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Two New Culinary Favorites at This Year’s Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival

posted on March 13th, 2015 by Pam Brandon, Disney Parks Food Writer


What fun to make our rounds on the World Showcase Promenade and taste all the new creations from Executive Chef Gregg Hannon and his team at the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival. We love the blooms, but the food gets most of our attention.

Chef Gregg agreed to share two brand-new recipes this year, one savory, one sweet. The Beef Brisket Burnt Ends Hash from The Smokehouse: Barbecue and Brews takes a little time, but, oh, it’s worth it. “Burnt Ends,” by the way are the crunchier outside pieces of leftover brisket – so you get to enjoy a beef brisket, then make this fabulous hash for another meal. And the Florida Blueberry and Lemon Curd Tart from the Florida Fresh Outdoor Kitchen takes advantage of blueberry season in the Sunshine State.

So if we don’t see you on the promenade between now and May 17, we hope you’ll try these recipes at home. For two great Florida Fresh Outdoor Kitchen recipes back by demand this year, check out the Watermelon Salad and Shrimp and Grits.

For more information, call 407/W-DISNEY (934-7639) or go to epcotinspring.com. The festival, including all gardening programs and exhibits, is included in regular Epcot admission.

Outdoor Kitchen Offerings at Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival: Beef Brisket Burnt Ends Hash

Burnt Ends Brisket Hash
Serves 4-6

Pickled Jalapeño Peppers

  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced white onion
  • 1 cup sliced jalapeño peppers
  • 1 cup white vinegar
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
  • 1 dried bay leaf
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds

White Cheddar Cheese Fondue

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/4 cup diced onions
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground white pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon hot sauce
  • 1 cup shredded aged white cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 2 tablespoons diced jalapeño pepper

Burnt Ends Brisket Hash

  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 medium white potato, diced
  • 1/2 cup diced white onion
  • 1/4 cup diced celery
  • 1/4 cup diced poblano peppers
  • 2 tablespoons diced jalapeño peppers
  • 3 cups cubed smoked beef brisket
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper

For pickled jalapeno:

  1. Place sliced onions and jalapeños in a medium-sized glass bowl.
  2. Combine white vinegar, water, sugar, salt, black peppercorns, bay leaf, garlic, and coriander in a small saucepan. Cook over high heat until mixture boils.
  3. Pour brine over onions and jalapeños. Cover and refrigerate at least 24 hours.

For white cheddar cheese fondue:

  1. Melt butter in medium saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and sauté 5-8 minutes, or until onions are translucent.
  2. Add flour, stirring constantly, for 3-5 minutes. Do not allow mixture to brown.
  3. Add cream, salt, white pepper and nutmeg. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, 5 minutes, or until simmering. Reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, 20-25 minutes, until mixture is thick and coats the back of a spoon.
  4. Add hot sauce. Slowly add cheese, stirring constantly, 3-5 minutes, until cheese melts and is creamy.
    Add diced jalapeño peppers. Keep warm until ready to serve.

For burnt ends brisket hash:

  1. Heat canola oil in a large sauté pan over medium for 5 minutes, or until oil is shimmering.
    Carefully add potatoes. Cook potatoes over medium heat, stirring occasionally, 6-8 minutes, until potatoes are golden and cooked through.
  2. Add remaining vegetables. Cook 3-5 minutes, until softened. Season with salt and pepper.

To serve:

  1. Evenly divide burnt ends brisket hash among plates. Top with white cheddar cheese fondue. Garnish with pickled jalapeño peppers.

