first Tokyo Dining Sake & Food Pairing – Epcot International Food & Wine Festival 2014

This Epcot Food & Wine Festival experience took place on Thursday, September 25, 2014

Yes! Two “food & wine lunches” in one day… there was a brief nap at American Adventure between lunches :) As this was part of Nevie’s visit, my report will be brief and mainly pictorial. A full dtailed review will be posted tomorrow.

As in previous years, Garin (Food & Beverage Manager at the Japan Pavilion in Epcot) was our host. This is the first event during the 2014 Festival. Today, we are going to be touring Western Japan (Misaka and the south) – their culture is distinct from Eastern Japan (Tokyo and the north) and Okinawa.

Apertif – Peach Flavor Sparkling Sake: Hana Fuga

  • Nick thought this was very good
  • Nora thought it was yummy but more along the lines of dessert
  • Nevie thought it was overly sweet and it left a strange aftertaste

First Pairing – Osaka Style Sushi with Hiko’s Kira Kira “Gold Flake” Junmai Sake

  • Sake was not too dry and not too sweet with flavors of banana and melon
  • Futomaki was a bit dry without any soy (soy isn’t used as heavily in Western Japanese cultures)
  • Hako Sushi was well liked at our table, flavor wise and texture wise
  • Inari is a hard texture for Nick, it’s a bit squishy and slightly sweet; it’s definitely not a favorite of mine
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Osaka Style Sushi

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Futomaki – large roll with seven types of seafood and vegetable

Nevie’s comment: “I know the name is big roll but this was way too big to eat in one bite. It ended up being a lot of rice and not a lot of flavor. The seafood flavor that did come through was good.”

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Salmon Hako Sushi – Osaka box style sushi with salmon, avocado and cream cheese

Nevie’s comment: This was my favorite part of the first course. It had a little bit of heat to it and was very good.

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Inari Sushi – green tea soba noodles, egg omelet, shrimp and snow pea wrapped in seasoned bean curd (inari)

Nevie’s comment: I did not like the bean curd wrap at all. It looks like it should have been crispy but was soggy and did not have much flavor to it. The green tea soba was delicious and the snow peas were good as well.

Second Pairing – Kansai Style Deep-Fry Dish with Karatanba “Dry Wave” Honjozo Sake

  • We all liked the Honjozo sake, it was a little spicy and definitely less sweet than the first two
    • Nevie’s comment: The Karatanba was very good and had great flavor. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to hear a lot about the sakes because the people at the table behind us were talking nonstop. I understand that  alcohol is added back into this sake after brewing.
  • Kushi-Katsu Assorted – Pork Kakuni, Scallop, Quail Egg, Grape Tomato, and Caciocavallo Cheese with Kushikatsu Sauce and Maentaiko Sauce
  • Nick liked the scallop best and I liked the pork belly best – overall, this dish wasn’t a hit with our group… the items were not clearly distinguishable by taste (perhaps it will be better on our next sake pairing?) – and the cheese was downright odd at a Japanese meal (in our minds)
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Kansai Style Deep-Fry Dish

Nevie’s comment: The quail egg was overdone and was very dry overall. The only thing that was moist was the tomato and everything except the scallop had the exact same flavor profile. This course left a lot to be desired unfortunately.

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Chicken Teba (Wing) Tsukune – with Kobe Miso Sauce

Nevie’s  comment: This deboned and stuffed chicken wing had good flavor but all the fried ingredients on the plate kind of made this item get lost; everything had the same texture and taste.

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Caciocavallo Cheese (bottom), Pork Kakuni (left)

Third Pairing – Grilled Kyushu Specialties with Japanese Spices with Dassai 50 “Otter Festival” Junmai Daiginjyo Sake

  • Nevie & Nick thought this sake was very fruity and floral, I liked it “okay”
    • Nevie’s comment: The sake was my second favorite. It still had a bit of a bad aftertaste, but overall great with the food.
  • Kagoshima Satsumaage Aburi (tofu paste) with Shiso Leaf, four kinds of Cheese with Yuzu-Kosho – none of us were fond of this, Nick found the texture challenging, Nevie ate it but didn’t like it, I ate one piece and thought it was very weird and rubbery
    • Nevie’s comment: This was not good at all. I only took a small bite and it had such an off putting texture and taste I just couldn’t finish it.
  • Miyazaki Wagyu Sirloin Steak with Chopped Wasabi Stem – first time any of us had eaten true wagyu beef, exceptionally tender; the chopped wasabi stem was very spicy
    • Nevie’s comment: This was my favorite part of the meal. The steak was so tender and flavorful and the wasabi sauce was fantastic. It was really cool that they brought out an uncooked sample for us to see. The marbling was like a spider web.
  • Kurobuta Sausage with Chopped pickled takana and Japanese mustard slaw – we all liked the sausage more than the steak or the tofu
    • Nevie’s comment: This portion also had a lot of flavor and was very delicious. It was my second favorite part of the whole meal.
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Kagoshima Satsumaage Aburi, Miyazaki Wagyu Sirloin Steak, Kurobuta Sausage

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Raw Wagyu – from Japan, same as we were served, loads of marbling for richness and flavor

Dessert – mango sake frozen cocktail

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This was tasty, but not as impressive flavor-wise as some of the ones from past years

Nevie’s comment: I was so full by the end of the second lunch I couldn’t really enjoy this as much as I would have. It was a bit on the sweet side for me.

Even though we weren’t as thrilled with the food offerings as we have been in past years, this remains a really great value. The staff are excellent and the sakes are refilled as you wish.

Our only complaint this year – while the sound barriers are working rather well at masking the lobby noise while the luncheon takes place – the table nearest us were not interested in learning anything about the food or the sake. They talked and talked and talked of topics not related to what was going on and they didn’t use inside-voices. I wish there was a polite or acceptable way to tell adults that they’re being loud bores.

