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by Undercover Diva

Like most people, I absolutely love the Food and Wine Festival at Epcot (though my wallet does not). I love the chance to try new things, but not have to worry about a huge plate if I hate it or if I accidentally get something too spicy for me. Plus I like the chance to learn about different cultures through their food and drink offerings. One of the many complaints of Food and Wine guests is how busy it is, and people are often trying to figure out when to go to beat the crowds. But I have a way of escaping the crowds for a bit that just might be the break you need.

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Chef Miguel, Chef Dee and our Host

I often find myself on the Walt Disney World site trying to figure out what there is to do and what I might be missing. During the Food and Wine Festival they have a HUGE variety of culinary demonstrations, wine tastings seminars, chocolate seminars and so much more. Once I figured out what day I was going, I was happy that I checked things out. For just $15 a person I found a culinary demonstration given by Dee Foundoukis, a renown chef from the BoardWalk and the new Head Chef of the Trattoria al Forno opening at the BoardWalk, and her assistant Chef Miguel.

In a 45 minute demonstration, they taught us how to make Meatballs and Sunday Gravy they way they were going to at the new restaurant. They walked us through it step by step, even showing us what they did while preparing it on the stove in front of us. About half way through the demonstration cast members brought out wine that was specially chosen to pair with the meatballs. While they worked they also told us about themselves and about their restaurant and all that would be offered. If you are a big foodie, Trattoria al Forno will give demonstrations on how to make Mozzarella before they open for dinner on select days.

IMG_4580What is a food demonstration without actually getting to taste what’s been shown? Towards the end cast members brought out little bowls that had two big meatballs and some of the Sunday Gravy. The food was absolutely delicious, though it was a little spicy for me (I’m kind of a wimp, if you haven’t guessed). I think I might alter some of the ingredients to make it a little less spicy when I finally make it. After the demonstration was complete, both chefs came down to take pictures and answer questions from any of the audience members.

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Me and Undercover boyfriend with Chef Dee and Chef Miguel

I absolutely loved going to this demonstration, it gave us time to get out of the heat and the crowds and we came away with a recipe we wouldn’t have had we stayed on the World Showcase. Both my boyfriend and I are super into cooking, so we loved this demonstration and we can’t wait to try the recipe for ourselves. Plus it got us going on a big cooking kick and we got ourselves a Disney Cookbook to cook from as well. We will definitely be checking into more of these in the future!

Italian Sunday Tomato Gravy:
2 tbs extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
½ tsp hot red pepper flakes
5 ¼ cups canned crushed tomatoes (Dee recommended San Marzano brand)
2 ½ cups of chicken broth
¼ cup tomato paste
1 tbs chopped fresh oregano
1 tsp ground fennel
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

1. Heat oil in a stockpot over medium heat; saute’ onion until tender, about 4 minutes. Add garlic and hot pepper flakes, cooking 2 minutes
2. Add crushed tomatoes, chicken broth, tomato paste, oregano and fennel, stirring well. Add salt and pepper to taste. Reduce heat to medium-low
3. Cover pot and cook 45-60 minutes, stirring often
4. Puree with an immersion blender
Meatball Recipe:
1 Small onion, diced, sauteed until soft and cooled
1 ½ pounds ground beef chuck
4 eggs, lightly beaten
1 tbs finely minced garlic
¼ tsp hot red pepper flakes
1 cup dry breadcrumbs
1 tsp chopped fresh oregano
1 tsp coarse salt
½ tsp ground fennel
¼ tsp fresh ground black pepper
¼ cup cold water (as needed)
8 oz spinach chopped (ring out water before adding)

1. Combine sauteed onions, ground beef, eggs, garlic, pepper flakes, breadcrumbs, oregano, salt, fennel, and pepper. Mix well until combined, adding cold water as needed to keep mixture moist.
2. Roll into 8 or 9 large meatballs.
3. Heat oil in large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add meatballs, a few at a time, and sear on all sides.
4. When meatballs are seared, carefully transfer to Italian Sunday Tomato Gravy. Cook over medium-low heat 30-45 minutes or until inside of meatballs register 160 degrees F on instant read thermometer. (Dee recommended checking at about 20 minutes in)
5. Cook any kind of pasta you want per package instructions. Drain and place in large serving platter. Spoon meatballs onto pasta, and then top with Sunday Gravy to coat
6. Sprinkle with grated Parmesan as preferred.

Dee says you can cheat and use and ice cream scoop to make the meatballs
You can also cook the meatballs 15-20 minutes on a baking sheet in the oven at 375 degrees instead of on the skillet

If you aren’t inspired by this to make your own goodies, perhaps you are inspired to visit the Food and Wine Festival for yourself, but aren’t sure where to begin in your planning. Feel free to contact our recommended travel agent and our own Military Diva, Patricia at All for Dreams Travel, and she can do all the work for you. Best of all, all of her services are FREE! Click here to request a quote today!

Jen loves everything about Disney and hopes to one day be a performer for the company. She has done the Disney College Program and has been on multiple auditions, as well as had the experience of going to the parks in both Florida and California.