Outdoor Kitchen Offerings at Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival: Florida Blueberry and Lemon Curd Tart

Blueberry Lemon Curd Tarts
Makes 6 tarts

Lemon Pastry Cream

  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup sugar, divided
  • 1 egg
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice

Vanilla Tarts

  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 tablespoon very cold water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 8 teaspoons (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces

Blueberry Filling

  • 2 cups fresh blueberries, divided
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Blueberry Meringue

  • 2 egg whites
  • Pinch of cream of tartar
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons pureed blueberries

For lemon pastry cream:

  1. Whisk cornstarch, 1/4 cup sugar, egg and egg yolks together in a medium bowl; set aside.
    Combine milk, vanilla and remaining 1/4 cup sugar in medium saucepan, bring to a boil over medium heat. Remove from heat.
  2. Remove 1 cup of hot milk and slowly pour into the cornstarch/egg mixture, whisking briskly, so eggs do not cook.
  3. Stir cornstarch/egg/milk mixture back into remaining hot milk.
  4. Return saucepan to medium-low heat, stirring constantly so eggs do not curdle or scorch on bottom of pan; cook until cream thickens.

  5. Remove from heat and add butter, stirring until completely blended. Stir in lemon juice.
    Pour mixture into a heat-proof container, cover with plastic wrap placed in contact with surface of cream to avoid forming skin. Refrigerate until chilled.

For vanilla tarts:

  1. Mix egg yolk, water and vanilla together in a small bowl; set aside.
  2. Combine flour, sugar and salt in a large bowl.
  3. Cut butter into flour mixture using pastry cutter or 2 knives until texture resembles coarse cornmeal. Butter pieces should be no larger than small peas.
  4. Add egg mixture; mix with fork just until dough pulls together.
  5. Preheat oven to 325°F.
  6. Transfer dough onto lightly floured work surface; pat into a ball and flatten. Cut dough into 6 equal portions.
  7. Roll out each portion into a circle about 2 inches larger than the diameter of each tart pan.
  8. Place dough into tart pans without stretching. With fingers, snugly press dough into sides and bottom. Press along top edge of pans to remove excess dough. Prick bottom and sides of each tart.
    Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown.

For blueberry filling:

  1. Prepare an ice water bath to accommodate a medium saucepan.
  2. Combine 1 cup blueberries, sugar and water in a medium saucepan.
  3. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until thickened.
  4. Add cinnamon and remaining cup of blueberries, continue to cook until entire mixture thickens slightly, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and place pan in ice water bath to cool.

For blueberry meringue:

  1. Whip egg whites in a large glass or metal bowl until foamy.
  2. Add cream of tartar, then gradually add sugar and whip until stiff peaks form.
  3. Fold in blueberry puree.

To serve:

  1. Cover bottom of each tart with blueberry filling.
  2. Layer lemon pastry cream on top of blueberry filling.
  3. Place meringue in piping bag with a wide opening decorator tip (so blueberries in meringue do not clog tip). Garnish each tart.

Chef’s note: For the tart, a stand mixer with a flat beater can be using instead of mixing dough by hand. Mix flour, sugar and salt at low speed. Add butter, beat on medium-low speed until texture resembles coarse cornmeal, with butter pieces no larger than small peas. Add egg yolk, water and vanilla mixture, beat just until dough pulls together.

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Two Restaurants Expand as Downtown Disney Evolves Into Disney Springs at Walt Disney World Resort

posted on March 12th, 2015 by Pam Brandon, Disney Parks Food Writer


Look for big changes at Planet Hollywood and Paradiso 37 at Downtown Disney, with Paradiso 37 wrapping up its expansion in summer 2015, Planet Hollywood in spring 2016.

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Paradiso 37’s expansion capitalizes on its beautiful waterfront setting. “We’re nearly doubling the seating, adding more terrace dining, a new outdoor performance stage and expanding to add a greater presence on the new Disney Springs promenade,” said Rashid Choufani, chief executive officer of Paradiso 37.

The menu, a “Taste of the Americas,” will continue to offer a culinary tour of North, Central and South America, with popular dishes including ceviche, jalapeño burgers, Argentinian skirt steak, whole crispy chicken and Chilean-style salmon. Beverages include wine, beer, and specialty rum and tequila cocktails inspired by the cuisine. (The restaurant takes its name from the 37 countries in the Americas.)

