I hope everyone enjoyed last week’s Disneyland vacation with Daisy Lauren as much as I did! For this Best Week Ever, we are back in unseasonably sunny Orlando for a visit to the Epcot Food and Wine Festival with one of our favorite people. There are only a couple weeks left before Epcot’s annual orgy of eating and drinking ends, but it’s not to late to share the excess with a friend. So this week, I took a walk around World Showcase with Liliane Opsomer, the co-author of The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World with Kids and the master of all things social media for The Unofficial Guides. Grab your MagicBand and a box of Zantac, and join us as we eat our way around the world!
When I arrived at noon, Epcot appeared quite a bit busier than you might hope a weekday in early November would be. Welcome to Jersey Week! Thanks to teachers’ conferences in New Jersey, wait times were jacked up throughout the park, with Spaceship Earth posting a 35 minute standby queue as I entered.
We started our culinary adventure at the new Next Eats area behind Innoventions West, where Liliane was determined to try one of everything from the two new kiosks themed to ABC’s The Chew.
Liliane arrived first, and greeted me with the greatest gift of all: chocolate! I don’t usually start off my day with a nitro-cooled mouse covered in whiskey caramel, but when in Rome…
Next, we sampled the olive oil-poached salmon. It was well seasoned and moist from the oil, but cooked through and through; I prefer mine a bit pink. The corn relish was a winner, though.
Our third Chew course was pork spareribs from the Sustainable booth, paired with a Kolsch beer. The meat was fall-off-the-bone tender, but the raw peppers topping it were a bit overwhelming. The rich cheese grits beneath the ribs were the real star of the dish, and balanced nicely against the bitterness of the beer.
Heading into World Showcase, we had to stop and get a selfie or two with the famous cranberry bog, which is back and in a more prominent location than ever.
And in the spirit of never passing up a freebie in the parks, we had to grab our complimentary pack of Craisins.
We took a quick detour through Craft Beer pavilion to pay tribute to the old Odyssey restaurant…
…and began making our clockwise trek around World Showcase lagoon. As tempting as the Australian lamb chops smelled, the queue was already at a discouraging length, so we moved on past Mexico to the construction zone known as Norway.
Work is buzzing along on the buildings that will house new Frozen meet and greet.
Enough photos, more food! The peking duck inside the steamed bun isn’t exactly Morimoto quality, and they were little liberal with the hoisin sauce, but as a dim dum devotee I liked this dish.
This one isn’t strictly Food & Wine related, but I noticed that the tea kiosk outside China had a couple new special menu items:
After a quick beer break in Germany…
…we took some time off our feet to enjoy some Italian entertainment. First up was Sergio the mime:
Followed closely by the Sbandieratori Di Sansepolcro flag tossers.
Moving on to America, take a look at the line for the evening’s first Eat to the Beat concert, a full three hours before Boyz II Men took the stage.
If you don’t have a Disney credit card, or other form of card from Chase, you might want to apply for one if only to access the Chase Cardholder Lounge above the American Adventure attraction.
It’s an oasis of A/C, free Coke Freestyle, and cell phone chargers that is most welcome by the time you reach the halfway point in your walk around World Showcase.
This year, there’s even a caricature artist available, along with Disney Infinity video games. And if you arrive early enough, you may get a wristband for reserved viewing of Illuminations.
Just outside the lounge, the lobster rolls at the Hops & Barley food kiosk looked so tasty that I had to get a photo of them with the chefs.
Unfortunately, you can get a much larger portion of the same sandwich for only a couple bucks more at Columbia Harbor House, so I decided that my lobster roll cravings can wait until my next Magic Kingdom visit.
Look who we ran into in Morocco! It’s our friend Joe from Parkscope.com. Hi, Joe!
Liliane had no interest in eating a Belgian waffle, but because she’s from Belgium I just had to ask her to pose with one.
We fast-forwarded past most of the west side of World Showcase and made our way towards the front…
…where we checked out this year’s Dominican Republic mini-pavilion, which is very nicely decorated.
The Scotland kiosk is home to two of my favorite S-words: scallops and scotch!
The sea scallop was a good size but, like most seafood at Food & Wine, slightly overcooked. The creamed spinach with bacon, however, could have been a dish all on its own.
I’m a Glenfiddich fan, but the end of an afternoon in 90 degree heat is probably not the wisest time to sample straight scotch.
Every visitor to Food & Wine must pose with the Chef Mickey topiary at the northern end of World Showcase. It’s mandatory!
Finally, we made it full circle back to the place where it all began. Revisiting Next Eats, we ended our culinary voyage by chewing on some New York Strip from Chew Labs. This was the only dish that I’ve tasted twice this year, and it remains my favorite item at the Festival. If I was served this steak in a fine restaurant (in a larger portion, of course) I’d be very satisfied, which isn’t something I can stay about some Food & Wine fare.
For a finishing touch, here’s a meta moment for you: me, taking a picture of Liliane, taking a picture of her vanilla panna cotta.
A big thank you to Liliane, Joe, and all the cast members and guests at Epcot for sharing this beautiful day with me! If you have Epcot Food & Wine experiences to share, leave them in the comments below!