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by Disney Magic Diva

2018 Epcot International Food & Wine Festival Food and Beverage Pairing DemonstrationsThe 2018 Epcot International Food & Wine Festival is underway, and even if The Mouse isn’t your cup of tea, you may find reasons to visit Walt Disney World Resort this fall. The Festival, which runs until November 12, 2018, offers over 40 destinations for fabulous food and wine tastings from all around the world. And as magical as that sounds, there’s even more to experience during this popular time of year.

Choose from culinary demonstrations; book or wine bottle signings; seminars focused on cheese, coffee, beer, wine, or spirits; cooking tips and techniques; Brunch with a Chef; Party for the Senses; Eat to the Beat Concert Series; Disney Du Jour Dance Parties; and even activities for the kids like Candy Sushi classes, Remy’s Ratatouille Hide and Squeak scavenger hunt, Junior Chef Kitchen (where you get to eat what you cook!) and a play area inspired by Ralph Breaks the Internet.

New for this year are Food and Beverage Pairing demonstrations.  As a staunch supporter of life-long learning, I knew we had to include this in our visit.  The demonstration combines the expertise of a well-known chef as well as a beverage presenter.  The chef prepares a selected dish, while the beverage specialist talks about why the selected beverage pairs well with that specific dish. The best part – YOU get to eat and drink while they demonstrate!

2018 Epcot International Food & Wine Festival Food and Beverage Pairing DemonstrationsWe attended the very first Food and Beverage Pairing demonstration offered this year.  Our chef was Pam Smith, RDN, Culinary Nutritionist and Founder of P.S. Flavor in Orlando, Florida. The beverage expert was Joseph Spellman, a master sommelier from Landmark Vineyards in California.  The dish Pam prepared for us (and thankfully we got to enjoy!) was Seared Beef Fillet with Porcini Pepper Crust and Sweet Potato, Mushroom and Kale Hash with Hop Kiln Pinot Cherry Glaze.  The wine Joe selected to pair perfectly with Pam’s dish was Landmark Hop Kiln Pinot Noir 2015, Russian River.  Trust me, these experts know what they are doing.  The food was scrumptious; the wine was delightful; and combined – they were tremendous!!

Our seminar began with each expert explaining a little about themselves and their speciality, and then they got right into the demonstration.  As Pam prepared the food, she shared so many helpful tips with us, not only about the specific dish she was preparing, but about how to cook food to enhance the flavors from it.  For example, she explained how heat can bring out the flavor in your food.  Since we were inside, she couldn’t grill the fillet, so she seared it in a cast iron frying pan, then baked it.  But before she placed the fillet in the pan, she heated the pan in a very hot (500 degree) oven.  Then when she placed the meat on the hot pan, it sizzled, and seared the outside to lock in the juices and bring out more flavor.  Do the same with vegetables, she said, to get a carmelization of the veggies.

2018 Epcot International Food & Wine Festival Food and Beverage Pairing DemonstrationsAs Pam was preparing the food, Joe also offered insight into why he chose this Pinot Noir to pair with the beef.  First, he taught us how to appreciate and taste the wine.  He showed us how to roll it around in the glass, explained why that was important, and encouraged us to take in its aroma. He taught us to remember the acronym “few” when sampling wine – fruit, earth, and wood – and how each of those elements help describe a wine.

Something I found especially intriguing was Joe’s account of why it’s important to choose a wine that pairs well with the food you will be eating.  He explained wine helps prepare the pallet for food.  The flavor of the wine helps your mouth water, and that tells your body to be expecting something more.  Then the food adds to the flavor, and as you enjoy your meal, going back and forth between the wine and the food, you are able to detect more and more flavors in each of them.  It made total sense to me!  And it’s my new justification to enjoy a glass of wine before dinner – I have to prepare my pallet!

2018 Epcot International Food & Wine Festival Food and Beverage Pairing DemonstrationsWhile Pam and Joe were demonstrating and teaching us their secrets, cast members were busy serving us glasses of the wine and a small plate of the food.  As we savored each delectable bite and sip, we watched and listened.  Guests were seated at tables of 6-8 people, and there were 3 big-screen monitors scattered throughout the seminar area showing overhead views of the cooking space so you could see everything Pam was doing.  The demonstration lasted about 45 minutes, although it was so fascinating and delicious, the time seemed much shorter.

Both Pam and Joe were so gracious with their time.  They stopped frequently to see if anyone had any questions. Pam showed us how to plate the food to give it a professional look, and when she was finished she encouraged us to come by the stage after the seminar so we could take photos if we chose. She gave us the recipe for the food she prepared as well as a sample of some of her custom-made spices. Joe spent time after the seminar meeting with guests, answering questions, and offered to sign bottles of his wine should anyone wish to purchase some to take home. 2018 Epcot International Food & Wine Festival Food and Beverage Pairing Demonstrations

Attending the Food and Beverage Pairing demonstration was very entertaining and delicious!  It was a magnificent way to kick off the 2018 Epcot International Food & Wine Festival, and well worth the price of admission.  I would highly recommend you attend!

Food and Beverage Pairing seminars are $25 plus tax and are offered Friday-Sunday at 2:30 during the Festival. You must be 21 to attend, and you can make a reservation by visiting the website.  Our seminar was focused on beef and wine, but there are also seminars for pork and wine, fish and wine, seafood (including octopus!) and wine, and a few with whiskey or champagne. You can see a full schedule of events here.

Better yet, why not let Patricia at All for Dreams Travel make your reservations?  She can answer any questions, and her service is FREE!

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Forever planning our next Disney trip, I've enjoyed magical moments at the Disney Parks with my husband, kids and now grandkids. I hope you will create magical memories with your family too!