Eating and drink ‘around the world’ at the Epcot Food and Wine Festival

I love the Epcot World Showcase at Disneyworld, Florida, but between September and November it becomes super special as over 30 stalls are adding selling additional food and drinks, Disney describes as ‘a culinary adventure’.  For 2017 it runs from 31 August through until 13 November.  If you’re not local to Florida, I’d suggest visiting Monday to Thursday as weekends can be really busy. This year if you are on the Disney dining plan you can even exchange your table service and quick service credits for 3 snack credits to be used on food (unfortunately not alcohol)! Admission to Epcot is required to attend the festival and guest must be over 21 to purchase alcohol. You can pick up a passport with details of the food and drink available and have fun getting it stamped around ‘the world’! In addition, there are also ‘Eat to the Beat’ Concerts and culinary displays, in addition to Halloween, this truly makes fall my favourite time to visit Orlando.

We’ve visited the International Food and Wine Festival at Epcot, Disneyworld a few years running, 2016 was the first year we didn’t attend since going on our first trip together there not attending. This year is a definite for sure, since we’ll be getting married out there we get to take our nearest and dearest!  Here’s a look back at our previous eats, I believe mostly still available.  We’ll definitely try and feature the countries we’ve missed when we get to go back. I’m not going to cover restaurant* meals in this post, but they will definitely feature on the blog at a later date, I mean, who doesn’t love Disney food?!

Australia:

Prawns and lamb at Australia

Grilled lamb chop with mint pesto and potato crunchies – I always thought this belonged to New Zealand, but apparently not! This was tasty lamb, topped with potato chips (or crisps to fellow Brits like me!). Yum, I could just eat one of these right now, definitely a winner!
Grilled sweet and spicy bush berry shrimp with pineapple, peppers, onions, and snap peas – These prawns were pretty tasty, not the best I’ve ever had, but certainly worth a go! I prefer my prawns with garlic (plus sometimes chilli), but the accompaniments were fine for something a little different.

Belgium:

Potato and leek waffle with beer-braised beef and smoked gouda cream – I wasn’t sure I was going to like this one but I was pleasantly impressed. I can’t remember there being a strong taste of gouda, but would definitely get again.
Canada:

Canadian cheddar cheese soup – If you haven’t been to Le Cellier, this is definitely worth a go, extremely rich and tasty, full of flavour. I believe for 2016 it also includes a pretzel roll would be a lovely welcome addition for dipping!
“Le Cellier” wild mushroom beef filet mignon with truffle butter sauce – At one of the more expensive samples of the festival this is definitely worth using a snack credit for. Whilst I’m not a major fan of mushroom, this was just lovely. All in all based on the offerings we’ve tasted at Canada, I’m definitely needing to make a reservation at Le Cellier!  (Edit since writing this we’ve been and it was amazing!)

China:

Beijing roasted duck in steamed bun with hoisin sauce – I think the reason we’ve rated so highly on what we’ve chosen is because we usually stick to what we think we will like. In future years we need to be more adventurous and of course that just means more trips to Disney!  This one however was a disappointment, at home in England we really enjoy Chinese crispy Peking duck with pancakes and hoisin sauce, so this one seemed like a winner. However the duck was very fatty so we felt short changed. Also we didn’t enjoy the consistency of the steamed bun, it felt a bit sloppy. I feel I should give this another go, we might of just had bad luck with the fatty duck, but won’t be racing back to eat this one again.
France:

La Passion Martini Slush – Whilst I really

The orange and citron slushes available all year roundenjoyed this 2015 addition, the flavour could not beat the usual Grey Goose Orange Slush made with Grand Mariner which is sold year round at France. Definitely worth a taste though if you’re at the festival – I love these slush cocktails and great to cool down from the Florida heat.

enjoyed this 2015 addition, the flavour could not beat the usual Grey Goose Orange Slush made with Grand Mariner which is sold year round at France. Definitely worth a taste though if you’re at the festival – I love these slush cocktails and great to cool down from the Florida heat.

Eiffel Sour Cosmo Slush – I’ve got a big crush for Cosmopolitans at the moment and would love one of these 2014’s edition right now! Again couldn’t beat the Grey Goose Orange Slush, but definitely worth checking out, especially if you are partial to sweet and sour tastes.

This was made with Grey Goose Le Citron vodka, cranberry and passion fruit juice.

