It is that time of year again, Pumpkin Spice lattes are flowing, leaves are changing and everyone is wearing sweaters. For me Fall means Food and Wine!
The Epcot Food and Wine festival takes place from September to November and brings together dishes from across the world. The event which is now in its 20th year, brought some new items and experiences to the park. While they had the usual booths and cooking experiences, this year’s festival invited ABC’s The Chew cast to shoot some shows on property and even brought The Chew lab to the park with speciality dishes.
Back this year was 2007’s most popular booth, Dominican Republic, which brought along DR rum and delicious pork. Aside from the return of DR they also added a cheese studio and a wine studio. The event is spread from Future World to across The World Showcase, with the festival headquarters at what was The Wonders of Life pavilion located in Future World East from there the food and drinks stretch across the park.
I find that having a plan for attacking the booths is best, knowing what you want and starting in an organized fashion is key. Either starting in the middle or starting at Mexico and working your way across is probably your best bet. I had a few places planned I needed to try, though with my mom and boyfriend and in tow things got a bit hectic and we ended up just kind of going with what looked good.
We started in Australia since my mom wanted to try the shrimp, originally we were gonna start with a beer flight but the Co2 was being changed out on the flight we wanted so we headed into the park and got eating.
We started in Australia, mom got the Spicy Bush Berry Shrimp. This dish is Gluten Free and also available on the Disney Dining Plan as a snack, though it isn’t snack sized. The portion brings 3 large shrimps covered in pineapple and veggies, while its hearty it also has a bit of kick. Mom said during her entire time eating the shrimp that she wished she had gotten a beer to go with it, but she enjoyed it. The shrimp had a nice crunch and the veggies were seared perfectly, soft yet with a good amount of crunch.
From Australia we skipped over to DR, which was the booth I had wanted to try the most. While I have been visiting the parks since I was 18 months, last year was the first year I had tried any of the food in the booths and this year was the first I went in with the intent of trying everything I could.
Last year this booth space was occupied by Puerto Rico which had delicious conch salad and tostones which are fried green plantains. This year DR had pork and plantains, Yuca soufflé, Pescado con Coco and Caramel Flan.
I’ll preface by saying I am Latina, born and bred in Miami with Cuban food being served to me and I have a special place in my heart for Fufu de Plantano (Mangu if you’re from the Dr or Mofongo if you’re Puerto Rican). Fufu or Mangu as they had it listed on the menu is mashed plantains filled with onions and topped with pickled red onions, each country does it differently. Fufu and Mofongo contain fried pork rinds in it, where Mangu is usually more processed.
I will be honest Lechon Asado is a staple in most Caribbean countries and I am bias when I say this was amazing. The pork was perfectly tender, the mangu was flavorful and the avocado was perfect. This dish is pretty typical in most Caribbean homes, at least my own and a few others but if you’re looking for authentic without having to head out of the country this is a great dish. I will be honest I could have gone for seconds and eaten this as a meal, it was just that good.
My mom also tried the sugar cane drink, which was very good and was blended perfectly since you couldn’t even taste the rum in it. It was a nice companion to the pork dish and I am sure it paired well with a few other selections on the menu.
From the DR we roamed past Greece and Canada, I opted to skip both because of my dislike of moussaka and Canada didn’t bring back the fish from last year, though they had their cheese soup and wild mushroom beef filet mignon from the flagship restaurant at the park.
Skipping past Ireland which was my choice of dessert this year, we arrived in France. France in my honest opinion out of all the pavilions in the park has the best food and drinks. If you haven’t already tried it go grab yourself a Grand Marnier slush, it has to be the BEST drink on property the best way I can describe it is candy in a cup, just go have one.
In France I was challenged to try the Croissant aux escargots with garlic and parsley, because I had never had escargot before and both my mother and boyfriend are advocates of buttery snails. I also have a huge addiction to croissants so if I was going to eat snails? This was how I was going to do it, especially when the croissants are super buttery and flaky.
This dish was actually the only one which gave me a bit of heartburn, there was too much garlic which I never say but this was the one time I found that it was too much for me. But the dish itself? AMAZING the croissant was so buttery and flaky and the garlic and parsley added a great layer of flavor to the escargot. 3 escargot were in the croissant and were soft and buttery, they had a lot of flavor after sitting in the croissant and it was delicious.
While I munched on my first set of snails ever, my boyfriend opted for the Boeuf bourguignon which was braised short ribs on top of mashed potatoes.
The short ribs were extremely tender and they were slathered in a gravy with airy mashed potatoes which were equally good. The only downside to this dish was the fact that it was hard to share between the two of us, since biting into the beef was not an easy task without eating the whole chunk. Though it was very good and had a lot of flavor, but I think everyone agreed that the croissants were number one for us out of France.
We as a group all agreed that France had the best dishes, we really enjoyed the beef and croissants which were all very good and out of all the booths I think France had the most organized system to serve us.
Tomorrow I’ll be finishing up my Food and Wine experiences, from dessert to craft beer and talking about my obsession with MmmHops the Hanson Pale Ale.