Monday, November 22, 2010

EPCOT Center Food & Wine Festival Adventures - Part 3: Germany - Chile

15 Year Topiary
After having eaten all those delicious treats from Kiosks #16-27, we were obviously quite full. So we took a break from our epicurean escapades and enjoyed parts of Future World and the various attractions around World Showcase.

After our break, we did not continue our planned attack with base camps. We merely strolled about the showcase and ran into a line as it struck our fancy. We made the conscious decision to skip a few kiosks: #3 Brazil (too full), #12 Brewer's Collection (shouldn't mix beer and liquors), and #14 Italy (it was the standard fare you can get anywhere).

So here's what we did end up trying (items with an asterisk were tried on the previous visit I had with my mother):

          Germany - Spaetzel Gratin with Ham & Cheese, Nürnberger Sausage in
            a Pretzel Roll, Apfel Strudel featuring Werther's Original Karamell Sauce
          South Africa - Flavors of Africa (Salad, Bread, & Spreads), Seared Beef
            Tenderloin with Sweet Potato Purée and Mango Barbecue Sauce
          South Korea - Lettuce Wraps with Roast Pork and Kimchi Slaw
          Singapore - Shrimp Cake with Singapore Noodle Salad*, Coconut 
            Braised Beef Rendang with Jasmine Rice, Singapore Sling*
          China - Pork Pot Stickers*, Xinjiang Barbecue Chicken Stick, Green Tea
            Plum Wine Cooler*
          Poland - Kielbasa and Potato Pierogies with Caramelized Onions
            and Sour Cream, Golabki
          Mexico - Tamal de Pollo, Taco de Chilorio, Churro, Passion Fruit
            Frozen Margarita
          Argentina -Roasted Corn and Cheese Empanada, Grilled Beef Skewer
            with Chimichurri Sauce and Boniato Purée
          Puerto Rico Medianoche Sandwich, Bacardi Frozen Limón Mojito*
          Desserts & Champagne Strawberry Angel Verrine, Pear Streusel 
            Pudding Cake, Dark Chocolate Sensation
          Chile - Pastel de Choclo 

The foods in Germany have always been delicious and this year was certainly no exception. The spaetzel gratin was very light and tasty, much better than the heavier Spaetzle with Creamy Mushroom Ragout they've had in years past. The Nürnberger Sausage was very amply sized (insert inappropriate joke here) and delicious. The Apfel strudel was very yummy and the caramel sauce was a nice tie-in to the new retail shop that recently opened in the Germany Pavilion that features caramel candies.

The South Africa kiosk was slightly disappointing, as I heartily missed the Durban Chicken Skewers that had been featured in the past. The wild rice salad was an amazing treat on a hot autumn day and the bread was very fresh; I preferred the Harissa over the Coriander Sauce, which I felt was far too sweet.

At the South Korea kiosk, the Bo Ssam (Lettuce Wraps with Roast Pork, Kimchi Slaw, and Sesame Mayo) were simply divine! The flavors were very complex and it was so good that Colleen insisted on having her own portion to herself. In Singapore, there were an abundance of spicy flavors. The shrimp cakes were my mother's favorite but she found the noodle salad to be far too hot for her liking (although I thought it was fabulous). The coconut-braised beef rendang had delicious, slow-cooked flavors of cumin, coriander, nutmeg, and fennel which was well-suited to the fragrant jasmine rice. The Singapore Slings were heavy on the gin, which was wonderful as well.

In China the options were fairly standard, but good nonetheless. The Pork Potstickers are the same as the ones you can get at the Lotus Blossom Cafe in the China Pavilion. The Barbecue Chicken Stick was a carnivore's delight, which had an excellent marinade and tender texture. The Green Tea Plum Wine Cooler is very sweet, but refreshing when the weather is hot; it also was quite alcoholic, which can also be a plus.

Poland's Pierogis and Kielbasa are phenomenal; it is little wonder that it was the best seller at the 2009 Food & Wine Festival. While the pierogis are good, I found that the Golabki (pronounced go-womp-kee) clearly was the best of the kiosk. Golabki are cabbage rolls which are stuffed with a pork meatball and slow-cooked in a mixture of beef broth and tomato juice.

