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Epcot brightens up its International Food & Wine Festival by bogging down

Epcot brightens up its International Food & Wine Festival by bogging down

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It's once again Food & Wine time at the Walt Disney World Resort.


Photo by Angela Ragno

Now in its 16th year, Epcot's International Food & Wine Festival is in full swing. For the next five weeks, foodies will eagerly be eating their way around World Showcase, sampling cuisine from 6 different continents.

New for 2011 is the Caribbean International Marketplace. Which is serving up tapas-sized portion of Ropa Vieja (which is a slowly braised beef) with White Rice. Not to mention a Jerk Spiced Chicken Drumstick with Mango Salsa.


Photo by Angela Ragno

And given that - just last month - the Mouse opened Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa ... Well, is it any wonder that Disney World's Food & Beverage used that event as an excuse to slip a Hawaii marketplace in along the shores of World Showcase Lagoon?


Photo by Angela Ragno

Where - as they're enjoying their Kalua Pork Slider with Sweet & Sour Dole Pineapple Chutney and Spicy Mayonnnaise - WDW Guests can also visit an Aulani information booth (Which - not so co-incidentally - is located to Epcot's Hawaii marketplace).


Photo by Angela Ragno

Meanwhile over at the Festival Welcome Center ...


Photo by Angela Ragno

... there are daily culinary demonstrations ...


Photo by Angela Ragno

... plus (given that this is a Disney theme park, after all) the usual merchandise opportunities ...


Photo by Angela Ragno

... for adults as well as children.


Photo by Angela Ragno

New to Food & Wine for this year are HGTV's home entertaining seminars. Presented on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays only, these half-hour-long presentations feature celebrity designers like Vern Yip of "HGTV Design Star" and "HGTV Urban Oasis" fame ...


Vern Yip at his "Entertaining Through Décor: Innovative and Accessible
Ideas for Parties of All Sizes" seminar. Photo by Angela Ragno

... who will then serve up a variety of tips on entertaining-related topics like creating a great look for your holiday party.

And speaking of things looking great, Walt Disney World's horticultural department has put together some genuinely fun floral displays for this year's event.


Photo by Angela Ragno

But if I had to pick the one decorative element at the 2011 edition of Epcot's International Food & Wine Festival that really seems to be fascinating WDW visitors ... It wouldn't be a garden or a planter or even a character topiary. But - rather - a bog.


Photo by Angela Ragno

A cranberry bog, to be exact. A thousand square-foot display right in the middle of that walkway which connects Future World & World Showcase. Which filled with over 900 lbs. of this seasonal fruit.

Now through November 13th, Ocean Spray employees (some of whom are actually third and fifth-generation cranberry growers) as well as WDW cast members will spend their days dressed in waders standing right in the middle of this bog, answering Guests questions about how cranberries are harvested, etc.


Photo by Angela Ragno

Mind you, this isn't the first time that Ocean Spray has done something like this. As part of its "Bogs Across America" promotion, this Lakeville, MA.-based corporation has built cranberry exhibits in Chicago, LA, even out in the plaza at NYC's Rockefeller Center.

 But those were only temporary displays. Only designed to last for three days max. Whereas Epcot's cranberry bog has to be attractive & functional for the entire six weeks that the International Food & Wine Festival is running at this theme park. Which is why Ocean Spray's assembly team (which had to put together this exhibit in a single 5 ½ hour span after the Park had closed for the night) took extra care with this bog's water-tight lining.


Cranberry Grower Jim Bible gives Princesses Lauren Caltrider and Abigail Oliver the
royal treatment with a unique, inside look at the cranberry harvest at Ocean Spray's
1,000 square-foot bog display filled with 900 lbs. of cranberries at the Epcot
International Food & Wine Festival, Sept. 30. Consumers can visit the bog
at the Festival and sample Ocean Spray Craisins Dried Cranberries now
through Nov. 13. Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

I'm bringing this bog up because Chef Ming Tsai (i.e. the host of the PBS cooking show, "Simply Ming") will actually be doing a cooking demo early, early tomorrow morning while standing inside of Epcot's cranberry bog. Ming will also be doing a culinary demonstration at the Festival Welcome Center at 5 p.m. tomorrow. At which time, this Emmy Award-winning TV personality has promised to " ... whip up (a wide) array of worldly cranberry creations celebrating the versatility of ..." this seasonal fruit. Or so says the press release that Walt Disney World & Ocean Spray just jointly released.

I promise to post an image from this early morning photo as soon as I can. Just so JHM readers will then have a fun conversation-starter when it comes to Thanksgiving Dinner. ("You think you had tough in the kitchen today? Well, take a gander at the guy who actually prepared a dish while standing knee deep in a cranberry bog.")


Celebrity Chef Ming Tsai prepares a salad featuring Craisins Dried Cranberries while
standing in Ocean Spray's cranberry bog exhibit, which is now on display at Epcot's
International Food & Wine Festival. Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc.
All rights reserved

UPDATE: And -- as promised -- here's a photograph of Ming Tsai standing in Ocean Spray's cranberry bog exhibit earlier today as he prepared Grilled Chicken Frisée Salad with Shallot, Cranberry-Soy Vinaigrette. And if you'd like to try and prepare this dish yourself over the coming holiday season, here's the recipe:

Ingredients:

1 cup grainy mustard
8 medium shallots, minced (about 1 cup)
1 cup Ocean Spray Craisins Original Dried Cranberries, chopped
1/4 cup Ocean Spray Craisins Original Dried Cranberries, whole
1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
1/4 cup Chinese black vinegar or balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons sugar
2 cups grape seed oil or canola oi
4 sliced grilled boneless, skinless chicken breasts
4 heads frisée, washed, cored and leaves halved
1 English cucumber, sliced
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste


Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

Directions:

To make the vinaigrette, using a whisk and bowl, food processor or blender, combine the mustard, shallots, vinegars, soy sauce, and sugar and puree. With the machine running slowly, drizzle in the oil until an emulsion is formed or drizzle into bowl whisking vigorously. Add in chopped Craisins and fold in with a rubber spatula or spoon. Season with salt and pepper, remembering that not much salt will be needed because of the soy sauce.

In a large bowl combine the frisée, cucumber and grilled chicken breasts. Add enough vinaigrette to coat the salad ( about three quarters cup) season with salt and pepper. Add the remaining vinaigrette if necessary.


Celebrity Chef Ming Tsai and Chef Mickey. Copyright
Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

Transfer the salad to a serving bowl. Garnish with remaining Craisins.

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  • Quote "took extra care with this bog's water-tight lining"

    What the heck is this supposed to mean? Has it leaked before? Has Chef Ming caused the lining to break before?

    Personally, I think the "Food and Wine Festival" to be a rip-off. Customers should be wise to the fact that international fare isn't as uncommon as in the past. There are many more inexpensive ways to taste foods from around the world. Maybe the word "taste" isn't it. "Eat" is better. The portions sold are so puny that I wonder why people take to it hook, line, and sinker. Going to a gourmet international buffet offers much better results.

  • How will all those cranberries stay fresh in that brutal sun for over a month?

  • I think Gimbo must have woke up on the wrong side of the bed before the making his post.

    Nobody's making anybody buy the food.  

    If they want to sample, they can.  If they don't, they won't.

    I think it's a great way to try food from around the World.  

    Certainly better than going to some buffet.

    Walt Disney World has never really been a place where you go for food bargains.  

    What'd you expect GImbo?  

    Enjoy your buffet.

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