Turning Over New Leaf

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

And The Winner Is .........

And The Winner Is .........

Over the past week, I spent one of the most enjoyable mini-vacations of my life at the International Food and Wine Festival in the Epcot Center at Disney World in Orlando, Florida. Unlike a typical trip to the Disney complex, this was a Fantasyland for adults.

The Festival celebrated its 15th year with a flare usually found only in Europe, and this time around, my wife and I experienced the best variety of food and drink the planet has to offer. In addition to the regular pavilions located in the Epcot Center, some 30-40 temporary structures were erected to house culinary delights from around the globe. I can only begin to highlight some of the treats we enjoyed.

We arrived on Friday evening and stayed at the Disney Caribbean Beach Resort near the Epcot Center. We had enjoyed this hotel once before, and its location was perfect for the International Festival. It was reasonably priced, and the accommodations were excellent.

As we entered the Epcot area on Saturday morning, the Chilean exhibit was just opening. The Shrimp Ceviche served with a Concha y Toro Casillero del Diablo Sauvignon Blanc looked superb, but we passed the first option due to the enormous selections that awaited us at other pavilions on our stroll around the huge lake setting.

Argentina was our first test of the day, and the Roasted Corn and Cheese Empandas were as tasty as anything found in South America. While the server suggested a taste of Bodega Norton Reserva Malbec, we hesitated. Although it was a food and wine event, the previews indicated that some of the world’s finest brews were just down the road a piece.

In Belgium, we discovered Steamed Mussels with Roasted Garlic Cream. Belgian mollusks are typically served with fresh herbs and flavorful vegetables in a stock of butter and white wine, but the garlic preparation enhanced the flavor exponentially. My wife also tasted the miniature waffles with strawberries and whipped cream, which she described as “heavenly.” I am not a dessert guy. I preferred the Bières d'Abbaye, so a glass of Leffe ale, and we were on our way.

We are both vegetarians, or more accurately pescatarians, so South Korea and Puerto Rico were not options, since they were the only two locations we visited that offered only meat dishes. However, they did look quite appetizing. Other notable stops were Brazil, with its Shrimp Stew with Coconut and Lime, and Canada, with its Cheddar Cheese Soup served with Maple Glazed Salmon with Lentil Salad, and a taste of Chateau De Charmes Riesling.

Surprisingly, the United States fare proved to be remarkably good, considering the exotic culinary surroundings. We hail from New Hampshire, so we had little hope for the USA New England lobster roll. It was excellent! For landlubbers, the Bison Chili with Wild Mushrooms, Cabernet, and Pepper Jack Cheese was receiving rave reviews.

 China, Japan, and Greece had standard offerings, although China did have a myriad of hot and cold oolong teas that were very tempting, and the Moroccan food appeared to be more Greek than Middle Eastern or African. Likewise, Mexico and Poland, with their Tamal de Pollo and Kielbasa and Potato Pierogies respectively were less than tempting. We passed.

In the French pavilion, I enjoyed the Escargots Persillade en Brioche, while my wife tasted the Napoleon pastry she claims is second-to- none. France had much to offer. Cheese Fondue with Croutons and Roasted Potatoes, desserts like Creme Brulee au Chocolate au Lait, and a variety of Bordeaux wines forced many patrons to spend the afternoon. We, however, proceeded on our quest for the perfect food, and we found it – in Australia.

Without a doubt, the pan-seared Barramundi with Blistered Cherry Tomatoes Arugula, and Lemon Oil wins hands down. It was possibly the best meal I have ever consumed with a passion that will jar my memory forever. I could easily be gluttonous down under!

Non-vegetarians appeared enjoy the Polpettine Toscane with a Rosemary Breadstick, and the Baked Cheese Ravioli with Creamy Bolognese Sauce and Melted Mozzarella offered by Italy. It was served with Chianti.

South Africa featured Flavors of Africa, like Salad, Bread, and Spreads. Spain produced a variety of Rioja wines, along with a delicious Seared Albacore Tuna with Romesco Sauce, which could not top the Australian Barramundi, but was very tasty. Likewise, the Lobster and Scallop Fisherman's Pie from Ireland was superb.

Some of the better and more unusual foods for Americans were Shrimp Cakes with Noodle Salad from Singapore, and the Seared Sea Scallop with Vegetable Slaw and Lemon Oil from New Zealand, served with Villa Maria Private Bin Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc.

The prize for liquid refreshment must go, not unexpectedly, to Germany. It might be ironic for wine to be placed on the back burner at an international food and wine event, but the steins of Altenmunster Dunkel and Weihenstephnaer Doppelbock instantly launched me back to Munich. Wow, do I love Munich! As they say in New Hampshire, “God willing and the creeks don’t rise,” I’ll let you know what the Festival is like again next year.


