Posts Tagged by chef cat cora

Friday Feast: Epcot Food & Wine Festival Culinary Demonstrations

I recently attended two amazing culinary demonstrations at the Epcot Food & Wine Festival.  This is my 4th year attending the festival and these demonstrations were something I had yet to do, so I made it a priority this year.  Given my love of cooking and how I’m always interested in trying new food, I knew these would be right up my alley.  The culinary demonstrations are relatively inexpensive ranging from $9 – 14 depending on the chef.  DVC Members and Annual Passholders are eligible for a $2 discount, so make sure to utilize that when booking.

I was lucky to be in Walt Disney World when two great chefs had demonstrations back to back, Cat Cora of Kouzzina and Iron Chef fame and Kevin Dundon from one of my favorite restaurants on property, Raglan Road.  Cat Cora was the first for the day and she drew a HUGE crowd.  Not only was the demonstrations area full, but there were a lot of people watching from the preview center.

Iron Chef Cat Cora and Kouzzina Chef Dee Foundoukis

We were seated and immediately given a glass of wine.  Wine?!  Score!  I didn’t know these demonstrations came with a wine pairing.  My $12 investment was now well worth the price.  There was also a menu listing what we would be eating that included a recipe so we could replicate it at home.  From the menu, I found that the wine was a Bloomfield Viognier from Bloomfield Vineyards, which was a nice crisp white.

There was a change to the menu that day and the feta mashed potatoes were being substituted with orzo.  The chefs walked us through the steps of making the dish and shared some techniques on how to prepared the items.  There was a camera set above the cooking station that was being shown on televisions around the room, so we could see just what they were doing….a really nice touch!  This was also when the audience got to ask questions and I was pleasantly surprised to see how fun and down to earth Cat Cora was.  She had a great time conversing with the audience.

Then the carts appeared!  We were about to taste these yummy smelling meatballs.  I’m not a huge fan of lamb, but these were DELICIOUS!!  They were much lighter than regular meatballs and the sauce had a little spice to it to add some additional flavor.  I’m glad that this was served with the orzo because I think that the feta mashed potatoes would’ve been too heavy.

This was a fun and entertaining demonstration and the food was a hit too!  Cat Cora is at the Food & Wine Festival every year and I would highly recommend checking this one out next year if you are in town during that time.

Later that afternoon, we saw Chef Kevin Dundon from Raglan Road in Downtown Disney.  I love this restaurant and it’s upscale pub fare, so I was most looking forward to this demonstration.  Chef Dundon did not disappoint!  He was incredibly funny and lively.  You can see that he is really passionate about cooking and also enjoyed talking with the audience.

On the menu was an updated version of the classic French dish, Coquilles St. Jacques, which is scallops in a heavy cream sauce with mashed potatoes.  Delicious, but rich!  Chef Dundon instead seared the scallops and made a lighter cream sauce infused with apples (YUM!!) and served this over mashed potatoes.  It was to die for…I really would’ve like 4 more of these little plates.

This dish was served with a nice, full bodied Chardonnay that brought out the apple flavor in the sauce.

A surprise bonus of this demonstration was dessert!  In sticking with the classic theme, Chef Dundon prepared Cherries Jubilee   This is always a show stopper because of the flambe aspect in the preparation   We were all instructed to oooh  and ahhh on cue.  This was a very good dessert, but the sauce was a little too sweet for me.

Overall, both of these demonstrations were well worth the nominal fee.  You get about 45 minutes of culinary entertainment, wine, a food tasting and maybe even dessert!  Not bad for $12, but remember that park admission is required.  I’m already looking forward to next year and who I will be able to see!!

Have you attended any of the culinary demonstrations at the Epcot Food & Wine Festival? 

Friday Feast: Kouzzina Breakfast

The morning of the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 10-Miler, B and I decided to go to Kouzzina to fuel up for our race that night.  Kouzzina is located at the Boardwalk Resort and is owned by Chef Cat Cora of Iron Chef fame.  The menu is Mediterranean inspired from Chef Cora’s family recipes and traditional favorites.  The ambiance is warm and inviting with dark hardwoods and softly lit chandeliers.  The kitchen is open to the dining room so you can see your food being prepared right in front of your eyes!

I had been up early to cheer on the runners participating in the Happy Haunted 5K Trail Run, so I was famished.  We were seated fairly quickly and then we waited…and waited.  The service was definitely lacking that morning.  They seemed to be short staffed because even the chefs and the managers were bringing food out to the tables.  I’d be interested in hearing from anyone who has been there for breakfast before on if this is normal for the service there (let me know in the comments!).

Kouzzina Breakfast Menu
(click for larger image)

The food more than made up for the service.  We started by ordering the Press Pot of Coffee for two.  I’ve always been a fan of French Presses after having the delicious coffee at the Kona Cafe, so I figured I’d give this a try.  I thought the coffee was good, but B thought it was watery.  I wanted to limit my dairy intake before the race, so I asked for almond milk which they didn’t have, but they did have rice milk which was a nice surprise.  It never hurts to ask, right?

Kouzzina Press Pot Coffee

I was very excited for the Turkey & Sweet Potato Hash!  This comes with a poached egg and lightly dressed arugula on top.  Now, I’m not usually a fan of poached eggs, but the runny egg mixed so well with the hash.  The arugula added a contrasting freshness to the richness of the dish.  This dish blew me away and I think I can definitely say this is my favorite breakfast on Walt Disney World property.

Turkey-Sweet Potato Hash…look at that gooey egg!

More hash…almost gone!

I also ordered a side of bacon because you can never have enough bacon.  This was a really good portion with 5 strips of bacon and it was thick-cut and crispy.  Nothing like the normal soggy Disney bacon you find at the buffets around property.

BACON!

B ordered the Spinach, Tomato, and Feta Scrambled Eggs (sans tomatoes) which came with breakfast potatoes, bacon and a croissant.  If I would’ve known how much bacon he was getting with his meal, I never would’ve ordered my side!  B really enjoyed the dish.  The spinach was fresh baby spinach that was lightly sautéed and the potatoes had a great flavor because of the addition of peppers and onions.  The only negative he found was that the feta cheese was overly salty (a downfall of most feta cheese) and that it would’ve been better cooked into the eggs instead of just crumbled on top.  Overall, this was a winner!

Spinach & Feta Scrambled Eggs

Since we were prepping for the race that night, we decided to get a side of pancakes to share for some extra carbs.  These were the only thing I didn’t enjoy here.  The pancakes were very dense and didn’t have much flavor.  Also, by the time they were brought out they were luke warm, so the cold butter we were given didn’t melt.  I’m assuming these are the same pancakes they use for the Blueberry Granola Pancakes, which I wouldn’t recommend based on these.

Mediocre Pancakes

Even though the service was seriously lacking, this has become my new favorite breakfast spot.  That turkey-sweet potato is so different from anything you will find on a normal breakfast menu, and it is the perfect mix of carbs and protein for a pre or post race meal.  Hopefully next time I go won’t be before a race, so I will be able to enjoy the Bloody Mary that Jenn from Eat, Sleep, Run, Disney always raves about.

Have you ever been to Kouzzina for breakfast?  What’s your favorite meal?