On three different days (Tuesday, Thursday, and Monday…because the booths are always crazy busy on Friday – Sunday during the festival) my friends and I explored the offerings from more than 20 of the Epcot Food & Wine Festival Marketplaces. My goal this year was to have mostly food offerings I hadn’t tried before, and for the most part I stuck to my goal with just a few exceptions.
In this review I will show you what we tried in the order that they appeared in the 2017 Festival Passport…
The first marketplace listed in this book was the Epcot Legacy Showplace (which was located in the Odyssey Center). Here we tried two out of their three food offerings. First was the…
Chilled Scotch Egg wrapped in Sausage with Mustard Sauce
I guess we were expecting these to be similar to the ones served at the Rose & Crown Pub, but they weren’t. They were cold, hard and tasted old. Not something we would get again if they do have these next year.
The other thing we tried here was better…
Zesty Cheeseburger and Cheddar Cheese Macaroni Handwich
Paula and I both liked this but Hunter thought it was salty and that the cone was perfectly cooked on the outside but soggy on the inside.
Next up was the Flavors from Fire booth, which was located in Future World West. We tried two out of their four offerings, starting with the…
Smoked Corned Beef with Warm Crispy Potatoes, Pickled Onions, Blonde Ale Beer Fondue featuring BelGioioso Romano and American Grana Cheeses
I was a little surprised that the “warm crispy potatoes” turned out to be potato chips but still thought this was pretty good. The smoked corned beef was better than the very dry smoked brisket we had previously had from the Hops & Barley booth. Paula and Hunter both thought the chips and sauce were too salty though and Paula mentioned that the cheese sauce was broken (meaning the oil had separated from the other ingredients of the sauce).
Then we also tried the…
Sweet Pancake with Spicy Chipotle-Chicken Sausage, Onion Jam, and Maple Butter Syrup
This again had mixed reviews. I didn’t like this at all but Hunter said it wasn’t bad, had good flavors. Paula liked the pancake but not the sausage. She thought the casing was like rubber and thought it needed to be browned.
Though we took a peek inside the Light Lab (located inside Innoventions West building), we did not try any of their beverage offerings…
Next were the three “Eats” booths which were located in a cluster in Future World West. The first of these was the Earth Eats, which was inspired by ABC’s TV show, The Chew. They offered the same three dishes as in 2016, so only the booth’s name had changed.
Ricotta and Zucchini Ravioli with Rustic Tomato Sauce
Grilled Beef Skewer with Romaine, Apricots, and Feta Cheese
Peanut Butter and White Chocolate Mousse with a Caramel Drizzle
Though I had not had these in 2016, Paula and Hunter had and really liked all three offerings. However, this year was different. We all agreed that only the mousse was good this time. In fact, it was one of Paula’s favorites of this year’s festival offerings. The ravioli was nothing special (it was a bit cold and mushy) and the skewers of beef were unbelievably salty. Not even I could handle more than one bite of the heavily salted meat.
The second Eats booth was called Active Eats. From this booth we tried the…
Loaded Mac ‘n’ Cheese with Nueske’s Pepper Bacon, Cheddar Cheese, Peppers, and Green Onions
This was good but it didn’t seem quite as good as it was when I had this from the Farm Fresh booth two years ago. I think it needed more cheese.
Also from Active Eats we tried this dessert…
Sweet Avocado Crema with Strawberries, Yellow Cake, and Tortilla Streusel
This was another good choice. We all liked it, especially Paula.
Last was the Coastal Eats booth which had no options that Hunter could have because of his seafood allergies. So Paula and I decided to get just one item to share. They had Lump Crab Cakes, Shrimp Scampi Dip, and Seared Scallops…all of which sounded good to me. So I let Paula choose for us…
Lump Crab Cake with Napa Cabbage Slaw and Avocado-Lemongrass Cream
This wasn’t bad. I liked the avocado cream it was topped with.
We then skipped The Chocolate Studio booth, as they had the same offerings we had tried the year before. So it was on to The Cheese Studio, where we decided to try two out of their three offerings.
Braised Beef “Stroganoff” with Tiny Egg Noodles, Wild Mushroom, and Boursin Garlic and Fine Herbs Cheese Sauce
I thought I was really going to like this but ended up being disappointed, mostly because the noodles were overcooked and mushy. I did though really like our other choice…
Savory Caramelized Onion and Boursin Garlic and Fine Herbs Cheese Tart with Cold Arugula Salad and Aged Balsamic
I especially liked the tart which was like a pot pie shell. The crust was perfectly cooked and delicious. This made my list of 6 favorites this year!
