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

Kill, Refurb, Marry: Epcot Food and Wine Festival

Leave a comment

Time for another fun KRM blog hop hosted by Estelle from This Happy Place Blog, and Melissa from Mouse On The Mind. Great topic – thanks, ladies!
IMG_0153.PNG

Kill:
The new Puerto Rico booth is really fun. When I was there a couple of weeks ago, there was a drummer and very sexy salsa dancer entertaining the crowd. The booth can hardly be called a booth – it’s two stories with a lovely patio and garden, set apart from the rest of World Showcase. It’s really something special and a great new addition.

Unfortunately, it is also selling the worst bite I had at Food and Wine this year – the tostones with mayo ketchup. I had been so looking forward to this dish. I adore tostones, and was happy to see them offered. Sadly, they were big, dry hockey pucks. It was pretty sad. My kid and I each had one then the rest went in the trash. So the rest of the Puerto Rio booth is great, but those tostones have got to go.

IMG_0170.JPG

Refurb:
One of the most delicious items I had was the bacon hash with pickled jalepenos and cheese sauce at the Farm Fresh booth. It was like eating really great breakfast potatoes mashed with potato skins and nachos. I would love to see them turn this into a vegetarian dish. I think it would still work without the bacon, and would be a welcome addition to the sparse vegetarian options.

IMG_0171.JPG

Marry:
This one was sooo easy. Of all of the items we tried at Food and Wine this year, this is the one that I would want to eat every day. It tasted like my childhood growing up in Louisiana. I’m sure I’m in the minority, but I would marry the Yard Bird with bitter greens and habanero sauce from the Farm Fresh booth. The chicken skin was crispy and salty, the meat juicy and tender. The bitterness of the greens played beautifully with the saltiness of the chicken skin. I think they were turnip greens – my favorite. And the habanero sauce added just the right amount of vinegar and heat. I wish I had this for dinner right now. Fingers crossed that it returns!

IMG_0169.JPG

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: Germany

1 Comment

Continuing clockwise around World Showcase, we pass right past the Brewer’s Collection (because there’s only so much one can drink without ending up at Guest Relations) and land in Germany. If you do stop at Brewer’s Collection, there are some really interesting beers to try, including the much-hyped Schofferhofer Grapefruit (which is generally better in the bottle than what I’ve gotten at Food & Wine which last year was a bit skunky) and BraufactuM Roog Smoked Wheat Beer which I am very sad that I didn’t get to try. I’ll be on the lookout for that one.

Germany booth Epcot Food and Wine Festival

Deutschland!

But this is about the Germany booth and the food at that booth, and we DID try each of the offerings here. Sadly nothing really stands out here as a “must-try”. It’s all fine comfort food, but not terribly exciting.

First, the Schinkennudeln (Pasta Gratin with Ham and Cheese.)

Schinkennudeln at Germany booth Epcot Food and Wine 2013

That’s mac and cheese to you and me

It’s fine. Hard to go wrong with mac and cheese. I sort of wish they’d just leave out the ham though, so that there could be an additional vegetarian dish at Food and Wine. My vegetarian friends have precious few items that they can sample, and end up eating mostly desserts. It would be so easy to omit the ham here – it’s not doing much for the dish.

A little less successful is the Roast Bratwurst in a Pretzel Roll.

Roast Bratwurst in Pretzel Roll Germany Food and Wine 2013

“Not impressed,” says Mr. MouseChow

That’s one long brat! Overall it’s pretty mediocre, and we just didn’t really enjoy this. The roll is fine, though for some reason we like it much better at the Biergarten restaurant. If you’re a completist and must try everything at Food and Wine, then go for it, but otherwise I’d skip it.

And for dessert, there’s Apple Strudel with Werther’s Original(r) Karamel & Vanilla Sauce.

Apple Strudel at Germany booth Epcot Food and Wine Festival

Gotta love Werther’s Karamel

As you might expect, the apples, caramel, and vanilla sauce were really yummy. The crust though was sort of hard to eat – not flakey or crispy, so it made it hard to cut with the side of a fork. Still, this was my favorite dish in Germany.

The best part of eating in Germany though? Sitting at a little table near the fountain in the middle of the German pavilion while mini-MouseChow played the Agent P game and made Doofenshmirtz come out of the clock tower. (We also made a pass through Karamel Kuche and got some chocolate and caramel covered strawberries. Mmmmm….)

Chocolate and caramel strawberry at Karamel Kuchel

Best thing we ate in Germany

And ya know what? You can get this year-round.

 

Epcot Food and Wine Festival 2013: Cheese!

Leave a comment

“I’m just crackers about cheese!” – Wallace

Cheese, cheese, cheese. The most delicious, varied, and amazing food product ever invented. Oh how I love cheese.

So it stands to reason that I am consistently disappointed by the Cheese booth at the Epcot Food and Wine festival.

Cheese booth Epcot Food and Wine Festival

The sign is so promising

First for the good news. The cheese plate is not offensive. It includes:

  • La Bonne Vie Triple Creme Brie served with Apricot Jam
  • Beecher’s Flagship Reserve served with Honey
  • Wyngaard Goats Gouda with Craisin(r) Bread
Cheese plate at Epcot Food and Wine Festival 2013

In order, from mild to slightly less mild

Sorry, it looks like my goat gouda was hiding behind the Craisin(r) bread.

It’s a very simple cheese plate. Just fine, but nothing truly exciting or challenging here.

Contrast that with the VERY “challenging” Almond Crusted Blue Cheese Souffle with Fig Jam.

Blue Cheese Souffle Cheese booth Epcot Food and Wine Festival 2013

Skip it.

And by challenging, I mean icky. Seriously not good. I LOVE blue cheese, so that’s not the issue. But think of this – a hot Florida day. A fairly full stomach. Very strong blue cheese, mixed into a grainy-textured “souffle” with sticky and thick fig preserves. We ate ours near the booth, and watched at least 5 people take a first bite and…well…have you ever seen someone take their first taste of Beverly soda? it was like that. One after another went from happily enjoying their day at Epcot to wishing they’d never put this awful thing in their mouths.

One bite each and it went into the trash. So sad, but somewhat expected. Seriously, how well could they be expected to execute a cheese souffle in that booth? I think it could have benefitted from being a smaller portion served with some crostini.

If you must try it, be sure to get some wine to wash it down quickly. The Cheese booth is featuring wines from Once Upon a Vine, with adorable names. I didn’t try any of them, and am interested to hear from anyone who did. Were they any good? Your options are:

  • The Last Slipper Sauvignon Blanc
  • The Fairest Chardonnay
  • A Charming Pinot
  • The Big Bad Red Blend

Or maybe just get a Beverly to wash down that souffle.