Posts Tagged ‘Food and Wine’

Family-Friendly Favorites at Epcot’s 2016 Food and Wine Festival

by on September 21, 2016

Last week, we took a look at every new item at the 2016 Epcot International Food and Wine Festival, but it’s always hard to resist trying our longtime festival favorites again first thing. This week, we’ll take a look at 15 family-friendly festival favorites (yes, even kids will like many of these options!) to see if they’re just as good as we remember. I took a stroll at dinnertime one evening just after festival opening to try a few dishes I recommended in my preview post, plus a few more that always seem to be the most popular dishes of the festival. I’ve included a quick summary at the bottom of this post, with my take on whether each of these dishes is a skip/maybe try/must-do, as well.

The Dishes

  • Hawai’i's Kalua Pork Slider with Sweet and Sour Dole® Pineapple Chutney and Spicy MayonnaiseHawai’i: Kalua Pork Slider with Sweet and Sour Dole® Pineapple Chutney and Spicy Mayonnaise ($4.25)

The pulled pork here can sometimes be a little dry, but on my visit, it was perfectly succulent, very savory, with a little punch of sweet from the pineapple chutney. The spicy mayo isn’t really very spicy, but it does help keep the whole slider together. You’ll only get about five bites out of the sandwich this year, with a lot of bread in there, but it’s just as solid a pick as in previous years.

  • Patagonia: Grilled Beef Skewer with Chimichurri Sauce and Boniato Puree ($5.75)

Patagonia's Grilled Beef Skewer with Chimichurri Sauce and Boniato PureeI’ve always found this to be a solid pick, as most everyone loves food on a stick, and while it sounds kind of scary with the boniato puree and the chimichurri, these are flavors that many are familiar with and happy to sample. The beef on this year’s skewer was tender and nicely grilled without being dried out, with the starchy puree (think: mashed potatoes) helping round out the bite and give a bit more richness to the whole plate. The chimichurri is packed with garlic, cilantro, parsley, and a little bit of a peppery kick – you’ll want it slathered over every bite, it’s that good. Chefs at the Patagonia booth were even offering a side of the chimichurri for guests ordering the beef empanada, as well!

  • Canada: Canadian Cheddar Cheese Soup Served with a Pretzel Roll ($4.75)

This dish is so famous at the Food and Wine Festival that no modifiers are necessary – it’s just “The Soup”. This year’s portion has, once again, shrunk slightly, but it now comes with a pretzel roll (which will look familiar if you’ve ordered the bratwurst from the Germany booth in the past). The soup was a tad too salty for me, though still deliciously creamy and packed with a slight smokiness from the bacon inside. Canada's Canadian Cheddar Cheese Soup and "Le Cellier" Wild Mushroom FiletThe pretzel roll was a little stale, but a better delivery system for the soup than a spoon, so I went with it. With the smaller portion, this was overall a bit disappointing – it’s probably still going to be a super-popular option for most festival-goers, but I’d skip unless you are seriously craving it.

  • Canada: “Le Cellier” Wild Mushroom Beef Filet Mignon with Truffle Butter Sauce ($7.75)

At $7.75, this is one of the most expensive food buys of the festival, and to be honest, my portion was not worth that price this year. Even during a fairly busy dinnertime visit, with fresh steaks being cooked and served every few minutes, I got a slightly tough and unevenly cooked steak (very well done on one end, medium on the other). The mushrooms and truffle sauce were as decadent as ever, earthy and savory without being too salty. This is another “skip” for me (an unpopular opinion, to be sure), but even for kids and picky eaters, there are better options for a better value out there.

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Every New Dish at the 2016 Epcot Food And Wine Festival Reviewed!

by on September 16, 2016

Food and Wine 2016 EntranceThe 2016 Epcot International Food and Wine Festival is finally here! I was lucky enough to spend festival kick-off day sampling every (yes, I tried them all!) new and modified dish at the festival this year, to see which dishes were must-dos or must-skips for all of you. Here you’ll find photos and my thoughts on all of these new items, organized as you travel around the world (in the same order they are listed in the festival passport). Below my reviews, you’ll see a few hot takes – I’ve ranked all of these new items based on whether I’d try them again this festival season. As always, click on any photo to see the larger version of each dish. Don’t forget, you can check out full menus and prices from every booth here to start your planning now.

