Taste Epcot: Our F & W festival tour

 

 

According to this year’s Festival Passport there were 35 marketplaces or locations with special festival offerings throughout Epcot.

 

 

With much help from my friends, Paula and Hunter, the Three “Amigos” (since only one of us is a caballero, lol) managed to mark off 20 of these in our collective passport.

 

Though our tour of the 20 booths occurred over at least  3 or 4 days, I’m combining them all into one long review.  Starting in chronological order, the first booth that we visited during Day 1 of our tour was Hops & Barley where we had…

Smoked Beef Brisket and Pimento Cheese Served on Griddled Garlic Toast

I actually didn’t partake of this one but neither Paula nor Hunter were impressed with this dish.  Paula said it was pretty dry.

Hops & Barley was also home to one of my favorites from my 2015 trip…

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Freshly Baked Carrot Cake and Cream Cheese Icing

I wasn’t feeling well during our visit at the Hops & Barley booth so regretfully I didn’t get the carrot cake.  And 8 days later I left for home without having one of my favorites from the previous year.  (MY FAIL #1  :sad2: )

We skipped the Japan booth because two out of their three offerings were seafood (which Hunter is allergic to) and the third was edamame, which none of us were feeling.

By the time we reached Morocco our friend Beth had joined us, so the 4 of us shared all three of their food offerings…

 

Kefta Pocket: Seasoned Ground Beef in a Pita Pocket

We all enjoyed the Kefta Pocket!  The seasoned ground beef was very good.

Spicy Hummus Fries with Cucumber, Tomato, Onions and Tzatziki Sauce

The hummus fries were another winner!

But we were all disappointed with the baklava…

Chocolate Baklava: Rolled Phyllo Dough with Toasted Almonds and Dark Chocolate Sauce

I normally love baklava but didn’t care for this chocolate version.

Then we moved on to Belgium where we tried the…

Beer-braised Beef served with Smoked Gouda Mashed Potatoes

This didn’t taste quite as bad as it looks but it wasn’t good.  However, friends that we met up with here said this dish was one of their festival favorites so maybe we just got the bottom of the barrel, lol.

Anyway, next year I will probably stick with the waffle I enjoyed here last year…

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Belgian Waffle with Berry Compote and Whipped Cream

 

Sadly we skipped Brazil.  I thought I would make it back here on another day but never did.   (MY FAIL #2 :sad2: 

 

But we did try 2 out of the 4 foods offered at the France booth…

Croissant aux Escargots: Escargot Croissant with Garlic and Parsley

There were 6 of us by this time, all of us sharing the croissant.  Some of us (including me) had not had escargot before.  And since I only had a bite of this I still can’t really say whether or not I like it.  However, our two escargot veterans (Paula and Hunter) said this dish was delicious.

The other dish we tried from France was the…

Boeuf Bourguignon: Cabernet Sauvignon-braised Short Ribs with Mashed Potatoes

Again this tasted better than it looked.  The braised short ribs were much better than the braised beef served at the Belgium booth.  And though the mashed potatoes look very unappealing they were actually pretty tasty.

I am a fan of crème brulee so wanted to try the Caramel Chocolate version here but again never got around to it.  (My FAIL #3 :sad2: 

Moving on, we skipped Ireland, which I was okay with.  I had enjoyed both the Fisherman’s Pie and Warm Chocolate Pudding here last year but wanted to save room to try new things.

But here is my Fisherman’s Pie from my 2015 visit to the Festival…

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Lobster and Seafood Fisherman’s Pie

It had several large pieces of lobster…

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And here is the chocolate pudding that I had in 2015…

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Warm chocolate pudding with Kerrygold Irish Cream Liqueur Custard

Although we skipped Scotland on this first day at the booths, I did manage a visit here on my own a few days later.  Here is what I got…

Fresh Potato Pancake with Scottish Smoked Salmon and Herbed Sour Cream

I really wanted to try the potato pancake but almost didn’t choose this because I’m not a fan of smoked salmon.  Then I had the idea of asking for just the pancake and sour cream. But at the spur of the moment when ordering at the cash register I decided to give the salmon a try.   And it actually wasn’t bad, so I ended up eating most of it.  As for the potato pancake, it was very good…especially with the herbed sour cream.

