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Food & Wine Festival
Party for the Senses
LaDuke, Executive Chef, Epcot
-- Pan Seared Tenderloin of Beef with Maytag Blue Cheese Panna Cotta and Sun-Dried Cherry Glaze
Lozano, Diego's Restaurant, Coral Gables, FL
-- Vegetable Paella with Chorizo al Brandy
Molloy, Disney's Caribbean Beach Resort
-- Mojo Barbeque Shrimp with Tostones, Wilted Spinach, and Chimmi-Churri Sauce
Oudin, Pascal's on Ponce, Coral Gables, FL
-- Moscovy Duck Breast, Ricotta Gnocchi and Black Mission Figs
Knox, Grand Floridian Cafe, Disney's Grand Floridian Resort and Spa
-- Macadamia Nut Crusted Lamb Chop with an Asian Noodle Salad
Hale and Tom Bivins, New England Culinary Institute, Montpelier, VT
-- Cabot Cheddar and Black Pepper Biscuits with Savory Wild Spikenard Berry Jam and Maple Smoked Harrington Ham
Ormsby, Tusker Restaurant, Dallas, TX
-- BBQ Lamb Loin on a Wild Mushroom Socca with Tomato and Onion Marmalade, Sicilian Olives and Basil
Thompson, Disney's Polynesian Resort
-- Asian Tuna Tacos
Wolf, Charleston, Baltimore, MD
-- Grilled Pork Tenderloin with Hoppin' John and Andouille Sausage
Sudiswa, Boma Restaurant, Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge
-- Aromatic Curry Cous Cous with Smoked Pompano
Denninger, Disney-MGM Studios Catering
-- Spice Cured Wild Boar Tenderloin and Savory Smoked Corn Cakes, Toasted Ancho Chili Sauce and Prickly Pear Coulis
Foundoukis, Disney's Pop Century Resort
-- Chilled Seafood Paella with Roasted Garlic and Tomato Aioli
Stamps, Martha's at the Plantation, Nashville, TN
-- Southern Hot Chicken over Fried Macaroni and Cheese with Spicy Kale and Homemade Garlic Mayonnaise
Vrignon, Chefs de France, Epcot
-- Escargot Provencal
Piasecki, Le Cellier Steakhouse, Epcot
-- Beef Confit with Rock Shrimp Mashed Potatoes and Watercress Lobster Oils
Waggoner, Charleston Grill, Charleston, SC
-- Seared Kobe Beef Tongue, Stone Ground Grits with Roasted Garlic, Currant Tomato, Caper, Olive and Opal Basil Jus
Joe, Wally Joe's, Memphis TN
-- Confit of Pork Shoulder, Truffled Stone Ground Grits, Warm Savoy Cabbage and Mushroom Salad
Pastis, Spoodles, Disney's Boardwalk Resort
-- Tomato Barley Risotto with Shaved "Tom" Goat Cheese with Red Currant Tomatoes
and Jamie Rodriquez, Disney's Contemporary Resort
-- Frozen Banana and Mascarpone Nougat, Caramelized Bananas, and Strawberry Compote
Ritz Carlton Grand Lakes, Orlando, FL
-- Mascarpone Cream, Chocolate Cremeux, and Coffee Nougatine
Meilleur Ouvrier de France Patissier, Peripignan, France
White House Pastry Chef, 1974-2004
-- Apple Cider Creme Brulee
Disney's Yacht and Beach Club Resort
-- Florida Key Lime Pie and Jack Daniel's Chocolate Mousse
|Merryvale Vineyards||Peter Lehmann|
|Hardys/Banrock Station||Champagne Piper Heidsieck|
|Feudi di San Gregorio||Samuel Adams|
|Fetzer Vineyards||Champagne Pommery|
|Rosemount Estate||Artesa Winery|
|Gloria Ferrer Champagne Caves||Kunde Estate Winery & Vineyard|
|Penfolds||The Little Penguin|
|Remy Martin Cognac||Korbel Champagne Cellars|
|Domaine Carneros||Fess Parker Winery|
|Kluge Estate Winery and Vineyard||Haras de Pirque|
by Dotti Saroufim
October 2 marked my second annual (well, one can hope!) Party for the Senses. This food and wine tasting event, featuring 23 chefs and 70 different wines, beer, champagne and cognac, is held at World Showplace (formerly Millennium Village) in Epcot, and is one of the highlights, for me at least, of the Food and Wine Festival.
We met friends outside World Showplace at 6 p.m., a half hour before the start of the event. Those with Party for the Senses reservations are accorded VIP seating at the American Garden Theatre for the Eat to the Beat concert (Kool and the Gang, in our case), but we opted to head to World Showplace early to guarantee seating for our party of 11.
After our names were checked off on the list of attendees, we were each given a small card good for our dish and souvenir wine glass. These are basically your tools of the trade once you enter the event. Those wanting to attend the concert are given a wristband for the VIP seating so that they can see the show and return later. Those wanting to stay simply turn in the card, pick up their notched plates and etched wine glass (much bigger than last year's), and stand in line.
At approximately 6:15 p.m., most likely in anticipation of the crowds arriving from the concert, those already waiting were escorted into a large room filled with artwork, funky furniture, cool lighting and Party for the Senses signage. We joked that this was our pre-show, just minus the loud music to mask the goings on next door. A curtain (and a few Cast Members) separated this area from the actual event hall, but a quick, furtive glance inside, along with the delicious aromas escaping from within, added to the anticipation.
