Well, my food loving friends, I just came back from the EPCOT Food and Wine Festival, and I must say that Disneyworld really went all out for the 20th anniversary of this event.
For those of you who have never attended this celebration for the foods of all nations, let me give you an idea of how it works. EPCOT has two sides, or two parks in one – a future side and a world side.
The world side is spread out around a body of water, where you can walk a full circle around the lake visiting country after country. Each pavilion is authentic in its architecture, as the people from that particular country had supervised the construction. And the employees, from the wait staff to the salespeople in the gift shops, are all young students from the country they represent.
During the Food and Wine Festival, EPCOT adds approximately thirty extra food kiosks around World Showcase representing countries from every corner of the world. The logistics of how they pull this off is mind-boggling. The food is delicious and fresh. They are actually cooking in those kiosks. Each country has its own supervising chef and a large enough staff to serve the thousands of people that come through each day.
When you arrive, the first thing you want to do is get a “passport.” It lists each stand/kiosk, what country it represents, and the menu. For fun, you can check off each food sampling you try and get a stamp from that country. My favorites this year were the lamb chops from Australia, the grilled beef skewer with chimichurri sauce from Patagonia, the beef short ribs from South Korea, and the pão de queijo – a Brazilian cheese bread.
This year, Epcot extended the festival beyond World Showcase and into future land. They added a Wine Bar and a Cheese Studio, beautifully decorated, and with delicious offerings. Say cheese and I’m there! But the best new addition was the two kiosks hosted by the ABC cooking show, THE CHEW. At the Sustainable Chew, I tried a pork sparerib with red wine and cheesy mascarpone grits, and a frozen Chewtini cocktail. At the Chew Lab I ate a melt-in-your-mouth New York Strip Steak with parsnip puree and arugula foam. The presentation was most impressive at these two stations.
In the Festival Center Pavilion, you can sign up for wine tastings, cooking demonstrations and mixology classes. I do recommend making reservations in advance, as these fill up quickly. There are also events in the evening. Grand tastings and special celebrity chef dinners.
Don’t ignore the resorts. You will find some of the best restaurants at Disney’s high-end resorts. After a day of looping the countries and sampling food as you walk around, it’s nice to indulge in a relaxing meal. Our first night, I booked Citricos, one of the many restaurants at The Grand Floridian. To our delight, we were treated to a private room where we could see out through glass doors and windows to view what the chefs were creating. I watched the pastry chef all evening. She had a spring in her step and a smile on her face the entire time she worked. It was evident that she loved her job. I approached her at the end of the evening to tell her it was a pleasure to watch her. The food, the wine and the overall experience with the private room were a great way to start our vacation.
The EPCOT Food and Wine Festival runs through November 18th. Give it a try foodies!