Saturday, October 10, 2009

Top 5 Must Eats at the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival

It’s fall in Central Florida and time once again for the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival. The once-a-year celebration features regional cuisine and wine pairings from more than 25 countries, as well as culinary demonstrations, cooking seminars, book signings, wine tastings and concerts from nationally known artists.

The event runs through November 8th, and is included with an Epcot admission. But remember, the food and wine isn’t free, and can be pricey for just a “sampling.” To make sure you don’t miss out on some of the best dishes, and don’t waste your well-earned dining dollars, here’s my list of the top five “must eats” at the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival:

Number 5: Canadian Cheddar Cheese Soup from Montreal, Canada

The Canadian kiosk is one of the first stops for attendees as they make a right at World Showcase Lagoon (hint: go left), and, therefore, one of the most popular. The soup ($3.75) is good, with a very creamy texture and a fragile cheddar flavor, but if the line is more than 20 deep, keep walking and come back for the perennial favorite later in the day when the line is shorter, and the shadows longer. The Cheddar Soup is paired with Moosehead Beer ($6).

You may also want to try the Glazed Salmon with Lentil Salad ($4.50) or the Spicy Chicken Sausage with Sweet Corn Polenta ($3.75).

Number 4: Leblon Frozen Caipirinha from Rio De Janiero, Brazil

You’re hot. You’re thirsty. You must have a frozen drink. Don’t miss the Leblon Frozen Caipirinha ($7.25) from Rio. Yes, it’s very pricey for such a small cup, but it’s incredibly cool and refreshing with the unique taste of cachaça. The caipirinha is Brazil’s national cocktail (think a Brazilian Mojito). Once nearly unknown outside Brazil, the drink is gaining popularity in the United States with the import of finer brands of sugar-cane derived cachaça.

While you’re enjoying your frozen beverage, and imagining yourself on Copacabana Beach, you may also want to try the Shrimp Stew with Coconut and Lime ($4.25) or Grilled Pork Skewer with Farofa ($4).

Number 3: Taste of Spain – Serrano Ham, Chorizo, Manchego, Olives, and Tomato Bread from Barcelona, Spain

You get quiet a plate full of Spanish delicacies with the Taste of Spain for a mere $4.25. It’s one of the better bargains at the festival. The dry-cured Serrano Ham (think Spanish Prosciutto), is sliced thin and dissolves in your mouth, leaving a salty/sweet taste to linger on the tongue. The semi-spicy Chorizo is good too, and the olives are enjoyable. Pass on the Tomato Bread, however.

The egg yolk and cream Crema Catalana ($3) was the perfectly sweet ending to the tour of Spain (think a crème brûlée/flan cross). Another relative bargain.

Number 2: Seared Barramundi with Blistered Cherry Tomatoes, Arugula, and Lemon Oil from Melbourne, Australia

Another popular booth with festivalgoers is the Melbourne, Australia kiosk. Most everyone chooses to go with the lamb chops, but try the Seared Barramundi ($4.50) instead. The flaky, white fish is singularly mild and is the quintessential dish of the land down under – a favorite of both Australians and the saltwater crocodile. Paired with the tart arugula salad and the sweet Rosemount Traminer Riesling ($2.50), it’s the perfect dish for a very hot October day in Florida’s sun.

Not into fish? You can’t go wrong with the Grilled Lamb Chop with Red Wine Sauce and Murray River Sea Salt ($5.50). Hint: plop down in the lush grass and shade behind the kiosk and go ahead and gnaw on the bone – nobody’s looking.

Number 1: Lobster and Scallop Fisherman’s Pie from Cork, Ireland

The Lobster and Scallop Fisherman’s Pie ($5.50) was the favorite dish of everyone in my party. It’s simply superb. The baked pie (think a seafood version of shepherd ’s pie) contained wanton chunks of lobster and scallops, and was topped with a significant swirl of mashed potatoes.

I wish more restaurants in the Orlando area would serve variations of meat pies. Sure, we’ve got the potpie and the occasional Shepherd’s pie, but where are all the wonderfully hearty variations that could be served here? In this economy, we could all use more comforting meat pies. Someone please get on that!

The fisherman’s pie was paired perfectly with a Bunratty Meade Honey Wine ($4.25). Not everyone’s taste, but I loved the honey-sweet burn of the wine.

Epcot International Food and Wine Festival
Now through November 8th
Free with Epcot Admission

Festival Map

Side Note: On the day I visited, TV personality Paula Deen and her two sons were at the festival, and I caught a bit of her talk with an enraptured audience of sunburned tourists as she munched on a fried chicken leg. Where’s that Savannah booth Paula?

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Lake Mary Food Critic said...

Excellent and detailed review. A fews years back I had the Canadian Cheddar Cheese Soup. It was so good I hunted out an Internet copy-cat recipe and made it myself. It is to die for!

Eating Orlando said...

Thanks a lot LMFC. Your soup recipe just as good? I've been looking for a good She Crab Soup recipe myself.


awesome! i can't wait to try...thanks for the review, i never know what to get :( but now i have a few in mind. woot

akeorlando said...

Hello?!?! Why is the Grand Marnier slushie from the French pavillion not included here? Simply the best thing EVER!

Marilyn said...

My two of favorites from last year's Food and Wine Festival were the Canadian Chedder Cheese Soup and Fishermen's Pie too. Every time I'd visit the festival, I'd buy both the soup and the pie again. They were that good! I was also a huge fan of the beer flights at the Brewer's Collection booth. Thank you for a great top five list! I look forward to what you think about this year's upcoming Food and Wine Festival offerings.