Now back to our first day with three of my friends.  For our last booth we chose Canada, where we shared both of the foods that they offered…

Canadian cheddar cheese soup served with a pretzel roll

In the past years I’ve always enjoyed the cheddar cheese soup from the Canada booth, but with the addition of the pretzel roll it now one of my festival favorites.

“Le Cellier” Wild Mushroom Beef Filet Mignon with Truffle-Butter Sauce

The filet here can be a hit or miss.  This year, although it doesn’t look very good in my photo, the filet was a hit for me.  And if I remember correctly, my three friends agreed.

Four days later we were back at Epcot having our lunch at the booths again.  Coming from the Chase Lounge in the American pavilion, I met up with Paula and Hunter in China.  On the way there I passed up the Italy, Poland, Germany, Africa, and South Korea booths.   I had hoped to get back to at least Poland and Germany, as these were two booths that I had also missed last year.  But sadly, I never made it.  (MY FAIL #4 & #5 :sad2:)

However, the good news is that while I failed, Paula & Hunter succeeded.  After my trip had ended, theirs continued on for more than a week so they were able to visit the Poland booth to try most of their offerings…

Kielbasa and Potato Pierogi with Caramelized Onions and Sour Cream (top)  and Golabki: Pork-stuffed Cabbage in Tomato Sauce

Neither Hunter nor Paula were excited about these two dishes.

 

Frozen Szarlotka Apple Pie featuring Zubrowka Bison Grass Vodka

Their opinions differed on this Apple Pie beverage though.  Paula thought it was pretty tasty.  But Hunter described it as, “Sugar on sugar on sugar with apple and streusel.”

They also tried most everything from the Germany booth…

Roast Bratwurst in a Hard Roll, Schinkennudeln: Pasta Gratin with Ham and Cheese, and Apple Strudel with Vanilla Sauce

Paula liked all three of these but did mention that Hunter makes an even better strudel.  Hunter’s comments, “The brat was too skinny, but had a lot of flavor!  Spaetzle was the bomb!  The strudel…again…bomb (outside of mine, hahaha)!!  And both beers were delicious!”

Ok, now on to China where I met up with Paula and Hunter for our Round 2 at the booths.  But I can’t pass by the Refreshment Cool Post (a permanent booth located in the Africa area of World Showcase) without giving a shout out to the beverage I had there last year…

 

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Frozen Brown Elephant

This was a frozen Coke with creamy Amarula liqueur added. YUM!  I think this might actually be available year-round so I might have to check that out during my upcoming trip.

Paula and Hunter had already sampled a few things from the China booth before I arrived there…

Beijing Roasted Duck in a Steamed Bun with Hoisin Sauce

Chicken Pot Stickers

Hunter’s comments, “The duck bao!!! Quite possibly my favorite bite of  the booths this year!”  And regarding the pot stickers, “I’m a sucker for all things pot stickers.  I needed about 12 more to make an accurate assessment though, lol.  These were not the best I’ve had, but average.”   Paula agreed, saying they have better pot stickers at both ‘Ohana and Yak & Yeti.

So our first stop as a team was at Mexico, where we got this to share…

Barbacoa Enchilada: Corn Tortilla filled with Beef Barbacoa and covered with Oaxaca Mole

Hunter best described this dish, “The enchilada was strange.  I don’t remember having an enchilada with mole sauce before.  Decent flavors, just not sure they went very well together.”

Last year I enjoyed the taco here, and it was again offered at the Mexico booth this year…

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Taco de Camaron: Battered Shrimp, Pico de Gallo, Pickled Onions, and Chipotle Mayonnaise

Between Hunter being allergic to shrimp and me wanting to try new things, we passed on the taco this time though.   The same was true of the shrimp dish from the Australia booth, which I had tried in 2015 (and was again offered there this year)…


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Grilled Sweet and Spicy Bush Berry Shrimp with Pineapple, Pepper, Onion, and Snap Peas
We thought about getting the lamb chop at Australia but weren’t feeling it, so we ended up skipping this booth. Maybe next year on the lamb chop.  (MY FAIL #6 :sad2:)
Hunter and Paula had already visited the New Zealand booth and tried two of their offerings…

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Lamb Meatball with Spicy Tomato Chutney

I had tried the meatball last year and thought it was pretty good.  And Paula really liked this year’s lamb meatball.  However, Hunter thought it was strange.  He said, “It was gamey and both tart and sweet.  Wasn’t my favorite at this booth.”

