It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Nope, I’m not talking about Thanksgiving or Christmas, I’m talking about the Epcot Food & Wine Festival!
Have you visited yet this year? If not, with almost 1 week left, there’s still time! The Food and Wine Festival runs until November 23, 2019! This year marked the longest festival to date, but time is running out.
I’ve been lucky enough to say I’ve attended the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival since it’s early days. Thinking back, it amazes me how much it’s grown, and how many new and unique experiences are created for us each and every year.
This year is certainly no different! The festival is bigger than ever, not only in number of days, but in number of food and drink choices too! Knowing that, I thought it was really important that I spend time sorting out what I wanted to try ahead of time. I often encourage this before heading to any of the Epcot festivals – it ensures you get to try everything on your list (so you don’t forget anything!) and it also helps with sticking to a budget.
With my list ready in hand, I was set and ready for my food and drink adventure! My goal was to try as many of the new things as I could. There are many returning favorites year after year, and while I’m a creature of habit and tend to repurchase them, this year I wanted to purposely try new things. After all, that is the whole point to the festival! With minimal commitment, you can try things you would normally not be exposed to or think to eat or drink.
After having time to explore and taste so many amazing new (and some old) festival treats, I narrowed down my 8 favorites. Here they are in no particular order.
Beer-braised Beef served with Smoked Gouda Mashed Potatoes
The smoked gouda mashed potatoes, hands down, made this dish. The creamy, smooth, richness of the potatoes paired perfectly with the dark brown hearty gravy. The beef was tender and moist, you could pull it apart with a fork. This was an all around top choice. Pick this up in Belgium and find a nice quiet table in the shade next to the Tangierine Cafe – enjoy!
Moqueca: Brazilian Seafood Stew featuring Scallops, Shrimp and White Fish with Coconut-lime Sauce and Steamed Rice
I wasn’t so sure about the coconut-lime sauce when I first read about this option in Brazil – yet the scallops, shrimp and white fish were calling my name. This was delicious! Anything served over rice is a winner in my book, and this was no different. It was light, creamy, and fresh. If you like seafood, this is a must try!
FLAVORS FROM THE FIRE
The Steakhouse Blended Burger: Blended Beef and Mushroom Slider with Brie Cheese Fondue, Arugula, and a Truffle and Blue Cheese Potato Chip on a Brioche Bun
I was so excited to dig into this steakhouse blended burger, I forgot to take a picture! Thank you to Disney Parks Blog, they had one online for me borrow, so I could showcase this awesome burger. I mean c’mon, brie cheese fondue, truffle and blue cheese potato chips? How can anyone go wrong with that! I think all the food choices at Flavors from the Fire are outstanding, but this one is the winner for me!
Grilled Tuna Tataki with Seaweed Salad, Pickled Cucumbers and Wasabi Cream inspired by AULANI Disney Vacation Club® Villas, Ko Olina Hawai’i
All you have to say is tuna… and I’m there! This dish from Hawaii did not disappoint. The perfectly grilled tuna tataki with creamy wasabi sauce was so smooth and refreshing. Don’t let the wasabi scare you, I did not find this dish very hot – there may have been a little kick from the wasabi, but nothing that the average person couldn’t handle. Try it, you won’t be sorry!
- Frothy Ramen: Chilled Noodles and Dashi Broth with a Light Foam Topping
- Spicy Roll: Tuna and Salmon Sushi topped with Volcano Sauce
Japan by far takes the #1 spot for me! The Frothy Ramen was my very favorite of the entire festival. So much so, I went back for more! It is not to be missed. It was so unique and absolutely delicious. The cold ramen noodles in a miso/soy broth with the frothy light foam on top was so comforting, like enjoying your favorite chicken noodle soup on a cold day. Except it’s rarely “cold” in Orlando, so this these noodles are cold! Pair that with the spicy tuna/salmon roll topped with volcano sauce and it was pure perfection.
- Spanish-style Paella with Botifarra and Roasted Chicken
- Seafood Salad with Shrimp, Bay Scallops, Mussels, Extra Virgin Olive Oil, White Balsamic Vinegar and Smoked Paprika (GF)
Here’s another Marnie favorite! I had both of these dishes from Spain for the first time last year, and could not pass up the opportunity to have them again! The seafood salad is a close runner up to the Frothy Ramen Noodles in Japan! This cold, crisp and refreshing salad is perfect on a hot day. The seafood and vegetables (the green peppers are the best part!) paired with the tangy white balsamic leave your mouth tingly and wanting more! The paella’s color combination of saffron flavored rice with sausage, chicken, and fresh vegetables create a buttery, salty goodness topped with green onions for a sharp bite. Try them before time runs out!
