We return to the Epcot Food and Wine Festival to check in on new and returning items. I’ll copy/paste my reviews from last year where applicable and then list new arrivals. As always, easydubz is a bit harder on the offerings than most other sites with the idea in mind that it is your money and most people are going to be choosing just a handful of items to try. Your tastes will of course vary from mine and what you’ll be served will assuredly be different, but this is perhaps a good starting point. The website has ordered one of everything at every Food/Wine/Flower/Garden Festival for the last five years so I am perhaps more familiar than anyone with the price points and quality.
Africa returns with two popular food items and what will hopefully be two inexpensive wines, in addition to a new pinotage.
Buttered Chicken with Micro Cilantro and Naan Bread
Berbere-style Beef Tenderloin Tips with Onions, Jalapeños, Tomato and Pap
Indaba Chenin Blanc
Jam Jar Sweet Shiraz
You can smell how spicy the $5 Beef tenderloin tips berbere-style with okra, jalapeños, tomato and papit are as you walk by. That spiciness overwhelmed whatever other flavors were going on for me. The pap underneath, which is ground corn porridge, soaks up the lingering spicy sauce from the beef. If you like spicy dishes, you should enjoy the beef here. But if you don’t, it’s best to steer clear. The quantity is a good value for the money. But it’s really spicy.
Of course, you say “butter chicken” and I say “Sanaa.” A high bar perhaps, but this unfortunately didn’t make it half way. The flavor profile reminded me a lot of a Lean Cuisine with a sort of generic peppery flavor alongside chicken that had become limp after bathing in the sauce for so long. The naan was the best part. Maybe next year they’ll go with a bread sampler.
Indaba Chenin Blanc has been available around Disney World for some time now, particularly in Harambe at Animal Kingdom. The $5.25 price here is stupid high – this bottle I bought at Total Wine cost a whopping $9.99. It’s otherwise very drinkable, a little sweet and a little tart, with a zesty citrus-y lemon flavor overall. I’d skip it here, but you might pick a bottle up at the grocery store as it’s a pretty good value on the shelf.
Another $9.99 bottle, “jam jar sweet shiraz” is…as you might be able to guess…on the sweet side with dark berry flavors giving way to some chocolate on the back end. It’s more refreshing than your typical wine and would probably make a better sangria than it would a glass to go with your filet mignon. In this environment, I think it works though and it’s a good choice if you’re in the mood for something red but don’t like the lingering acidity of your typical cabernet or pinot noir. Very fruity and light.
Australia returns every item from last year.
Grilled Lamb Chop with Mint Pesto and Potato Crunchies
Lamington: Yellow Cake Dipped in Chocolate and Shredded Coconut
Grilled Sweet and Spicy Bush Berry Shrimp with Pineapple, Pepper, Onion and Snap Peas
Coopers Brewery Extra Strong Vintage Ale, Regency Park
Château Tanunda Grand Barossa Dry Riesling, Barossa Valley
Bulletin Place Unoaked Chardonnay, South Eastern Australia
Yangarra Estate Vineyard Shiraz, McLaren Vale
$4.75 buys you the Grilled Sweet and Spicy Bush Berry Shrimp with Pineapple, Pepper, Onion, and Snap Peas, which consists of three large grilled shrimp with a pile of “stuff” on top. While the presence of pineapple as the top billed topping might insinuate a fruitiness to the dish, I didn’t detect any. Instead, the predominant flavor was a kind of generic spiciness from the pepper and onion. The shrimp were expertly grilled and for the money, the value isn’t there. The dish and flavor profile just aren’t particularly unique though, which either means they’re a smart, safe bet or a boring one depending on your preferences.
The $6.75 Grilled lamb chop with mint pesto and potato crunchies tends to be a bit fatty and the “potato crunchies” are fancy potato chip flakes. While there is not much flavor from the mint, the crunchies soak up the flavor from the lamb and they do an excellent job of grilling each chop. It’s a better value as a snack credit than out of pocket. This is one of the more expensive dishes available at the Festival and one of the least consistent as you don’t know how fatty your chop is going to be until they serve it to you.
The $3 Lamington – Yellow Cake Dipped in Chocolate and Shredded Coconut returns from I think was the 2012 menu, if memory serves. There’s been a lot of wine between then and now and my memory isn’t as good as it was in my youth. Hopefully that instills confidence in the rest of this website’s meager content. They’re on the right track with the Lamington, but the cake is extremely dry and the coconut and chocolate aren’t enough to make up for it.
The shrimp with the riesling and beer.
Store price: ? cents/ounce.
Festival price: 63 cents/ounce.
Value: Average depending on whether it’s hard to find in your area
Coopers Brewery Limited is Australia’s largest and only wholly-owned brewery, dating all the way back to 1862 when some guy brewed beer in his house. They are also the world’s largest producer of home brewing equipment. Foster’s is probably better known, but it’s actually owned by the British firm SABMiller, which will in turn become AB InBev assuming the bribe to the government over that acquisition is satisfactory. Anyway, this 7.5% English strong ale is one of the best beers available at the Festival with a high ABV and a fruity, smooth, taste with a little bit of earthy bitterness at the finish with virtually no presence of alcohol. It should be rare on draft and is highly recommended.
The $3.50 Chateau Tanuda Grand Barossa Dry Riesling. According to Wine Enthusiast, “This medium-weight, slightly austere Riesling boasts aromas of struck flint and lime, with flavors of citrus and underripe stone fruit. Drink it now with raw oysters.” You took the words right out of my mouth. It pairs nicely with the shrimp and comes recommended, even if you have to bring in your own oysters in your pockets.
