Epcot's
2005 International
Food & Wine Festival

Signature Dinners


Flavors of Africa

Sunday, October 9

Jiko – The Cooking Place, Animal Kingdom Lodge

Winery: Cape Classics

Guest Chef: Joseph Seeletso, Phakalane Resort, Botswana, Africa

Review by

Gloria Konsler
ALL EARS® Team Member


Believe me when I say this does not begin to describe what food and wines we had this evening at Jiko!

...and even better, I sat next to F&W Festival director Nora Carey. So it was also an opportunity to learn just a bit about how Disney goes about evaluating and selecting countries to participate in the Festival.

Pula Ensemble at Jiko Signature DinnerAt 6 p.m. we were escorted to one of the overlook terraces where we were served our first wine and three different appetizers. We were also treated to a native dance tribe from Botswana called the Pula Ensemble. The ensemble members ranged from late teens to a woman who looked to be in her 60s. Very rhythmic singing and dancing! After a performance in the AKL lobby, we were invited to go down to the wine room at Jiko. Forty-eight guests were packed (and I mean packed!) onto 5 long tables and the dinner began.

Each seat had a menu signed by the chefs (a really nice touch!) and a bag with gifts from BEDIA (Botswana Export Development & Investment Authority), the loveliest of which was a small handmade basket... each one different from the next. The President of BEDIA (Mmasekgoa Masire-Mwamba) was also at our table and we were fortunate to learn many interesting things about her country. Since she is the daughter of a former president of the country, she was most knowledgeable about all aspects of culture, trade, politics, etc. and readily shared with us.

Guest wine makers and chefs were introduced and opening remarks were offered by Chef Anette Grecchi Gray and Jiko's manager.

The main guest chef for the dinner was Joseph Pelotona Seeletso from Phakalane Resort in Botswana. Chef Joseph was accompanied by four South African wine makers, two of whom didn't even look old enough to legally drink the wine, much less make wine... and make such good wines!

As each course was served, the chef who prepared it spoke a minute or two about the dish, what was in it and how it was prepared. Then one of the winemakers would share information about the accompanying wine and why it would go well with the dish.

Three appetizers had been passed around on the terrace before we sat down for the meal, a grilled beef satay with peanut sauce and pickled vegetables, spiced lump crab with pineapple on a Phyllo cracker and crisp plantains with avocado and cilantro. The wine was a Chenin Blanc-Viognier blend. (Saskia, Miles Mossop Wines '04)

Our first course seated at the table was a stuffed eggplant and yogurt sauce served with a Sauvignon Blanc (Delaire, Miles Mossop '04). Next was a coconut/mint infused pureed lentil soup paired with a Chardonnay (Thelema, Stellenbosch '04). Then came pan-seared scallops with truffled sweet potatoes and mushrooms paired with another Chardonnay (Tokara Zondernaam '03) .

The we got a break... allspice scented passionfruit sorbet with Hangar One vodka to cleanse the palate.

The main course was timbale of peleche (shredded beef) with seswaa (a grain) with a tomato-onion sauce paired with a red wine that was a blend of five different varietals, predominantly Cabernet Sauvignon (DeToren Fusion V, Stellenbosch '02).

The cheese course featured four cheeses (actually three cheeses and a solid yogurt) and an Italian plum jam paired with a Syrah (Rudi Schultz, Stellenbosch '04)

In between the main courses and the dessert, diners were treated to another South African musical interlude presented by the female Jiko employees.

...and then dessert, a chocolate "tower" with a thin cake layer, a mousse layer, a baked meringue layer surrounded by a wide chocolate ribbon and topped with banana ice cream, this paired with a very sweet wine called Klein Constantia "Vin de Constance '00."

The dinner experience that began on the terrace at 6 p.m. ended at close to 11 p.m. as diners congratulated the chefs and winemakers and reluctantly left the restaurant.

Everything was wonderful and it would be hard to pick the ONE item, if you could only pick one, that you'd like to eat on a regular basis, but for me it would be the pureed lentil soup. DH Gary said his pick would be the stuffed eggplant. That would have been my second choice and the lentil soup would have been his second choice. So, for us, those two dishes were the outstanding winners for the evening.