Nov 25, 2014

Epcot International Food & Wine Festival 2014

The Epcot International Food & Wine Festival took place this year over the span of 53 days in September through November, with Wine & Dine happening on the final weekend of the Festival. The Food & Wine Festival lets festival goers sample dishes and drinks from a multitude of countries from around the globe. Most dishes seemed to average at about $4 each and drinks anywhere from around $3 for a tasting glass to under $10 for a beer flight. 

We spent the morning after the half marathon hiding under the covers and finally rolled in to Epcot in time for lunch. Luckily, it was only a 10 minute walk from the Yacht Club directly to the International Gateway entrance to Epcot. 

Our first stop was France.

I picked up the boeuf bourguignon (braised short ribs in cabernet with mashed potatoes) - $5.75

Next stop: Brazil

Here, we shared the Brazilian cheese bread (Pao de Queijo) - $3.25

While I headed to the Morocco booth, my sister and BIL waited in line at Belgium. We reconvened to share a few things. 

We split the Beer Flight from Belgium, which featured Hoegaarden, Stella Artois, Leffe Blonde and Stella Artois Cidre - $9.25

From Morocco, we had the Spicy Shrimp Roll with cilantro and mint sauce - $5.00

Our final stop on this leg of tasting around the world was Ireland

We had what turned out to be two of my favorite dishes. First was the lobster and seafood fisherman's pie - $6.25

And the warm chocolate pudding with Kerrygold Irish Cream Liqueur custard - $3.50 

We took a break from the eating to ride Soarin' and meet some characters. Here are me and Mickey Mouse! 

Then it was promptly back to more food! I started at Greece for their Tzatziki martini featuring Crop Organic Cucumber Vodka and BOLS Natural Yoghurt Liquer - $7.75. It was a little watered down for my taste. 

We also visited Puerto Rico to share the Ensalada de carrucho (Caribbean conch salad with onion, tomato and cilantro) - $4.25. 

Also from Puerto Rico were tostones (fried green plantains) with mayo ketchup - $3.50 

We hit up the Refreshment Port for a croissant doughnut - $4.69 and a Dole Whip - $3.99. Despite growing up near Disneyland, I am embarrassed to admit that this was my first Dole Whip. It was tasty but not as tasty as the doughnut. That thing was addictive. We actually went back at the end of the night and ordered three doughnuts to take home for breakfast the next morning. Yum!

Our second leg of eating ended with some disappointing dishes. From Scotland was the overcooked seared sea scallop with spinach-cheddar gratin and crispy bacon - $4.50

And from Canada was the Canadian cheddar cheese soup - $4.25. I read so much about this dish that I was really excited to taste it, but unfortunately, it looked and had the consistency of white gravy. 

Another break from eating was in order. We rode Mission: Space and spent some time in the Festival Center, where there was a Ghirardelli Chocolate booth that was showcasing Disney character scenes made entirely of chocolate!

Chocolate Toy Story scene

They were also selling food-themed artwork. Honestly, I think Remy and Emil should be the Food & Wine mascots instead of Mickey!

As our night wound down, we still had a few eats to cross off our list. As we entered World Showcase, we made a stop at the Craft Beers pavilion to try their house-made country pate with pickled carrots and farmhouse bread - $3.75.

I made a non-Food-and-Wine-Festival-related request to stop at the Kringla Bakeri Og Kafe in Norway

They ran out of Schoolbread so I tried the Lefse (potato flatbread rolled with sweet cinnamon butter) instead. 

Nope, still not done eating yet! We stopped by South Korea and picked up one tasty dish and one disappointing dish. The tasty one was the roasted pork lettuce wrap with kimchi slaw - $3.75

Not so tasty was the Kimchi dog with spicy mustard sauce - $4.00. So not worth it!

At this time of night and from the World Showcase, we were afforded a gorgeous view of Spaceship Earth

We still weren't quite done for the night, so we stopped by the Brewers' Collection for a beer flight consisting of: Radeberger Pilsner, BraufactuM Colonia, BraufactuM Palor and Schofferhofer Grapefruit - $9.25

While we enjoyed our beers, we shared the Kielbasa and potato pierogi with caramelized onions and sour cream from Poland

Then it was off to the Chase Lounge located on the third floor of the American Adventure Pavilion. Access to the Lounge is an exclusive benefit for Disney Visa cardholders, my sister is one. The Lounge is a beautiful space to relax. There was complimentary drinks, charging stations, lots of seating and even video games. Perfect place to rest our feet for a little while. 

Our final stop for the night was back to France, where we visited L'Artisan des Glaces for a chocolate macaron ice sandwich. Yum!  

The night ended back at the Yacht Club, where we enjoyed the fireworks from our balcony.

The Epcot International Food and Wine Festival was the perfect way to spend the day after our wet and wild Wine & Dine Half Marathon! If you ever get a chance to attend, you will be sure to have plenty of eats and drinks to choose from. 

Nov 21, 2014

runDisney Wine & Dine Half Marathon 2014 - Race Recap

Wine & Dine Half Marathon Start Line

My fourth half marathon was crowded, soggy and sloooow, but no matter how not ideal the Wine & Dine Half Marathon was, I am proud to say that I finished, especially when you consider that 14,000 people signed up for the race and fewer than 12,000 finished!

