If you have stumbled upon my lonely blog thinking it's a Disney blog, you're wrong. I'm just sharing some of the great food I had on a recent vacation. If you are looking for something a little more(Actually, a lot more) in-depth I highly recommend Disney Tourist Blog or The Disney Food Blog. The Disney Tourist Blog is no-nonsense and upfront about what was gratis and they still end up being really objective about their experiences.
The Festival of Holidays runs from mid-November to early-January. Christmas/Navidad, Diwali, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa are all represented by both food and musical performances. The musical performances were all great, and we took the time to take them all in. But since I am calling my cutoff point food, I'll stick to that. With all the cultural inclusion, comes a lot of really great food. Surprisingly good. I was really caught off guard with the offerings they had. I have been to the Epcot Food and Wine Festival a few times, and the food available here blew it out of the water, but it's been a few years since I have done Food and Wine, so I don't know if they were upgraded along with Cali's options.
First out of the gates, and it was the first thing I tried, is the above pictured Pakoras. Calling them "Pakora Fritters" is redundant. Pakora is fritter. I think this has a lot to do with getting people who haven't had a ton of cultural exposure to try something new. It's very similar to "Naan Bread" or "Chai Tea." Naan means bread and Chai means tea. I think including the anglicized version makes them more approachable to those that haven't experienced them. Sort of a linguistic training wheel.
At any rate, the pakoras were still slightly crispy, the vinegared raisins and cilantro chutney(IIRC) were welcome additions. The only downside was the price. If you are a vegetarian, these are going to be a solid option. I also understand that the price may be what it is to keep someone from ordering dozens of them at a time or it could be to help keep the price on the down on the lamb cheeks, but I'll get to those later. So, the short of it is that if you are a vegetarian they are great, if you eat meat, I would still stop by and try them out. The almonds, raisins, and butternut squash will give you a little hit of fiber that you probably need anyway.
A brief note on booze, since I know that quite a few of you out there are like me and like to tip a few back. There is a booth called Brews and Bites. Unless you are on a mission to try all the beers or you see one they have that you just have to have, then you can skip that booth. The line gets long as hell and there are plenty of other great beers available at other booths with shorter lines that boozebags can get their fix. Go to those. I hardly ever waited in line at Winter Sliderland or Blissfully Braised. The Festival Beer Flight at Winter Sliderland was great, but I ended up going back solely for The Patsy by Barley Forge Brewing Company. Those of you, all one of you in reality, that have been keeping up with me, know that I am a coconut whore, and the hint of coconut in the midst of all the roasted barley was extremely enjoyable.
The Green Bean Casserole was okay. They used fresh green beans, or at least non-canned like you might find at an American holiday celebration. Not that their is anything wrong with that. Most people have enough going on in their kitchens that to have something easy to throw together will alleviate a bit of stress. But still. This makes a good vegetable side, not a great stand alone option. These are both vegetarian and the way this post is going I would say that if you are a vegetarian I would stick to the Indian derived options. It's a country of one billion people with a few religions that look poorly on meat eating, so they know a thing or two about meatless eating.
The Chana Masala was redolent with cardamom, and as spices go you can't get too much more expensive, so to not cheap out on that when it was totally an option was welcome by me. The naan was nice to scoop up the chana with, too. And yes, I know it was probably frozen, but I can't imagine that they would throw a tandoor in one of those booths and be firing it to order. If you are not a vegetarian, definitely get this. Get some garbanzo beans in there to help push through all the pork belly and lamb cheeks you are about to eat.
"Doesn't chana mean chickpea or garbanzo bean?"
It does, and I can't explain the choice to not call it a Chickpea Chana Masala. Except for it didn't sound as good.
I have never been to Nashville. I have been to KFC and had what they call Nashville Hot Chicken. My understanding is true Nashville Hot Chicken is supposed to be aggressively hot and tossed in melted lard. KFC was an oily unspicy mess completely lacking any heat and wanting entirely for the taste of rendered pork fat.
I also don't know if anyone down there does a turkey version of it, but that does not matter to me. The turkey was juicy, which I wasn't prepared for and it was also fairly spicy. Not painfully so, but far beyond what KFC is trying to pull off. I'm not sure what I am supposed to do with the bread, so I let it soak up as much of the spice from the turkey as possible and ate that after the turkey as a culinary "memento mori."
Does that scan?
The tamale was good and filled with plenty of beef so you won't be wanting for meat in your meaty snack.
This one really threw me for a loop. Chicken liver pate has been huge in the past decade or so in the hipster classic charcuterie world. Finding it at Disneyland was a shock to my system. It had the perfect level of chicken liver-y-ness, and a good quantity of bread to go with it. The cherry jam added a nice sweet tartness to counterbalance the richness of the pate. The pistachios and unlisted pomegranate seeds gave it a bit of crunchy texture.
As if having chicken liver pate was enough, they also had these two dishes. Which I ate numerous times at the detriment of trying out other things. Holy crap! They were so Fng good.
You might be saying to yourself, "that does not look like adobo." Depending on where you are from, you are probably right. This is more of a Philippine adobo. They had already been eating delicious vinegar marinated and cooked foods when the Spaniards arrived, looked at it, and said, "That's adobo." Don't let your past experiences get in the way of enjoying this. The rice is good, the pork rinds/chicharones/pork scratchings are great on top, and the portion is BIG. I think this is only US$1 more that the pakoras. Look at it. It is in the same size boat as the pakoras.
The Braised Lamb Cheeks were perfectly gelatinous and tender, how cheeks ought to be. If you were raised thinking that cheeks only go into hot dogs then you have some catching up to do. You eat meat and this is meat. Beautifully spiced and seasoned. I don't recall what in the cauliflower made it Mediterranean, but it didn't matter. Whatever it was was completely overshadowed but the sauce from the lamb. Sidenote-f you have never had goat, but like lamb, give it a go(at).
Really, it couldn't have been much better for me.