Thursday, October 11, 2018

REVIEW: The 2018 Epcot International Food and Wine Festival Booth Reviews and Menus!


Good afternoon, Disney Fans!

     It's the most wonderful tiiiiiime of the yeeeeeaaaarrrr! Nope, not Christmastime... Food and Wine time!!! The 2018 Epcot International Food and Wine Festival kicked off on August 30th, and I was there to check it all out! I'd love to share my first insights with you, so to quote Peter Pan, "Here we gooooo........ off to Yummyland!" (Maybe not a direct quote, but you get it.)


     Due to a crazy school/activities/appointments/work/life schedule this year, I have been way behind in getting this out, so I hope you won't mind if we just jump right into food reviews and menus! I do want to be transparent in my reviews though.... Some of these reviews, (for items that are repeats from last year), are in fact, from last year, but I made sure nothing about them had changed. Also, not all items are reviewed, due to budgetary and stomach limitations, BUT I'll be adding reviews as I go back and try more. Don't worry. I do it all for YOU, dear Disney Fan!!!! I force myself to enjoy delicious treats and eats all in the name of journalism! Let's get to it....



Light Lab






  • What did we try?   Phosphorescent Phreeze
  • How would I describe it?   Fruity, frozen non-alcoholic slushy in a giant beaker
  • How was the portion/value?   $7 wasn't terrible since it is definitely large, sharable and you're really paying more for the souvenir beaker than anything
  • What letter grade would we give it?   B+   Fruity and awesome on a hot day. Standard slurpee. Not really much more to say about it. 
  • Phosphorescent Phreeze
  • Will we get it again, when we return to the festival?   No, because I don't need more than one $7 beaker. Also, from what I understand, they ran out of the beaker a week in.


Flavors From Fire




  • What did we try?   Piggy Wings
  • How would I describe it?     Sticky, sweet pork "wings".    
  • How was the portion/value?   $4.75 for two wings. Eh. (Up $.25 from last year.)
  • What letter grade would we give it?   B+   Really tasty wings. The sauce was sweet and savory. 
  • Will we get it again, when we return to the festival?   Probably not. Too much other stuff to pick from. 

Piggy Wings

  • What did we try?   Charred Chimichurri Skirt Steak
  • How would I describe it?   Strips of steak over a sweet corn pancake with slaw. 
  • How was the portion/value?   $6.75 seems fair, since the portion of this easily could have been a light lunch. 
  • What letter grade would we give it?   A-   The steak was way overdone but the flavors were awesome. The meat was nicely seasoned and the corn cake had just the right amount of sweetness. 
  • Will we get it again, when we return to the festival?   Maybe. 

Charred Chimichurri Steak


Active Eats




  • What did we try?   Loaded Mac 'N' Cheese
  • How would I describe it?   Mac and cheese heaven with bacon, peppers and onions. 
  • How was the portion/value?   $5 is on the high side, but it's worth it! (Up $.25 from last year.) 
  • What letter grade would we give it?   A-   Yum, yum, yum. A favorite!
  • Will we get it again, when we return to the festival?   Oh yeah. 
Loaded Mac 'n' Cheese

Earth Eats






Coastal Eats





  • What did we try?   Baked Shrimp Scampi Dip
  • How would I describe it?   A creamy, shrimp-filled hot dip, served with toast rounds.
  • How was the portion/value?   2-3 people could share this dip, BUT the dip doesn't come with nearly enough bread to do so. Either way, decent portion for $5.75. (Up $.25 from last year.)
  • What letter grade would we give it?   B+   This dip was served warm and was very tasty and flavorful. There was plenty of shrimp in it. I just wish it had more bread. It was too salty to eat on its own.
  • Will we get it again, when we return to the festival?   Nah. 

