With friends coming to visit and venture into the Parks, it’s no strange occurrence that we not only headed to visit Epcot, but also partake of the 20th Annual Epcot International Food And Wine Festival. This being the third time I’ve visited this year I’ve started to run into what I’m going to call a “not problem”…
Each time I’ve visited there have been items and countries that I need to try, ones that I want to try, and those I could try. For the most part I do want to try all the kiosks (I’m still not sold on the Cheese Studio and Wine Studio), but even the special offerings from kiosks that always exist around World Showcase like the Refreshment Port or Refreshment Cool Post have caught my attention a little bit. But where the “not problem” comes in, is that after repeated visits I’ve accomplished all of my need to try and most of the want to try dishes which leaves me with the countries that I could try.
There’s literally something on every menu that I think to myself “yeah, I could eat that” but after trying some stellar dishes and some middling ones around the festival, I feel like I’ve tapped out the best. Now since I do all of this out of pocket with almost no support (unless you want to help) it’s now the game of wanting to try all of the countries for these here articles but ultimately will I enjoy it more than some of the foods I had earlier that I honestly want to get again? It’s culinary roulette at this point. But alas, friends came to visit and we decided to try some dishes…
I love Greek and Mediterranean food, so there might be a question of why I waited until my third Food And Wine Fest visit to try this countries offerings, and it’s a pretty good reason I think: you can go to any mom and pop Greek restaurant and get amazing food. Any time I would pass the kiosk I would always stop and look at the menu and remember this fact which would push me further into World Showcase. But the day we visited the hunger started rising and I needed something in my stomach, driving me to an old standby, the chicken gyro with tzatziki sauce. An all around solid offering, the dish had everything one would want in a gyro. The meat was nicely spiced with a grilled taste, the tzatziki was nice with a wonderful cooling effect in the hot Florida sun and the pita was lightly grilled. But it ultimately confirmed my initial hesitation to try it: it was comparable to any late night Greek diner gyro. Not bad, not great, but tasty nonetheless.
If it hasn’t been made clear by now, I loved the Filet Mignon from Canada. So when passing by the pavilion I made note of how the Le Cellier dish was probably my favorite thing I had at the festival, which lead two of my guests to get their own samplings as well as a side of the Canadian Cheddar Cheese soup. The Canadian restaurant Le Cellier is famous for three things: being notably difficult to get reservations at, costing two Table Service credits off of the Disney Dining Plan, and their Cheddar Cheese soup. I’ve been wanting to try this soup for a while, but something about soup in 80-90 degree temperatures just never seemed appealing. Luckily I was able to put aside that aversion to try the dish and holy moose. Holding a richness and a sharp cheddar bite while still being creamy and not too heavy, I could see myself eating an entire bowl of this at any time of the year. The little sample cup sold at the festival would not be enough and I felt teased by the spoonful I was able to have, making me take a second. Sorry John.
Hops & Barley
Heading into the American Adventure, two of my traveling companions wanted to try the New England Lobster Roll. Not being the biggest fan of shellfish I still wanted to try this just to see how it was and how it compared to what I heard from other people. The Lobster Roll is one of the two most expensive foods at the festival, right alongside the Wild Mushroom Beef Filet Mignon offered at the Canada kiosk, so the bar is set pretty high. The roll was heaped high but after first bite it was clear that it was mostly celery and onion and the lobster was covered up by the salad served with it. My sentiments were echoed by another in our group who noted that the lobster it’s self was quite good after he had fished out a large piece and ate it on it’s own. One more of our group delivered the same thought as I saw someone walk past with the kiosks other offering, the Grassfed Beef Slider with Pimento Cheese and I thought “that looks better”. It was a sad day for America.
If it’s not clear by now, the best thing about going to the festival is trying all the different foods. A fact which is proven when you can try something that someone else has gotten which leaves you free to try something else (in a cost v. benefit analysis free food is always going to be better). So when we circled past Morocco and one of our group wanted to try the Kefta Pocket, I stood by and reinforced his decision. Seasoned beef is always a good idea, especially when served in a pita pocket, so I really enjoyed this one. Both of the dishes I sampled from Morocco (the Chicken Harissa roll and this one) were both extremely light and flavorful, making this a kiosk that I highly recommend trying out.
I approach Italian food in almost the same way I look at Mexican cuisine, there’s nothing too outlandish about making it at home, so even a struggling cook could still put together a pretty decent dish with the proper ingredients. So this kept me from visiting Italy, because honestly I could do most of this at home. But much like Greece hunger was starting to grab me again and I wanted to try something different. Passing by the Ravioli I chose to get the Filetto di Pollo con Funghi al Marsala or as it’s commonly known: Chicken Marsala. The chicken fillet it’s self was your standard piece of chicken, moist but with nothing else happening with it. The marsala sauce had a nice sweet to it which was nice with the earthy cremini mushrooms, but ultimately nothing really sold this dish and I regretted not getting the ravioli.
South Korea was consistently one off the countries I wanted to try the most during my visits but also had to pass up because by the time I had gotten to it I had just eaten somewhere else, but the scent of barbequed meats constantly made me make mental notes of this being a place to try. So when someone ordered the Roasted Pork Lettuce Wrap and Kimchi Slaw I was eager to try it. The first thing that struck me about this offering was how messy it was, a mixture of grease and moisture had seeped through the lettuce and left a layer at the bottom of the boat the dish came in, so by picking it up my hand was now grossly damp. The roasted pork was nice but the flavor of the slaw masked the pork a bit. Maybe if I had tried another bite I would have gotten a little more of the pork but after that first bite I found myself wishing they had ordered the BBQ Short Ribs instead. Oh well, there’s still a week left for me to get back.
The final stop of the day was one of my final must try dishes, the Grilled Beef Skewer with Chimichurri Sauce and Boniato Puree. I feel Patagonia is something the black sheep of the Food And Wine Fest, being located close to the entrance to World Showcase it gets passed by because of chronic “well let’s see what else they have further in” sickness, as well as offering dishes that sound quite similar to those offered by other countries. But after making the trek to finally try something here I was not let down. The beef was grilled perfectly and nice and tender, while the chimichurri sauce made me question why I don’t try to make this at home and put it on any of my dinner meats. For something that’s mostly just parsley, oregano and garlic it adds an amazing flavor to the already fantastic beef (I think this would also be amazing on the lamb from Australia if they decided to swap it out for the mint pesto).
Fab Five Dishes From Food And Wine Fest 2015 – Part 3
5. South Korea – Roasted Pork Lettuce Wrap with Kimchi Slaw
4. Greece – Chicken Gyro
3. Morocco – Kefta Pocket
2. Patagonia – Grilled Beef Skewer with Chimichurri Sauce
1. Canada – Canadian Cheddar Cheese Soup
So what have you had at the Food And Wine Festival? Is there anything I missed out on that I need to check out? Was I just wrong with one of my reviews? Let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org and don’t forget about Part 1 Here, Part 2 Here, and hopefully Part 4 coming soon!