2004 International
Food & Wine Festival

The Czarina's Low Carb Guide

Dear Beloved Public,

This year's Epcot Food and Wine Festival is proving to be an unusually sparkling one!

Early in October, the Czar and I were there for 8 days, and managed to explore and consume nearly everything except the very high-end Signature dinners and Lunch and Learn events. The Festival has been extended until mid-November, which gives you some time to do as everyone does -- walk around World Showcase and sample goodies from around the globe.

This is written with an eye on the low-carb offerings. To help you out, I've divided it into two categories: Low-Carb and Medium Carb.

Here you will find delish dishes with no flour, bread or other hidden high-carb ingredients. You will also find some offerings that have higher-carb sauces or sides which can be ignored or eliminated (it is fine to ask the people at the booth to leave off the sauce).

At this popular booth, near the Canada pavilion, you will find one of the best Festival offerings -- Spicy Shrimp with Jicama Slaw. Its clean tastes and refreshing slaw are a great way to start a nibble-fest. The shrimp is chili-spiced and lightly dressed with a Key lime cream, and the julienne slaw is sparked with fresh cilantro.

If you're in a chicken-on-a-stick kind of mood, grab a partner who isn't on the low-carb wagon, and try an order of Anticuchos with Potato Salad. You get all the chicken and your friend gets all the potato salad -- which is made with purple potatoes and very good. So is the chicken -- pieces of tender breast marinated in olive oil, spices, garlic and red wine vinegar, and then grilled. Lovely!

The Kingdom of Morocco offers two old reliable Festival favorites -- Lemon Chicken and Beef Kebabs. The chicken pieces are simmered in a sauce made of olive oil, fresh ginger, saffron, green olives and preserved lemons. (Lemons are preserved only in salt and their own juices). This famous and wonderful dish is certainly worth a try; sometimes make it at home, having found a source for the lemons. The Beef Kebabs are seasoned simply with a little onion and the usual Moroccan spices -- cumin and coriander. And don't forget to stay for a Mo Rockin' concert!

The French booth has been selling snails (Escargots Provencal to you) for some years now -- very successful for a food group that many people wouldn't touch with a 10-foot pole. I'm afraid this includes the Czarina, but the Czar is adventurous, and ate them all up with gusto. They are bathed in tons of butter and garlic, and garnished with fresh tomato and parsley. Low-carbers, discard the slice of toasted baguette that comes with them. And I believe we are entitled to a small glass of the Georges Duboeuf
Beaujolais Villages, non?

The Greeks have always been geniuses with lamb, and they present another grilled-meat option -- Lamb Kebabs with Tzatziki. The boneless lamb cubes are marinated in lemon juice and oregano and skewered with red peppers before grilling. The Tzatziki is a delicious salad made from thick yogurt, cucumbers, garlic, lemon juice and mint. Awfully good on a hot day.

"Scandinavia" is right outside the Norway pavilion, and has mini-versions of things you can get either at Kringla Bakeri og Cafe or Akershus. The Cold Poached Salmon with Mustard Sauce is very fine; the sauce contains cream, Dijon mustard and salt and pepper only. However, you might want to call on that non-low-carbing friend to eat the
accompanying cucumber salad, which is quite heavily sweetened with sugar. And don't forget, right inside the bakery is the low-carb dessert-lover's best friend -- sugar-free chocolate mousse. M'mmmmm!

Ah, Beef Stroganoff! Back home, I would put it over the thickest puree of cauliflower I could make and slurp it all up. Here, you must ask for it without the traditional egg noodles, but it is still great. Very beefy and tasting of the good sour cream of Russia and its neighbors.

The Land of the Rings presents two exceptional foods that can be eaten by low-carbers. The Green-lipped Mussels in a Ginger Broth are so good we ate them twice. Ignore that "green-lipped" part, they are just great mussels, braised in white wine and ginger with shallots. The lamb chops are the best the Kiwis can find -- meltingly tender. Be sure to get them without the sugary Mango Chutney.

Here, you can have your lamb chops with sauce -- for the glaze is made from butter, onions, garlic and their fine Rosemount shiraz, reduced. The chops themselves are zesty with lime, garlic and mint flavor.

I believe this booth is new this year. I was very glad to see India represented at the Festival -- indeed, the Czar and I wish there were an all-Indian restaurant on property. However, it must be admitted we did not sample the Chicken Tikka, since we eat Indian food very often at home. It is the ideal exotic dish for low-carbers -- beautifully spiced without a hint of sugar (and not hot!), and sauced with refreshing yogurt.

Here, you will find Festival dishes that stray a little from strict low-carb guidelines. Use your own discretion, and remember that the portions are small -- it would be hard to go very far astray.

The Coquilles St. Jacques, or scallops in a cream sauce, are mighty tasty here. A single large scallop is presented in its shell, covered with a classic bechamel or white sauce to which mushrooms are added. The white sauce contains some flour -- one tablespoon for six servings. Also, the whole production is sprinkled with a few breadcrumbs.

The Irish are famed potato-eaters, of course. But they also love corned beef, and you might try this version with wilted cabbage and blue cheese. No sugar in the actual recipe, but I believe it is hard to "corn" beef without the addition of some sugar.

Sorry, but forget it. Pizza, baked ziti and chocolate. On to the next booth.

This is a beautiful pavilion-booth which features cooking demonstrations, dancing and Spanish cookware. Excellent gazpacho soup to be had here; be aware that it does contain some bread as a thickener. Vibrant tomato/sherry vinegar flavor!

I think it is worth trying the gravlax-lefse rolls here. Lefse, the Scandinavian tortilla-type bread, is thin, and you only get a very small helping of these delicious morsels -- the bread is spread with cream cheese and smoked salmon, with dill and a hint of mustard. A nice tidbit.

In addition, you might like to investigate the cooking demonstrations that take place at least three times daily in the Odyssey building between Future World and World Showcase. Each demo is presented by a well-known chef (we saw the former White House pastry chef and Oprah Winfrey's chef, Art Smith). You get lots of how-to information and a taste of the dish at the end, all for free! Line up outside at least 15 minutes early, these are popular!

And if you fancy a sip or two of red wine, check out the winery presentations at the Festival Center next to Ice Station Cool and the Fountainview in Future World. Also free!

Eureka the Czarina