Baked Shrimp Scampi Dip

  • What did we try?   Seared Scallops
  • How would I describe it?   Scallops in a buttery sauce with corn and bean succotash
  • How was the portion/value?   $6 for 3 scallops and what is essentially a side dish was ok by me. 
  • What letter grade would we give it?   A-   Delicious scallops, seared perfectly and so buttery! And I also loved the veggie mix under it. 
  • Will we get it again, when we return to the festival?   Yes!

Seared Scallops


Chocolate Studio




  • What did we try?   Liquid Nitro Chocolate-Almond Truffle 
  • How would I describe it?   A frozen ball of chocolate mousse with caramel sauce 
  • How was the portion/value?   I thought $5 was pretty high, but considering this is a Festival favorite for many Guests, I get why. (Up $.25 from last year.)
  • What letter grade would we give it?   A  SO! YUMMY! And the coolness of it makes it all the more enjoyable. You gotta try it!
  • Will we get it again, when we return to the festival?   Yep!


Liquid Nitro Chocolate-Almond Truffle


Cheese Studio







Wine and Dine Studio







  • What did we try?   Butternut Squash Ravioli
  • How would I describe it?   Squash raviolis in a brown butter sauce with balsamic.
  • How was the portion/value?   $4.50 for two raviolis is on the high side, for sure, but they are yummy and worth a try.
  • What letter grade would we give it?   A-  Really tasty! I loved the lights sweetness of the squash, mixed with the saltiness of the cheese and balsamic. I just wish there were more!
  • Will we get it again, when we return to the festival?   Probably!


Butternut Squash Ravioli

Australia






The Almond Orchard



  • What did we try?   Creamy and Spinach Artichoke Dip
  • How would I describe it?   Cheesy spinach dip chicken in it and served with tiny crackers.
  • How was the portion/value?   $5 and almost too big. It was enough dip for four people to share. We ended up throwing some out. 
  • What letter grade would we give it?   B+   The dip was good, but it was weird having huge chunks of chicken in it, especially considering the tiny crackers that are served with it could never handle picking up the meat. I get that the crackers are from the booth's sponsor, but they need something heartier. 
  • Will we get it again, when we return to the festival?   Nah. Glad I tried it, though. 

Creamy Spinach and Artichoke Dip


Hawaii




    • What did we try?   Kalua Pork Slider
    • How would I describe it?   A pulled pork sandwich on a Hawaiian roll. 
    • How was the portion/value?   It's $5, but the portion is decent so I don't think this one's too bad. (Up $.25 from last year.)
    • What letter grade would we give it?  A     This normally comes with a pineapple chutney, but it also contained mango, so due to an allergy, we ordered one without the chutney. It was nice that you could make slight alterations like that. Of course, they can't totally customize items for you, but if you need something without a sauce, etc, it seems like they are happy to oblige. The pork had a delicious seasoning, which reminded me of 'Ohana, over at the Polynesian. (Coriander?) Whatever it was, it was good! The "spicy mayonnaise" didn't have too much heat to it, and the sweet Hawaiian role was the perfect accompaniment. I bet with the pineapple chutney, it's amazing! I highly recommend it!
    • Will we get it again, when we return to the festival?   Probably
    Kalua Pork Slider


    Islands of the Caribbean




    • What did we try?   Quesito
    • How would I describe it?   A sweet pastry with guava sauce drizzle. 
    • How was the portion/value?   $3.75 is high for a small pastry. 
    • What letter grade would we give it?  C-   It tasted fine, but there was somehow NO sweet cream cheese in mine. Maybe it was a fluke, but I was super bummed. I usually get quesitos at Meson and they are awesome, huge and lower priced than this. Pass. 
    • Will we get it again, when we return to the festival?   Nope. 


    Quesito



    Greece






    Spanikopita


    • What did we try?   Spanakopita
    • How would I describe it?     Spinach and cheese in phyllo dough
    • How was the portion/value?   $4.50 for two smallish pieces. Not too bad. (Up $.25 from last year.)
    • What letter grade would we give it?   B+     Yum! I don't like feta, but it was very mild in this. The flaky dough was nice and crispy and the filling was tasty. 
    • Will we get it again, when we return to the festival?   Yup!