The Dishes

  • Craft Beer's Piggy WingsCraft Beers: Piggy Wings – Fried Pork Wings with Korean BBQ Sauce and Sesame Seeds ($4.25)

Sticky, sweet, and sour, these are definitely good BBQ wings, but you’ll only get to taste two of them per order. Perfect with a beer (or three in a flight), these are worth the purchase if you need a snack to munch on while enjoying a little free air conditioning, but I wouldn’t make a special stop here just to try them.

  • The Chew Collective: Grilled Beef Skewer with Romaine, Apricots, and Feta Cheese ($5.00)

At the end of the day, this dish is exactly as billed: it’s a few pieces of grilled steak on a salad. The apricots and feta bring some necessary freshness and texture, but ultimately, this dish needed a sauce to make it all come together. The Chew Collective's Peanut Butter and White Chocolate Mousse (L) and Grilled Beef Skewer (R)Kids who like plain steak may want to steal a bite from mom and dad on this dish.

  • The Chew Collective: Peanut Butter and White Chocolate Mousse with a Caramel Drizzle ($5.00)

This dish tastes exactly like someone crushed up a package of Nutter Butters (which is definitely a good thing, to me). Rich and slightly salty from the peanut butter, the white chocolate and caramel provide a bit of offsetting sweetness. Everyone (who can eat this) will love this dessert, and though it’s a small portion for the price, it’s worth a shot.

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Quick Picks for the 2016 Epcot Food and Wine Festival

by on September 13, 2016

It’s almost Christmas… well, *my* Christmas. Epcot International Food and Wine Festival opening day is quickly approaching, and it’s time to start strategizing how to tackle all of the great eats during your trip around the World (Showcase). To do that, I’ve made “quick pick” lists full of my favorites from past years in a few categories: classics (great for festival first-timers), dishes that are great for families with kids or picky eaters, dishes for adventurous eaters, vegetarian picks (that even carnivores will love), and of course, a few drinks. I’ve included new picks in some of the categories that I’m looking forward to, and also some tips and tricks for making the most of your time (and finding the shortest lines!) at the festival booths.

Classics for first-time Food & Wine Festival visitors

  • Kalua pork slider (Photo by Julia Mascardo)

    Kalua pork slider (Photo by Julia Mascardo)

    Hawai’i: Kalua pork slider with sweet and sour pineapple chutney and spicy mayo

This booth’s menu rarely changes because it’s always consistently good. Definitely stop here early in the day, as it is one of the first booths in World Showcase and lines grow quickly.

  • Australia: grilled lamb chop with mint pesto and potato crunchies

Great walk-around finger food to enjoy while strolling Epcot. Only a few bites, but the potato chip crunchies make this a fun take on a classic dish.

  • Hops & Barley: New England lobster roll

A consistent favorite, usually heavy on the lobster and served on a heavenly butter-grilled bun

  • Farm Fresh: Loaded Mac & Cheese with pepper bacon, cheddar cheese, and peppers

Who doesn’t like mac & cheese, especially when it has bacon and other toppings? This can be a lighter portion, but one that nearly everyone will enjoy

  • Belgium: beer-braised beef with smoked gouda mashed potatoes

The beer-braised beef returns this year with a new presentation (no more potato leek waffle). This booth can be a little slow, depending on how many are ordering sweet waffles (made to order), but it’s worth the wait for this dish.

  • Liquid Nitrogen Chocolate Almond Truffle (Photo by Julia Mascardo)

    Liquid Nitrogen Chocolate Almond Truffle (Photo by Julia Mascardo)

    Mexico: Mexican chocolate flan

Mexico is always a must-stop for desserts for me – every year they make something slightly different, but always tasty, and this flan is sure to fit that pattern. A great stop for the very end of the night, when this always-busy booth’s line tends to be shorter.

  • Chocolate Studio: liquid nitrogen chocolate almond truffle with warm whiskey caramel

This dish debuted last year and became an instant classic for pretty much everyone. It’s usually rich enough to share, and it’s always a blast to watch them freeze the truffles to order.

Perfect bites for families with kids or “picky eaters”

  • Germany: Schinkennudeln (baked mac and cheese with ham)

Again, who doesn’t like mac & cheese? This rich dish is a variation of the baked mac and cheese found inside Biergarten, and it is just ridiculously heavenly. A good stop if you are worried Farm Fresh’s version is too veggie-heavy, and usually a pretty quick line.

  • Brazil: Crispy pork belly with black beans and tomato

Most kids love bacon, and this is exactly that, just with the addition of a nice stew of black bean and tomato. Full of savory flavor, this dish will be a winner for many, and bonus – there’s a really cool seating area at this booth, too!

