Since we have annual passes, this year I’ve made it my goal to hit all the booths eventually during Epcot’s annual Food & Wine Festival. For those of you who don’t know much about it, here’s a little break down of what Food & Wine Fest is and why people love it so much.
Food & Wine Festival was inaugurated at Epcot in 1995, since then it’s grown a ton and each year Disney goes out of the way to make it a special time at the park. Booths are set up from all over the world to taste foreign flavors and specialty drinks. This year there are 39 booths around the park featuring flavors from the following countries: New Zealand, Australia, Patagonia, Hawai’i (not a country but a cuisine of it’s own), Greece, Thailand, Mexico, China, India, Africa, Germany, Spain, Italy, Japan, Morocco, Belgium, Brazil, France, Ireland and Canada.
We started our journey by grabbing our food passports (you can get them at any food booth, and this year you mark your own rather than getting it stamped at each booth), and hitting up Scotland for our first stop. Fun fact: my maiden name is Graham and my moms side of the family is SUPER Scotlish, like we have a family crest and everything! We couldn’t decide on what to enjoy with the booth offering so many delicious options, so we got the suggested pairing: Fresh Potato Pancake with Scottish smoked salmon and herbed sour cream, and Bellhaven Brewery Scottish Ale.
Honestly it was OK, since I only plan on hitting up each booth once this year I won’t go back to try any other tastings from Scotland, however if I were you I would definitely get the Traditional Scottish Lamb Stew with Neeps and Tatties & a Citrus Thistle instead. For me the Bellhaven tasted like malt liquor, very strong and hoppy which isn’t my fav kind of beer, the potato pancake was great as far as flavor goes, but because of the heat lamps that keep the food going, it was honestly a little dry, so again, try the stew instead.
Our next stop was Australia and this was probably my absolute favorite dish of the festival thus far. The Grilled Sweet & Spicy Bush Berry Shrimp with pineapple, pepper, onion and snap peas. When I say our plate was licked clean I’m not even exaggerating. The shrimp was perfectly cooked and not overdone at all, the flavors were wonderfully balanced. You get a lot of spice at first bite, but as you continue to enjoy the dish it mellows out and the snap peas were out of this world. We paired the dish with the Hope Estate “Wollombi Brook” Semillon which was great. For a red wine it was really light and sweet.
After Australia, we stopped in Greece for Spanakopita & a glass of Domaine Sigalas Assyrtiko, Santorini. The carbs here were just what we needed after a couple drinks, so the spanakopita really hit the spot. The wine was sweet and fruity which complimented the spinach and pastry perfectly.
By the time we reached other booths the park had started to fill up and lines had started to get a lot longer, so we started just looking for “shortest line” options. When we got to Belguim we decided to go all out with a Beer Flight & Chilled Coffee‘s. The Chilled Coffee was absolutely incredible. Have you ever ordered a Frap at Starbucks and thought “I wish this was full of alcohol”? If so, this beverage is definitely for you! In the beer flight we sampled: Hoegarden Witbier ( my fav, light but strong), Stella Artois Hard Cidre (nothing super special, but great if you’re into cider), and Leffe Blonde Belgian Pale Ale (I am NOT an Ale person, this was v hoppy). BTW the Belgian waffles looked amazing when people ahead of me in line walked by with theirs. I may have to repeat this booth next time just to try one.
To soak up all those drinks we then hit up France for the most amazing Beef Bourguignon, Puree de Pommes de Terre ever. (that’s cabernet sauvignon braised beef with mashed potatoes in Laymen’s terms, and it is just as mouthwatering and delicious as it sounds.) The beef is really tender and the potatoes are amazingly creamy and fluffy in this dish. It’s my go-to festival dish year after year. We also tried the Croissant aux Escargots (escargot croissant with garlic and parsley). I was really hesitant about trying this dish to be honest. I’ve never eaten escargot and wasn’t exactly big on the idea, but the way it’s cooked in the croissant and covered in garlic butter makes it SO amazing. I’ll eat snails all day if they always taste this good. You can’t go to France and not get a sparkling wine, so we got the St. Germain Sparkling Kir, the last time I got the Kir in 2015 it was nice and sweet with a pomegranate liqueur on top, this year they changed it up and mixed the sparkling wine with elderflower liqueur and while still amazing, wasn’t exactly what I was hoping for.
Last but certainly not least on this part of my food & wine adventure we went all out of our comfort zones and tried the Seared Venison Loin with wild mushroom marsala sauce & kumara puree in New Zealand. Much to my surprise it tasted a lot like a regular sirloin steak, the meat was a little more tough and chewy than a typical cut of beef, but it didn’t taste weird or gamey at all as I had imagined it would.
One of the great things that I love about the festival is that the portion sizes are just right so you don’t feel like you’re overdoing it, especially if like me you go with a couple friends and share everything! The prices at the booths are so much more reasonable than typical fancy restaurants where you would find this kind of culinary experience. Most items are within a $5-10 range at each booth. On average we spent about $13 per booth for the day, so the experience can add up quickly which is why I’m planning on doing it in rounds not all at once. Next time I’m going to sample some of their amazing mocktail/virgin drink options as well as more of the European and Asian booths!
Aside from the food Epcot also hosts celebrity chefs, educational food experiences, The CHEW, and a music series called Eat to the Beat with great throwback bands like Hanson & Sugar Ray during the festival. This year Food & Wine Fest runs from August 31 – November 13 so you’ve still got plenty of time to make a trip around the world. Have you been to Food & Wine Festival at Epcot before? I want to hear all your favs for my next trip! <3