    Bougasta

    • What did we try?   Bougasta
    • How would I describe it?     Sweet phyllo dough with cinnamon and vanilla
    • How was the portion/value?   If I had liked it, $4.00 wouldn't have been terrible, but I was not a fan. 
    • What letter grade would we give it?   D     I have never had this before, so in all fairness, I don't know what it's supposed to be like, but I can't imagine this was it. The syrup that was added made this pastry super messy and wet. I was expecting the filling to be creamy and custard-like but instead it was gritty, eggy and there wasn't much there, (which was probably a good thing). Yuck. 
    • Will we get it again, when we return to the festival?   No way. I'm going back to the Chocolate Studio instead!


    Thailand







    Mexico





    • What did we try?   Coconut Rice Pudding
    • How would I describe it?   Traditional rice pudding, with a light coconut flavor.
    • How was the portion/value?   $4.25 a cup, and it's a good portion, so I'd say it's very fair.
    • What letter grade would we give it?   B+   The pudding was cool, creamy and lightly sweet. The coconut flavor was there, but not overwhelmingly so. Since I am allergic to mango, I had to do this without the coulis and I'm thinking the tartness would have been a nice contrast. 
    • Will we get it again, when we return to the festival?   No, once was good. 

    Coconut Rice Pudding



    China




    • What did we try?   Xi'an Pancake with Beef
    • How would I describe it?   A scallion pancake folded around sweet and spicy beef. 
    • How was the portion/value?   $6.75 may seem high, but I'd pay more for this, it was THAT good!
    • What letter grade would we give it?   A+   My favorite thing at this year's festival! I usually don't like spicy stuff, but the flavors of this make it all worth it! The beef has a sweet and sour-type of sauce on it, with a kick of heat. Th pancake was served warm, and had a great onion flavor. LOVED this!
    • Will we get it again, when we return to the festival?   I've gotten it three times so far!

    Xi'an Pancake with Beef
    • What did we try?   Chicken Potstickers
    • How would I describe it?   Pasta-like dumplings, filled with ground chicken and veggies and served with a sweet and savory sauce. 
    • How was the portion/value?   $4.95 for two. Not great for $2.50 a potsticker. 
    • What letter grade would we give it?   B+   The potstickers were flavorful and delicious and the sauce complimented them nicely, however, they were not anything different from what you'd get at any local Chinese restaurant. 
    • Will we get it again, when we return to the festival?   No, because for $5, I can get a whole order at my neighborhood Chinese restaurant. 
    Chicken Potstickers


    AND
    Duck Boa Bun
    • What did we try?   Beijing Roasted Duck Bao Bun with Hoisin Sauce
    • How would I describe it?   A fluffy bun, filled with roasted duck and veggies and smothered in a sweet and savory sauce.
    • How was the portion/value?   $6.75 seems steep to me. You could get a whole burger or pulled pork sandwich for that amount. The bun is only a few bites. 
    • What letter grade would we give it?   B-   The flavor was good and I liked the fluffiness of the bun, but this didn't blow me away.
    • Will we get it again, when we return to the festival?   No, thanks.




      India






      • What did we try?   Korma Chicken
        Korma Chicken
      • How would I describe it?   Chunks of chicken in an red-orange spiced sauce, served with naan bread
      • How was the portion/value?   There was very little chicken in it, so I'd say the $5.25 was too high, though the portion of sauce and bread was fair. 
      • What letter grade would we give it?   B     This one is all The Hubs. I gave it a little taste, but not really enough to judge it fairly. He liked it a lot and said he loved the warm bread served with it. As I mentioned, there was not a lot of meat, though, and the sauce was pretty runny.
      • Will we get it again, when we return to the festival?   No. He liked it, but not that much. 
      AND
      • What did we try?   Warm Indian Bread
      • How would I describe it?   Naan bread served with three dipping sauces. 
      • How was the portion/value?   At $4.75, it was reasonable. Easily shareable too. 
      • What letter grade would we give it?   B+   The naan was fresh, warm and chewy. The sauces were each unique and flavorful. The Hubs liked the garlic the best. 
      • Will we get it again, when we return to the festival?   Probably not. It was good, and I recommend trying it, but I don't need to have it again. 

