Monday, March 19, 2018

GRAND OPENING! Welcome to the 2018 Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival! PART THREE


Welcome back, Disney Festival Fans!

     I welcome you to the third installment of my trip around the colorful, fragrant world of the 2018 Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival! (If you missed the first two parts, hakuna matata! Click HERE! And then click HERE!) Let's head on back to the Outdoor Kitchens at this year's Festival, and check out what kind of good stuff we got to enjoy! 

     A reminder that my first visit to the Festival this year was with five of my friends, on opening day. We tried out quite a bit of stuff, though not everything, so I will be forced to return to the Festival soon, and have more. (Ow, ow!!! You're twisting my arm!) For things that are a repeat of last year and that I had previously reviewed, I did not bother getting them again, so my reviews and pictures of those items may be from last year. Fair enough? OK, let's go!




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Florida Fresh

Between France and Morocco




  • What did we try?   Watermelon-Cucumber Slushie (non-alcoholic)
  • How would I describe it?   Watermelon slush. 
  • How was the portion/value?   $4.25 for a small cup of slush is too much. ($11.75 for version with gin)
  • What letter grade would we give it?   B-   It tasted good, but it was just too sweet for me. The cucumber flavor was pretty minimal. It was more like a Jolly Rancher watermelon flavored slush.
  • Will we get it again, when we return to the festival?   Probably not, unless my kids are with me. 


  • What did we try?   Key Lime Tart with Toasted Meringue
  • How would I describe it?   A sweet and tart key lime pie in a graham cracker crust, with meringue and a little shortbread butterfly cookie. 
  • How was the portion/value?  $4.50 was totally reasonable for this dessert. You could easily share it, and you'd pay the same price or more for a similar dessert elsewhere on property.
  • What letter grade would we give it?   A-   Even though he wasn't with us today, The Hubs is a bit of a Key lime Pie connoisseur. He's super picky and likes his pie super tart, super sweet, and with cream and not meringue. He had this one last year and LOVED it. Well, because you can't have it all, this one did have meringue, but he didn't seem to mind. He said this was the best key lime pie he's had on Disney property! I don't even like key lime pie and I thought it was pretty good too. 
  • Will we get it again, when we return to the festival?   I am pretty sure The Hubs will when he makes it to the Festival this year.

Taste of Marrakesh

Morocco




  • What did we try?   Harissa Chicken Kebab
  • How would I describe it?   A seasoned chicken skewer, and a small portion of couscous.
  • How was the portion/value?   $6 seemed totally reasonable for this amount of chicken and a side. 
  • What letter grade would we give it?   A-   The chicken was nicely seasoned and had a good flavor, without being overly spicy. Everyone really liked this one. 
  • Will we get it again, when we return to the festival?   To be honest, I didn't try this one, but I just may have to, based on everyone else's favorable reviews. 




  • What did we try?   Fried Cauliflower
  • How would I describe it?   Little nuggets of breaded and fried cauliflower, with a chili- Ranch sauce. 
  • How was the portion/value?   $5 was also reasonable, considering that the potion was easily shared by six of us. 
  • What letter grade would we give it?   B+   No denying, this one was tasty. But seriously, CAN you go wrong with fried anything? I do think it needed the dipping sauce, otherwise it was a bit plain, but still good. 
  • Will we get it again, when we return to the festival?   I just may. 


Hanami

Japan





  • What did we try?   Frushi
  • How would I describe it?   A sushi-like roll-up, with pineapple, strawberries and cantaloupe in the middle, raspberry coconut rice around it, and topped with coconut flakes, canned whipped cream and raspberry puree.
  • How was the portion/value?   Three pieces in the roll, for $5.95 is too much. 
  • What letter grade would we give it?   D-   Guys, I am so sorry if you are a Frushi fanatic, (because this stuff seems to have a cult-following), but I just don't get it! The coconut rice was chilled and gummy. The fruit wasn't particularly sweet, and the toppings tasted artificial. I tried one bite and hated it. I ended up throwing out almost the whole roll. The only reason I gave it a D- and not an F is because it looks cool.
  • Will we get it again, when we return to the festival?   Um, no. Never. Down with Frushi.




  • What did we try?  Ginger Beef Yaki Udon
  • How would I describe it?   Shredded beef and veggies on udon noodles, in a savory sauce.
  • How was the portion/value?   Only $6.50 and it could easily be a meal. That's a bargain at Disney!
  • What letter grade would we give it?   A-   Really tasty! It is pretty similar to an item served up in the Japanese counter service location, so you may have had something similar before, but overall it was flavorful, warm and filling. I did accidentally bite into some ginger. I don't recommend that. Ew. 
  • Will we get it again, when we return to the festival?   Probably not, but only because it's so filling. 




