Thursday, December 31, 2009

Three Sheets to Epcot Center - A Picture Essay

In this photo essay, we go Three Sheets to Epcot Center.  We drink grape wine, rice wine, glauwein, Morrocan slushies, tequila and of course, beer.

Da da dum. Da da dum. Da da dum bum bum bum.  Every night in every city around the world it happens.  People poor into local watering holes to well...drink.  It's our mission to traverse the globe getting to know these different people and their drinking customs, bellying up to the bar, and with any luck, making some new friends. [For copyright protection purposes, I thank Zane Lamprey, et al for this introduction.  Thanks, Zane.]

6PM.  Orlando, FL.  We're on a limited budget.  Our staff was playing ISpy with their Grandmother and couldn't help us produce our essay.  What easier way to experience, in a technologically disadvantaged way, the local drinking customs of several countries within feet of each other than at the cultural melting pot of Disney World?  Armed only with our trusted camera (I forgot to bring the video camera), we scurried past the lines at the GM Test Track and Soarin' and made our way to the Countries of the World Pavilion to sample the delights from 11 countries around the world.  The theme park's late hours, however, were not tonight and we only had three hours to get in and get out.  Man and woman versus drink, so to speak.  Join us, as we go THREE SHEETS TO EPCOT CENTER!

MEXICO.  Our first stop on our suddenly quick journey through the pavillion was La Cava De Tequila.  You don't need to know Spanish to know that that loosely translates to "Tequila Cave."  MM started quickly with a margarita from Jose, our bartender.  And I had a cheap generic beer called Sola that was served in the same type of clear bottle as Corona.  Hmm.  Is Corona just the Mexican equivalent of Milwaukee's Best?
To be honest with you, I'm not sure that was his name.  All I know is that he was from Miami, Florida. 
To our surprise, we also met the foursome below who were experiencing the Countries of the World Pavilion along with us.  After looking at the Tequila shot plate in front of the guys, we asked whether they did all those shots.  "Really?" my wife questioned when they said they hadn't.  Then, uh, who did?  Whereas this was our first stop, obviously this was their last.  The woman on the left was doing a tequila shooter.  Luckily for us, we backed up after we took this photo, since she was a little "shaky" with the whole salt, lime and tequila shot sequence.
NORWAY.  The girls at the Akershus Royal Buffet at the Norway Pavillion were not amused by my question of whether there was a bar inside.  Even charming Norwegian accents didn't make the angry words "No sir, we don't." sound any less harsh.  Why couldn't the Tequila Foursome tell us to skip Norway?
CHINA.  No luck with a bar here either, but we could order a couple of Tsing Tao with our eggrolls and dumplings from the Nine Dragons cafeteria.  This guy was pretty psyched to have his picture taken.  He also was insistent on taking our picture.  When I looked at it the next morning, I just shook my head.
GERMANY:  Our first stop was to taste the Gerstacker Gluhwein outside of the pavillion.  It's spicy wine made somewhere in Germany.  More than one person told us to try this wine, so we were excited to taste it.  Knowing that we still hadn't hit the "Biergarten," we tried just one between the two of us.  What our bartender didn't tell us though, was that it was spiced wine served HOT.  I suppose if you are living in a cave in the black forest this might be an appealing alternative to freezing, but when its 66 degrees in Florida?  No thanks.  Needless to say, I will have a discussion with those who fooled me into trying this concoction.  The bartender's smirk says it all...another American tourist fooled.
So we moved on to what I truly thought would be the highlight of the experience.  A liter stein at the "Biergarten."  Wait, what, they don't have a bar and worse yet, they don't serve beer?  But its called the "Biergarten!"  Was I wrong to think that "biergarten" means garden of beer?  I'm told that they serve beer during Octoberfest, but that I need to go over to the kiosk over here
to get Paulaner Octoberfest.  Shouldn't Octoberfest happen everyday in Disney World?  Doesn't New Years Eve happen every night at Pleasure Island?  "They don't do that anymore." I'm told.  Oh.  So I begrudgingly order two beers.  The girls wouldn't let me pour my own, so I didn't (as far as they know), but my wife was still choking down her glue wine, so I had two beers for myself.  The guy behind me, who we started talking to while waiting in line, looked thirsty so I gave him my extra beer, so long as I could take his picture and make fun of him in my blog if I so chose.  Prost!
ITALY.  My bewilderment over the lack of beer in a place balled the beer garten was quickly replaced by excitement.
"Can you take my picture with that Disney cast member in the funny clothes hanging out by the fountain?  The kids would love that picture." I request as we make our way to try some Italian wines and Peroni in the Italy Pavillion. 

"I'm from Wisconsin, I don't work here." The guy answers as I put my arm around him. 
"Can we take a picture with you anyway?" my wife inquires.  Just imagine if this happened in Faneuil Hall?
We end up missing any beer but try some white and red wines from a very nice lady named Maria.  She was very subdued when her boss was around, but very outgoing when the boss went out to the back room.
UNITED STATES.  Just a beer at the Fife and Drum take out stand.  We enjoyed the choral concert at America Gardens, but how can you have much to say about a Budweiser?
JAPAN:  Another situation where neither of the restaurants had a bar or served any beer or sake.  Everyone pointed us back to the same kiosk that we had left minutes before.  "You see, I told you you'd be back." the nice lady admonished.  May I just pour my own sake and drink peacefully?  Thank you.
MOROCCO.  We missed Mo'rockin' but did have a Casa Beer and a "Sultan's coloda," which was a Pina Colada with orange juice in it.  The best part was that my wife could make her own drink.  Well she got behind the bar for the picture below, and I assume she made her own drink, but I was too busy reading the receipt that said we just bought a "refreshment" and a "slushie."  If your spouse comes back from a work-related trip and you find a bunch of receipts that say "refreshment" and "slushie," well you know what was going on on that trip.  Mmm.  That's one good slushie!
FRANCE.  As we moved on, to the last part of our journey, we discovered that were running out of time.  Luckily we were going to France next, so I knew that this would be a quick trip.  Either I wouldn't be able to take them or they wouldn't be able to take us for very long.  Surprisingly, we all had a great time.  We must have been their last customers of the day, since everyone was helping us.  Either that or they wanted to be a part of our Photo Essay. 

My tasting notes from the wine tasting were predictably scant, but I did note that the Beaujolais Nouveau was "a little sour with some cherry and rasberry."  It must have been sitting in that box for too long.
ENGLAND.  Finally, a bar to sit and have a beer.  I wish we could enjoy this more, but the bartender was getting tired (of us) and didn't want to make any more suds shamrocks on our beers.  He dispatched us to the restaurant to eat dinner.
Instead, we made our way over to the Canada Pavillion.  Thanks for the beers, my man.
CANADA.  Similar to Norway, there was no beer to be had, although we just assumed that since it was getting to be closing time, and nothing appeared to be open. 
So back to England for that potato leek soup which was a truly forgettable dining experience.
THE NEXT MORNING.  I had forgotten that the family was going to be up early the next morning to head over to the Magic Kingdom.  Because the sun was shining a little bright this morning, we needed to find a hangover cure.  And fast.  Luckily the line at Splash Mountain wasn't too bad because of the cool weather and we thought that the 50 foot plunge into ice cold water would be a great way to get rid of our headaches. 
Mission Accomplished.  A great time was had by all.  Perhaps some of the folks we encountered will remember us and our adventure around Epcot.  I can assure you that we will never forget (most of) it.

Check back with us on Saturday as we go "In Search of Tiger Woods."


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