#ArtfulEpcot: Mexico’s El Artista Hambriento at Epcot’s International Festival of the Arts

Last weekend I hit Epcot for some train watching and Photopass fun with the kids…

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…so of course I had to knock out another booth while we were there. And that booth was Mexico.

Epcot International Festival of the Arts Mexico Booth El Artista Hambriento

Throughout Epcot’s various festivals, Mexico has always been a favorite of mine. Did it measure up again this time? Welllll……

  • Mixiote de Cordero: Wrapped slow-braised lamb, marinated in tres chiles paste and spices ($8.95)

Once when I lived in Manhattan my roommate saw a guy chasing another guy through Union Square with a brown paper bag. He threw the brown paper bag and it exploded against the street and had been full of…..

Oh never mind.

I don’t even know why the bag of poop story popped into my mind just now.

Seriously though. You have to giggle at this one a little. As far as the taste goes? I mean – I guess it’s pretty good meat? If you’re paleo or keto or otherwise craving a bag of slow cooked protein, this works. Otherwise it’s just a bag of meat. A pretty good, $9 bag of meat. So moving on…

  • Tacos de Puerco: Two corn tortillas with slow-roasted pork shoulder, marinated in ancho paste and served with sweet plantain puree garnished with pea tendrils ($9.95)

Epcot International Festival of the Arts Mexico Booth El Artista Hambriento Tacos de Puerco 1

These weren’t bad. I wish I had more to say about them. The description sounds AMAZING on paper. They had a nice little kick and there was a barely there, wanted to taste it more bit of sweetness from the plantains. I didn’t love them as much as, say, the shrimp tacos that Mexico has featured at other festivals, though. The sauce was more heat than taste and my American palette tends to want a little crunch with my food. And honestly, the price trend continues – because $10 is a lot for what’s on this plate.

  • Atole de Fresa and Mexican Concha Bread: Warm strawberry drink served with Mexican concha bread ($3.95)

Epcot International Festival of the Arts Mexico Booth El Artista Hambriento Concha Bread

So…um….my picky 7 year old loved this? I wasn’t thrilled. It was basically a slightly sweet, pretty dry roll and a cup of warm strawberry yogurt. The yellow on top was pretty nondescript. Like it had a little texture but wasn’t sweet enough to be noticeable on the taste front. At least the strawberry “drink” dip cut the dryness? Otherwise…nope. Don’t waste your calories here.

  • Frida Guava Margarita ($13.75)

Epcot International Festival of the Arts Mexico Booth El Artista Hambriento Frida Guava Margarita

Holy freaking expensive drink. Was it tasty? Yes. It was delicious. But the $14 price tag is borderline offensive for this thing. I’m not even convinced there was alcohol in it. If you want a sweet, tasty drink and couldn’t care less how much you spend on it, have at it. Otherwise, there are probably better places to blow $14.

#ArtfulEpcot: Morocco’s Mosaic Canteen at Epcot’s International Festival of the Arts

I wasn’t wasting any time on my first trip to Epcot’s 2nd International Festival of the Arts last week. I have, however, wasted too much time in getting around to writing up the second country that I sampled that day. So without further ado, today, I give you Morocco.

Like Japan’s offerings, I love how these dishes jump off the plate onto the camera. If Artful Epcot’s food items are nothing else, they are lovely.

  • Spiced Beef…or Hummus Trifle: Layered hummus topped with spiced beef, pine nuts, and dry cherries served with pita chips ($9)

It’s a little laughable that this is listed as “Spiced Beef” on the menu board. It’s name in the Festival Passport, “Hummus Trifle”, makes so much more sense – since it’s the hummus that dominates here. This thing looks SO good on paper. It’s hard to go wrong with beef, dried cherries, pine nuts, and hummus. And don’t get me wrong. It’s fine. But this is essentially a huge cup of hummus with a few chips and some so so meat crumbles, pine nuts, and cherries on top. It wasn’t bad. If you’re craving hummus it’ll hit the spot. (And bring extra chips because they give you more hummus than you can possibly scoop up with the 10 or so chips that they give you.) But generally I think you can do better than this at Epcot right now. And for $9 you can definitely do better.

