As I mentioned in my review of all of the new 2017 Epcot Flower and Garden Festival items, the number of great options to sample has exploded in recent years as the festival has grown to include fresh and seasonal food offerings. Today, though, I want to visit a few family-friendly returning festival favorites that kids and parents alike will enjoy (with a few options snuck in just for the adults). As always, click on each photo to see a larger view of each delicious dish.
- Beijing-style Candied Strawberries ($5.50)
While not the most out-of-the-box treat you can sample at Flower and Garden, these strawberries are sure to be a hit with kids (and kids-at-heart) who like to play with their food. A crunchy coating of sugar is fun to crack open with sweet strawberries underneath – simple, but fun and tasty.
- Roasted Bratwurst with Curry Ketchup and Paprika-Spiced Chips ($5.00)
Currywurst is a pretty popular German snack, and a more unique take on bratwurst than what you can normally sample in the Germany pavilion, so this is always a treat during festival seasons. The curry ketchup is slightly tangy and earthy, a fun new flavor kids will enjoy trying in this small plate. While not a huge portion, this is definitely enough for a hearty snack.
- Schofferhoefer Zitrone Weizen Mix ($4.25)
A treat for adults, this specialty beer is a cousin of the ridiculously popular “grapefruit beer” also served in the Germany pavilion. A seasonal variation, this one focuses on a bright lemon flavor, a truly refreshing drink to enjoy during an afternoon stroll around World Showcase.
- Pulled Pig Slider with Crispy Onions and Coleslaw ($6.50)
It’s hard to go wrong with good barbecue, and though this seemed a little drier than I remember last year’s sample being, it was still a fair portion that made for a large open-faced sandwich. The bun was far too much bread for my taste for just the sandwich, but the cool coleslaw and slightly crunchy onions brings some necessary texture to the savory and rich pork.
My sample of the burnt ends hash (one of my festival favorites from last year) wasn’t very fresh when I was handed it – it had clearly been sitting out for a bit and wasn’t very warm. The burnt ends were a little fattier than last year, too, but the potatoes were nicely cooked, with lots of diced peppers and onions soaking in the just-salty-enough cheese sauce. The pickled jalapenos were barely present in my dish, but for those afraid of spice (or hoping to share with tamer palates), ask for them to be served on the side or not at all.
- Warm Chocolate Cake with Bourbon-Salted Caramel Sauce and Spiced Pecans ($3.75)
Another adults-only treat (because of the liquor-laced sauce), this one is one of my top picks for this year’s Flower and Garden festival. A huge portion of moist chocolate cake is served warm with an addictively sweet-and-savory caramel and crunchy pecans. Even during a busy tasting day, I ate this whole dish in seconds, and will definitely be back for another sample before the festival ends!
- Frozen Lemonade with Firefly Blackberry Moonshine ($11.75)
This “drink” always seems to hold a lot of promise for me (the flavors sound amazing!) but I never love the execution of it (despite the relatively strong pour). Frozen lemonade (the same slightly-too-sweet kind you can buy nearly anywhere in the parks) comes topped with a serving of blackberry moonshine. This works really well if you are willing to spend the time to mix the moonshine in thoroughly with the lemonade, but I never have that much patience.
A long-time Flower and Garden festival favorite, Frushi returns as one of the best fun options for families to sample. Though the price is far too much to me, fruit sushi is such a novelty and one of the healthiest dessert options available. Everyone will want a piece of this after they catch a glance at this beautiful plate.
- Beef Teriyaki Udon – Thin-sliced Beef, Onions and Noodles tossed on the grill with Soy and Ginger ($6.20)
For a little savory bite to balance out the sweet frushi, try the beef teriyaki udon. The thinly sliced sautéed beef and onions are served in an umami-rich sweet and salty soy sauce with a garnish of sweet and tangy pickled ginger. A surprisingly complex dish, I think even picky eaters will find themselves enjoying bites of this, particularly with the thick noodles underneath.
