I've done some damage at Epcot's 2017 Food & Wine Festival. Where possible, I like to take a systematic approach to the food offerings and knock out each booth in a clean sweep. With 3 or 4 food items per booth costing anywhere from $3ish to $8ish each, this is a fairly doable way of tackling things – especially if you have the luxury of visiting often.
To date, I've eaten every item in Thailand, Mexico, Brazil, the Cheese Studio, the Wine & Dine Studio, Hawaii, Canada, Japan, Germany, Coastal Eats, Flavors from Fire, India, and China – as well as a smattering of items elsewhere.
I'll be digging into each booth separately, but wanted to start by taking moment for a quick and dirty list of favorites to date. There have only been a small handful of things that I truly didn't like (and even those are loved by many others) – but my personal big winners to date are…*
- Coastal Eats – Seared Scallops with Roasted Corn and Butterbean Succotash and Chili-Chipotle Butter Sauce ($6)
- The scallops were cooked and seasoned perfectly. The roasted corn and succotash were a perfect compliment and the sauce was light and brought the little dish together perfectly. (I used some form of the word “perfect” 3 times here and I'm cool with that. It's that good.)
- The Wine & Dine Studio – Trio of Artisan Cheese: Fromager d'Affinois de Excellence with Toasted Baguette, Point Reyes Original Blue with Apricot Jam, Point Reyes Toma with Honey ($5.25)
- While the cheese trio at The Cheese Studio was excellent, I actually preferred this one. Then again, I am a sucker for a strong cheese sitting in a bed of honey or sweet apricot jam. My sons actually love this too. Despite always aiming to try new items at each visit, we've gotten it several times.
- Hawaii – The Grilled Tuna Tataki with Seaweed Salad, Pickled Cucumbers, and Wasabi cream ($5.25) was simple and perfect. (I might have licked the plate clean….) The Passion Fruit Cheesecake with Toasted Macadamia Nuts ($4) was one of my favorite desserts to date – rich and creamy and beautifully balanced against being overly sweet by the macadamia nuts. And while I'm at it the sliders weren't much to look at from a presentation perspective but that was okay because we inhaled them and so didn't need to look at them for long. ($4.75) All in all, Hawaii might be my winner as the booth with the highest batting average. I didn't love the SPAM item (though many others do) but everything else hit it out of the park.
- Mexico – Cajeta Mousse served with Cajeta Sauce & White Chocolate Flakes. ($4.25)
- Oh how I miss the shrimp tacos. But this offering at the Mexico booth might be my favorite dessert at F&W so far. It is light and sweet and I was sad when I couldn't scrape any more out of the bottom of the little container. Oh and I looked it up and cajeta means caramel. Which makes sense, because it tasted like caramel and was covered in caramel. God it was good. I might need to Uber over to Epcot right now…..
- China – Beijing Roasted Duck Bao Bun with Hoisin Sauce. ($6.50)
- This duck bun. Ohhhhh….this duck bun. It has quite simply been my F&W daydream since I first tried it. Is it shaking up the food world with inventiveness? Probably not. But it was delicious. The duck is perfectly prepared, the bun is soft and spongy, the accompanied crunch is lovely, and the hoisin sauce adds a touch of sweetness without being overpowering.
- It is worth mentioning that the Spicy Chicken Bao Bun ($5.25) offered by the China booth is also wonderful and probably would have made this list if the duck hadn't so stolen the show.
- Germany – Roast Bratwurst in a Pretzel Roll. ($5.25)
- What more to say? It's a perfect bratwurst in a soft and chewy pretzel roll with a happy little dollop of spicy mustard on the side. It's delicious in its simplicity and also is a great break from the sorts of spices that otherwise dominate the promenade during F&W. Call it a sausage-y palate cleanser.
- Japan – Teriyaki Ginger Pork: Marinated Pork with Sweet Chili and Teriyaki Sauce. ($8.25)
- This has been my other F&W daydream since I first tried it. The meat is perfectly mild (overpowering pork doesn't do it for me) and falls off of the bone. I could have cleaned off the bone and, had it been narrower, happily picked my teeth with it. My only complaint is that I want the damned thing to be prettier. It doesn't pose well for pictures.
- Brazil – Pão de Queijo: Brazilian Cheese Bread. ($4)
- Oh BCB. How do I love thee? How are you both gluten free (answer: corn) and full of hot soft cheese that somehow does not melt and drip (answer: type of cheese used, apparently). Cheese bread is my older son's reason for being from September to mid-November and its soft, squishy goodness probably puts a few inches on my frame during that time as well. #WorthIt
- Epcot Legacy Showplace – Odyssey Center – Zesty Cheeseburger and Cheddar Cheese Macaroni Handwich ($5.50)
- Any food offering that can all at once bring me to my knees, make me feel like I'm back in Cars Land out west, and be eaten with one hand while I use the other to deal with my children and/or hold a glass of glowing champagne deserves a standing ovation.
*All item descriptions are taken from and credited to the Festival Passport Booklet.