Tuesday, November 16, 2010

EPCOT Center Food & Wine Festival Adventures - Part 2: France - United States

Linda and Colleen Sample the Goodies
After finishing off the delicious offerings from Kiosks #27-23, we continued walking around the World Showcase in our counter-clockwise fashion. We used the outdoor seating area near the Tangerine Cafe in the Morocco Pavilion.

From this location we visited a lot of kiosks. Colleen took Kiosk #22 France, Ben took Kiosk #21 Spain, Josh took Kiosk #20 Belgium, we all went to Kiosk #19 Morocco, I took Kiosk #19 Australia, Linda took Kiosk #17 Japan, Josh took Kiosk #16 United States, and I took Kiosk #15 Hops and Barley.

Here's what we sampled from these kiosks (items with an asterisk were tried on the previous visit I had with my mother):

          France - Escargots Persillade en Brioche, Crème Brûlée au Chocolat au
            Lait*, Sparkling Pomegranate Kir*
          Spain - Serrano Ham, Chorizo, Manchego, Olives, and Tomato Bread
          Belgium - Steamed Mussels with Roasted Garlic Cream, Freshly Baked
            Waffles with Berry Compote and Whipped Cream
          Morocco - Beef Kefta in a Pita Pocket, Falafel Pita Pocket, Baklava*,
            Sangria, Amazigh Red Wine, Tangerine Mimosa, Iced Mint Tea
          Australia -  Seared Barramundi with Blistered Cherry Tomatoes, Arugula,
            and Lemon Oil, Grilled Lamb Chop with Roasted Potato Salad and Red
            Wine Reduction
          Japan - Wafu Ribettes, Tuna Sensation
          United States - Bison Chili with Wild Mushrooms, Cabernet, and Pepper
            Jack Cheese, Heirloom Tomatoes with Oregon Blue Cheese, Red  
            Onions, and Basil, Red Stag Lemonade by Jim Beam
          Hops & Barley - Boston-style Crab Cake with Cabbage Slaw and
            Remoulade, New England Lobster Roll, Pecan Bread Pudding

The escargots are something that I have to have every year, so it was awesome that Colleen bought two portions, so we were all able to have our own. They're delicious and buttery with the brioche so light and soft on the tongue. The crème brûlée was nice, but lacked a developed chocolate flavor, so in the end it was more creamy and somewhat bland. The Pomegranate Kir had a lovely color and was pleasantly dry and not overly sweet.

The tapas in Spain were excellent. The Serrano ham was deliciously salty and went very well with the manchego cheese which had a marvelous sharpness. The olives were good, but reminiscent of L'Estornell Manzanilla Olives. The tomato bread was good, but best dipped in the sauce from the mussels from Belgium.

The Steamed Mussels from Belgium were phenomenal! I would have to declare these to be my favorite dish from this round of tastings. What really made this shine was the Roasted Garlic Cream, it was so delicious that Linda was licking the exterior of the shells and we were using the tomato bread from Spain to sop up the sauce. This would be amazing atop some thin spaghetti, and I'm including the recipe at the bottom of this post. The waffle was also great, the exterior was crispy but the interior was light and fluffy. The berry compote was great, you could taste the red wine used in the fruit reduction. Colleen is enjoying a taste of the waffle in the above picture.

Baklava and Beef Kefta
The Moroccan kiosk tempted all of us with its alcoholic offerings. Colleen and Linda opted for the Sangria, Ben had the Amazigh red wine, and I had the tangerine mimosa. The sangria was very refreshing and the red wine was deliciously crisp. I rather enjoyed my mimosa (seen on the table in the picture with Colleen; she is having the sangria in the picture) as the tangerine was an interesting take on the traditional mimosa. The beef kefta was good, but paled in comparison to the falafel, which the majority of us preferred. Luckily the falafel can be found year-round in the Tangerine Cafe at the Morocco Pavilion; I suspect I will be having it again in the near future!The baklava was scrumptious, with pistachios instead of the usual walnuts.