Next came The Wine & Dine Studio booth. We again tried two of the three here, starting with the…
Pulled Duck Confit with Cannellini Bean Ragout and Zinfandel Reduction
I’m not really a fan of duck, but both Paula and Hunter really liked this dish.
Trio of Artisan Cheese: (from left to right) Point Reyes Toma, Point Reyes Original Blue with apricot jam, and Fromager d’Affinois de Excellence (which was similar to brie)
All three of the cheeses were very good. This would maybe have made my favorites list except that the toasted baguette slices all tasted old and stale.
Next up was the Islands of the Caribbean booth, where Paula & Hunter wanted to get something they had really enjoyed last year.
Jamaican Beef Patty with Mango Salsa
The mango salsa was a new addition this year. But even with the help of the salsa, these were dry and tasteless. Paula & Hunter were really disappointed, as they thought these were delicious last year.
We then skipped several booths (New Zealand, Australia, and Patagonia), as they were serving the same things they had in previous years. We also skipped a new booth, The Almond Orchard, which featured food items made with Blue Diamond Almond Breeze Almondmilk.
So the next booth was one that I ventured to on my own, while Paula & Hunter attended a wine seminar. At the Hawai’i booth I tried two of their new offerings…
Teriyaki-glazed SPAM Hash with Potatoes, Peppers, Onions, and Spicy Mayonnaise
I actually liked this, though not enough for it to make my favorites list. For a dish made with SPAM, it wasn’t bad.
My other Hawai’i choice was one of my favorites though…
Passion Fruit Cheesecake with Toasted Macadamia Nuts
I loved this! I planned to returned later in my trip for another serving of this cheesecake but sadly I never made it back. I really hope they offer this again next year.
Next up was another marketplace located in Showcase Plaza, the Farm Fresh booth. From here we tried…
Crispy Chicken with Griddled Cornbread and Red Eye Gravy
This was Hunter’s favorite dish from this year’s festival!
Two more of my favorites came from the Greece booth. I usually always get the Spanakopita from Greece, but I was determined to try new things this year so I got the…
Loaded Greek “Nachos”: Pita Chips, Meatless Sausage Crumbles, and Vegan Tzatziki
I really enjoyed these. The pita chips, kalamata olive slices and feta cheese were all very good. The meatless sausage tasted fine. The only thing that was a bit odd was the vegan tzatziki sauce. It wasn’t bad, but it tasted a little off to me…not like the usual tzatziki that I’m used to.
The other thing I tried from Greece was their dessert…
Bougatsa: Warm Phyllo Strudel with Sweet Vanilla Custard, Lemon-Honey Syrup, and Cinnamon
This was like baklava only even better. YUM!
Next up was Thailand, where I was looking forward to trying their…
Marinated Chicken with Peanut Sauce and Stir-fried Vegetables
Unfortunately I was a little disappointed with this one. The few pieces of chicken that I received were tasty but a majority of what I got was vegetables.
Next up was the always popular Mexico booth. From here we tried three things…
Rib Eye Taco: Marinated Rib Eye, Roasted Chipotle Sauce, and Grilled Scallions on a Corn Tortilla
This was good and another of Hunter’s favorites. Also very good was the Mexican-style Red Sangria shown in the first photo from Mexico.
Paula and I shared the other dish we chose, as it was seafood…
Tequila Chipotle Shrimp: served on a Black Bean Huarache garnished with Red and Green Cabbage, Queso Fresco, and Crema Mexicana
Paula really liked this, but I thought it was just okay. The shrimp were very good but I believe there were only four of them on our shared plate. On the other hand there was plenty of cabbage slaw, which to me was pretty tasteless and just a crunchy filler. I also didn’t really care for the huarache, which was the small, chewy tortilla-like shell (made from masa and mashed black beans) which was at the bottom of this dish.
Sadly we didn’t ever make it to either the China or India booths. I’m hoping that India will return to the festival next year, as they were serving a few things that I really wanted to try.
So the next booth we visited was Africa. In past years I’ve usually been too full by the time I reached Africa and the next booth, Germany. Therefore, I told Paula & Hunter that I wanted to start with these two booths on my arrival day.
So after Germany, Africa was our next booth and it was a successful one. We tried two of their three food offerings, starting with their…
Berbere-style Beef Tenderloins Tips with Onions, Jalapeños, Tomato, and Pap
We all enjoyed this. I was a little afraid of all the jalapeños in this dish, but it turned out to be spicy but not too spicy for us.
