What we ate and drank at Epcot Food and Wine Festival 2014

1 Comment

I’ve been lucky enough to attend the Epcot Food and Wine Fest for the past three years. 2012 was a crazy few days of drinking and debauchery with my BFF. 2013 was slightly less debauched as I was with Mr. MouseChow and the kid, but we still ate everything in sight. 2014 was different. Our purpose for visiting wasn’t actually to go to Food and Wine…it was to say goodbye to our favorite attraction, Maelstrom. And this time, it was just the kid and me, not staying in a Disney resort, and I had a rental car. So as you can imagine, there was far less drinking, and less focus on eating everything just in order to post pics on the blog. We spent a magical two days together, just Mom and Kid, attending Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, enjoying each other’s company and riding more attractions than usual.

MNSSHP Selfie

Haruhi from Ouran High School Host Club and a Maelstrom Viking on their way to MNSSHP

So we had a short list of items that we really wanted to eat, of new items or those that we hadn’t had the chance to try in years past. Here’s our take on a few of this year’s Food and Wine fest new additions (or at least new to us), as well as a few old favorites that we couldn’t pass by. We’ll go in clockwise order around World Showcase, which of course is the only way to go.

Terra

Terra Booth Epcot Food and Wine Fest 2014

Terra Booth

The vegetarian Terra booth was new in 2012, and for the past couple of years they have served two of my favorite dishes. You can see them here. This year they changed it up, still using Gardein products (the booth’s sponsor), but in different ways. I was excited to try the Blackened Chick’n Breast with Farro Wheat and Spicy Gumbo (though as a Louisiana native I was skeptical) and the CraB less CraB Cake with Pepper Slaw and Cajun Remoulade. (Weird capitalization is all theirs.) I am not a fan of tofu-based desserts, so decided to skip this one.

Terra Booth Menu Epcot Food and Wine 2014

Terra Booth Menu

Sadly, I was really disappointed in both dishes. The Chick’n and Gumbo lacked the deep rich flavors of actual gumbo, which is really unforgivable as it doesn’t require any animal products to make a good roux.

Chick'n and Gumbo at Terra Booth

Chick’n and Gumbo at Terra Booth

But the most disappointing was the CraB less CraB cake. The artificial seafood flavor was really off-putting. Texture was pretty bread-y. We each had one bite, and in the trash it went. What a shame.

CraB less CraB cake at Terra Booth

CraB less CraB cake at Terra Booth

I miss my Chile Colorado! The one bright spot was the Watermelon Juice. I think I will start making this at home. Perfectly refreshing and not too sweet. I bet it would be great with some vodka…

Watermelon juice at the Terra booth

Watermelon juice at the Terra booth

Moving on…to

New Zealand

New Zealand booth at Epcot Food and Wine Festival

New Zealand

We stopped for one of our past favorites here, the Lamb Meatball with Spicy Tomato Chutney. Nothing new, but it was delicious. The meatball was nice and moist, chutney was tart and sweet, brioche was nicely toasted. A satisfying little bite.

Lamb Meatball at New Zealand Booth

Lamb Meatball at New Zealand Booth

Mexico

Mexico Booth Epcot Food and Wine Fest

Mexico Booth Epcot Food and Wine Fest

We always enjoy the tacos at the Mexico booth, but this year we skipped them in favor of trying the new item – the Sweet Corn Cheese Cake. If you like rich, slightly savory desserts, you’ll like this. The corn flavor is pretty pronounced, so that it tastes more like corn pudding than cheese cake. And it’s rich – this is not a light little dessert. Good thing it’s fairly small. It would probably benefit from some fruit or other acid rather than caramel, as it gets a little one-note after a few bites, but it’s worth trying.

Sweet Corn Cheesecake at Mexico Booth

Sweet Corn Cheesecake at Mexico Booth

Farm Fresh

Farm Fresh Booth at Epcot Food and Wine Fest

Farm Fresh Menu

Farm Fresh was new this year, and is a great addition. It turned out to be my favorite booth at this year’s festival, in part because of its location outside of the Norway pavilion. (It’s pretty great to grab your food and take it over to the Kringla patio…even with the chair scrapings…) But mostly, because of the scrumptious food.

Probably the most popular item at this booth is the Nueske’s Pepper Bacon Hash. And with good reason. It’s a big pile of comfort food…like breakfast potatoes with really good bacon and hollandaise. The pickled jalapenos were a nice addition. And bonus, the dish is gluten free!