Hunter preferred the other dish that they tried from the New Zealand booth…

Seared Venison Loin with Wild Mushroom Marsala Sauce and Kumara Dumpling

Hunter said, “The venison was much, much better than the meatball.  Did not care for the dumpling it sat on though.”

Paula and Hunter had already visited the Farm Fresh booth (on their first day at WDW, I believe) and tried the…

Loaded Mac ‘n’ Cheese with Nueske’s® Pepper Bacon, Cheddar Cheese, Peppers and Green Onions

Paula thought this was good.  She said, “Noodles were a little over cooked but the flavors were good!”  And Hunter thought the mac and cheese was great.

Though it was one of my favorites last year, I didn’t want to ask them to repeat something they had already had when there were so many new things yet to try so I skipped the Farm Fresh booth this year.  But I kind of regret that now when looking at my photo from last year to compare it to what Hunter and Paula had this year…

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Loaded Mac ‘n’ Cheese with Nueske’s Pepper Bacon, Cheddar Cheese, Peppers and Green Onions (from 2015)

It was topped with way too much green onion for my taste, but other than that this dish was perfect!  Oh well, hopefully I’ll get another chance to have it next year. (MY FAIL #7)

The next booth was Hawaii, and again it was one we skipped.  I had never before skipped this booth because for as long as I can remember the Hawaii booth has always offered this…

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Kalua Pork Slider with Sweet and Sour Dole Pineapple Chutney and Spicy Mayonnaise

And since this is one of my husband’s favorites, we have always stopped at the Hawaii booth for a pork slider.  But with my husband not being along on this trip, I was okay with skipping this one…and Paula and Hunter seemed okay with that too.  ;)

So we moved on to Patagonia, where Paula and Hunter had already had the…

Beef Empanada

Hunter’s assessment, “The empanada was nothing to write home about.  Tasted like a baked taco with picadillo beef.  It was a miss for me.”  I tried this last year and would tend to agree with Hunter.

For the last two years that I attended the festival I have had the salmon dish from the Patagonia booth…

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Roasted Verlasso Salmon with Quinoa Salad and Arugula Chimichurri (from 2014)

 

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Roasted Verlasso Salmon with Quinoa Salad and Arugula Chimichurri (from 2015)

While this was one of my favorites in 2014, it was not nearly as good last year as the salmon had a fishy taste.

So anyway, that just left the beef skewer for me to try this year…

Grilled Beef Skewer with Chimichurri Sauce and Boniato Purée

This was okay, but the meat was a bit chewy and the chimichurri sauce was a little heavy on the oil.  It will be a tough decision as to what to have at the Patagonia booth next year if they again have these same three offerings (which they have done for at least the last three years).  Since I’m not crazy about any of these, I might just skip this booth next year or I might just give the salmon another try.   Who knows, lol.  ;)

We skipped the Desserts & Champagne booth.  Although their hard floats sounded pretty good, I wasn’t yet ready at this point for something sweet.  However, Hunter was ready because he got this from the Refreshment Port…

Croissant Doughnut with Cinnamon and Sugar

His comment, “Ooohh the cronut!!! Much better than the previous time I had one!  Delicious!”

Now I’ll backtrack just a bit to say that sometime when we were in the Mexico area we decided to veer over to Craft Beers building (aka the Odyssey Center) to try a couple of their Lofood offerings.

Piggy Wings: Fried Pork Wings with Korean BBQ Sauce and Sesame Seeds

Lol, not really sure where the wings of a pig are but these were pretty tasty.  However not really worth their price of $4.25 for (I think) just two wings (ribs).

