Day Two, Part II, of the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival: Gingerbread Houses and African Huts

Pin It

We left off Part I of yesterday’s blog after our incredible lunch at the California Grill.  If you haven’t read it yet, scroll down and read it, because you will wonder, as we did, how we could even think about food again so quickly.  But like the magic of Disney, it appeared and we took it all in, because who can resist a gingerbread house?  Pastry chef Erich Herbitschek made sure it wouldn’t be us.  As we entered the kitchen of the Grand Floridian Resort and Spa, the sweet aroma of ginger and cinnamon hit us in the face.  Standing along a huge working station were five darling little gingerbread houses, just begging to be decorated.

One of the chefs handed us huge pastry bags filled with icing, along with trays of decorations to place on the houses.  We happily made icicles, placed reindeer on the roof, put a wreath on a door, and placed little trees and mushrooms around the perimeter.  We each had our own special signature for our homes.  Guess which one is mine?!

After creating our masterpieces, we proceeded to another kitchen with wonders much taller than a small gingerbread house.

The picture hardly does it justice.  It is a work of art.  This cake will feed 600 guests.  Does anyone really know 600 people??  This amazing kitchen turns out about 2,000 wedding cakes per year of every shape and flavor imaginable.  We flipped through a huge scrapbook of past cakes, including a $10,000 one made for a lottery winner who wanted to celebrate his windfall in style.

Yes, these are chocolate vines and leaves, and chocolate wine bottles!  How could anyone ever eat this beauty?
We now shift from gingerbread and chocolate to wild animals and South African food and wine.  After a brief time to freshen up, we all met in the lobby of the Yacht Club to depart for Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge.  The Lodge houses the most African art on continuous display in the United States.  This in itself would transport you to the feel of Africa, but wait until you walk out the back entry!  Savannas around the lodge are home to zebras and over thirty other species of wildlife.  Imagine waking up in the morning, looking out your window and seeing a zebra or gazelle gazing up at you!  
Before heading to dinner at Jiko, the amazing restaurant inside the lodge, we were greeted by the very handsome and charming Master Pastry Chef Stefan Riemer carrying champagne for a pre-dinner celebration.  We chatted with our engaging host until our tables were ready.  As we entered the crowded and lively restaurant, right in the middle was a private area that looked like an African hut.  Inside and wrapped around part of the room was metal decoration made to look like tree branches, each holding bottles of South African wine.  This room holds one of the largest wine lists of South African labels in the country.  Kristina and I particularly enjoyed the wine from the Springfield Estate, with the delightful array of appetizers, the one below being our favorite.
For our entrees, I had the “Seared Barbarie Duck Breast, Potato and Spinach Masala, Chanterelles, Bruleed Fig and Port Emulsion,” while Kristina had the “Chermoula Tanglewood Chicken, with Goat Cheese Potatoes, Preserved Lemons, and Harissa.”  If I come back to this restaurant again, I am ordering the chicken.  It was incredible.
Our favorite dessert was a moist and spicy cake, a specialty of South Africa.
Once again, we left happy and full.  Thinking the fun was over for the evening, imagine our delight as we entered our room and saw that a table was set up with more gifts.

Not only this fabulous cookbook and official festival apron, but sitting there in all their glory, were our gingerbread houses wrapped carefully in cellophane and tied with colorful ribbon.

Is there anything more fun than Disney?!  And we haven’t even started the actual festival yet!  That’s tomorrow.

One Response to Day Two, Part II, of the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival: Gingerbread Houses and African Huts

  1. October 9, 2010 at 4:17 am #

    I still have mt original apron from trhe first festival – rather stained but a lovely memory! It was all rather lower key than this though – wonder if I can make next year’s?

Leave a Reply