Editor’s Note: For the uninitiated the Epcot Food and Wine Festival is an annual shindig that runs from Early September thru mid November. It features food items and beverages from around the globe and is highly anticipated by locals and tourists alike. Not Club 33 contributor Becky Wells was recently at the Festival and recounts her tastings below. Skip ahead to PART 2 Here
We had a “Moms of 5 Kids Club meeting” for 3 short days, leaving our husbands and collective 10 children to fend for themselves while we crushed through the Food & Wine Festival. And all four parks. And Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party. F&W was awesome, I could have done without the bazillion people (I think one of those days must have been “bring your EVC / scooter / slowest walking friend” day…holy Shinto it felt like most runDisney races when you’re trying to pass people walking 6 across! It was cool to not go more than 10 feet without seeing more food to try. We were bummed to not have room or time or dollars to taste everything. Too bad it was like 93 degrees and getting wasted at 11am didn’t appeal with full park days ahead. Thanks to my friend Melanie for helping me taste everything and share her photos and opinions on the offerings. On with the review.
Islands of the Caribbean
The Jamaican Beef Patty with mango salsa and Mojo Pork with black beans, cilantro rice, and pickled red onions were our first two items at the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival. The beef patty was pretty good, not as flavorful as I’d assumed, since Caribbean flavors tend to be strong. The salsa had a nice flavor that wasn’t overly sweet, but not very spicy, bummer. Mojo pork…pretty much awesome. This was almost enough for a whole lunch portion, and while it could have used like 4 jalapenos (hey, I like stuff spicy), it had a great flavor throughout.
Okay I live pretty much in Canada, eh? I’m maybe 2 hours from the border, and so many things up here have no flavor at all. That being said, am I ever going to pass on something like cheese soup? Nope. Canadian Cheddar Cheese Soup with a pretzel roll was creamy cheesy goodness, and still warm (definitely important to note). I will admit I was hoping it would taste like whatever the cheese soup/dip concoction was we had at an Illuminations Dessert Party at the Flower and Garden Festival. It did not, at all. It almost seemed to have…chunks in it? Vegetables?! Hidden in cheese? I’m going with “it’s probably potatoes” and we still ate it all.
“Le Celier” Wild Mushroom Beef Filet Mignon with truffle-butter sauce was the follow-up to the cheese soup. The portion was a little on the small side, but hey, I’m never going to buy a whole filet at Le Celier, so I was totally game for trying it. I hate mushrooms, so those slimy boogers went straight to the side. The truffle-butter was sparse by the time we’d cut pieces to eat of the filet, but it added a good richness to the beef. I feel like it was a little overcooked, but only in terms of meat temperature, if that makes sense. I would have liked more medium or medium rare, but this was super juicy and cooked for the masses, so I’m sure they have to make it be more…super well done.
Joffrey’s Coffee & Tea Company specialty drinks
Okay, Joffrey’s Coffee, I kind of hate you. I mean, duh, caffeine is a thing. I have 5 kids, so it’s a huge thing, really. BUT, I’ve almost never been happy with my beverages from Joffrey’s. I feel compelled to keep trying them, because I’m a sucker for a deal associated with the requisite caffeine, such as the Disney Chase Visa discount, and now that I’m an official AP holder, it’s apparently the same discount. Wooo. I got the Jamaican cold coffee, and it tasted like dirty brown water with a drop of nasty. I like strong coffee, but this tasted like all the bad alcoholic drinks I’ve ever had minus the actual booze. Gross. Also, I’m a cheapass and I’m not going to dump out my $5+ coffee drink. I sipped at it, grimacing, slowly crushing through it. It was much less terrible after literally all the ice melted. I gave up with like an inch left in the glass, and tossed it. Saving grace, I got a non-coffee bev from Joffrey’s later on. I was wary because, seriously, this just gets dispensed slushy-style as if from some mid-grade cafeteria. I got the Frozen Strawberry-Lemon Sunset, this is topped with Grey Goose Vodka. The strawberry actually shocked me because it had…strawberries in it! What?! Kind of like a puree mixed with slush. Win. Plus the very generous pour of vodka on top. I could’ve had 5 of these. If I was rich. They actually gave me my discount on this too, not sure if that’s normal.
Everything looked fantastic at this booth, but something delicious followed by “cold noodle salad”…Nope. So I went with Red Hot Spicy Thai Curry Beef with steamed rice. This was also a favorite, good portion, nice balance with some veggies and beef. I seriously think that the mass-production of these festival dishes is making the flavors suffer, since they’re under seasoned. Again, I live in North Dakota, where “spicy” refers to four grains of salt. Whoever thought something like “Philly cheese steak” should be served with one onion slice, a sliver of bell pepper, and American cheese lives here. Vomit. And people shy from a Philly cheese steak made this way, because it could be too intense. Pass the gallon of pickled jalapenos and the ANY SEASONING before I eat that. But I digress. This beef curry was yummy, highly recommended.
What are your thoughts on the Food & Wine Festival? Tell us in the comments below and be sure to like and share on social media to help spread the word.