Sunday, November 4, 2012

Party of the Senses

I had the most wonderful time at the Party of the Senses at this year's EPCOT food and wine festival. The Party for the Senses, is a ticketed event that take place in the pavilion between England and Canada in the world showcase of EPCOT.  It runs from 7:30-10.  Once inside, there are many food and beverage stations to try.  While grazing, Cirque du Soleil was performing on stage. It was a pricey event at $137.00 per ticket plus EPCOT admission, but I still think it is a deal.  It was an extravagant dinner that was my 40th birthday present from my wonderful husband.  Why did I want to go?  (Besides from tasty food)  What makes it worth it for me, is that you get to try a wide variety of foods, that are of a good quality, and by trying these, you can improve your own cooking as you learn what food can taste like.  In some ways, I won't be able to replicate the flavors, as I can't afford the high end ingredients that were in some of the dishes.  But, at least I have a high standard to aim for.  Was every dish an oh wow dish?  No.  There were even some I didn't care for, but I tried every thing expect the assortment of chocolates.  I was too full at that point!  I also didn't try every wine, beer or liquor, but then I wanted to be able to walk out of there;).  So no recipes today, just the dishes I tried and my thoughts on them.  Sorry about the poor quality pictures.  Light was dim in there and I didn't want to spend a lot of time taking dozens of pictures to insure a good one.

From Andrew Omo of Linda Bean's Perfect Maine, Freeport ME we had Grilled Maine Lobster Tail with Tarragon Barbecue Sauce over Apple and Fennel Salad.  The lobster was pretty good, I didn't notice much of the sauce, if it was on there, it was very little.  The salad was ok but also a little plain.


From Russell Palmer of Artist Point in Disney's Wilderness Lodge, we had our favorite dish of the evening, Oak Smoked Buffalo Sausage, Forest Mushroom Ragout, Quail Eggs, Gruyere with Sweet Onion Jam.  The sausage was great with a little heat.  I adored the mushrooms, but the quail egg, didn't taste much different than a regular egg to me, other than there seemed to be more yolk to white ratio than a chicken egg.

From Rock Harper of Chef Rock Inc, we had a Hickory Smoked Rib with Jicama Slaw.  I liked the sauce on this rib better than the other BBQ rib of the evening.  The slaw was good.

 
From Charlie Restivo of Via Napoli, Italy EPCOT we had an Arancini di Riso.  I haven't had an Aranchini before, but have been dying to try one.  They sounded like such a perfect bite.  This one didn't really wow me.  Keep in mind I am holding all these dishes to the highest standard.  It was by no means bad, but kind of lost in the middle of the spectrum of great to meh for the dishes from this evening.

 
From Robbie Roest of the Grand Floridian Cafe in Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, we had Sauteed Moulard Duck Breast with Celery Root Mash, Heirloom Apple Confit and Currant Jus.  I have never liked duck before, but this was pretty good.  It wasn't too sweet and not too gamey.

 
I have a bone to pick with Mace Maison of the Turf Club in Disney's Saratoga Springs.  He served us Braised Veal with Sweet Potato  Spatzel, Applewood Smoked Bacon and Maple Jus.  I have never eaten veal for ethical reasons, but wasn't going to skip any dish tonight.  It was UNBELIEVABLE!!!  I am so sad I liked it so much, hence my bone to pick.  The spetzel was ok, but nothing was going to out shine that tender bit of veal!


Joe Rodriguez of Hovde Gard Hotel in Breksstad Norway served us Salmon on a bed of Purple Cauliflower Puree with Pickled Cucumber.  The puree didn't look very purple, but I loved the dish, my husband not so much so I finished his salmon!

Shanna Horner O'hea and Brian O'hea of Acadame at the Kennebunk Inn, Kennebunk ME served us a Chicken "Scallop" with Perfect Guacamole and Mango Coulis.  She was one of the nicest chefs we met, but we didn't love the dish.  Very clever to make ground chicken look so much like a scallop, but not a wow.  Personally I have an aversion to anyone calling any dish they make "perfect".  I think is is pretentious.  (perfect as opposed to the slop you would normally serve??)  And as my husband pointed out, it sets expectations too high.  His "perfect" guacamole had a large piece of avocado skin in it.  I don't think he would have been as annoyed if it weren't for the supposed 'Perfection'


Art Smith of Art and Soul in Washington DC served Hoe Cakes with Pulled Pork and Apple Cole Slaw.  He was the most notable chef in attendance, having served presidents, made Lady Gaga's birthday cake and two rounds of Top Chef Masters.  Sadly we were underwhelmed by the dish.  It seemed quite bland and it was one we didn't finish.  He was nice and I have always liked him on the shows, so I hate to not rave, but I also don't want to lie.  Maybe we just got the bad batch.  He was passing out plates not cooking.  (sorry Art still love you)


Another stellar bite was the Chianti Braised Wagu Beef over Sundried Tomato and Pancetta Barley Risotto, Au Jus, Shaved Pecorino Romano and Micro Basil from Jamar Gilkey of Tony's Town Square Restaurant in the Magic Kingdom.  It was amazing.  Our only complaint was that we like the barley and loved the beef, but not so much together.


