It is no secret that the Food and Wine Festival is my favorite time of year at Walt Disney World. Eating and Drinking are literally my favorite activities so it makes sense. I try to attend every year at least once and this year I was able to attend two days in a row!
Since I’m trying to be a Disney Blogger in the know and thought it was a GREAT idea to attend Food and Wine early on in the event, I’ll provide some pros and cons:
Pro: Yes, I feel cool that I was able to attend within the first two weeks.
Con: Early September in Florida temperatures and humidity equate to the surface of the sun if it also had humidity.
Pro: Hotel prices are actually not that bad in early September
Con: That’s because it’s hurricane season and kids are back to school. I will say, this is the perfect time to do a last minute trip (as I did, we planned a week in advance) because you do have a good idea of the “tropics” within the next week.
Pro: We visited Epcot 2 days in a row (well essentially 1 1/2 days – the first day we spent the morning and early afternoon at Magic Kingdom). Usually when I attend Food and Wine, I’m only there for an evening, eat and drink way too much, and have to drink Maalox every 4 hours for the next week while surviving on the BRAT diet (I have a very sensitive stomach can you tell – but it doesn’t stop me from living my best life). 2 days allowed us to sample the majority of the booths over a longer period of time, and was far more enjoyable.
Con: The Heat. Did I mention the heat? It’s really hard to eat and drink in that heat. Or just survive. I could never live in Florida. I would never leave my house in the summer.
Ok, ok… enough of this back and forth – you’re here for the review, right? Please make sure you visit my Instagram Highlights of Food and Wine (@wdwcollective) to watch live video of my friend Breanne and I sampling around the festival…however, who doesn’t want the tea in blog form?
For today’s purposes, we will be following the Food and Wine Festival Passport order – so if you have one already, just follow along! I will also highlight the booths we did not visit, so make sure to read my Epcot Food and Wine Festival 2018 Preview! for further information. I will also note that I didn’t always try what I initially recommended in my preview – it was a more of let my body decide moment based on lack of memory and alcohol. I will asterisk anything I initially recommended to show I follow through on my promises (mostly). Also, keep in mind this is over 2 days and we did not follow the order of the Passport over the two days – does that matter to you? I don’t know, I have Catholic guilt and need to explain myself all the time. I mean guys, I can’t eat and drink at EVERY booth I think I would need to be hospitalized. And if you can, God bless you and would love to hear your thoughts.
The Festival Center
The Festival Center is tucked away in the back left side of Future World. Here you can find the majority of Food and Wine merchandise as well as demonstrations and activities – AND AIR CONDITIONING!! Another fun fact, The Festival Center opens at 9am, so we decided to make this our breakfast spot on our full Epcot day. They do have coffee here, but if you are a snob like me and can only handle certain types of coffee that are espresso based – stop at Joffrey’s and grab an espresso and head on inside.
Here we stopped at Shimmering Sips, with its selection of Mimosas and breakfast pastries.
(Sidebar: I was just thinking of how I can shorten our names when writing who ate/drank what and I realized our initials are A and B. Breanne is so going to hate me because we all know she is type A and not a B hahaha)
Ok.. I had the Blood Orange Mimosa with a chocolate croissant. I don’t know why I didn’t think this would be as acidic as a regular mimosa but I didn’t finish it because someone in this group has serious GERD and didn’t want to get things all riled up right in the AM, but it was very good and I’d prefer it over a regular mimosa. Chocolate croissant..meh. I mean, its your basic chocolate croissant I was really just looking for carbs. B enjoyed her Tropical Mimosa and also tried the Drinkable Chocolate a few steps away at the Chocolate Experience. It is basically like drinking liquid ganache…which was to rich for my blood. Maybe if I was PMSing I would’ve been more into it, but here we are.
What B was really looking forward to was this booth where you could find different types of Cronuts (croissant donuts). Let me tell you, B waited in line for probably 15 minutes for the Croissant Donut with Chocolate Hazelnut Creme, and according to her, it was worth the wait. This was a significant sized Cronut! I would say double the size of something you would get at Dunkin.
Heading on over to Coastal Eats near Club Cool, it resides in a little cluster of booths in Future World West – along with Active Eats and Earth Eats. Here we tried all three items on the menu as the cast members accidentally gave me the wrong item, and gave it to me anyways (which they will usually do). I had the Seared Scallops with Roasted Corn and Butterbean Succotash with a Chili chipotle butter sauce, and B had the *Lump Crab Cake with Napa Cabbage Slaw and Avocado Lemongrass Cream. Both were excellent and extremely flavorful – probably some of our favorites of the entire festival. The Baked Shrimp Scampi Dip, which was the mistake, was your basic run of the mill creamy dip and I’m pretty sure I accidentally called it a spinach artichoke dip in my live because it was that forgettable. I also paired this with the A to Z Wineworks Pinot Gris which was fantastic, very fresh for a very hot day.
