Posts Tagged ‘Italian’

Too Much Of A Food Fling

November 11, 2009

One of the most unfortunate consequences of growing up is the forced coming-to-terms with the fact that some things just don’t exist. Despite a girl’s best intentions to remain hopelessly optimistic, at some point she will eventually be affronted by the evils of adulthood disenchantment.

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Santa Claus. The Easter Bunny. Time Travel. Free Credit. Zero-Calorie Desserts. Style And Support. Fair Salary Compensation. Platonic Friendships with the Opposite Sex. All of these, as it turns out, are mere fictions – the stuff of myth that deludes us into a more pleasant state of ignorant bliss.

(*Author’s note: Still waiting, Real-Life Mr. Darcy…)

That is, until the day we unwittingly bite into the proverbial fruit of knowledge. Or, more appropriately, devour the entire produce stand. Case in point being my latest test of the ubiquitous anthem: “A girl can never have too much of a good thing.”

Now really, at first glance who would argue? I don’t know a single acquaintance that would turn down a truckload of Tiffany diamonds, for instance. Or wave away a thousand free airline miles. Pass on a Grey’s Anatomy marathon? Never.

So when I made my way to the Party of the Senses culinary showcase at Disney’s Epcot Food and Wine Festival this weekend, I had little concern as to how I could carry myself through the three-hour epicurean free-for-all.  The evening’s ‘Italian Cuisine’ theme granted even more confidence with a quick menu glance of savory pairings and sweets: Chianti, Prosecco, Pinot; Veal, Lobster Risotto, Diver Scallops; Cannoli, Nocciolo Gelato, Espresso Bar. Three entire displays of international artisan cheeses… Oh my!

Wine glass and tasting plate readied, I gazed in awe as the curtains were drawn back to reveal my own personal fairytale, a cavernous room beckoning with nearly 50 gourmet spreads and wine flowing in abundance – before the scene quickly turned to a strange, running-of-the-bulls spectacle as evening gown-clad devotees trampled across the floor to claim their front-of-line status (clearly my passion for all things edible has yet to reach category:obsessive).

The straightforward strategy was decided early on: counter-clockwise rotation through the room, saving cheese and dessert for last naturally; anything deemed just ‘good’ would be swiftly disposed in exchange for the next course. Wine should be consumed in moderation (for me, with caution), and same rules apply.

This method began in literal good taste, with highlights like warm pumpkin-thyme torta beneath a creamy melt of gorgonzola dolce gelato, followed by a red wine-braised short rib and ricotta di pecora gnocchi. Martini & Rossi prosecco sparkled alongside a to-die-for veal tenderloin with sweet mission fig glaze. I’ve never had a better pour of Pinot Noir than Q by Iron Horse Vineyards – a 2006 signature that’s one of only 500 bottles produced.

Somewhere into the second hour and my third (or fourth?) consecutive ounce of Chateau Ste. Michelle, an ominous feeling began to take form. But with another half room still to go, and not a single taste of piave cheese or Grand Marnier zeppole to boast of, I resolved to squelch any sense of waning appetite… and helped myself to Sonoma lamb shoulder and the night’s standout: blood orange braised short ribs and vanilla scented parsnip. The rest of the night was fabulous blur of fresh gorgonzola, reggiano, honeycomb, candied dates, handcrafted chocolate truffles, cannoli, tiramisu gelato and espresso, amaretto tartlets… enough to induce the resulting food coma that kept me reaching for the Pepcid well into the wee hours.

Way too much of a good thing? Undeniably and unquestionably yes. The painful repercussions of discovering such truth? Grand-scale disillusionment and more acid reflux than a chili cookoff. Totally worth repeating? In a heartbeat.