Spice Road Table Food & Wine Pairing – Epcot International Food & Wine Festival 2014

This Food & Wine Festival Event took place on October 29, 2014

We were guests at the Spice Road Wine Pairing on October 29 because we had heard that they would be serving all Marques de Caceres wines and that the representative from the Spanish winery would be here. So, here we are ready to go.

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Preparing the Dining Room for the Wine Pairing

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We would be drinking three wines from Marqes De Caceres Winery (not the usual pairings this year)

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the labeled placemats are always a nice touch at these events

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Verdejo (a new white), Rose and Red blend (both are standards at Spice Road Table)

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Pouring the wine tastings

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the space was managed quite well considering that this isn’t a large space by WDW standards

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this would be our table, it isn’t #13 (where we usually sit), but we still had a view (thank you Abdou)

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Entering Spice Road Table – first thing you see past the hostess desk is the full service bar

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this bar is a nice dark, cool place to get away from the Florida heat

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the decor at Spice Road Table is pretty amazing

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the “lobby” / hostess area contains a bench – which is definitely put to use when people have to wait

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because the inside dining area was set aside for the special event, all guests were being seated in the outdoor patio

We arrived early and were able to enjoy a quick cocktail before lunch (and get out of the heat, it was uncharacteristically hot on this day). After a while, as more guests arrived for the event, the bartender poured out welcoming champagne for us.

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Champage for Wine Pairing Lunch Guests

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Our champagne – it was fizzy wine, not a favorite of Nick’s but it was cold and refreshing

We had a good time talking to a couple from Illinois who really like to attend lunch events at Epcot Food & Wine. When we were seated, we found ourselves at a window table (there was only one) with a different couple from the Florida coast (Tom & Renee) – they also like the lunch events at Food & Wine (like us they’re preferable to dinners). They also really like the regular Wine Dinners at Flying Fish Cafe (we’ve really got to try those one day).

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My wine pours – heads up – we didn’t get more wine during the event

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Menu

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We were soon all seated and the presentation began

Ralph was our MC for the day (middle man standing along the back wall in the photo below), he said “hello” and “welcome” to all of us in a number of languages then introduced Luis from Spain.

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Luis from Rioja Spain (Marques de Caceres Winery)

Rioja Spain is the Bordeaux of Spain. Henri Forner, the founder of the winery, was from a family from Valencia that had been exiled to France due to the Spanish Civil War… the family went to Bordeaux. Henri learned to make wine in France in the 1940s and 1950s. He returned to Spain and searched for a place to make wines as he’d learned – best location was Rioja and Marques de Caceres was founded in 1970. In 2011, Henri’s daughter Christina took over managing the winery.

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Chef Samad

Chef Samad said that they’d worked to create a nice menu that he hoped we’d enjoy

First Pairing

Rock Shrimp and Verdejo

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Verdejo – a new wine for MdC

Verdejo is a new wine, made with grapes from Rueda; this is the first vintage. The grapes are native and not grown anywhere else. Luis said it will be citrusy and refreshing. I was excited to try something new.

Luis said we should use 3-stages of wine tasting:

  • Color – light straw, golden
  • Nose – nora = ick, too sour, loads of citrus and nick = sour citrus
  • Taste without food – nora = slight sour, slight sweet, I think it will go well with shrimp and nick = “without food, not all that great”

Luis then said, that you want the aromas of the wine to match the tastes of the food.

We both liked this pairing, perhaps I liked it more than nick.

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Rock shrimp, chopped garlic, fresh corn kernel, fresh tomato, lemon butter sauce

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Nick had more shrimp and corn than I did

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lemon butter sauce had a bit of spice to it, that went nicely with the wine

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rock shrimp has a texture closer to lobster than to regular shrimp

Second Pairing

Yellow Fin Tuna and Rose

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This rose (which I’ve had many times! it’s great when it’s really hot outside) is pretty full-bodied.

  • Color – soft pink/salmon
  • Nose – nora = orange and berries and nick = underripe strawberry
  • Taste without food – nora = quite robust, a little berry and nick = okay, I’m glad this is slightly warmed
  • Taste with food – nick = really like the spice rub on the tuna with the wine (that’s the pairing, not the tuna)
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Yellow Fin Tuna with eggplant caponata (red pepper, green pepper, fresh tomato, pesto, capers, olive oil)

My tuna was more medium rare (I sent the first plate back because the tuna was cooked through). There wasn’t any of the hot sauce on my plate but there was some on Nick’s plate.

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Nick’s tuna was cooked more

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we were a bit apprehensive of the green pepper in the caponata, but it was very light

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this was rather good, although I’d rather see it with more vegetables if it becomes an entree portion at Spice Road Table

Third Pairing

Lamb Chops and Red Blend

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Luis discussing the red wine

The red was a blend of 2 grapes.

  • Color – deep plummy red (Luis said the deep color is indicative of younger grapes)
  • Nose – nora = smoke and wood (aged in oak barrels and completed in bottles) and nick = no smoke, black cherry
  • Taste without food – nora & nick = tannins and spice

We thought this pairing worked, but not the best we’ve ever had.

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Rack of Lamb, artichoke bottoms, sun dried tomato, curried moroccan olives

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the sauce on this was VERY SALTY, I didn’t really use it after the first bite

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the rack of lamb was a bit fatty, but the flavor was very good

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the spice rub on the rack of lamb was nice, not too herby or strong

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artichokes are a favorite of ours and we both liked these

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nicely rare in the center

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Chef Samad and Ralph thanked us for coming and sharing food with them

We suspect that the pairings may be more wonderful with the regular wines that Samad and Abdou selected, however, it was really nice to be able to taste a variety of wines from Marques de Caceres. We still like it when the venue provides more wine throughout the luncheon – maybe it was just the nature of this particular wine pairing that we only had single small pours of wine.

We were able to speak with Abdou and Samad at the end. We were honest and let them know that the sauce was too salty and they told us that perhaps next year there would be a sweet at the end of the tasting.

This is definitely something that we look forward to doing again next year (we’d be delighted to take Nevie to this in 2015).

We enjoyed this event and we’d like to say “thank you” to the staff at Spice Road Table. Hajar (hostess) checked us in with ease. Abdou made sure we had a good seat and that we were taken care of. Khadija is very much on top of things in the dining room. Samad prepared a nice “meal”. Luis brought some lovely wines.

 

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