Walt Disney World’s Muffalata BurgerBy Todd • Sep 30th, 2010 • Category: Burger Blog
The muffuletta is one of New Orleans’ signature contributions to the culinary world. Born in a French Quarter grocery store in the early 1900s, the “muff” is now as much a part of the Mardi Gras experience as po’ boys, etouffee, and gumbo.
That’s a beautiful shot from passionateeater’s wonderful blog. A circular loaf of bread, usually about 10 inches across, is split in half horizontally and loaded with Italian meats and cheese, then dressed with a unique olive spread. It’s a tasty sandwich, to be sure. So it’s no stretch to imagine it combined with the classic cheeseburger. Breeding grilled cheese sammies, Philly cheesesteaks, and even peanut-butter-and-banana ‘wiches with the All-American cheebie has yielded some good eats, so why not this genuine taste of NoLa? It doesn’t surprise me that someone did a mashup of the muff and the cheeseburger. What surprises me is where I found it: not in some dive on Bourbon Street, but in a sports bar at Walt Disney World.
That’s the ESPN Club, located just outside the EPCOT theme park. (A tip of the mouse ears to the excellent Disney Food Blog for their shots of the restaurant’s exterior and interior. I was having some camera issues.) And since NFL Sundays don’t shut down for family vacations, I found myself recently parked in front of one of their 108 TV screens at lunchtime to watch my Cowboys take on the Bears. (“Happiest Place on Earth?” Not after that showing. But that’s another story for another blog.)
Clam chowder, racks of ribs, an “extreme” Reuben, a turkey-and-brie sandwich, and a salmon BLT were some of the unexpected menu options. Of the four burgers, the one that jumped out at me was the Muffalata Burger, which, despite the unorthodox spelling, sounded pretty damn good, an “Angus chuck burger topped with prosciutto, cappicola, salami, provolone, and olive tapenade.”
It looked fairly authentic when it hit the table. Granted, not 10 inches in diameter, but I saw a juicy burger topped with a thick layer of cheese and cold cuts, pre-cut under a slightly-crusty panini-like bread.
Some muff buffs consider toasting the sandwich to be sacrilege, but I gave it a pass since it was a burger, after all, and I wasn’t interested in a “hot-side-hot-and-the-cold-side-cold” arrangement. The olive spread was of particular interest to me:
Although most Italians refer to it simply as “olive salad,” it’s more specifically, as the menu calls it, a tapenade. Wikipedia defines that as “a Provencal dish of pureed or finely chopped olives, capers, anchovies, and olive oil.“ It looks like relish, and it was the part of the burger that I was most unsure about. I mean, really… would you load up your burg with olives, capers, and anchovies if they were on the fixings bar at Fuddruckers?
All in all, this was an okay burger. The Angus beef was very good, and way better than what I expected from a sports-bar-in-a-theme-park patty. But the other meats just got lost. No arguments with the cheese, although provolone isn’t much of a melter, so no ooey-gooey factor. The tapenade wasn’t too olive-y, which was okay by me, as I’m not an olive fan. But it made me wonder: what’s the point of the Muffalata Burger if the things that define it as a muff are so muted?
Out in the real world, I’d raise holy hell about the $12.49 price tag. Inside the Mouse House, though, I guess that’s to be expected. ESPN Club’s Muffalata Burger isn’t a bad burger, but not overly memorable, either. Of course, I still polished mine off…