The Cheese Studio
This booth was all B because do I really need to discuss all my dietary issues with you…no. I also knew I wasn’t going to try this booth because I am not a fan of “sponsored” booths – they feel very forced to me. Here she tried the Cheese Trio, A Profiterole topped with Boursin Garlic and Fine Herbs Cheese, Smoked Salmon Pinwheel with Boursin Shallot and Chive Cheese, and a Strawberry Macaron with Boursin Pepper Cheese – which in her words – was “bomb.” Also the *Domaine Saint Andre de Figuiere Rose was divine because who doesn’t love a Provencal rose – I dare you to disagree.
Our next stop was the Hawaii booth, across from the Port of Entry stores in the center of the entrance to World Showcase. Here we shared a Kalua Pork slider with Sweet and Sour Dole Pineapple Chutney and Spicy Mayo along with a *Maui Brewing Company Bikini Blonde Lager. It is very hard to screw up a pulled pork slider and this was extremely tasty, even with the pineapple chutney since I’m not usually a fan of mixing sweet and savory. I’ve had the Bikini Blonde Lager before and have always been a fan – its a great light beer for a such a hot day as this one.
Islands of the Caribbean
Right next door you will find the Islands of the Caribbean Booth where we shared a *Ropa Vieja Empanada and I had one sip of the Frozen Mojito – specifically because I knew it was going to be a straight up mix and not a fresh Mojito… and I was right. Although B did like it alot, so if that doesn’t bother you – please go ahead with your order. The Empanada was phenomenal and if you come at me with anything that says shredded beef I’ll most likely eat it. If anything maybe there could’ve been less dough in the empanada so I could have more shredded beef in my life.
The entire visit to the China booth makes me laugh because it was our first booth of the trip at the time and I went completely rogue and ordered something different from my Preview and went with the Black Pepper Shrimp with Garlic Noodles and B chose the Xi’an Pancake with Beef. Both of which, were excellent and a great way to start off the evening. Just keep in mind, both are a little spicy. I’m actually mad that I didn’t also get the Duck Bao Bun which was my original choice, but I’m not upset with my decision.
Yet again, I went against the grain when visiting the India booth (the next booth right after the China Pavilion) and chose the Korma Chicken with Cucumber Tomato Salad, Almonds, Cashews and warm Naan Bread. Definitely in my top 3 dishes of the festival as I’m a huge fan of Indian food. It was very similar to a Chicken Tikka Masala, which is like the california roll of Indian food – sure to be a crowd pleaser. B ordered the Warm Indian Bread with Pickled Garlic, Mango Salsa, and a Coriander Pesto Dip. Normally, you would see these kind of dips with poppadoms, but its always good to carbo-load when drinking around the world. B also had the Mango Lassi with Somrus Indian Cream Liqueur and dropped a huge knowledge bomb on us by letting us know that a Lassi is the traditional Indian drink when eating spicy foods. The creaminess will kill the spice far better than water or an alcoholic beverage. And..it works!
Right before you walk into the Germany Pavilion, you will come across the Brewer’s Collection. This stand only offers beer and beer flights, at a cute and well lit outdoor “biergarten.” We shared the Schofferhofer Hefeweizen Pomegranate Beer. I am not a fan of “fruity” beers, however, this one surprised me. Yes, it has a slight pomegranate taste, but not so overpowering that it ruins the integrity of the beer. A must try!
B was the main participant in this booth, sampling the Apple Strudel with Vanilla Sauce. I had every intention of trying the Schinkennudeln (pasta gratin with ham, onion, and cheese), but was taking a breather during this point and time. I didn’t even taste the strudel as I’m not a huge dessert person. I crash easily, what can I say. Apparently, the strudel was very tasty and very appropriate for the Fall season (although, it did feel like the surface of the sun, did I mention we were very sweaty?)
Ugh, this booth always disappoints me. Surprising right? The menu sounds so good. I was very disappointed by last year’s Charcuterie in a Cone as it tasted like something you would just buy at a grocery store and serve as pasta salad, so stayed away from that. I went for the Seafood Salad with Shrimp, Bay Scallops and Mussels, EVOO, White Balsamic Vinegar. It tasted very similar to the dressing in the Charcuterie and I was BUMMED. If they have this booth again next year, I’m just getting the Paella and being done with it. I will say, the *Albarino was very nice, and I would just stop at the booth for a glass of this wine.