At 6:30 p.m., we were allowed into the hall, and we dashed to a large table situated between "center stage" and a second stage where the musicians were already performing. Many tables, both large and small, were scattered throughout, and high cocktail tables (on which to set your glass and dish, but without seats) were in abundance. I saw very few people who were left without a place to use as home base.
The World Showplace is a very, very large venue, and there are food and beverage stations spread out over many square feet. I loved the setup of this year's event and found it much less confusing than the previous format. Last year, the multi-page "menu" included a numbered map. If you found a description of a food or wine that you thought you'd like to try, you then found the corresponding number on the map and made your way to that part of the room. Conversely, if you tried something and had no idea what you had eaten, you'd work your way backwards, trying to find the area on the map where you found the item, and then the description in the menu. Try this after four glasses of wine.
This year, each food and wine area was clearly marked by decorations created with colorful fabric and somewhat resembling floating jellyfish. (Okay at least they did after a few drinks.) These were visible from anywhere in the room. The menu was similarly color-coded. You simply headed towards the red "jellyfish" for any food or drink that you found on the red page of the menu, the blue jellyfish for that found on the blue page, etc. Did you like a wine from the yellow area? Just flip your menu open to the yellow page, and you could narrow it down to just a few possibilities. For the directionally impaired, it was quite an improvement!
Chefs came from as close as the Walt Disney World Resort and as far away as Peripignan, France, and the food offered was, in a word, scrumptious. After sampling one item, I'd swear I had a new favorite -- until I got to the next one. There were very few offerings that didn't warrant a repeat visit, but time (and space!) kept me moving from one to another. I know that each of us had personal favorites, but a big hit among many of those at our table was the Asian Tuna Taco. Prepared by Michael Thompson from Disney's Polynesian Resort, this small perfectly crisp taco shell was packed with a flavorful filling and topped with rare tuna. (All right I lied. I did go back for seconds there.) Another culinary delight was the Beef Confit with Rock Shrimp Mashed Potatoes and Watercress Lobster Oils, prepared by Brian Piasecki of Le Cellier Steakhouse in Epcot. The shredded beef, tender and delicious, topped a small mound of mashed potatoes that hid the tasty surprise (for those who didn't read the menu carefully) of a large shrimp within. Yummy!
On of my surprise favorites of the evening was the Spice Cured Wild Boar Tenderloin, the creation of Robert Denninger from Disney-MGM Studios Catering. I don't know exactly what I expected wild boar to taste like, but this succulent cut of meat, delicately spiced and sitting on a bed of smoked corn cakes, was a definite hit for many of us.
Other table favorites (and there were many!) included the Southern Hot Chicken over Fried Macaroni and Cheese (Martha Stamps, Martha's at the Plantation, Nashville, TN), Moscovy Duck Breast (Pascal Oudin, Pascal's on Ponce, Coral Gables, FL) and the Pan Seared Tenderloin of Beef (Michael LaDuke, Executive Chef, Epcot).
Due to all the choices, the lines for both food and wine were minimal. On the rare occasion when a line moved slowly, it only gave the added advantage of allowing us to watch the chefs at work, adding a sprig of this or a drizzle of that, to complete their culinary creations.
Wine, beer, champagne, and even cognac could be found at each of the colorful stations, with 2-6 vendors represented at each. Staying with the reds, I sampled a flavorsome Merlot from The Little Penguin, and a pleasing Rosemount Diamond Shiraz before gravitating (a polite word for staggering) to a favorite from last year, the Penfolds Bin 28 Shiraz. As an additional treat of the evening, Fess Parker himself poured me a glass of Fess Parker Pinot Noir before graciously signing a program for one of my tablemates. I passed on both the beer and the Remy Martin cognac, but saw that the latter came in four interesting varieties -- VSOP, Red Berry, Red Strawberry Kiwi, and Red Grape Infusion.
Five different and delectable desserts were also featured, and included an Apple Cider Crème Brulee prepared by Roland Mesnier, the White House Pastry Chef from 1974-2004. This dessert was visually appealing, but a number of my tablemates said that, although tasty, this resembled an Apple Crisp more than a Crème Brulee. Though positively bursting from all I had sampled thus far, I was still able to partake of the Florida Key Lime Pie and Jack Daniel's Chocolate Mousse, both prepared by Stefan Riemer from Disney's Yacht and Beach Club Resort. Coffee, both decaf and regular, along with a variety of teas, were also available for those who were so inclined.
A new addition to the event this year was entertainment provided by Cirque du Soleil®. Appearances by clowns and ballerinas, along with amazing aerial performances above the center stage, were captivating and enchanting. The live musicians were entertaining, playing pleasant but not obtrusive music, some on instruments that none of us could identify. Compared to the strolling models and rollerbladers of the previous year, this was definitely a cut above.
Two and a half hours may seem like a fair amount of time to sample all that this event has to offer, but there is truly so much to see and do, to eat and to drink, that the time goes by very quickly. We soon found ourselves saying goodbye and heading to the exit to view IllumiNations. Plastic cups were given for unfinished drinks, and plastic bags were supplied to carry the souvenir wine glass.
Is this event worth the $95 price tag? For us, the answer is an unequivocal yes. Good food, good wine, good friends wonderful entertainment concert VIP seating it's definitely a night to remember.