Taste of Marrakesh
As is tradition with Morocco’s festival food booths, here we have a smaller sample of a popular dish from one of their pavilion’s restaurants. A few falafel are served with traditional bright and crunchy toppings, with a bit of nutty and creamy tahini drizzled on top to tie it all together. While you’ll find similar-if-not-the-same falafel at nearby Tangierine Café, this is a good stop if you’ve been afraid to branch out and try them.
Packed with flavor, this dish comes with four fairly large shrimp and a slightly spicy sauce over a huge portion of creamy grits. The Andouille sausage and corn make a perfect spicy-sweet mix with the fresh tomato and cilantro in the sauce, and really accentuate the natural sweetness of the shrimp. While it’s probably a little too spicy for the youngest in your family, this is a great, more adventurous dish for older kids to sample that adults will love, too.
One of my favorite non-alcoholic drinks available at any festival, this slightly-sweet but very refreshing slush is absolutely perfect to sample on a hot day. The watermelon and cucumber flavors are pretty mild here – nothing is too overwhelming, making it a perfect treat for the whole family.
Fleur de Lys
- Tarte à l’Onion Alsacienne – Alsatian Onion Tart with Sautéed Onions, Fresh Thyme and Rosemary on a Flaky Puff Pastry Crust ($4.75)
Creamy and sweet caramelized onions on a buttery, flaky crust make for a very rich, but very tasty dish. This is definitely a snack-portion, but the herbaceous freshness of thyme and rosemary make this tart a delicious bomb of classic French flavors.
- Macaron Chocolat Framboise – Large Raspberry Macaron with Chocolate Fudge and Raspberry Jam ($4.75)
A surprisingly great value year after year, this macaron is decadent without being overly sweet – my favorite kind of dessert. The chocolate is deep and dark in flavor with sweet, tart raspberry jam in the middle, with a crisp exterior and marshmallow-y interior on the macaron. I was pleased at the size of this – while not “large”, it’s definitely a reasonable portion for the price and rich enough that you’ll be satisfied after a few bites.
Lemon-and-dill-forward and fresh, the smoked salmon tartare on this delicious buttery biscuit is really a treat to try during recent Flower and Garden festivals. The cool sour cream drizzled on top offers a bit of creaminess to cut through the tart and rich salmon, which wasn’t overly fishy as I sometimes fear. While this may not be a first-stop for families with little kids, adventurous older kids may love this shareable treat.
Bright purple, sweet and tart, this frozen lemonade is always a festival favorite, and one of my favorite ways to start any day during the Flower and Garden Festival. Edible flowers on top of the drink typically come straight from Epcot’s Land Pavilion, a fun conversation point if you also get a chance to ride Living with the Land during your visit to see the blooms straight at the source.
- Pineapple Soft-Serve with Parrot Bay Coconut Rum ($10.25)
A few years ago, Flower and Garden Festival blew people’s minds by “legalizing” the tipsy “dole whip” concept, serving up the popular pineapple soft-serve with a splash of rum. It has been ridiculously popular ever since, and this year’s version is no different. A small pour of sweet Parrot Bay Coconut rum comes on top of your cup of soft-serve (also available without alcohol), offsetting a bit of the ice cream’s tartness.
Urban Farm Eats
- Watermelon Salad with Pickled Onions, B&W Farms Baby Arugula, Feta Cheese, and Balsamic Reduction ($4.00)
Tangy pickled onions and balsamic pair classically with peppery arugula and sweet watermelon, and with the burst of savoriness from the feta cheese, this salad really tickles your tastebuds. I find this dish more interesting than most of the “specialty salads” Flower and Garden tries to sell, and at the cheap price, it’s a great healthy snack before making your way to the heavier dishes around the rest of World Showcase.
There you have it – my festival favorites from Flower and Garden 2017. With the festival growing in size every year, it’s becoming harder and harder to limit my list to just a few dishes, and with these favorites and all of the great new dishes, you’re sure to find a fresh bite at #FreshEpcot on your next visit! Flower and Garden menus are available here.