Thursday, October 23, 2014

Food and Wine Fest 2014: Round Five

I have a hard and fast rule: There is no whining at Disney World. I mean, seriously, look around you. If you see things about which to whine, then I question why you spent all that money to find yourself there in the first place -- whether that money was spent on a week-long vacation or a Florida Resident Annual Pass. I mention it, because this last round of Festing, the weather was a sunny, breezy 78 degrees. And there were people waiting in line around me complaining bitterly about the heat. The wha...? Good thing you weren't there a week earlier, when it was 89 and sticky humid! 78 in Florida in October is a gift. Shut your pie hole.

Or, better yet, fill it with some of that amazing Festival food! Like where I started in...


Seared Rainbow Trout with Bacon, Frisee, amd L8 Harvest Minus 8 Vinaigrette. Neige Bubble.

Oh, what a way to kick off a round of Festing. Honest to God, I remember liking this dish when it debuted last year, but I had forgotten just how delicious it really is. The trout is nice and light, and the greens are so delicate--I love them together. The bacon needs no justification (obviously); if a dish is good, it's better with bacon, right? (Especially crispy bacon.) But the part that I really feel the need to mention is the vinaigrette, which married everything together. I didn't give it much thought, last year, but as I sat in my quiet little hidey spot (you've all likely figured out Fez House, at this point, but I have them all around World Showcase, and I only divulge them all if you're Festing with me--I can't give away all my secrets!), I started wondering what was so special about this vinaigrette that it gets actual named notoriety on the menu. So I've done a little digging. It turns out L8 Harvest Minus 8 is the vinegar they use...and it's not just any vinegar. Look at this description! "The super-ripe grapes used to make Minus 8 Vinegars are gathered well beyond regular harvest time, after the first Canadian frost. The juice collected for pressing the crystallized frozen grapes (collected at -8 degrees Celsius or colder), is extra concentrated and would traditionally be used to make rare, honey-sweet ice wine. Minus 8 uses the juice instead to make hand-crafted wine vinegar. Minus 8 L8 Harvest is a rich, fruit driven, brilliant amber vinegar that is sweet and crisp with balanced acidity. Minus 8 L8 Harvest works wonderfully as a dressing for a bibb lettuce salad with avocado, makes a rich sabayon to serve with fresh berries, and can even be enjoyed as an after dinner digestif." Ice wine vinegar! I almost wish I had looked this up beforehand, so I could have *really* stopped to appreciate what I was enjoying! On the topic of enjoyment, the Neige Bubble. Digging into the deep, cobwebby recesses of my brain, I was pleased I could remember that "neige" is French for "snow." (Hooray, four years of high school French!) That little trivia aside, I *really* enjoyed this wine. It started out on the sweeter end of the spectrum, reminiscent of a sparkling cider, and then ended crisp and a bit more toward the dryer side. Add in the bubbles (because I am always, always in favor of bubbles!) and it is truly the perfect Dawn wine. Prompted by my investigation on the vinaigrette, I did some poking around about the Neige Bubble and learned that it *is* a sparkling cider, dosed with Neige Premiere, which is their apple ice wine! Mind. Officially. Blown. (Both by the amazing deliciousness and the fact that as few as eight years ago, I *never* would have had enough knowledge to pick that out! BAM.)

Taste buds singing like angels, I was on my way to...


Griddled "Yard Bird" with Braised Greens and House-Made Habanero Sauce.

Before you get all nervous, "yard bird" wasn't pigeon or some little song bird. It was just a chicken thigh, I promise. This dish got all "southern home cookin'" with its chicken and greens (kale and collard greens, wilted down with some onion and, possibly, bacon). And now I am going to say something that I rarely need to at Food and Wine Fest: I was vastly underwhelmed. The greens were good, and kicky, thanks to the habanero sauce, but there was nothing, not one single thing, special about that chicken. It was just...bland. It could have used a squirt of that sauce or some salt and pepper. Something. *Anything*. And given its rather generous portion (remember, this is a tasting size, not a full meal), I was a bit miffed that I wasted so much precious stomach real estate on something so utterly forgettable. Also, those juices were not well suited to a little paper dish, and they leaked through, and that made me cranky.

I really needed something to make up for that raging disappointment, because, as you will recall, I cannot tolerate whining at Disney World. Over to...