      Warm Indian Bread





        Africa







        Brewer's Collection





        Germany




        • What did we try?   Schinkennudeln
          Schinkennudeln
        • How would I describe it?   A creamy, cheesy mac and cheese casserole with ham. 
        • How was the portion/value?   For $4.25 the portion was very large and VERY filling! (Up $.25 from last year.)
        • What letter grade would we give it?  A-   Oh my goodness, this is delicious! Mac and cheese lovers will adore this one! The minus is only because it's a little greasy, but who cares?
        • Will we get it again, when we return to the festival?   Yes!
        AND
        • What did we try?   Apple Strudel
          Apple Strudel
        • How would I describe it?   An apple turnover with golden raisins and a creamy vanilla sauce. 
        • How was the portion/value?   An ok portions for $4. Not bad. 
        • What letter grade would we give it?  C+   It wasn't bad at all, I just found it to be a bit on the bland side. It was served warm, which was nice, and the vanilla sauce is a great compliment. 
        • Will we get it again, when we return to the festival?   Nah. 
             



        Spain









        Italy







        Hops and Barley


        • What did we try?  New England Lobster Roll
        • How would I describe it?   A cool, creamy lobster salad on a fresh sub roll.  
        • How was the portion/value?   I know it's lobster, but $8 is too steep for me for a half of a small sub roll. I guess this Boston gal is spoiled. 
        • What letter grade would we give it?  B-   Definitely not a bad lobster roll, and it had plenty of meat, but I wasn't crazy about the herbs in the mayo and like I said, I'm spoiled by Boston's fresh and cheap lobster. 
        • Will we get it again, when we return to the festival?   No. Too much other stuff to try. 
        Lobster Roll
        AND

        • What did we try?   Freshly Baked Carrot Cake
        • How would I describe it?   A super moist, fresh baked carrot cake, with a smooth, liquid cream cheese frosting.
        • How was the portion/value?   $4 is super reasonable for this little cake. It's similar to the size of most Disney desserts. (Up $.25 from last year.)
        • What letter grade would we give it?  A   Deeeee-licious! Warm, soft, sweet and nice textures. 
        • Will we get it again, when we return to the festival?   Oh yeah!


        Carrot Cake



        Japan






        • What did we try?   Teriyaki Chicken Bun
        • How would I describe it?   A fluffy roll filled with sweet teriyaki chicken. 
        • How was the portion/value?   $5.50 was about a dollar higher than what I think this should be. The size is pretty small. (Sorry no pic!)
        • What letter grade would we give it?  B-   The bun was warm and fresh and it had a nice flavor, but it was super sweet, which was weird for a meat dish. 
        • Will we get it again, when we return to the festival?   Not my fav. Nope. 




        Morocco








        Belgium



        Beer-Braised Beef
        • What did we try?   Beer-braised Beef
        • How would I describe it?   Similar to a beef stew, over mashed potatoes 
        • How was the portion/value?   $5.25 seemed a little high, but it's a good portion, and since it is also very filling, you'll probably want to share this one. (Up $.25 from last year.)
        • What letter grade would we give it?   B-   This had really nice flavor. I'm not a beer drinker, so I was not sure I would like this, but the beer flavor is pretty subtle. The mashed potatoes were delicious and complimented the meat, veggies and sauce nicely.
        • Will we get it again, when we return to the festival?   Probably not. It was good, and I recommend trying it, but I don't need to have it again. 

