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!

Let’s Get Down to Earth!

By Evan Chaisson

Inspired by ABC’s daily show – The Chew – this booth’s Ricotta and Zucchini Ravioli with Rustic Tomato Sauce was the best entree at Earth Eats.

The ravioli, itself, was good.  The size of it is larger than your average ravioli.  The sauce was tasty and made the dish.

Save your money when it comes to Earth’s Grilled Beef Skewer with Romaine, Apricots, and Feta Cheese, everyone.

The meat was very chewy and lacked flavor.  In my opinion, they could have chosen a better pairing to go with the beef, as well.

Having said that, I don’t think that would have helped this plate.  If you want to enjoy a better skewer of beef, head over to World Showcase’s Patagonia marketplace.

Finally, let’s get to, hands-down, the very best item at this booth.  Think Peanut Butter and White Chocolate Mousse with a Caramel Drizzle!

Look, I’m not a huge fan of sweets, but this delight had the perfect balance of peanut butter and white chocolate.  Every bite boasted a hint of caramel.  My wife and I definitely approved!

Overall, Earth Eats gets a C -.  I know.  Disappointing, eh?  You’d think that a booth inspired by a show of chefs could net a better performance!  Get the dessert!

What a Coastal Experience!

Good morning, folks!  The area of Epcot up near the Imagination Pavilion is dedicated to a number of Food & Wine booths in 2017 … making the festival much more than a World Showcase event.

Home to some really great dishes, over the next day or so, let’s see what Evan has to say about Next Eats – an area that offers three sensational marketplaces – Coastal Eats, Earth Eats, and Active Eats!

By Evan Chaisson

Let’s start with Coastal Eats!  Bob was right.  Their Lump Crab Cake with Napa Cabbage Slaw is fantastic!

The crab cake was moist.  The cabbage had good flavor.  Its Avocado Lemongrass Cream gave it a nice, smooth finish.

Their Baked Shrimp Scampi Dip with Sourdough Baguette was a big disappointment for both of us.

This dish was way too fishy tasting, and it seemed to be loaded with grease.  We’d suggest that you pass!

Likewise, Coastal’s Seared Scallops with Roasted Corn and Butterbean Succotash and Chili-Chipotle Butter Sauce will not disappoint.

It comes with three big seared scallops that are surrounded by a healthy portion of roasted corn.  This morsel didn’t last long … as my wife and I were both pushing for that third scallop!

Overall, Coastal Eats rates as an above average booth, everyone.  I would grade it as a solid B!

Evan’s Italian Pavilion Adventure Continues!

By Evan Chaisson

Hello, everyone!  Fresh off of my Via Napoli post from a few days ago, let’s visit Italy again … this time for Food & Wine!

Check out Evan as he presents Via Napoli Pizzeria e Ristorante!

One of the main things that Italy is known for is their pasta, and, boy, did they deliver with their Absolut Penne!  A delicious penne pasta in vodka sauce and adorned by shrimp!

The sauce was creamy and packed with flavor!  It definitely was the “boss” on this dish.  Top it off with three succulent shrimp?  What an outstanding item!

The next thing we sampled was the marketplace’s Crispy Calamari with Spicy Pomodoro Sauce.  As far as it goes, I’ll just say it’s just OK.

It was nothing to write home about, to be honest.  The calamari lacked flavor.  In fact, it needed to be fried a bit more!  The sauce – which I had hoped would save the dish – lacked any memorable flavor.

Third, we tasted their Beef Stew with Parmesan Creamy Polenta.  Honestly, I really can’t tell you much about this dish.

Why, you are probably asking?  Well, I only took one bite.  Look at it!  The rest of it went into the trash barrel.  Maybe that tells you enough of what we thought of it.

Finally, we, of course, ended with dessert – Italy’s Chocolate-covered Cannoli.  A decadent delight, it was a chocolate-covered cannoli filled with sweet ricotta, chocolate, candy, and fruit.

My recommendation?  This dessert was perfect for one person.  I’d even say it wasn’t designed for sharing.  If you’re there with friends or family, each one of you should get your own!

In the end, I’d say that Italy is a tough booth to judge.  I think I would give the penne and cannoli, each, a solid B.  The calamari and stew, however?  They get D’s, at best!  Pass on them both.