Bulletin Place Unoaked Chardonnay is a juicy white wine, almost like a sauvignon blanc without the grassy-ness. I’d pick up the riesling first, but this should be relatively rare in stores.
It’s more of the same at Belgium, though we lose the Palm beer and boozy chilled coffee this year.
Beer-braised Beef served with Smoked Gouda Mashed Potatoes
Belgian Waffle with Berry Compote and Whipped Cream
Belgian Waffle with Warm Chocolate Ganache and Whipped Cream
Leffe Blonde Belgian Pale Ale
Stella Artois Hard Cidre
A apology is in order on the $4.25 Potato and leek waffle with beer-braised beef, which is another dish that is significantly better than it looks. Several large bites of tender, slow cooked beef top a freshly pressed waffle. It’s basically beef stew over a waffle with a little bit of an onion-y kick from the leeks. Highly recommended, despite the unfortunate look.
More sweetly decadent is the Belgian waffle with warm chocolate ganache and whipped cream – $3.75. The freshly made waffles here are great and the chocolate ganache and whipped cream help bring out its naturally sweet flavor without overwhelming the waffle. Extremely good.
Mmmmmmmmm, for those of you not in the mood for chocolate, the $3.75 Belgian waffle with berry compote and whipped cream is a nice alternative. There was a time (three years ago) when waits for the waffles were long, but they seem to have streamlined things and longer waits than the other popular booths are uncommon.
It’s pronounced “who-garden,” though you’re more than welcome to ask the female cast member how good the ho garden is this year. Hoegaarden is a light and refreshing 4.9% witbier, better than the Kronenbourg Blanc in France, with lemon and orange notes.
Store price: 11 cents
Festival price: 63 cents/ounce
Leffe Blond is pretty decent Belgian Pale Ale, though the beer snobs among us will say that this is “no Belgian Pale Ale.” At 6.6% ABV, it’s also boozier than most of the beers offered at the Festival, including the other three here. The good news is that despite having more alcohol, you’re not going to taste it. It’s nice and crisp. Expect to taste cloves, bananas, and other spices. But be beware, this is a gateway to other more robust (and expensive) Belgian Ales.
Store price: 11 cents
Festival price: 63 cents/ounce
It pains me to rate the value as “poor” but it is pretty expensive compared to the store price of $7.49 for a 6-pack. With the highest ABV, it is the best beer value at this particular booth and all four are at least on draft, which is a bonus.
Store price: 16 cents
Festival price: 63 cents/ounce
Brazil returns every item other than the Cocada coconut candy this year.
Pão de Queijo: Brazilian cheese bread
Crispy pork belly with black beans and tomato
Escondidinho de Carne: Layered Meat Pie with Mashed Yucca
Kaiser Brewery Xingu Black Beer
Carnaval Moscato Sparkling White Wine, Serra Gaúcha
Frozen Caipirinha featuring LeBlon Cachaça
The $5 Escondidinho de carne, “Little Hidden One”: layered meat pie with mashed yucca isn’t unlike the Fisherman’s Pie in Ireland, topped with a swirl of mashed potatoes…I mean yucca.
This was a bit of a disappointment on opening day with the ground beef flavored with your typical onions and peppers. The yucca on top had hardened into a soft puck-like topping, despite the cast member excitedly telling me that it had just come out of the oven. You can sort of see that I have the whole top portion resting against the side of the cup as one congealed mass of tapioca. You may have better luck here.
This is the $5.50 Crispy pork belly with black beans, tomato and cilantro is better and one of my top five dishes from the Festival on flavor and value. It’s high quality meat with little fat and a crispy texture, despite sitting in the generous spoonful of flavorful black beans. I hope you have the same luck!
Lisa was perhaps looking forward to the $3.50 Pao de queijo — Brazilian cheese bread more than any other new item from 2014’s Festival. It ended up being disappointing as these are served from a store-bought bag. It’s otherwise largely flavorless bread surrounding melted cheese that also lacks much flavor.
So the description on this thing is “Cocada- Brazilian Coconut Candy – $2.” I was expecting a pre-packaged candy of some kind, but received this very dense, very sweet, very chewy hunk of coconut candy. You’re really going to have to like coconut to enjoy this one, but for the money, everyone might as well grab a fork and dig in. It’s a very intense coconut flavor, but for two bucks…
Xingu (pronounced shin-goo) is a 4.7% schwarzbier from Cervejaria Sul Brasileirain in Jacarei. It’s not as rare here in the states as you might expect and local Total Wine stores would sell you a six-pack for $10.49. Taste is a little sweet and caramel-y with a toasted malt finish. Mouthfeel is thin, but these dark beers are not as boozy as you might expect.
Store price: 15 cents
Festival price: 54 cents/ounce
It’s an interesting beer and while your local superstore probably stocks it, most people probably haven’t tried it.
I recommended Carnaval Moscato in 2013 at the $3 price point, but $6 is pretty nuts for a bottle that would run you $12 at the store. Particularly when said moscato is 7.5% ABV, which almost makes it not even worth swallowing. Avoid.
The caipirinha (ky-pee-REE-nyah) is Brazil’s national cocktail, made here with LeBlon Cachaca for $10. Cachaca is mostly unknown here in the U.S., but the pure sugar cane spirit is the most common hard liquor in Brazil. Anyway, this particular drink is served blended with the subtle sourness of the limes masking the taste of the liquor. It’s a refreshing cocktail that’s boozier than it tastes, unlike a lot of mixed drinks that we’re going to run into with hardly any alcohol content. Recommended.