Spicy Shrimp Roll with Cilantro and Mint Sauce. Mimosa Royale.

I cannot speak for the cilantro and mint. Together with the other flavors and spices, they didn't stand in the forefront, but this was flavorful and tasty, and warm, if not so much spicy, and I was pleased. This was a new menu item, replacing the Harissa Chicken Roll from Fests past, which I liked, but dare I say, I think I liked this one even more. I decided that, to compensate myself for the previous dining fail, I was getting the mimosa with this one (bubbles!) and it was exactly what I needed. The sparkling wine was mixed with orange juice and topped with orange liqueur, and by the time I finished sipping it, I no longer wanted to kick that tasteless yard bird in its tail feathers.

While I sipped, I contemplated the state of my appetite, and decided I wasn't ready to move on to dessert yet, so off I went to...


Tartlette aux Escargots. La Passion Martini Slush.

I've been worried about this pairing since I first perused the menus upon their release. You see, I was a huge fan of the former offerings (Escargots Persillade en Brioche -- bite-size garlic-butter filled bread bowls with the escargot inside -- and the Eiffel Sour Cosmo Slush). It can be difficult to measure up to old favorites, even with the excitement of trying something new. The tart was light and filled with garlic, spinach and Parmesan, with three little snails lined up on top, under three pieces of bacon. Score one for not having to actually *see* the snails. It's mind over matter for me. On the one hand, I am so furious at the snails who spent most of the six month long summer happily eating up all my herbs. On the other, I have actually *seen* all those snails, and, well, ew. Suffice to say, I want my revenge not served cold but drowned in lots of tastiness and preferably only suggested. Buried under bacon doesn't hurt, either. The slush was more bright and fruity (Grey Goose Le Citron vodka with cranberry and passion fruit juices) than tart and tangy (the Eiffel Sour was Grey Goose Cherry Noir vodka, Grand Marnier and cranberry juice), but it was plenty refreshing. Overall, I would say that I still like the former menu offerings better than these new ones, but I liked the new versions just fine.

Definitely time for dessert. Onward!



Otherwise known as the cutest little jelly-filled yeast doughnut you have ever seen. And you know there was no way I was passing up a doughnut, unless...have we just met? Hi! Nice to meet you. I am Dawn and doughnuts are my vice.

Look inside! That is apricot jam (and if you also watch The Blacklist, you will appreciate that I could absolutely picture Red waxing poetic about this little delight). Just the right amount of tangy-sweet. Just enough powered sugar to create a fine dusting on the fingers (and, let's face it, probably my face, my shirt, and the bench where I was camped out). I loved this. It replaced the apple strudel that has been the dessert option on the Germany menu for as far back as I can recall, and I do love some apple strudel, but a doughnut? If you're going to change things up, Germany, this was the way to go.

Almost out of space (stupid yard bird), but I think there's room for one more stop...


Frozen S'mores featuring Monin Toasted Marshmallow Syrup.

How best to describe...? Have you had a Coffee Coolatta from Dunkin? Its consistency was like that, after it's had a little while to start melting. As in liquidy with tiny ice bits in it (rather than thicker and creamier like a milkshake or semi-melted soft serve). It was chocolate flavored and rich tasting, but not extremely filling, and I could taste a hint of marshmallow from the syrup, but it was subtle. My issue came in with the toppings. For once, I could have done without the generosity. I enjoyed the wee chocolate chunks and the graham cracker, but the graham cracker crumbs got mushy very quickly, which made them like a layer of sludge (I figured this out right away, and ate them post haste with my spoon, thus avoiding most of the sludge) and the marshmallows were a bizarre texture (not airy like an actual marshmallow or crunchy like the marshmallows in Lucky Charms, but more chewy, almost like a frozen Circus Peanut candy, I guess?). I almost felt like they tried to do too much here. The chocolate beverage with the chocolate bits, a bit more heavy-handed with the marshmallow syrup, and the graham cracker "stirrer" would have been perfect. I finished it, but I don't know that I would get it again.

Not room for so much a single bite more, I headed out. Three more weeks left to Fest and my list still has plenty left on it. I should have enough time left to try everything I've earmarked, but I don't think I will be able to squeeze in a "victory lap" of all my favorites. Such problems, huh?

0 with their own thoughts:

  © Blogger templates The Professional Template by 2008

Back to TOP