Hey! Who Put Peppers in My Beer?!

Well, I was going to head out of Epcot today, but I saw a Tweet from Dennis Conroy (@oakmanner) of the “WDW Magical Main Street Memories Podcast” that put the brakes on that plan.

His words, in answering questions about his recent trip to The Smokehouse at “Food” & Garden, were, “I actually got the beer flight with two other people, and we really liked Billy’s Chilies!”

Yes, Mrs. All in WDW and I were that couple, and, yes, surprisingly, we did find that beer to be oddly refreshing and pretty good.  Of course, that wasn’t our first impression.

The flight in question included Magic Hat #9, Maduro (a darker beer from Tampa, FL), Fat Tire, and Billy’s.

Photo Apr 29, 3 35 05 PM

As we began to sample, Mrs. All in WDW asked, “Which one will I like?”  Billy’s was a lighter-colored lager-looking brew.  I thought that was her “ticket”.  I’m still paying for that little mistake.

Actually, I didn’t try to pull a “prank” on her.  I’m smarter than that.  I had never tried Billy’s.  How was I to know it had sharp teeth?

Billy’s Chilies Beer is brewed by Twisted Pine Brewing Company out of Boulder, Colorado.  Doesn’t most of the world’s good beer seem to come from Colorado?

An award-winning, year-round beverage, Billy’s is brewed with “… five different kinds of chilies [which] combine to create a mildly spicy, extremely complex, and outrageously flavorful beer.”

Five?  Yes, five.  You can find Anaheim, Fresno, Habanero, Jalapeño, and Serrano peppers in that brew!  And, wow, can you taste it!  Not in a totally offensive way, but it’s surely there.

Frankly, I’d recommend Billy’s for a hot Summer day.  It provides a refreshing taste but brings a unique flavor with its big bite.  The fact is, once you’ve tried it, it kind of grows on you.

If pepper-filled beers aren’t your speed, however, you can still make use of its flavor.  Did I mention “pranks”?  Yes?

Well, find the Budweiser lovers amongst your friends.  Offer them a taste of Billy’s.  Their surprise will be priceless.  But, hey!  Remember.  Don’t tell them I gave you the idea!

Has anyone else out there tried Billy’s Chilies Beer?

Oh, My! What Delicious Desserts You Have!

Good morning, my friends!  We … are going to stay in Epcot today.

And, our able and talented host is none other than Dennis Conroy of the “WDW Magical Main Street Memories Podcast”.  Remember him?  Mrs. All in WDW and I met Dennis in Epcot on Easter Weekend.

Well, in an act of great kindness, Dennis “fell on the fork” for All in WDW during his last trip to WDW.  He gobbled up some of “Food” & Garden’s best desserts … just so we could see some pictures of the delightful morsels!

Take it away, Dennis!

“Mexico’s Chocolate Flan was served in a tin that was very cold.  Not frozen, but really cold.  The flan had the consistency of a thick pudding with liquid on the bottom.  This one really surprised me. It was so much better than I had anticipated!”

Chocolate Flan – Jardin de Fiestas (Mexico)

Chocolate Flan – Jardin de Fiestas (Mexico)

“The Puffed Rice Cakes served by Japan were aptly named.  They were just ordinary rice cakes.”

Puffed Rice Cakes - Hanami (Japan)

Puffed Rice Cakes – Hanami (Japan)

“China’s Beijing-style Candied Strawberries looked great.  In truth, they’re simply skewered strawberries dipped in sugar.  Not noteworthy.”

Beijing-style Candied Strawberries – Lotus House (China)

Beijing-style Candied Strawberries – Lotus House (China)

Dennis!  Very artistic!

Dennis! Very artistic!

“The Sweet Potato Cinnamon Waffle was served warm and topped with a dollop of Dole Whip.  The warmth of the waffle and the coolness of the Dole Whip made for an awesome pairing!”

Sweet Potato Cinnamon Waffle - Pineapple Promenade

Sweet Potato Cinnamon Waffle – Pineapple Promenade

Thank you, very much, Dennis!  We appreciate the pictures!  But, speaking for all of us … well, did you save us some?!

And, if I can be so bold to add a fifth dessert to today’s list … I had one regret when Mrs. All in WDW and I left Orlando after our first visit to “Food” & Garden.  I missed the Pineapple Dole Whip with Parrot Bay Coconut Rum.

