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. Be sure to stay tuned for part 3 and if you haven’t already done so check out part 1 of the saga 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. Part 2 is here:
Let’s be real, I’m not going to pass on some Mexican food. We got one each of the Rib Eye Taco with roasted chipotle sauce, and the Tequila Chipotle Shrimp served on a black bean huarache (garnished with red and green cabbage, queso fresco, and crema Mexicana). Here’s a good point in the case for people having different tastes for food. I thought the rib eye taco kind of sucked. The meat was fine, but pretty bland (you can see that awesome gray pallor it had in the photo). I actually really liked the sauce on the taco, but the tortilla was a little too heavy. Glad it was made fresh (or at least recently dipped in oil), but overall, really plain. My friend loved the taco, and hated the chipotle shrimp, and I thought the opposite. She hated the texture of the black bean huarache (pretty much a thick baked tortilla made of black beans, from what I could tell). I love black beans, and while this dish certainly had a lot of them, it was well-balanced with the shrimp and queso fresco. I don’t think this was a smart booth to try and split up the dishes, because unless you’re cool with literally biting right where your companion’s mouth just was…these things were not coming apart with a knife or otherwise. I was not completely dissatisfied with Mexico’s booth, but wouldn’t have gone back for more.
I love Asian cuisine, and I was amped about the offerings of this booth. Until I saw that even Chicken Pot Stickers were uber-expensive, and it was for just two of them. Thumbs down, I wasn’t THAT hungry anyway. We did end up getting the Black Pepper Shrimp with garlic noodles, because, 1. HOT (warmish) noodles yes! and 2. The two items in bao buns looked literally like the Jamaican beef patty. Call me crazy, but Jamaican and Chinese cuisine don’t generally strike me as similar. The shrimp and noodles dish was probably the largest portion of anything we had, it didn’t even try to go into the “French fry container” that most other dishes were served in. The noodles had decent flavor, but were a little on the gummy side. I think if it had more sauce and less sitting time in a probable vat, that could’ve been avoided, but all in all, really tasty noodles! Also of note from this booth, we got the Happy Peach with DeKuyper Peach Liqueur and Myers’s Dark Rum. I’m not sure if there was anything else but booze and ice in this. I think the right way to pronounce the name of the beverage was actually, “druuunk”. It was fun to watch them pour these and people’s eyes were about to pop out of their faces.
Preface: I lived in Germany for 3 years and it was glorious, wish I was there now. Food, beer, wine…Europe…So I had high hopes for this booth. One of my favorite things to get at the regular German pavilion in the World Showcase is actually the Apple Strudel with Warm Vanilla Sauce. It’s pretty much the most authentic tasting German treat I’ve found Stateside. HOWEVER, I was so so sad about the Apple Strudel offering at the festival booth, it was TINY with a few drops of gelatinous vanilla sauce. So, very different from the “usual” snack, and I get that it was the festival so it wouldn’t be as large as the regular, but the price difference was about $2 (and the 50 feet of walking further). So, for me, hard pass. You’re welcome for my prejudiced review of something I didn’t try. We did get the Schikennudeln, pasta gratin with ham and cheese. Oddly enough, this managed to taste strikingly similar to the potato gratin with ham and cheese we’d sampled in the spring (at Epcot’s Flower & Garden Festival). But…with pasta. Again, this had cream, cheese, and salt…FLAVOR…yeah this was devoured quickly.
Living in Europe, you realize how shitty you are at NOT speaking other languages. Like I can read and even understand a lot, but when the words come out of my mouth they probably sound like a two year old with a mouthful of peanut butter. So, I ordered the most logical thing on the menu: Spezzatino con Polenta (basically Italian beef stew). The CM said I pronounced it perfectly, and I’m pretty sure that just meant, “we’re going to take your money now, thanks for playing.” We also ordered the Cannoli al Cioccolato (chocolate covered cannoli with sweet ricotta, chocolate, and candied fruit), and a Frozen Margarita with Limoncello and Tequila…both of which I could pronounce for real. The beef was really MF-ing hot. Like burning through the French fry container thing hot. It had decent flavor once it cooled off a bit, not super strong Italian-beef-type flavor, but it wasn’t overly salty either so thumbs up. Polenta was slightly plain but still creamy, not seized up, that’s a plus. The cannoli lived up to Melanie’s standards of deliciousness, with a good creamy filling, and the chocolate didn’t even have time to melt. It kind of looked like a turd, like no attempt at plating at all, but I’m sure plating wasn’t high on the give a shit list. The frozen margarita was kind of standard, but it was hot as hell that day and it worked out just fine.
We had been wanting awesome macaroni, and the Loaded Mac ‘n’ Cheese (with Nueske’s pepper bacon, cheddar cheese, peppers, and green onions) lived up to our hopes and dreams. I could have eaten a vat of this, but maybe leaving off a tiny bit of that bacon. It became overpowering, but I’m one of those freaks who doesn’t love bacon-everything. This dish surprisingly had a really strong spicy presence. The little jalapeno bits in there were a great addition. I’d swap more of those for the bacon, even. When I see “peppers” and they’re not specified, I always hope they’re spicy, but assume they’re bell peppers. I was happy with the result here.
Check out Part 3 where we dish about The Festival Center, Ireland, the Coastal Eats booth and more
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.