Race night prep started the night before with the laying out of my race outfit. My sister, brother-in-law and I decided to do group costumes. I was Sulley, Chris was Mike and Rebecca was Celia from Monsters, Inc.

Flat Irene ready to race!
Sulley, Celia and Mike in the Yacht Club lobby

After our naps, we got changed and headed downstairs to catch the race transportation to the start line. The race instructions indicated that we needed to be on the bus no later than 8 pm, but we were still waiting for the buses when the 8 o'clock hour rolled around.

Waiting for the bus? Time to take pictures!

Once we arrived at the starting area, we headed to bag drop-off and got in line for the port-a-potties. Then we were herded to our corrals, and we didn't have time to take pictures with Chefs Chip and Dale. Sad face.

At 10 pm the first corral was off, and luckily, we did not have to wait much longer. We all decided to join my sister in corral I and we started at around 10:30 pm. During Princess last year, there were fewer corrals with more people in each corral, so it took forever for some back corrals to start. For this race, there were more corrals with fewer people in each corral so there was less time between corrals.

There was a lot of talk on the days leading up to the half marathon about the weather and for good reason because it just did not cooperate at all. It rained the ENTIRE time before, during and after our race.

We began the race at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex and from there did the three miles to Animal Kingdom.

Mile 1: 14:15
Mile 2: 15:17
Mile 3: 21:14

Our group decided to start and end the race together, and to do this, our plan was to meet up at each mile marker. We had a bit of miscommunication on the first few mile markers, but eventually found our rhythm and this plan worked out quite well.

Between miles 3 and 4, we arrived at the Animal Kingdom. This part of the course was extremely narrow and there were times where it was impossible to run.

Entrance to Animal Kingdom
Mile 4: 17:03

Animal Kingdom's Tree of Life

I mentioned in previous posts that my training for this half marathon was pretty nonexistent. The farthest distance I ran during training was a 10K, so I did not have a time goal. Instead, I wanted to have fun and run with my sister. I also learned that although my sister had run twice the number of runDisney races as I have, she never was able to stop and take photos with the characters, so we definitely made a point to do that.

Me and Timon. Where's Pumbaa?
As you can see, I had to add a layer of clothing to my Sulley costume. It was so cold and wet. The long sleeve jacket stayed on the whole race!

Pirates of the Carribean ship

The next four miles took us back on the streets, as we headed to Hollywood Studios.

Mile 5: 17:22

Mile 6: 13:51 *fastest mile*
Mile 7: 14:44
Mile 8: 13:56
Mile 9: 15:52

Although we covered most of our distance on the streets, running through the parks is one of the things that make runDisney races so special.

Running past the Tower of Terror

Mile 10: 18:46

Since the Sorcerer's Hat is being torn down early next year, I had to take a photo with it!

Good bye, Sorcerer's Hat!

Besides running through the public areas of the parks, we sometimes even get to go through some of the castmember only sections of the parks. For instance, this time we ran past the Costume Department.

Costume Department at Hollywood Studios
We also got to meet up with Elastigirl and Mr. Incredible.

My favorite part of the race, though, was running through the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights! We took our time at this part of the course because we would never be able to see the lights with so few people around us. I am one of those people who is bothered by how early the Christmas season seems to be pushed up every year, but I was not bothered in the least by this sight. It was so beautiful!

Before leaving Hollywood Studios, I ran in to Boba Fett and only got this blurry photo out of it!

Mile marker 11 took us to the entrance of Hollywood Studios and I found myself waiting there for Mike and Celia for a very, very long time. At one point, I wondered if they had been swept and if I stayed there any longer, if I would be swept. People kept running past me, and then a massive herd of people ran towards me like it was the apocalypse.

Then I saw my sister and BIL running towards me and yelling, "Keep going. The balloon ladies!" Then I saw them with my own eyes, the mythical creatures known as the balloon ladies. For those who don't know, runDisney requires you to keep a 16 minute/mile pace. The balloon ladies are the very last people to start the race and keep the required pace. If they pass you on the course, there is a possibly that you will be forced off the course and not finish. In runDisney jargon, this is called "being swept."

Apparently, despite starting in corral I, we were going so slow that the balloon ladies caught us!

Mile 11: 20:55

Once I saw the balloon ladies, I took off without my family members and met back up with them at mile marker 12 since there was no where for you to get picked off the course at that point.

The final three miles of the course were so crowded that I could not gain much ground. Plus, from Hollywood Studios, we headed to the BoardWalk and it was so wet and slippery that I did not want to risk falling. So we walked the remainder of the race. We finally entered Epcot for the last leg of the course and crossed the finish line in 3:52:16, which is 45 minutes slower than my first half marathon!

Mile 12: 19:54
Mile 13: 19:26

I was hoping that the weather would calm down, but it seemed to pick up instead. We got our medals, refreshments, picked up our checked bags and grabbed our adult beverages before deciding to bypass the Finish Line Party and headed back to the hotel instead. At the end of the night, none of us were happy campers.

Despite the weather, I did wind up having fun during the race. True, it would have been much more fun without the inclement weather, but what can you do?

I honestly think this one was my last Walt Disney World race for the foreseeable future. I am glad that I did it!