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Food & Wine Festival
Party for the Senses
SATURDAY, OCTOBER 8, 2005
Malik, 33 Liberty, South Carolina
--Molasses Brined Pork Tenderloin and Green Apple Bread Pudding with
Cane Vinegar Beurre Blanc
--A selection of Palate-Tempting Cheese from
around the World
Smich, Catering, Disney-MGM Studios
--Seared Flank Steak with Panang Coconut Curry on a Sweet Rice Cake
Tarbell, Tarbell's, Arizona
--Grilled Black Mission Figs with Fresh Mozzarella and Organic Honey
Riviello, Rose & Crown Pub, Epcot
--Grilled Chicken Apple Sausage on White Bean Ragout with Tossed Micro Greens
Alan Peters, Catering, Disney's Contemporary Resort
--Kobe Beef "Stroganoff" on Three Mushroom Croquettes
Michael Smith & Debbie Gold, 40 Sardines, Kansas
--Asian Lobster served over White Somen Noodles
Rios, The Old House, Santa Fe, New Mexico
--Prawns in a Mango and Chipotle Chile Barbecue Saurce over a Cuban Black Bean Pancake
Ponticelli, Narcoossee's, Disney's Grand Floridian Resort and Spa
-- Pan-Seared Scallops with Serrano Ham and Cannellini Bean Ragout
Kent, Rose & Crown Pub, Epcot
--Apple Bourbon Braised Beef with Mashed Potatoes and Apple Crisp
Cizma, Cheftedcizma.com, Chicago, Illinois
--Slow-cooked Maple Leaf Farms Duck Leg served with a Coconut Milk and Ginger-Infused Celery Root Puree
Hauser, Sullberg, Germany
--Grouper on a Saffron Mussel Ragout with Eggplant Rolls
Joseph P. Seeletso, Phakalane Resort, Botswana, Africa
--Seswaa and Diphaphatha, Traditional Beef with Maize Meal and Flatbreads
Fuchs and Edgardo Ruiz, Catering, Disney's Grand Floridian Resort and
--Curried Lentil and Potato Samosa on Basmati Fried Rice and Tamil Nadu Vegetable Ragout
Trevino, Parrot Club, Puerto Rico
--Bacalaito and Latin Crab Salad
Ximena Mariscal, Escuela de Cocina, Mexico
--Seared Duck Breast in Tamarind Mole Sauce with Grilled Pineapple
Shane Cooprider, Coral Reef, Epcot
-- Wild King Salmon BLT with Caper Mayonnaise
Wilson, Artist, Point, Disney's Wilderness Lodge
--Pan-Seared Loin of Rabbit with Stone Ground Mustard Vinaigrette*
Midkiff, Disney's Vero Beach Resort
--Ginger-Scented Pork Tenderloin with Port Macerated Cranberries and Clementine Oranges
Robert Small, Disney's Beach Club Resort
--Parmesan Crusted Chilean Sea Bass on a Wild Mushroom Risotto
Pfeiffer, French Pastry School, Chicago, Illinois
--Caramel Cider Infused Apples served with a Rich Vanilla Cream and a Flaky Butter Cookie
Irish Dairy Board, Dublin, Ireland
Kerrygold Dubliner Irish Cheese and Kerrygold Pure Irish Butter
Rodriguez, Disney's Contemporary Resort Bakery
--Dulce de Leche Dumplings, Poached Arkansas Black Apples and Vanilla Bean Ice Cream
Villacorte, Disney's Contemporary Resort Bakery
Coconut Panna Cotta with Tropical Fruit Salsa accompanied by Mango Sorbet and Banana Lumpia
Furtado, Le Cellier Steakhouse, Epcot
-- Warm Pumpkin Cream Cheese Cake with Fireweed Honey Apple Spice Syrup and Ginger Ice Cream
Viallet, Executive Pastry Chef, Disneyland Hotel and Resort
-- Lavish Chocolate Fountain with Sweet Accompaniments
Concha y Toro Winery
Maison Louis Jadot
Chateau des Charmes
Evans & Tate Winery
Bodegas Nieto Senetiner Winery
Jacob's Creek Winery
Vina Morande Winery
Remy Martin Cognac
Oyster Bay Winery
Inbev (Stella Artois, Beck's, Brahma)
Sapphire Hill Winery
Vinedo de los Vientos
FOR THE SENSES
SATURDAY, OCTOBER 8, 2005
Debra Martin Koma
Senior Editor, ALL EARS®
If you've previously attended Walt Disney World's Party for the Senses, which features chefs, wines, beer, champagne and cognac from around the world, you won't find the 2005 events much different from past years. That's NOT a complaint! This is a fantastic feast for the senses that Walt Disney World does very right -- I don't think I've ever heard anyone complain that they felt this Food & Wine Festival event was not worth the time or money.
But for those of you who are new to the Party for the Senses experience, I'll elaborate a little more. (And if you want even more background, please be sure to also read AllEars.Net's reports on the Party from last year HERE and HERE.)
These food and wine tasting events, held every Saturday evening during Epcot's annual International Food & Wine Festival, are held at the cavernous World Showplace (formerly the Millennium Village), located between the United Kingdom and Canada pavilions.
As a side benefit of attending the event, party-goers are given preferred seating at that evening's 5:45 performance of the Eat to the Beat Concert at the America Gardens Theatre. When you're checked in at the concert, you're given a wristband so that you don't have to check in again at the World Showplace afterwards.