The other thing we tried here was the…

Pimento Cheese Dip with Pretzel Crisps

This was okay until Hunter found a hair floating around in the cheese dip.  A hair that was obviously not one of ours. :crazy2:

But moving on to much better things, at some point in time we separated for a bit.  My assignment was to scope out the Islands of the Caribbean booth.  I ordered two of the four foods they were offering there, one of which was a Jamaican Beef Patty.  Here is what they gave me…

 

After finding a nearby table I waited for Paula and Hunter to join me before digging in.  I was taking photos of the two yellow balls when it suddenly dawned on me that they must have given me their dessert (the quesitos) inside of the beef patty that I had ordered.  I was about to return to the booth with my “balls” when Paula walked up to the table with a big grin.  She apparently understood the confused look on my face and told me that these yellow balls were in fact Jamaican beef patties.  Paula had seen photos of these online and knew what to expect.  She knew that inside these funny-looking yellow balls we would find ground beef…

Very hot ground beef.  Hunter said, “The minion’s balls were delicious!  Hotter than the hinges of Hades!  But worth burning my tongue on!”

While I liked the yellow meatballs, I liked the other dish that I got from the Caribbean booth even more…

Pescado con Coco: Seared Grouper, Pigeon Peas and Rice with Coconut Sauce

I really enjoyed this combination of flavors.  In fact this dish was my favorite of the day! :thumbsup2

Together we went to one more booth.  And we ended with a bang…a chocolatey bang!  From the Chocolate Studio we tried all three of their chocolate treats…

Ghirardelli® Chocolate Raspberry Torte

I agree with Hunter’s assessment of the torte, “The chocolate torte had decent flavor, but grainy…classic chocolate and raspberry combination.”

 

Liquid Nitro Chocolate Almond Truffle with Warm Whiskey Caramel

This was my favorite of the three, as I’m a sucker for the combination of chocolate and caramel.  Hunter thought it was too sweet though.

 

Red Wine Chocolate Truffle

My least favorite of the three was the red wine truffle.  However I think Hunter and Paula liked it.  Hunter said, “The truffle was way too soft, but great chocolate flavor.  A punch in the cheeks with chocolate.”

Paula and Hunter had been to another booth in Future World earlier in the day, before we met up.  From the Greenhouse Guru they had tried the…

Heirloom Tomato Salad with Goat Cheese, Aged Balsamic Vinegar, and Micro-Basil

Paula said, “The tomato salad was good!  The bottom tomato was a little over ripe but still really refreshing.”

The was on my list to try but I never got around to it so this was MY FAIL #8.

The other dish that they tried here was the…

Duck Confit with Creamy Polenta and Fire-roasted Salsa

Hunter said, “Hahaha…every time the lady [at the booth] said duck confit it came out as “duck con feet”!  My eyes immediately drifted to the ducks swimming in the pond behind her! Lol.  This dish I enjoyed though.”

Later in their trip, Paula and Hunter also made it to another booth in Future World that I had really wanted to try,  The Chew Collective.  They tried all three of the foods offered here…

From the top: Grilled Beef Skewer with Romaine, Apricots and Feta Cheese, Peanut Butter and White Chocolate Mousse with a Caramel Drizzle, and Ricotta and Zucchini Ravioli with Rustic Tomato Sauce

Hunter said, “The Chew booth was delicious…enjoyed everything there.  Would have liked to go back for seconds.  Great value also!”

Since I had wanted to try all three of these, not getting to The Chew booth was a huge fail for me.  (MY FAIL #9, #10, #11)

Anyway, after parting ways until dinner I stopped by two booths on my way out of Epcot.  One of those was Scotland, which I already told you about.  The other was Greece, where I chose the…

Spanakopita

I love spanakopita and these (considering they are mass produced) were pretty good.  Not as good as the ones my daughter makes each year for our Christmas Around the World party but they were tasty.

And that completes our tour of the 2016 Epcot Food & Wine Festival booths.  Did you attend this year’s Food & Wine Festival?  If so which booths and foods were your favorites?  Would love to hear your thoughts.

 

 

 

 

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