<div id="fb-root"></div>
<script async defer crossorigin="anonymous" src="https://connect.facebook.net/en_US/sdk.js#xfbml=1&version=v17.0&appId=1360880647827568&autoLogAppEvents=1" nonce="nOICdQjC"></script>

Changes Help Liven Party for the Senses

Written By Scott Joseph On October 11, 2016

Party16 wide

Party for the Senses, the Saturday night fiestas that take place during Epcot’s International Food & Wine Festival, has added some themed nights this year. This past weekend the Party focused on Walt Disney World Resort’s newest collection of restaurants: the dining venues of Disney Springs. I was invited to attend the event.

Using the Springs’ collection of restaurant was a brilliant idea. The people who planned Disney Springs had already gone to great lengths to select a diverse collection of cuisines and food styles. And that’s just the sort of variety you want for an event like this.

And the Parties, while always fun and interesting, had started to become a little predictable over the past few years. So it was nice to see some changes.

One notable difference from the last several years was the featured entertainment. The performers of La Nouba, the Cirque du Soleil show, had been a mainstay for a while. This year there was La ne Nouba pas. Instead, the performers from Raglan Road and other venues took to the stage with their pulse-racing dancing, fiddling and singing. (The change, I was told, was to use entertainment that went with the evening’s theme of Disney Springs venues, never mind that La Nouba is also at Disney Springs.)

Something else was missing at this year’s Party on Saturday: a logo on the napkins. For many years, Vanity Fair has been a major sponsor of the entire festival, providing millions of napkins and plates throughout the dozens of marketplaces as well as at the Party for the Senses.

Party16 morimoto

This year, each station at PftS had plain, white, unlogo’d napkins. Most also had real, non-paper plates and actual metalware utensils, which was nice, especially considering that most attendees had paid upwards of $169 per person (plus park admission) to attend. I’m not sure why Vanity Fair was absent — or that another sponsor hadn’t been secured — but given that Vanity Fair is a subsidiary of Koch Industries, maybe it’s just one more sponsorship the company’s owners decided to drop this year.

One other observation: Although several of the Disney Springs restaurants have celebrity chefs attached to them, only one — Art Smith — was on hand. In one respect, that wasn’t surprising. Most of the celebrity chefs have licensed their names and brands and are not frequently at the restaurants that bear their names. Still, Party for the Senses has traditionally featured star chefs who had participated in events during the previous week, so it was a bit startling. (Perhaps some had been there earlier in the week but bailed in advance of Hurricane Matthew?)

South Steel SJO March AD copy

In any event, it didn’t matter. The men and women who actually helm the kitchens day to day were on hand, and they represented their restaurants admirably.

Party16 duck taco

Especially Yuhi Fujinaga, who got second billing behind the absent Masaharu Morimoto. Fujinaga presented Morimoto Asia’s Peking Duck Tacos with pico de gallo and hoisin sauce for a delightful fusion that turned out to be my favorite of the evening. Also, presented in a paper cone, the taco was one of the more apt items for eating in a walkabout setting.

Party16 lamb pie

Raglan Road’s Porter-braised Lamb Pie with field mushrooms and root vegetables in puff pastry was another favorite.

Party16 Smiths

Art Smith’s Homecoming: Florida Kitchen and Southern Shine was serving its Shrimp & Grits. (Watch for a full review of ASH:FKSS soon.)

Party16 ganachery

The Ganachery offered Custom-blended 65% Chocolate Ganache with pistachio sponge and Amarena Cherries.

Party16 amorettes

Amorettes Patisserie had Black Lava-salted Caramel Mousse with chocolate biscuit, espresso meringue and black walnut macaron.

Party16 blaze

Brad Kent of Blaze Fast-Fire’d Pizza served an assortment of flatbreads.

Party16 frontera

Frontera Cocina by Rick Bayless (but Baylessless) had Carnitas Tostada with black bean purée and salsa verde.

Party16 Paddlefish

Paddelfish was on hand even though the restaurant hasn’t opened yet. A mini lobster roll was offered to demonstrate the sort of thing the Fulton’s Fish House replacement will serve when it opens in “late November, early December,” as the people handing out the plates were saying.

Party16 plank

Justin Plank, above right, in his first weeks as executive chef at Portobello, offered Vitello Tonnato.

Party16 food truck 1

Party16 food truck kefta

And here was a nice idea. A couple of the Downtown Dis…oops, I mean Disney Springs food trucks were parked out one of the back doors for guests to sep up to and have a Pork Belly Cuban or a Spice-dusted Lamb Kefta.

There seemed to be fewer wine stations and more cocktail and beer offerings at this Party. One welcome wine station was manned by George Miliotes, who will open his Wine Bar George at Disney Springs next fall. He was pouring a yummy Triton Tinta de Toro, 2014, paired with simple slices of Manchego cheese. (A perfect match.)

Check the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival website for upcoming Party for the Senses details.

We hope you find our reviews and news articles useful and entertaining. It has always been our goal to assist you in making informed decisions when spending your dining dollars. If we’ve helped you in any way, please consider making a contribution to help us continue our journalism. Thank you.

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
<div class="fb-comments" data-href="<?php the_permalink() ?>" data-width="100%" data-numposts="5"></div>
Scott's Newsletter