Paradiso 37 will remain open while undergoing renovations.

Planet Hollywood gets a complete makeover – you may not recognize the place as it’s transformed into a four-story stargazing observatory to match the design aesthetic of Disney Springs. While the exterior is turn-of-the-century, the interior will feature spherical, planet-shaped lighting fixtures and stylish finishing to create a welcoming atmosphere for fans to celebrate a new generation of superstar entertainers. And the memorabilia from movies stays, a perfect fit to “Dine Amongst the Stars.”

A new outdoor terrace and outdoor bar space called Stargazers will feature live entertainment while music in the main dining room will include a DJ. Favorites remain on the menu, but look for new tastes too, and a trendy beverage menu – everything from milkshakes and smoothies to wines, bottled and draft beers and cocktails.

Check back for more details!

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Where’s My Dole Whip? Foodie Favorites Juggled in Magic Kingdom Park at Walt Disney World Resort

posted on March 12th, 2015 by Pam Brandon, Disney Parks Food Writer


Never fear, the Dole Whip is still here. Starting March 12, the menus and names of Aloha Isle and Sunshine Tree Terrace are swapping – Aloha Isle (same menu) will shift to Sunshine Tree Terrace behind The Magic Carpets of Aladdin, while Sunshine Tree Terrace goes to the Aloha Isle spot across from Swiss Family Treehouse. Aloha Isle still has the Dole Whip Float, Dole Whip Cup and Dole Whip Twist Cup. (And the fresh-cut pineapple!) And Sunshine Tree Terrace will keep its Citrus Swirl, soft-serve vanilla ice cream, piña colada slush and other drinks. Fans of the Orange Bird don’t need to worry – he will be settling into his new home in a few weeks.

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Turkey leg fans need to know their favorite snack is leaving Frontierland and Liberty Square – but look for the legs in Tomorrowland at the Cool Ship starting on March 25.

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New Spring Menu Begins Today at Jolly Holiday Bakery Café in Disneyland Park

posted on March 11th, 2015 by Pam Brandon, Disney Parks Food Writer


New Spring Menu at Jolly holiday Bakery Cafe at Disneyland Park

Spring isn’t official until March 20, but the charming Jolly Holiday Bakery Café in Disneyland park gets a jump on the season with its new spring menu starting today.

The winds are changing and bringing in a new selection of sandwiches, including a cold roast beef and bleu cheese served on a crispy French baguette or a toasted ham & Swiss cheese sandwich with apple chutney. Returning for the season is our famous tuna salad sandwich on a brioche bun, which will for sure delight your palate. The light yet hearty chicken noodle soup debuts alongside the classic tomato basil soup, and a savory sun-dried tomato Caesar salad top the offerings of the list. (All served after 10:30 a.m.)

New Carrot Cake at Jolly Holiday Bakery Café in Disneyland Park New Creme Brulee at Jolly Holiday Bakery Café in Disneyland Park
New Rainbow Whoopie Pie at Jolly Holiday Bakery Café in Disneyland Park New Macaroons at Jolly Holiday Bakery Café in Disneyland Park New Strawberry Bundt Cake at Jolly Holiday Bakery Café in Disneyland Park

To appease your sweet tooth, new seasonal pastries have debuted, including a moist carrot cupcake that is scrumptious with a cup of coffee or tea. Seasonal spring berries are the theme for the season, inspiring our raspberry crème brulee and strawberry shortcake bundt cake. Our seasonal muffin is made with plump raspberries and a zest of lemon. The pistachio Mickey Macaron is a colorful addition to accompany our signature raspberry rose Mickey Macaron. If you’re looking for chocolate, you can indulge with a white chocolate mousse whoopee pie or our signature brownie.

