Disney’s California Food & Wine Festival – Part One

Alyssa and I were invited to attend Disney’s California Food & Wine Festival on the opening day last Friday and we gladly accepted the invitation. Being native San Diegans, we both had never really heard about the Food & Wine Festival before, even though the Festival is now celebrating its fourth year running. Alyssa, who now lives and works in Orange County, was informed by her co-workers that it was a cool deal, so we were looking forward to it, even though we knew next to nothing about it.

Disney’s California Food & Wine Festival is a six-week event, running now until June 7, 2009. They have complimentary demonstrations through Disney’s California Adventure park, including culinary demonstrations (we attended one that we’ll tell you about) and wine, beer, or spirits seminars and tastings at the Golden Vine Winery and Pacific Wharf.

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They also have a number of Signature Events (additional fee), such as Festival Wine Walks (where you can taste wines from around the world), Winemaker Dinners where wines are paired with culinary creations at Steakhouse 55, Wine Tasting classes, Sweet Sundays (early morning buffets with elegant dessert items from acclaimed pastry chefs), and World Celebration Dinners (celebrating foods and traditions from around the world, such as Korea, Italy, Japan, France and Spain). We attended one Signature Event, a Festival Wine Reception ($55), where we were able to sample up to a dozen different vintages from around California along with tasty tapas to nibble on.

We spotted one Festival Wine Walk in the Pacific Wharf area while we were on the hunt for a meal, and saw that they were offering wine tastings from Italy for $10. Not bad to sample a few different wines from another country!

Today I’ll be talking about the first event we attended when we got into the park that day (which was late in the afternoon, so we didn’t get to do too much). We went to a culinary demonstration presented by Dole in Sunshine Plaza at Disney’s California Adventure. The chefs there were Chef Dieter Preiser and Chef Rick Perez, both top chefs in their own rights. The chefs showcased two items featuring fruits (I assume, from Dole): Seared Cod with Smoked Tropical Salsa and an Aloha Smoothie.

The chefs demonstrated both of the items, giving a few tips along the way for the dishes. After cooking, everyone seated in the demonstration area got to sample the items that were created (and already prepared in the back for tasting).

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Above, Chef Dieter Preiser shows off the Seared Cod plate to us. Of course, it was gloomy and gray out and my camera wasn’t into taking properly lit pictures.

The first item we got to try was the Aloha Smoothie. It has pineapple juice, strawberry yogurt and a banana in the mix. Pretty simple recipe to showcase – pour into blender! Turn on blender! Pour into cup! Consume! Easy peasy.

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And yes, it was tasty. Most smoothies are. We also got to sample the seared cod.

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I am personally not a huge fish fan – I usually like just shellfish – but this seared cod was excellent. I really liked the tropical salsa that was on top. The salsa had “tropical fruit” (I believe my piece had pineapple), red bell pepper, green bell pepper, red onion, parsley, smoked paprika and Chinese duck sauce (see recipe below). It was really good on top of the seared cod, which was cooked just right and was tender and almost melted in your mouth. That green stuff under the cod is baby bok choy, not mentioned in the recipe at all, but used as the vegetable portion/garnish of the dish. It, too, was tasty.

Here’s the recipe for you, which we received at the event as well:

Seared Cod with Smoked Tropical Salsa

2 Tbsp sesame oil
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp fresh ginger, minced
1 tsp garlic cloves, minced
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
4 (6 oz. each) cod or other white fish fillets

STIR together, first 6 ingredients, in small bowl. POUR marinade over fish fillets in a shallow bowl. Turn to coat evenly; marinate in refrigerator for 4 hours or overnight, turning occasionally. * Tip from the chefs: the higher the acidity of your marinade, the less marination time is needed. HEAT saute pan or large skillet to medium-high heat; remove fish from marinade and sear meat side down, until well browned, about 4 to 5 minutes, then turn over and cook an additional 4 to 5 minutes or until fish is 140 degrees F. Discard remaining marinade. Serve with Smoked Tropical Salsa.

Smoked Tropical Salsa

1 can (15.25 oz) DOLE Tropical Fruit, drained and coarsely chopped
1 Tbsp red bell pepper, finely chopped
1 Tbsp green bell pepper, finely chopped
1 Tbsp red onion, finely chopped
1 Tbsp parsley, finely chopped
1/2 tsp smoked or regular paprika
1/4 cup bottled Chinese duck sauce

HEAT tropical fruit in large heavy skillet over medium-high heat until lightly browned. Stir in remaining ingredients and heat through. Serve warm or refrigerate until ready to use.

This was the first event we attended, which just made us crave more tasty tidbits. Stay tuned for more posts about the Disney’s California Food & Wine Festival – including a special Cheese Soup with Karl Strauss Pale Ale (in a sourdough bread bowl), California Wine Tastings, and my favorite cheese from the Wine Reception: Blue Cheese with Honeycomb. Yum!

Author: Mary

Mary is a San Diego native and has been a food blogger for 11+ years. She is an avid reader, a lover of puppies, and loves trying new food. Foods she loves: sweets, peanut butter, pasta, Triscuit crackers with cream cheese, and extra nuts on top of her sundaes. Food she dislikes: pickles, really spicy food, runny eggs, olives, and too much arugula.

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