Pineapple Dole Whip with Parrot Bay Coconut Rum – Pineapple Promenade

Pineapple Dole Whip with Parrot Bay Coconut Rum – Pineapple Promenade

When it comes down to it, any Dole Whip is good.  In this one, the coconut was much more subtle than I had expected … causing me to wonder if it was really there!

Frankly, given the choice, I much preferred the Pineapple Dole Whip with Myers’s Dark Rum that I had during our first trip in March.

Pineapple Dole Whip with Myers’s Dark Rum – Pineapple Promenade

Pineapple Dole Whip with Myers’s Dark Rum – Pineapple Promenade

I want to thank Dennis Conroy, once again, for teasing us with Epcot’s delicious, sugary snacks.  We’ll see him really soon with more WDW dining delights.

In the meantime, however, please check him out on the “WDW Magical Main Street Memories Podcast”!

Look! It’s a “World Showcase of Flavors”!

As we strolled through Epcot earlier this month, Mrs. All in WDW and I were stunned to find a food truck staged right at the entry to World Showcase.

Photo Apr 19, 9 27 21 AM

Uh, aren’t you a bit lost, truck?  Aren’t you supposed to be in Downtown Disney?  And, why are you here anyway?  The “Food” & Garden festival is still in full throttle, after all!

Our guess?  Advertising.  What better way to “pub” World Showcase of Flavors than to have it do a bit of business right in the area of WDW that gives it a reason to exist?

Photo Apr 19, 9 28 09 AM

Well, whether that, or some other reason, we were there to sample a bit more of our “Food” & Garden favorites.  Therefore, we passed the truck by this time.  Besides, it wasn’t open at the time we wandered by.

Having said that, we did stop to take a few pictures.  What do you think of the prices?  We thought they’re a bit steep.  $18.25 for a Lobster Roll?  Is it the WHOLE lobster?

Even $9.50 is a “bundle” for Grass-Fed Beef Sliders, we thought.  Do you remember them?  Look back at my 2013 Food & Wine Flash Report.  They were dry, dry, DRY!

Photo Apr 19, 9 27 35 AM

We felt a little bit better about the prices later in the day after the truck finally opened for business.  We passed by on another lap around the lagoon, and we saw that their serving of burgers included TWO sliders.

Now, there was no way (without trying them, of course) to tell if those “patties” were “hockey pucks”, but I did notice that one guest had already taken a bite.

It looked to be cooked to a medium heat and was slightly pink in the center.  That suggested to me that Disney may be providing a bit better, moister sandwich than they did at Food & Wine.

How long will the truck will be staged in Epcot?  Hey, it could be gone already!

My final thoughts?  World Showcase of Flavors makes for another good Quick Service dining option … as long as the portion size and food quality they serve is worth their hefty prices!

“Food” & Garden Returns – A Reader’s Report!

“Food” & Garden is b-a-a-a-ck!  And, why not?  The festival is still steaming along.  It will continue gracing Epcot’s guests with its culinary delights for another month and a half or so!

I want to thank our friend on Facebook, Debbie, who recently said, “After all your postings of “Food” & Garden, I decided I needed to go!”  Happy to help out, Debbie!  That’s exactly why I post all of those pics!

Well, “go”, she did.  And, she did all of us one, or six, better.  She sent us food pictures!

Actually, she very kindly responded to my plea, “If you have [a dish] that I have not, would you be willing to email me pics?  Entrees and/or desserts would be really appreciated!”

Well, here they are … with some of Debbie’s – and some of my – comments.  Bon appetit, folks!

Debbie: “The first is the eggplant scallop … which you had, but I really liked, so I took a picture.”

Bob: I had it, yes, but I definitely was not a fan of the Land-grown Eggplant “Scallop”.

Photo Mar 19, 1 30 14 PM

Bob: Now, this is a great picture of a super great-tasting dish! China’s Spring Pancake.  Love this item!

Photo Mar 19, 1 43 32 PM

 

Bob: China’s Vegetable Spring Rolls look about as ordinary as I expected. I didn’t have them, so I can’t speak to the taste, but I am very impressed that they served two. Perfect for sharing!

Photo Mar 19, 1 43 59 PM

Debbie: Mexico’s Mushroom and Cheese Quesadilla. The first couple of bites were real “mushroomy” … then, it was all cheese. I liked China’s Spring Pancake better.