The website is somewhat concerned that beer flights are going to be reduced to three options this year. Brewer’s Collection used to offer eight beers then four and this year there are only three on the menu Disney initially released.
Hacker-Pschorr Hefe Weisse
Radeberger Zwickel Pilsner (Unfiltered)
Schöfferhofer Zitrone Weizen-Mix
Remember that the single cups are six ounces and the flight is four by four-ounces, so the per ounce cost is almost identical either way. Beer enjoyers will want to spring for the flight. Beer adversers may want to stick with the Schöfferhofer Zitrone Weizen-Mix, which is a 2.5% ABV shandy that’s refreshing in the heat, but isn’t going to put anybody on their backs. It’s basically lemonade.
The website has long advocated for the addition of a pretzel roll with the cheese soup and this year Disney delivers. We do lose the chicken sausage, Inniskillin ice wine (available at the bar in the store in the Pavilion, and red wine.
Fielding Estate Red Conception
Canadian cheddar cheese soup served with a pretzel roll
Le Cellier” Wild Mushroom Beef Filet Mignon with Truffle-Butter Sauce
Neige Premiere Apple Ice Wine, Québec
The popular Canadian Cheese Soup returns in sad little cups for $4.25. These things fly off the shelves despite being absurdly priced. “Very cream. Much cheese. Such good. So price. – doge.” Pay the piper, give yourself a concussion, and try to forget it cost $4.25.
We’ll see what it looks like this year with the pretzel roll.
I’ve heard better things about Canada’s Filet Mignon. The picture above is from last year, when I received a very sad, very fatty piece of beef with just a couple thin slices of mushroom and a sad dollop of sauce. At $7.50 it still seems to make a lot more sense as a Dining Plan snack credit than a cash purchase. Add five bucks and you can order the Filet Sliders at Boathouse ($12 with fries). I’ll reserve judgment on this one since the portion and quality vary so wildly.
Store price: 11 cents/ounce.
Festival price: 58 cents/ounce.
Moosehead Lager is a decent 5% ABV American Pale Lager brewed by Moosehead Breweries in New Brunswick, Canada. This is basically your Budweiser option, though it has more flavor than your typical American macro. It’s refreshing, easy to drink, and relatively light.
Ashley sent in this precarious picture of the Neige Ice Wine from last year. $6 buys you about an ounce of what would cost you about $40 for a 375ml bottle (half a regular wine bottle). Unfortunately, there is no indication that the pour will be so small, leading to a lot of unpleasant (humorous) cast member interactions, particularly from those guests that began their expedition on the walk toward Mexico. Anyway, Neige is intense with a sweet apple cider flavor. It pairs very well with the Cheddar Soup. At 12% ABV, it’s not much more boozy than the Canada Cart La Fin du Monde, but it does have a pleasantly sweet apple flavor.
The CHEW Collective
A couple of kiosks tied to the ABC television show return in the same area with new names and a couple of new items. The Mousse sounds good in particular.
Grilled Beef Skewer with Romaine, Apricots and Feta Cheese
Peanut Butter and White Chocolate Mousse with a Caramel Drizzle
Ricotta and Zucchini Ravioli with Rustic Tomato Sauce
Both Festival Wines
The $4.75 Ricotta & zucchini ravioli with tomato sauce was better, with several large, creamy bites of cheese wrapped up in a delicate ravioli wrapper that is easily cut with the side of a fork. It was the best pasta dish we tried – easily fresher with more vibrant flavors than the Italian offerings coming up.
The Wines taste like wine.
China adds one new food item in the Sichuan Spicy Chicken replacing the Gaoli Beef Slider and a couple of drinks. Garlic noodles will also accompany the Black Pepper Shrimp. Somewhat surprisingly, the booth also drops both wine options.
Sichuan Spicy Chicken
Strawberry Plum Wine Cooler with Takara Plum Wine
Mango Bubble Tea with Assam Black Tea and Milk
Beijing Roasted Duck in a Steamed Bun with Hoisin Sauce
Black Pepper Shrimp with Garlic (Sichuan before) Noodles
Chicken Pot Stickers
Ritzy Lychee with Courvoisier Cognac VS and Smirnoff Vodka
Kung Fu Punch with Smirnoff Vodka and Bols Triple Sec
Happy Peach with Dekuyper Peach Liqueur and Myers’s Dark Rum
The Beijing roasted duck in a steamed bun with hoisin sauce is among the most expensive items at the Festival, but I think it also presents a good value as duck is relatively uncommon. The bun is chewy and light without having much flavor on its own. That’s okay because the tender, roasted duck in a partially-crystallized hoisin sauce packs a salty, sweet punch and there’s a lot of it piled into the bun with red and green onion on top. It’s a unique dish that I recommend if you don’t mind the higher price point.
Four dollars buys you two chicken potstickers, which I would have trouble differentiating from the big bag of Ling Lings I buy at Costco. They are expertly pan-fried and delicious, but it’s about a dollar per bite and the flavors are straightforward.
Store price: 8 cents/ounce
Festival price: 58 cents
ABV: Not enough
The website weeps. Defenders would point out that Tsingtao is the #2 best selling beer in the world, but Clorox is the #2 best selling bleach and I’m not sure I want to drink that either. If for some reason you have a stroke and accidentally order half of someone else’s bottle of 4.8% American adjunct lager, you can expect a largely skunky light bear backed up by stale grains. Or like the other standard lagers, it’s refreshing on a hot afternoon. Just real expensive.
China sees two new drinks in the $10.50 Ritzy Lychee with cognac and vodka and $8.50 Happy Peach with peach liqueur and dark rum. While the drinks look different and have different ingredients, we found it nearly impossible to differentiate which is which. The drinks are otherwise pre-made and then they add the liquor on top while you watch. The pours are usually well above average, making both good choices. Unfortunately the 2013 version of the Singapore Sling, which even made me blush in its high alcohol content, is long gone.
