Making Spirits Bright...With Spirits!
Disneyland's first Festival of Holidays is well underway and appearing at California Adventure through January 8th. As a fan of Epcot Food & Wine at Disney World, I wanted to see how these holiday booth small plate offerings compared to the ones at International Showcase.
There are 14 booths featured in the festival, all with different holiday-themed foods and some featuring special cocktails and wines. They're laid out over one stretch of walkway just past the entrance of California Adventure as you walk towards the direction of Paradise Pier. And don't worry, a big sign for the event will make sure you know where it is.
So is this new offering a success? Well.....yes and no. Disneyland has some things they need to tweak if they want to do future holiday festivals like this. But first, the food.
From the Heritage Cottage booth, I tried the short rib over smashed potatoes in a sauerbraten sauce. This was about $8.50 and was very good. I'd say this was one of the few things worth the price point, although you definitely need a knife to cut it as it's not quite braised enough fall apart easily.
My boyfriend got the Ruben Smashed Potatoes from Nosh & Nibbles booth that were around $7, and while they were good they were actually quite small. We wished they were a little bigger or even knocked down to $5.
The warm holiday spiced wine from Make Your Spirits Brighter booth. This was $11.25 I believe, and one of the things where I did wince a little at price but then it's pretty on par with ordering wine in California. And this was really good, made with mulling spices and oranges thrown in as it steeps and one of the better mulled wines I've had. It was perfect for the slightly chilly day.
Spoilers- these were the star of the show for me; the mac and cheese with jalapeño sweet cornbread croutons and the sweet potato pie from Southern Home Holidays. The mac and cheese is SOOOOO creamy and delicious, and the spicy/sweet croutons really enhance the overall flavor. But this pie, oh man, this pie was excellent. The pie was $4.50, not bad all things considered, and the mac and cheese was $7. Again, given the size I wished it was $5.
Needing something non-alcoholic and being a huge fan of guava, I got a guava agua fresca for $4.25 from the Fiesta en Familia booth. Not baaaaad price wise, and it was really flavorful and very much the guava flavor I like. A good agua fresca should be slightly sweet and really let the natural fruit flavor shine, and I'd say they nailed it with this.
This is the praline and bourbon whoopie pie from Winter Sliderland booth. It's $4.25 and it was okay. I think I hyped it up in my head. It's not bad, it is ever so slightly praline/bourbon-ish with what tastes like a cream cheese filling, but it wasn't totally what I expected either. I think the sweet potato pie kind of set the dessert bar though.
I wasn't able to get a picture of it, but I also got the Sticky Toffee Pudding with brandied cream from Yuletide Yummies for $4.50. As a sticky toffee pudding fan, I was pleased with this offering. It was a bit on the tinier side, but still really good.
Overall, I have to agree with the sentiments expressed in Disney Food Blog's review of the email; it's a great idea but the food portion size to price point ratio needs work. Some of the savory options, when you consider size, should really be about $2 less, and I would have liked to see the desserts more competitively scaled relating to size. This is something Epcot Food & Wine does a little better. The portions are a bit more generous at Food & Wine and the pricing is better scaled to account for this. I get that this is a California-located festival, but there was no reason the mac and cheese should have been $7 or those tiny Ruben smashed potatoes.
They have a great idea here, and I think with a little work on pricing this could be a great holiday addition to Disneyland, and I sincerely hope they do consider re-working price point for 2017.