Here’s another booth that I generally skip over. Mainly because in my opinion, the best food at the Italy Pavilion is at Tutto Gusto, and usually what is served here is like higher end Olive Garden (I’m savage sometimes)… but I was super intrigued to try the *Mezzi Rigatoni with Vodka Sauce, Crispy Pancetta, and Parmesan cheese. It sounded like a vodka sauce version of Amatriciana (my favorite kind of sauce), so I was here for it. The pasta was cooked perfectly, which was shocking because it is alot of pasta being made en masse – meaning it very well good have been soggy. This was actually al dente! I was so impressed. The sauce was good as well, probably a little salty because of the pancetta (which creates its own saltiness) and they added more salt on top of it, but whatever – it did its jobs. Top it off with some prosecco and I was very happy overall.
Hops and Barley
Another year goes by, and the American Pavilion shows up again with an awesome *New England Lobster Roll – Warm Lobster with Fresh Herb Mayo on a Griddled Roll. You would be surprised at the amount of lobster one gets in this little guy. Disney could very well skimp on this situation just due to the AMOUNT of people going through the festival, but they do not and I RESPECT IT.
B did act like a champion and try the giant Maple Bacon Funnel Cake topped with Candied Bacon…. and was disappointed. First off – its huge. Second, she wasn’t super into the amount of ice cream included (they don’t add the ice cream as part of the description so this came as a surprise – that’s the maple part), and wasn’t monstrously fond of the bacon. Moral of the story, skip it.
We actually stopped in Japan twice over our 2 days, but only hit the FW booth once. Here we had the Teriyaki Chicken Bun (B’s choice) and I had the Spicy Roll – Tuna and Salmon topped with Volcano sauce. Honestly, go to Teppenedo for better sushi, this was nothing to write home about. B’s Bun was very good though, and if I did it over, I would’ve chosen that hands down. I also tried the Ozeki Rai Sake – super easy to drink junmai sake and very refreshing on such a hot day.
But if you wanna get the real good beverage business, try the Violet Sake in the actual pavilion. This thing is FRESH and is not overly fruity (reiterating the fact that I don’t like fruity drinks). The color of the drink is epic, its the most perfect color of purple/violet/whatever. I would’ve had 3 of them if I didn’t have to drink every where else. (priorities)
Look, I really wanted the Kefta Pocket. Something happened where I was really full and wanted to wait and somehow B showed up with the Hummus Fries. BTW… those things are so spicy its insane. I love spicy food, but this one deserves a warning. I mean, woah. B also paired it with a Mimosa Royale, which I’m assuming the only reason its “royale” is because it is topped additionally with an orange liqueur – are Mimosas Moroccan??
I was so excited to have the *Crispy Pork Belly with Black Beans, Tomatoes, and Onions that I ate this in the rain while holding my umbrella and getting my shorts completely soaked. Like, don’t get in the way of me and pork belly it will just end badly for you. B had the Pao de Queijo – a Brazilian Cheese Bread, which was also very good. B also enjoyed the Caipirinha, because… when in Brazil.
RIP to when the France booth used to serve straight up escargots. It was AMAZING. I miss it so much. That is not to say that this year’s version *Croissant aux Escargots (Escargot croissant with garlic and parsley) is not awesome, it is. I loved it. I think they make this now because a lot of people are put off by the straight up escargots, and I get it… but it was sooooo gooooooood #bringbackescargots . B chose the Creme Brulee with Raspberry Jam which was good, in my opinion not the best creme brulee I’ve ever had, but I think this is one of those dishes you just can’t make en masse. The drinks at this booth may be my favorite overall, I had the St Germain Sparkling Kir, and B had the La Passion Martini Slush. Dare I say, this slush is better than the Grand Marnier slush – I think its true. The Sparkling Kir is awesome as well, and wasn’t as sweet as I anticipated (because of the St Germain) so I was a happy camper. Also, the day before I decided to be extra and just get a glass of the $26 Moet because #yolo.
Here’s another RIP… why did they get rid of the smoked salmon dish they always had – like what did it ever do to you??? Ugh, whatever I got the Warm Irish Cheddar Cheese and Stout Dip with Irish Brown Bread. Here’s something to remember about this one, Irish Cheddar Cheese has a sharper taste than you would expect a regular cheese dip to have. This threw off B, I was expecting it because I LOVE Irish Cheddar. Just keep that in mind if you’re not ready for that slight shock.
Everyone visits the Canada booth so they can get their hands on the Le Cellier favorites, the *Wild Mushroom Beef Filet Mignon with a Truffle Butter Sauce. Here’s the thing. If you like your steak anything less than well done, don’t get this. I mean it tastes good and all, but either get the Cheese soup or just skip it and wait till you can actually eat at Le Cellier. That’s how bummed out I was about this.
AND THAT’S IT! This trip has probably been the most extensive of any of my visits, and I’m so glad I had the extra time. I hope you are able to do that as well, or if you have flexibility, make some room in your schedule (and your stomach).