The Kung Fu Punch with Vodka and Triple Sec is a refreshing, orange-flavored drink with a healthy pour of alcohol on top. Highly recommended if you’re looking for an easily sippable drink with a relatively high alcohol content.
While officially a “new” booth, it does arrive with one of our favorite items from last year’s Festival.
Liquid Nitro Chocolate-Almond Truffle with Warm Whiskey Caramel
Red Wine Chocolate Truffle
Ghirardelli Chocolate Raspberry Torte
Blandy’s Alvada 5-Year-Old Madeira, Portugal
Justin Cabernet Sauvignon, Paso Robles, California
Rosa Regale Sweet Red Sparkling Wine, Piedmont, California
Fonseca Bin No. 27 Port, Douro Valley, Portugal
The $4 Liquid Nitro Chocolate Almond Truffle with Warm Whiskey Caramel is one of the best things they’ve done at the Festival in the last few years. The chocolate is impossibly creamy, enhanced by the caramel with a pronounced and long lasting milk chocolate flavor. If you’re only going to get one dessert at the Festival, I’d make this it.
Craft Beer should return to the Odyssey building, making it one of the more comfortable areas during the first few weeks of the Festival, when afternoon highs continue hitting 90 degrees. We see two food items return along with a selection of new beers from Florida.
Piggy Wings: Fried Pork Wings with Korean BBQ Sauce and Sesame Seeds
Orlando Brewing Orlando Weiss, Orlando
Florida Beer Company Passport 20 Belgian-Style Tripel Ale, Cape Canaveral
Two Henrys Blueberry Vanilla American Wheat Ale, Plant City
Concrete Beach Stiltsville Pilsner, Miami
3 Daughters Bimini Twist IPA, St. Petersburg
Shipyard Midnight Snack Milk Stout, Clearwater
Pimento Cheese Dip with Pretzel Crisps
Charcuterie Plate: Country Pâté, Cured Meats and Crostini
Eight whole wheat crackers (pretzel crisps in 2015) that look and tasted suspiciously like water crackers arrive alongside the Spicy pimento cheese dip for $3.75. The spicy dip is similar/the same as what’s served with the slider from Hops and Barley and has a nice kick to it, helped by the peppers and onions sprinkled on top. It’s not necessarily a compelling dish, but it’s the most edible here and pairs nicely with the beer.
Desserts and Champagne
The infiltration of alcoholic floats continues here. There is no stopping it. Interestingly(?) there are no desserts on the menu at the moment.
Hard Soda Floats with Vanilla Soft-Serve (alcoholic) – Best Damn Hard Root Beer Float, Sprecher Hard Cherry Cola Float or Sprecher Hard Orange Cream Soda Float
Soda Floats with Vanilla Soft-Serve (non-alcoholic) – Coca-Cola® Float, Grape Fanta® Float or Strawberry Fanta Float
Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin “Yellow Label” Brut
Dom Pérignon Brut
Nicolas Feuillatte Brut Rosé
Moët & Chandon Ice Impérial
I won’t bother you with the champagne reviews. But while expensive, they are typically better values than most of the less expensive wine.
Farm Fresh is one of the better booths in my opinion and it replaces a couple of items this year that sound pretty good. I did like the Yard Bird that we’re losing. I think the macaroni dish sounds a lot better than it is, but perhaps things will improve this year. What you were/are served may well be better.
Chicken and Dumplings: Stewed Chicken with Mushrooms and Spinach
Pickled Beet Salad with Herbed Goat Cheese, Minus 8 Vinaigrette and Toasted Walnuts
Florida Orange Groves Mango Mama Wine
Loaded Mac ‘n’ Cheese with Nueske’s Pepper Bacon, Cheddar Cheese, Peppers and Green OnionsWoodchuck Raspberry Hard Cider
Wyder’s Dry Pear Hard Cider
Two Henrys Elderberry Hard Cider
The $4.25 Loaded Mac n’ Cheese with Nueske’s pepper bacon, cheddar cheese, peppers and green onions seems like a no-brainer, but the execution is poor. The macaroni was well overcooked and this is probably as much green onion as you’d want to top the entire pot of pasta. The overwhelming flavor was green onion and chewy pasta. For north of four bucks, I think you’d be looking for a little more than this.
Maybe only three this year!!
France is housed inside of a particularly precious booth, returning most of its items from last year, while putting a slight spin on the creme brule and ice pop so all of the bloggers have to order it again. Also nothing says Florida in September more than outdoor onion soup.
Soupe à l’oignon au Gruyère et Cognac: Gruyère and Cognac Onion Soup
Crème Brûlée Caramel Chocolat: Caramel and Chocolate Crème Brûlée topped with Caramelized Sugar
St-Germain Sparkling Kir: Sparkling Wine and St-Germain Elderflower Liqueur
Frozen Daiquiri Ice Pop: Strawberry Puree with French Caribbean Rhum Clémen
Croissant aux Escargots: Escargot Croissant with Garlic and Parsley
Boeuf Bourguignon: Cabernet Sauvignon-braised Short Ribs with Mashed Potatoes
Kronenbourg Blanc 1664 Pale Lager
Chardonnay, Bourgogne Blanc, Mommessin, La Clé Saint-Pierre
Merlot & Cabernet Blend, Bordeaux, Château les Graves de Barrau
La Passion Martini Slush: Vodka, Grey Goose Le Citron Vodka, Cranberry and Passion Fruit Juice
This year’s $5.50 Croissant aux escargots with garlic and parsley is the best yet with four escargots baked into the buttery croissant. You know this is just an excuse to consume butter and garlic and what better vessel than a fluffy croissant?