New Coffee Eclairs at Jolly Holiday Bakery Café in Disneyland Park New Opera Cake at Jolly Holiday Bakery Café in Disneyland Park New Key Lime Cheesecake at Jolly Holiday Bakery Café in Disneyland Park

Our top picks: the coconut lime cheesecake, a coffee éclair or the elegant opera cake, made with layers of almond sponge cake soaked in coffee syrup, layered with ganache and coffee buttercream and covered in chocolate glaze. Sip a cappuccino and all is right with the world – whether you live on Cherry Tree Lane or Main Street, U.S.A.

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New Tastes ‘Hit It Out of the Ballpark’ for Braves Spring Training at Walt Disney World Resort

posted on March 3rd, 2015 by Pam Brandon, Disney Parks Food Writer


The Atlanta Braves return March 4 for spring training at Champion Stadium at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World Resort – a fun outing in an old-fashioned stadium with throwback architecture to the golden era of baseball in the 1960s.

And what’s a baseball game without a hot dog (and a cold brew?). This season the ESPN chefs have their own triple play with three new tastes on the menu.

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If it’s not a baseball game without a hot dog, try the new Fiesta Dog, a foot-long, all-beef hot dog smothered in nacho cheese, chili, shredded cheddar, lettuce, tomato and garnished with nacho chips.

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If you have a hard time deciding, the Double Header kicks it up the hot dog idea with two takes: a mini-bratwurst and a mini-smoked sausage – sauerkraut on one, peppers and onions on the other, house-made kettle chips on the side.

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And the new Triple Play is a hefty 2 pounds – you might want to share this one, with shredded pork, ham and beef, topped with peppers and onions, shredded Cheddar and potato strings.

Here’s the challenge: these new menu items are only available during Braves Spring Training dates – but each one is worth the indulgence. And on the Disney Dining Plan.

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Victoria & Albert’s Chef Scott Hunnel Nominated for 2015 James Beard Award

posted on February 26th, 2015 by Pam Brandon, Disney Parks Food Writer


Congrats to Chef Scott Hunnel, a semi-finalist for the prestigious Best Chef award for the South Region by the James Beard Foundation. Chef Hunnel leads the team at Victoria & Albert’s at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa (already a AAA Five-Diamond winner).

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He’s among 20 chefs from Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Puerto Rico nominated for the honor. The final ballot will be announced on March 24, with chefs chosen by regional judges. Winners will be announced in Chicago on May 4.

With only 53 coveted seats in the dining room, plus the opulent (and even smaller) Queen Victoria’s Room and private Chef’s Table in the kitchen, Chef Scott sources the freshest seasonal ingredients from around the globe in a menu that changes daily.

Good luck, Chef Scott!

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New Tastes on Menu at Raglan Road Just in Time for St. Paddy’s

posted on February 23rd, 2015 by Pam Brandon, Disney Parks Food Writer


Hard to believe it’s been nearly 10 years since Raglan Road Irish Pub & Restaurant opened its doors at Downtown Disney, and the food just keeps getting better. Under the creative eye of Irish Master Chef Kevin Dundon, the kitchen with Chef Heberto Segura continues to shine a spotlight on the very best of Irish food and drink with a focus on seasonal ingredients.

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The spring menu debuts just in time for the Mighty St. Patrick’s Festival March 13-17 (for more info about live music, Irish dance, face painting and other activities, go to www.raglanroad.com).

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We got a taste of the new dishes and craft cocktails, starting with the Rollicking Raglan Weekend Brunch (10 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays). Each brunch starts with a complimentary sip of Suave Smoothie, a new seasonal drink with fresh fruit and honey yogurt. Heartier is the Pork Hash Tagged, a generous plate of potato hash with bits of crispy braised pork belly topped with fried eggs and a dollop of shallot puree. Heartiest is Ellis Isle Steak ‘n Eggs, featuring a grilled New York strip steak, roast potatoes and poached eggs that are fried and battered for a whole new taste sensation. If you prefer light, go for the Smoked Salmon Potato Cakes with beautiful smoked salmon atop thin potato cakes (made with mashed potatoes) with crème fraiche and a drizzle of caper dill vinaigrette. A beautiful Irish farmhouse cheese platter rounds out the brunch additions.

