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Imagineering Food & Wine: Singapore – Guest Blog Post

Singapore is SO misunderstood.

I have to admit, I know very little about Singapore.  For example, did you know that it is just off the southern tip of Malaysia and is an island country made up of 63 islands?!

When it comes to Food & Wine, in spite of the culinary genius of Epcot Executive Chef Jens Dahlmann and his team, Singapore annually receives criticism as THE marketplace desperately in need of “stepping its game up”.

However, consider this … a Singapore “hawker center” is a building housing rows and rows of small food stalls – all serving a variety of foods and desserts.  Sound a bit familiar?

Imagineering Food & Wine – Singapore

Is it Food & Wine every day in Singapore?

Or, how about this?  When it comes to cuisine, diversity is THE word.  Malaysia, China, Indonesia, India, Sri Lanka, Thailand, the Philippines, the Middle East and many other countries can claim influence on Singapore’s culinary landscape.

To be honest, if ever there was a country MADE for the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival, it is Singapore!

Let’s take a look back at recent history.  In 2011, Chef Jens offered us a shrimp cake on a sugar cane skewer.  In addition, his entrees included an Indonesian-inspired coconut-braised beef rendang.  Last year, the beef rendang returned to be accompanied by a seared mahi-mahi.

As I recall, the shrimp cake and mahi-mahi were quite tasty.  I have to admit, however, that I couldn’t scrape up the desire to try the rendang.  I mean, the pictures that I saw of that spicy meat dish didn’t look appetizing at all.

Imagineering Food & Wine – Singapore

Step your game up, Singapore!

So, if we were given the chance to write Chef’s menu, what could we offer?

Well, first, I would suggest replacing the beef rendang.  It has had its day, and, as I researched the multitude of options we could choose for Singapore, I found the perfect replacement.  Chef Jens won’t have to travel far to find a slam-dunk recipe.  Have you ever had Sanaa’s butter chicken?  You should.  It’s an incredible Indian-influenced dish.  Sanaa can be found in Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge – Kidani Village.

Imagineering Food & Wine – Singapore

If you give us butter chicken, Chef, we’ll flock to Singapore!

For Singapore’s second entree, I could make a strong argument to keep their seared mahi-mahi.  It WAS pretty tasty, but, since this marketplace is going to get a complete “refurb”, I’m going to suggest a popular seafood dish with Malaysian overtones – chili crab.

Imagine crab stir-fried in a semi-thick, sweet and savory tomato and chili-based sauce.  Despite its name, it is not a very spicy dish.  It was, however, listed by CNN as one of the “World’s 50 most delicious foods” in 2011.  Some rendition of this has got to be worth a taste.

Imagineering Food & Wine – Singapore

If not crab, then I could imagine Chef presenting some kind of “chili seafood” dish.

There you have it.  If Singapore is in need of an upgrade, I would say its old entrees need to be completely erased in favor of brand new choices.  In my mind, the butter chicken is a sure winner.  The crab is a wild card.


Guest Author – Bob Sikon

Guest Author Bob SikonBob Sikon is a Cast Member “Wanna-Be”. He fell in love with Walt Disney World on his first visit to Mickey’s Florida home in 1999, and it was all because of the Cast Members. In his words, “The way they take care of you, they make you want to be part of The Magic.” Someday, his dream will come true, and he’ll proudly wear a Cast Member name badge, but, for now, you can find him in Atlanta, GA, planning his next trip to “The World”, and blogging about the place “Where Dreams Come True” at allinwdw.com.

 

Imagineering Food & Wine Festival: Scotland – Guest Blog Post

Food & Wine 2013 is less than four months away, and the first big revelations as to what new things we can expect at this year’s festival have been unveiled.  The big news is that Scotland is joining the party!