Unfortunately, the Boeuf bourguignon — Braised short ribs in cabernet with mashed potatoes disappointed on two different occasions over two days. The potatoes underneath are atypically dense and the beef on top is stew quality.
The $9.95 La Passion Martini Slush — Vodka, Grey Goose Le Citron, cranberry and passion fruit juice is sweeter than previous iterations with less of an icy texture. Is there any alcohol in it? Probably not, but it doesn’t seem to matter considering the number of people walking around with them.
Wine pricing is always insane in France. La Crema at Hops and Barley is $1.50 less and significantly better, but if you want a white from the booth….this is it.
A bottle of Chateau Bonnet cost $18, compared to $5.95 for 2.5 ounces at the booth. This is medium-bodied with blackberry and cherry notes backed up by some oak. Not a tremendous value but it does pair well with the beef if you want to make two mistakes here.
I don’t want to talk about it.
Germany returns all three food items this year though it appears like the roll that arrives with the sausage will be “hard” this year instead of “pretzel.”
Roast Bratwurst in a Hard Roll
Schinkennudeln: Pasta Gratin with Ham and Cheese
Apple Strudel with Vanilla Sauce
Radeberger Zwickel Pilsner (Unfiltered)
J&H Selbach Bernkasteler Kurfürstlay Riesling Auslese, Mosel
Selbach-Oster Zeltinger Sonnenuhr Riesling Spätlese, Mosel
J&H Selbach Bernkasteler Kurfürstlay Riesling, Mosel
The $3.50 Schinkennudeln — Pasta gratin with ham and cheese is one of the most accessible items at the Festival, potentially perfect for kids (and dads) that have turned their noses up at the thought of peirogi goulash. It’s a nice portion for the money, though it is now available all year at Sommerfest. Hearty and cheesy. Very good.
The $5 Roast bratwurst in a
roll features what should be familiar flavors for anyone that’s ever enjoyed a brat. The pretzel roll is amusingly short considering the long, thin sausage, but the rolls are fresh and it’s a decent portion for the money. There are certainly more interesting items abound, but this is a tried and true Festival dish.
$3.50 buys you a slice of Apple Strudel with Vanilla Sauce. This thing is packed with apples and is complemented nicely with cinnamon and the sweet vanilla sauce. Very good, but not particularly unique.
The $5 Riesling Flight is a fun way to try three different sweet white wines for not a lot of money. Recommended. Also I wonder how many times whoever typed this up had to reference the bottle to get the spelling right. B-e-r-n-k-a-s-t-e-l-e-r k-u-r-f-u-r-s-t-l-a-y.
Greece, one of the most popular booths, returns with several favorites though we will all miss the Tzatziki Martini I am sure. The vegan nachos sound interesting.
Loaded Greek “Nachos”: Pita Chips, Meatless Sausage Crumbles and Vegan Tzatziki
Oikos Greek Yogurt Vanilla Cake Soaked in Ouzo with Yogurt Whipped Cream and Pistachios
Chicken Gyro with Tzatziki Sauce featuring Oikos Greek Yogurt
Domaine Skouras Moscofilero
Domaine Siglas Assyrtiko
Alpha Estate Axia Syrah Xinomavro
$4.25 buys you two spanakopita(s), which are flaky pastries filled with spinach, feta cheese, and other spices and stuff. They are quite good, though it’s not a lot of food for your money. The flaky crust easily breaks open to reveal the savory spinach and cheese inside.
The $4.25 Chicken gyro with tzatziki sauce is a skip in my opinion – a chintzy portion and a fairly simple preparation. It does feature relatively plain flavors should you be traveling with someone with limited tastes. You can probably get the sauce on the side.
The white wine is the Domaine Skouras Moscofilero – $3.50. This is a fruity white wine with a nice floral aroma. I think it’s a bit rarer than some of the other wines and authentically Greek, making it recommended.
A kind of blurry Alpha Estate Axia Syrah-Xinomavro – $4.25. This authentically Greek wine has a lot going on – spice and plum seemed to be the predominant flavors. I don’t think it pairs well with anything offered here, but it would go well with the Canada Filet.
This is an all-new booth this year, probably located in the same area as The Chew.
Chilled Tomato Gazpacho with Lump Crab Meat
Duck Confit with Creamy Polenta and Fire-roasted Salsa
Herloom Tomato Salad with Goat Cheese, Aged Balsamic Vinegar and Micro-Basil
Mini San Marzano Tomatoes
Chateau Ste. Michelle Cold Creek Vineyard Riesling, Columbia Valley, Washington
Acrobat Pinot Noir, Eugene, Oregon
Acrobat Pinot Noir has been available around property for a while now. It’s somewhat unique in that it’s served on tap.
Perhaps the least bloggable of any Food and Wine booth, Hawaii returns each of its food and drink options every year. The good news is that they are quite good if not slightly overpriced.
Spicy Tuna Poke with Seaweed Salad and Nori Rice
Kalua Pork Slider with Sweet and Sour Dole Pineapple Chutney and Spicy Mayonnaise
Florida Orange Groves Sparkling Pineapple Wine
Kona Brewing Company, Big Wave Golden Ale
Mai Tai featuring Sammy’s Beach Bar Rum
The Kalua pork slider with sweet and sour Dole Pineapple chutney and spicy mayonnaise – $4 is one of the most popular items at the Festival, thanks to its relative simplicity. I like this one a lot. The spicy mayo helps cut the sweetness from the pork and pineapple chutney, making the flavor profile more complex than you might expect. The rolls are fresh and there’s a decent spoonful of pork on each slider. Recommended, though the preparation isn’t particularly unique.