WINE & DINE STUDIO
Artist Palette of Wine and Cheese: Trio of Artisan Cheeses paired with Reata Chardonnay, Rainstorm Silver Linings Pinot Noir Rosé and Spellbound Petite Sirah
Wine and cheese. What more can I say? A cheese and wine pairing is right up my alley. This may not have been the fanciest of all the dishes served at the Food & Wine Festival, but it is worth of trying. I have an extraordinary advantage of living within minutes of New York City, and over the years have enjoyed more wine courses and pairings than I can count, some at very prestigious places. But I can say with all honesty, this wine pairing could stand up to any of them. It was truly delicious. Make sure you sip your wine with each bite of cheese, you’d be amazed how it changes the taste in such a great way. Stop by the Wine and Dine Studio and grab the Artist Palette, you won’t regret it!
Shrimp and Cold Noodle Salad
This cold rice noodle salad mixed with 3 perfectly seasoned cooked shrimp, crisp veggies and coated in a delicious asian sauce. This dish is garnished with a finishing touch of chopped green scallions. Even though I loved the overall taste of this dish, I felt that the serving size was much smaller than other booths on the promenade. It left me wanting more!
TIPS & STRATEGIES FOR THE FOOD AND WINE FESTIVAL
These tips and tricks are pulled directly from my Complete Guide to the 2019 Food and Wine Festival. But I think they bear repeating and they are solid strategies to get you through the festival. Especially if you are first timers, it can be overwhelming. The festival is enormous both in popularity and activities/food/drink to take in. These tips will help to manage all of that!
TIP 1: Don’t forget to pick up your Guide Map and Passport.
These are essential to organizing your day. Know where you are going and use your Passport to check off where you’ve been and what you’ve tried. At the start of the day, highlight the offerings that are your “must do’s”, this way you can prioritize those and you don’t miss out!
TIP 2: Plan ahead!
By now we know the list of countries and food/drink offerings for the 2018 Food & Wine Festival. Similar to tip #1, make a list of must try items! Leave room for spontaneity and discovery, but having a list will allow you to not miss anything you want to try, and stay on budget.
TIP 3: Have a budget and stick with it!
With all the food and drink offerings at the festival, setting a limit right from the beginning
is the best way not to go overboard. My suggestion is to put a set amount of money on the mini special event wristband gift cards – this years is so cute, it has Remy on it! This will help you stay on track, and they are great souvenirs too!
TIP 4: Find a place to sit and relax!
Scouting out a place to sit and enjoy your tasty treats may be difficult, especially on evenings and weekends. There are a lot of high top tables around the World Showcase, but there are also many nooks and crannies where you can grab a seat and enjoy your food and wine. My recommendation, scout out a table before you purchase your treats. Have a friend hold the table while you get the food – another tip, ask to share a table! It’s a great way to meet new friends! I have met some of the most interesting people by doing this!
TIP 5: Don’t forget about Future World!
When most think about the Food & Wine Festival, most think about eating and drinking “around the world” – and while the Food & Wine festival takes place predominantly in the World Showcase, don’t forget or underestimate the offerings in Future World! Some of my favorite snacks are offered in Future World – Active Eats, Coastal Eats, Wine & Dine Studio, and the Cheese Studio! Be sure to check them out!!
TIP 6: Try new things!!
The Food and Wine Festival is a great time to experience new foods and drinks. With each small plate and drinks ranging from $4-8, it’s relatively inexpensive to test your palate. You may like something you wouldn’t otherwise try!
TIP 7: Pace yourself!!
With all the options available to us at the Food & Wine Festival, we often get excited and dig right in. By the time you hit the halfway point, you’ve had enough! The heat often does not help either. Use your Food & Wine Festival Guide to help you prioritize what to eat and drink first and go slowly. There is plenty of time to try everything!
TIP 8: Annual Passholders!
For anyone who is an AP holder, be sure to purchase the special limited Food and Wine Festival Merchandise! Most are limited quantities, so be sure to check them out early!
TIP 9: Food and Wine Festival Center!
Don’t overlook the Food and Wine Festival Center. Here is a great place to cool off, check out the Food and Wine Festival Merchandise and visit various vendors showcasing wine, beer and various food from around the world. You can pick up your Guide Map and Passports here too!
TIP 10: HAVE FUN!!!
None of any of this matters if you aren’t having fun. Let your hair down, try new things, make new friends and enjoy the atmosphere!!