Yes, Fall has arrived. In Florida many say that means ABSOLUTELY NOTHING! Yes, we are experiencing record highs in the middle of October. Yes, AC companies are seeing record profits. And while it is true that there are no seasons in Florida but the season of HOT, what is also true is that I love to eat. And about this time every year, I get as giddy as Winnie the Pooh in a tub of honey. Why, because it’s Epcot Food and Wine time!
Epcot’s Food and Wine Festival is, well you guessed it, a food festival at Epcot. Just when you thought Disney World could not get any more magical! Since 1995, Epcot has been holding this event, and every year it seems to be getting better. More food options, different dining experiences, and even things for the kiddos. Visit Disney’s website for a list of all the need-to-knows.
But I did not want to write a blog post about everything you need to know before you go to the Food Festival. That would take forever, and honestly, no one does a better job explaining all that than Disney or the folks behind the Disney Food Blog. Instead, I wanted to share my “Hits, Misses, and Must Tries” based on my recent visits (yes multiple visits).
A hit to me is something that was really good and I’m glad I tried it. What distinguishes it from a “Must Try” is that while it was delicious, I probably would spend my money trying something else before ordering it again; while a “Must Try” is something I would order twice during a single visit.
My First Hit is the New Brunswick Slider at the Hops and Barley Marketplace. Slow braised beef brisket, topped with a horseradish cream and crispy fried onion; all served on a potato roll with the most wonderful side of pickled vegetables. The acidity of the vegetables cuts through the welcomed fattiness of the brisket, making this slider a surprisingly two bite hit.
My runner up under the “Hits” was the Carbonade de Boeuf, Purée de Pommes de Terre – located in the France Marketplace, this beer braised beef, with bacon, dish was the most tender piece of meat I had all day. And I will be honest, I’m not typically a fan of the dishes that come out of this marketplace, but this year, France found a way to my heart… through my mouth, as the beef simply melted away. Served over some onion and mashed potatoes, it brings the feeling of comfort; almost like a French grandmother peeled potatoes and worked on this dish all morning for your pleasure.
Some other notable Hits, not pictured by definitely worth the bite:
- In the Thailand Marketplace: The Red Hot Spicy Thai Curry Beef with Steamed Rice
- In the Africa Marketplace: The Berbere-style Beef Tenderloin tips with Onions, jalapenos, tomatoes and pap
Let me first start by saying that identifying anything at Walt Disney World as a MISS brings me extreme heartache and pain. For those of you who know me, and follow my crazy adventures with my daughters on Instagram, you know I love Disney. I love this festival. I love food. I love eating all the food at this festival! But with all the amazing food this festival has to offer, I simply offer an opinion as to what I think you can…maybe skip and try something else
BIGGEST MISS: The Entire Ireland Marketplace (while I cringe typing this). Yes, they have a Guinness you can order (and I LOVE Guinness), but the other dishes were simply unremarkable to me.
The Warm Irish Cheddar Cheese and Stout Dip with Irish Brown Bread was boring. Taste was ookkaayy, but the cheese and stout dip was runny and the bread was nothing special. If you are looking for a warm cheese soup-like dish that is good, check out Canada’s cheese soup; but this one.. skip it.
And then the dessert. I love my sweets. I eat tons of sweets. And for whatever reason, I had huge expectations for the Warm Chocolate Pudding with Irish Cream Liqueur Custard. And while it was warm, it was bland. The Irish Cream liqueur was overpowering and took over the dish. It almost seemed like I was eating a fudgy brownie while taking a shot of Baileys. And compared to the other desserts available at the festival…skip this one.
Another MISS for me was the Cannoli at the Marketplace in Italy. As described, it is a Cannoli filled with sweet Ricotta, Chocolate and Candied Fruit. Why it’s a miss for me? Compared to other dishes, this one seemed extremely small. The flavor of the filling was okay, but the Cannoli shell was a bit soggy; likely from being filled with the Ricotta and kept cold for a period of time prior to me eating it. In prior years, the Cannoli was one of the favorites, so I think with high expectations, this years version let me down.
If you are going to the Food and Wine Festival and want to try just a few things, there are absolutely two things you MUST TRY in my opinion.
FIRST MUST TRY
Le Cellier Wild Mushroom Beef Filet Mignon with Truffle-Butter Sauce. I mean honestly, if the name alone does not make your heart start pounding a little faster and your mouth water a little more, you simply aren’t living your BEST LIFE! Filet so tender that you barely have to chew. The earthiness of the mushroom enhances the wonderful beef flavor. And to top it with the beautiful Truffle-Butter Sauce, adding the slightest touch of richness; bring your dancing shoes because your Happy Dance will be center stage. What is much appreciated about this dish, is that it is consistently great every year. For as long as I can remember (recent memory that is), the marketplace in Canada has been serving this dish during the festival. And if you can’t make it to the Festival, the next time you visit Epcot, make a reservation at Le Cellier Steakhouse and try it there!
And boy do I have good news for you! After you try the filet, head on over to France and order dessert. Yes, my next MUST TRY recommendation is the Crème Brulee with House-Made Raspberry Jam. Why even explain this wonderful treat when you can see it right here for yourself:
Yes….you are certainly welcome!
The Festival is tons of fun, and I am extremely lucky to have the opportunity to go more than once. But whether you go once or everyday (why are we not friends?!), just have fun! Everyone has a different palette; some people are meat eaters; some people like savory food while others like sweet. Just do you, walk around, have a good time. Here are some other tips to consider before you go:
- If you look anything close to 21 years old, make sure you bring your ID if you plan on drinking. They do check IDs
- Hit the More popular spots first. In my opinion, Mexico and Canada tend to be two of the busier areas. Get there early, start with one of those marketplaces, and you won’t have to deal with huge crowds
- If you have saved up for this event but do not want to bring cash, put the money on a Disney Gift Card. All marketplaces accept Disney Gift Cards. Instead of walking with tons of cash, just put your ID and gift card in your pocket (of course, assuming you are not staying on Disney property, then just pay with your magic band)
- Go with friends and try not to purchase the same thing at the marketplace. When everyone buys something different, you are able to try different things from each place. I know, Genius!
There is so much to see, eat, drink and do at the 2018 Epcot Food and Wine Festival. If you haven’t gone yet, hurry up and go. The last day is November 12, 2018! Explore. Travel the world through Good Eats. And have a good time. I leave you with some more pictures of delicious food. Cheers!
Want to see more pics of my Disney Adventures and Disney Eats, follow me on Instagram @outnumberedfather and like the Facebook Page http://www.facebook.com/outnumberedfather. “Reminding all parents that together, we can take back control of the living room. Since 2018.”