Friday, December 19, 2008

epcot food & wine festival

Ok here is the rundown of our favorite food & wine from this year's Epcot International Food & Wine Festival.

First, a quick synopsis. I love Epcot. Growing up, my favorite park was (and is) the Magic Kingdom. I mean, c'mon! Cinderella's Castle?! I'm a huge fan. But a very close 2nd, like missed it by a hair, is Epcot. I love love love all the countries in the back of the park. The food, the costumes, the "educational" rides, the grandiose faux buildings, the shopping...did I mention the food? I just love trying food from all over the world. So imagine my delight when I grew up past the age of 21 and discovered through my amazing Aunt Debbie, a Disney connoisseur, that there was a FOOD & wine festival at Epcot!! Ever since I turned 21, we have made it a family tradition to go to the festival. And it's not just the permanent countries that have food - there are cute little booths everywhere with small plates & wine tastings. You can't go much more than 10 steps without running into another booth. And it's Disney, so everyone is super happy that you are there. No snobbery here! It's also really nice to have so much walking to do and other sights to see...all the walking makes you more hungry, so you can eat more food, and drink...and so on and so forth.

My advice on how to really enjoy the festival:
1. Don't eat the day before.
2. Wear really good walking shoes and elastic band pants.
3. Save up some money before you go, because each plate/wine taste ranges anywhere from $3-$6. And if you have 30 or so countries to hit, and you want multiple plates from each country, it very quickly adds up. (I spent about $100 on the festival food & drink this year, and then an additional amount of money on wine to bring home with me.)
4. Put your money on a festival gift card. Not only does it help you budget (limit yourself to spend only the amount you put on the card), it is very easy to use - it's the size of a matchbook and comes on an elastic spiral bracelet, so you have it handy at all times. No fidgeting through purses, wallets etc. Makes life so much easier!

Ok on to the food & wine, my top 8 favorites! (There is just too much to write about, so I am limiting myself to the best of the best.) There's no guarantee these dishes and/or countries will be represented next year, but if they are, these are your must-eats & drinks.

1. Salmon & arugula salad - Canada
Divine. This is the only plate I went back for seconds on. It wasn't exotic or crazy, but man, it was delicious. Cooked perfectly with a maple & honey glaze that wasn't overly sweet. Yummmmmm.

2. Mofongo, pina colada - Puerto Rico
I spent a summer living in Puerto Rico. I absolutely love the food there. Unfortunately, I have yet to find quality Puerto Rican food in Atlanta. Thankfully, Disney does Mofongo right. It's basically a heap of mashed plantains cooked with pork. When I was in Puerto Rico, people would add whatever else they liked to it - here at Disney they made a shrimp salsa to go on top. Soooo good. I also had the best pina colada in my life here. Puerto Rico was new this year, and I really really really hope they keep it for next yr!

Mofongo on the left

3. Crabcakes, Lobster Roll, Sam Adams festival tent - United States
Hey American food can be exciting too! And, I LOVE seafood. So I was delighted to have a lobster sandwich with huge chunks of claw meat and a very crabmeat heavy, light breading crabcake. And, you could spend a whole day just trying all the different kinds of Sam Adams - draft & bottles. I love America.

4. Potstickers - China
Unfortunately, we ate the potstickers so fast we forgot to take a picture. But they are extremely delicious, if not the best postickers I have ever had. China also has chicken sha cha skewers that are pretty good.

5. Bay scallops - New Zealand
I'm not really a bay scallop fan - I prefer the big sea scallops. But these chilled bay scallops were delicious & refreshingly light.

Plus, hello? Kiwi crossing. Gotta give a shout out to the land of the kiwis!

6. Airship wine - New York
Our favorite new wine this year - Airship White. I've never had anything like it - I guess you could compare it to a Riesling, in that it's sweeter than other whites, but it's an entirely different grape taste. And it has a very grapey taste, which I really liked.

7. Spaetzle with mushrooms
Buttery noodles with a creamy mushroom sauce. Mmm.

8. Frozen Irish coffee
I know, kind of gimmicky. Probably not even "authentic." But oh my, so very delicious. That and it became a joke to our family and caused us all to laugh for at least 15 straight minutes.

This was taken after mom tried it.

So that's my top 8. And if I had to name a "loser", it would be Austria. They had a bacon dumpling with goulash. I love bacon, and I love dumplings. How could that not be a heavenly combination? Well the dumpling was a small disk of super dry dough. I guess the stew was supposed to offset the dryness? I don't know. I really didn't like it, and I was sorely disappointed. It may be the one bacon dish that has let me down.

So it was a successful trip:

Don't worry, this will last me at least til next yr! :)

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