Inaugural International Food Festival Announced for 2015
Previous September Tower Tastings Review
On October 4th Applesauce, Tony, Zachary, and I (Nicole) continued our explorations of Virginia theme park food at Kings Dominion’s Haunt VIP Meal. We were escorted up to the Caprice Room, where we greeted by elaborate Halloween decorations and a ghost-infested TV. After seating ourselves (there was no server or host in sight), we spent a few minutes admiring Executive Chef Paul Maloney’s clever, souvenir menus and the elegant table. In addition to describing a fully-themed four-course meal, they contained an appropriately gruesome “history” of the Caprice Room, itself.
While soft drinks and iced tea were being served, Chef Paul described the menu and told us that an additional salad course has been added, as well. While we all enjoyed the meal, and each dish had interesting components (for example the white truffle oil popcorn and the orange cranberry coulis), it was clear that the main flavors had been selected to appeal to a broader audience than other food events we have attended, including last week’s Tower Tastings. Given the nature of the Haunt dinners, it probably makes sense not to challenge diners too much, but I personally would have liked to see slightly more adventurous dishes. Regardless the creativity and thought that went into designing the menu was apparent and overall we all had a fantastic time.
What is it? Watermelon radish, beets, mache lettuce, candied walnuts, brie, goat cheese crumbles, tomato basil crouton, and a balsamic drizzle
Our Thoughts: This dish was my favorite. As I have noted before, I love the sweet and tart flavor of balsamic, and I discovered that not only do I enjoy it on vegetables, but I also love it with brie. I tried all of the components together and everything paired well. The fresh vegetables, creamy cheese, and crunchy nuts made this salad the perfect start to our meal.
What is it? Duo of Tomato Basil Soup Shooter with Fried Basil Leaf and Grilled Pork Belly with Garlic Aioli, and Pickled Onions on Toasted Baguette
Our Thoughts: This was Applesauce, Tony, and Zachary’s favorite dish. They all particularly liked the baguette. This plate had the boldest flavors of the evening: the shooter featured strong garlic seasoning, and the pickled onions provided a great counterpoint to the pork belly.
The First Bite
What is it? Seared Jumbo Sea Scallops with Fresh Virginia Creamed Corn, Baby Radish, Arugula, and Herb Oil
Our Thoughts: Chef Paul added shrimp to this plate, as well. The creamed corn was the highlight of the dish, and paired unexpectedly well with the seafood and the lovely flavors from the oil.
The Devil’s Feast
What is it? Braised Beef Short Ribs with Red Wine Reduction, Sour Cream Whipped Potatoes, Grilled Asparagus, Glazed Malibu Carrots, and White Truffle Oil Popcorn
Our Thoughts: The popcorn was a huge surprise. It added a hint of flair and a tasty flavor twist to an otherwise predictable main course. The short ribs were well-prepared and the red wine sauce tasted good, but this dish did not particularly stand out.
The Bitter End
What is it? Pumpkin Cheesecake Bar with Pop Rocks, Oreo Cookie Crumble, & Orange Cranberry Coulis
Our Thoughts: Everyone at our table was eager to try this “bar,” which turned out to be a full piece of creamy cheesecake topped with pumpkin mousse and sprinkled with Pop Rocks. The candy added a surprise “experience,” and the tangy coulis transformed the dish with an extra punch of citrus flavor.
Overall the food was tasty and well-prepared. We did notice that the more interesting flavors seemed to be in the garnishes and sauces, as opposed the main components. This choice is probably a very good way to make the food approachable for a majority of people, while providing some bolder flavors for more adventurous diners.
Speaking with Chef Paul, we understand that he will serve a variety of menus Saturdays and Sundays throughout Haunt. Although the last VIP meal is currently scheduled for October 26th, we believe it could be extended to November 1st, if there is enough demand.
You can find more information about Kings Dominion’s Haunt VIP meal on the park’s website here.