Because we were traveling again this year with a large group, including several first-timers, we decided to forego the concert -- it was the Edgar Winter Group during our visit this year, not among my favorite performers, not when he was big in the '70s or now. (Side note: Oh, when will we hit it lucky and be there at the same time as the Beach Boys or Three Dog Night?) In any case, we felt that by getting in the front of line for entrance to the Party would help assure that we obtained a large enough table to seat our group. That, to us, was more important than the show, so we congregated at the entrance to World Showplace about a half-hour before the 6:30 p.m. start time.
Around 6:15 or so, those of us without wristbands were permitted to enter the foyer of the Showplace to be checked in. (Those already banded were allowed to proceed directly to tables where they were given their programs.) Once appropriately tagged, we could all receive our notched plate for the evening and a complimentary Schott-Zweisel wine glass, etched with a special logo of Epcot to commemorate the festival's 10th anniversary. (My 13-year-old son was not given a wine glass at this time, but they did provide one for us as we exited the event later on.)
We were eventually allowed access to the inside of the Showplace, a welcome respite from the heat and humidity that had been plaguing us all day at the theme parks. Performance artists dressed in suits with bowler derbies and umbrellas posed at various locations to entertain us while we waited for the 6:30 witching hour when the curtain separating us from the delectable aromas and sounds of food preparation would be raised.
If you've ever been at the Magic Kingdom for "rope drop," that is, that moment at opening time when the Cast Members actually allow you to enter the park, then you have an idea of the frenzied run for tables that occurs when the curtain is lifted at the Party for the Senses.
This year, however, I'd have to say that racing for a place wasn't as critical as it has been in past years. Seating was plentiful, with many more cocktail tables and tall stools scattered around the room than before -- although securing two large tables next to each other wasn't possible this year, as a reserved table fooled us, and then separated us for the night.
Besides the addition of seating, the Showplace was set up in much the same manner as last year, with a central stage for the La Nouba performers that would entertain throughout the evening. Again the food and wine stations were color-coded, denoted by matching lighting and fabric draped high above the various sections. As you perused your program, you could determine in which color area your favorite foods and beverages were being served -- it was easy enough to find that area and head toward it.
As far as HOW to participate in the Party for the Senses, I can tell you after attending for the past four years that there's no "best strategy." You're allowed to eat and drink as much or as little as you wish, so while some may prefer to meander from station to station without a plan, it's still perfectly acceptable to plan your attack and go in a methodical order. I prefer the first method, wandering around and being surprised at the treats I discovered, while my 13-year-old he studied the program for items that intrigued him, then systematically went from station to station gathering up his goodies. I'm not sure which of us had the better time -- I think it's safe to say it was a tie.
As in years past, I was impressed with the innovative dishes that these chefs from around the world were able to prepare for us on the spot with limited space. Chefs came from as far as Botswana, Mexico and Puerto Rico, but this year I noted that about half of the 25 chefs in attendance were from Disney properties, including Disneyland in California, and Disney's Vero Beach Resort in Florida. That could just have been the week I attended though, as the menu and slate of participants changes every week.
That said, the quality of the food did not suffer, with several of the evening's clear winners (most notably the Ginger-scented Pork Tenderloin prepared by Chef Debbie Midkiff of Disney's Vero Beach, and the Kobe Beef Stroganoff by Chef Alan Peters of the Contemporary) coming from Disney kitchens. The distinctive combinations of ingredients was truly a treat for the tastebuds, with such delights as Parmesan Crusted Sea Bass paired with Mushroom Risotto, Duck Breast accented by a Tamarind Mole Sauce, and Scallops married to Serrano Ham and Cannellini Beans.
For those of us with sweet teeth, there was an impressive chocolate fountain overseen by Disneyland Hotel chefs, Dulce de Leche Dumplings with vanilla bean ice cream, and Coconut Panna Cotta coupled with Mango Sorbet. As usual, there was also a variety of savory cheeses from around the world. I found again that cheese I had first discovered at a Party for the Senses several years ago -- Tete de Moine, shaved into pretty fans with a special tool called a girolle. Some in our group felt the cheese table had been reduced from past years, but I found that it was actually divided into two locations, with a welcome addition of dried fruits and nuts and a special selection of dairy products from the Irish Dairy Board.
The wines and spirits offered this year ran the spectrum from known quantities, such as those wines from Penfolds (Australia), Concha y Toro (Chile), and Silverado (California), to the new (at least to me) and exciting: Wynns (Australia again), August Kesseler (Germany), and Bodegas Nieto Senetiner (Argentina). Probably the BEST wines of the evening (that I and my dining partners tasted, at least) were Jacob's Creek Winery's Centenary Hill, an intensely rich shiraz, and Silverado Vineyards' SLD (Stag's Leap District) Cabernet Sauvignon.
Champagnes from Pommery and cognacs from Remy Martin were also available, as were a variety of beers from Samuel Adams. Rounding out the evening's sensory delights were the breathtaking performers from Cirque du Soleil's La Nouba, who performed aerial ballet, tightrope walking, and other gravity-defying feats. Most were enchanted particularly by the performer in the black and white striped leotard, resembling a zebra -- her gymnastic prowess was most impressive.
Interspersed between La Nouba acts were strolling musicians in black flowing robes, playing electrified instruments -- imagine our surprise when we spotted among them Randy, a guitarist with the popular Celtic rock band Off Kilter, which performs in Epcot's Canada pavilion!
The bottom line: Even after having attended four years running, I still feel that the Party for the Senses is worth the $95 price tag. I jokingly call it my annual "feeding frenzy," but for the variety and amount of food, drink and entertainment compressed into 2 1/2 hours, it's one of the best values I've experienced at a Disney event.
Be sure to check out the Party for the Senses photos in our Food & Wine Festival Photo Gallery HERE!