Held this year from September 27 – November 11, the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival is a highly anticipated event for Disney fans and those craving delicious, globally inspired foods.
What’s New and Noteworthy
This year, Scotland joined other countries at Epcot, making its marketplace debut after the popularity of the film, Brave. Featured foods included:
- Seared Scottish Salmon with Cauliflower Puree, Watercress and Malt Vinaigrette
- Vegetarian Haggis with Neeps and Tatties (vegetarian)
- Scottish Banoffee Tart with Bananas, Scottish Whisky Toffee, Walkers Shortbread Crumbles and Sweet Cream
Marketplace Terra returns to feature Gardein’s meatless proteins, in support of Disney’s growing vegetarian and vegan park attendees. Brazil returned after a one year hiatus, and Hawaii also returned with their crowd-pleaser Sweet and Sour Kālua Pork Slider.
Celebrity chefs include: Robert Irvine, Warren Brown, Bryan Voltaggio, Paula DaSilva, Gale Gand, Jamie Deen, DeanMax, Rock Harper, Jeff Anderson, Art Smith, Buddy Valastro, Allen Susser, “Cake Boy” Eric Lanlard, Duskie Estes and John Stewart, Donald Link, and Emily Ellyn. Here’s our take on what to see, eat, and drink if you’re visiting Epcot this fall.
The most popular marketplace this year was without a doubt Belgium. Given the popularity of everything waffles this year, we’re not surprised. Add to that a selection of Belgian beer, and by some accounts, you’ve entered nirvana. Belgium’s menu items included:
- Potato and Leek Waffle with Braised Beef
- Belgian Waffle with Warm Chocolate Ganache and Whipped Cream
- Belgian Waffle with Berry Compote featuring Driscoll’s Berries and Whipped Cream
- Beer: Hoegaarden; Stella Artois; Leffe Blonde; Leffe Brune; Belgian Beer Flight
- Other: Chilled Coffee with Godiva Chocolate Liqueur; Honest Kids’ Fruit Punch; Light Lemonade; Dasani Water
Wait was consistently at least 35-40 minutes (even in the rain), and plastic cutlery continuously ran out. If you’re dying to try a waffle, we’d recommend grabbing a beer (and forks) from Japan (next to Florida Local), then getting in line. Everyone we spoke with agreed this was one of the best dishes they had enjoyed all day. Other top picks included:
- Canadian Cheddar Cheese Soup
- “Le Cellier” Wild Mushroom Beef Filet Mignon with Truffle Butter Sauce (ran out at least 3x while we were there)
Hops & Barley:
- Mini Lobster Roll with Lemon Herb Mayonnaise
It amazed us how many people (Americans) were standing in line for Sam Adams beer, the mainstay at this marketplace. Not that there’s anything wrong with Sam Adams, but seriously people-you’re at an international food festival. Drink outside the box.
- Steamed Green Lipped Mussels (recommended – 3 in a serving, perfectly steamed with a white wine sauce and panko breadcrumb crust)
- Venison Sausage with Pickled Shitake Mushrooms, fresh Arugula, and sweetly tart Black Currant Reduction (a decent serving size, and quite delicious)
South Korea was a very popular kiosk, with Kimchi Dogs with Spicy Mustard Sauce (appx the size of ½ a hot dog) and Lettuce Wraps on the menu. We tried to stand in line at Singapore for Lemongrass Chicken Curry with Coconut Jasmine Rice and a Singapore Sling made with Hendricks gin, both of which looked absolutely delicious, but the line wound around the bar, at least 40 people deep, so we moved on.
Brazil This was one of our favorite food spots in the park, and we hope Brazil continues to participate in future years at Epcot. We tried the Seared Scallop with Ragout of Tomatoes, Peppers, Hearts of Palm and Steamed Rice, and the Crispy Pork Belly with Black Beans, Onions, Avocado and Cilantro. The scallops were seared a light golden brown on the exterior, with a warm, medium rare center. The sweetness of the shellfish was a nice contrast to the acidity of the tomatoes and grassy hearts of palm. Normally, I would avoid pork belly, as eating that much fat is not particularly healthy. However, this cut of pork belly was more like a boneless rib, with a caramelized, crispy exterior, and an very ample amount of meat! The black beans were soft and well-seasoned with vinegar and cumin; the avocado, onion, and cilantro were only missing a bit of lime and tomato to create a pico de gallo-the Cuban version of what you’ll generally expect on top of pork and beans. This was a very nice dish, and something we’ll likely recreate at home (albeit, with a leaner cut of meat).
