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JUDY'S TABLE: MARCH 2008

Disney's Food and Wine Festival 2008: Food, Wine and Mickey

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(March 30, 2008)—Yep, it's that time of year. So mark your calendars for Disney's California Food and Wine Festival

Gracing the "happiest place on Earth" in Anaheim from April 11 - May 5, 2008, this event will no doubt dazzle guests and excite their palates with gourmet dishes and wine pairings by Disneyland Resort's premier chefs and Master Sommelier Michael Jordan.

With ample tastings, culinary demonstrations, celebrity chef appearances and even events for kids, it's no wonder Disney's California Food and Wine Festival bears an esteemed reputation.

In "Taste Wine Like a Wine Expert," Master Sommelier Michael Jordan offers a short and entertaining wine tasting course. Using a deductive tasting format, Jordan, general manager for the James Beard Foundation-nominated Napa Rose, takes students down the list of trusty methods wine experts use to determine the grape variety, region, quality level and vintage.

Donning its pride in their quality chefs, the resort hosted an exquisite roundtable event showcasing tasty bits one will dream about long after the event is over.  Inspired by a simple craving for meat and potatoes, Chef Gloria Tae of Golden Vine Winery, Disney's California Adventure, served up a sausage and polenta dish. The blend of flavors was supreme as was the complex texture created by a juicy sausage with the grainy polenta. Equally as robust was the crispy shitake-topped sirloin, served with my favorite varietal Cabernet Sauvignon (pictured right).

Prepared by Jason Martin of Steakhouse 55, Hook's Pointe & Wine Cellar, Disneyland Hotel, this dish unites the subtle flavor of umami, which Martin describes as "neither sweet nor savory," with a juicy and pink-on-the-inside small slider of beef. The kicker: the crunchy dried shitake and the balance of the soft-textured sautéed mushroom as an added touch.

Executive Chef Andrew Sutton of Napa Rose, Disney's Grand Californian Resort & Spa worked with Jordan to pair the Brassfield Estate "Serenity" with two very different dishes. The full-bodies English Pea Pesto-filled raviolis and the delicate Kona Kampachi drizzled with tangerine vinaigrette.

One dish festival attendees will be sure to remember is the Lobster Lollipop by Chef Jay Garcia (Pacific Wharf, Pier 66, Outdoor Ventures, Disney's California Food and Wine Festival). Served with a red pepper rémoulade, Garcia's lobster lollipop is a meaty and fresh lobster tail, skewered and panko-crusted.

Chef Moises Carranza of the famous Blue Bayou presented a bold and flavorful duck. With a fun texture accented by a crispy skin, Carranza served the juicy duck breast over a bed of wild mushroom risotto with blood-orange gastrique. The pairing with the Russian River Pinot Noir, made the experience absolutely divine.

While I didn't try the dessert, I heard it was scrumptious. I'm sorry I missed it. But knowing a Ghiradelli Chocolate Marquise will be featured at "Taste of California Marketplace" is incentive enough to attend one of the signature events. Besides, with presentations by celebrity chefs like Cat Cora and Guy Fieri how can one not be enticed?

For more information, visit disneyland.com/foodandwine.

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