Bob:  I told you!  That Spring Pancake is just outstanding, eh?  And, as for this dish … it looks appetizing, but you’re not fooling me, mushrooms!  I’ll still pass.

Photo Mar 23, 2 53 06 PM

Debbie:  Frushi.  It was good … not great.  Simply a small piece of cantaloupe and strawberry with rice.

Photo Mar 23, 3 08 50 PM

Debbie: The Moroccan Pancake was bland. I didn’t care for it.

Photo Mar 23, 3 14 27 PM

Thanks, Debbie! The pics were great! We hoped you enjoyed the food!

If you’re going to “Food” & Garden, my friends, send me your pics.  If we haven’t already posted that particular item, then we’ll post it and give you credit!  Send it to bob@allinwdw.com!

In the meantime, check out our “Food” & Garden ARCHIVE at this link – Epcot “Food” & Garden ’14 HQ!  You’ll find our Flash Reports and pics, descriptions of the dishes, Top 15 lists as decided upon by myself as well as you – our readers – and much, much more!

Check it all out!  Use it to plan your trip to … “Food” & Garden ’14!  After all, the food still “flows” until May 18th!

2014 All in WDW “Food” & Garden Final Top 15!

Aside from my annual Food & Wine finale, this has got to be my favorite post of the year.  It is just so much fun for me, this whole food festival process.

In fact, it’s like a great culinary game!  The agony of ranking dishes.  The joy of dining on Epcot’s delicacies.  Then, presenting the final results to you … our friends.

So, now that I’ve tasted their “wares”, how do I carve “Food” & Garden’s delights into a Final list of All in WDW’s recommendations?

First, it comes down to, “Would I even want to have it again?”  Then, it comes down to, “Man, I really, really want to have that again!”  Finally, I decide on an item-to-item basis as to which one I would choose over the other.

For this year, let’s start with the items that found their way out of our Final Top 15.  France’s Pulled Duck Confit, for example.  Pre-ranked before the festival at #12, its excessive richness placed it clearly in the I never want to have that again category.  Mrs. All in WDW wouldn’t agree, but, for me, it’s gone, gone, gone.

Likewise, the Land-grown Eggplant “Scallop” (pre-ranked at #14) and the Lamb Brewat Roll (pre-ranked at #15) both “bailed out” of our Top 15.  The lamb was just too greasy for me.  The eggplant was just … well, it was bad.  The big loser was Italy’s Three-Cheese Manicotti.  Pre-ranked at #5, I loved the concept.  I hated the execution.

So.  That brings us to the Final Top 15.  From bottom to top, here we go!  Pre-rankings are in parenthesis.

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Just OK

#15 – Temaki Hand Roll (#13)

I guess my idea of sushi is a nice tuna sashimi or salmon nigiri.  I love a good sushi roll.  A hand roll is just a bit too much Nori for my taste, I guess.

Temaki Hand Roll - Hanami (Japan)

Temaki Hand Roll – Hanami (Japan)

#14 – Potato and Cheddar Cheese Biscuit (#11)

I just was disappointed.  Maybe it was the first-day “blues”, but my biscuit was overdone.  The smoked salmon wasn’t as enjoyable as last year.

Potato and Cheddar Cheese Biscuit - The Buttercup Cottage (United Kingdom)

Potato and Cheddar Cheese Biscuit – The Buttercup Cottage (United Kingdom)

#13 – Parisian-style Dumplings (Unranked)

Only the mushrooms kept this one on the “Just OK” list.  We had this one as we wandered around World Showcase one evening with friends.  It was quite tasty, which enabled it to break into the Top 15, but … well, did I mention the mushrooms?

Parisian-style Dumplings - Fleur de Lys (France)

Parisian-style Dumplings – Fleur de Lys (France)

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Recommended

#12 – Watermelon Salad (Unranked)

Still very refreshing.  Still very good.  The balsamic, watermelon, feta, and onion meld into a tasty symphony of flavors.  Such a simple dish.  But, oh, so good.

Watermelon Salad (Florida Fresh)

Watermelon Salad – Florida Fresh

#11 – Caprese (Unranked)

This one beats out Florida’s Watermelon Salad for only one reason.  Did you see the size of that piece of mozzarella?!

Caprese - Primavera Kitchen (Italy)

Caprese – Primavera Kitchen (Italy)

#10 – Hanami Sushi (#10)

When it comes to sushi, this was pretty good.  It was quite unique to see it presented as nigiri “balls”.  Having said that, when I want sushi, I want sushi!  Other entrees offered a bit more for the money.

