Visiting Walt Disney World right now is unlike any other time before. This is even true about the mini version of the food and wine festival being called the Taste of Epcot Food and Wine Festival. There are slightly less booths than during the normal festival. No culinary demonstrations or any other special programs are offered either. The list of items available at each booth is a little shorter than normal, in some cases. And some of the booths are holdovers from the Flower and Garden Festival.
When we visited EPCOT we also noticed the playgrounds and some of the displays from the Flower and Garden Festival are still up. Perhaps the strangest component of all is that all of the festival merchandise is the 2020 Flower and Garden Festival merchandise.
It is nice to enjoy the Food and Wine Festival with low crowds (i.e., not having to eat on top of a trash can as a table). There were plenty of high top tables available in most cases. However, we did experience some busy periods when there were crowds making me a little uncomfortable. This was during meal periods of lunch and dinner – no surprise there.
Let’s talk about some of the food and drinks available at the Taste of Epcot Food and Wine Festival.
Crispy Citrus Chicken with Orange Aïoli and Baby Greens (a miss) – Festival food when prepared in mass quantities can sometimes fall short in some ways. This can be especially true for anything fried, which can dry out as it sits under a warming lamp. This is even more true when there is low attendance and the food is waiting around a while. Such was the case with the Crispy Citrus Chicken. The coating fell off as we sliced into it. A decent value for the portion size at $5.75, but a miss when it comes to taste.
Tarte aux Oignons Caramelises et Chévre: Goat Cheese Tart with Caramelized Onions on a Flaky Pastry Crust (a hit) – As my husband and I approached the France booth, we overheard a guest balk and say “goat cheese, who would eat goat cheese?” The poor chap is missing out. Goat cheese is tangy, creamy, thick, and a little tart, and when it is baked it takes on a slight sweetness. This tart is full of earthy flavors thanks to the goat cheese, caramelized onions, and dash of fresh provincial herbs. A good value at $5.50.
Canard Confit à l’Orange: Braised Duck Confit à l’Orange with Mashed Sweet Potatoes (a hit) – Admittedly I am a fan of duck practically any way it is prepared so I may be biased. This dish was tender and savory, and with the mashed sweet potatoes I wished there was an autumn nip in the air. A decent value at $6.25.
Tarte Tropezienne, Coulis Framboise: Brioche Cake filled with Light Pastry Cream and Raspberry Coulis (a hit) – Light, airy, and yet oh-so-flavorful this brioche cake is the perfect sweet bite to satisfy your sweet tooth without weighing you down after indulging in the heavy delights of the France booth. A good value at $3.00.
Kalua Pork Slider with Sweet-and-Sour DOLE Pineapple Chutney and Spicy Mayonnaise (a hit) – It is a rare occasion that the Hawaii booth disappoints. My husband and I love Kalua Pork, so tender and juicy. This slider does a good job of dressing up the pork and packing in some great flavors. Ours was a little soggy, but still enjoyable. A decent value at $5.25.
Teriyaki-glazed SPAM Hash with Potatoes, Peppers, Onions and Spicy Mayonnaise (a hit) – Obviously you need to be okay with SPAM (which is spiced canned ham) to enjoy this dish. However, I will say that if you’ve never had SPAM this is a great way to try it. The glaze helps with the overly salty flavor of the canned meat, and the accompanying hash adds a great variety of flavors. Our plate was heavy on the mayo, which made it all a little soggy. I am tempted to find a recipe so I can make it at home, sans mayo perhaps. A good value at $4.25.
AULANI Sunrise: Vodka, DOLE Pineapple Juice, and Grenadine (a hit) – Keep in mind, my husband and I have a soft spot for tiki drinks, and are dreaming of going to Aulani one day. Still, this tiki cocktail was a decent sized serving and quite potent for being pre-made. Vodka may seem an odd choice for a tropical tiki drink, but it allows the pineapple juice and grenadine to shine. A splurge at $14.00, but at least the souvenir tiki cup is cute.
Tempura Donburi: Two pieces of Tempura Shrimp and Kakiage (Vegetable Tempura) with Tentsuyu Dipping Sauce served over Sushi Rice (a hit) – It is hard to beat the light, airy, yet crispy delight that is tempura. The serving size is much larger than other festival offerings, though smaller than a quick service entree. Both tempura pieces were executed well and tasted great, and the sushi rice, with its stickiness, was the perfect accompaniment. A decent value at $8.00.
Chirashi Sushi Flowerpot: Fresh-cut Salmon, Salmon Roe, and Spinach served over Sushi Rice (just okay) – Any sushi fan will enjoy this dish at the very least. The fresh salmon flavors paired with sushi rice and poke sauce satisfied our craving for sushi flavors, it just didn’t “wow” us. Of course, this one may be worth getting if only “for the ‘gram” with its cute little flowerpot. We held onto the flowerpot, it may just become a toy for our toddler. A decent value at $6.75.
Strawberry Nigori Sake (a hit) – It’s hard for my husband and I to resist trying a sake we haven’t had before. This strawberry sake should be considered a dessert. It was sweet, but light, and creamy. The price is good considering the serving size is on par with what is served at the sake bar at the back of the Mitsokashi store here in the Japan pavilion. A good value at $7.00.
Crispy Pork Belly with Black Beans, Tomato and Onions (just okay) – In years past we’ve really enjoyed the crispy pork belly from the Brazil booth. It seemed lacking this year. Perhaps the serving of the pork belly itself was small. Perhaps it was dominated by the black beans. It’s still a good choice if you love pork belly or Latin flavors. A decent value at $6.00.
M.I.A. Beer Company Barbossa Black Beer, Doral, FL (a hit) – My husband and I are now on a mission to pick some of this up for home. This pure black beer is robust, but not overbearing or heavy. An okay value at 6oz. $4.50/ 12oz. $8.50