What a treat for Lake Champlain Chocolates be a part of Epcot's 15th annual Food & Wine Festival the other weekend! On Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, I taught an "Authentic Taste" Seminar - a free class that gives participants the chance to get to better know a food or wine. LCC has been involved with this festival for about four years and this year, the emphasis was on sharing "Our Local Secret" - bringing a taste of Vermont to central Florida. Little did I know ahead of time that I'd be bringing Vermont weather to Florida, with morning temperatures in the 40s!
Because this event is free and limited to the first 42 participants, people start lining up well in advance in true Disney style. It was exciting to have so many people who not only were familiar with Lake Champlain Chocolates but also had visited Vermont. The seminar started out with an introduction to Lake Champlain Chocolates and our Local Secrets. Next we took a very quick journey to the equatorial regions where cacao is grown and learned about how chocolate goes from the bean to the bar. Finally (for the very patient listeners), I then led the group in how to taste chocolate and they got to taste the goodness of Vermont.
We first tasted the Cappuccino Truffle - featuring the wonderful cream from Monument Farms, butter from VT Butter & Cheese Creamery, and coffee from Green Mountain Coffee Roasters. Next was the Honey Caramel -showcasing delicate Vermont honey with its floral notes. Wrapping up the session was our signature Maple Buttercrunch - a favorite of many in the crowd.
We were able to make a Disney "Magical Moment" by letting two people sit up on stage and take part. One couple was from Buffalo and the other was from Scotland. It's amazing how the festival draws a nice crowd of Epcot season-pass holders from the local area as well as people from abroad. The park is transformed into a food and wine lovers paradise -small kiosks are scattered all throughout the World Showcase featuring bite sized tastes of food and wines not only from the permanent showcase countries but many like South African, Belgium, New Zealand and many more who make a special appearance only during the six week festival. I enjoyed spanikopita from Greece and Cheddar Ale Soup from Canada on Day 1. Visited La Hacienda in Mexico on Day 2 and Les Chefs de France on Day 3. Of course, I had to get not only the chocolate mousse but also the chocolate cake at the French Patisserie (the chocolate mousse won my taste-test as the cake was a bit dry and too sweet for my palate).
Every Saturday night during the festival features a Party for the Senses - a huge venue filled with food and wine pairings and entertainment from Cirque du Soleil. Not surprisingly, the highlight for me was the dessert selection - Valhrona Chocolate and Guava Chiffon miniature cupcakes from Cindy Roman of the Yacht Club Resort were just the right size and satisfying. Patty Mitchell of Vista, CA caught my attention for creativity with a spiced donut served with pear sorbet, dried pear, and chocolate sauce. Graham Beck Brut Rose NV South African sparkling wine was a refreshing complement.
Like any Disney production, no detail is overlooked at this festival and there are events with wide appeal. I enourage anyone with a passion for food and a love for Disney to attend this festival. Next year will be the 16th - and likely the sweetest one yet!