Chef Todd is back with his picks for what you should try at the Taste of EPCOT International Festival of the Arts, which begins Friday, January 8.
The EPCOT International Festival of the Arts holds a special place in my heart. When it was introduced in 2017, some of my culinary school mates and I decided to have a mini reunion in Disney bracketed around opening day. We all thought that the concept of ‘food as art’ was a natural theme for a party. The addition of traveling artists displaying their wares could only enhance the upscale feel of the event. It turns out we were right, and the memories we created were magical. The debut of this fest was also my first assignment as a guest blogger for this fine site. I tasted and re-tasted, wrote and re-wrote. I was bound and determined that my initial submission would set a new standard for future food critics to aspire to. Please don’t go back and read it. It was barely north of terrible. But, after a few years of honing my craft, I like to feel that my writing skills have improved to somewhere between tolerable and marginal.
So, do I have you fired up? Are you super excited to read on?
Due to the relatively short run of Festival of the Arts, and the fact that I am unable to attend the opener, I was asked to preview some of my favorite returning items. There are quite a few this year, but I’m okay with a little redundancy. During these unprecedented times (ugh), food outlets all over the world are doing whatever they can to keep the gears turning. I totally understand. Let’s start like I always do, in France and Morocco, at exactly 11 o’clock.
You can see the full list of foods that will be available here.
Crème de Brie en Petit Pain: Gooey melty brie in an adorable mini bread bowl. Perfect for sharing. Excellent beginning.
NEW: The Black Truffle Croissant sounds like a dream I once had. If you try this, please text me and describe it in glorious detail. Ten Cheffy points for pictures.
Mediterranean Flatbread: Keep an eye on this one. Look at a few before you commit. The flatbreads in Morocco are usually stellar, but mine was a little sparse last time.
NEW: Rack of Lamb should be a no-brainer.
Vegetable Gyoza was one of my top picks last year. Deep-fried edamame dumplings oddly paired with truffle mashers. Those taters were one of my best single bites. Excellent choice.
Sushi Donut is a bloggers dream. Prettiest dish on the promenade. Tons of fresh seafood make it worth the purchase.
Beef Wellington. Tasty little puff pastry wrapped tenderloin. Bourdelaise was a classic winner. Disregard the well-done beef, and enjoy.
Pan-seared Scallop was a huge hit. I am a sucker for anything scallop, so I say…get it!
Braised Short Ribs were one of my top beef dishes from any festival. Perfect texture, and a lip-smacking touch of gelatin. Yes.
NEW: While not very German, Coq au Vin is borrowed from another fest, but I liked it quite a bit then.
Gotta try the iconic Frangipane Cake. That is a multi-colored checkerboard of goodness.
NEW: The Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup should probably be on your list.
Last year’s Mushroom Risotto was one of the worst dishes I have had at any festival. The year before, it was my top play. Just goes to show how treacherous risotto can be. Probably a pass at over 9 bucks.
There are a number of new concepts I am intrigued by, besides the ones I have already mentioned. PAINTER’S PALATE, for example, is offering a prime steak tartare. Yes, please. I’d try that beet tartare as well. A new kitchen, VIBRANT AND VIVIDO, has a chilled seafood cocktail that sounds a lot like a recent winner from Spain. THE PAINTED PANDA (China) has a menu that is right in my wheelhouse. Pork and water chestnut meatballs and Sichuan shrimp. Sign me up.
For those of you who are lucky enough to experience this party, I will try to curtail my jealousy. It is truly a feast for the palate, as well as the eyes. I hope my notes will help you streamline your touring plans a little bit. Please enjoy. I look forward to seeing you all in March for the Flower and Garden opener. Ciao for now.
Chef Todd is an erstwhile chef and current Disney food aficionado. He hopes that his back-of-the-house knowledge comes through in his reviews, and helps you better plan your Disney dining experience. You can also find him on Instagram and Twitter @cheftodd55, or join his Facebook group Chef Todd Eats Disney.