcot we got pretty warm.
Even though they were going to serve us breakfast at Sweet Sundays Lee couldn't wait that long, so we went to Seasons in The Land pavilion and he got coffee and a bagel.
Sweet Sundays is held in the Odyssey Chefs' Showplace. They have a nice setup there with a demonstration kitchen on a stage, and large video monitors on either side, which either show the chef or an overhead view of what he's doing. When we checked in they gave us a table assignment - different from when we did this two years ago and it was more of a free-for-all once they opened the doors. People who checked in early got tables closer to the stage, but really it's not that large a facility, and there are no bad tables.
They served us a "Continental Breakfast Buffet" - when we did this before I was expecting pastries and fruit but this time I knew better! I'd call it a breakfast buffet - they served fruit, two kinds of frittatas, bacon, chicken and apple sausage, roasted potatoes, and some breakfast breads. It was all really good, but we didn't fill up too much, because we still had three desserts coming!
They also served a lightly sparkling wine - Martini & Rossi Prosecco. Wine for breakfast - who knew? :-) It was really nice, though.
The guest chef was Richard Ruskell, from Montage Resort in Laguna Beach CA. Yeah, we travel all the way from San Diego to Florida to see a chef from just up the coast...He was really interesting to listen to, though - a good speaker who was comfortable in front of an audience. One very nice thing about his presentation is that his recipes didn't require any hard-to-find ingredients, and used very basic techniques that anyone should be able to do.
The first dessert he demonstrated was S'mores Nouveau - though he
made his own marshmallow and "graham crackers" and used ganache
(melted chocolate and cream) in place of a Hershey bar. Those were
pretty tasty - in lieu of a fire he used a propane torch to toast
the marshmallow. "Kitchen Tool Time", anyone? :-)
Next was Oatmeal Streusel Apple Crisp. Pretty basic, though he
talked about using fruits other than apples, and how to sweeten them
properly. We received quite a generous serving of this (too much for me
to finish) along with a glass of Martini & Rossi Asti Spumante. The
Crisp was good, but there's really nothing very exciting about that, and
the wine was my favorite part.
The last dessert was Molten Chocolate Cake - which, as I'm sure will come of no surprise to you, was my favorite. It's basically a flourless chocolate cake that isn't cooked all the way through, so it's still gooey in the middle. Ours was served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, and drizzled with caramel - there were also some cocoa nibs (little bits of roasted cocoa beans) on the plate.
While we were enjoying the cake, Chef Ruskell talked about chocolate, one of his favorite subjects. He recommended checking the label on the back of a chocolate bar to make sure it has no more than 5 ingredients (the minimum would be cocoa solids, cocoa butter, sugar, lecithin and, in the case of milk chocolate, milk) - any more than that and you're getting an inferior chocolate with lots of additives.
One tip we learned - if you eat a Twix bar on board an airplane, the plane won't crash. Lee and I tried that on our flight home, and it worked great. :-)
The demonstration ended at 12:30. We went to Canada to see the new O Canada movie - walked in only about 3 minutes before the next show was due to start. I noticed they didn't show as much 360 degree footage in this one - a lot of the time the screens were showing separate images. The Martin Short stuff is ok, and it IS nice to see updated city scenes. But it just isn't the same seeing the movie without our Canadian friend Kevin!
I think we made a circuit around World Showcase after that, though we didn't buy anything - we'd had a very substantial brunch, after all! We stopped into the "Pearville Fair" next to the American Adventure and talked to a very nice pear grower from Washington State, and spun the "Pearis Wheel" and played the pear matching game, and posed with King Pear (though it looked like the pear version of Mr. Potatohead to me.)
The humidity had gone down but it was still a warm day - the warmest we had the entire trip. No rain, though!
I'd wanted to see Voices of Liberty but our timing was off, so we went back to the Odyssey, since I wanted to get in line for the 2:45 chocolate tasting and Lee was going to go to Future World, then head back to the room. I got there at 2:00 but the line was long - the CM handing out tickets started telling people about 12 people in front of me that he was out of tickets, but we'd be able to get in and watch, we just wouldn't get to taste the samples. I stuck it out, and they ended up with some empty spots, so I got in as a single at one of the tasting tables. Yay!!!!
The presentation was from Dagoba Organic Chocolates (pronounced da-GO-bah, and not like the Star Wars planet of DAY-go-bah), and the speaker was the founder of the company, Frederick Schilling. I was surprised to see that he's quite a young guy - about 35. He sure doesn't look like someone who eats lots of chocolate every day! Or like a businessman - he really looks more like a surfer dude.