Pepper Bacon Hash at Farm Fresh Booth

Pepper Bacon Hash at Farm Fresh Booth

My absolute favorite dish I ate at this year’s Food and Wine Festival was the Griddled Yard Bird with Braised Greens and House-made Habanero Sauce. Nothing exotic about this, just really comforting, flavorful crispy chicken skin, moist roast chicken, bitter greens (mustard? turnip? I can never quite tell) and a nice kick of heat and vinegar from the sauce. I could eat this happily for dinner forever. It’s the kind of dish that places me squarely in my grandmother’s kitchen and makes me want to cook more often. Just heavenly.

Griddled Yard Bird at the Farm Fresh booth

Griddled Yard Bird at the Farm Fresh booth

Both went down nicely with the Florida Cracker Belgian-Style White Ale from Cigar City Brewery. It was my favorite from the sampler. (As you can see, I almost forgot to take a picture before I drank it all.)

Beer sampler Farm Fresh booth

Beer sampler from the Farm Fresh booth

South Korea

This booth falls into the category “new to me”, because I missed it last year. Be forewarned – basically if you’re not a fan of kimchee, there won’t be much for you here. Luckily, I like kimchee, so was very happy.

Let’s go from least favorite to most favorite:

The Roasted Pork Lettuce Wrap with Kimchi Slaw was yummy. We didn’t bother to pick it up with the lettuce – that’s what forks are for. Hard to mess up roasted pork, and the slaw wasn’t too strong. Very nice.

Roasted Pork with Kimchee at South Korea booth

Roasted Pork with Kimchi at the South Korea booth

I heard several people rave last year about the Kimchi Dog with Spicy Mustard Sauce, and thought, “It’s half of a hot dog with kimchee. So what?” I was very pleasantly surprised by just how tasty this was. The only downside was that half of my bun was super soggy from the sauce. But still…really yummy. I could have eaten a few of these.

Kimchi Dog from the South Korea booth

Kimchi Dog from the South Korea booth

But my absolute favorite item from this booth (and my favorite drink of the festival) was the iCing Grapefruit Sparkling Rice Brew. Oh wow, this is so refreshing and grapefruit-y, and wow. For those of you who like the Schofferhofer Grapefruit beer, do yourself a favor and try this. I need to find someplace where I can buy it locally. Mmmmmmmm.

iCing Grapefruit Sparkling Rice Brew

iCing Grapefruit Sparkling Rice Brew

Singapore

I didn’t love the food options at the Singapore booth. The kid really liked the Seared Mahi Mahi with Jasmine Rice and “Singa” Sauce. The fish was nice and moist, but the sauce was too sweet for my taste. The Lemongrass Chicken Curry with Coconut and Jasmine Rice was just fine, but not too exciting. If I had this as a frozen entree I’d think it was great, but in a restaurant I wouldn’t be thrilled. Just meh.

Mahi Mahi with Jasmine Rice and "Singa" Sauce

Mahi Mahi with Jasmine Rice and “Singa” Sauce

Lemongrass Chicken Curry with Coconut and Jasmine Rice

Lemongrass Chicken Curry with Coconut and Jasmine Rice

But THIS. I need to get the recipe for the Singapore Sling featuring Hendrick’s Gin and Cherry Heering. At least I think it was Cherry Heering. The Festival Passport says it’s Cherry Herring, but that wouldn’t have been nearly as good. If you want to get drunk fast, have one of these. Whoa.

Singapore Sling from the Singapore booth

Singapore Sling featuring Hendrick’s Gin and Cherry Heering

France

Past years I’ve adored the Escargots in Brioche and was really disappointed to see that it had changed this year. But life marches on, and if I can handle Maelstrom changing, I can handle this. So I took a deep breath, and instead ordered the Tartlette aux Escargots – Escargot Tart with Garlic, Spinach, Bacon and Parmesan.

Tartlette aux Escargots

Tartlette aux Escargots

I am sad to say that I just didn’t enjoy this as much as the brioche. The crust was somehow both dry and oily at the same time. And the escargot was very hard to find. If you had told me that this was a spinach, cheese, and bacon souffle, I would have thought it was fine. The escargot were just a bit of chewy texture hidden in the middle. It’s as though they did everything they could to hide an offensive ingredient. Quel dommage.

The Sparkling Pomegranate Kir was fine. Inexpensive sparkling wine with grenadine. Yawn.

Sparkling Pomegranate Kir from the France booth

Sparkling Pomegranate Kir from the France booth

Puerto Rico

Finally, the Puerto Rico booth was a sight to behold. It’s set apart from the other booths slightly outside of World Showcase proper. Featuring a lovely garden, large patio area, two story building, and pretty evening lights, it’s easily one of the most appealing booths of the festival. When we were visiting there was entertainment in the form of salsa music, a live drummer, and a really beautiful and talented salsa dancer. Guests were even dancing with her. There was a party atmosphere to the place, and it was easy to get swept up in the excitement.

