2010 Epcot International
Food & Wine Festival

Celebrating Family and Friends
in the Kitchen

Andrew Zimmern

Celebrating Family & Friends in the Kitchen

October 22, 2010

Guest Chef Andrew Zimmern

The Travel Channel's "Bizarre Foods

by John Bowers
AllEars.Net Guest Writer


Gai Tom Kha
Wine: Batasiolo Gavi DOC

Pork Back Ribs with Black Beans and Green Onions
Wine: Batasiolo Souvana

English Bittersweet Lemon Puddings
Wine: Moscato d'Asti

Celebrating Family and Friends in the Kitchen featured Andrew Zimmern on Friday morning, October 22, 2010, in the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival Center, formerly the home of Wonders of Life in Epcot's Future World.

Andrew is the well-known host of 'Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern' which is currently seen on the Travel Channel. He travels the world in pursuit of edibles (to use the word very loosely!) that he can sample. Anyone who hasn't seen the show should make it a point to do so, but be ready to cover your eyes, because he's truly got an iron stomach.

Pam Smith was once again our hostess for the event, which lasted from 10 a.m. until noon. Andrew is quite popular at the Festival. About 15 tables of 6 people each were full. There were maybe three empty tables at the rear of the area. And plenty of people who happened to be in the Festival Center during Andrew's event gathered to stand and listen. And of course, watch us eat! 

Andrew gave us a quick synopsis of how he became interested in foods and cultures of the world. His father was in a business that allowed the family to travel to Europe quite a bit, and they adopted the 'when in Rome' attitude about dining. Often they would dine with local families whowere business associates of Andrew's father, and so they were truly steeped in local culture and local dining. Andrew said he enjoyed those experiences so much that he has made a career out of traveling to more than 100 countries of the world, going to 'the last stop on the subway' in search of food, rather than to the more well-known tourist places. He said it is more important to know what's going on in Canton, China, than Canton, Ohio.

Gai Tom Kha SoupOur first course was Gai Tom Kha, a spicy Thai soup made from chicken stock, coconut milk, galangal (Asian ginger), lemongrass, chicken, chilies, and lime. Certainly a unique and delicious combination of flavors, I never would have known it existed without being directed to it by someone like Andrew. It's probably available in Thai restaurants here in the States, so I would recommend it if you have the chance. There are numerous sites on the internet to obtain the recipe.

Someone in the audience asked Andrew if the soup was low-fat. Andrew cupped his hand to his ear and said, 'Excuse me?'  Pam Smith echoed 'low fat, is it low fat?'  Andrew furrowed his brow for a moment, and said, 'I'm sorry, what did you say?' Long pause. By this time everyone began to get the joke. Andrew said he loves to eat healthy, he understands the desire to watch one's calories, but, "if I want a low-fat creme brulee, I'll eat an apple." Point being that one shouldn't sacrifice the pleasures of eating great food by always focusing on the fewest possible calories.    

The first of three Italian wines was paired with the soup. It was a white, made from a grape called a Cortese, and the wine was from a winery called Batasiolo, in the Gavi region of Alessandria. The wine had nice flavors of citrus and honeysuckle with very good acidity, which paired well with the lime backbone of the soup.  

Pork RibsOur second course was Pork Back Ribs with Black Beans and Green Onions. A Chinese-inspired entree, it featured seared pork ribs simmered in a finger-licking glaze of soy sauce, brown sugar, and oyster sauce. The Chinese salted black beans were a no-show, apparently they were not available. Sticky rice accompanied the ribs, along with two chili sauces and red pepper flakes, just in case you needed a little more heat. The recipe is on Andrew Zimmern's website HERE.

The wine that paired with the ribs was a lovely barolo, also from Batasiolo. Made from the nebbiolo grape, the wine was soft and fruity, and it complemented the sugary glaze on the ribs nicely.

Everyone was gnawing their ribs with their bare hands, while grabbing forkfuls of sticky rice. The thoughtful serving staff provided plenty of extra napkins. 

Andrew noted how difficult it can be to obtain the more exotic ingredients in his recipes. He suggested ordering them online, as many can be stored or frozen. He mentioned urbani.com if you want to splurge on truffles, or salumeriaitaliana.com for Italian ingredients. Speaking of truffles, Andrew was presented with, as he called it, "thousands of dollars' worth of truffles" (it was a truffle you could easily hold in the palm of one hand), and he extolled the wonders of scrambled eggs with truffles. We in the audience could only imagine. 

Lemon PuddingOur dessert was English Bittersweet Lemon Pudding. Andrew discovered this dessert in the Kalahari region of Africa, where he believes it was brought by the British. As Andrew says, it is "cakey on the top, spongy on the bottom, and delicious all the way through. Yum!" If you'd like to see for yourself, take a look HERE.

A Moscato d'Albi was served with the lemon pudding as our final wine. This white wine is made from the muscat grape in and around the town of Alba in Italy. It was slightly sparkling, and delightfully sweet and soft. An absolutely lovely wine to accompany a citrusy dessert.  Bravo!

Good questions from the audience always add to the enjoyment. Andrew was asked which food he had eaten was so terrible that he would never try it again. He joked that it would be anything his mother-in-law makes. Truthfully, he would try anything again. Even the Asian fruit known as durian. The mere mention of the name elicited some gasps from the group. Andrew said that even though durian has quite a reputation, he hastried it 14 times, because you never know when the light will suddenly go on and you'll understand why people eat it. 

A good follow-up question: what is Andrew's favorite food? He said he has several, but "pizza with my son" and "my wife's roast chicken" are probably his two favorites. That sentiment elicited smiles all around and was a thoughtful ending to another wonderful Food and Wine Festival experience.