Friday, November 19, 2010

Field Report: The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

With the opening of Part 7 Part 1 (P7P1), my dear friend Amber tells of her own magical journey:

As the first installment of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows hits theaters, I find it a perfect time to share my thoughts on the culinary (and other) delights of my own visit the Wizarding World this past summer.

If you can ignore the long lines, sweaty tourists, children bobbing and weaving through the crowd, and roller coaster careening in the background, your first steps into the Wizarding World, or “Harry Potter land”, as I took to calling it during my trip, will be truly magical. I had the pleasure of early entry to the park during my stay, and so all the above-mentioned distracters were not a problem at 8am. The shops and scenery are far from fake-looking, and if you are one who can maintain suspension of disbelief at least temporarily, you will be truly amazed.

The first thing you’ll see in your path is a huge barrel with “BUTTERBEER” emblazoned on the side, making it clear that Universal Studios, their Executive Chef Steve Jayson, and all the Wizarding World staffers take great pride in this concoction. “What is it?” you ask yourself. We may never know, as they’ve kept the recipe top-secret, and the only place to access Butterbeer is within the park. Not only that, it’s whipped up on the spot and designed to be consumed immediately, so guests smuggling samples outside the park (what, to study it in their magical laboratory?) will be sorely disappointed. All you need to know is that it is delicious and has been described by many loyal Harry Potter fans as a “religious experience.” What they mean by that, in my opinion, is that it’s a similar experience to reading about and imagining a beautiful exotic location and then stepping into it. Many have likened its flavor primarily to butterscotch, but also to root beer, cream soda, shortbread, Werther’s caramel candy, or some combination of the above. Personally, I’d go with a butterscotch-flavored cream soda with a salty caramel aftertaste.

They’ve made efforts to please all by offering Butterbeer frozen or unfrozen. Both are topped with a rich foamy cream that joyfully clings to your upper lip so you can wear it as a badge of deliciousness. I tried both frozen and unfrozen Butterbeer, and in my personal opinion, frozen is the way to go. For one, it prompts you to drink slower, fully taking in the butterscotch and salty caramel flavors. It’s also not as sweet and the cream sticks around longer. For me, the unfrozen Butterbeer was overwhelmingly sweet. The surest path to a diabetic coma: Drink some unfrozen Butterbeer, and then down a bottle of the Wizarding World’s other beverage prize child, Pumpkin Juice. Both are good in their own right, just do me a favor and pace yourself, won’t you?

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