Well, we finally made it to the Epcot Food and Wine Festival! The first weekend we had conflicts and last weekend was a complete washout, but by golly, this weekend was the day.
Judging by the crowds, a lot of other people were making their way to the park as well. The weather was nice with a little cloud cover to keep the heat down as we made our way into the park.
One of the big features this year is the cranberry bog as you make your way into World Showcase. It is pretty cool for someone who has never seen a bog before, but having grown up not too far from them, it leaves a little to be desired. Aesthetically, they could have plussed it up a bit, but as a conversation starter it seemed to do the trick with the guests we saw today.
The first stop for us today was a new entry at the Epcot International Food + Wine Festival, Hawaii. The offerings were a Kalue Pork Slider with Sweet and Sour Dole Pineapple Chutney and a spicy mayonnaise as well as a Tuna Poke with seaweed salad and lotus root chips (although it really was lotus root chip – there was only one decorative accent to the dish). To wash it dow, we also tried a Seven Tiki Mai Tai.
The pork slider was cooked perfectly and the spicy mayonnaise added a cumulative zing to the dish. The tuna poke (poke is the Hawaiian verb for “section” or “to slice or cut” and is a raw fish salad served as an appetizer in Hawaiian cuisine) was excellent sushi grade tuna sliced into cubes and rolled with sesame seeds; that combined with a wonderful seaweed salad, that also had a bit of a zing to the dish, made for a great start to our wandering lunch. Both offerings were excellent and presented a nice initial showing for one of the newest pavilions to the festival.
Next on our world tour was a perennial favorite, Greece. Much to our dismay, there was no Spanakopita but we did try a new dish, the Griddle Greek Cheese with pistachios and honey as well as the Chicken Souvlakiwith Tzatziki sauce.
The griddled cheese was lukewarm, and since I have never had it before am not sure if that is the usual presentation for the dish. Despite that, the cheese was very tasty and the combination of the pistachios and honey added some nice texture to the cheese. The souvlaki was cooked very well and the tzatziki sauce (strained yogurt mixed with cucumbers, garlic, salt, usually olive oil, pepper, sometimes lemon juice and parsley, and dill), on a warm pita was very good and made up for the lack of our beloved spanakopita.
Making our way past France, whose line was exceptionally long, we proceeded onto Belgium for waffles and a larger crowd of people. The line moved fairly quickly and the Belgium Waffles with Berry Compote and Whipped Cream was even better than I recall from last year. The compote was nice and sweet, but not overly saccharine, when combined with the warm waffle and cold whipped cream it created a delightful “dessert.”
As we finished up the waffles, we made our way to Morocco for some: Kefta Pockets, Harissa Chicken Roll and some wonderful Baklava. The kefta pocket is essentially a Moroccan burger – ground beef in a pita style roll; it was quite tasty and well done. The chicken roll, was very much like an egg roll, only a little mushy; it was served cold, so I am sure it had been sitting out a bit so it was not one of my favorite samples from the day. The baklava, however, made up for the lagging chicken roll. The layers of dough were light and tasty and the combination of flavors made it my favorite item of the day.
With filled bellies we made our way towards the front of the park, bypassing much of the rest of the food available. The pavilions were filled with people and all seemed to be doing a brisk business. As we neared Argentina we decided to have one last nosh to tide us over on the ride home. I was not initially keen to this idea since last year I thought their samples fell way short of expectations. I am glad to say that we did give the Beef Empanadas another chance and they proved much better than last years. Despite no sauce, the crust was cooked well, flaky and tasty and the filling was ample in its offering with enough flavor to win us back as fans.
Wrapping it up
For the day and dishes to sample we spent a total of $71.40; a larger amount than we normally spend on a nice meal in the park, but that is to be expected at this festival. I imagine our next visit to the festival will be equal to the amount since we only ate a few of the booths. Though few booths, however, were quite good with their samples. If you are in town for the Epcot International Food + Wine Festival (it runs through November 13) plan on stopping in and sampling the flavors of the world.