Largest Pours and Dishes
If you’re looking for the least expensive/largest wine pours in the park, this is probably your best bet. Argentina featured Pascual Toso Sparkling Brut (full champagne pour) for $2.50, Kaiken Cabernet Sauvignon, Terrazas Reserva Torrontes, and Terrazas Reserva Malbec were also served, and on the menu for $3-3.50. We’ve reviewed Terrazas wines in the past-they’re one of Argentina’s top selling winemakers, and a good buy outside of the park.
Japan’s Spicy Hand Roll (Tuna & Salmon with Chili Pepper, Soy Sauce & Sesame Oil Topped with Kazan Volcano Sauce) was a large roll, and a good deal for $4.95. The Teriyaki Chicken Hand Roll was also a good size. Skip the California roll and tofu if you’re looking for larger portions.
Florida Local’s marketplace served up a Florida Grass Fed Beef Slider with Monterey Jack and Sweet & Hot Pickles. With a palm sized burger patty and a price of $3.75, you could easily grab two and be satisfied. Their Florida Shrimp Ceviche with Fire Roasted Vegetables and Micro Cilantro was also nearly ½ cup for a serving-much larger than other seafood selections we saw that day. For the wine drinker in your group, Florida Local’s Hurricane Class 5 White Sangria and Key Limen-Key Lime Wine were the same size as other wine pours (2 oz), but a steal for $3.25 and $2.75, respectively.
Meat Free Options
We appreciated that vegetarians diners are receiving much more recognition than in years past. Guests can find a number of meatless menu items throughout the festival, indicated on your ‘passport’ with a green ‘V’ symbol. The Terra marketplace served a tasty Chick’n Curry and Basmati Rice; Chili Colorado with Beefless Tips, Cashew Cheese, and Housemade Chips; Chocolate Cake with Coconut Mousse and Passion Fruit Sauce for dessert, as well as Fresh Watermelon Juice for a healthy, refreshing beverage.
Satisfying Sweets and Hot Weather Treats
If, by this time of the day, your sweet tooth is calling, you can satisfy it with either food or drink at the Epcot Food and Wine Festival. We’d recommend you first make your way to the Desserts and Champagne marketplace, on the West side of the park. Menu items included:
- Mini Chocolate Orange Cupcake
- Hazelnut Chocolate Cheesecake
- Morello Cherry Pistachio Mousse
- Dessert Trio (recommended)
- Guylian Belgian Chocolate Seashell Truffles
- Frozen S’mores (recommended)
- Drinks: Pyramid Weiss Cream Beer, Nicolas Feuillatte Rose, Moët & Chandon Ice Impérial, Moët & Chandon Impérial, Moët & Chandon Nectar Impérial Rose, Dasani Water
Champagne prices were steep ($12/glass), as expected, but they did feature a Nicolas Feuillatte Rose, rated 90 points from Wine Spectator. Imported by Ste. Michelle Wine Estates, this blush colored bubbly features tight, tiny bubbles and flavors of tart plums, raspberry, yeast, and candied orange zest. At an average price of $52 a bottle, this is a smart way to try before you buy.
If you’re looking to ‘drink’ your dessert, Scotland did not fail the task with a Loch Lomond cocktail (twist on a Rusty Nail – with Scotch, Drambuie, and dry Vermouth), and the Glenfiddich Scotch Flight on the menu. Hawaii also drew a nice crowd with its Aulani Sunrise cocktail, made from Ocean vodka, pineapple juice, grenadine, and peach liqueur.
September in Orlando is consistently hot and humid, and this year was no different. Needless to say, the Refreshment Port’s Dole Whip was extremely popular, in both kid-friendly and adult versions-a serious must have on a hot Florida afternoon.
Another new item was the American Adventure Coffee Cart, serving a frozen Shakin’ Jamaican Coffee with Kahlua, Vanilla, and Caramel. This drink was definitely a hit with guests, although we would have hoped to see a locally roasted blend, and more focus on American ingredients.
If you find yourself on the East side of the park and an icy, adult beverage is what you’re craving, try Brazil’s Frozen Caipirinha featuring LeBlon Cachacha. Cachacha is a Brazilian rum (although most stores carry it near the brandy), made from sugarcane juice, instead of molasses. It can be used in place of rum or tequila, and works well with lime, as featured in this frozen drink.
Staying in Budget
Although eating and drinking everything in the park would likely put a heavy dent in your wallet, you can control your budget easily by pre-purchasing gift card wristbands. $50 for two adults should get your more than enough food and drink, and leave you feeling full and satisfied. A family of four should budget $100, which should cover a few small souvenirs to remember your visit, as well.