The $4.75 Tuna poke with seaweed salad and lotus root chips may be the healthiest option at the Festival. Your money buys you just three bites of tuna on top of seaweed with toasted sesame seeds spooned on top. The tuna seemed to be high quality fish with an attractive pink color and the seaweed retained a nice crunch. It’s not a filling dish for the money, but it is nice, light, and unlike most items, nicely chilled. Sort of recommended, but it’s not going to fill you up and it’s probably $1 overpriced, even for the Festival.
Store price: 13 cents/ounce.
Festival price: 58 cents/ounce.
Kona’s year-round blonde ale is the Big Wave, which doesn’t have a lot of flavor, which potentially makes it easy-drinking here in the Floridian fall. It’s better than the Kirin/Kronenbourg/Casa nonsense that’s upcoming, which potentially makes it a smart purchase. My money is still at Canada Cart or Scotland though.
The Maui Splash Pineapple Wine is a very fruity, passion-fruit-laced dessert wine kind of drink. It’s not really my thing, but if you like a fruity, juicy, “fun” wine that’s the sort of thing mom puts ice cubes in, then this might be a good choice.
The Mai Tai or whatever equivalent drink Hawaii is serving is always a waste of time – this year’s $8 travesty with a drop of rum is no different.
Hops & Barley
Hops and Barley arrives with an impressive lineup of beers and one of the best sounding new food items.
Smoked Beef Brisket and Pimento Cheese served on Griddled Garlic Toast
Samuel Adams Rebel Grapefruit IPA, Boston, Massachusetts
Anchor Brewing Liberty Ale, San Francisco, California
Dogfish Head Chicory Stout, Milton, Delaware
Frozen Orange-spiked Tea featuring Florida Cane “Orlando Orange” Vodka
New England Lobster Roll
Freshly Baked Carrot Cake and Cream Cheese Icing
La Crema Chardonnay, Sonoma Coast, California
Cambria Estate Winery Benchbreak Pinot Noir, Santa Barbara County, California
It’s pretty dumb to pay $7.50 for this thing, I think.
Those with excess Dining Plan snack credits may get a kick out of using one on what is basically the most expensive snack credit possible outside of one of Oasis Canteen’s funnel cakes. Anyway,everything about it was fresh – the roll probably could have used some butter and there’s a little bit too much mayo, but the flavor was better than most other lobster rolls you’re going to run into on property. But unless you’ve never had lobster before it’s probably too much money to spend out of pocket.
The $3.75 Fresh baked carrot cake with Craisins and cream cheese icing is very good, though it’s not particularly inventive even with the addition of some sponsored raisin cranberries.
La Crema Sonoma is a ubiquitous chardonnay and among the safest bets for those unfamiliar with wine. Unfortunately, it’s overpriced here at the booth, but that may give you an opportunity to try something a little more interesting. La Crema is otherwise rich and creamy with some lingering spice. It’s a great wine to have in the fridge, but not a great value here.
This is one of the best wines at the Festival and at $4.50 last year, was a good value. Now that the price is up a buck, it’s not quite as good of a value. Expect earthiness with a healthy dose of spice – it has a nice tannin structure. Aficionados that aren’t already too inebriated to tell the difference between this and Italy’s Placido will probably appreciate it, but the wine is wine crowd will likely want to look for something less expensive.
Ireland returns near Rose & Crown with most of its menu from last year.
Twinings® Pumpkin Chai Tea Frozen Cocktail with Caramel Vodka
Twinings Pumpkin Chai Tea and Caramel Shake (non-alcoholic)
Seafood Fisherman’s Pie
Irish Cheese Selection Plate: Irish Cheddar, Dubliner and Irish Porter
Warm Chocolate Pudding with Irish Cream Liqueur Custard
Kilkenny Irish Cream Ale
Bunratty Meade Honey Wine
The Lobster and Seafood Fisherman’s Pie – $6.50 is one of my favorite dishes. It looks deceptively small, but it’s packed with hearty potatoes, cheese, seafood, and the ingredient list is something like 30 things long. It is one of the more expensive items, but I’d budget for it if you can. It is quite filling, so you may want to share.
The Kerrygold cheese selection: Reserve Cheddar, Dubliner with Irish Stout, Skellig – $4.25 and served with soda bread and a chutney. We enjoyed these cheeses less than what’s served at the Cheese Studio, though I’m not sure I could tell you why. The flavors may have been a bit more foreign than we’re used to. If you like cheese, it’s hard to fault the options here and I don’t regret the purchase – it just wasn’t for us.
Taste: 3/10 (you may well enjoy it a lot more)
Warm Chocolate Pudding with the $7.25 Chilled Irish Coffee featuring Bunratty Potcheen in the background. Potcheen is largely undrinkable straight and in my opinion, the Belgian coffee is an easier-to-drink proposition. It does pair nicely with the couple bites that is the incredibly rich chocolate pudding. The creamy coffee does help mask the alcohol flavor from the potcheen, which comes in at 45% ABV, leaving a sippable beverage.
Bunratty Meade Honey Wine is a very sweet wine that tastes strongly of honey and very little of alcohol, despite having an ABV of 14.7%. It should be available in stores for around $17/bottle (and it’s available at the Festival Center for $22). Purists would tell you that it’s not a traditional mead, which would be fermented honey wine. This is a white wine with honey and spices added to it. Assuming you start drinking around the World in Mexico (and for most, even in Canada), you won’t care. Honey Wine is otherwise sweet with little flavor from the alcohol showing through. It may be more viscous than you’re expecting.