In Australia we found the Barramundi to be a nice fish, but it did not have a distinct or memorable flavor (it was reminiscent of tilapia). It did have a nice presentation and the wilted arugula was quite nice. The lambchop, however, definitely did not disappoint; it had a great texture and was very tender. The roasted potato salad tasted under-done, which was a bit disappointing.

Japan, like Greece before it, has always been a disappointing kiosk, in my opinion. The majority of the offerings are simple sushi rolls that one can have at any sushi establishment around the country. The Tuna Sensation was a nice sashimi though, with some avocado. The Wafu ribettes were good, and Josh seemed rather fond of them. They had a nice, well-developed soy flavor and had been slow roasted to amazing tenderness.

Having tastings from the United States kiosk may seem silly, but what we had was delightful. The bison chili was well seasoned, albeit mild, and Colleen was most pleased with the pepper jack cheese. The heirloom tomatoes were a bit on the mealy side but paired well with the Oregon blue cheese, which is a milder blue cheese (an excellent "Gateway Blue" for those who aren't as fond of the sharper gorgonzolas or Maytag Blues). The Red Stag lemonade was very refreshing (and very alcoholic), which made for a pleasant beverage that we enjoyed while listening to the sounds of Hanson later in the evening.

Lastly, the Hops & Barley kiosk offered some choices that have been featured in previous years of the Food & Wine Festival. I will admit that I am not a fan of Boston-style crabcakes, as I find them too soft (I have been spoiled by my Marylander husband when it comes to crab) but I found the cabbage slaw accompaniment to be one of the better coleslaws I have had (it was not too creamy, I prefer vinegar based slaws). The lobster roll was delicious and we had a generous helping of lobster on our buttered, toasted roll. The lobster was not overly dressed, so the delicious sweetness of the lobster meat really shone. The Pecan Bread Pudding was heavenly, but made me long for the version highlighted when New Orleans had its own kiosk the year before last.

********RECIPE TIME********

This time around, the favorite dish was the Steamed Mussels with Roasted Garlic Cream Sauce from Belgium. I plan on making this and serving it over pasta with a spinach salad, and some crusty peasant bread to sop up the extra sauce.

Serves 4


Roasted Garlic Purée
1 large head garlic                     1/2 T olive oil

Roasted Garlic Cream Sauce
1 T olive oil                               2 shallots, minced
1.5 c white wine                        1 T lemon juice
2 c heavy cream                        2 T roasted garlic purée
1/2 t coarse salt                         1/4 t ground black pepper

4 lbs fresh mussels                    1 c dry white wine
1 c tomato purée                       2 t chopped fresh parsley
2 t chopped fresh dill                 2 t chopped fresh chives

For the roasted garlic purée - 
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Remove excess papery skin from garlic, keeping the head intact. Cut off the top 1/4 of the garlic head to expose the cloves within.
  2. Place the head of garlic cut side up on a 10" square of aluminum foil. Drizzle with the olive oil. Wrap the head in the foil, sealing the edges.
  3. Place the foil-wrapped garlic head in the oven and roast for 45 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 20 minutes.
  4. Squeeze garlic out of skins and into a small bowl. Mash the garlic until smooth, or process in a small food processor until a smooth consistency is achieved.
For the roasted garlic cream sauce - 
  1. Heat the oil in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Add the shallot and cook for 3 minutes. Stir in the wine and lemon juice. Cook, stirring occasionally, for another 5 minutes.
  2. Add the cream, roasted garlic purée, salt, and pepper, whisking to combine. Simmer ( do NOT boil) for another 5 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
For the mussels - 
  1. Scrub and debeard the mussels.
  2. Place the mussels, wine, and water in a stockpot over high heat. Cover and bring to a boil.
  3. Cook until the mussels open, which will be about 4 minutes. Remove and discard any mussels that do not open. Strain the cooking liquid from the mussels and discard the liquid.
  4. Place the mussels in a large serving bowl. Pour roasted garlic cream sauce over the mussels. Garnish with parsley, dill, and chives. Serve immediately.

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