A Glimpse of Food & Wine ’18?

What time of the year is it, folks?  Well, here are some hints … July 30, 2013.  July 24, 2014.  July 16, 2015.  July 11, 2016.  July 12, 2017.  Huh?  What?

My friends, those are the Food & Wine menu release dates for the past five years.  What’s the big deal, you ask?  July 15, 2018.  This year’s menus have to be very close!

In the meantime, here’s a glimpse of some new things coming to this year’s party!  Bon appetit!

  • New Brunswick Slider.  Imagine Slow-braised Beef Brisket “Pot Roast Style” with Horseradish Cream, Crispy Fried Onions on a Potato Roll.  There’ll be pickled vegetables served on the side.  This little gem will be found at the Hops & Barley Marketplace!
  • Butternut Squash Ravioli with Brown Butter Vinaigrette, Parmesan Cheese, and Pumpkin Seeds.  A vegetarian item, it will be served by the Wine & Dine Studio.
  • Charred Chimichurri Skirt Steak.  Accompanied by a Smoked Corn Cake and Pickled Vegetable Slaw, Flavors from Fire will sell this delight!

Are you going to be able to attend this year’s Epcot International Food & Wine Festival?  Give us “a show of hands” in the poll below!

The Garden? It’s Gonna Rock!

Morning, folks.  Did you catch the news?  The Garden?  It’s gonna be rockin’!  The 2018 Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival – otherwise known around these parts as the “Food” & Garden Festival – has announced its Garden Rocks Concert Series!

Scheduled to run from February 28th to May 28th, what acts are on tap for 2018?  Check it out!

  • Night Ranger – March 2 to 5
  • STARSHIP starring Mickey Thomas – March 9 to 12
  • Simple Plan – March 16 to 19
  • Little River Band – March 23 to 26
  • The Orchestra starring former members of ELO – March 30 to April 2
  • New! Foghat – April 6 & 7
  • New! Survivor – April 8 & 9
  • New! Smash Mouth – April 13 & 14
  • New! Rick Springfield – April 15 & 16
  • New! Jo Dee Messina – April 20 & 21
  • New! Lonestar – April 22 & 23
  • Blood, Sweat and Tears featuring Bo Bice – April 27 to 30
  • Herman’s Hermits starring Peter Noone – May 4 to 7
  • Village People – May 11 & 12
  • New! Don Felder, formerly of The Eagles – May 13 & 14
  • The Guess Who – May 18 to 21
  • The Spinners – May 25 to 28

Are you going to get a chance to join in on the fun this Spring?  If so, who will you be able to see?  Regardless, however, who would you want to see?  Choose three artists in the poll below!

Aloha, Food Fans! It’s a Hawaiian Feast!

By Evan Chaisson

Hawaii’s Kalua Pork Slider with Sweet and Sour DOLE Pineapple Chutney and Spicy Mayonnaise has lived at the top of my list for years.  Can it continue its dominant run?

Well, it did not let my palate down!  I did ask for extra mayo … because I do like a little bit of kick.  The pork was tender.  The chutney was delicious!

The only recommendation I would make is for Epcot to serve this delicacy on a King’s Hawaiian Roll next year.  Oh, and Disney?  Please bring it back again next year!

The second and third items we sampled shocked me very much.  I’m not a grilled tuna or glazed SPAM fan, but I decided to give both a try this year.

Folks, the Grilled Tuna Tataki with Seaweed Salad and Pickled Cucumbers and Wasabi Cream was outstanding!

Hawaii serves you four nice-sized pieces.  It was very refreshing and enjoyable on a hot Florida day.

My biggest shock was the Teriyaki-glazed SPAM Hash with Potatoes, Peppers and Onions and Spicy Mayonnaise!

I had never in my life had SPAM!  What have I been missing?  If SPAM was prepared like this back home, I would be eating it at least once a week!

The hash, which was made up of potatoes, peppers, and onions, was bathed in spicy mayonnaise.  It was to die for!  I got a burst of flavor with every bite.

Finally, just as we thought this booth couldn’t get better, we had dessert!  It was Passion Fruit Cheesecake with Toasted Macadamia Nuts!

This beauty has a white chocolate crust on the bottom which makes this already great dessert even better.  If you have a cheesecake lover in your party, I recommend getting two servings.  If you don’t, there won’t be a bite left for you!

This booth gets an A from us, fans.  All four items are tip-top quality!

Dining with the Kiwis!

By Evan Chaisson

The top of my 2015 Food & Wine list was headlined by one booth and one dish alone – New Zealand and its Lamb Meatball with Spicy Tomato Chutney.  Just like in 2015, 2017’s edition did not disappoint!

As Bob has recommended in the past, a tip would be to ask them to add extra chutney.  Besides adding to the dish’s “zing”, you can soak it up with the bread bowl!

The second offering that we tried was their Steamed Green Lip Mussels with Garlic Butter and Toasted Breadcrumbs.  I found this item to be surprisingly very, very good!

In fact, I would even go so far as to say that it rivaled New Zealand’s meatball!  It’s a ‘must try’ for any seafood junkie.  The addition of the garlic butter and toasted bread crumbs worked magic for the mussels, by the way.

Finally, we tried the marketplace’s Seared Venison Loin with Wild Mushroom Marsala Sauce and Kumara Purée.

We were hoping that this dish would continue New Zealand’s run on quality, but, folks, it was a huge letdown.  We found the meat to be very tough and lacking of much flavor. Neither of us liked the purée.

On the strength of the meatball and mussels, I would give New Zealand a B+, everyone.  Those two items are definitely worth a try!

It’s Time to Get Active, Food Fans!

By Evan Chaisson

Let’s head over to the last and final of the Next Eat booths, food fans.  Active Eats offers a wide variety of selections.  Want to eat?

For me, this ended up being the hardest boost to judge as both of us thought all three of their items were top-tier.

Take Active’s Roasted Verlasso Salmon with Quinoa Salad and Arugula Chimichurri , for example.  Hands-down, one of the top five dishes at Food & Wine ’17

Every single bite was packed with flavor.  The salmon was cooked perfectly.  The sauce was absolutely amazing.  Hey, I’m not a huge salmon lover, but this dish is out of this world!

Loaded Mac ‘n’ Cheese with Nueske’s Pepper Bacon, Cheddar Cheese, Peppers, and Green Onions?  OK!

Wow!  This was my wife’s favorite dish at the booth.  The mac ’n’ cheese, itself, was well-prepared.  The bacon – who doesn’t like bacon? – was an excellent complement.  Peppers give this item a little kick of heat.  Great dish!

Finally, we sampled dessert – Sweet Avocado Crema with Strawberries, Yellow Cake, and Tortilla Streusel.

My wife was initially reluctant to try this item.  It has avocado in the name, after all.  Well, she tried a bite, I had to go back to the booth for another one!

Strawberry is the perfect bottom for this delight as it adds just the right little bit of sweetness.  The white cake was very moist.  Perfect for a hot day, this dessert is refreshing and light.  Plus, its taste is fantastic!  Highly recommended!