Epcot Food & Wine Festival

Getting our appetites ready at the food and wine festival

Getting our appetites ready at the food and wine festival

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The new kiosk - Puerto Rico

The new kiosk – Puerto Rico

Yesterday I mentioned going to the Epcot Food and Wine Festival. Although this is the 19th year Disneyworld has hosted the event, it is only the fourth time our family has attended. We discovered it when my daughter, Alexa was a student at the University of Tampa. Instead of participating in the events on campus for parent’s weekend, she requested we take her to Disneyworld for a few days. The weather was perfect, warm and dry, and Epcot was lively but not overcrowded. We were given a “passport” and began to walk around the countries, tasting small bites of food from kiosks decorated to represent various countries. And so, this became, for our family, an annual event we looked forward to. Each year new countries are added and sometimes a few are taken away. They change the menu, which can either be disappointing or exciting. They took away the cheese kiosk this year. I missed the fondue and the trio of cheeses. And Poland had a traditional cheese bread with mushrooms, which they took off the menu and replaced it with something else. But Brazil was new this year and my “passport” said they had something called Pao de Queijo – a Brazilian cheese bread! I naturally had to try it, and when I brought it over to where we were sitting, my daughter, Eleni got so excited. It looked just like the bread she had in Ecuador that she ate every morning on her vacation there. I was so delicious. We ordered it three or four times over the course of our visit. Made from yucca flour, it had an interesting texture, and I am on a quest to find a recipe to make this at home. In Mexico I had a rib-eye taco made with fresh tortilla and in China we went back several times for another favorite – the Mongolian beef in a steamed bun with chili mayo. I can’t even describe how light and airy the bun was. It was different than anything I’ve ever had. France had an amazing menu, from Boeuf Bourguignon to a mushroom gratin and crème brûlée. And we can’t forget Greece where I ate more cheese – the saganaki – pan-fried kasseri cheese. The prettiest building was a new addition this year, Puerto Rico. But the first place my husband ran to was Argentina. He waits all year to get their empanadas, and I have to admit, they are the best I’ve ever had. We also sat in on a French wine seminar, which takes place in the festival center. We learned about the wine regions and a little about the French wine making process. The three wines we sampled were all very different but equally enjoyable. There are so many opportunities for culinary demonstrations, mixology lessons, beer tastings and dessert parties. There is something for everyone to explore. And if you want to venture out of Epcot as we always do, eat at Saana, an African restaurant with Indian influence, located in the Animal Kingdom Lodge. The naan bread with the nine dipping sauces was amazing. At the Grand Floridian you can have a proper English high tea. And back at Epcot, any time of the year, you can sit in the new Moroccan wine bar overlooking the water and enjoy a small plate menu. For the vegan and gluten free diners, Epcot is very accommodating. I know I have forgotten to mention so many countries with delicious offerings, but that’s what is so great about the festival. You can simply walk around and sample as you go, or get a group together, put your “drink around the world” T-shirts on and… well, you get the idea. Just one suggestion—digest and sober up before you go to the future side of Epcot and ride “Mission to Mars”.

Saana at the Animal Kingdom Lodge. we couldn't get enough of this.

Saana at the Animal Kingdom Lodge. We couldn’t get enough of this.

High tea at the Grand Floridian

High tea at the Grand Floridian

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