Hello, folks! Is it Monday already?! I guess it is. Well, let’s ease the beginning-of-the-week “blues” by diving back into Food & Wine ’16!
Now, where were we? Oh, yes. We unveiled the bottom half of the All in WDW Food & Wine Festival FINAL Top 20 yesterday.
Did you catch it? No? Go back and take a look! Having done that, watch out! Here comes the Top 10!
10. Scottish Lamb Stew – Scotland
I had high hopes for this item, and Scotland delivered. Look at the portion size!
Was it fancy? No. Was it good? Yes. The lamb was exceptionally tender. The accompanying veggies were good. It was a solid dish, Scotland! Good job!
9. Battered Shrimp Taco – Mexico
One of the most consistent and unheralded dishes at Epcot, Mexico delivered a fantastic “fish taco” once again!
It might be small, folks, but its taste is mighty. You have to try this at least once, my friends. It really is that good!
8. Beer-braised Beef with Smoked Gouda Mashed Potatoes – Belgium
Identical to the braised beef that Belgium has served over a waffle in the past few years, I have to admit that I do prefer this version.
More of a meal than just a “designer” waffle, the potatoes were very good. The beef was tender and tasty. It’s a good item, folks.
7. Tuscan-style Stew – Italy
For a Marketplace that had not even one dish on my Pre-Festival menu, Italy should be congratulated. In the end, they placed two in the finals!
The meat in this stew was the most tender of any of the beef I had at this year’s Festival! The veggies fit perfectly. The polenta was a pleasant bonus. You’ve restored my faith in you, Italy!
6. “Le Cellier” Beef Filet Mignon – Canada
Speaking of “restored faith”, let’s talk about Canada’s filet! If you’ve followed me at all, you know how critical I’ve been of this popular item.
Yes, I still say that the portion size provided, now, is much, much smaller than in years past. The quality of the dish, this year, however, was much, much better.
In fact, in comparison to other years – where the beef was way overdone – 2016’s filet was prepared to a perfect medium to medium well. Just delicious!
5. Lamb Meatball – New Zealand
Well, to be the “champ”, you’ve got to beat the “champ”, and, in 2016, our two-time reigning “champ” dropped the title. Poor meatball.
It was going to happen eventually, eh? I’m going to blame this one on the chutney, to be honest. First, the tomatoes presented an unwelcome sweetness that I don’t remember tasting in 2014 and 2015.
Second, it overpowered the item’s “star”. When tasted separately, the meatball was as spicy and good as ever. With the chutney, though, the dish suffered.
4. Seared Scallop – Wine & Dine Studio
A pleasant surprise, this might have been the best scallop I’ve ever had! You know, I usually penalize scallop dishes as the scallop, itself, is usually quite small. Not this time!
The plating was beautiful! The scallop was perfectly cooked. The celery root purée was outstanding. The roasted Brussels sprouts were sensational. I have to admit … there was nothing about this not to like!
3. Smoked Beef Brisket and Pimento Cheese – Hops & Barley
I tried this one twice! Frankly, for a while there, it was in the running for “Best in Festival” and I just had to be sure that I knew how it should be ranked!
Its generous portion size shot this item to the top of my menu, but its quality was nearly unsurpassed. The brisket was delicious. Tender and tasty, I could have enjoyed a heaping plateful.
One tip? Use the accompanying Texas toast to make a mini sandwich. It transforms the dish. As presented by Hops & Barley, it’s great! As a sandwich, it was even better!
2. Roasted Verlasso Salmon – Patagonia
We’ll get to the salmon in a moment. Honestly, there were two taste sensations at this year’s Festival that I’m still thinking about. The first one was delivered by this item’s Quinoa Salad. Yes, folks, it is that good.
As for the salmon, however, it, too, was phenomenal. A satisfying portion and perfectly cooked, it is amongst the best salmon I’ve ever had. If you’re a seafood fan, you’ve got to try this one, my friends.
1. Kalua Pork Slider – Hawai’i
And, finally, we “crown” the 2016 All in WDW Food & Wine “Champion”. In my opinion, it is the “Best in Festival”. A former two-time “champ” (2011, 2012), it has done it (won it!) again. It is Hawai’i’s pork slider!
I mentioned that there were two taste sensations that I’m still thinking about? After that, above-mentioned, Quinoa Salad, Hawai’i’s pork was the second. It was a very memorable bite!
My friends, I had this item twice. And, yes, I asked for additional spicy mayo twice. The phenomenal taste of the slider’s tender, juicy pork, easily rose above the condiments (mayo and pineapple chutney) and utterly screamed delicious both times! This is a champion-caliber dish and a Must Do!
So, there it is, folks. The All in WDW Food & Wine Festival FINAL Top 20 is complete. My menu recommendations are “chiseled in stone”.
If you’re going to be lucky enough to attend Food & Wine this year and you want help with deciding what to try, then start at the top of my list and work your way down. Your stomach will thank me!