Eat This: Fleur de Lys at Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival

I’ve shared before that I tend to overlook (or intentionally skip) the offerings at the various festivals’ France and Italy booths, as they tend to offer heavier foods that I don’t crave in the Florida heat. In part because of the cooler temperatures that we’ve had (on and off) so far this year, I’ve managed to try both menus early on and, while I was disappointed in Italy, I was thrilled with France and so excited to share my thoughts here.

As you’d expect, France’s Flower & Garden Festival booth, Fleur de Lys (see what they did there??), is located just outside and to the right of the France Pavilion in World Showcase, just after you cross the bridge from the U.K. pavilion. This year they are offering two savory dishes and one very sweet, along with a number of drinks.

  • Tarte à la Tomate Provençale: Provencal Tomato Tart with Sautéed Onions, Fresh Thyme, and Rosemary on a Flaky Pastry Crust ($5.50)

Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival France Pavilion Fleur de Lys Tarte a la Tomate Provencale

This was so simple and so good – fresh tomatoes and olives atop a light flaky crust. And I’m a sucker for rosemary and thyme. It was France’s take on pizza and it was wonderful. I’ll definitely be back for more…especially if I can dip it in the leftover sauce from this…

  • Confit de Canard aux Gnocchi à la Parisienne: Braised Duck Confit with Parisian Gnocchi ($5.75)

Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival France Pavilion Fleur de Lys Confit de Canard aux Gnocchi a la Parisienne

This is as delicious as it is ugly…. and I am *not* an indiscriminate fan of duck. It doesn’t take much for me to find it too greasy or fatty if it isn’t chosen or prepared well. This almost could have passed for a very rich chicken or turkey. And the gnocchi was far from the dense round type that you’d expect in Italian food. Instead is was a flat sort of dumpling. I cannot recommend this ugly little plate of food more strongly…especially if you are smart enough to get the tarte too and dip it in the leftover sauce.

  • Macaron au Chocolat en Sucette: Large Chocolate Macaron Lollipop (gluten free (?!)) ($4.95)

Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival France Pavilion Fleur de Lys Macaron au Chocolat en Sucette

You guys. Look how pretty!!

This was SO good. I’m not even a big sweet eater – and when I do have a dessert it’s rarely chocolate. Last year the French kitchen at Flower and Garden offered a raspberry macaron that got one bite from me before I had to pass it along to someone else because it was sweeter than I could take or enjoy. This is also very sweet but not nearly as overpowering. The macaron is light and filled with a rich, soft chocolate and then dipped in these pretty little balls of white and (milk?) chocolate that make the whole thing that much more fun and pretty. This might have been one of my favorite desserts at F&G so far.

  • La Vie en Rose Frozen Slush: Grey Goose Vodka L’Orange, St. Germain Liqueur, White and Red Cranberry Juice ($10.75)

Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival France Pavilion Fleur de Lys La Vie en Rose Frozen Slush

This thing is light and refreshing enough that I can forgive the obnoxious “glass”. The perfect thing for a hot day, especially when you have a macaron’s sweetness to cut. 😉

Have you eaten at Fleur de Lys yet? If you have, let me know what you thought!

Eat This (Maybe): Italy’s Primavera Kitchen at Epcot’s International Flower & Garden Festival

Let’s start this review with some stark honesty:

Confession 1: True to my family heritage, I love Italian food – but I almost always skip Italy at the festivals because the last thing I want in the Florida sun is pasta and fried shrimp.

Confession 2: I ate this full slate awhile ago but was holding off on the review because I didn’t want to open reviews of my favorite festival of the year with a buzz kill.

All of this being said, let’s tear the bandaid off and get this done.

Italy’s Primavera Kitchen at Epcot’s International Flower and Garden Festival is, of course, located just across the promenade outside the Italy pavilion. While it usually takes me awhile to get to Italy’s festival booth, I was with some dear friends with food restrictions that limited options – so we hit Primavera Kitchen to get the allergy-friendly frittata that they offered and knocked out the rest of the menu at the same time.

