It’s time to eat and drink your way around the world again! On August 30, Walt Disney World kicked off its 23rd annual Epcot International Food and Wine Festival. This celebration of all things food and drink is Epcot’s longest-running and biggest festival. This year’s Food and Wine will run 75 days, through November 12. And if that isn’t big enough for you, wait until you hear about the 40 different food booths across the theme park, culinary seminars and concert series featuring the likes of Smash Mouth and Boyz II Men.
For the most part, the booths at Food and Wine feature tapas-sized portions of three or four different dishes inspired by culinary trends and different countries around the world beyond those already represented at the theme park’s World Showcase. While you can always eat Norwegian, Moroccan or German food at Epcot, this showcase broadens the culinary landscape to include countries like New Zealand, Thailand, Belgium, Brazil and many, many more.
If that all sounds just a little bit overwhelming, well, we don’t blame you! There’s a lot to process! But if you’re heading to Walt Disney World this fall (which you should!), we’re here to help make your snacking decisions a little easier with the 10 best dishes at this year’s Epcot International Food & Wine Festival.
There’s no shortage of braised meats on the Food and Wine menu this year, but if you’re looking for the one that’s sure to please the whole family, head over to the Belgium booth. Their beer braised beef is so tender, it practically melts in your mouth. It’s paired with smoked gouda mashed potatoes, which is such a culinary revelation you’ll want to make all your potatoes that way once you get home.
Nothing says fall quite like squash. So even though the 2018 edition of the Food and Wine Festival kicks off in the heat of summer, this doughy ravioli at The Wine & Dine Studio is the autumnal bite we need. The butternut squash filling is sweet and creamy. A simple brown butter sauce and pumpkin seeds add the perfect savory component and crunch.
Is there anything more French than a croissant? How about a croissant stuffed with escargots? The pastry in this dish is perfectly flaky, as any diner at the France pavilion has come to expect. The escargots stuffed inside are beautifully tender, and the garlic and parsley sauce packs the perfect amount of flavor. Forget that it’s snails, just remember that it’s scrumptious.
You don’t have to go all the way across the world to taste some scrumptious lamb from New Zealand, you just have to go to Orlando, Florida. The lamb meatball at the New Zealand booth is all meat and flavor, no filler. But the wonders of this bite don’t end at the meatball. The moist meatball is covered in a perfectly tangy tomato sauce and placed in a bowl of puff pastry. During a festival were not everything is worth your hard-earned dollars, this meatball is a true standout.
It’s easy to be skeptical of this dish. It’s a Greek twist on nachos, first of all. Gyro meat with tzatziki sauce and vegetables on top of pita chips. Oh, but that isn’t meat, and that isn’t traditional tzatziki. These “nachos” are 100 percent vegan. But the flavors developed here are second to none, and even the most carnivorous Food and Wine diners will fall in love with this dish.
If you’re looking to really optimize your dollar at Food and Wine, head over to the Brazil booth and get yourself some moqueca, or Brazilian seafood stew. This dish is a seafood lover’s dream come true; it features tender scallops, perfectly-cooked shrimp and a hearty piece of white fish mixed together in a creamy yet light coconut lime sauce all in one bowl.
If you’re a big fan of meat that just melts in your mouth, then do yourself a favor and head over to The American Adventure pavilion and get the New Brunswick Slider from the Hops & Barley booth. The brisket on this sandwich is seriously scrumptious. While the meat alone is enough to sell you on this dish, the accompanying horseradish cream and crispy fried onions are the perfect textural and flavor contrast.
What would the Food and Wine Festival be without a little drinking? Before you drink your way around the world, head to Future World and sip on the RGB beer flight from the Light Lab. This Instagrammable drink experience features three beers with bright red, green and blue hues. The beers are all flavored and colored naturally, too, so it’s a true feat of brewing. The best part about this flight is that the breweries featured are all from Florida. The Red Cherry Tart is from Playalinda (Titusville), the Green Kiwi Blonde is from GrassLands Brewing Company (Tallahassee) and the Blue-berry Golden Ale is from Doral’s M.I.A. Beer Company.
The U.K. pavilion at Epcot is known for its comfort foods, and this extends into Food and Wine. The Ireland booth is full of winners, from the Warm Irish Cheddar Cheese and Stout Dip to the chocolate pudding. But the real winner here is an Irish classic: roasted sausage with colcannon potatoes (potatoes mixed with cabbage) and a traditional onion gravy. Even in the late summer heat, this hearty bite is everything you could ever want from a savory dish.
You can’t have an entire booth dedicated to live fire cooking without smoked meat, can you? And the Smoked Corned Beef at the Flavors From Fire booth near the Epcot Character Spot does the trick very, very well. This dish has basically everything you could ever want. In addition to the smoky, tender corned beef, there are also crispy potato chips (making this a sort of nacho) and a beer cheese sauce that is to die for. The hardest part of this dish is figuring out the best element. Are these dishes not enough Epcot food for you? If the answer is no, then when you’re done dining at Food and Wine, consider eating at some of Epcot’s best restaurants.
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