 

Puerto Rico – Epcot International Food & Wine Festival 2014

By this point in the Food & Wine Festival, we went back through our passports and narrowed down our “want to eat” lists…

There were two things that stayed on our list at the Puerto Rico Marketplace: Conch Salad and Tostones (originally this was “Frituras: crispy fried potato balls and fried green plantains with mayo ketchup).

Ensalada de Carrucho - Caribbean Conch Salad with Onion, Tomato and Cilantro

Ensalada de Carrucho – Caribbean Conch Salad with Onion, Tomato and Cilantro

While we were waiting in line at the booth, some folks were checking the rankings of items at the booth as they were making up their minds. The conch salad had a 20% rating (that’s 20 out of 100 approval). Nick pointed out what some of the people in line were saying, and I replied, well, let’s get it anyway… our opinions don’t match most peoples (apparently, because we aren’t gaga about the marketplace booths during Food & Wine).

My bad, we should have skipped this dish.

conch salad

conch salad

This was just yucky. Too much dressing, too much onion, too much green pepper. This is heartburn in a paper cone – after three bites, we said “no” and Nick tossed it in the trash can.

Tostones - Fried Green Plantains with Mayo Ketchup

Tostones – Fried Green Plantains with Mayo Ketchup

These were another “no”… without the ketchup, these were very bland (there was some salt, but not much flavor otherwise). We each ate one tostone and threw the third one in the trash can. These were hard as rocks and dry dry dry, took a lot of jaw power to chew these. Definitely not worth the calories.

fried plantains

fried plantains

Neither of these items are do-agains for us. Even if we got them on a bad day, there are places nearby where we can consistently get good conch (Rusty Bellies) and fried plantains (Q’Kenan’s). So, no worries… Not getting anything else from the Puerto Rico Marketplace during this Food & Wine Festival.

Spice Road Table – Mussels Tangine (again)

This dining experience took place on Saturday, April 19, 2014

Lunch today was simple… Mussels Tagine.

We had a new-to-us server, Latifa, she’s been in America for over 3.5 years and came over to Spice Road Table from Restaurant Marrakesh. She was quite attentive and we had a lovely visit to Spice Road Table.

I ordered a glass of Marques de Caceres Santinella (a favorite white of mine that I discovered during 2013 Epcot Food & Wine Festival). Nick had an Estrella Damm.

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We’re really enjoying the mussels tagine, there were 22 in our bowl today

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the garlic was abundant and the lemon confit was very noticeable (we found a chunk of preserved lemon, yum!)

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these are really delightful!

The preserved lemon was excellent with the Santinella

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the mussels are also a good value at $10

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ahhh, more preserved lemon!

Latifa had a few menu suggestions that we hope to try in the future…

  • The lamb slider can be ordered medium or medium rare without the bun
  • To make the stuffed grape leaves tastier – ask for extra capers, raisins and nutmeg

bluezoo just because it’s Friday night

This dining experience took place on September 5, 2014

today, I’m just going to talk about the food…

Amuse Bouche from Chef Jimmy Reyes

This was a perfectly poached quail egg with umberco ham (hope I spelled that right) and cauliflower puree… It was like a perfect little bitty breakfast. The nasturtium leaf

continue reading bluezoo just because it’s Friday night

Why so much lamb for Nevie?

In her own words…

As you can see by my menu selections I eat a lot of lamb. I should probably explain why.

During undergraduate school at Clemson we had to choose between the usual speech class or showing an animal. I didn’t care much for talking about stupid assigned topics, so I chose to show

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Morocco – Epcot International Food & Wine Festival 2014

We had hoped to try the shrimp roll at Morocco and as of today, we’ve had the shrimp roll once and the beef Kefta pocket twice (it was good the first time and worth repeating).

Kefta Pocket – Ground Seasoned Beef in a Pita Pocket

So, after disappointing items from the Morocco booth in

continue reading Morocco – Epcot International Food & Wine Festival 2014

Andrew Zimmern Culinary Demonstration – Epcot International Food & Wine Festival 2014

this Epcot International Food & Wine experience took place on Saturday, October 11, 2014

Let’s start by saying that from Friday afternoon until Monday morning, Epcot is absolutely crazy during Food & Wine. We arrived well before noon for our 1:00 demo and they had already filled up the grassy areas between the

continue reading Andrew Zimmern Culinary Demonstration – Epcot International Food & Wine Festival 2014

South Korea – Epcot International Food & Wine Festival 2014

We loved the Kimchi Dog last year and so had to get it again this year. We got one for Walter too!

Kimchi Dog with Spicy Mustard Sauce

Simply delicious. This is just damned good. It isn’t overly spicy but if you’re afraid of spicy, that’s fine, I’ll have yours! These are made especially

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Second Tequila Lunch at La Hacienda – Epcot International Food & Wine Festival 2014

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Two weeks after our first Tequila Lunch with Nevie, we returned to La Hacienda for our second Tequila Lunch in 2014 – Friday, October 10, 2014

As always, the lunch began with a welcome margarita… this is one we haven’t seen yet at a Tequila Lunch…

La Hacienda traditional margarita – very

continue reading Second Tequila Lunch at La Hacienda – Epcot International Food & Wine Festival 2014

Farm Fresh – Epcot International Food & Wine Festival 2014

Before our second Tequila Lunch, we decided to stop and get the bacon hash at Farm Fresh. Everyone all over the ‘net has been raving about how good it is… Should have known that with our luck, ours wasn’t that great.

Nueske’s (r) Pepper Bacon Hash with Sweet Corn, Potatoes, Hollandaise and Pickled Jalapeños

continue reading Farm Fresh – Epcot International Food & Wine Festival 2014

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