Three new items join the lunch and dinner menus. Cod Cornucopia stars perfectly pan-roasted cod with crispy skin atop warm potato salad and a drizzle of chorizo vinaigrette. (Fish is flown in three times a week from Boston, according to Chef Heberto.) Proud Pork is a generous grilled chop with traditional colcannon potato mash with cabbage, buttermilk and onion. The cider port jus took the chops over the top. The table favorite was the Double Joint, a cowboy cut rib-eye steak served with duck fat fries, roast veggies and a lightly dressed salad. Add béarnaise or red wine jus, both served on the side.

New cocktails compete with popular Irish beers and whiskies, all made with cold-pressed organic juices for delightful sipping: grapefruit gin and tonic; Strawberry Fields with Prosecco and vodka (brunch only); Ginger Mojito; Smoking Margarita with tequila and Irish whiskey are just a few gems.

Raglan Road is a true slice of Ireland in a lovely setting with antique bars and Irish antiques, and live Irish music nightly. For reservations, call 407-938-0300.

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Snazzy New Beverages, New Chef Demos Brighten Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival March 4 – May 17

posted on February 20th, 2015 by Pam Brandon, Disney Parks Food Writer


We promised a peek at the new beverages for this year’s Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival, fruit-based sips like Key Lime sparkling wine from Florida Orange Groves at Florida Fresh Outdoor Kitchen and Ace Pineapple Hard Cider and sparkling pineapple wine at Pineapple Promenade.

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Among new craft cocktails, we can’t wait to taste: La Tizana cocktail at Botanas Botánico and the Urban Mary at Urban Farm Eats.

“La Tizana is a Venezuelan-influenced fruit punch made with orange juice, lime juice, banana puree, grenadine and garnished with a tropical fruit medley of diced pineapple, mango, strawberries and oranges,” explains Marianne Hunnel, content development manager and beverage expert extraordinaire. For an adult version, you can add a splash of RHUM Orange liqueur from Santa Teresa, Venezuela.

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“The Urban Mary is a tomato beverage made with spicy tomato juice, lime juice and Worcestershire sauce, garnished with a pickled green bean and micro greens,” Hunnel continues. Adding a shot of vodka is an option.
Craft beer is back in a big way, with new additions like Maple Bacon Stout, being brewed right now at Shipyard Brewing Company in Clearwater, Fla., to be released on opening day of the festival. Try it in a flight at The Smokehouse: Barbecue and Brews.

And one of the most whimsical takes on grown-up tastes is the new “Ice Pop” at Fleur De Lys in France, flavored with peach iced tea mixed with Grand Marnier Peach Raspberry (a limited-release spirit) and a splash of vodka. “It’s frozen, but not solid, so it just melts in your mouth – refreshing!” says Eric Weistroffer, general manager of Chefs de France.

New this year are free cooking demonstrations at 3 p.m. every Friday, Saturday and Sunday through May 17 at Port of Entry at the entrance to World Showcase. If you’re there for the weekend, plan a short stop. The demos are just about 15 minutes, and it’s your chance to meet a Disney chef and watch how to prepare a delicious dish. Just some festival items to be featured at the demos will be the Piggylicious Bacon Cupcake, the ghost pepper-dusted tilapia, and white corn arepas. You can also pick up a copy of the Taste of Epcot festival cookbook with plenty of recipes to try at home.

For more information, call 407/W-DISNEY (934-7639) or go to epcotinspring.com. Admission to the festival, running March 4-May 17, includes all gardening programs and exhibits.