Ben really likes his churro
Mexico was a lot of fun this year. Ben had never tasted a churro in all of his 26 years until our visit to the festival. We took photos of his tasting (and Josh even took a video). As you can see from his picture, Ben certainly seemed to approve of the soft, warm churro. The Tamal de Pollo (chicken tamale) and Taco de Chilorio (Pork taco with queso blanco) were very flavorful as well. But the real winner of this kiosk was the Frozen Passion Fruit Margarita. It was an ample portion for the price ($7.25), had plenty of tequila, and was not too sweet.

Argentina has always been a good crowd pleaser, what with the melt-in-your-mouth Chimichurri Steak Skewers. The boniato purée served with the skewers was a bit bland, but swirling it with the basil and olive oil goodness of the chimichurri sauce made it passable. The Beef and Corn Empanada was huge for it's price of $2.75 and was simple delicious. The five of us split two of the empanadas, making us too full to even begin to attempt the Brazil kiosk. It was worth it.

Puerto Rico's Medianoche Sandwich was good, with the bread being the highlight. Linda seemed to enjoy it, and she is quite the fan of Medianoche Sandwiches. My mother and I really enjoyed the Frozen Mojito, but we found that it really lacked the lime flavor we prefer in our mojitos (we may be spoiled, as we often get the real deal at the Columbia Restaurant in Ybor City which is arguably one of the best mojitos in the world).

We didn't sample many of the desserts around the showcase this time, as we were focusing on the savory dishes. This was not a horrid thing, as the Desserts & Champagne kiosk was heavenly all by itself. Each dessert was singly priced at $1.50 for a 2-3 bite sized portion. The best of the three was definitely the Pear Streusel Pudding Cake. It was very like and had a creamy, vanilla softness. The Strawberry Angel Verrine was little more than a glorified strawberry shortcake and was unfortunately heavy on strawberry glaze and light on fresh berries. The Dark Chocolate Sensation Mini-Cupcakes were good, with the chocolate mousse frosting, but chocolate was better showcased in the Bailey Lava Cake in Ireland.

Lastly there was the Chile kiosk, where we could only manage to try one dish: the Pastel de Choclo. This beef and corn pie was a humble dish, but it had a richness which would befit any of the great comfort foods. I can see myself adding this dish to my cooking rotation in the winter month as it has a warmth and heaviness to it. This is a meal that would stick to your ribs, as my mother would say.

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

There were many wonderful treats this time around, but it's best to close up the review of the 2010 EPCOT Center International Food & Wine Festival with a dessert. As such, here is a recipe for the amazingly awesome Pear Streusel Pudding Cake from the Desserts & Champagne kiosk.

Makes One 9-inch Cake


Pear Cake
1/4 c cream cheese, softened     1/4 c sugar
2 T all-purpose flour                  1 egg
1/4 c heavy whipping cream       1.5 t melted butter
3/4 roll of sugar cookie dough     1 c prepared vanilla pudding
1 can pear halves, drained          1 c streusel topping

Streusel Topping
1 c flour                                   1/2 c sugar
1/2 stick butter, melted

For the pear cake - 
  1. In a mixer, beat cream cheese, sugar, and flour until smooth. Do not whip. Add in the egg, heavy cream, and melted butter, mixing at a medium speed until a smooth consistency is achieved.
  2. Lightly grease a 9 inch tart pan. Press the cookie dough from the bottom to about halfway up the sides of the pan. Evenly spread the vanilla pudding on top of the dough. Layer the cream cheese mixture on top of the pudding.
  3. Thinly slice the drained pears and arrange in an even layer atop the cream cheese mixture. Sprinkle the streusel topping over the pears.
  4. Bake until the cake feels firm to the touch and the streusel is golden, approximately 50 minutes. Refrigerate the cake for at least 6 hours (preferably overnight) before serving.
For the streusel topping - 
  1. Combine the flour and sugar in a medium bowl. Add the butter and mix with a fork until the contents form large crumbs. Refrigerate until needed.

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