Last Thursday we kicked off another joyous season of festivals at Epcot and I was there with bells on ready to celebrate international food and drink with the masses.
It hardly seems fair to start reviewing food on day 1 – but I couldn't leave without sampling some of the goods. So I decided to throw them a softball and jump right on Hawaii's menu. Firstly, Hawaii always hits it out of the park. Secondly, the menu is more or less exactly the same as last year – so if anything didn't measure up I'd know if it was first day jitters.
The Hawaii booth is near what I call the “top” of World Showcase, near the walkway to Future World. There you'll find three savory options and one sweet, along with several drinks.
Mmmmm….Trash Can Table Full of Food.
- Kalua Pork Slider with Sweet and Sour Dole(r) Pineapple Chutney and Spicy Mayonnaise ($5)
This was one of my absolute favorite things at the festival last year and it's going to be a go to item again this year. It's simple and perfect – slightly salty from the perfectly cooked pulled pork and slightly sweet from the chutney and (very very) slightly spicy from the mayo, and served on a soft soft roll that soaks it all up nicely. And the price is right at $5. Absolutely don't miss it.
- Grilled Tuna Tataki with Seaweed Salad, Pickled Cucumbers, and Wasabi Cream ($5.25)
Commmmme to momma. Another dish, another home run. The tuna is fresh and perfectly seared on the edges, the seaweed salad and pickled cucumbers (otherwise known as pickles, but whatever, so fancy) add the necessary crunch, and the wasabi cream is the perfectly little pool of perfection. Try not to lick your plate clean in front of your friends. And once again, the price is just about right at $5.25.
- Teriyaki-glazed SPAM Hash with Potatoes, Peppers, Onions, and Spicy Mayonnaise ($4.25)
I so want to like this. It's kitchy and fun and, at $4.25, cheap as heck. And for what it's worth, I think I did like it more than last year. They seemed a bit more generous with the spicy mayo so it was a bit more pulled together.
If you love SPAM on a normal day, you'll probably dig this – but for me, even with the spicy mayo, it's a bit too salty and the veggies are a bit to small and cooked to cut that flavor. Overall, for the low price tag, I say give it a try if it intrigues you – but it won't be hitting my favorites list.
- Passion Fruit Cheesecake with Toasted Macadamia Nuts ($4)
Way early to call this, but this might just be my favorite dessert at all of Food & Wine Festival. The cheesecake is the creamy stuff and the passionfruit topping/filling is wonderful. And the toasted macadamia nuts add just the perfect bit of crunchy layered flavor. Absolutely under no circumstances miss this dessert.
- Mai Tai featuring Sailor Jerry Spiced Rum and Dole Pineapple Juice ($9)
I always have a hard time writing about Food & Wine beverage options with a straight face and in all honesty would rarely be buying them if I wasn't reviewing them. The price tags on these little shots of drink are usually pretty ridiculous. That said, this is a good option if you want to try an alcohol option at F&W. At $9, it's still a little cray. But it's a proper mai tai – a good size (not like some of the laughable thimbles of drink) and you can actually tell that there's rum in it.
All in all, as usual, the Hawaii both gets it done right. If you're in the mood for one stop shopping at Food & Wine, this is the place to be.