  • Mediterranean Flat Bread with Za’atar, Olive Oil Artichokes, Olives, Mozzarella an Feta Cheese ($8)

Artful Epcot Epcot International Festival of the Arts Morocco Mediterranean Flat Bread

Isn’t this lovely? It pops on your tongue just as beautifully as it pops off the screen. The flavors are fresh and simple. The za’atar (a middle eastern spice mixture) is fresh and bold, the cheeses aren’t overpowering, and I’d take a good artichoke as a boyfriend any day. Don’t get me wrong. Nothing about this is going to turn your culinary world upside down. It’s simple and fresh and just good. And it’s huge!! For $8, it’s a solid lunch any day of the week. Two enthusiastic thumbs up. Fine holiday fun. 😉

  • Chebbakia: Hand-twisted strips of fried dough coated with honey, rosewater, and sesame seeds ($7)

Artful Epcot Epcot International Festival of the Arts Morocco Chebbakia

If you like a classic middle eastern dessert or have a sweet tooth that you need to punch in the face, this will be your jam. I wanted to taste more rosewater. (I always want to taste more rosewater.) But this was chewy and sweet and sticky and sated my often insatiable sweet tooth. The sesame here (unlike the sesame in Japan’s taiyaki) was not overpowering, but just added a bit of interest to the overall taste. For $7, this wasn’t the cheapest dessert, but it was certainly rich and big enough to serve two people. I think you should go get some.

 

#ArtfulEpcot: Japan’s Takumi Table at Epcot International Festival of the Arts

We kicked off Artful Epcot and the second annual Epcot International Festival of the Arts this past Friday, January 12th, and I came in swingin’ with my passport in hand while the kids were in school.

Epcot International Festival of the Arts Festival Passport

Where did I start, you ask?

In Japan, of course.

The sooner you eat somewhere for the first time, the sooner and more often you can eat there again. Because science.

Takumi means “artisan” in Japanese. There are only two food items at Takumi Table this year – one savory and one sweet.

 

Before we even dig into the details of these items, I’m going to stop and comment on how BEAUTIFUL everything offered at Festival of the Arts is this year. If Food & Wine blogging is a never ending battle with dishes that won’t pose for the camera, Festival of the Arts is a veritable runway show of edible little supermodels. And true to Japan’s always impressive attention to detail, they’ve again chosen to plate their foods on and in dishes that teeter on the edge of disposable and almost make you want to wash them and tuck them into your purse to reuse at home.

But let’s stop talking and start eating…

  • Chirashi Sushi and Haupia Pearl: Salmon, Tuna, and Yuzu Miso with Coconut Tapioca Pudding ($7.50)

Chirashi Sushi and Haupia Pearl Epcot International Festival of the Arts Artful Epcot

I’m not moaning. You’re moaning.

Oh you’re not? Okay. Maybe it’s me after all. The worst thing about sitting here writing this review is having to look at this without eating it (again).

Chirashi is happy, lazy sushi. Because instead of being a tidy little roll, it’s just a big ol’ pile of the same delicious ingredients. But in usual form, Artful Epcot has found a way to make even chirashi as beautiful as it is delicious. The rice is perfect. The seaweed salad is crisp and chewy and not fishy at all. The mound of salmon and tuna on top is fresh and soft and perfect. And it all sits on slices of orange that add a citrus-y pop to the whole thing.

And then. You guys. When it’s over and you’ve licked that side of the plate clean?? There’s this lovely little shot of sweet coconut milk and tapioca and fresh fruit that is so refreshing and good that its only fault is not being huge.

I cannot wait to eat this again. I want to write poetry about it and have it for lunch every day until February 19th.

But onward…

  • Taiyaki Dessert: Japanese Stuffed Pastry, Sweet Red Bean Filling, Sesame Cream, and Raspberry Sauce ($4.50)

Taiyaki is a lovely little fish shaped cake typically filled (as here) with sweetened adzuki bean paste. It is thought to have originated in Tokyo during the Meiji era (1868-1912), but now you can find it all over Japan.

Like most taiyaki, Artful Epcot’s version was almost too pretty to eat. But unique to most taiyaki, it was bedded next to an unattractive pile of too much sweet sesame paste and whipped cream. It was warm and sweet and teetered on the edge of delicious so closely that it broke my heart.

I love me some adzuki bean paste. Not overly sweet but soft and mild, it’s wonderful nestled inside some warm dough.

Taiyaki Dessert 3 Epcot International Festival of the Arts Artful Epcot

So why was it leaning up against a pile of whipped cream that appeared to have come out of a can?? WHY??? And why was it sitting in an ugly pile of sesame “cream” that wanted to put hair on my chest when I tried (admittedly, with my tongue) to clean it off the fish??