So, for starters, I love the Bulls and miss them already and thank them for letting me hang and eat my face off with them after Princess race weekend.

Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival Italy Primavera Kitchen Photopass

But if you’re reading this for nothing but the food review you’re probably getting annoyed at this point. So I’ll save you further scrolling and get to it.

Italy offers three savory dishes and one sweet, along with a variety of wines, sparkling options, and an Italian margarita that I still need to get my hands on.

  • Frittata di Asparagi: Asparagus Frittata, Mixed Greens, and Citrus Dressing ($7) (vegetarian) (gluten free)

Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival Italy Primavera Kitchen Frittata di Asparagi

I confess that I don’t know the ingredients in this. But as far as I can tell, it’s eggs with asparagus in them with some lightly dressed greens on top. If you really, really want to pay $7 for a small amount of scrambled eggs, I highly recommend this. Otherwise, not so much. Let’s move on.

  • Fritto Misto: Crispy Shrimp, Zucchini, and Spicy Sauces ($8)

Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival Italy Primavera Kitchen Fritto Misto

This was pretty bland. Small-ish fried shrimp and zucchini with lots of breading and a generous drizzle of the aptly named “spicy sauces”. It made me feel like I was eating actual calories in Disney World, which is not acceptable. Even if I liked it, I wouldn’t want to eat it in the hot sun…. If this picture makes you want to lick the screen, knock yourself out. Otherwise there are better places to spend your calories and money and then you can just get some firecracker shrimp at P.F. Changs after your trip.

  • Ravioli: Maine Lobster Ravioli with Vodka Sauce ($12)

Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival Italy Primavera Kitchen Ravioli

These are quite tasty, as they should be for $12. (Yes, that’s $6 per ravioli….) They are nicely cooked and filled with lobster and topped with these funny little things that can only be described as lox-flavored boba balls. (If you don’t like the taste of smoked salmon, do NOT eat the balls.) I don’t really have any complaints here except that they were nothing extraordinary and they cost a fortune. If you’re craving ravioli, they will do the trick.

  • Panna Cotta al Melone: Cantaloupe Panna Cotta ($5.50) (vegetarian) (gluten free)

Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival Italy Primavera Kitchen Panna Cotta al Melone

This was absolutely lovely. A soft, melon panna cotta with a pretty little square of white chocolate and a fresh raspberry. If you, like many, are aiming to sample at least one food item from each festival booth, the panna cotta should probably be your choice at Primavera Kitchen. It was refreshing and smooth and not overly sweet at all. A perfect dessert for a warm Florida afternoon.

  • Chianti ($8) and Prosecco ($9)

These are lovely. And help to wash down the bitter resentment of eating a $6 ravioli. Enjoy!

Eat This: Northern Bloom at Epcot’s International Flower & Garden Festival

We’ve already raved about the Smokehouse at Epcot’s International Flower & Garden Festival. Now it’s time to talk Northern Bloom – the second booth whose menu I was dying to tackle after I did a first flip through the festival passport.

Northern Bloom is Canada’s aptly named kitchen at this year’s festival, and is of course located just outside the Canada pavilion in World Showcase.

The menu looked absolutely amazing and the foods themselves did not disappoint. As usual, I took one for the team and ordered the full slate of options – and here are the results.

  • Seared Scallops with French Green Beans, Butter Potatoes, Brown-Butter Vinaigrette, and Applewood-smoked Bacon ($6.50) (gluten free)

Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival Northern Bloom Seared Scallops

I dig a good scallop and Epcot’s various offerings throughout recent festivals have not disappointed. But here they up the ante because these scallops have been cavorting with BACON. I don’t know if it’s typical of this dish, but my order didn’t have much in the way of visible pieces of bacon in it. It was more like I was eating scallops that had been making out with bacon earlier in the day and still had that smell and taste all over them. They were SO GOOD. The beans were crisp and the potatoes were soaked in flavor and the scallops themselves were perfection. The brown butter vinaigrette was definitely strong, so if you aren’t a fan of vinegar this isn’t for you. But if you love this kind of flavor combo as much as I do I beg you to hit this booth up and not be bashful about licking the container clean. Waste not want not and all that.