Hanami Sushi - Hanami (Japan)

Hanami Sushi – Hanami (Japan)

#9 –  Pork and Apple Sausage Roll (#7)

Tasty.  The piccalilli (relish of chopped pickled vegetables and spices) was very good.  I just wish there had been more than two little pieces!

Pork and Apple Sausage Roll - The Buttercup Cottage (United Kingdom)

Pork and Apple Sausage Roll – The Buttercup Cottage (United Kingdom)

#8 – Corn Tortilla Pork Taco (#8)

A disappointment only because of the corn tortilla, the flavor of the achiote-marinated pork made this entree worth trying.  If I could replicate this on a flour tortilla, I’d be in love with the dish!

Corn Tortilla Pork Taco - Jardin de Fiestas (Mexico)

Corn Tortilla Pork Taco – Jardin de Fiestas (Mexico)

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Must Have

#7 – Smoked Turkey “Rib” (Unranked)

A tale of two tastings.  Left to our first attempt to tackle the turkey’s “rib”, this item would have been left in the discard pile.  It was salty.  It was paltry.  One “rib”?

Smoked Turkey “Rib” - The Smokehouse: Barbecue and Brews (American Adventure)

Smoked Turkey “Rib” – The Smokehouse: Barbecue and Brews (American Adventure)

A few days later, the salt was gone.  The “ribs” had doubled.  The dish went on, and skyrocketed up, the “charts”.  Just one more success for The Smokehouse!

#6 – Harissa Chicken Kebab (#9)

A very pleasant surprise.  Very pleasant.  I would highly recommend this kebab.  The chicken was perfectly-seasoned and well-cooked.  The couscous salad was excellent.

Harissa Chicken Kebab - Taste of Marrakesh (Morocco)

Harissa Chicken Kebab – Taste of Marrakesh (Morocco)

#5 – Shrimp and Stone-Ground Grits (#4)

It pained me to drop this delight out of the Top 4, but I just had to.

Shrimp and Stone-Ground Grits - Florida Fresh

Shrimp and Stone-Ground Grits – Florida Fresh

As deliciously spicy as this dish is, the fact that you have to dissect the tails off the shrimp place it second to the …

#4 – Ghost Pepper-dusted Tilapia (#6)

Not too spicy.  Just right.  But, the portion of fish was very generous.  I also loved the crisp winter melon slaw accompaniment.  In fact, I liked it much more than the shrimps’ grits!

Ghost Pepper-dusted Tilapia - Urban Farm Eats

Ghost Pepper-dusted Tilapia – Urban Farm Eats

#3 – Spring Pancake (#3)

This “pancake” that’s not a pancake is just outstanding.  Chicken, plum sauce, Sriracha, green apple, onions, chow mein noodle.  The dish is unique.  The flavors blend into a blast of fireworks.  Highly recommended.  Very highly recommended.

Spring Pancake - Lotus House (China)

Spring Pancake – Lotus House (China)

#2 – Smoked Beef Brisket (#2)

Healthy portions.  Great-tasting beef.  Perfect accompaniments.  The cornbread had just the right amount of jalapeño bite.  Just like 2013, The Smokehouse’s brisket was a flat-out outstanding meal.

Smoked Beef Brisket - The Smokehouse: Barbecue and Brews (American Adventure)

Smoked Beef Brisket – The Smokehouse: Barbecue and Brews (American Adventure)

The only drawback was its price tag.  At $6.75, it was the most expensive entree at the party.  That didn’t keep it out of the Top 2, but it couldn’t slide it past the better value and more pronounced BBQ flavor of the …

#1 – Pulled Pig Slider (#1)

Champ!  Yes, the “champ” is back!  It’s the sheer flavor of the pork, my friends.  It’s so hard to do justice to the taste.  Combine that pork with fresh, crisp cole slaw.  Layer it on a, similarly, fresh roll.  It is phenomenal!

Pulled Pig Slider - The Smokehouse: Barbecue and Brews (American Adventure)

Pulled Pig Slider – The Smokehouse: Barbecue and Brews (American Adventure)

The Smokehouse provides you with a variety of BBQ sauces.  I have to tell you … I passed them by both times I had the slider this year.  I didn’t want to mask the flavor of the pig!  Yes, it is that good!