It may have been 20 years since Epcot hosted its very first Food & Wine Festival, but one thing is for sure: this annual event has not gotten old! With new booths like Chew Lab, Cheese Studio, Sustainable Chew, and Wine Studio, along with the return of old favorites like the Dominican Republic, Disney sure knows how to keep things fresh. So on one Saturday afternoon, this blogger went eating and drinking around the world (hey, someone had to make the sacrifice for this article) to bring you this list of some of the best eats and drinks at the 2015 Epcot Food & Wine Festival:
Lechon Asado & Frozen Sugar Cane Cocktail featuring Ron Barcelo Blanco Rum (Dominican Republic)
After a long absence, it was great to see the Dominican Republic back in full force at the festival. The lechon asado was so tender and flavorful, and the sides that accompanied it – mangu (or mashed green plantains), pickled red onions, and avocado – were just the right partners to make it really sing. I kept going from the luscious lechon, to the smooth and creamy avocado and mangu, and then to the pickled red onions to add the perfect punch of acidity. And to top it off, we had the frozen sugar cane cocktail, which was probably our favorite drink of the night. Tip: if you want to try this cocktail, try to get it early as they were out when we returned for seconds later in the day.
Olive Oil-Poached Salmon with Fresh Corn, Bacon & Pepper Jam (Chew Lab)
The Chew Lab is definitely our favorite booth from this year’s festival. The olive oil-poached salmon was full of surprises. The salmon was cooked perfectly and the corn and bacon added a nice sweet/salty component to the dish. At this point, you might be asking: where’s the bacon? You might have guessed that I ate it before I took the picture (which would actually be a really good guess), but I didn’t! Since molecular gastronomy is front and center here at Chew Lab, the bacon is actually in snow form right on top of the salmon! But as cool as that is, the thing that really tied everything together was the pepper jam, which was a surprising sweet and savory compliment to the fish. Dear Disney, I really need that pepper jam in a jar, stat.
Crispy Pork Belly with Black Beans and Tomato (Brazil)
This dish is a favorite for many, and for good reason. That pork belly is so delicious! It’s crispy on the outside, super tender on the inside, with good fatty richness and seasoned nicely throughout. I am not normally a fan of beans (there’s something about the texture of it that I just don’t get), but they did get it right here. The beans were cooked perfectly so that it was creamy but also texturally interesting. Finally, the tomatoes and herbs on top gave enough zing to cut through all the richness.
Frozen Caipirinha featuring LeBlon Cachaca (Brazil)
Following a close second to the sugar cane cocktail from Dominican Republic is the Frozen Caipirinha, a popular cocktail in Brazil. It’s made with cachaca, liquor made from fermented and distilled sugar cane. It’s refreshingly cool during the Florida heat, and it gives you a good punch of flavor without a heavy alcohol taste.
“Le Cellier” Wild Mushroom Beef Filet Mignon with Truffle Butter Sauce (Canada)
How can you go wrong? This is a must-have whenever we go to the Food & Wine Festival. The filet is tender and cooked just right, as you would expect a proper homage to Le Cellier to be. The truffle butter sauce and the sautéed mushrooms are also the perfect compliments for this classic steak.
New York Strip with Parsnip Silk, Balsamic Glaze and Arugula Foam (Chew Lab)
Speaking of steak, the New York Strip from the Chew Lab is nothing to sneeze at either. Calling it parsnip silk is pretty much right on, as the consistency was so smooth and fine. My mind immediately wants to liken it to mashed potatoes, but the flavor is much more delicate and is a nice foundation for the steak and balsamic glaze. As for the arugula foam? I’m not sure it presented bold flavors that made it stand out on its own, but I guess I can say the same for the non-foam version of the leafy green.
Seared Sea Scallop with Spinach-Cheddar Gratin and Crispy Bacon (Scotland)
The scallop and bacon combination is a no-fail in my book, so it came as no surprise that I fell in love with this dish. The scallop was nice and caramelized on the outside and sweet and chewy on the inside, and the bacon added a good crunchy texture. What was a nice surprise was the spinach-cheddar gratin – it definitely packed a punch, flavor-wise.
Haggis with Neeps and Tatties (Scotland)
If you thought this is the vegetarian version from past festivals, you’d be in for a surprise. This offering is a more traditional form of haggis, made from sheep offal. While the classic haggis is encased in sheep’s stomach lining, don’t worry because this version doesn’t quite go that far. Still, you get a very distinct offal, livery taste with this haggis – with the rutabaga and mashed potatoes providing a nice counterpoint. (And because I can’t resist, hidden Mickey hat, anyone?)
Crème Brulee Vanille Chocolat (France)
Last and certainly not least is the chocolate and vanilla creme brulee in France. I like to consider myself a creme brulee connoisseur of sorts (and by that I mean, I order a creme brulee whenever I see it on a dessert menu) so this was a must-have. What I love about this is just how crunchy they were able to make the sugar shell, and how creamy the custard mixture was. The vanilla part was nice and light, while the chocolate balanced out the vanilla sweetness. Definitely one of my favorite desserts from the festival!
And so with that, I turn it over to you. With all the yummy goodness at the Festival, I know I probably missed some of your favorites! What are your favorite dishes, desserts, and drinks from the 2015 Epcot Food & Wine Festival? What can’t you wait to try?
Hi, I’m Myra and I’m a huge Disney nerd and addict! I’m also an independent travel agent at World of Magic Travel, the preferred agency of Chip and Co. and Disney Addicts. If you would like to get a quote and take advantage of special events like the Epcot Food and Wine Festival, or if there’s anything I can do to help you book and plan your trip, visit my page or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. My services are always free!