We also enjoyed the other thing we chose from Africa…
Spinach and Paneer Cheese Pocket with Mint Raita
So while Africa was a surprise success for us, our very first booth visited this year, Germany, was a big disappointment. We tried all of the Germany food offerings, except for the gingerbread.
Let’s look at these one at a time, starting with the…
Schinkennudeln: Pasta Gratin with Ham and Cheese
Unfortunately this had way too much onion…so much so that it really should have been listed as an ingredient in the description.
Roast Bratwurst in a Pretzel Roll
In previous years I’ve seen photos where the bratwurst was about twice the size of the roll it was served with. Though this more petite (normal size) sausage and the accompanying pretzel roll looked really good, it wasn’t anything special.
However, it was the dessert that I was most disappointed with…
Apple Strudel with Vanilla Sauce
The last time I had had this from the Germany festival booth (which was several years ago) it was much better. Then it was served warm and covered in both vanilla and caramel sauce. This was cold and didn’t taste very fresh.
Our third stop on my first day was at the Spain booth, which along with Africa (our second stop) made up for our bad start in Germany. At Spain we chose their…
Charcuterie in a Cone with a selection of imported Spanish Meats, Cheeses, and Olives with an Herb Vinaigrette
This was very good! I liked all of the included meats, cheeses and olives and the serving size was generous, large enough to share. It was though a little awkward holding and eating from the paper cone (especially when trying to share between three people), but I still consider this to be one of my favorites this year.
We also tried Spain’s dessert…
Sweet Olive Oil Cake with Powdered Sugar and Lemon Curd
I’m not a big fan of lemon/lemon curd desserts but I still thought this was pretty good. Hunter and Paula both liked this a lot. Overall, Hunter said that the Spain booth was bomb!
Our next stop, Italy, was not though. Two years ago they served a chicken marsala dish here that I really enjoyed so I had high hopes for one of their new offerings this year…
Spezzatino con Polenta: Beef Stew with Parmesan Creamy Polenta
The stew tasted okay (though it could have used more meat) but the polenta was pretty bland.
Our next festival booth was Hops & Barley. Last year I was not feeling well when we arrived at this booth so I didn’t try the dish that Paula & Hunter chose here. Therefore, even though they didn’t like it in 2016, they agreed to give it another try with me this year.
Smoked Beef Brisket and Pimento Cheese served on Griddled Garlic Toast
The brisket was again very dry and salty, so this dish is “two strikes you’re out!”
The dessert we got here was one of my festival favorites from two years ago (again I didn’t get to have it last year due to not feeling well)…
Freshly Baked Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Icing
This was again very good, but super sweet with all of the icing. Still, it was again one of favorites.
On our first day, I quit after Hops & Barley, in hopes of getting hungry again before our dinner at Monsieur Paul. However, Hunter had to have one of his favorites, which came from the Japan booth…
Wasabi Shumai Steamed Pork Dumplings
I barely had time to take this blurry photo before these went in his mouth. Needless to say, he really enjoyed these. I intended to get back to the Japan booth on another day to try these but sadly I never made it.
ETA: Paula sent me a better photo of the dumplings. This was the only thing they had tried from the booths during the week before I arrived.
Of the remaining booths around the right side of World Showcase (Morocco, Belgium, Brazil, France, Ireland, Scotland and Canada), we only got to two. The first of these was Brazil, where we tried all but their Pork Belly dish.
Escondidinho de Carne – “Little Hidden One”: Layered Meat Pie with Mashed Yucca
This tasted better than it looked, as it looked like it had been sitting under a warmer for too long. But under the layer of hardened cheese, the ground meat and mashed yucca were tasty.
Also from Brazil we tried the…
Pão de Queijo: Brazilian Cheese Bread
Hunter seemed to like these but I thought the dough inside tasted undercooked.
And that just leaves Scotland. Last year I had enjoyed the Fresh Potato Pancake with Scottish Smoked Salmon and Herbed Sour Cream from the Scotland booth, but I wanted to try something different this year. Plus Hunter can’t have salmon due to his allergies. So this year we had their…
Traditional Scottish Lamb Stew with Neeps and Tatties (rutabaga and potatoes)
I usually like dishes made with lamb but I was disappointed with this one. Hunter called it, “Gross!”
So did you try any of these festival offerings? Do you agree or disagree with our assessments? What were your 2017 festival favorites? Which dishes went into the trash can?