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. If you haven’t already done so check out part 1 and part 2 first.
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. And now for the final installment of this trilogy:
Well we’re fools, so we didn’t think this through and visit the festival center on day one. We stupidly waited until day three, which was our last day. You can purchase full bottles of wine here, but they either walk you to the front of the park or send the bottle to your resort room for you by the next afternoon (which is not an option on the last day). You cannot purchase a bottle and pop it open to partake in the park, even in the festival center. Damn it! Like a stereotypical stay at home mom, I wanted to try the sparkling peach Moscato. And I loved it, strong peach flavor, and the tiny sip in a classy plastic flute was downed in about 5 seconds. It would have been cheaper to buy a bottle than 2 of these. Bah. * Editor’s note: Not Pictured – Becky sitting at home with said bottle of sparkling peach moscato – sorry had to say it. You can actually buy that exact bottle here*
This booth offered the most conflicting opinions we heard anyone give. We got the Ricotta and Zucchini Ravioli with rustic tomato sauce, and the Grilled Beef Skewer with romaine, apricots, and feta cheese. I also ordered the Peanut Butter and White Chocolate Mousse with caramel drizzle. Putting this out there, I’m not a huge fan of white chocolate, but this dessert was good if you were able to cram your spoon straight down through all the layers on each bite. I didn’t get the caramel flavor, but it was good. Thank goodness for the peanuts on top, because otherwise, this was like a tiny Snack Pack for $5. I actually forgot I’d tried it until I saw my pictures while typing this up. I was so glad we ate the ravioli first. What a pile of crap. It probably wasn’t a smart buy considering I knew the ingredients, but…pasta sounded awesome. NOPE. The zucchini was so overcooked it was slimy and mushy. I don’t know if you’ve had zucchini, but it can kind of be on the sweeter side….not unlike ricotta. This was the filling of a cold tasteless pasta pocket. The pasta texture was great and it had parmesan on top, those were my only positives on this dish. The tomato sauce was incredibly bland. I felt like we were snobbish judges on a Food Network show and yelling, “could you not just add even a grain of salt?!” Conversely, the beef skewer was fantastic. Great seasoning, not crazy-overcooked, not chewy meat. The salad was amazing. That sounds lame, but it perfectly complemented the beef, and this was maybe the smartest pairing of anything we’d had. I usually hate hot meat on a cold salad, but somehow this was magical and the meat was a good temperature, while the salad was crisp and cool. We both agreed this was a great dish. The crazy part of this experience was a half-in-the-bag older lady one table over, freaking out over how the ravioli was “literally the best thing (she’d) ever fucking eaten”. The beef skewer, she tossed to the side and almost off the table, “that was a total piece of shit, but I can eat this pasta all day. Anyone want to trade?” Holy crap, lady, you are classy, and I should buy you another five beverages for loudly voicing your (perfectly valid) opinion to all of EPCOT. The kids in strollers behind her PROBABLY didn’t hear her, right? Funny how food tastes so different from one person to the next.
Lump Crab Cake with Napa cabbage slaw and avocado-lemongrass cream was one of the featured menu items and a The CHEW favorite. We ordered that and the Baked Shrimp Scampi Dip with a sourdough baguette. The crab cake was not terrible, it wasn’t dry or anything so the texture was good, it had big pieces of crab, but the flavor was just fishy, nothing special. Melanie is originally from Maryland, so when she doesn’t want a crab cake, I assume it’s not right. Lastly, the avocado cream was meh. The shrimp dip was flipping awesome. Give me a bigger spoon. Not over salty, not crazy fish-tasting, just cheesy, creamy, and yummy, plus sourdough as a bonus.
The Almond Orchard
We’d been really excited to try the Cauliflower Risotto with pulled chicken, artichokes, spinach, and parmesan. Womp, womp. It was a balsamic bombshell, very little spinach or artichoke, and oversalted “risotto”. Bummer. I know I complain of things having no flavor, but that doesn’t mean I want a shitty salt lick flavor either.
Well, this would have been tough to screw up. Warm Irish Cheddar Cheese & Stout Dip with Irish Brown Bread plus a Warm Chocolate Pudding and Irish cream liqueur custard, these did not disappoint. Let’s do a quick overview: cheese, beer, chocolate pudding, Irish cream, custard. Even if all of those were in one dish, I’d try it. The dip had the added bonus of a hidden Mickey on the plate, so it was starting off strong just visually. I used both pieces of bread and my spoon to crush through this. You could taste the stout and the cheese and it was creamy and hot. The dessert looked like Lunch-lady Doris slopped it on the plate, but the cast member accidentally plopped it out of the tin a little too hard. She grimaced, but still generously doused it with the custard, who am I to complain? This tasted like a dark chocolate brownie lava cake on steroids. And custard. I think this could have been a meal in and of itself because it was so rich. It’s a good thing we walked like 30+ miles over our three day trip.
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.