He talked about how chocolate was grown and harvested and processed, and then we tasted the four chocolate samples. These were all "origin" chocolates, meaning that all of the cacao in each type was grown in the same area. To help us discern the flavor of the chocolate rather than sweetness, he had selected samples with similar percentages of cacao - three of them were 68% cacao and the fourth was 65% cacao.
The first one we tried was the Los Rios bar from Ecuador, which was 65% cacao. Chocolate tasting is similar to wine tasting - before you taste it you smell it. And they talk about "floral tones" and "fruitiness" or "notes of tobacco" or "earthiness". Me personally, I don't taste any of that. I can tell that they taste different, but not how they are different.
Other samples were Pacuare from Costa Rica, Milagros from Peru, and Sambirano from Madacascar. Both the Pacuare and Sambirano use the Trinitario variety of cacao, but they had slightly different flavors.
It was a nice way to spend 45 minutes and I learned lots. :-)
I stopped at the frozen margarita stand on my way back to the Boardwalk and got a Fiesta frozen margarita (layers of lime, mango, strawberry and green apple margarita). It was very refreshing on a warm day.
We'd hoped to be able to watch the Charger football game, but since Tampa Bay was playing Jacksonville, that was what was on TV. Lee found a webcast of the game, though, so we were able to follow what was happening, though not with a lot of detail. The Chargers won, which was the important part.
Around 7:00 we headed back into Epcot to eat around the world again - there were still lots of things we hadn't tried! The park wasn't as crowded as it had been earlier in the day, though lines were 5-6 people deep in several places.
At France we had the Goat Cheese and Sun-Dried Tomato quiche, and that was excellent - I had the Pomegranate Kir, also, which I enjoyed. We tried the Grilled Lamb Chop at Australia - wow, was that disappointing! $4.75 for a very small chop - it tasted fine, but there was hardly any meat there to taste.
So from the biggest rip-off of the Festival we went to the bargain of the Festival - the Spinach Lasagna at Italy. That was a large serving, and only $3.00! It had meat sauce, but I tried some of the lasagna noodles, and those were different and pretty good. I had the Insalata Caprese, which was fine, but I've had better.
At Germany we had the Debriziner Sausage on a Pretzel Roll. The pretzel roll was good, Lee said the sausage was just ok. I also had a glass of the Riesling Kabinett - I preferred the Spatlese I'd had two nights before.
I liked the Durban Spiced Chicken from South Africa so much that I went back after we finished the first and got another one that I *didn't* share with Lee. The chicken was moist with a really good flavor and served on a square of corn cake.
We tried the Samosa at India (they were out of these when we were there on Friday night) and another cup of Butternut Squash soup. The samosa had a little bit of a spicy kick to it, but it was good.
Rather than continuing around World Showcase we turned back at this point - we were ready for dessert and the closest dessert we were interested in trying was the Pistachio Baklava at Turkey. It was just ok - had sort of an odd flavor. Lee had the Manti with Yogurt Sauce - the Turkish version of beef ravioli. He said it was pretty good. I also had a glass of the Kavaklidere Selection Beyaz White Wine, and that was fine. (Between the wine at breakfast, the frozen margarita and three glasses of wine that evening I drank more alcohol in one day than I usually drink in a month!)
We finished up with the Pecan Pie from the Rose Rock Diner in the Great Country of Oklahoma. :-) I know it's their centenniel this year, but the whole "country of Oklahoma" thing cracked me up. And some of the PR written in their booth was rather laughable - like trying to convince us that Oklahoma is the most geographically diverse state. Excuse me??? As compared to California? Which has coastline and *real* mountains?
Anyway...the pecan pie was good - we never did find an outstanding dessert at this year's F&W, but this was as good as there was.
After we finished our pie we had 5 minutes until IllumiNations started. The crowds had really thinned out and we got a spot on the rail between France and Morocco - it even had an unobstructed view! One thing we'd never seen before - when the show started, the "comet" came from the direction of Germany rather than Canada - that surprised us.
We walked back to the room and worked on our computers for a while (going on vacation requires *two* laptops, you know!) and finally went to bed around 12:30.
Monday, October 29 - Epcot
It was another rainy, drizzly gray morning. We got bagels at the Bellevue Room (which meant we didn't even have to go outside!) and ate them back in our room and finished up the incredibly expensive fruit bowls we'd gotten at Picabu.