Puerto Rico at Epcot Food and Wine Festival

Puerto Rico at Epcot Food and Wine Festival

Puerto Rico at Epcot Food and Wine Festival

Historical signage

Puerto Rico at Epcot Food and Wine Festival

More signage

Salsa dancer and drummer at Puerto Rico booth

Salsa dancer and drummer at Puerto Rico booth

Sadly, I think we may have chosen poorly when it came to ordering food. We had the Carne Guisada con Arroz Blanco (braised beef with rice) and Tostones with Mayo Ketchup. I thought the beef was fine, but nothing super special. And the tostones were just not very good – too large, starchy, dry and heavy. They really needed that sauce. (As an aside – what’s up with everyone online raving about Mayo Ketchup? Have they never had a Big Mac? Russian dressing? It’s not exactly revolutionary.)

Braised Beef at the Puerto Rico booth

Carne Guisada con Arroz Blanco (Slow Braised Beef with Puerto Rican Grown Rice)

Tostones with Mayo Ketchup

Tostones, Fried Green Plantains with Mayo Ketchup

We heard great things about the Conch Salad and Flan with Chocolate Coffee Cake, but we were just too full and couldn’t eat any more. Judging from the reaction to the booth I’m confident that we’ll get a chance to try them next year.

So that’s it. Two short days in Epcot, mostly spent riding attractions and saying goodbye to Maelstrom. Best of all, it was two days spent with my favorite person, actually talking with each other and creating memories. My teen actually linked arms with me and gave me spontaneous hugs. That’s some Disney Magic for you.

Bye Maelstrom

Bye Maelstrom

Advertisements

Epcot Food and Wine Festival 2013: Poland

Leave a comment

Ah, Polish food. Comforting, filling, stick-to-your-ribs goodness. Not necessarily what you might be looking to eat on an 87 degree day in Florida when you’re already full from eating your way halfway around World Showcase, but OK, I’m ready to try.

Poland Booth Epcot Food and Wine Fest 2013

Love the font!

So you may have read in my earlier post that I am not a fan of the Kielbasa & Potato Pierogi with Caramelized Onions & Sour Cream at the booth. I try every year, and every year I’m disappointed. Enter Mr. MouseChow, who is always up for gluey dumplings and sausage. He liked it. I’m really starting to question his taste, but at least I got a pic without having to eat it again.

Kielbasa and Pierogi at Poland booth Epcot Food and Wine Fest

Looks exactly the same as past years’

This freed me up to try the Zapiekanki (Toasted Mushroom, Caramelized Onion & Cheese Bread with House-made Ketchup).

Zapiekanki from Poland Epcot Food and Wine 2013

Interesting…

I wasn’t really sure what to expect, but I would eat it again. The mushrooms, onions, cheese, and ketchup were really tasty. However I thought the bread was a little too thick and chewy. I would prefer a higher topping to bread ratio, but overall, a nice snack. And bonus points for being vegetarian, since there are so few savory veg options at Food & Wine.

But the highlight of this booth was definitely the Frozen Szarlotka (Apple Pie) featuring Zubrowka Bison Grass Vodka.

Frozen Szartlotka Poland booth Epcot Food and Wine 2013

Like frozen applesauce

This is a really yummy and different cocktail. It tastes like a good applesauce with notes of cinnamon, but with a serious vodka kick. Plus it’s frozen, a refreshing contrast to the heavier cold-weather fare at the Poland booth.

Other drink offerings are the Okacim O.K. Beer from Okacim Brewery, and Temptation Zinfandel.

Next stop: Italy!

 

 

Epcot Food and Wine Festival 2013: Mexico

Leave a comment

So after eating what already feels like an entire meal, we finally land in Mexico, the BEGINNING of World Showcase. (Check these older posts for the recap.)

Mexico Booth at Epcot Food and Wine Festival

Welcome to World Showcase

We always enjoy the Mexico booth at Food and Wine. It’s never my favorite, but always solid. But given how much we’d already eaten, there was no way that we could try everything, so we went for the one item that everyone in my family would eat, the Taco de Rib-Eye with Salsa de Chipotle. (You’ll notice that we skipped the shrimp dishes along the way – my husband doesn’t eat shrimp. Crazy, right?)

Taco de Rib-Eye Mexico Booth Epcot Food and Wine Festival

Spicy, smokey steak taco. Not bad at all.

The beef was tender with a nice crunchy char, and the sauce was smokey and rich. A nice squeeze of lime, and you get a really nicely balanced bite.

