This Cauldron is Made of Chocolate: A tale of food from the Harry Potter theme parkFan Events
Presenting the second (of three-ish) parts of our report of Leaky's preview of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Tonight at 7pm PACIFIC (not Eastern; it's 10pm Eastern), join us in PotterCast's LiveStream, where we will talk about this and our previous report of the Hogwarts and the Forbidden Journey attraction; you can ask questions and more, so we'll see you there! Meanwhile read on, and maybe make sure your next meal is not too far off before you begin...
By Melissa Anelli
All right. Enough about the attractions and how much it looks like Hogwarts and the sparkle of the fake snow and the crooked turrets and the bootlegged images over which we've all been drooling over like starved pomeranians.
This is about the food.
During last week's attraction preview Leaky had a sampling of nearly everything that will be offered in the Three Broomsticks restaurant/pub. (We mean it: nearly everything. We walked in like normal people and ambled out, carting our bellies in front of us in wheelbarrows and planning endless sets of crunches.)
Some quick facts:
- The food is prepared on the premises. Universal has gone to the lengths of installing a slow roaster (because Orlando isn't hot enough) in the back to create a home-cooked style.
- We don't know what any of it will cost yet.
- The food was presented to us very excitedly by Ric Florrel, Senior VP of Food and Merch, and Stephen Jayson, the head chef.
- It replicates food found in the books pretty faithfully (in some cases unbelievably so)
- There are options for children (all kids' meals under 300 calories) and vegetarians (no Vegetarian Meal per se, but there's a Mac and Cheese option and a Potato Leek soup that may even be vegan friendly)
- Butterbeer and pumpkin juice will blow your mind. The butterbeer was selected by J.K. Rowling out of a number of variations. More on that below.
- The food features some fried and comfort food but the menu is mostly made up of things you might find on a Weasley dinner table.
- Butterbeer is not alcoholic, but there will be a Hog's Head Ale that is exclusive to the park, and in fact exclusive to the Hog's Head Pub (more on that later in the month of April). The tap for it featured a 3-D hog snout. You can only get it there.
- Pumpkin juice will be bottled and sold; butterbeer will not (meaning you'll have to get it at a cart or at the 3B, where the pumpkin juice has its own bottle and can be purchased that way. You have to get it at the park, though. Nowhere else).
- It was "really important that it was food that looked like it walked out of the Harry Potter books," said Thierry Coup (VP, Universal Creative).
And with that we bring you everything we can possibly remember:
- Butterbeer: It's like cream soda plus shortbread cookies plus… plus something. When the (nonalcoholic; there is no alcoholic version) butterbeer is poured, the barkeep applies the foam separately. The foam makes frothy foam mustaches that you'll lick off your top lip like it's your job. It must have some yeast, because it kept replicating itself in the glass as the butterbeer below it diminished. It's a whole separate taste, much thicker than the butterbeer below it, and fuller in flavor, almost like a creamed gingerbread cookie. It's served in a plastic stein that you return (that says "Butterbeer" on it), but souvenir steins will be available to purchase. Butterbeer is ALSO served FROZEN, sort of like a Frappuccino.
- Pumpkin juice: Like apple and pumpkin pie in a crisp and summery drink. Lots of hints of cinnamon and honey and autumnal spices that somehow feel like something you could easily drink in the one-billion-degree weather of Orlando in July.
- The Great Feast. One food option is a Great Feast, which claims to serve a family of four but could probably stretch to five or six. A trough - I mean - platter of food, it contains several huge ears of corn, at least four large, roasted bits of chicken, four servings of ribs, seasoned and roasted vegetables, and seasoned potatoes. It was this more than anything that we could not believe was being prepared at a theme park.
- Fish and Chips: Properly British, and by all accounts the fish inside the crusty container was of a quality few had experienced (even the Brit sitting next to me thought so).
- Other options included: Shepherd's pie (comes in a little ceramic container, very tasty - the pie, that is, not the ceramic container, although certainly if seasoned- all right, that joke's gone on long enough); a chicken salad; heaps of vegetables; cornish pasties (twice the size that would be considered "bite" size, a nice small option).
- Dessert: Seriously, folks, you might want to plan two trips on two separate days, because if you think your stomach can handle all of that food and then a dessert table that seems to have marched right out of the bakery section of Honeydukes, YOU ARE WRONG. For starters, they made Strawberry and Peanut Butter Ice Cream. Ten points if you didn't get to this sentence before remembering where that appears in the books: yep, die hards, in the second book, Harry buys this for himself and Ron and Hermione, and if you read it and thought, "Um, what kind of weirdo wizard thing is that?" you were not alone. And that was everyone's initial reaction - "Really? They made strawberry and peanut butter ice cream? Really? That's just silly." Silly must be the new freaking-delicious because it was the best thing on the menu and something I would spend a whole day's calories on if given the chance. I don't even like strawberry ice cream on its own. This, however, with bits of peanut butter and vanilla dancing around inside - this was great.
- Cauldron Cakes. Leaky Cauldron readers, we have waited for this for years. Cauldron Cakes. Big, stand-on-their-own, chocolate spongy canisters leaking - exploding, more like - gooey chocolate fondue something-or-other that may or may not be a substance I wish covered everything. (Smart money's on "may.") The hard chocolate handle sticking out of the top and the clear sugared bubbles in the middle really made it art.
A few bites of each of those, after a few bites of each of everything else at lunch, had us all feeling pretty droopy. Somehow, somehow, through sheer persistence and moral fiber, we summoned the courage to do our sworn duty as Harry Potter webmeisters and reach for…
…the treacle tart (gummy, creamy, a cherry inside) and the apple tart (like an apple crumble), and the tiny pumpkin pies. There was more - cookies, some amazing looking thing with strawberries in a cup under several strata of chocolate - but at this point it was a safe bet that diabetic coma wasn't far off and we should try and get out of there with our pride and more or less at our current body weight.
Just think...we haven't even been to Honeydukes yet.
(On that note, Leaky is proud to announce its Hogwartsercise class, premiering at LeakyCon 2011...)