Store price: ?/ounce.
Festival price: 63 cents/ounce.
Value: Potentially good.
Kilkenny is not widely available in the United States, I don’t think. I always get it confused with George Killian’s Irish Red (Coors), probably because I barely speak English. This is a relatively low ABV Irish red produced by Diageo under the Guinness brand. It’s a bready, malty, caramel-y beer that’s light and refreshing with the low presence of alcohol that goes down smooth. It’s one of the better beers available at the booths, which is admittedly not saying much, but it’s worth a shot.
Islands of the Caribbean
While it’s billed as a “new” booth, I would expect Islands to be similar to last year’s Dominican Republic. It even returns the fish and the pork is very similar. One wonders if that “Jamaican Beef Patty” is literally going to be of the frozen variety.
Jamaican Beef Patty
Mojo Pork with Black Beans, Cilantro Rice and Pickled Red Onions
Quesito: Puff Pastry with Sweetened Cream Cheese and Guava Sauce
Pescado con Coco: Seared Grouper, Pigeon Peas and Rice with Coconut Sauce
$4.75 Pescado con coco: Seared grouper, pigeon peas and rice with coconut sauce is a nice portion of fish with a creamy, decadent sauce. Very good.
Italy typically mixes its food items up a bit and this year is no different as both pasta options are new. The beer and wine selection hasn’t gotten any better.
Pennete alla Parmigiana: Baked Ziti and Chicken Parmigiana, Tomato Sauce, Mozzarella and Parmesan Cheese
Spezzatino alla Toscana con Polenta: Tuscan-style Stew with Carrots, Mushrooms and Crispy Polenta
Cannoli al Cioccolato: Chocolate-covered Cannoli filled with Sweet Ricotta, Chocolate and Candied Fruit
Moretti La Rossa Double Malt Beer
Pinot Grigio, Placido
Prosecco, Fantinel Borgo
Corbinello Spumante Dolce Rose, Monte Grande
Fior d’Arancio Moscato Spumante, Monte Grande
Frozen Margarita with Limoncello and Tequila
The Cannoli al cioccolato (chocolate- covered cannoli filled with sweet ricotta, chocolate and candied fruit) – $4 is a decent way to finish your sampling if you’re planning to stop for another item, but I’m not sure I’d wait in line specifically for it. The chocolate tends to be bitter with only a little filling inside. You may have better luck, but I’d bet the password to the website that these are defrosted and served.
Just know that I am shaking my head violently just looking at this picture.
Store price: CHEAP
Festival price: EVEN MORE EXPENSIVE THIS YEAR
ABV: WHO CARES
Value: NOT GREAT BOB
La Rossa is at least 7.2% ABV, but paying
$11 for what amounts to a 12-ounce draft is nuts. WAIT!!! The price went up from last year! $11!!!! FOR MORETTI!!!arbitrarynumberofexclamationpoints. You could Uber to my condo, drink six bottles, Uber back to Epcot, and the cost would still be less than buying the equivalent of three drafts at Epcot. Even if I charged you twice as much as I paid for the Moretti!!!!!moreexclamationpoints.
I won’t waste your time going into detail about the other wines, but paying as much for a glass of Placido as you would for a 1.75 liter bottle is not great.
The $10 Italian Margarita is refreshing and a good value for the money (sadly), even if the alcohol content may not be high. It’s a lot more drink for your money than the French “martinis” and has a nice tart flavor. While it’s not at all Italian, it is tasty if you’re looking for something of this variety.
Japan returns along the water with what is more or less three new food items in addition to mostly new drinks. The Spicy Sushi Roll was a Hand Roll last year.
Spicy Sushi Roll: Tuna and Salmon with Kazan Volcano Sauce
Grilled Spicy Edamame tossed with Sesame Oil, Soy Sauce and Chili Powder
Garlic Shrimp: Marinated Shrimp sautéed with Garlic and Butter and served over Rice
Pineapple Breeze Sake Cocktail
Echigo “Northern Bloom” Junmai Sake
Kirin Pale Lager
Sapporo Black Lager
The sushi should be similar to last year’s version pictured above.
We’ll see if Mexico stays further down to the left or moves back over here. Most of the menu this year is new.
Barbacoa Enchilada: Corn Tortilla filled with Beef Barbacoa and covered with Oaxaca Mole
Flan de Chocolate Abuelita: Mexican Chocolate Custard
Bohemia Pilsner with Floater
Mexican-style Red Sangria
Mezcal Pineapple Margarita on the Rocks
Jalapeño Margarita on the Rocks
Taco de Camarón: Battered Shrimp served over a Flour Tortilla with Crispy Purple Cabbage and Chipotle Mayonnaise
Mexico Red Sangria
The $5.50 Tacos de camarón: Battered shrimp, pico de gallo, pickled onions, and chipotle mayonnaise is a slightly different take on Mexico’s usual shrimp taco. This is the best version yet, with four lightly fried shrimp sitting underneath a creamy, spicy chipotle mayo and the piquant onions adding a little crunch along with the pico. It’s on the small side, but this is what these tacos have cost here for years, so it’s a take it or leave it proposition. I think the flavors finally elevate it to a reasonable value.
Morocco actually has a beautiful new kiosk this year of which this is not a picture of. I will tweet some out later today. Otherwise, Morocco virtually never switches its items out, but we do have Hummus Fries this year replacing the Harissa Chicken Roll and it appears that the baklava is a new flavor.
