Culinary Demo: Peng Looi – August Moon
Taste, Shake & Indulge Grand Marnier seminar at Le Bistro
It is raining. It is windy. Our shoes are soaked – soaked to the point that our feet go squish squish squish with every wet step we take. We’re in Florida (Lake Buena Vista, to be exact), so rain is not an aberration. But to us Wanderlushes, we always expect glorious, “wish you were here” postcard, chamber of commerce weather – and certainly not during the weekend of the EPCOT Food & Wine Festival, one of the Grand Slam events in the Wanderlush events tour. But let’s back up for just a moment.
Walt Disney World Dolphin
Our situation couldn’t have been any better upon arriving Friday afternoon. We checked into our hotel, The Dolphin (located steps away from Disney’s Boardwalk), got settled and headed over to the park to taste some incredible food samples from around the world (the fisherman’s stew from Ireland paired with Guinness Stout was Erin Go Brav-OH Yeah!). On a side note: If you’ve ever spent a weekend experiencing the EPCOT Food & Wine Festival, you know things move at a frenetic pace. So, unlike past years where we exhausted ourselves trying to cram too much EPCOT-ness into a short period of time, we decided one seminar per day on Friday and Saturday was sufficient. In retrospect, this was a wise decision.
Salad of Arugula & Espresso Infused Lamb Loin
Peng Looi Demo
Our first and only seminar on Friday was a culinary demonstration by Asian cuisine chef Peng Looi, who owns several restaurants in the Mid-South, most notably the critically acclaimed August Moon, located in Louisville, Kentucky. Chef Looi prepared a delicious salad of baby arugula and espresso infused lamb loin hat was out of this world. The lamb was seared to perfection; the pineapple chutney provided a bit of heat, yet was balanced out nicely by the truffled pickled ginger vinagrette tossed with the arugula. Because fine cuisine is meant to be paired with a great wine, a representative from Chateau Ste. Michele Winery was on hand to give us a brief introduction of the Eroica Riesling, which paired tremendously with Chef Looi’s amazing appetizer.
A breakdown of Friday night, after the seminar: walk, eat, drink, ride Soarin’ (love that ride), eat some more, drink some more; stop, contemplate, ask each other if we’re too full, head back to the hotel, stop at Big River Brewing Company to share an appetizer of crab and cheese dip paired with buttery sliced bread (that we probably didn’t need) and a couple of craft beers; pay the bill, return to our room to freshen up; head over the Kimonos at the Swan Hotel, drink more wine we don’t need, listen to drunk people sing karaoke (a few could actually sing), call it a night, then make our way back to the hotel room and crash.
Grilled Lamb Chop from Australia
Saturday was a complete rainout. A large, rainy system passed over the entire state of Florida and didn’t stop the entire day. We grabbed our umbrellas and ventured out late in the morning. It was downright nasty out (a little Seattle or San Francisco paired with London, in terms of rain), but the heartiest of souls don’t let a little bit of rain and wind deter them from enjoying their vacation, and neither would we. We slogged our way to the park and enjoyed more great food and wine/beer samples meandering through the world showcase, though enjoying it took a little more effort as we clutched our umbrellas throughout the day.
Grand Marnier Tasting
At 2:30 Saturday we headed over to Le Bistro Restaurant in France to attend the Taste, Shake & Indulge Grand Marnier tasting. I am not a huge Grand Marnier drinker, but being the curious Wanderlush that I am, I was looking forward to the event. Once seated, our hostess gave us a brief but fascinating history lesson about this world-renowned liqueur. Then it was time to taste. The first was the Grand Marnier Cordon Rouge (red ribbon), which is easily the most recognizable liqueur in the Grand Marnier family. Besides the strong alcohol notes, the tangerine peel and vanilla are unmistakable in the Cordon Rouge. Next was the 100, a more limited release version of Grand Marnier most people have never tried because of its higher price tag. The 100 was remarkably smooth, with less of an alcoholic taste and more citrus on the nose and palate.
Making Crepes Suzette
The third and final Grand Marnier, le piece de resistance, was the 150. This is Grand Marnier’s premier liqueur. It is made with up to 50 year old cognacs and is unquestionably the smoothest of the three with rounded spices. Throw out the recipe book – you drink the 150 neat, preferably at room temperature, in a large snifter, sitting comfortably by a roaring fire as you read Voltaire or Sartre (cigar and smoking jacket optional). After the tasting, waiters prepared crepes tableside. I have never seen crepes prepared in this manner, though we were all somewhat baffled when waiters emerged from the kitchen with plates of freshly prepared crepes. Huh? Oh well, Garcon’s flaming crepe display was entertaining, so we fully understood preparing them this way for the sake of timing.
The Final Product
All in all, this year’s EPCOT Food & Wine Festival was enjoyable. Wet, but enjoyable. Kim and I enjoy the event every year, rain or shine – though we hope for more shine than rain. Cheers!