  1. Enjoyed reading this, but WHERE'S the pics of the food??? You're a

  2. KBF: My wife said the same thing. I ate it all before I could snap the photos.

  3. Wow. That made me hungry. It sounded so good. I don't eat beef or pork or shellfish. I started cutting out foods years ago in an attempt to make my migraines better. That said, I also don't eat potatoes or drink alcoholic beverages either. Working on easing up on tomatoes b/c I suspect that they are problematic. Food allergies are really a pain. I miss shellfish the most, hands down. It is the iodine that gets me. However, I remember it fondly. Some of those dishes sounded just heavenly. *sigh*

  4. Beautiful pictures but I agree..Where is the Food and Wine?
    It sounds like you had a wonderful mini-vacation and I am sure it was well deserved!


  5. That sounds like an amazing show, I want to go!!!


  6. The festival has expanded last I attended! Everything sounds so good - where are audience samples of food? I am with Kalei - photo of either you or your wife enjoying food would only enhance the writing!

    Glad to see you had a wonderful time!

  7. Robin: We cut out many foods also. Watch the shellfish. I have many friends that can get very ill from them. Of course, we just "sip" the alcohol. Tomatoes appear to be very acidic. They get to me sometimes as well. Why potatoes?

    Shawn: I know, I know. My wife kept telling me that. The portions were not very large, and did not present well, so I just kept eating without thinking about posting pictures on my blog. Next year for sure.

    Juniper: It was fun. We could have spent more time.

    A-M: Yes. There were many new exhibits. My wife is beautiful, but nobody really want to see my face! Food photos? I know, I know, I know.

  8. Goodness that sounds like an amazing event, my mouth was watering to. My boys and i are vegetarians so it was nice to hear those options. Enjoy your week Dee

  9. You are making my so hungry!! I went to Disneyworld when I was a little kid and definitely missed out on all the amazing food, being a picky eater and all. I'm jealous!

    I'm from New Hampshire too... what city are you from?

  10. Dee: It was amazing. Glad to hear you are vegetarian. Thank you for dropping by my blog.

  11. Phoenix: I was from Sutton. How about you?

  12. JJ what a fabulously tantalizing post. Sounds like everything was absolutely delectable! As for the German adult beverages...some of the best wines and beer come from Germany!! I, like you miss my years spent in Germany. Some very fond memories for certain.

  13. OMG!! That sounded sooo good! So glad you had a wonderful time.

    Happy Friday!

  14. Sounds amazing! I am a big fan of the Chilean wines. Mmmm!

  15. Hi there! I am now following you thanks to Thursday's Friends and Giveaways, and it would be nice if you could share the love back on my blog;)
    Also today we have the coolest blog hop there is... no rules just fun and would love you to join in with us at Boost My Blog Friday :) Happy Friday!

  16. Mitzi: Yes, Germany. Sehr gut!

    Veronica Lee: It was excellent. Happy Friday to you!

    Amy: The Chilean wines have the quality, without the extraordinarily high prices.

    Design It Chic: Thank you for following my blog. I have joined yours as well, and I signed up for the Blog Hop. Have a great weekend!

  17. I am your new follower. You can follow me back at Make sure you leave a comment so I know you visited.

    Have a great weekend

  18. Show Me Mama: Thank you so much. I will follow your blog also. Have a great weekend.

  19. Yum! Sounds like an amazing time... now my stomach is growling...

    Thanks for stopping by, have a great weekend!

  20. Ahhh...
    The happiest place on EARTH.
    Thanks for following. I'm following back now.
    I like what you said about skydiving..haha.
    I agree.
    Make sure to come by on Monday & add your link to boost your blog. I choose a guest host from the weekly.

    Also feel free to stop by & add some fun food to your full life!

    Have a wonderful weekend,

  21. Xenia: Thank you for following. Have a great weekend!

  22. OH NO!!! You shouldn't have hesitated at Argentina...that is where I had my first taste of Malbec a few years ago and it is now my favorite wine! It's bold, flavorful and is just wonderful with strong spanish time promise me you'll give it a won't be sorry. :)

    Thanks for stopping by my blog...I'm now following you. You have a very interesting blog and I look forward to reading more.

    BTW I love St. Augustine (we were just there last weekend) and try to visit often since we live right up the road from you in Jacksonville. :)

  23. Ooh yeh Barramundi is divine!
    One of my favourite dishes of all time is macadamia crusted yummy!!
    Sounds like a fabulous festival ... it's midnight here & I ate dinner many hours, thanks to you, my mouth is salivating. No barra here at the moment will have to settle for a piece of bread & vegemite!!

  24. Walt Life: Malbec is terrific. I love Riojas after teaching in Spain for six months. Malbec is very similar, and when a Rioja is not available, I will taste the Malbec. I have also been to Argentina and love all their wines! If you plan to stop off in St. Augustine, send me an e-mail. My wife and I would join you for a bite. Thanks for following.

  25. Katherine: It was my first Barra taste, but it will not be my last. Aussies are a lucky bunch!

  26. Hi, very nice to meet you and glad you found me because i will be back often. You author a Great Blog!


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