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Rate and Review
Food & Wine Festival
Celebrating Family and Friends
in the Kitchen
by Debra Martin Koma
Senior Editor, AllEars®
Friday, October 1, 2010
at Festival Center
Sondra Bernstein and John Toulze
the girl and the fig, Sonoma, CA
Kate MacMurray, speaker
Mixed Chicory Salad, Jicama, Pears and Red Pear Vinaigrette Roasted
MacMurray Ranch Sonoma Coast Pinot Gris
Pork Shoulder Roulade and Chanterelle Mushrooms, Farro and Roasted Delicata Squash
MacMurray Ranch Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
Lemon Verbena Pot de Creme
MacMurray Ranch Sonoma Coast Chardonnay
The Celebrating Friends and Family in the Kitchen series started Friday, October 1, at the 15th Annual Epcot International Food and Wine Festival, with Sondra Bernstein and John Toulze of the girl and the fig restaurant in Sonoma, California. The event was held in the Festival Center (the former the Wonders of Life Pavilion), as are most festival special experiences this year.
After checking in at the Chef's Showplace area and receiving my table assignment (tables were designated by fruit name cards -- I was at Kiwi, right in front of the gorgeously appointed demo kitchen), I waited in line until the 10 a.m. start time. Tables were attractively set for six, with a fall centerpiece of green apples and wine corks. Once seated, I looked around the area to see how well-attended it was -- I only counted eight tables fully occupied, which surprised me, but cookbook author and dietician Pam Smith (right), who hosts most of the festival's paid events, said that was by design to give a more intimate experience.
Smith launched the seminar on a light note with a line familiar to festival regulars, "Wine at 9 makes the day fine," then continued with, "Wine at 10, we're at it again!" She then introduced Kate MacMurray (left), who is not only ambassador for MacMurray Ranch Wines but daughter of actor Fred MacMurray, who himself had a long relationship with the Disney Company (The Absent-Minded Professor, The Shaggy Dog). Along with sharing some personal anecdotes about her father's relationship with Walt Disney, MacMurray talked a little about the ranch and its vineyards, and how it has evolved over the years.
Toulze and Bernstein, meantime, chatted about their restaurants -- the girl and the fig ("country food with a French passion") and their newer venture Estate (regional Italian cooking) -- and their philosophies on cooking, ingredients, and food preparation. "Fat is flavor," Toulze asserted, when talking about the pork shoulder cushion he was preparing for the meal. I don't think anyone in the audience would disagree with him!
One of the things I find most valuable about these sorts of demonstrations is when chefs reveal their little secrets or explanations for why they do the things they do, and Chef Toulze was very generous in sharing these tidbits. His technique for tying a roast, for example, was helpful to see, and he made sure that everyone was able to observe what he was doing in the overhead camera that was projecting his movements onto strategically placed TV screens. And now I'm sure I will always slice all my chanterelles and other mushrooms lengthwise before cooking them -- to check for worms, which I didn't realize could be an issue. Sometimes ignorance is bliss.
While Bernstein said she represents more of the business aspect of the partnership, Toulze prepared our lunch -- three courses that had a decidedly autumnal slant to them. But as he said, he never imagined it would still be 90 degrees in Orlando in October. Never mind, the menu was delicious, and we definitely got a good value for our money.
The starter, a salad made of mixed chicory, in this case endive, radicchio, and escarole, was accented by the sweetness of red pears, and a light pear vinaigrette. It was perfectly complemented by the crisp MacMurray Ranch Pinot Gris, which itself had some pear notes and a citrus finish.
The salad was followed by a well-seasoned Pork Shoulder Roulade, stuffed with Chanterelle Mushrooms (and no worms!) and accompanied with Farro (a whole grain I was not familiar with, but found to be similar to barley) and Roasted Delicata Squash. It was certainly a warm, inviting fall dish, and would fall into the category of comfort food for me. The pork was perfectly done, and the portion very generous -- an important consideration at these festival programs. The squash was also a variety I had never tried before, but its sweetness and soft texture were wonderful -- I'll be looking for it next time I go to the grocery. MacMurray had originally planned on pairing the pork with the MacMurray Ranch Pinot Noir, but decided to also have the servers poor the MacMurray Ranch Chardonnay at this time. Her feeling was that either wine would go well with the savory meat dish, but I found the chardonnay to be the better match. Surprising, really, considering that I normally prefer red wines, but as one of my tablemates said, the Pinot Noir was not very "pinot-ish."
Our final course was a lovely, light Lemon Verbena Pot de Creme, which also paired well with the Chardonnay. The cream was ever-so-slightly accented with lemon, and slid over the tongue very easily, but it was a rather large potion, and I had trouble finishing it.
Overall, I found this program to be not only informative, but entertaining, and most certainly a delicious culinary experience. I'd rate it very highly, and definitely would recommend it to anyone who is looking for an instructive cooking experience topped off by a well-prepared meal.
CELEBRATING FAMILY AND FRIENDS IN THE KITCHEN:
This enchanting three-course lunch celebrates the joys of preparing a meal with family and friends. The hosts will demonstrate how to prepare an appetizer, main course and dessert. A notable winery representative will pair each course with a selection of their wines.
Where: Festival Welcome Center
When: Fridays from 10 a.m. – noon
Price: $110 – $140 per person, plus tax, gratuity included – Theme Park admission required.
|October 1||$110.00||Sondra Bernstein & John Toulze, the girl and the fig, Sonoma, CA|
|October 8||$110.00||Robin Miller, Host of Quick Fix Meals with Robin Miller, Food Network|
|October 15||$110.00||Andrea Robinson, M.S., Everyday Dining with Wine|
|October 22||$110.00||Andrew Zimmern, Travel Channel's Bizarre Foods|
|October 29||$140.00||Cat Cora, Kouzzina by Cat Cora, Disney's BoardWalk Resort|
|November 5||$110.00||Art Smith, Personal Celebrity Chef, Chicago, IL|
|November 12||$110.00||Evan Goldstein, Master Sommelier|