Spicy Hummus Fries with Cucumber, Tomato, Onions and Tzatziki Sauce
Chocolate Baklava: Rolled Phyllo Dough with Toasted Almonds and Dark Chocolate Sauce
Kefta Pocket: Seasoned Ground Beef in a Pita Pocket
Les Trois Domaines Guerrouane White Wine, Meknes, Morocco
Mimosa Royale: Sparkling Wine and Orange Juice topped with Orange Liqueur
The $5 Kefta Sandwich is basically a Moroccan meatball sandwich with the beef further back in the pita and the vegetables stuffed closer to the opening. The pita is on the bland side and I think most people will prefer the lamb meatball at New Zealand.
The $5 Sangria is on the left and the $7 Mimosa Royale on the right. Morocco serves a sweet Spanish sangria that tastes more of sugar than alcohol. It’s pre-made from a bottle and isn’t anything special, but it’s sugary and here if you’re in the market. The Mimosa Royale is what you would expect from champagne and orange juice. Neither is a compelling value, but they’re both here if you’re in the market.
New Zealand is serving the exact same menu as last year with the exception of the sauvignon blanc.
Lamb Meatball with Spicy Tomato Chutney
Steamed Green Lip Mussels with Garlic Butter and Toasted Breadcrumbs
Seared Venison Loin with Wild Mushroom Marsala Sauce and Kumara Dumpling
Kim Crawford Pinot Gris, Marlborough
Mohua Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough
Nobilo Icon Pinot Noir, Marlborough
“Green Lip” seems like an unfortunate name for a food item, but the turquoise edge is indeed pretty. Otherwise, $3.75 buys you three Steamed Green Lip Mussels with Garlic Butter and Toasted Bread Crumbs. These were grit free and tasted like garlic butter with a crunch from the bread crumbs. They were really quite good and come recommended in front of the other items at this booth. Also easily shareable.
The Lamb meatball with spicy tomato chutney – $5.50 is exactly the same as last year’s. Despite advertising a spicy tomato chutney, I thought it was a bit on the bland side. But the various spices do give the meatball a bit of character.
A fairly substantial meatball hides underneath, wrapped up inside an airy bread bowl. The meatball itself was spicier than the chutney on top. I enjoyed this one too and it’s a reasonable portion for the money. I’m not sure it’s special enough to go out of your way for though.
Kim Crawford Pinot Gris is on the expensive side, but it’s also one of the better wines, with a ripe pear flavor on the front with a clean finish. The “wine is wine” crowd, present company included, may want to skip due to the higher price point, but it is very good though I think it would go better with something spicier.
Brancott Estate Flight Song Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc is a mouthful to say, but comes in low at just 9% ABV, which is 4-5% lower than most other wines. That leads to a light-bodied wine with lemony citrus notes. I’d skip it in favor of something that packs a little bit more of a punch, but some may prefer the lack of alcohol.
The $3.50 Unoaked Chardonnay is a bit different than most, with no woody flavor from the typical oak barrels used in the fermentation process. That leads to more of a pineapple, fruity flavor than your typical chardonnay. Lisa and I didn’t care much for it, but it is a little different and potentially worth trying.
Finally, the Nobilo Icon Pinot Noir is a good value. While it’s 75 cents more expensive than the whites, the bottle price is almost double at around $22. It’s got a bit of spiciness to it before opening up to a fruity, earthy finish. Very good with the beef.
I am still not sure what Patagonia is. The wines are new while the food items all return.
Verum Pinot Noir, Rio Negro
Bodega Noemía A Lisa Malbec, Rio Negro
Grilled Beef Skewer with Chimichurri Sauce and Boniato Purée
Roasted Verlasso Salmon with Quinoa Salad and Arugula Chimichurri
The $4.75 Empanada may be the least exciting looking item at any Marketplace.
And it’s about what you would expect with a flaky fried crust leading to spicy beef, onions, and pepper inside. As I’ve mentioned in past years, I’d love a dollop or two of sour cream to liven things up even more. This is otherwise a relatively “safe” dish for the unadventurous, though kids may stick their noses up at the presence of onions. There are certainly more interesting flavor profiles out there.
The $5.50 Grilled Beef Skewer with Chimichurri Sauce and Boniato purée is a Festival favorite and one of their biggest sellers, but I haven’t had as much luck. On my samples, I’ve only received a couple bites of overcooked, shriveled beef. It’s a pretty safe item though.
The $5 Roasted Verlasso salmon with quinoa salad and arugula chimichurri.
The salmon is expertly roasted, but the arugula didn’t add much to the dish other than color. The quinoa underneath is refreshing and soaks up the flavor from the salmon nicely. There are more interesting dishes out there, but this is a reasonable value and the dishes are generally executed very well.
Serving the finest in Mrs. T’s frozen perogi , you’ll find this booth near Germany. The sauerkraut version didn’t make it this year.
Golabki: Pork-stuffed Cabbage in Tomato Sauce
Kielbasa and Potato Pierogi with Caramelized Onions and Sour Cream
Okocim O.K. Euro Pale Lager
Donausonne Blaufränkisch Hungarian Wine, Kunság
Frozen Szarlotka Apple Pie featuring Zubrowka Bison Grass Vodka
$5.50 Kielbasa and potato pierogi with caramelized onions and sour cream.
I saw the size of the pierogi and laughed, thinking that Mrs. T’s must have come out with mini pierogi and lo and behold, here they are. The presentation is considerably better than past years with a heaping scoop of onions and two nicely grilled slices of kielbasa, in addition to between two and four bites of pierogi. I’ve never considered these to be much of a value, particularly for their freezer quality, but they re