Via Napoli Wine Lunch, Epcot International Food & Wine Festival 2014

This Food & Wine Event took place on November 6, 2014

For the last two years, we’ve done the Italian Regional Wine Lunch at Tutto Gusto with Lisa and Andy (2012 and 2013). This year, we did the Italian Food & Wine Pairing at Via Napoli… I’m not sure why we changed, perhaps to try something new, perhaps it was a scheduling issue… Regardless, the cost of the Italian Food & Wine Pairing is slightly less than the other.

The beginning of this event was a repeat of when we did the Food & Beer Pairing with Nevie. Check in at the podium, let them know if anyone has food allergies, get a “glass” of sangria, and wait for them to call your party for seating.

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Welcoming Glass of Sangria – the sangria was a light white wine and citrus sangria

The tables were arranged a bit differently today with six seated at all the tables along the wall and eight seated at the tables in the center of the space. I know I’ve said this before, Via Napoli’s space for these events (the smaller area that was supposed to be an indoor-but-outdoor patio with added glass walls) is extremely loud IF you’re imprisoned in there with a loud party… Make it two or three groups of people at a Wine Lunch who are over the top loud and it is downright excruciating… You end up shouting at the person next to you and the whole noise level of the room just goes up and up. (Andy told us the next day that he couldn’t hear us no matter how loud we tried to talk, unfortunately, we had the same experience).

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our place setting

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wine station for the event

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We were pleased to see that there wasn’t any sort of fish or shellfish on the menu (Lisa has a bivalve allergy and sometimes it’s just easier to say she has a shellfish allergy).

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the servers did a much better job this time of keeping the bread baskets filled… there isn’t anything wrong with this bread, it just isn’t all that great as far as I’m concerned

As soon as we were seated, Andrea (male) came over and poured glasses of water for us all. We thought he looked familiar from last time, Nick then remembered that Andrea danced when we were here with Nevie. Turns out he danced with a professional troupe in Italy for 12 years.

First Pairing

Caponata di Zucchine and Orvieto (Rocca Delle Macie)

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first wine

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We’ve had this wine once before at Tutto Gusto (here)… the reason i remember it is that the Italians say that it’s “Italian sunshine in a glass“. This is a blended white.

Our Sommelier, but he prefers to be called the Wine Lover, is Tiziano. He tells us that he doesn’t like following the rules of wine tastings and that the “best pairing is personal”

For me, the nose of this wine was stones and sour citrus and the first taste was very sour but creamy. Nick said that he didn’t have an opinion about it on it’s own, but he thinks he’ll probably like it with food.

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Caponata di Zucchine

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Sweet and Sour Zucchini Salad

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Zucchini, Roasted Red Peppers, Green Olives, Onion, Capers

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this was our favorite food offering

I was pleased that the caponata wasn’t served too cold, when it was placed in front of me, I thought “oh no, this is going to be straight out of the cooler cold and it won’t taste like much of anything…”

I didn’t get a lot of “sour” from the “sweet and sour” description. I got a lot of sweet on my palate and the citrus sour from the wine complemented it well.

Nick liked the wine with the food, the wine became richer and more full when paired with the salad.

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Caponata Salad

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Francesco (on left) was our host, but I don’t remember him introducing himself and Tiziano (on right) was our wine host

Second Pairing

Pizza Margherita and Centofilari (Lugana)

The wine this time is from Northern Italy…

there was a whole Northern versus Southern Italy theme going on today, but I couldn’t really understand what they were trying to say – at one point, I thought that we were going to go away from Via Napoli’s regular regional cuisine, that being Southern Italy, but then it seemed like a lot of the food at least was from Via Napoli’s regular style of cooking

after talking to Lisa the next day, the idea was that all the wines and food were from Northern Italy… Sorry but Naples (i.e. Via Napoli, duh) is in Southern Italy… this concept didn’t resonate for me at all

Tiziano talked about his home Lake Garda, the most beautiful lake in Italy, great for boating, skiing, and swimming. The wineries in the area benefit from the mild temperatures. This wine, Cento Filari,  is cold fermented in stainless steel tanks for 9 months and then finished in oak barrels. We should expect the nose to be fruity and vegetal.

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second wine

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For a change, Nick and I had the same thoughts when nosing a white wine … “No! Not quite cat piss, but NO!” And then, surprise surprise, we agreed on the taste without food “good, yum, creamy” As it warmed, I started to get a bit of melon on my palate.

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Via Napoli Specialty – Pizza Margherita

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the colors represent the Italian flag

Made with Italian flour, Italian tomatoes, and Italian mozzarella. The cheese on the pizza helped the wine (Nick). I thought this wine would be well suited for a simple cheese omelet and light salad.

The pizza though, in our opinion, wasn’t all that special. We’ve had pizza at Via Napoli a few times, at each of the beer and food pairings we’ve had some sort of pizza and we’ve stopped in here with friends a time or two for pizza. The cheese didn’t have much flavor, the tomato sauce had no seasoning or herbs (sorry that single basil leaf didn’t spread to season the whole thing), and the crust wasn’t bad but it really needed some salt.

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wood fired cheese pizza

Third Pairing

Lasagna Napoletana and Chianti Riserva, Banfi

The third wine was Chianti Reserva – 80% San Giovase grapes and aged one year in french oak barrels.

Nora – I thought the nose was smoke and cherries (similar to Chad’s smoked cherries on the Barrel Aged Manhattans!), without food I got a very dry red with loads of tannins and the color is very deep.

Nick – this is a very dry red wine

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third wine

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Tiziano said that “in Italy, eat food and drink wine from the same place and you get a good pairing”

The lasagne was sold as a “typical Sunday Lunch with Grandma’ – this lasagne is made with ham and cheese.

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Lasagna Napoletana

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looks a bit plain and bland

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hey! there are meatballs in here along with a bit of ham

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up close and personal with our lasagna

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half meatballs, cheese, soggy pasta, ham

There was ham in here (pretty flavorless), there were meatballs (Lisa thinks they’re chicken meatballs), there was tomato sauce and cheese. Sounds good right?

The pasta was soggy. There was no salt or herbs evident in here (bland bland bland). Very disappointing.

I can’t even say how the pairing worked. The lasagna was a bit insipid and boring. The wine was really strong and bold. They pretty much didn’t play well together.

Fourth Course

Panna Cotta al Pistacchio and Fior d’Arancio Passito, Montegrande

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fourth wine

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wine and panna cotta

Full disclosure, I don’t particularly care for panna cotta nor do I like ice wine (that’s what this really is). So, honestly, this didn’t do much for me. Nick doesn’t care for ice wines either.

Made from Moscato Grapes, it was definitely a fruity sweet wine. Too sweet for our palates.

The panna cotta was pretty good actually, it didn’t taste like milk jello to me and I really like pistachios – I gave most of it to Lisa and she really liked it.

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Andrea is going to dance the Tarantella

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everyone is clapping enthusiastically to keep the beat while Andrea dances

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this is a very energetic dance!

Final thoughts?

I think we’re pretty much done with events at Via Napoli. The food isn’t very spectacular or interesting. The venue is typically too loud. And, frankly, both of those in combination are a no-go for us.

That said, I think we’d rather go back to Tutto Gusto and do the Italian Regional Wine Lunch next year or maybe 2016.

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