Epcot's International Food and Wine Festival 2018by Roan Poulter, contributing writer
It may be said that only a fool would attend Epcot's International Food and Wine festival on not only the opening weekend but also Labor Day. Well, as God is my witness, I am that fool.
Some of the food can be smelled cooking from great distances. Photo by Roan Poulter
As this is not my first review of Food and Wine, I did my very best to expand my horizons and brave new culinary adventures. You may note that many of the locations have changed, or at least to my memory they have. Scotland is noticeably missing, sorry Haggis lovers. Also missing were Patagonia (alas for meat pies) and Farm Fresh (though rest assured my compatriots, you can still find the Mac and Cheese).
Beware the dazzling graphics from the Light Lab. Photo by Roan Poulter
We did not attend the 2017 Food and Wine, so for us there were some great additions.
What We Had:
Light Lab: Have you ever dreamed of paying $3.75 for a shot of Kool-Aid? How about a $9 Slurpee? Well, would you like it more if it were in a glow-in-the-dark room? How about if they poured it through a cool tube first? How about if you waited in a 15-20 minute line first? The short answer is go home and take a palm full of cotton candy, pour sprite over it. I just saved you a half hour and $3.75.
Very little is explained and even less to be tasted. Photo by Roan Poulter
Kahlua Pork Slider (Hawaii): I know it's not new, but this was the first time we had it. Delicious and tender savory pork with Pineapple Chutney and spicy mayo. This is island delicious with just enough spiciness in the mayo to keep it interesting.
Beware of long lines as this is the first Kiosk in the World Showcase. Photo by Roan Poulter
Grilled Tuna Tataki—with Seaweed Salad and Pickled Cucumbers and Wasabi Cream (Hawaii): A very small helping of tuna, understandable, but isn't there an ocean full of seaweed? I really enjoyed the Tuna, but it was standard fare. The Wasabi Cream was good, though again I found it to be just enough to wish I had a little more.
So good, we wished there had been a little more of the sides. Photo by Roan Poulter
Moqueca—Brazilian Seafood Stew with Scallops, Shrimp and White Fish with Coconut-Lime Sauce and Steamed Rice (Brazil): We almost didn't order this, thinking it was pretty hot for stew. We were wrong, this was by a good measure the best thing we had at Food and Wine. All of the seafood was nearly perfect, still containing that essential taste of the ocean, but it was the sauce that really blew our minds. The coconut and lime is somehow refreshing, even in the heat. It has a sweetness that combines so well with the fish, accentuating each other and not overbearing the other. I typically love savory heavy dishes, but this really had me rethinking all that.
Our favorite delicacy of the trip. Photo by Roan Poulter
Crispy Pork Belly—with Black Beans, Tomato and Onions (Brazil): For those unfamiliar with our good friend the pig, pork belly is the same meat that bacon is made from. Needless to say, this is a bit greasy, though the crispy exterior keeps it from coating the lips. The meaty flavor of the pork belly is contrasted with the earthy taste and texture of the beans, with tomatoes and onions to provide some much needed acid to cut through what might otherwise be a heavy mouthful indeed.
Probably not the healthiest, but delicious nonetheless. Photo by Roan Poulter
Mochi (Japan): This is a treat offered year round in the small kiosk outside. It is a lovely treat on a hot day, the chewy mochi (Pounded rice until it becomes the texture of a gummy) with a sherbet interior available in many flavors. My daughter's favorite treat in all of Epcot.
This is our favorite frozen treat in the park. Photo by Roan Poulter
Spicy Roll—Tuna and Salmon topped with Volcano sauce (Japan): I love sushi, but this roll is dumb. As if someone decided the drumstick was the ultimate in food, this seaweed handled monstrosity is always a mess. Yes it's delicious, but my teeth arent' sharp enough to cut through one layer, much less two layers of seaweed wrapper. But it does taste great and is one of the better values in my opinion.
Good but I always make a mess of it. Photo by Roan Poulter
Charcuterie in a Cone—TAPAS! (Spain) New for us was Spain and glad we were to see it. If you haven't tried this, you simply must. The cone of meat and cheese and olives is coated in an herb vinaigrette that gives at least nine possible flavor combinations. Savor each morsel as the pungent cheese and spicy cured meats battle bitter olives to explore your individual pleasure centers preference.