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Food Vies with Flowers at Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival

posted on February 17th, 2015 by Pam Brandon, Disney Parks Food Writer


For some of us, the Outdoor Kitchens are our first destination at the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival, 75 days to munch and learn from March 4-May 17.

American Barbecue Adventure at Epcot Garden Fest

It’s the third year for the Outdoor Kitchens around World Showcase Lagoon, and the garden- and spring-inspired tapas-sized food and beverages just get more and more interesting. The new Botanas Botánico Outdoor Kitchen between France and Morocco pavilions will showcase treats like Cachapas with Farmer’s Cheese, a sweet yellow corn pancake, and Seafood Ceviche with shrimp, scallops and grouper with mango and avocado.

Shrimp and Stone-Ground Grits at the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival Frushi at Hanami at the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival

“It’s so much fun coming up with creative new flavors to wow our guests,” says Chef Gregg Hannon, Epcot executive chef. He mentions Beef Brisket Burnt Ends Hash with White Cheddar Fondue and Pickled Jalapeños at The Smokehouse: Barbecue and Brews Outdoor Kitchen, and the Quinoa Vegetable Naanwich with arugula pesto and oven-dried tomatoes at Urban Farm Eats.

Berry Tea Cocktail at Pineapple Promenade at the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival Beijing Candied Strawberries at Lotus House at the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival

Especially appealing are flavors inspired by fruits and veggies, like the Frozen Desert Violet Lemonade, Sparkling Pineapple Wine and Berry Tea Cocktail at Pineapple Promenade; the Macaron Guimauve à la Fraise (strawberry marshmallow macaron) at the Fleur De Lys; the vegetarian Falafel with Cucumber Tomato Salad and Tahini at Taste of Marrakesh; Frushi (fresh pineapple, strawberry and melon rolled with raspberry coconut rice, sprinkled with toasted coconut and whipped cream) at Hanami; Limoncello Panna Cotta (gluten free and vegetarian) at Primavera Kitchen; Watermelon Salad with Pickled Onions, Baby Arugula and Feta Cheese and the Florida Blueberry and Lemon Curd Tart (vegetarian) at Florida Fresh; Beijing Candied Strawberries at Lotus House; and Kale Salad with Dried Cherries, Almonds and Goat Cheese (gluten free and vegetarian) at Urban Farm Eats.

Hungry yet? Protein fans will love everything from Confit de Canard (pulled duck confit) at Fleur De Lys to a spicy hot dog with pineapple chutney and sriracha mayo at Pineapple Promenade. There’s Harissa Chicken at Taste of Marrakesh and a Pulled Pig Slider at The Smokehouse: Barbecue and Brews. Florida Fresh will serve up hearty Shrimp and Stone-Ground Grits with Andouille Sausage and Jardin de Fiestas has tacos with achiote marinated pork.

Look for our next post on all the fun beverages!

For more information, call 407/W-DISNEY (934-7639) or go to epcotinspring.com. The festival, including all gardening programs and exhibits, is included in regular Epcot admission.

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Happy Lunar New Year! Celebrate With Good Eats at Disney California Adventure Park, February 19-22

posted on February 17th, 2015 by Pam Brandon, Disney Parks Food Writer


Thursday, February 19, is officially Lunar New Year, the turn of the Chinese calendar. At Disney California Adventure park, celebrate with these little tastes of Asian goodies during the Happy Lunar New Year Celebration!

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At Bayside Brews, you can sip a cold Tsing Tao Beer and bite into a soft, pillowy steamed bao filled with pork, served with sweet chili sauce. These steamed buns, considered grab ‘n go street food in China, are a perfect snack for strolling the park. If you prefer dessert, try a ginger milk tea with almond cookies.

The pork bao and almond cookies also will be available on the Lunar New Year food cart, along with the popular Boudin Bakery sourdough bread (this one baked with a wood ram insignia – it’s the “Year of the Sheep”), so take home a loaf for your own celebration.

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