Although we still have to wrap up the Flower and Garden Festival, still have the Star Wars Weekends and the Sounds Like Summer Concert Series, news of the 2009 Epcot International Food and Wine Festival is starting to heat up.
Epcot kitchens turn up the heat for a global tasting experience worthy of every palate Sept. 25-Nov. 8 at the 14th annual Epcot International Food &Wine Festival at Walt Disney World Resort. During the six-week, entertainment-packed event, park guests can taste fine cuisine and wines from the top “foodie” cities of the world.
Whether sampling bites of Camarões com Palmito (shrimp with palms) from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, or sipping the trendiest wine from Buenos Aires, Argentina, festival guests can enjoy the flavors of more than 25 international marketplaces dotting the World Showcase promenade. The festival will spotlight tastes from cities on six continents, including Bologna, Italy; Bangkok, Thailand; Wellington, New Zealand; Santiago, Chile; Marrakesh, Morocco; Shanghai, China; and, from the United States – New Orleans.
Tapas-sized portions of regional specialties run $2-to-$7 each, and recommended wines and beers make perfect pairings at each kiosk. Puglia, Italy, returns as a sponsor this year, presenting culinary demonstrations with regional chefs and showcasing “Adventures of Pasta and Olive Oils.” Live regional entertainment is scheduled throughout each day along the promenade.
Daily wine and beer tastings serve up sips from around the world, and culinary demonstrations dish up featured taste treats. A series of special culinary programs features a lineup of renowned winemakers, guest chefs and speakers participating in elegant dinners, luncheons, seminars and wine schools.
Live music kicks the festival up several notches each evening during the Eat to the Beat! concert series featuring acts from many musical genres including classic rock, jazz, R&B, funk and soul. Concerts are performed three times each evening at America Gardens Theatre along the World Showcase lagoon. Scheduled to appear for the first time on the Eat to the Beat! stage are: Richard Marx, Better than Ezra, Vanessa Carlton, John Waite and Billy Ocean. Returning acts scheduled are Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, Starship, En Vogue, Sister Hazel, Kool & The Gang, Spyro Gyra, Jon Secada, Sister Sledge, Taylor Dayne, Boyz II Men, Night Ranger and Los Lobos.
Each fall, the festival attracts a diverse audience of more than one million guests ranging from wine connoisseurs and epicures to neophytes wishing to boost their wine IQs. Beer aficionados can raise their steins at several tasting locations, including Germany’s Biergarten, which specialize in brews from light to dark.
Festival highlights include:
The Festival Welcome Center, with a Champagne and Wine Bar, educational wine seminars, celebrity chef book signings, and festival keepsakes including exclusive festival pins and an official festival cookbook.
Some 250 chefs including Disney chefs and guest chefs from across the country conducting culinary demonstrations and hosting elegant dinners and tasting events. Guest chefs who appeared last year included Tory McPhail of Commander’s Palace, Rock Harper of “Hell’s Kitchen,” Robert Irvine from Food Network’s “Dinner Impossible,” plus Jeff Henderson, Todd English, Warren Brown, Mary Meyers, Jamie Deen, Iron Chef Cat Cora and many other culinary stars. This year’s lineup currently is being booked.
New culinary programs to feature Celebration Dinners, Culinary Adventure Signature Dining and Celebrating Family and Friends in the Kitchen. Popular returning events include French Regional Lunches at Bistro de Paris in the France pavilion, Epcot Wine Schools, Food and Wine Pairings and Sweet Sundays.
The weekly Party for the Senses grand tasting event with tempting bites from eminent chefs, more than 50 wines and beers and live entertainment.
Festival guests can enjoy free admission on their birthdays as well as fresh Epcot experiences including the re-launched Spaceship Earth attraction in Future World and the high-tech, ultra-interactive Disney’s Kim Possible World Showcase Adventure. Also in World Showcase, several new and updated restaurants welcome guests: at the Italy pavilion, Tutto Italia, with cuisine from different regions of Italy; at the Japan pavilion, Tokyo Dining and Teppan Edo restaurants; and at the China showcase, the redesigned Nine Dragons with a new menu.
Included with Epcot Admission:
Samuel Adams beer seminars, Authentic Taste seminars and Authors without Borders programs with special book signings at the Festival Center, Eat to the Beat! concerts, culinary and cultural adventures, and all attractions and park entertainment are included with regular Epcot admission.
Special Programming by Reservation:
The Party for the Senses grand tasting events, Food and Wine Pairings at select Epcot restaurants, Signature Dining, Epcot Wine Schools, Sweet Sundays, and other special wine and culinary programs require reservations and separate event admission.
Guests can call 407/WDW-FEST (939-3378) for information and to make reservations for special events and programs. Festival details will be available by late July at www.disneyworld.com/foodandwine, and guests can book special events and programs beginning Aug. 11.
Wrapping it up
The Epcot International Food and Wine Festival is always the highight of the Autumn season here in Central Florida. Great food, wonderful wines and the opportunity to see some great chefs as you stroll around one of the nicest parks around. Make plans for this years festival and bring your appetite.