Farm Industry News Blog

An oasis of flavor

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Iowa farmer Jeff Ryan takes a trip South to Disney World's Epcot and has a Moroccan culinary adventure.

Our server was a lovely young lady by the name of Zineb. She is originally from Morocco and was extremely outgoing and friendly to us as she seated us and took our order. This was about 1:30 in the afternoon, so there weren't a ton of people there at the moment. We had a table near the outside where we could get some sunshine as we dined.

Then came the hard part. We had to decide what to get. It didn't take long for us to decide that Zineb was on the ball. She answered all of the questions we had and made some great recommendations. We ended up choosing both the Mogador Sampler and the Tingis Sampler. That gave us the combination of Mussels Tagine, Salted Cod Croquettes, Fried Calamari, a Lamb Slider, a Harissa Chicken Roll and Merguez Sausage. 

I'm willing to try just about anything. These two sampler platters pretty well hit the spectrum of foods I've had in my lifetime. The lamb slider was about as plain Jane as you could get with this order, but that's still a high standard. It was actually pretty good, and I'm not that big a fan of lamb. The bun was what sold me on it.

Let's be real. I live in the Midwest, so access to a variety of food isn't that great. My first exposure to mussels came a few years ago when I went out to eat in Des Moines with My Pal Gordy and his wife, Barb. There haven't been a lot of chances for me to have mussels again since, but I figured that Spice Road Table would be a safe bet. Boy, was it! They may have been the best item of the whole mix. My friends will be shocked by this, but I loved the chicken rolls, too. There was a ton of extra flavor added to them, which is what it takes for chicken to move from the cellar of my food preference list. The spicy ketchup accompanying the chicken is probably what sealed it for me.    

We didn't get very far into our meal when Zineb came back to check on us again. She shared a bunch of information about each of the dishes and let us know how a lot of the food is typically used in everyday cooking in Morocco. Zineb was so bubbly and cheerful. You could tell she was very proud of her native country and the food.

The first plates were cleaned up in decent time and we thought about our next move. Seconds sounded good, but we couldn't really decide on which plate we liked the most. Solution? Order another one of each! Some is good, so more is obviously better.

Zineb came back and happily took our order for Round II. It did not disappoint, but we were too stuffed by that point to think about dessert. Zineb stopped by again and visited before we made our way back to the main thoroughfare of World Showcase.

With no other ongoing food festivals at Disney World at the moment, we were feeling sort of left out the next couple of days. Yes, we ate well, but nothing really inspired us like Spice Road Table had. That's when we decided to make another trip to Epcot and head for Morocco.

Our stop at the front table found different staff at work. We asked if it would be possible to sit at Zineb's table. The place had only been open for about ten days, so I think they were a little bit surprised for customers to ask for a specific server already. We waited for a short while until Zineb came around a corner and beamed. "Oh my gosh, these are my friends!" she told the other hostess at the front desk as soon as she saw us. "It is so good to see you again! Welcome back. We are so glad you came back to see us again!"

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The Farm Industry News Blog features commentary from Willie Vogt, Daryl Bridenbaugh and Jeff Ryan.

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