Foods, drinks, seminars and Mickey Mouse ears. Usually, there isn’t much in common with these. But for a few short weeks, you can experience them all at the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival. Much like last year, and the year before that, we had a magical and supercalifragilistic time! This year we were excited about the introduction of Scotland as a new destination. We had reserved seating for a wine tasting event with Mulderbosch. We tried new craft beers and one of the best-tasting pizza pies we’ve devoured since our trip to Italy!
We began our two-day waist-busting event with a chill and easy wine tasting by South Africa’s Mulderbosch Vineyards. Headed by Mike Rosalina and Doug Banks from Terroir Selections, we were presented with three exquisite Mulderbosch wines. The Sauvignon Blanc 2012, Cabernet Sauvignon Rose 2012, and Chenin Blanc Steen op Hout 2011. We favored their famous and affordable Chenin Blanc cultivated from the same 40+ year old vines. The sweet tropical notes blended well together to give an earthy creaminess to the wine. The Sauvignon Rose was playfully fruity and airy with distinct notes of berries and acidity – so easy to sip on for brunch and weekends. The Sauvignon Blanc, was good, but regrettably forgettable compared to the other two fruity and refreshing wines.
After our wine tasting seminar, we prepared our bellies and livers for our annual eat and drink our way around the world. The Epcot World Showcase that is. Take it from us, we’ve tasted the entire menu at one point as we’ve been going for years. So if it’s on this list at all, it’s because we keep coming back to it, however, some years do it better than others. So here is our MUST TASTE or PASS list.
Brazil: Crispy Pork Belly | Must Taste
Crispy pork belly with black beans, onions, avocado, and cilantro. This delicious meal was a tab on the dry side, but tasty nevertheless. The pork was crispy and crunchy while being soft and tender inside. The creamy black beans couldn’t have been made any better, with flavors clearly grounded in onions and garlic. The mashed avocado was colorful and went well with a fresh taste of cilantro and tomatoes.
Singapore: Lemongrass Chicken Curry | Must Taste
Lemongrass chicken curry with coconut and jasmine rice. The Chicken perfectly cooked with light hints of coconut. I should know because I, Malcom, hate the taste of coconuts, but still enjoyed the dish.
Morocco: Kefta Pocket | Pass
Ground-seasoned beef in a pita pocket. This was just ok. Every year we get the Kefta Pocket and I seriously think it’ll never taste as good as the first time. The beef was seasoned but dry. Without any extra toppings, and a smaller “chunk” than last year, like a deformed meatball, and simply placed in a pita it simply wasn’t that good. It just passed as cheap and chintzy for a whopping $5 sample.
New Zealand: Venison Sausage w/ Pickled Mushrooms | Must Taste
The venison sausage was cooked perfectly and had great juiciness to it. The pickled mushrooms, arugula, and black currant sauce was earthy and fresh – a great meat and veggie pairing.
New Zealand: Lamb Meatball | Must Taste
Lamb meatball with spicy tomato chutney. I thought the meatball wasn’t as flavorful as I could have been. But Laureen loved it. We thoroughly enjoyed the sweet, fresh tomato chutney combined with the bread (rather tasteless but there for texture!). It made the dish.
Greece: Griddled Greek Cheese with Pistachios and Honey | Must Taste
Hands down our favorite best dish. The melted cheese is made perfect with the crushed pistachios and drizzled honey. You may as well order one for everyone in your family.
Canada: Cheddar Cheese Soup | Must Taste
Canadian cheddar cheese soup. The one soup in the entire event that knocks it out of the Disney Park is the cheddar cheese soup. We get this dish every year, and every year we are heavily tempted to get seconds and thirds. The fondue-style cheesiness of the soup with the salt and spice is so well balanced and smooth, it borders on intense.
Belgium: Potato and Leek Waffle with Braised Beef | Must Taste
I haven’t had a potato and leek anything in close to 10 years. This really brought me back to my days of cold winters in Sweden. Warming up to this perfectly seasoned rustic dish is a no brainer.