We skipped the Shrimp Taco with Purple Cabbage and the Rice Pudding. We’re huge fans of rice pudding, but in the past it’s been a bit gluey and we were just too full to bother.

Beverages at the Mexico booth are Dos Equis Beer (ick), Sangria, a Tequila Flight (which tequila?? who knows?) and a Mango-Habanero Margarita. In the interest of the blog, we forced ourselves to try the margarita.

Mango Habanero Margarita Mexico Booth Epcot Food and Wine Festival

oddly salty

The margarita was super sweet, only a little hot, and weirdly salty. Not just a little salty, but really pretty salty. No salt on the rim – maybe they figured they’d just throw it in? It was weird and we drank about half of the little cup between two of us.

So ended the first part of our first day at Epcot Food and Wine Festival 2013. Next up, Africa. (Yes, we skipped Singapore, China, and South Korea. I’m really sad about it, too.)

 

Epcot Food and Wine Festival 2013: Argentina

Leave a comment

Continuing our trip around the World (Showcase), we arrive in Argentina, land of beef and malbec. Two great tastes that taste great together.

Argentina booth Epcot Food and Wine Festival

Would you like beef or beef?

Beef, please! First, let’s try the Beef Empanada.

Beef Empanada Argentina Epcot Food and Wine

Baked pocket of yum

I was pleasantly surprised with the beef empanada. I skipped this last year, frankly because we have an Argentinian restaurant right down the street from our house that makes THE BEST beef empanadas on the planet. Next time you’re in Arlington, MA, go to Tango. But if you won’t be hanging out in Arlington any time soon, these are pretty good. The crust was nice and flaky, and the filling well-spiced with some nice currants for sweetness and pine nuts for crunch. Overall a pretty tasty snack.

The better option however is the Grilled Beef Skewer with Chimichurri Sauce and Boniato Puree.

Grilled Beef Skewer at Argentina Epcot Food and Wine

Like a yummy little meal.

If you like herbs, and garlic, you’ll like this. The meat is not really the star since it’s covered with so much chimichurri, but that sauce is awesome. And I really like the boniato puree. If you haven’t had it, boniato is also known as white sweet potato. Its flavor is not nearly as sweet as a typical orange sweet potato – more of a subtle sweetness that makes it taste really homey and satisfying.

Drinks at the Argentina booth are limited to wines: Terrazas Reserva Torrontas or Malbec, Pascual Toso Sparkling Brut, and Kaiken Cabernet Sauvignon. I like the Malbec just fine, but can’t really understand the appeal of walking around on a hot Florida day drinking red wine.

My verdict? Argentina continues to be a solid (if a little staid) offering at Food & Wine. Would love to see them branch out to something new next year!

Epcot Food and Wine Festival 2013: Brazil

Leave a comment

Booth #2 on our trip around the World Showcase at Epcot Food & Wine fest 2013 is Brazil! The Brazil booth has one of the more limited menus of the festival with only two menu items and three beverages. But make no mistake – it is not to be missed.

Brazil Booth Epcot Food and Wine Festival

Brazil!

The star of this booth was definitely the Crispy Pork Belly with Black Beans, Onions, Avocado, and Cilantro. It’s one of those dishes that make you melt with happiness after the first bite. I would have been really happy to make a full meal of this dish. The beans were beautifully cooked, the avocado salsa was fresh, and that pork…oh, yeah.

Crispy Pork Belly Brazil Booth Epcot Food and Wine

You had me at Crispy Pork

The other dish on the menu at the Brazil booth is Seared Scallops with Ragout of Tomatoes, Peppers, and Hearts of Palm. I found the scallops to be slightly over cooked, and the hearts of palm were sort of bland. Overall it was a fine dish, but not all that memorable and nothing I would seek out.

 

Seared Scallops at Brazil Booth Epcot Food and Wine

Meh.

Beverage offerings at the Brazil booth are Xingu Black Beer from Kaiser Brewery, Carnaval Moscato Sparkling White Wine, and a Frozen Caipirinha featuring LeBlon Cachaca. I’m a big fan of caipirinhas, so I couldn’t pass it up.

Frozen Caipirinha Brazil booth Epcot Food and Wine

Not for the faint of heart.

 

It’s pretty much what you might expect. Frozen, slushy cachaca with lime and a little sugar. Not too sweet (which is great) and very refreshing. Also very strong. If you’re starting at Terra and making your way around World Showcase like I did, you may want to pace yourself and share this one with a friend. Or maybe not…

Did you try that crispy pork belly? What did you think? Next up, making our way from Brazil to Argentina.