Last year, one of my favorites of the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival was the Spinach and Paneer Cheese Pocket at the South Africa kiosk. I was so happy to see it return this year, but also excited to see a new beef dish, the Berbere-style Beef. Don’t worry, I still got my Spinach and Paneer Cheese Pocket! 😉
Let’s start with the new dish, shall we? The Berbere-style Beef is served alongside a combination of Onions, Jalapenos, Tomato, Okra and Pap. Pap, which you can find at Animal Kingdom restaurants such as Tusker House or Animal Kingdom Lodge restaurants such as Boma and even The Mara, is a porridge made from ground corn.
Berbere is a spice mix that varies, but you will find chili peppers in it to bring the heat. Disney’s version does not disappoint! The spices permeated the beef and vegetables that had stewed down. The meat was fairly tender, but for me I was most impressed with the spice level that built a little. I didn’t feel that it burned, but those sensitive to spice and heat may want to avoid this dish, or at least sample a friend’s before ordering their own.
The Spinach and Paneer Cheese Pocket is even better this year from what I recall from last! The crust was much crispier, which texturally helped the pocket from getting chewy from its filling and added a bit of contrast.
The filling also seemed to feature more spice, not so much in a heat way, but in a mild, curry-seasoned way. I’ll be revisiting this guy as the festival continues!
Here’s a look at 2012’s, in case you’re curious:
I think this years Africa kiosk is a bigger win than last year’s. You can see reviews for 2012 Seared Filet of Beef with Smashed Sweet Potatoes and Braai Sauce and Spinach and Paneer Cheese Pocket by clicking on their respective links. If you like dishes with some spicy heat, give the Berbere-style Beef a try. If you’re into more mild flavors are want a vegetarian dish, you can’t go wrong with the Spinach and Paneer Cheese Pocket! Now if only they’d bring back the Bunny Chow…