Today, I am writing about the China and Greece booths at the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival 2013 and making Kasseri Saganaki (Griddled Greek Cheese with Pistachios and Honey). Check out my previous posts on the Food and Wine Festival: Part 1 for the Japan and Cheese booths with a recipe for Teriyaki Chicken Hand Rolls and Part 2 for the Scotland, Italy, and Poland booths with a recipe for Zapiekanka (Polish Mushroom and Cheese Bread).
We encountered our longest line at the China booth. It was quite popular and for good reason. This year, the China booth offered Mongolian Beef in a Steamed Bun, Black Pepper Shrimp with Sichuan Noodles, Chicken Potstickers, Silk Ice Cream Ribbon (Mango, Strawberry, or Coconut), Tsingtao Beer, Francis Ford Coppola Su Yuen Riesling, Kung Fu Punch with Vodka and Triple Sec, Happy Lychee with Tequila and Vodka, and Lychee Aerated Water.
I ordered the Mongolian Beef in a Steamed Bun and Silk Ice Cream. The Mongolian Beef was another favorite of mine at the festival. The bun had a great texture and was filled with shredded beef, fried noodles, and a spicy sauce. The dish wasn’t overly spicy, but enough for Evan to not enjoy it. He did like the bun and pieces of beef that weren’t covered in sauce. The Silk Ice Cream Ribbon was available in strawberry during our visit. Strawberry ice cream was pressed through a machine to make thin ribbons. It was a refreshing dessert to follow the spicy sauce from the Mongolian Beef, definitely a favorite for Evan. The ribbon form created an airy texture that I particularly enjoyed.
Evan didn’t enjoy seeing Mulan as much as his previous visit with Mickey. Chad finished his exam and joined us at Epcot while we were in line to see her. Evan was so happy to see Chad, he didn’t want to leave his daddy to say hi to Mulan. He was fine as long as Chad was by his side for the photo.
The Greece booth offered Taste of Greece (Grilled and Marinated Calamari, Hitipiti, Eggplant Dip, Olives, and Pita Bread), Griddled Greek Cheese with Pistacios and Honey, Chicken Gyro with Tzatziki Sauce, Spanakopita, Dannon Oikos Blueberry Greek Nonfat Yogurt Cup, Domaine Skouras Moscofilero, Alpha Estate Syrah-Xinomavro, and Ouzo by Metaxa.
Unfortunately, the Greece booth was my biggest disappointment at the festival. I got the Griddled Greek Cheese with Pistachios and Honey. It was a huge hit based on previous reviews, but I must have gotten an unlucky batch that had spend too much time under the warming lamps. The cheese was lukewarm on the top with a rubbery, cold center. It was difficult to chew and after a couple of bites, I gave up. Chad ate the rest of it and said it was just alright. Evan didn’t care for it either and was more interested in the birds hanging out by the fence.
I wanted to give the cheese another chance at home. I made small pieces of Kasseri Saganaki (Greek Fried Cheese) in May to top Roasted Strawberry Saganaki Salad. I used Kasseri again for this recipe and sliced the cheese into larger pieces, about 2 1/2 inches long and 1/2 inch thick. Immediately after frying, I drizzled the pieces in honey and sprinkled with chopped pistachios.
I am so glad I tried Kasseri Saganaki again at home. It was amazing. The flour formed a very thin crust that encased the hot, melty interior. I am still a little sad that I missed out on the fresh version at Epcot, but luckily it is not difficult to make at home. I was also more generous with the honey and pistachio topping.
Kasseri is a Greek semi-hard cheese often fried for Saganaki; sliced or shredded for sandwiches, pizzas, or pies; or used as a table cheese. It is off-white, firm, and slightly rubbery to touch, with a tart and slightly salty flavor. It is traditionally made from sheep and sometimes goat milk, though cow’s milk versions are available. For Saganaki, use Halloumi cheese if Kasseri is unavailable. For sandwiches and pies, mild Cheddar, Colby, Provolone, and Mozzarella are the most common substitutes. I bought Kasseri from my local Greek deli, but it is also available in the specialty cheese section of many large grocery stores.
More information on Kasseri.