We lounged around until about noon when I called Kenny, who we'd planned to do "something" with that day. He was not too far from us and ready for lunch, so we met him over at Epcot for more (what else?) eating around the World. The rain had mostly stopped, though we still had a few showers off and on the rest of the day. But I had an umbrella so it was ok.
Before we met Kenny we visited the Great Country of Oklahoma again to sample the offerings at the Three Sisters' Cafe. The Three Sister's soup was pretty tasty on a rainy day - I'd do that again. Lee tried the Seared Buffalo, and thought it was just ok. He also got a cup of the Sweet Tea - though I have no idea how he could drink it. He doesn't usually like really sweet things, but he liked this, even though it was way too sweet for me.
This is getting way too long...other things we tried:
Chicken Bastilla (Morocco) - quite good
Crispy Sukiyaki Beef Roll (Japan) - Lee enjoyed this
New England Crab Cake (Hops and Barley Market) - Lee liked it, I didn't care for it
Boxty (Ireland) - that was a repeat
Grilled Beef with Chimichurri Sauce (Argentina) - Lee really liked this, and I enjoyed the mashed potatoes that came with it.
Tomatican with Manchego Cheese (Chile) - ok, but I wouldn't get it again.
Greek Salad (Greece) - a nice change from all of the meat!
I wanted to see the Voices of Liberty at 2:00, so the guys were trying to make sure I was about as far as possible from the American Adventure at 1:50, and sure enough we were over near the Mexico pavilion. :-) But we made it to the 2:45 show. There were a couple of "Voices" I hadn't seen before, and they sang "A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes", which was something we hadn't heard them perform before. We also went and watched the American Adventure, and saw the new version of the montage at the end. As we walked out we heard several (much younger) people commenting on what a corny and boring show it was, but we enjoy it and find it inspirational.
We walked all the way up to Future World to the Festival Center in the Wonders of Life pavilion - Kenny had warned me not to expect too much, though. :-) It's nice to have the larger area, though it IS quite a distance from the main festival.
We played the two games in the Siemens exhibit under Spaceship Earth - Kenny and I collaborated in putting Neelix (well, ok, it wasn't Neelix, but it had his voice) back together again, and Lee successfully navigated the tricky roads to save the city from someone-or-other who was trying to do bad things.
When we came out of there it had started raining again, so we ducked into The Land for a while. Lee made us sit through the Circle of Life movie, and I made them ride the boat ride. After attending the chocolate tasting the day before, it was interesting to see that they had cacao growing in the greenhouse - Hawaii is the only U.S. state where cacao can grow naturally.
It had stopped raining and it was time to eat again after that. Lee got the Maple Custard from Canada, which he liked, but it was a very small serving. At that point I realized that I had lost my room key some time after I'd bought the Greek Salad - and that had been several hours earlier. My key had charging privileges, and they weren't checking ids at all, so there was the potential for someone to run up a lot of charges on it! We went to Guest Relations at the International Gateway and they called the Boardwalk and canceled the card. Once we got back that night we looked at the charges and there wasn't anything that shouldn't be there, so that was good.
Back to eating again...
Lamb Slider (New Zealand) - the CM serving them was very generous with the lamb, and this was one of my favorites of the Festival.
We stopped at Japan to listen to the Matsuriza drum group, and while we were standing there Kim and Marta saw us and stopped to say hello. We eventually all moved on around the lagoon.
Cabbage Roll with Spiced Beef (Poland) - Once he got past the end which
was all cabbage Lee liked this.
Samosa and Rice Pudding (India) - yeah we're doing repeats now!
Chilaquiles (Mexico) - everyone except Lee had this, and he had:
Chorizo Quesadilla (Mexico) - Lee likes this almost as much as the Chilaquiles.
Marta and Kim wanted to leave before Illuminations so we said goodbye to them but Kenny stayed and watched the show again with us. Yes, that *is* three nights out of four that we saw IllumiNations, though who knows how many times Kenny has seen it. :-) This time we watched it from World Showcase Plaza - you can really feel the heat from the fire barge there!
We said goodbye to Kenny - it was nice of him to come and play with us!
On our way back to our room we stopped at the Boardwalk Bakery and got a piece of chocolate mousse cake. Wow - that was really good! Waaay better than any of the F&W desserts, and as good as many desserts I've had in restaurants. Lee would have you believe that he had to remind me that I was supposed to share it, but that's not true...though it IS true that I could've eaten the whole thing all by myself!
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Laura Gilbreath lgil at lgil dot net