First column: passport decoration, cheese selection from Cheese kiosk, keilbasa and pierogi with caramelized onions and sour cream, stuffed cabbage. Second column: black pepper shrimp with sichuan noodles, German Bier flight, chocolate lava cake with Bailey’s ganache, fennel. Third column: German beer list, Welcome display, sausage in a pretzel roll. Fourth column: lettuce wrap with roast pork and kimchi slaw, ropa vieja, Kerrygold cheese selection with apple chutney and brown bread. Click collage for larger view.
I spent the better part of last weekend hanging out at Epcot and tasting numerous selections from the Food and Wine Festival. This is my absolute favorite thing at Disney. For about 6 weeks, Epcot hosts a ton of events: private lunches and dinners, tastings, demonstrations, a concert series, and an International Marketplace of 25 countries.
The theme for this year is “Passport to a World Flavors.” Hawaii, Portugal, and the Caribbean made their debut, and Scandinavia returned to the market.
First row: Greek salad, Xante description (don’t believe it), Swedish meatballs. Second row: chocolate cannolis, Hawaii menu, Xante. Third row: Apple strudel, griddled Greek cheese with honey and pistachios, tuna poke with seaweed salad. Fourth row: Belgian waffle with berry compote, Craft beer flight. Click collage for larger view.
I tried the pork slider and the tuna poke from Hawaii. I liked the pineapple chutney on the slider, and the tuna was fresh and well seasoned. I also had the calamari from Portugal – good flavor, but the texture of the calamari was a little too rubbery. And the ropa vieja from the Caribbean was tender and delicious.
First row: seared scallop with Kumara red curry puree and apple-radish slaw, lobster roll, cappellini with spicy shrimp, Brewer’s collection stand. Second row: wine, Scandinavia kiosk, France, steamed mussels with roasted garlic cream and baguette. Third row: dessert trio, lobster claw, passport decoration, calamari salad with fennel, smoked paprika, and olive oil. Fourth row: escargots in brioche, grilled beef skewer with chimichurri sauce and boniato puree, Kalua pork slider with sweet and sour Dole pineapple chutney and spicy mayo, ribeye taco with chipotle sauce and green onion. Click collage for larger view.
Maybe it was because we were there on the first day, but the rice was messed up on all the dishes that we tried. The rice with the mahi mahi was undercooked and hard, the rice with the ropa vieja was gummy, and the “sticky” rice that came with the bulgogi was more akin to Uncle Ben’s. I’m hoping these kinks were just “first day jitters.” Other dishes I wasn’t impressed with were the ribeye tacos (paltry amount of filling, especially for the price), the stuffed cabbage, and the Xante liquor from Scandinavia (tasted like banana flavored medicine. Blech.)
There were perennial favorites: the escargots (how can you resist those cute bread cups?), the lamb slider, and the maple salmon. Even though they are offered every year, I can’t pass by without having them.
Here are some of the standout dishes:
First up, the coq au vin from France. I was disappointed that my beloved short rib wasn’t offered, but am happy that it was replaced by something so delicious. There was a generous portion of chicken, with a rich onion and mushroom gravy. It was placed on a bed of macaroni gratin, or macaroni and cheese. For $4.75 it was the best bang for the buck, and one of the richest dishes in the World Showcase.
Next is the lobster claw from the Hops and Barley kiosk. As complex as the coq au vin was, this dish was stellar in its simplicity. A whole lobster claw with a side of clarified butter – that’s all you need. The lobster was perfectly steamed, and its sweet flavor shone.
I was a bit scared about cracking the shell, but the chef had sliced the shell in a few key places, so extracting the meat was very easy. The Hops and Barley also offers a lobster roll, but with food this beautiful, bread and mayo are totally unnecessary.
And the Brewer’s collection of beer in Germany was fantastic. We had Bier Flight #1, but with the Oktoberfest swapped for the Roog. The Dunkel, a dark beer, was also quite tasty. There was a little biergarten with some tables set up in a grassy area. And the whole Germany pavilion was decked out for Oktoberfest.
Each menu board had a QR code that could be scanned (as seen in the right corner of the menus.) Most of them went to a site that provided menu items and descriptions, which seemed a bit redundant. Every so often, one would provide a gem. For example, the QR code on the Germany menu gives the recipe for their apple strudel. Very helpful!
I’m saving a whole separate post for the dessert offerings. Stay tuned for my favorite sweets of the festival! Click here to see my full photo album.