Listen. Give this a try. The cake itself is warm, soft, mildly sweet perfection. I plan to go back and get it again – just asking them to hold the whipped cream nonsense and put the sesame cream on the side so that I can control how much (or how little) touches my fish. And in rare form, I’ll bring a friend – because this thing is RICH. Try it. But don’t be surprised if when you’re done eating you’re cleaning the sesame out of your teeth and still looking at something like this…

Taiyaki Dessert 4 Epcot International Festival of the Arts Artful Epcot

I’m sorry little fish tail. I couldn’t handle you.

This booth had two food offerings and I just wrote a full on book about them. I hope the ones to come make me want to prattle on less because momma doesn’t have time to write a novella about all 19 booths…..

In the meantime, one passport sticker earned. Lots to go-

Takumi Table Japan Pavilion Epcot International Food and Wine Festival Artful Epcot

Have YOU had the chance to visit #ArtfulEpcot yet? If so, what did you eat?? If not, what’s on your short list for when you get there??

#ArtfulEpcot – Epcot International Festival of the Arts

Epcot International Festival of the Arts

It’s a new year and we’re kicking off another grand Epcot festival!! Epcot’s inaugural Festival of the Arts was just last year and this year we’re getting it back and bigger. It runs from January 12th through February 19th and includes a wealth of unique musical, visual, and, of course, culinary bliss. Festival goers can also see Disney on Broadway events every weekend and take in a long list of seminars, food studios, and other artists. You can even have your hand in a little bit of interactive art of your own….

Epcot International Festival of the Arts Artful Epcot Mosaic Painting

Luck as it was, the kids are (omg finally) back in school after the holidays and I’m more or less walking again after completing my first Dopey Challenge last weekend (recap to come), so I was able to run over to Epcot during the festival’s opening day to wander World Showcase and scratch the surface of its food offerings.

Epcot International Festival of the Arts Festival Passport

SO. FREAKING. EXCITED.

(Ignore the nails……I’ve been a little busy……)

Bottom line – I don’t care if it’s because Disney is aiming to bring in guests in its “off season” (bwahahaha…off season…right) or because they’re too tired to move the Food & Wine food booths and are just thinking of ways to repurpose them year ’round instead. There’s a lot to eat, you guys. This little passport lists 19 booths full of new food and drink. And I’m ready to dig in and start earning my completion stickers.

 

 

Happy New Year, My Friends

The following is nothing more than a repost of my off-the-cuff thoughts leading into 2018 elsewhere on social media – for no other reason than that they are a part of the over story that I am gathering here….

Image may contain: 19 people, people smiling, child and outdoor

 

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t exhausted and overwhelmed by the idea of putting together a recap/New Year’s message this New Year’s Eve. I’m used to tongue and cheek telling years not to let the door hit them in the ass on the way out. That wasn’t me being negative so much as just having honest reactions to a chain of truly difficult times. To say that 2017 was different would be a vast overstatement and a disservice to the last 365 days, myself, and everyone else on this wild ride with us.

2017 was the year of diving into life head first. Whether it was selling our beautiful home in Maryland, packing up, and relocating to the land of Disney locals. Or the very start of my little Etsy shop. Or letting myself just write again with the birth of the new blog. Or the growth of a wonderful community. Or registering for Dopey. Or, or, or….. It was the year of learning as we go and not knowing until we tried. It was the year of not fearlessness – but of facing fear head on and walking forward anyway. It was a year of growth and change and gratitude – all in the light of the acute knowledge of how short life is.

I’m not big on resolutions. I tackle goals every day and tomorrow won’t be any different. I have no weight I feel the need to lose in the new year. No languages I feel the need to learn. I’m good with how much I exercise and how well (or not) I eat. If 2017 was the year of not being afraid to go in dirty and learn as I went, 2018 will be the year of settling in. Of finessing these big changes. And, hell, who am I kidding, of picking a list of new things to jump into boldly and blindly.

New Year’s is one of those rare holidays that we don’t have to preface with “if you celebrate”. So celebrate – all of you. Be safe and stay warm and good luck opening the door to this new year and all of its possibilities. Looking through the 1000s of pictures I have from this last year, if anything was wildly apparent it was just how surrounded we are by wonderful people who love us.

Love each of you back and more and am so grateful to share this planet with you. Live big and live good.