Such a delicious game of flavor roulette. Photo by Roan Poulter
Spanish-Style Paella—with Chorizo and Roasted Chicken (Spain): I don't like Paella, I find it always to be over salted. I thought this in Barcelona and I think it at Epcot.
The paella with chorizo and roasted chicken, just a tad oversalted for my taste. Photo by Roan Poulter
Warm Naan Bread—with Pickled Garlic, Mango Salsa and Coriander Pesto Dips (India): Honestly I didn't care for the dipping sauces. They were interesting flavors, but overpowered for bread dipping.
There are no lack of flavor explosions on this plate. Photo by Roan Poulter
Korma Chicken—with Cucumber Tomato Salad, Almonds, Cashews and Warm Naan Bread (India): This dish looked nothing like the picture. Nor was there a single nut that we found. But it was good. I would have called it Chicken Tikka Masala, sort of like the one at Yak & Yeti. You compare the photo and comment below if you think I'm off base.
This is the advertisement for it. Photo by Roan Poulter
Here is what you actually get. Photo by Roan Poulter
Piggy Wings—Roasted Pork Wings with Korean BBQ Sauce and Sesame Seeds (Flavors from Fire): Not sure what part of the magical pig these little nuggets are from but they're delicious. The sauce is great, though the meat could have been softer.
Not sure how they get the flying pigs to land to harvest these wings, but well done. Photo by Roan Poulter
Charred Chimichurri Skirt Steak—on a Smoked Corn Cake with Pickled Vegetable Slaw and Cilantro Aïoli (Flavors from Fire): The steak was a little tough and not seasoned enough for my taste. Of course by this point in the night I was nearly dead of overeating and the folks at American Express were holding my family hostage, so maybe I would have felt differently at the beginning of our odyssey. The smell of the steak cooking is what brought us over.
Not as tasty as it was amazing smelling. Photo by Roan Poulter
Liquid Nitro Chocolate-Almond Truffle with Warm Whiskey-Caramel (Chocolate Studio): Having not been a big fan of the Chocolate Studio in the past, I was pleasantly surprised. The love child of a truffle and Liquid Nitro ice cream, this is a decadent treat on a hot day.
So rich, so cold and thus so good. Photo by Roan Poulter
Sweet Dark Chocolate Raspberry Tart with Whipped Cream (Chocolate Studio): Also very good without that overt sweetness that might make my teeth ache. A nicely sized portion well worth the money spent.
Sweet, but not too sweet. Photo by Roan Poulter
Our thoughts (no ratings this time because we had SUCH varied experiences):
- Dad (43): What a terrible weekend to visit. Wait for the mania to die down. Brazil's seafood stew was a knock out of the park
- Mom (43): Can't believe that Greece doesn't have gyros, will miss them. Loved the sushi in Japan
- Daughter (19): Get the Mochi, it's a great treat on a hot day
- Son (17): Pork wings were awesome. The chocolate shop was way better than last year
Nice review! I hear you on the insanity aspect of "first days" for anything, but I thank you for making the sacrifice this time so you had time to write this up early in the Festival ! I'm headed there in about 2 weeks, and this was helpful for both a few things I will now specifically seek out, and also one or 2 that I probably won't. (though if I'm unsure, I always look to see what people are actually walking away from the booth with vs. the pic on the menu).
The official menu description might not have sold me, but your review on the Seafood Stew at Brazil put that on the definite list for me now, so thanks! On the flip side, I think you have also convinced me out of the Korma Chicken at India, especially with the lack of nuts (unless they pureed them into that tomato and cucumber sauce ). I have to agree with your son on the Piggy Wings. I think that might have been my favorite item last year, and it's probably the only time I've ever repeated getting the same dish twice during the same trip. I think Flavors from Fire was a great idea as an additional kiosk last year, so I'm glad to see it return.
I'm going to be there in 8 days! I plan on pouring over this!
Kahlua pork doesn't sound appetizing. Kalua pork on the other hand is good.
lol. I like Kahlua but I have to agree.
Here are a few pics of the last offereing we had on our last few trips over to EPCOT for some Food & Wine fun.
Prices have gone up mid Festival, so the prices in this article are no longer valid.