Greece:

Spanakopita – This vegetarian offering was one of John’s favourites. Whilst I enjoyed it, I did not feel quite the same way. I felt it was a bit greasy and would have benefitted from the addition of meat. I would try it again, but would prefer to try other offerings first we haven’t yet tasted.
Hawai’i:

Kālua pork slider with sweet and sour Dole® Pineapple chutney and spicy mayonnaise – I was really expecting to enjoy this, however found it a bit sloppy. I’m really not into wet burgers and repeatedly in Australia keep eating burgers lately which a soggy bottom bun, it’s my pet peeve. To improve this, I think they need to ditch the mayonnaise, but put a little more of the pineapple chutney on, would add to the flavour.
Mexico:

Tequila Flight – I don’t recall eating at this stall as we go a bit nuts for the quick service restaurant in Mexico*. However we did choose to share the tequila flight – 3 shots of different flavoured tequila, including silver and gold. On this occasion I was pretty tipsy later on after experience (plus a few margaritas of course!) – mostly due to the tequila flight, which me and John were supposed to share. However after the first sip he chickened out, turns out the first one was the nicest, the other two could put hairs on your chest, so I definitely got the raw deal! Unless you’re looking to get shit-faced, I’d recommend avoiding this, I’m sure in Cava Del Tequila you could purchase better quality shots.
* I feel the need here to mention and explain the quick service restaurant La Cantina San Angel, which is open all year round. The nachos there are a huge hit for us, which are a staple every trip, and are a great use of a quick service credit. Great value, you can choose what you add, plus then there’s more sauces to help yourself to. Time it right – early before the fireworks and you can enjoy watching them with a seat and of course a few margaritas! We have also had the tacos, however have not found quite as enjoyable as they were quite sloppy.


 

 

Patagonia: 

Grilled beef skewer with chimichurri sauce and boniato purée – this was pretty tasty and whilst didn’t make it into the favourites, was definitely worth testing out. The chimichurri sauce was a nice addition, although not as spicy as what we’ve had elsewhere.
Scotland:

Seared sea scallop with spinach-cheddar gratin and crispy bacon – I’m often really fussy about scallops as I like them over cooked and not ever had them in a cheese sauce before this offering. We really enjoyed this, it was an unexpected surprise and the sauce and bacon complimented it really well. Definitely one to try again!

 

Sustainable Chew:

Pork Spareribs with red wine, fennel, and cheesy mascarpone grits – A new addition in 2015, this doesn’t quite fit with idea of countries, however it was a busy weekend evening and the queues were rather large, this one not so much, so we decided to give it a go. I’m not usually a fennel fan so wasn’t expecting to enjoy this, however it was actually pretty good. The ribs were fall off the bone soft and the grits were a welcome accompaniment I wouldn’t have thought to pair. Happily surprised.

 

I can’t wait to get back to Epcot again in October 2017 to get tasting some more!!

Exploring Sydney’s Night Noodle Markets

We’d been planning to go with friends anyway, but I got the dates mixed up and thought it ended 6 days later (it actually ends Sunday 23rd October 2016), so a meeting in the CBD allowed an impromptu visit. If you don’t want the crowds I’d say head to Hyde Park earlier on, given that it was only a Wednesday night it was pretty damn busy with large queues. Our next trip might have to be later night after weekend drinks. Times vary, opening 5pm weekdays and 4pm weekends, closing between 9pm/10pm, with Saturday nights until 11pm. Entry is free but it’s probably important to point out that it’s no cash, pay on your card or buy tickets. John was a little disappointed about the lack of noodles, sure they were some noodle choices, but much more other choices (over 40 stalls), which I actually preferred. Bags were searched on entry, as you cannot bring your own alcohol. A bottle of wine averaged $35 spend, clever campers had brought blankets to sit on, whilst there was a decent amount of tables and chairs, there wasn’t enough by far. Citi customers had their own special areas, so definitely worth bring your card if you are a customer.

After a wander around we decided to pick up a roti from Mamaks Village. At $7 it was a plain roti served with a curry sauce. Unfortunately we couldn’t make out what the other flavour cuisines were and so we went with the cheapest safest option. The guy making and spinning the rotis was pretty cool to watch and the sign stated ‘Sydney To Flying Roti’! The roti was pretty good, I’d probably prefer if it hadn’t been folded so many times before being fried as I really enjoy the thin crispiness. The sauce was average, it had a little kick but lacked the depth of the sauces we’d had with roti at Spice Alley. All in all we were happy with our purchase, but would be a little more adventurous if we visited this stall again.