  • Beef Tenderloin Tips, Mushroom Bordelaise Sauce, and Whipped Potatoes with Garden Vegetables ($6.75)

Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival Northern Bloom Beef Tenderloin Tips

So this is a solid little dish without a lot of fanfare. If you’re craving a good stew-type dish (and who isn’t in Florida heat in the spring??) this will hit the spot. To be honest, after all of Epcot’s pureed root vegetable experimentation, I had to do a double take at actual mashed potatoes that lacked the soft creaminess of celery root or squash. No complaints here – just not a lot to say. If you’re traveling with a meat and potatoes kinda girl or guy, get them this. They’ll like it.

  • Griddled Maple Pound Cake with Warm Peach Compote and Sweet Corn Gelato ($4.50)

Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival Northern Bloom Griddled Maple Pound Cake

This is grilled pound cake with warm, soft peaches, gelato, and popcorn. So, in short, it is delicious. Honestly the cake itself took a backseat to the peaches and gelato, which soaked into the cake quite nicely to make for a sloppy, delicious, and not entirely overly sweet dessert. The verdict was that all cake should be under warm fruit and corn ice cream (and popcorn if you’re feeling frisky).

  • Maple Popcorn Shake with Crown Royal Maple Whiskey ($11.75)

Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival Northern Bloom Maple Popcorn Shake

This is basically a maple whiskey milkshake with popcorn floating on top. So you should get it and thank god that there are no calories in Disney World. Cheers and enjoy.

Eat This: The Smokehouse at Epcot’s International Flower & Garden Festival

I’ve eaten far too much at Epcot’s International Flower and Garden Festival, which has been underway since February 28 and runs through May 28, not to have shared any thoughts with the class. And so, without further ado, let’s kick things off with one of the booths that excited my taste buds the most going in: The Smokehouse Barbecue and Brews at the American Adventure.

Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival Smokehouse

As usual, the American Adventure’s offerings are tucked away a bit to the right and in front of the U.S. pavilion in World Showcase. There are times when this causes me to miss their offerings for too long – but for this festival, between the enticing list and the unmistakable smell of the smoker at work as you pass the pavilion, I hit this booth early and will be returning often.

As I mentioned, you’ll find the Smokehouse kitchen to the right in front of the American Adventure pavilion, sitting beside a massive smoker and behind a topiary of everyone’s favorite deputy.

IMG_8511

The Smokehouse offers three savory dishes and one (very) sweet, along with a healthy list of beers, wine, and spiked or unspiked frozen lemonade. It was early in the day, so I skipped the drinks and kicked things off with the full slate of food items.

Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival The Smokehouse American Adventure

  • Pulled Pig Slider with Coleslaw ($6.75)

Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival The Smokehouse American Adventure Pulled Pig Slider

This is a popular sandwich and for good reason. I saw more of these than I could count being handed to guests as I waited for my own food. For $6.75 you get a good sized sandwich on a soft roll piled high with meat and crisp red cabbage coleslaw. Hit with some barbecue sauce, it went down easy enough to go back for more. But I didn’t…because this was waiting for me:

  • Beef Brisket Burnt Ends and Smoked Pork Belly Slider with Garlic Sausage, Chorizo, Cheddar Fondue, and House-made Pickle ($7.25)

Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival The Smokehouse American Adventure Beef Brisket Burnt Ends and Smoked Pork Belly Slider