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SATURDAY SIX: Six Reasons We Love EPCOT!

by on July 16, 2016

This week’s SATURDAY SIX looks at Reasons We Love EPCOT. This July we’re celebrating Walt Disney World here on the SATURDAY SIX. We started at Animal Kingdomand then made our way to Hollywood Studios, but this week we are going to look at a theme park that is unlike any other in America: Epcot.

EPCOT_Carey

EPCOT, the only Walt Disney World park in which the monorail goes into the actual park. (photo by Brian Carey)

Comprised of two distinct sections (Future World and World Showcase,) it’s impossible to compare EPCOT to any other theme park you’ve been to. The term “edutainment” is often used to describe the park because it generally eschewed the traditional model of quick and whimsical children’s rides, and instead focused on long and elaborate dark rides that refused to shoehorn in Disney characters (RIP Horizons.) EPCOT’s mascot Figment became an immediate hit, and certainly remains the most popular character ever designed for a theme park. We’ve seen many changes to EPCOT over the years, but it remains a wonderfully unique park. Yes, we miss Kitchen Kaberet, World of Motion, and the original Journey into Imagination as much as anyone, but there are still plenty of things to love about EPCOT’s current state. What’s our favorite?  Well, sit back, snack on some school bread, and let’s start our countdown with…

# 6 – Frozen Ever After

In 2014 we shed our tears with the rest of the #SaveMaelstrom movement, but an amazing thing happened when Walt Disney Imagineering converted the old Norway boat ride into an attraction based around the hit movie Frozen: they hit a monstrous home run. Given the constraints WDI had to work with including – for Disney – a rapid turnaround, Frozen Ever After is a dark ride so good that it would fit in perfectly with the legendary Fantasyland attractions at the Magic Kingdom. The animatronics are amazing (Olaf steals the show), guests get to see all their favorite Frozen characters and hear almost the entire film’s soundtrack, including the contractually obligated “Let It Go.”

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Elsa, Anna, and Olaf in Frozen Ever After. (photo by Brian Carey)

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Sven after getting a triple dog dare. (photo by Brandon Glover)

EPCOT_Frozen4_Carey

Queen Elsa. (photo by Brian Carey)

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More 2015 Epcot Flower and Garden Food Finds

by on March 21, 2015

While Epcot’s Flower and Garden Festival hasn’t yet caught up with the International Food and Wine fest in edible options, there are still more items to sample than any human stomach should attempt in a single day (trust us, we’ve tried). Therefore, I recently followed up my first visit to 2015 Flower and Garden Festival with another lap around World Showcase, this time in the opposite direction. The following photos show of some of my favorite Flower and Garden food finds from the western “hemisphere” of Epcot’s promenade, along with a closer look at a few of the floral arrangements we overlooked the first time around.

2015 Epcot Flower and Garden Food Finds

Let’s start with Urban Farm Eats, home to two of my favorite dishes at this year’s festival.

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SATURDAY SIX: Inaugural Walt Disney World “Turkeys” of the Year

by on November 29, 2014

This week’s SATURDAY SIX is a special one as we have the Inaugural Walt Disey World “Turkeys” of the Year. For Thanksgiving this week we took a look back at things both Disney and Universal fans should be thankful for, but today we are going to go the other way. Gather round, as we are starting a new tradition and award six WDW “Turkeys” to the craziest, most outrageous, or just downright weird stories of the year, concluding with the coveted Golden Turkey award. Let’s kick off the ceremony with a relatively recent one….

# 6 – FastPass + Testing at Toy Story Midway Mania

Kim Kardashian may have broke the Internet in November, but WDW itself set the precedent in October when it broke Hollywood Studios doing a controversial test using the park’s most popular attraction, Toy Story Midway Mania. For reasons still unknown, the attraction became FastPass+ ONLY for four days, giving guests no opportunity to wait in a standby line. The normally long standby line for TSMM was essentially switched over to Guest Services, where many guests queued up to voice their opinions on this test. The end result of the test? Scores of unhappy guests. One of the only family friendly rides in the park running at less than 100% capacity. And perhaps further evidence of a large percentage of WDW guests that just plain don’t want to participate in MyDisneyExperience or MyMagic+, something which could present a challenge for WDW in the coming years.

turkeys_tsmm1

Sorry folks, ride’s closed. Moose out front shoulda told ya. (photo by Seth Kubersky)

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Secret Guide to Epcot Food & Wine Festival in One Day

by on August 5, 2014

Matt Stroshane, photographer

Matt Stroshane, photographer

With the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival beginning September 19, it’s time to share my secret guide to doing it all in one day. Although it seems difficult, I have refined a strategy over time and now effortlessly cruise through the day eating and drinking everything that appeals to me. The secret? Eight rules.