  • What did we try?  Teriyaki Salmon
  • How would I describe it?   Pretty much describes itself. 
  • How was the portion/value?   I'd say it was about a 2 oz piece of salmon, with rice, for $6.75. Fairly reasonable. 
  • What letter grade would we give it?   A-   Yummy, tender salmon, and a good portion of rice. Nothing too unusual, but really well executed. 
  • Will we get it again, when we return to the festival?   Yes. 






The Smokehouse: BBQs and Brews

American Adventure





  • What did we try?   Pulled Pig Slider
  • How would I describe it?   Pulled pork on a fresh bun, with light coleslaw veggies and fried onion straws.
  • How was the portion/value?   Priced at $6.75, this seemed ok for this portion of sandwich. It is shareable, for sure. 
  • What letter grade would we give it?   B+    Though I liked the sandwich and knew the meat quality was fantastic, I found this one to be dry. I also happen to greatly dislike coleslaw, so that didn't help. Flavor-wise, it was great, so I have to give it props for that. 
  • Will we get it again, when we return to the festival?   This is one that I'm sure The Hubs will get when he's at the Festival this year. 



  • What did we try?   Beef Brisket Burnt Ends Hash
  • How would I describe it?   A hash mix of smoked beef brisket, cubed potatoes, peppers and onions, all held together with a cheese cheddar fondue and topped with pickled jalapenos.
  • How was the portion/value?   Plenty for the $6.50 price, and TOTALLY worth it!
  • What letter grade would we give it?   A+   Another one of my festival favorites! This was like heaven in a paper basket! The smokiness of the burnt ends matched so nicely with the creamy, sharp cheese fondue. I want a whole plate of this stuff!
  • Will we get it again, when we return to the festival?   Yes! It'll be my lunch next time, minus the jalapenos!


  • What did we try?   Warm Chocolate Cake
  • How would I describe it?    A plain chocolate cupcake, served warm and topped with caramel sauce and candied pecans that have a little kick to 'em.
  • How was the portion/value?   $4.00 is pretty fair for a small cupcake, so I think this one is priced well.
  • What letter grade would we give it?   B+   Ok, so warm... chocolate...cake. Can't really go wrong there. And the cake was warm, moist and tasty. (Though the cake itself tasted like it was made from a packaged mix.) The caramel sauce was flavorful, but I didn't get any saltiness from it and I think if it were truly salty, it really would have made this one stand out. The pecans with a kick were a fun surprise. (I gave it the "+" for the warmth. Warm desserts rock! Can't beat the fresh-out-of-the-oven quality!)
  • Will we get it again, when we return to the festival?   Nah. Again, not bad, but not something I feel the need to repeat.




Primavera Kitchen

Italy








  • What did we try?   Ravioli all' Aragosta
  • How would I describe it?    Lobster ravioli in vodka sauce
  • How was the portion/value?   $12 for two raviolis is nuts.... I don't care what's in them
  • What letter grade would we give it?   B   These tasted fine. But "fine" is NOT an ok descriptor for a ravioli that costs $6 a piece. Yes, there was a good amount of lobster meat. Yes, the flavors were good and the pasta was cooked perfectly, BUT for $12, I would need to be blown away to Spaceship Earth. I was not. 
  • Will we get it again, when we return to the festival?   No way. I can't remortgage my house anytime soon.  Haha

  • What did we try?   Panna Cotta al Melone
  • How would I describe it?    A cantaloupe flavored creme-brulee, minus the brulee. 
  • How was the portion/value?   $5.50 may be high for a dessert on the small side, but soooo worth it. 
  • What letter grade would we give it?   A+   I think this was my favorite Festival item, or at least one of the top three. The cream was so smooth and silky, and the melon flavor was fresh a delicious. Now, I am a huge fan of cantaloupe, so obviously that contributed to my love of this treat. If you are not a melon fan, you will likely not enjoy this. 
  • Will we get it again, when we return to the festival?   Yes! Can't(aloupe) wait!

Bauermarkt
Germany







  • What did we try?   Potato Pancake with Caramelized Ham, Onion and Herb Sour Cream
  • How would I describe it?   Similar to a corned beef hash. A savory potato pancake, topped with cubed ham, sweet onions and a sour cream drizzle.
  • How was the portion/value?   The portion was large and easily shareable for two. At $4.25, this one is a good value. 
  • What letter grade would we give it?   B+   Tasted like breakfast! This was a delicious combination of flavors and I really liked it. (Though the hash was better.)
  • Will we get it again, when we return to the festival?   Maybe. I certainly wouldn't mind, as long as I had someone to share it with. 

