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.
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)
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.
- 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.
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…
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-
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??