2006 International
Food & Wine Festival

Party for the Senses

September 30, 2006

Chefs and Menus | Wines | Review


Alphonso Walker, Artist Point, Wilderness Lodge
--Sesame-ginger crusted Ahi Tuna with Coconut Curry Sauce
and Edamame Salad

Daniel Sicilia, Turf Club Bar and Grill, Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa
--Black Angus Lollipops, vanilla-scented potato foam and a Frangelico glaze

Clint Lefabvre, Jiko -- The Cooking Place, Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge
--Peppadew and Edamame Hummus with vegetable salad and pita chips

Matt Gennuso, Chez Pascal, Providence, RI
--New England inspired Bouillabaisse with squid, scallops and Peeky Toe crab

Pascal Oudin, Pascal's on Ponce, Miami, FL
--Garlic and herb-crusted rack of lamb and sun-dried apricot spice sauce

Christian Rumpler, Le Cellier Steakhouse and Rose & Crown PUb and Dining Room, Epcot
--Duck Confit served on celery root and apple slaw with an autumn fruit glaze

Matt Murray, the girl and the fig, Sonoma, CA
-- Lobster and Crayfish Bisque with cauliflower cream and garlic chips

Ronnie Strickland, The Garden Grill, Epcot
--Grilled autumn vegetables with roasted red pepper quinoa and balsamic glaze

Albert Riviello, Le Cellier Steakhouse, Canada Pavilion, Epcot
--Horseradish crusted prime filet of beef with Roquefort potatoes, port wine jus, chive oil and fried leeks

Jonathan Sanders, Biergarten Restaurant, Germany Pavilion, Epcot
--Sausage and cornbread stuffed pork loin with corn relish

Matt Carter, Zinc Bistro, Scottsdale, AZ
--Red King Crab, artichoke and celery root mousseline with spiced pear

Lothar Neumaier, Pastry Chef, Epcot
--Almond Hippen Roll with white chocolate filling & Spice-infused chocolate bonnet

Mike McCarey, Mike's Amazing Cakes, Redmond, WA
--Valrhona chocolate cake with caramel and almond roca

Laurent Carillon, Chefs de France, France Pavilion, Epcot
--Vol-au-vent aux ris de veau
(Braised sweetbreads in puff pastry)

Jean-Robert de Cavel
--Sauteed Duck Breast with Woodford Reserve, grape and black peppercorn sauce,
roasted duck leg with a medley of mushrooms, and polenta

Andrew Selz, Chef Selz Inc., Pensacola, FL
--Cedar plank Thai salmon with white truffle polenta accompanied with Asian sauces

Michael Viola, Tony's Town Square Restaurant, Magic Kingdom
--Pan-fried oysters on wilted greens with truffle caper aioli

Phillip Ponticelli, Citricos, Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
--Mediterranean lamb salad with cilantro-lime yogurt and avocado drizzle

Ron Asimos, '50s Prime Time Cafe, Disney-MGM Studios
--Butternut squash tortellini, chai tea wild mushroom ragu with cranberry cream

Celina Tio, The American Restaurant, Kansas City, MO
--Pan-roasted scallop with succotash salad and applewood smoked bacon

Mary Schaefer and James Rabb, Disney's Contemporary Resort
--Les Verrines: Ananas, pommes, fraises with Valrhona chocolate

Jennifer Reed, Cafe Boulud, Palm Beach, FL
--Lemon pound cake with citrus compote & tarragon gelee

Andrew Schotts, Garrison Confections, Providence, RI
--Almond pain de genes with sauteed caramelized bananas with Jamaica rum ice cream

Zach Bell, Cafe Boulud, Palm Beach, FL
--Wild American shrimp couscous, pink grapefruit, avocado, yogurt sauce and Middle Eastern spices

Tony Marotta, Spoodles, Disney's BoardWalk Resort
--Slow-cooked pork belly with spicy black bean relish and avocado creme fraiche

International Cheese
--A selection of Palate-Tempting Cheese from
around the World


Moet & Chandon Champagne
Simi Winery
Silverado Vineyards
Inbev: Bass Pale Ale, Hoegaarden, Stella Artois
Robert Mondavi Winery
Michele Chiarlo
Bodegas Norton
French Ministry of Agriculture:
Lanson Black Label Brut Champagne
Lanson Rose Label Champagne
Trimbach Alsace Pinot Gris
Red Bicyclette Rose
Les Jamelles Pinot Noir
Heritage Cotes du Rhone
Fat Bastard Grand Reserve
Samuel Adams
Remy Martin Cognac
Raphael Vineyards
Maison Louis Jadot
Montes Alpha
Etude Wines
Click Wine Group:
Clean Slate Riesling
Flying Fish Merlot
Unico Gran Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon
Korbel Champagne Cellars
Mission Hill Family Estate
Wolf Blass
Pierre Sparr
E. & J. Gallo Winery


by Debra Martin Koma
Senior Editor, ALL EARS®

I've attended the Epcot Food and Wine Festival's Party for the Senses five years in a row now, and I can safely say that it's still one of my favorite events at this annual eating extravaganza. Where else can you sample the culinary concoctions of chefs from all over the world, paired with wines and other beverages from all over the world, all under one roof in one evening? Yes, the price has gone up substantially this year -- from $95 to $125 per person (plus tax) -- but it is still tremendous fun and a wonderful way to experience new and exciting tastes prepared by some of the best chefs around.

