I've been a Walt Disney World seasonal pass holder for the past few years. The main reason that I have the pass? To gain access to the annual International Food & Wine Festival at EPCOT – an event that takes over the park for a little over two months in the late summer into fall.
I really like to eat and drink around Disney. It's a hobby. Can that be a hobby? Let's just call it one. Okay?
The Food & Wine Festival is a culinary exploration for wine lovers and foodies alike. Kiosks are set-up all around EPCOT's World Showcase featuring food, wine, and drinks from countries, regions and even continents around the globe. A special ticket is not needed to explore the international “pop-up restaurants” stationed around the park. Also, you can track your worldly eats and drinks in a handy-dandy passport as seen below (passports are available at the front of the park or at the kiosks themselves).
Disney does offer a series of special events throughout the Festival for purchase (you still need a park ticket to attend). I participated in a couple in 2017 – a “How to Make (and drink) a Moscow Mule” class and a short rib cooking demonstration. I enjoyed both sessions so much that I kept my eye out for the 2018 event schedule. First up? A seminar pairing French cheese and wine. Ooh, la la!
The Cheese Seminar was held in the Festival Center. Each guest had an assigned table, so the seating process was streamlined – no Fast Pass needed. Somehow Jared and I had a table of six all to ourselves. The tickets were $89 a piece. So there was nearly $360 in wasted wine and cheese on our table. We didn't touch it, but I watched a lady from the next table over nab one of the glasses of red. Ballsy dame, that one.
We were provided two glasses of wine to pair with the cheese. A Sancerre (one of my favorite types of white wine EVER) by Saget Dome Perriere and a Legende Bordeaux Rouge by Domaines Baron de Rothschild. An expert overviewed where the wines were from and what we could expect when sniffing and sipping the adult grape juice.
The host of the seminar explained that we were all provided with a Rating sheet to note our thoughts of each cheese and how they paired with the red and the white wine. This was the perfect takeaway from the Seminar. I have a sense of how I feel about each cheese and whether or not I liked it with the red and/or white wine. I couldn't help but add in hearts for the cheeses that I wanted to make “Facebook Official.”
Let's get cheesy with it, shall we?
The pairing portion of the seminar was led by local cheese expert – Tonda Corrente of La Femme du Fromage. The cheese to kick it off was a Valençay – an ash-ripened goat cheese. Tonda noted that we would get a scent of “goat farm” from it. She was right! I actually said, “I'm eating a goat farm!! And I LIKE it!!” I never expected those two sentences to come out of my mouth. Yay for Valençay!
The next cheese we paired was Petit Agour – a sheep's milk cheese that had a semi-soft texture. Have you ever had the corners of your mouth curl into a smile as soon as you take a bite of something for the first time? That's what happened to me with the Petit Agour. Smooth and salty…it was love at first cheesy bite. However, the wine pairings didn't wow me with it (and that was a-okay with me).
The Tête-de-Moine is a cow's milk cheese that had a case of the “stinky funks.” And the funk of the cheese worked oh so well with both wines. The notes I took for this particular cheese are minimal. I wouldn't call my feelings a “meh,” but I don't foresee buying it for my charcuterie board pleasure anytime soon.
The last cheese of the seminar was by far my absolute favorite of the day. It was another sheep's milk cheese – a Roquefort. Sheep's milk has a higher fat content, so the cheese lingers on your palate a little longer. The Roquefort was creamy and salty with the perfect bitter background. Finishing the last bit of each wine with it was divinity.
Do “I Heart Sheep's Milk Cheese” bumper stickers exist?
I'm a gigantic/HUGE/ginormous fan of “Adulting at Disney”! The wine and cheese seminar was a great way to “adult.” I am looking forward to my upcoming cooking demonstration and brunch at the Festival for more of adulting pleasure.
Have you ever gone to the EPCOT Food & Wine Festival? If so, what do you love (or even like) about it?
Work Hard. Play Hard. Drink Chard.
P.S. I can't wait to head to La Femme du Fromage soon. Tonda has a Grilled Cheese Happy Hour every Friday night. Sign. Me. Up.