“Food” & Garden ’14 Update!

I had a great “Dining Recon” queued up for you to enjoy for lunch today, but you’re going to have to wait one more day.  You see, I was lurking around the Touring Plans Lines chat app last night and ran into and old friend – JustTimmy.

He pointed us in the direction of AllEars.net and their, recently-published, update on Epcot’s “other” food festival – “Food” & Garden ’14!

Oh, so, OK. It’s really the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival, but we know better, now, don’t we?  Bring on “Food” & Garden!

I encourage you to pop over to AllEars in order to see the full “spiel”, but, in the meantime, here are the important things you need to know.

First, the festival opens on March 5, 2014 and runs to May 18, 2014.  It’s hard to believe that it is just a mere three months away!  Mark it down, folks!  March 5th!

Second, the food is definitely back!  At this past July’s Food & Wine preview event, Chef Marianne Hunnel told us that …

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“Food” & Garden – The Smokehouse Still Rules

When it comes to the Top 20 list, I mentioned the other day that, “I have a rule … once the final list is published, it doesn’t change.” Well, it is a good thing … because The Smokehouse really struggled in our return trip to the festival.

Woody says, "Howdy! Welcome to The Smokehouse!"

Woody says, “Howdy! Welcome to The Smokehouse!”

Smoke that pig!

Smoke that pig!

What's on the menu?

What’s on the menu?

Now, to be clear, the pig slider and beef brisket were both out-of-this-world outstanding in March. I’m not shy to admit that, over the course of that long weekend, I had …

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“Food” & Garden – Where’s The Salt?!

As I think back to our first visit to Epcot’s International “Food” & Garden Festival in March, I can’t believe that Mrs. All in WDW and I had the audacity – or the courage – to tell a world-class chef that one of his dishes was way too salty!  Hah!  In fact, we told him that TWO of his plates were way too salty!  The nerve!

If you saw it, you’ll remember that, on the last day of our first trip to the festival, we were treated to a visit from Epcot Executive Chef Jens Dahlmann.  As I reported, “He asked us …

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“Food” & Garden – It Begins … Again!

Late last week, Mrs. All in WDW and I traveled back to “The World” in order to engage in some very important research.  Oh, who am I kidding?  We headed back to “Food” & Garden for another helping of Disney cuisine!

Now, contrary to what you might think (given our love for both Food & Wine and, now, “Food” & Garden, that is), we did not eat everything on the menu.  What we did do, however, was re-sample some of our favorites … and re-visit some of the dishes that we just didn’t like back in March.  After all, we are charitable folk, and we wanted to give some of Chef Jens Dahlmann’s ‘best’ a second chance.

We hit town around Noon last Thursday, so, of course, right after we dumped our bags off in our room, we headed straight over to World Showcase to eat lunch.  And, no lunch can start right without a proper drink.

Don’t you agree?

Mmmm.

Mmmm. Beverly.

We started off at Florida Fresh and had some Shrimp and Stone-Ground Grits.  I had ranked them at #4 in the All in WDW 2013 Epcot International “Food” & Garden Festival Top 20, and they delivered once again.

Mrs. All in WDW hadn’t had this dish back in March (she tried a bite of mine), so it was her first full serving.  Her only critique was that she would have preferred the tails to have been removed from the shrimp.  It made the serving a bit harder to eat.  Otherwise, the taste was still a delicious combination of spicy and creamy.  Overall, it was still a hit.

Shrimp 'n Grits

Outstanding blend of spicy and creamy.  Picture is from our trip in March.

Next, we headed to Mexico to give that booth’s pork taco another shot.  If you remember, I rated this one at #14 in the Top 20 and “Just OK”.  When I published my “Flash Report” for this dish, I said that it was “a disappointment”.  Mainly, that was because its pork rind component “overpowered” the plate.

Pork Taco

In March, with a “ton” of pork rind!

I went on to say that, “the thing that could have saved it was the fact that the taco contained a generous helping of pork. I said, ‘could have’. The problem is that the pork needed more seasoning – or a sauce. As bland as the pork was, the pork rind was just too strong.”

Well, ever the culinary “scientists”, we came up with, what we thought was (and ended up being) a great idea.  How would the taco fare without the pork rind?  As it turns out, it was much, much better.  And, the Tamarindo salsa and green onion gave it just the right taste.

Much, much better!

Much, much better!

Now, you might be asking yourself, is it still #14 on the list of final rankings?  It is.  I have a rule … once the final list is published, it doesn’t change.  Besides, what we “created” wasn’t the official “Food” & Garden offering.  Having said that, our version of the taco would have made the “Recommended” section of the Top 20 list and could have been ranked as high as #7!

Our final visit for lunch on Day #1 was China.  Oh, those Spring Pancakes.  I will unashamedly admit that I had three of them over the course of the weekend.  They are so good.  They finished at #3 in March, and I have to tell you – if I did allow myself to change the rankings, they might have been able to knock off the Smokehouse’s pig sliders and beef brisket.  More about them later in a few days, though.  As it is, China’s offering was still outstanding!  And, by the way, Mrs. All in WDW hadn’t had this plate in March either.  She agreed with me … it is a winner!

My friends, thanks for joining us for “lunch”!  We’ll be back tomorrow with more from Epcot’s World Showcase and “Food” & Garden “Overtime”!

Simply delicious!

Spring pancake? Simply delicious!

All in WDW Meets Chef Jens!

Have you ever heard of Jens Dahlmann?

Fortunately, I had, because Saturday afternoon – as Mrs. All in WDW and I were sneaking in an extra serving of Pulled Pig Slider outside of The American Adventure – Epcot Executive Chef Jens Dahlmann strolled up to ask us if we were enjoying the food and the festival. Wow!

Chef Jens has been the Chef de Cuisine at both California Grill and Flying Fish Cafe. He is now the Executive Chef of Epcot Food & Beverage. And, he wanted our opinion? That’s outstanding! Thanks for the honor, Chef!

Here’s a funny side-story. We had just …

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