If you've never gone to a Party for the Senses, let me give you the basics here: As part of the event, you get preferred seating for the 5:45 p.m. "Eat to the Beat" Concert staged at the America Gardens Theatre. When you go to the theatre, check yourself in with the Cast Member there and you'll be given a wristband that will get you into the Party for the Senses later. Enjoy the concert, then mosey over to the World ShowPlace (located in World Showcase between the United Kingdom and Canada pavilions), where you'll be able to pick up your program, your souvenir glass and your notched plate for the evening. At 6:30, the doors to the venue will open and you can join the crowds rushing in to find a table. Alternatively, if you choose not to attend the Eat to the Beat concert, you can proceed directly to World ShowPlace, where you will have to wait to check in and receive your glass, plate and program.

Once inside the cavernous World ShowPlace, locate a table for yourself and your party. There are both large tables that seat 10, smaller tables for six, and cocktail tables with high chairs for just a few people. (Seating has been at a premium in past years, but this year there seemed to be ample seating for everyone -- either they've added seats, or they're taking in fewer participants. In either case, you shouldn't have to fight for a place to sit while you nosh this year.)

Inside the World ShowPlace, you'll notice that there are fabric swaths streaming from the ceiling -- this isn't just for decoration. This method of color-coding the various sections of the room coincides with your program. Take a look -- do the food offerings on the blue page of the program sound inviting? Just look up, locate the "blue zone" and head over to sample those tasty morsels. You can proceed in an orderly fashion, or you can stroll around choosing sips and samples at random -- whichever you prefer, you can go back as often as you want until the servers start to chase you out at 9 p.m.

Now that you understand a little about HOW the Party for the Senses works, let me tell you WHAT it was like this year.


OK, you want a better description than that? Well, let's see... where should I start?

I guess I'll start with the first item that I tried, because it was certainly an auspicious beginning to the evening. The Black Angus Lollipop, with vanilla-scented potato foam and a Frangelico glaze, was truly a taste sensation. That chunk of the tenderest beef imaginable, stuck on a stick to look like a sucker, very nearly melted in my mouth. I don't know why, but I was surprised to see that it had been prepared by Chef Daniel Sicilia, of the Turf Club Bar and Grill at Disney's own Saratoga Springs Resort and Spa. Perhaps because the Turf Club is a relatively new entry to the Disney culinary world and I haven't had the chance to eat there yet -- but based on that taste, you can bet the restaurant is now on my must-visit list.

In fact, 14 of the 26 chefs at the Party I attended were from Disney kitchens. This, however, is not a complaint, merely an observation. Some of the best offerings I sampled at this year's Party were from Disney chefs. In addition to the Turf Club's entry, there was the marvelous Horseradish-crusted Prime Filet of Beef presented by Le Cellier's Albert Riviello, which was a close second on my top 10 list of the evening, and I won't soon forgot the Almond Hippen Roll with White Chocolate Filling presented by Epcot's pastry chef Lothar Neumaier.

The Disney chefs were given a run for their money by some of the "outside" masters invited to the evening's event. One of the most memorable for me was Matt Carter from Scottsdale, Arizona's Zinc Bistro, who presented the Red King Crab, Artichoke and Celery Root Mousseline with Spiced Pear -- what a combination of flavors. A big surprise was the Sauteed Duck Breast with Woodford Reserve, Grape and Black Peppercorn Sauce, Roasted Duck Leg with a Medley of Mushrooms and Polenta prepared by Jean-Robert de Cavel or Jean-Robert at Pigall's, from, of all places, Cincinnati, Ohio. (Nothing against Cincinnati -- it's just that I never associated it with gastronomic greatness before!) And I would be remiss if I didn't mention the Valrhona Chocolate Cake with Caramel and Almond Roca from Mike McCarey of Mike's Amazing Cakes in Redmond, Washington. Yes, Mike, it WAS amazing!

Many of the wineries represented this year were familiar to me -- I would venture that most anyone who imbibes alcoholic beverages has heard of Robert Mondavi, Moet & Chandon, Samuel Adams, and Remy Martin. But some of the new (to me) vineyards also offered some more than palatable potions: Raphael Vineyards from New York; Napa's Etude Wines; Mission Hill Family Estate of Canada; and Pierre Sparr from the Alsace region of France. In addition, there were some wonderful wines from vineyards that I already knew -- best of the bunch, for my money, were Penfold's Bin 128 Coonawara Shiraz, the Simi Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, and Silverado's Merlot and Cab. Can you tell I like red wines best? But if white is more your style, I have it on good authority that there were plenty of great ones to please most palates, from the Johannishof Klaus Riesling Spatlese to the Trimbach Alsace Pinot Gris. Beer drinkers had their choice of domestic (Sam Adams) and foreign (Bass, Stella Artois) and if your taste ran to something more unusual, Remy Martin was offering Strawberry Kiwi Cognac and its 1738 Accord Royal Cognac.

Rounding out the evening were performers from Cirque du Soleil's La Nouba, who both strolled through the crowd, and performed periodically on a centrally located stage. This year, however, there was no live music -- no strolling musicians like last year, no live band as in prior years. It was missed, although with so much eating and drinking and laughing going on, I suppose I shouldn't complain.

If you can only afford one big-ticket dining experience during this year's Food and Wine Festival, I will, as I have done for the last few years, recommend the Party for the Senses. In spite of the price increase and a few cut-backs (the lack of live music, for example) I still find this event to be one of the most fun evenings you can have at Epcot, or anywhere in Walt Disney World.