Can I say, FINALLY? I’ve been living in Florida for 10 years and I haven’t even gone to Food and Wine Festival until last weekend! I can’t wait to tell you all about my first F&W experience with my boyfriend Te (it’s his first event as well and a first time Epcot-goer).
Prior to coming to Epcot, I made a list of top favorite menu items from other food bloggers. I also read a lot of Disney blogs on how to conquer Epcot Food & Wine Festival, which was extremely helpful! One big tip I got from an online resource was to purchase the gift card. It works like pre-paid and it removes the hassle of taking out your wallet and removing your cash or signing the receipt for credit card payments. There are a bunch of booths that offer the F&W gift card and what’s great is that it has a bracelet, so you can just attach it to any limb in your body. This also made the line and transaction so much easier and faster. For Te & I, we placed $120 in the card. Again, you can always go back to put more money. But having a limit prevented us from overspending. The drinks and food costs around $4-8 each. I just went for the middle $6 and multiplied that by 10. This alotted us about 8-12 foods and drinks each, which I thought was a good average, since we’d be tasting around the world, not eating and drinking our stomachs & livers all the way to Jupiter.
First stop, get my Minnie ears! I’ve never had one before, and since it’s a date Te insisted in purchasing me one, thank you Hun! Don’t forget to get your Passports and get it stamped at each food location! We also stopped by the Festival Center. If you’re not in a hurry to eat, there’s some demos and classes (not for free!) that are located there.
Okay, first food stop was Hawaii. I think I had a really huge expectation out of Hawaii (since I recently travelled there) and I came out being a little disappointed. We ordered the Kahlua Pork Slider with pineapple chutney and spicy mayo and Tuna poke with seaweed salad. The sliders weren’t memorable, it was pretty ordinary and I’ve heard such great reviews on this. The pulled pork was tender, but how I wished they put more meat and pineapple in this since there was just too much bread. I wasn’t a fan of the tuna poke. It felt that the tuna was not fresh, but frozen instead. So Hawaii was definitely a miss for me. But it’s okay, go to the Refreshment center and have a much needed Pineapple dole-whip with coconut rum (AWESOME). Because it was really really hot and humid that Saturday! I wished that maybe the dole-whip was infused with the rum, instead of having me mix the rum that was at the bottom of the cup.
Next country was Greece! We ordered the Spanakopita and the chicken gyro. Spanakopita came out hot and flaky! Te really loved this Greek spinach treat! I enjoyed the chicken gyro, especially that clean and fresh tzatziki sauce. That sauce was so good, and it cut through the Florida humidity and heat! The chicken was tender, juicy and well salted.
Next is the Dominican Republic! The lines were long for this one because of their Lechon Asado. This was one of my favorite eats from Food & Wine! Now this is pulled pork! It came with great pickled red onions, guacamole and mangu (boiled green plantains). I thought that the mangu at first was some glorified mash potatoes, but no, it was plantains! It was a great combo and definitely a great value for the serving.
We then went to the Wine & Cheese Studio, which was next to the Dominican Republic. Ordered a trio cheese platter (Karst cave-aged cheese served with honey, La Bonne Vie goat cheese served with Craisin® bread, Rogue Creamery Oregon Blue Cheese with berry port compote) and Franciscan Equilibrium White Wine. I enjoyed the wine that was a great pairing with the Karst & honey. I didn’t really like the SUPER SUPER strong blue cheese (it had the after-taste of horse and cow manure), I guess I’m not an extreme blue cheese lover. But hey, you can try it and see if you like it like Te did!
The country we next stopped by was Canada! Te and I ordered the “Le Cellier” Wild Mushroom and Filet Mignon with truffle butter! The flavors were great, but we were disheartened when the steak was cooked well-done! AHHH, how I wished that the steak was cooked medium.
The rain started to pour and the stand next to Canada was getting a lot of money for ponchos, even from Te & I! We strolled to the next country which was France! We used this opportunity to get in line, since the rain prohibited a lot of people from falling in line, instead to grab shelter. Thank you ponchos! France did it right from the accents of the crew and the food! Wow, the Croissant aux escargot and the vanilla and chocolate creme Brûlée were ON POINT. Do not pass out on this food experience if you end up coming here.
The scene is starting to get packed from here on out. A lot of parties and groups of friends are becoming a little rowdier and wilder as the late afternoon rolled in. Even witnessed a small cat-fight in Japan while the drums were rolling (man, it was epic). The lines for the countries are getting longer, and longer. At this point, we strolled through the European countries and went straight to China to get a hold of their Lychee vodka and cognac and duck bao with hoisin sauce. I’ve had better baos than this, so it was okay. The lychee vodka cognac was a good choice, considering it was really getting hot and sweaty in Epcot. I wished that the drink had lychee slices!
Te and I walked back to Africa. By far, Africa had the strongest flavors in their delicacies. I loved their Buttered chicken with naan bread and the berbere-style beef tenderloin tips with onions, jalapeños, tomato and pap was amazing as well. The chicken had a great curry kick to it. And the pap (maize porridge, similar to grits) with the beef was great. This was a great value too!
We then walked to Belgium and instead of getting the sweet Belgium waffles that everyone else was getting, Te really wanted to try the potato and leek waffle with beer-braised beef and smoked gouda cream. It was a great choice and what a good savory waffle! I could have used more of the smoked gouda cream, since it was drowned under the braised beef sauce. But the waffles soaked up all that gravy. It was a treat!
I am exhausted at this point, but we still had money to spare! On the way back, we stopped by the Chew Lab and Sustainable Chew. The line here was extremely short, which we were thankful for. At Sustainable Chew, we got the Pork Spareribs with red wine, fennel, and cheesy mascarpone grits and Vanilla panna cotta with fresh figs and pistachio brittle. Wow, the pork spareribs was my absolute favorite. That cheesy mascarpone was a killer with the flavors on the pork. You definitely taste the red wine in the sauce. The vanilla panna cotta was a great light dessert/snack.
Last stop was the Chew Lab. We ordered the Olive Oil-Poached Salmon with Fresh Corn, Bacon, and Pepper Jam and the Liquid Nitro Chocolate Almond Truffle with Warm Whiskey Caramel. The salmon was definitely on the salty side. The corn sauce was a good combination to calm the salt down on the salmon. But I didn’t taste any bacon (boo….). The chocolate almond truffle was mind boggling. I thought at first that this was ice cream, but it was much harder than that. Te suggested we eat it like chocolate and I enjoyed the slow melting sensation in my mouth. The whiskey caramel was amazing with the nitro truffle. The nitro allowed me to enjoy and savor the sweet caramel and chocolate flavor. Wow, what a delightful experience!
This was probably the most food I’ve had in one day. I’m happy for an amazing weekend spent with my love. Thank you for this beautiful and food-filled date Te! I can’t wait for another adventure with you!
For now it’s time for us to get back to work. I need a clean diet and exercise after this past weekend. Can you believe I’m going back to Food & Wine next month with my friends? It’s going to be fun.
Happy eating everyone and have a beautiful week!
With a filled-stomach,