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Bite Size Brunchies and Crunchies II: Taste of Asia, Plating Pierogies, and Festival Festivities at Food and Wine

23 October 2011

My journey eating around the world continues this week with more tasty treats from Europe, Asia, and the Pacific! I apologize if some of this information is a repeat for those who viewed last W.E.D.nesday Show in which I was an unexpected guest with Brent as we discussed the Food and Wine festival. We'll begin with a surprise stinker-our first stop is in Asia, at the country of China for a Xinjian Barbecue Chicken Stick. Much to the dismay of my friends and colleagues, this is the one item I gave a one Mickey Mouse rating in my Food passport. I'm pretty sure I just got the bad egg in the bunch-my chicken stick was soggy, slimey, and lukewarm. I could get a sense of what the flavors should have been, but I'm guessing I got stuck with the last chicken stick in the warming dish, drowning in the barbecue liquids left behind. I will have to give this one a second chance as my friends raved about it.

Next, we'll head north to South Korea, a marketplace new in 2010, set up near the bridge from African Outpost to China. Known for its popular pickled red cabbage condiment, Kimchi, South Korea's menu items include kimchi in both entries. I chose the Lettuce Wrap with roast pork and Kimchi slaw. I am not a fan of eating pork, but the idea of a wrap made of lettuce and Kimchi was appealing. The vibrant colors and variety of the vegetables from the Kimchi slaw made the dish seem very appetizing. The key to a good piece of lettuce in any food application is that you hear and feel its freshness of it by the satisfying crunch it provides. The South Korea lettuce wrap certainly offered that, and its filling was simply delicious: a warm chunk of roast pork and tasty, pickled kimchi. Kimchi is known for being extremely spicy, but as with the Caribbean Jerk chicken, it was surprisingly tame. I guess for kimchi fans this is the dish's downfall, but I found it just right and delicious to every bite. My one complaint was that the slaw was a bit watery and my goal the entire time eating it was to not let the water drip on me. I succeeded, letting all the water drip onto my little paper plate, but when I sat up from my stone bench to throw it away I forgot about gravity and upset the plate upon standing, dripping the water on my leg. Alas, all that effort wasted, but the satisfyingly new dish to add to my culinary experiences made up for it.

 


The Lettuce Wrap also had some sort of savory sesame cream sauce. Not sure what it was exactly, but it added a nice, simple and plain backdrop to the harmony of spiced vegetable and pork flavors.

Our journey through Asia continues further North on the globe as we head West in World Showcase to Japan! On this day of my Food and Wine Festival, I was with two of my roommates, Gary the Triviateer, and From Screen to Theme author Brent Dodge. We had just had some desserts in Europe and on our way for my favorite Pumpkin Mousse in America, when I had to stop for some food food. I love sushi and oddly enough after 4 months down in Walt Disney World, I had not had any until this day of Food and Wine. All they had to offer was California roll, spicy tuna roll, and sashimi. You can get California roll anywhere nowadays, so I went with spicy tuna roll to see how Epcot's Japan compared to my experience. I don't know who they're trying to please, but Epcot's Food and Wine Festival needs a new definition of spicy. At first I thought it was an attempt to please all palettes without turning away the sensitive, but this is ridiculous. I order spicy tuna roll, I'm expecting spicy! Either they're holding back or I'm just getting less sensitive to spicy as I continue to add spicier foods to my once no-spicy foods diet. The sushi was just okay. But I must give Japan bonus points for presentation, as their sushi sampling made good use of the space available on the plate while some marketplaces just slapped on the food with little thought due to the need for speed.

 

Our tour in Asia is nearly complete, though we stay in the Pacific as we surf east towards Hawai'i! Though it was bittersweet to visit Hawai'i with Donna gone, I did enjoy the Kalua pork slider. It was like a pulled pork sandwich with a delicious pineapple chutney. To be specific, the slider was dressed with 'Sweet and Sour Dole Pineapple chutney and spicy mayonnaise.' The slider was nice and tangy, and another good example of a good value sample at the festival as the portion was meatier than others I had experienced. My one complaint was there was not enough chutney. As my friends and faithful readers know, pineapple is my most favorite fruit ever and I was hoping there would be more. There was just not enough to get the distinct pineapple flavor Hawai'i is known for. Still the slider was one of my favorites so far at the festival.