  • What did we try?   Warm Cheese Strudel
  • How would I describe it?   A puff pastry filled with a sweet cream cheese filling, and topped with a mixed berry compote. 
  • How was the portion/value?   Again, this was a good, shareable size, so $4.25 wasn't too bad. 
  • What letter grade would we give it?  A-   Loved this one too! There was plenty of cheese filling and the berries went nicely with it. My only complaint was that to eat, and I couldn't decide if I should pick it up with my hands, or use silverware. Doesn't get any points for presentation, that's for sure. 
  • Will we get it again, when we return to the festival?   Yep! 

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~~~~~

Lotus House

China






  • What did we try?   Vegetable Spring Rolls
  • How would I describe it?   Standard Chinese spring rolls, served with a creamy orange sauce.
  • How was the portion/value?   $4.50 for two spring rolls was ok by me.
  • What letter grade would we give it?   B   The rolls were tasty and not overly greasy. I was expecting the orange sauce to be sweet like a duck sauce, but it was more savory, and I was not a fan.
  • Will we get it again, when we return to the festival?   Maybe. Definitely not a bad snack, and a really good sized portion.

  • What did we try?   Fried Chicken Dumplings
  • How would I describe it?   Fried pot stickers with chicken and veggies inside, and a peanut sauce over the top.
  • How was the portion/value?   I thought $6.25 was too much for three pot stickers.
  • What letter grade would we give it?   B-   So there was confusion over what exactly these would be. The girl in front of me very clearly though it was going to be dumplings with fried chicken, not fried chicken dumplings. I'm guessing she may not be the only one that makes that mistake, but either way, they ended up being chicken dumplings that were fried. I found mine to be tasty, but over-fried. They were actually kind of hard, and I ended up throwing two of them out. (My guess is I probably could have gotten different ones if I brought them back, but I was feeling too lazy at this point.) The peanut sauce was an unexpected flavor but I always find peanut sauce weird. Like an unsweetened version of peanut butter. I'm not sure what to do with that. 
  • Will we get it again, when we return to the festival?   Nope. 

  • What did we try?   Peach Tea With Black Tea and Milk
  • How would I describe it?   A milky iced tea, with a nice peach flavor. It normally comes with tapioca "bubbles" in it, but I opted for none. 
  • How was the portion/value?   This one was a full 20 oz. cup, but rightfully so, since it was $6.75. I think that price tag is WAY too high!
  • What letter grade would we give it?   B+   MUCH better than last year. There's more peach flavor and the sweetness is balanced nicely. I was very happy that they were willing to do this for me without the "bubbles". Now, I know people who go nuts for bubble tea, but for me, these flavorless tapioca balls make me feel like my drink is full of eyeballs. Ew. Without the eyeballs, it tasted great, but it's still priced way too high.
  • Will we get it again, when we return to the festival?   That's a "no". It was good, but for $6.75, I could get two other things elsewhere.

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~~~~~

Jardin de Fiestas

Mexico







  • What did we try?   Capirotada
  • How would I describe it?   A cinnamony bread pudding.
  • How was the portion/value?   $4.25 was ok for the size portion, which was probably about the size of one ice cream scoop. 
  • What letter grade would we give it?   B   The pudding itself was served warm and has a rich cinnamon flavor, that made it seem like a great fall dessert. There was a vanilla cream that gave it some moisture and flavor. I could have done without the canned whipped cream on the top, though. 
  • Will we get it again, when we return to the festival?   Nah. It was good, but not like goooood.

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     Finally, the sun was setting, my belly was begging for mercy, and my shoulders were toasted, so it was time to wrap it on up. Overall, I was very impressed with this year's eats. Great items, and much more reasonably priced than Festival of the Arts. I'll be back soon, since my Littles didn't get to join me this time. Flower and Garden definitely has more kid-appeal than Food and Wine, so they'll be psyched to attend. And I promise, anything else I taste-test, I'll tell you all about it. 

     Thanks for joining me on my 'round the world tour of Epcot's 2018 Flower and Garden Festival. Please gather up your personal belongings and exit to the rear of the post. Oh, and should YOU want to check out this festival, or any other Epcot festival yourself, contact my friends over at Kingdom Konsultant Travel. They'll take care of all of the deets to make your trip sweet! 

     Until next time, Disney fans, have a magical week!

                                                          - Jenn


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