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2013 Epcot International
Food & Wine Festival
Taste, Shake and Indulge
Like the French
Taste, Shake and Indulge
Like the French
Saturday, September 28, 2013
2:30 - 4 p.m.
Monsieur Paul Restaurant
Debra Martin Koma
Grand Marnier Representative
Grand Marnier Cordon Rouge
Grand Marnier Cuvee Centenaire
Grand Marnier Cuvee Cent Cinquantenaire
Grand Marnier Raspberry Peach
Dessert au Grand Marnier
In 2010, I attended the very first "Taste, Shake and Indulge Like the French" program. (You can see my review of the event HERE.) It was a most enjoyable experience, and I had never heard the Bistro de Paris, where it was held, so filled with loud chatter and laughter.
Last year, I returned to the program, which had been slightly modified due to a change of venue -- the France pavilion's restaurant was undergoing renovations, so they moved the renamed "Discovery of Grand Marnier" to the Festival Center. While the basics of the program had stayed the same, I felt that a lot of the special ambience was lost in the open and echoing Festival Center location.
I was, therefore, happy to try "Taste, Shake and Indulge Like the French" again this year, as it was returning to its roots -- back to the France pavilion, to the renovated Bistro space, now known as Monsieur Paul restaurant.
Tables around the recently reopened restaurant were set elegantly with crisp, white tablecloths and napkins folded in the restaurant's signature waistcoat style. Each place setting featured a shaker, ice strainer and muddler, an assortment of liqueur glasses filled with various types of Grand Marnier, as well as a separate cocktail glass with an ounce or so of Grand Marnier. There was also a side plate containing lemon wedges, mint leaves, a square of dark chocolate and a madeleine (a traditional French cake, made in the shape of a small shell).
As everyone was settling into their places, servers came around with a cold Grand Mimosa cocktail -- orange juice and champagne, with an extra shot of Grand Marnier. What a way to get things started!
Grand Marnier representative Evelyn Conners began the program with the history of the orange-flavored cognac, which by now was quite familiar to me, as I have heard the presentation twice before.
With the history lesson out of the way, we then proceeded to serious business -- the "taste" portion of the program. We had the opportunity to smell and then savor the various types of Grand Marnier that are available: Grand Marnier Cordon Rouge, the original orange-flavored cognac; the darker and smoother Grand Marnier Centenaire, which is not 100 years old, but was originated in 1927 to commemorate the company's 100th anniversary; and Grand Marnier Cent Cinquentenaire, which comes in a beautiful painted bottle and was made to observe the company's 150th anniversary. The Cent Cinquentenaire had the most subtle orange flavor of the three, and was by far the smoothest and easiest to drink, in my opinion, though many at my table seemed to prefer the Grand Marnier Centenaire.
This year, we were also given the opportunity to sample a brand new Grand Marnier product -- Grand Marnier Raspberry Peach. It was easy to imagine this delightful blend of subtle peach, raspberry and orange flavors splashed over ice, or perhaps added to seltzer water for a refreshing spritzer. I could also immediately think of several other drinks that would be enhanced with this new product.
Having "tasted" the Grand Marnier to our hearts' content, it was then time for the "shake" segment of the program. Conners instructed us how to prepare our very own Grand Marnier cocktail -- a Grand Marnier Smash (recipe below). After muddling the lemon wedges and mint, we added Grand Marnier and ice and vigorously shook the mixture, then strained, poured and sipped. Aaah. I'm not much of a liqueur fan, but as I sipped my Smash, I wondered again to myself why I never think to make this drink at home -- it's so simple and very refreshing.
Eric, general manager of operations at Chefs de France, gave a mixology lesson to a latecomer to our table, below.
Finally, we arrived at the "indulge" portion of the afternoon, otherwise known as DESSERT! Servers wheeled out their flambe carts and made a very big show of setting their Grand Marnier doused skillets ablaze as they started the process of making Crepes Suzette.
After a few minutes, we were each served our own crepe, garnished with orange segments, and another Grand Marnier-infused dessert. My crepe had gotten a little crunchy while being kept warm in the over, but otherwise, these were the perfect compliments to an orange-tinged afternoon!
To conclude the program, we were given a goodie bag that held a small plastic shaker and what I call an adult "sippy cup" with the Grand Marnier logo.
The price for this event has not gone up since last year, and at $65 per person I still find it to be a most informative and entertaining program. You not only have the chance to sample a variety of the high-end Grand Marnier products, you can get an idea of the delicious desserts available in the France pavilion while sneaking a peek at the interior of the gorgeous new Monsieur Paul restaurant. Definitely worth the price of admission, in my book.
Recipe for Grand Smash:
What you need:
1½ oz. Grand Marnier
4 chunks fresh lemon (½ lemon)
6-8 mint leaves
How to make it:
1. Muddle mint leaves and lemon wedges in a tall mixing glass.
2. Add Grand Marnier and ice and shake vigorously.
3. Strain over ice in a rocks glass and garnish with a fresh mint sprig.
"Taste, Shake and Indulge Like the French" -- Presented by Grand Marnier.
Saturdays, 2:30 to 4 p.m.
$65 per Guest
Admission to Epcot is required and not included in the price of the event. Tax and gratuity are included. Alcohol will only be served to Guests 21 and older.
Call 407-WDW-FEST to make reservations for this program -- there are spots available at the remaining sessions. And be sure to ask for "Taste, Shake and Indulge Like the French" when you book! (I hear that those asking for the "Grand Marnier" program are being told it's sold out, simply because the booking agents can't find anything with the "Grand Marnier" name in the system.)
AUTHOR'S NOTE: I was a guest of Disney at this program, but that did not influence my opinion. My views are my own.
If you attend this program, please leave a review on our Rate and Review page HERE.