I know a lot of you Minnesotans are snowbirds, and those that don’t leave the state for extended travel often try to get away for shorter trips during the colder months. Many families are gearing up for holiday breaks and, like my family, often head to Walt Disney World in Orlando. I just returned from the Epcot Food and Wine Festival’s 15th anniversary and it’s still going strong. I will be there again next year, and so should you. It’s a great place to meet lots of your favorite chef-lebrities. The celebration is a month long, and hundreds of demos and seminars take place. I did several demos, as well as a Friends and Family Lunch. And the wine people who I was paired with brought thousands of dollars of fresh white truffle for us to try. It’s a great event.
I have a few new food favorites to tell you about so make sure you stop in to them next time you are at WDW. Over at Hollywood Studios we went to the Brown Derby for dinner one night. The kid played in the main square right outside the front door, while we ordered and the food was great—truly one of the better options in all of WDW. The classic Brown Derby chopped salad was awesome, the chops and steaks were super, the lamb shank was killer, and the duck two ways (pastrami breast, braised caramelize leg) was outstanding. The grapefruit cake for dessert (another Brown Derby classic from the Hollywood era) blew me away: beautiful citrus genoise, grapefruit butter-cream icing, grapefruit syrup drizzles . . . wow.
Epcot is one of our favorite places to eat. The turkey leg at Toluca Legs was a close second to Brown Derby. We also checked out the new Via Napoli in the Italy pavilion on our first evening in the park. The three massive pizza ovens are a fine showpiece, the simple Italian fare is family friendly, but even super picky, world-traveled, food-centric adults (like me) have lots to be thrilled about. The pizza is divine, the pastas are superbly well done especially the spaghetti with teeny little veal meatballs, and watching the kids is easy there too. The blood orange acqua-fresca should be sold in every park on the property. Great stuff.
The Yacht and Beach Club is a great place to hang. There’s a great beach and pool, an amazing staff, and the steakhouse in the Yacht Club is always a place we catch a meal before heading back out into the park.
My Guilty Pleasures: Mickey ice cream sandwiches. Why don’t they sell them in stores? Seriously, the best ever. And October is Not So Scary Halloween month at Magic Kingdom, featuring the Villains on Parade at night and the BEST fireworks (Epcot is pretty solid too), but patrolling Mainstreet and eating all the insanely cool only-in-the-park candy offerings put me contentedly into a food coma.
Anyone catch this blog post from the NYT? I was thrilled to see an issue so near and dear to my heart starting to get a little more bandwidth. The more we eat a greater variety of foods, the more sustainably we take care of our bodies, our families, and our planet. Each time we eat an alternative protein, from roast cabrito to small panfish to wild game, we do more to battle the dangerous creep of commodity factory farms than a thousand letter writing campaigns or meaningless boycotts. Vote with your forks, expand your palate, and change the world one meal at a time.