Scotland joins the 2013 Epcot International Food and Wine Festival

Personally, I am very excited to see Scotland’s menu.  We could easily say, “Here comes the haggis!”.  Thinking about it, it’s hard to imagine how you can have a Scottish kiosk without including some rendition of their most world-renowned (or, should I say infamous) dish, but I just can’t see how a mostly-American clientele will take to a sheep’s liver, heart, lungs and other organs cooked inside a stomach.  Even if the dish is “Americanized” somehow, Scottish cuisine has so much more mainstream than that to offer.

Food in Scotland is a mix of many cultures and is littered with soups, broths, game, dairy products, fish, fruit, and vegetables.  Aberdeen Angus steaks are mouth-watering.  Seafood, such as Scottish salmon (either smoked or fresh), wild trout, salmon, oysters, and langoustines [also known as scampi] is world-renowned. Oh, and don’t forget their whiskey!

Aberdeen Angus steaks

Aberdeen Angus Steak

So, where does this leave us for Food & Wine ’13?  Let’s try to help out Jens Dahlmann and his team of world-class chefs.  What should Epcot offer at their Scotland marketplace this Fall?

We’ve already heard about “The Rusty Nail”.  A basic blend of Scotch whiskey and Drambuie, a Rusty Nail is a simple drink.  It isn’t going to cut it in my opinion.  Produced all over Scotland, the number of distilleries and unique varieties and flavors of Scottish whiskey can’t be contained in this article.  Suffice it to say that Chef Jens and his team should start their menu by designing Food & Wine 13’s flight of genuine Scotch Whiskey.

Scotch Whiskey Flight

Scotch Whiskey Flight

Cock-a-leekie soup is a Scottish soup dish of chicken and leeks in chicken stock.  It is also called “Scotland’s National Soup”.  Scotch broth is a filling soup that sports barley, cuts of lamb, mutton, or beef, and root vegetables such as carrots or turnips as its main ingredients.  Either individually, or sold as a sampling of both, we’re adding it to the menu on Chef’s behalf.

Cock-a-leekie soup is a Scottish soup dish of chicken and leeks in chicken stock.

Cock-a-leekie Soup

Scotch broth is a filling soup that sports barley, cuts of lamb, mutton, or beef, and root vegetables such as carrots or turnips as its main ingredients.

Scotch Broth

Scottish salmon accounts for 60% of the U.K. “catch” of fish.  I’m convinced that salmon speaks loudly of Scottish cuisine, and it has to be part of this kiosk’s menu.  I’m going to leave the culinary details to Chef and his entourage, but I’m imagining some type of combination of grilled salmon and langoustine as this marketplace’s main course.  Bring it on, Chef!

Grilled Scottish Salmon

Grilled Scottish Salmon

Of course, we can’t forget dessert.  Scotland is famous for its puddings, but my research led me to, what I think, has to be the “slam-dunk” of desserts – Crannachan.  Made from a mixture of whipped cream, Scottish whisky, honey, fresh raspberries, and toasted oatmeal that has been soaked overnight in more whisky, it uses a plethora of Scotland’s most famous ingredients. I’m anxious to try it, Chef!

Scottish desert crannachan

Crannachan

So, let’s review … we’ll grab a Scottish Whiskey flight to whet our whistles.  Then, we’ll start with small helpings of Scotch broth and Cock-a-leekie soup to fill the role of our appetizer.  The main course will be a culinary masterpiece of salmon and langoustine.  And, it will be followed by a serving of Crannachan.  Outstanding!  I can’t wait until September!  Let the festival begin!


Guest Author – Bob Sikon

Guest Author Bob SikonBob Sikon is a Cast Member “Wanna-Be”. He fell in love with Walt Disney World on his first visit to Mickey’s Florida home in 1999, and it was all because of the Cast Members. In his words, “The way they take care of you, they make you want to be part of The Magic.” Someday, his dream will come true, and he’ll proudly wear a Cast Member name badge, but, for now, you can find him in Atlanta, GA, planning his next trip to “The World”, and blogging about the place “Where Dreams Come True” at allinwdw.com.


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