Next we had Sea Salt Crusted Rack of Lamb and Sweet Potato Mash, Drizzled with a Cinnamon and Mint Glaze and topped with Pumpkin Seed Brittle. This was from Tony Armstrong of Disney's Yacht and Beach Club Resorts Catering and Convention Services.  I found this dish too sweet.  the lamb was tasty but too fatty for me, but the mash was like candy



From Mamma Melrose's Restorante Italiano in Disney's Hollywood Studios, we had Butternut Squash and Midnight Mood Ravioli in a Bourbon Sage Cream.  I love this restaurant and I loved the dish.  The bourbon was not completely cooked out.  I don't know if that was intentional but I liked it.


Jose L. Camey of Paradiso 37 in Downtown Disney made Fall off the Bone St Louis Pork Ribs Tossed in Paradiso 37 BBQ with Serrano Slaw.  This rib would have been my favorite of the two but for one thing, mustard based sauce.  I loathe yellow mustard, and I couldn't get past its flavor.  I liked the meat and slaw better than Chef Rocks, but I liked his sauce better.  My husband loved this, but he doesn't share my aversion.


Peng Looi of August Moon Bistro and Asiatique, Louisville, KY offered Cumin Duck, Eggplant Puree and Pickled Turnip.  The duck it's self was yummy, but the eggplant puree was overwhelmingly cumin.


There were 2 cheese stations, but we only tried one.  We were just getting too full.  I', pretty sure it was the one hosted by Gourmet Foods International.  My two favorites were the Saga Blue and a Parmesan like one I can't remember the name of:(


Javier Pareja of Disney's Yacht and Beach Club Resorts Catering and Convention Services made Braised Pork Belly over Gorgonzola and Chive Yukon Gold and Parsnip Mash.  This was another favorite!  Very yummy!


Adrian Mandry of The Hollywood Brown Derby in Disney's Hollywood Studios made a Seared Bison Strip Loin, Forest Mushroom Potato Croquet and Coca BBQ Sauce.  It was on a slice of three different colors of beets that I took to be a hidden Mickey;).  We liked this one a lot.


The printed menu said this was to be a mini muffaletta but instead we had Biscuits and Ham Gravy and a "dat-o" (oreo style cookie from the bayou.) This was from the Bayou Bakery of McLean, VA.  The Biscuits and gravy were good.  I normally don't like biscuits much but these were pretty tasty.


We also had a Colorado Lamb and Rosemary Slider on a Brioche Bun from Daniel Joly of Marabelle Restaurant  in Beaver Creek CO.  I neglected to get a picture of it.  We were getting really stuffed at this point.  My husband and I shared one.  It was ok.


On to the desserts!

Mario Ramirez Mendez of Disneyland Resort Bakery made a Dark Chocolate Molten Cake with Hazelnut Chantilly and Bacon Brittle



Ron Viloria of Aulani Disney Resort and Spa made a Lilikoi Marcaroon.  It was passion fruit flavored and yummy!

Jorge Sotelo of Disney's Grand Floridian Resort and Spa Bakery made Pumpkin Praline Pie.


Kelly Smith of Disney's Yacht and Beach Club Resorts Catering and Convention Services made Roasted White Chocolate Gelato with Salted Caramel and Bourbon Bacon Popcorn.



WHEW!

In addition to the food stations, (we only missed the  chocolate station from Moonstruck Chocolates of Portland OR and International Cheese hosted by KerryGold) there were ton's of drink stations.  I will list them, but I am hard pressed to remember which I tried from which station, or even which stations I visited.  It was all about the food for me! Each wine station had 3 items to taste unless otherwise noted

Casa Larga Vineyards, Finger Lakes NY
Sartori, Verona, Italy
Sokol Blosser Winery, Dundee Hills, OR
A Whiskey Station (4 Whiskeys)
Skinny Girl Wine, CA
Star Tree Wines, Northern Cape, South Africa
Jacuzzi Family Wines, Sonoma, CA
Cline Cellaars, Sonoma, CA
Robert Mondavi Winery, Napa CA
Nicolas Feuillatte, Champagne, France
Radeberger, Frankfurt Germany (Beer)
Coffee Bar
Samuel Adams, Boston MA (Beer)
Purple Wine Company, CA
Sebastiani Vineyards, Sonoma, CA
Castello Banfi, Tuscany, Italy
Terrazas, Argentina
Vinedos Y Bodegas Alconde SL, Navarra, Spain
Joffery's Coffee & Tea Company
The Meeker Vineyard, Sonoma County, CA
Markham Vineyards, Napa, Spain
AB/INBEV, Belgum (4 beers)
Martini, Italy
Remy Cointreau USA, Barbados (1 hot toddy)
Twinings Gourmet Tea Bar Est 1706 (tea)
Vinmotion, Washington














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