The EPCOT International Food and Wine Festival is coming to a close. I’ve enjoyed so many aspects of it. This year, I had the privilege to attend a culinary demonstration by Chef Jon Ashton and Dr. Wendy Bazilian, hosted by Driscoll’s Berries.
Confession: for all the time I spend at this festival, I have never been to a culinary demonstration. Usually, I’m at the park with my son, and while I think he would enjoy running around and climbing on all the seats, I don’t think it’s the right environment for an energetic toddler.
The demo began with Lucas from Meeker Vineyards presenting us with a FroZin dessert wine. I’ve tried ice wines before, and have found many of them a bit too syrupy for my taste. This wine was not only a beautiful color, but was sweet, bold, and not at all cloying (Best way I can describe it. Oenophile, I am not.) The zinfandel grapes were grown in the Russian River Valley, which I’ve actually visited and have tasted my way through the vineyards tucked into those rolling hills. More about the wine later.
Next, Chef Jon described the three appetizers that he prepared for the tasting – a blackberry brie wonton cup, strawberry bruschetta, and a Thai turkey meatball. He didn’t really explain the cooking process of the dishes; he gave mostly tips about how to handle the ingredients, other uses for them, and advice on adapting recipes. His charismatic personality was matched by his charming Liverpudian accent. I loved the way he crooned the word “bluuuueberry!” Dr. Wendy was on hand to drop fun facts about each of the berries featured in the dishes. Some things I learned from her:
There are about 100 drooplets on every blackberry. (Drooplets. Still loving that word.)
Blueberries are one of the best superfoods. Their blue color is from anthocyanin.
The dishes rocked! My favorite was the meatball. It was garnished with blueberry jam, whipped goat cheese, and mircogreens. The dessert wine paired incredibly with this dish. The wine’s sweetness simmered down and enhanced the robust flavors of the meatball. I can’t wait to try this recipe in a hamburger version.
And of course, every event is always more fun with other bloggers to connect and hang with. Chef Jon chatted with us for a few minutes after the demo, and he graciously posed for a picture with us. Left to right: Mark from The Daily City, Michelle from The Village Cook, Ken, Denise from Creative Kitchen, Dr. Wendy Bazilian, Chef Jon Ashton, Julie from Peanut Butter Fingers, Katie from Katie’s Cucina, me, and Brooke representing The Disney Food Blog. Not pictured but present were Ricky from Tasty Chomps, Ryan, and Jason. (Photo courtesy of Julie)
After the demonstration, we headed to Wolfgang Puck’s restaurant for dinner. During the leisurely dinner we ate spring rolls, salad, goulash (most of the table orderd Wolfgang Puck’s renowned family recipe), and cheesecake.
What a fun evening! I will make a point to attend a few more demonstrations when next year’s Food and Wine Festival rolls into EPCOT. I’d like to take a moment to thank Pam and the entire Walt Disney World team who worked the event, Fran, Laura, the team at Wolfgang Puck’s who attended us, and especially to Katie for recommending me for the event.