The Rules:

1. Stay on-site

The closer you can afford, the better. You won’t want to drive (nor should you) at any point during your day of gluttony. Epcot resorts like Beach Club are ideal, but not necessary. I recommend Port Orleans French QuarterShades of Green is a good option if you have access to it.

2. Arrive early, on a weekday if possible

Booths open at 11:00 AM and you will want to be one of the first guests wherever you choose to start. Weekdays are less crowded since locals are working. If you stick to these rules though even a busy weekend will be okay. The Food & Wine Festival Welcome Center opens with the park and is a good place to kill some time while you wait for the booths to open.

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SATURDAY SIX: Top Six Reasons We Loved the 2013 Epcot Food & Wine Festival

by on October 5, 2013

The Saturday Six is a weekly look at the most interesting, most fun, and sometimes even the most outrageous things within the theme park world that we all love so much. Whether it’s checking out the World’s Largest Hard Rock Cafe in CityWalk, a look at Marvel Superhero Island in Islands of Adventure, or even going to Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, the Saturday Six is your personal guide to experiencing the very best Orlando has to offer.

FW_Logo_Day

Photo courtesy of Morgan Crutchfield

This week’s Saturday Six looks at the Top Six Reasons We Loved the 2013 Epcot International Food & Wine Festival. An annual event that originally started in 1995, Food & wine has grown each year and has become one of Orlando’s signature events of the fall. Over 25 marketplaces are placed around World Showcase and each bring their own unique food and drink offerings that offer guests the amazing opportunity to challenge their culinary palate and experience dining opportunities that just don’t exist in the theme park world during the rest of the year. But that’s not all, Food & Wine has a whole bunch of other stuff going on at the same time including seminars, concerts, and even the chance to meet celebrities from the world of food and wine. We loved this year’s festival but what are our favorite parts? For that we need to start the list~!

(Remember, you can click on any picture to see the full size version)

FW_Cranberry

The Cranberry Bog (presented by Ocean Spray)

#6 – The Cranberry Bog

I don’t know what it is about it, but I am completely mesmerized by the cranberry bog. At night, it actually looks like it could fit in well over at Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights. During the day Ocean Spray has representatives who will guide guests through the process or harvesting cranberries. Here you’ll find out that cranberries grow on lung running vines and Ocean Spray (along with other cranberry farmers) use rake-like tools to brush them into water. Because the cranberries have air pockets in them, they float, so the berries are then collected en masse. I love watching people wade through the cranberry bog and continue to try to wrap my mind around the fact that something like this exists in the real world. It also will allow me to drop some knowledge bombs during my next Thanksgiving dinner when I explain where the cranberry sauce comes from and – as a bonus – there are free packs of Craisins nearby the bog at the Ocean Spray booth.

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Eating Vegetarian at the 2013 Epcot Food & Wine Festival

by on October 3, 2013

The 2013 Epcot International Food & Wine Festival (see all the menus) is in full swing and continues to pack in the crowds. Some guests like to attempt to “Drink Around The World” and sample all the various drinks, while others like to try exotic food items from countries not regularly found in World Showcase. While eating vegetarian at Disney and Universal can be challenging (especially if you want more than the ubiquitous garden salad or veggie burger), this year’s Food & Wine has many unique options. Below is a list with every vegetarian option at this year’s festival, along with my review of the items I personally tried. (Click on any picture to see a much larger version)

FandW_ChileColorado

Chili Colorado with House-made Chips and Cashew Cheese (Terra)

We’re going to go through the booths in alphabetical order except to start off, as that spot is going to Terra. Why Terra? Because everything in Terra is vegetarian. That earns it a special spot on the list.

*Trick’n Chick’n Curry with Basmati Rice ($3.75) – A returning favorite from 2012, Trick’n Chick’n is made from Gardein brand chick’n breast with a great spicy curry served over basmati rice. I enjoyed the curry because it had a kick to it, but overall was mild and not overwhelming.

*Chili Colorado with House-made Chips and Cashew Cheese ($3.75) – The chili is made with Gardein brand beefless tips and cashew cheese.  I’m pretty tough on vegan cheeses, as I feel they generally come nowhere close to real cheese (as compared to the incredible advancements in the  meatless meats over the past few years), but this was great. I loved scooping up the chili onto a chip and eating it that way.

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