Hold onto your hats because in my (always humble) opinion, this is the thing to eat at Flower & Garden this year. I’m sitting here looking at the picture and calculating the minutes until World Showcase opens at 11 this morning. Eat it. And eat it often. The roll is soft and melds with the meat and sauces like butter. And while it’s melting in your mouth you can break to eat the crisp house-made pickle and sausage speared on top. The pickle is spiced perfection and the sausage is – excuse the ancient Greek reference – but if you’ve heard of Plato’s universal chair? This is the universal sausage. The Form of the Sausage, if you will. It’s everything you always wanted from a sausage but didn’t know it. Go eat some. But leave enough for me because I’m going back. As one should when a sandwich makes them pull out Contemporary Civilization class references.

  • Beef Brisket Burnt Ends Hash with White Cheddar Fondue and Pickled Jalepeños ($6.50)

Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival The Smokehouse American Adventure Beef Brisket Burnt Ends Hash

Is it weird to feel sorry for a dish? Because after eating the last two items I kind of wanted to say “bless your heart” to this ugly little pile of meat and veggies. It’s not terrible – it’s the same meat that’s in the other dishes with some soft veggies and sauce and a little too much of a kick – but it just doesn’t measure up and feels almost like an afterthought. If you’re avoiding bread, I’d get one of the above sandwiches and toss the roll before I’d do this one. Sorry hash. You are my red-headed stepchild of the group….

  • Warm Chocolate Cake with Bourbon-salted Caramel Sauce and Spiced Pecans ($4) (Vegetarian)

 

I’m not enough of a sweet (especially chocolate) eater to give this a fair review. If you’re a lover of warm, moist chocolate cake, you’ll love this. The cake itself is soft and tastes fresh baked, the caramel sauce is heavenly, and the spiced pecans give it a little welcome texture. Not surprisingly, the taste and texture reminded me of a German chocolate cake. If this looks like it’d be up your alley, it won’t disappoint.

Epcot’s International Flower and Garden Festival – The Menu Boards

It’s the most wonderful time of the year!! Epcot’s International Flower & Garden Festival is officially underway. It started late last week, on February 28, and runs through May 28, 2018. Disney has nearly eliminated the need to move most of the food booths around World Showcase Lagoon throughout the year, as Food & Wine rolls into the Festival of the Holidays runs into Festival of the Arts runs into Flower & Garden. But like many others, for me it’s this “last” festival of the season, Flower & Garden, with its colors and tastes and promise of spring, that tops them all.

This year, Flower & Garden hosts a very doable 15 kitchens. The options aren’t quite as pretty as those at Festival of the Arts – but the price tags aren’t as steep either. So as you roam World Showcase photographing the gorgeous topiaries and coaxing butterflies to land on you, you’ll be able to sample plenty of the goods for fairly reasonable prices.

Before I dig into the various options, perhaps it would help your planning to have every menu board at your fingertips….so without further ado:

The Honey Bee-Stro – Showcase Plaza

Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival Honey Bee-Stro

Pineapple Promenade – Showcase Plaza

Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival Pineapple Promenade

La Isla Fresca – Showcase Plaza

Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival La Isla Fresca

The Berry Basket – Showcase Plaza

Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival Berry Basket

Jardin de Fiestas – Mexico

Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival Jardin de Fiestas

Lotus House – China

Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival Lotus House

Bauernmarkt: Farmer’s Market – Germany

Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival Bauernmarkt

Primavera Kitchen – Italy

Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival Primavera Kitchen

The Smokehouse: Barbeque and Brews – The American Adventure

Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival Smokehouse

Hanami – Japan

Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival Hanami

Taste of Marrakesh – Morocco

Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival Taste of Marrakesh

Florida Fresh – Between Morocco and France

Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival Florida Fresh

Fleur de Lys – France

Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival Fleur de Lys

Cider House – United Kingdom

Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival Cider House

Northern Bloom – Canada

Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival Northern Bloom

 

What have you eaten so far and what are you most eager to try??