Disney's Food & Wine Festival

The time has come when my brain caves in, when red pens make scars on my fingers and I can't seem to figure out what day it is. It is the end of October. The next month is so close that I can almost taste its smokey scent. I'm not ready to slam down the gas and go speeding into the end of this school year, but it's gaining on us. So what is there to do to calm the nerves? Well, if any of you have been following my long enough, you know that I'm a huge Disney fan. Especially of the parks. Considering that I live a short distance from Disney World, it seemed only appropriate that I drown my stress in good food, plastic utensils, and large crowds. So me and the 'rents embarked on our official romp at Epcot to enjoy the Food & Wine Festival. 

The festival is a bundle of fun, drawing in food enthusiasts, chef celebrities, and excited Disney regulars to enjoy some great food that, until this moment, seemed only visible on the other side of the television set (aka Food Network). I've been going to the parks for years and have traversed the many country-themed booths. However, this year was the year we'd really focus on the festival itself. 

Some new stuff this year included little things. On the picture on the left, of the Ireland booth, you'll notice a stand under the armpit of the plaid-shirt guy. That's a brand-new utensil dispenser! Instead of awkwardly snuffling around the booth, knocking over the fork holders, all you have to do is find the utensil of your choice and press the red button. Like one of those put in a quarter and turn the dial dispensers, the utensil of your choice comes clattering out. It was pretty fun and I totally wasted a lot of plastic by doing that at every booth we stopped at. Luckily, Disney has not, as of yet, thought of charging a quarter for said utensils. That's good. Let's keep it that way, haha. 

There was also a new exhibition called Discover the Cranberry:

Can you believe it? Right in front of the big fountain (on your way to  the World Showcase) Disney placed a cranberry bog. Just like on those cranberry commercials where the two guys stand in the bog. There's totally one here. It was pretty sweet to see. And the sign is funny too - warning you not to climb into the bog or eat from it, haha.
Here's a photo I took from Germany's miniature train village. One of my first posts on this blog was about the village and how it changes, even in subtle ways, throughout the years. Check it out here. For the Food & Wine Festival, a few booths were put up, including some people enjoying food on those tables and a musician playing under that vined canopy. 

To top it all off,  checked the weekly schedule (only handed out one week at a time, so you never know who's coming) and found a delightful surprise. I'm a big Food Network fan, even though I confess I don't cook much myself. But I'm more than familiar with all the shows and so my heart almost popped out of my throat when I saw Robert Irvine listed in that day's event listing. Woah. I've seen his shows for a while now, but his new one, Restaurant Impossible, has be gasping in awe. He was scheduled to give a culinary demonstration (of which you must pay for in order to eat said food he makes) and then a book signing after. That's it. I knew I'd be visiting the festival center to see him (I'll talk about that later in the post). 

Foods I Ate:

We skipped lunch completely and just wandered about, trying anything that seemed or smelled remotely delicious. And here's what we tried (and, 10 times of 10, loved). 

Grilled Lamp Chop with Potato-Goat Cheese Salad and Shiraz Reduction
Australia  Booth
Canadian Cheddar Cheese Soup
Canada Booth
Lobster & Scallop Fisherman's Pie
Ireland Booth
*My Favorite*
Warm Chocolate Lava Cake with Baileys Ganache
Ireland Booth
Calamari Salad with Fennel, Smoked Paprika and Olive Oil
Portugal Booth
Lamb Slider with Tomato Chutney (Half eaten by the time I fished my camera out, haha)
New Zealand Booth 
Seared Scallop with Kumara-Red Curry Puree and Apple Radish Salad
New Zealand Booth
*Second Favorite!*
Shrimp Cake on a Sugarcane Skewer with Singapore Noodles
Singapore Booth

The Robert Irvine Experience

Or not. When we arrived at the festival center, a long line was already zig-zagging around. I suppose I should have expected that, but, ah well. Still, I could hear his British accent floating through the air - he wasn't yet done with his demonstration. I wriggled through the line and went to see Robert Irvine as he stood on a small stage with two hosts, talking about what he had cooked up. The people who paid to have wine and food were sitting at tables near the stage, while the rest of us (and I wasn't the only one) stood outside the little stage area and gawked. 

He looks just like he does on TV... a point that, no matter how many times I do see someone from television, is still is surprising. 
Here's a bit of video I took when Mr. Irvine was speaking about his experience with Restaurant Impossible. I apologize in advance for the low volume and shakiness - I was standing a good distance away, haha. But it should come up clear enough, I think. 

I had feeling this would be true, considering the time, but I couldn't stay to wait in line. The middle of the afternoon had bloomed with hot weather cranky babies in strollers. With a bright and early school day awaiting me, and much work to do beforehand, it was time for me to go home. Yet still, I had a great time at the Food & Wine Festival. If you happened to be around before it ends, you shouldn't definitely go. You won't regret it :)