 

 

Our entr'e sample menu finishes off with Poland's Kielbasa and Potato Pierogie. I actually enjoyed this with Donna and her sister Melissa on the day after their championship Disney ' marathon run! Congratulations to Donna and Melissa!

The pierogies were yummy, what more can I say. Nearly every cuisine has some sort of filled savory dough munchers in all sorts of flavors and sizes-Chinese dumplings, Latino empanadas, Filipino siopao, Italian stromboli, the American hot pocket, need I go on? The Polish have pierogies and in my dining experiences, they are always a good time. Epcot's Poland is no different, with nice warm, doughy pierogies complemented with a few zesty slices of kielbasa, a side of caramelized onions, and a squirt of sour cream to finish it off. While Poland's offering was a bit heavy as far as ingredients, I was a bit turned off by that squirt of sour cream. A dollop would have been just fine, the squirt making the plate a bit messy. One can argue that this year's festival is about 'the world of flavors' not the world of plate design, but I can't help but refute and say I eat with my eyes first.

 


The Poland marketplace situated on the banks of the faux Venetian waterways in front of the Italy pavilion

With still many desserts from the Food and Wine to look forward to, we'll conclude this week's travel log with the promised look at the Festival Center. One of the best parts of going here was checking out the old Wonders of Life Pavilion. With the main building still intact, all of the attractions and interactive kiosks and booths are sadly gone, though it was nice to remember what once was.

 


The entrance featured a 'live wall' full of edible leafy greens


The kinetic mobiles and ceiling design bring back memories of the molecular wonders of life


Once a place of exercise with virtual bike rides down Disneyland's Main Street, the space is now used for relaxing on tables for wine tasting

Many of the events are little to no cost at the Festival Center, and I was lucky enough to go to one of the free ones with Brent Dodge! One Saturday in the Park day, we were going to run around Food and Wine and Brent asked me to meet him at the Festival Center. I grabbed a festival guide on my way into the park and found out that none other than Pam Brandon was doing book signings that day-that very hour that I walked in to be exact! I rushed towards Wonders of Life, cursing myself for not regularly carrying around my favorite Disney cookbook, which Pam Brandon wrote and compiled! This is also the book in which I have three copies and which I have used regularly in this blog and the 'Cooking with Brent and Reuben' episodes of the W.E.D.nesday Show! On my way to Wonders of Life I took a quick stop at Mouse Gear, Epcot's Disney merchandise department store, to purchase one of the newer cookbooks I had yet to own. I was waiting for the holiday cast member discount to get them but I did not want to miss Pam Brandon!


Pam is such a happy person and her attendant Sean is very happy to see that we're all happy. I love the (2nd) Happiest Place on Earth!

I've been pining for Delicious Disney Desserts, the mini cookbook featuring some pretty sweet desserts, including Board Walk Bakery's popular Cheesecake Brownie. It's probably our best seller in dessert pastries after the gourmet cupcakes! Anyhow, I quickly purchased the book (from a Cast Member who was actually from my hometown! Small World! And another story for another time, haha) and made a bee line for Wonders of Life. Brent and I went right into the pavilion and found the merchandise area where Pam Brandon was doing her signing. She was an extremely personable, lovely lady and she was so happy to hear we used her books on the show and before I came down to work in the bakery that was featured in the books! She signed my desserts book 'To Reuben, make something sweet! Pam Brandon.' It was such a great once in a lifetime opportunity, I'm so glad I had the chance to do it! If on the off chance she is reading this blog, thank you so much, Pam Brandon for being amazing. One for making these books possible for Disney World and Foodie fans, and two for signing my book and chatting with us!


Not only is the author of the Disney Cookbooks signing my copy of the Desserts book, she is sitting in front of Pineapples! Reuben's favorite things overload!

On that note, it's time to say goodbye until our next journey to Food and Wine, though with the upcoming seasonal celebrations, we may be taking a spooktacular detour away from the Food and Wine Festival and towards a not so scary party.

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