        AND

        Belgian Waffle with Chocolate
        • What did we try?   Belgian Waffle with Chocolate
        • How would I describe it?   A little, warm waffle, with whipped cream and chocolate sauce.
        • How was the portion/value?   At $4, I want a bigger waffle than this. 
        • What letter grade would we give it?   B   It tasted fine and the waffle was served warm and crispy, but the chocolate tasted like Hershey's Syrup and the whipped cream was canned, so nothing about this was extraordinary. 
        • Will we get it again, when we return to the festival?   No. No need. 



        Brazil



        Crispy Pork Belly
        • What did we try?   Crispy Pork Belly
        • How would I describe it?   Kinda like bacon, but a slab of it. I guess. That's the best I can do. 
        • How was the portion/value?   I am told $5.75 isn't too bad for the portion size.
        • What letter grade would we give it?   B+   The grade is based on the opinion of The Hubs. I know it's supposed to be delicious and all, but I am just SO not into pork belly. The name creeps me out. The Hubs said it was a good pork belly and he liked the beans and the salsa topping as well.  
        • Will we get it again, when we return to the festival?   That's a big NO. 


        • What did we try?   Pao de Queijo
        • How would I describe it?   Doughy rolls filled with gooey cheese.
        • How was the portion/value?   For $4.25, you get two, which I thought was ok.
        • What letter grade would we give it?   B+    I mean, these are bread filled with cheese, so you can't go TOO wrong here. They were served warm and there was plenty of chewy cheese inside, however, they are pretty bland. Still good, but I was expecting more flavor. I want to dip them in marinara!
        • Will we get it again, when we return to the festival?   Again, good, but no, I don't need to get them again. 



        France






        Ireland



        • What did we try?   Warm Irish Cheddar Cheese and Stout Dip
        • How would I describe it?   A cheese fondue dip served with brown bread
        • How was the portion/value?   $4.75 was too much for some bread and dip to me. 
        • What letter grade would we give it?   B    I really disliked this one, but The Hubs loved it, so we averaged it out. I found the warm dip to be bitter and sharp, which is exactly what The Hubs loved about it. I think you have to be more of a beer fan for this one. 
        • Will we get it again, when we return to the festival?   Nope. 


        Cheddar Cheese and Stout Dip

        • What did we try?   Roasted Irish Sausage
        • How would I describe it?   A tasty pork sausage was sweet onions, over mashed potatoes
        • How was the portion/value?   $5.50 for a whole sausage with potatoes seemed reasonable to me.
        • What letter grade would we give it?   B+    Delicious sausage, awesome mashed potatoes and the onions put it over the top. The only fault I can find in it is that it's not all that unique or unlike something you could get at the sausage cart at Disney Springs.
        • Will we get it again, when we return to the festival?   Nah. It was good, but I'll try something else next time.


        Irish Sausages

        • What did we try?   Warm Chocolate Pudding
        • How would I describe it?   A mini chocolate lava cake with Irish cream sauce
        • How was the portion/value?   It's on the small side, but $4.25 wasn't too bad.
        • What letter grade would we give it?   A-     The "pudding" is more like a lava cake to me, with a warm, runny, chocolaty center. It was really delicious. I wish it was a little bigger. That way I wouldn't have to be so angry when someone else takes a bite.
        • Will we get it again, when we return to the festival?   I might!


        Warm Chocolate Pudding


        Canada




        • What did we try?   "Le Cellier" Wild Mushroom Beef Filet Mignon
        • How would I describe it?   A tiny filet, served medium well. (I opted for NO mushrooms, as I do not like fungi.)
        • How was the portion/value?   It's probably 2-3 oz. So I guess $8 isn't that bad, but I'd rather save that money and buy two other snacks elsewhere. 
        • What letter grade would we give it?   B-    Good flavor, but way too overcooked for me. I also wish it had something else with it, like potatoes or veggies. (Other than the mushrooms, which I passed on.)
        • Will we get it again, when we return to the festival?   No thanks. 

        Filet Mignon




        New Zealand





             And there you have it! That wraps up the booths and menus, as well as my reviews, so far. If I get the chance to try out anything else, I'll be sure and let you know. Until then, have a magical week!!!


                                                                                       - Jenn

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