Friday, February 11, 2011

Food Tours

I’ve been fortunate to have quite a few opportunities to check out a wide range of foodstuffs.  I’d like to share my journey with you:

Universal Studios Hollywood – International Cafe

Meh, theme park food.  Overpriced and not that great, right?  Surprisingly, this is not the case at Universal Studios Hollywood’s International Cafe.  I was invited to a Blogger’s Banquet to taste the cafe’s offerings, meet the chef and learn all about this award winning restaurant.  Serving salads, cheese plates, baked goods, soups and sandwiches, all in a European cafe setting, a glance at the chalkboard “menu specials” of the day told me this isn’t just some fast food facade.  We sampled four soups, my favorite being the Roasted Cauliflower with Cheddar, Arugala salad with buffalo mozzarella and heirloom tomatoes, a sampling of three sandwiches, my favorite was the Oven Roasted Turkey with Muenster Cheese and Garlic Sauce, homemade BBQ chips and for dessert, Chocolate Enchantment-layers of chocolate cake and chocolate mousse with chocolate ganache, which was quite tasty, if a little much for me.  The cafe also serves wine which you are allowed to bring outside the cafe to sit at the outdoor benches and tables.  A crazy day at an amusement park with the family has left many a parent wishing for a cocktail.  Universal aims to please!

Universal’s Executive Chef Eric Kopelow, the creator of the cafe’s menu, was at the banquet to answer our questions.  The main things I learned is that everything is made fresh onsite, including the buffalo mozzarella and much of the menu changes daily.  At the banquet, we watched as Chef Kopelow was honored with the Santé Award for Outstanding Achievement in Culinary Service and Hospitality as well as being recognized as “2010 Chef of the Year” by Chef Magazine.  Darned impressive for a theme park…This is not your childhood orange liquid covered nachos and fried dough.  Thank.  God.

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