France: Escargots Persillade en Brioche (Garlic and Parsley Snails in Brioche) | Must Taste
The garlic buttered brioche and parsley are so strong that this dish is just packed with flavor. Even if you don’t like the texture of snails, the flavors will blow you away.
France: Boeuf Bourguignon (Braised Short Ribs in Cabernet with Mashed Potatoes) | Must Taste
While Laureen inhales the escargot in France, I always get the short ribs. Hands down, this may be the best bang for your buck. Loaded with short ribs, potatoes, and a heavenly red wine gravy, this heavy dish deserves a sit down to fully enjoy it.
Hawaii: Kālua Pork Slider with Sweet and Sour Dole Pineapple Chutney | Must Taste
Always a great hit. Not over the top gourmet or a novel idea, but just some great grub to pair with the craft beer around the corner. Always packs a harmony of flavors and a kickin’ mayo.
Africa: Berbere Style Beef with Onions, Jalapeños, Tomato, Okra, and Pap | Must Taste
No joke, the Africa kiosk is intimidating. We’re unfamiliar with these names and styles of cooking. It’s also not for the faint of heart, as it’s quite spicy. And what is pap? (Ground maize polenta.) We had to find out. The beef was tender and just spicy enough to not burn our insides. The blend of the okra and tomato was fresh and tasty. This dish seemed to have a million awesome spices in it with hints of cinnamon. An explosion of flavor.
Africa: Spinach and Paneer Cheese Pocket | Pass
These seemed premade and frozen. Then presented to us as fresh. The crust was dried out, the inside spinach and “cheese” was dried out. This was overcooked and lacked any cheese inside that must have disintegrated in the high heat. It was like a Hot Pocket.
Italy: Wood Fired Authentic Pizza Napoletana with Proscuitto | Must Taste
Found Year Round at Via Napoli Restaurant. The best pizza we’ve had which is as close to the pizza we had in Napoli, Italy as it’s certified authentic by Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana.
Scotland: Innis & Gunn Original
Scottish Ale. The red ale with its hints of vanilla was a mind shock for us. The vanilla was perfectly executed.
Scotland: Loch Lomond featuring Glenfiddich 12 Year
Single Malt Whiskey. It’s a 12 year Glenfiddich. Come one. You know it’s going to be good. It’s also mixed with Drambuie and lemon to make it taste like candy. Best bang for the buck as it keeps you going for awhile!
Florida Beer Company, Devil’s Triangle
A mildly hoppy IPA brings with some citrus notes, making it tasty and not too heavy for Florida weather. If you’re new to hops and IPA’s, this is a refreshing one to start with.
Widmer Brothers Brewing, Alchemy Ale
This hoppy American Pale Ale is super strong on the woodsy, earthy and piney hops, but is lacking the complexity of other notes on the backend. Great for a cold day as the hops really warm you up. If you’re a MAJOR hops fan but don’t like fruity, drink this.
Germany: Brewmaster’s Collection, Beer Flight #2
Radeberger Pilsner, BraufactuM Palor, BraufactuM Roog Smoked Wheat Beer and BraufactuM Darkon.
One of our favorites was this interesting BraufactuM Roog Smoked that really tasted like a burning fire over fresh wood. In a good way. Like a smoky scotch. One of Laureen’s favorites was the Palor. It began with grapefruit and citrus hits and then gets grassy and hoppy. Always awesome to get fruit and hops. The Darkon was a good Dunkel-style beer with very well-balanced and blended hints of coffee, hazelnut, and chocolate.
Featuring Hendrick’s Gin and Cherry Herring. Super sweet and potent. Our #1 best drink and best bang for the buck!
Japan: Frozen Beer
Available year round! Kirin Ichiban Beer with frozen icy beer froth applied at the end. No, this isn’t a “head, ” this is real-beer froth, like beer Italian ice.
Writing this over really makes me wonder why they don’t have the Food & Wine Festival year-round… but then it wouldn’t be special anymore, and we’d certainly be broke and drunk more often. Can’t wait til next year’s Food and Wine Festival.