By Guest Blogger Liliane Opsomer, co-author of the “Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World with Kids”
Being born in Europe, I believe it is every parent’s, or grandparent’s, duty to take the children, or grandchildren, on a tasting tour around the world. The 29 booths that circle the World Showcase Lagoon offer a great opportunity to do just that. Consider it training for the real thing!
I started with the new kid on the block, Terra, the first completely vegan marketplace. Kids will love the Trick’n Chick’n Curry with basmati rice and the Chili Colorado, with House made Chips & Cashew Cheese. Another newcomer is the Florida local booth, serving fabulous Shrimp Ceviche with Spicy Vegetables among other yummy dishes such as White Corn Arepa with Mangalitsa Pork Rillettes.
The offerings at the Belgian booth were fabulous. How does Steamed Mussels in Hoegaarden Beer Broth and Waffle with Berry Compote and Whipped Cream sound to you? I do not know any child that would turn down waffles, as for the mussels it is never too late to try something new.
Destined to be big hits with your kids are the Kalua Pork Slider with Sweet and Sour Dole Pineapple Chutney and Spicy Mayonnaise (Hawaii booth), the Beef Empanadas (Argentina booth) and the roasted Bratwurst in a Pretzel (Germany booth).
My personal favorites were the “Le Cellier” Wild Mushroom Beef Filet Mignon with Truffle Butter Sauce (Canada booth) and Seared Sea Scallop with Kumara – Red Curry Puree and Apple Radish Salad (New Zealand booth).
We have not talked much about dessert yet, but without a doubt there is no meal without sweets. If you want to stay on the healthy side of things, check out the Ocean Spray “Discover the Cranberry Bog” display at Future World; not only will you learn how cranberries are harvested, but there are free Craisins for the kids.
The Bean to the Bar Chocolate Experience by Ghirardelli is another way to get your fill of sweets. Free chocolate samples are distributed, and an inexpensive cup of chocolate is certain to please. I liked the chocolate sculptures on display, but overall I think that a lot more could be done to showcase the wonder that is chocolate. My favorite desert was the Apple Strudel at the Germany booth.
This year’s festival, which started in September, runs through November 12. In addition to the International Food Booths and displays, the event offers many special programs such as Signature Diners, Mixology Sessions, Culinary Demonstrations, Cheese Seminars and much more. These programs cost extra and you better make advance reservations to secure your spot. If you enjoy cooking together, the Festival Center offers culinary demonstrations, which cost $11 to $ 14 per person. I signed up for a cooking demonstration by Chef Matt Gennuso from Chez Pascal of Providence, Rhode Island. The Smoked Duck Breast Ham with Celery Root and Apple Remoulade and Grainy Mustard Dijonnaise was fabulous. The price tag was $11 and included a glass of Paul Dolan Vineyards Pinot Noir and the recipe for the dish.
Always worried about running out of cell phone battery power, I loved the Chase Lounge — where anybody with a Chase debit or credit card can enter and receive complimentary drinks and charge all electronic devices for free. In addition, if you visit early enough, you receive a wristband that entitles you to a special viewing area of the Eat to the Beat concerts and Illuminations. That alone was worth my visit first thing in the morning.
Liliane Opsomer is the co-author of the Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World with Kids. Find her on Facebook.