Flying roti at Mamaks Village
Tasty roti!

Onward to another stall, where we decided to order the vermicelli bowl and prawn rice paper rolls at Mama Made. We choose the pork with the vermicelli – the pork was super tasty, underneath was salad and then vermicelli noodles with a broth, this was a little disappointing, we were hoping for some mixed up concoction. Next up was the prawn rice paper rolls, I’ve been wanting to try these for a while but wasn’t so fussed, they were filled with plain noodles, salad and some sort of prawn patty with a satay side sauce, all in all not a good combo and I wish we’d had the spring rolls instead.

Pork vermicelli bowl from Mama Made

Prawn rice paper rolls from Mama Made

After that we had the potato spirallised on a stick, I just love these and usually pick them up at food festivals and Universal Studios. They were $6 each or 3 sticks for $15, I wish I’d had 3 as they were pretty tasty! This stall had the best variety of flavours I’ve seen offered, the variety of flavours included the obligatory Aussie chicken salt, plus BBQ and lemon pepper or you could go all out and have all (I think about 7 or 8 choices!). I chose the salt and vinegar, but being a vinegar fiend I could have done with a bit more. I often find these have never been cooked quite to perfection – I guess they are throwing them out to deal with supply and demand. This was pretty cooked and crispy, but an extra minute in the fryer would have made it perfection.

Tasty!!
Cocktail in hand – enjoying a cup of Pimms

We ended the evening with a cup of Pimms in the prettily decorated Pimms garden. A cup was $8 and a jug $30, for Sydney prices we didn’t think $8 a cup was too bad. Although full of ice, there was a decent amount of liquid in the cup, not exactly strong, but I was disappointed that they’d added ginger ale, I figure that was to make up for probably not much alcohol being included. It was garnished with a slice of orange and a slice of cucumber, I would have preferred strawberry and mint, but given it was floating on top of the ice I doubt it made much difference to the flavour. For anyone seriously into their Pimms, I’m guessing it was Pimms No 1, as we didn’t see any other choices. It was however refreshing, but as the only ‘cocktail’ at the bars I was a bit disappointed in lack of choice. There were more options for beers, wines and soft drinks.

One of the highlights was the rainbow drop cake at Harajuku Gyoza, which I imagine is so popular due to the novelty and that it’s gluten free. I’d like to try one next visit, but didn’t feel it was worth the wait. It looks like a large drop of jelly, like some sort of molecular experiment! This stand was a huge hit with the Octodog also being popular – three potato octopuses on a stick, I was tempted to get one, but the pork gyozas I wanted to try from that stall had sold out so that’s also on the to-do list for next time!

For those avoiding gluten we did also spot a gluten free doughnut stand. Another sweet treat which was totally instragramable was the waffle of a stick, coming in a variety of toppings decorated with a cocktail umbrella, these looked pretty tasty. Another hit of the night was the Messina stand, dubbed the ‘Very Very Good Lucky Fortune Bar’, which looked interesting, definitely need to try the caramel version, but I was a little put off by the coconut gelato it was partnered with. Black Star Pastry also looked another hit for those with a sweet tooth.

On the savoury side of hits, Daniel San was selling flavoured chicken and pork on a skewer – will be back for one of those! Hoy Pinyo was also another hit selling chicken satay skewers. BAO Stop was pulling in the crowds for it’s duck fries ($15), which looked pretty good, but we’d just had Dirty Trailer Trash fries loaded with pulled pork and a variety of sauces the weekend before at Reuben & Moore at the Westfield Mall, so decide to give this one a pass (at least until next time!). They also had a tray of interesting looking slider type buns, 3 for $20, which I’d also like to try.

All in all we enjoyed our night and hopefully we’ll be back again before it ends this year. We’ve been quite disappointed with some of the food festival events we’ve been to in Sydney, so were happy that this one had a lot of choice despite some of the large queues. They could definitely fit in a few more stalls, which would assist. I’d love to see a proper cocktail bar at next year’s event as I’m not the biggest fan of beer and wine, and sure it’s do really well.