From late September through the first week of November, the Walt Disney World Resort hosts a collection of booths from around the globe, serving dishes from native lands at the annual Epcot International Food and Wine Festival. The addition of new booths and reinvented menu items, and the reappearance of old favorites keep guests returning year after year to see what’s new. Today we'll explore the best Epcot Food and Wine dishes of 2014.
Debuting this year are booths such as Patagonia, which offers a sampling of Argentinean and Chilean flavors. The new Farm Fresh booth replaces last year’s Florida Local, still featuring Southern flavors like Nueske’s Pepper Bacon Hash and a Griddled “Yard Bird” with braised greens and habanero sauce.
The Puerto Rico booth is also new with a variety of tastes, from the Ensalada de Carrucho (Caribbean conch salad) to Tostones (fried green plantains with mayo ketchup). Block and Hans, which usually serves up those yummy Mickey-shaped pretzels, is adding a sampling of wines during the event, including Robert Mondavi and Great American Wine Company selections.
Some of the returning booths have new items to sample on their menus. The completely revamped Brazil menu now offers a sweet and savory Moqueca de Pescado (tilapia with coconut lime sauce over rice), Pao de Queijo (Brazilian cheese bread), and Cocadas (Brazilian coconut candy). Other new items worth a try include a reimagined Shrimp Taco (Mexico), Beijing Roasted Duck in Hoisin Sauce and Mango Green Tea with Popping Bubbles (China), an all-new dessert trio (Desserts and Champagne), the reinvented festival classic Tartelette aux Escargots (France), and a brand new selection of bar snacks to accompany Craft Beers such as the vegetarian snack mix of nuts, fruits, and crackers (free with any beer purchase at the Craft Beers booth).
This year, festival guests will find many more vegetarian and gluten-free items than have been seen available in the past. In previous years, most of the options for vegetarians were dessert items, but many of the booths now offer savory selections as well, like the adventurous Vegetarian Haggis (Scotland), hearty Vegetarian Moussaka, Spanakopita, or Griddled Greek Cheese with Pistachios and Honey (Greece), or the entirely new menu for the all-vegetarian Terra booth.
The best thing about the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival is the dozens of delicious tastes to try from all over the world (and most food items are Disney Dining Plan snack eligible!). The worst thing about the International Food and Wine Festival is that all of those small plates can add up quickly. To help navigate this year’s festival offerings, here is my list of the top ten not-to-miss Epcot Food and Wine dishes, starting counter-clockwise around World Showcase.
Top 10 Epcot Food and Wine Dishes of 2014
1. Scotland: Seared Scallop with spinach-cheddar gratin and crispy bacon, $4.25. This gluten-free dish pairs a delicate, luscious scallop with creamy, cheesy spinach and crispy, smoky bacon. What’s not to like?
2. Hawaii: Kalua Pork Slider, $3.75. This delicious little slider is a taste of island life topped with a sweet and sour Dole pineapple chutney and spicy mayonnaise.
3. Desserts and Champagne: Dessert Trio of Passion fruit coconut creamsicle, blueberry lime cheesecake roll, and chocolate espresso opera cake, $4.00. This is the perfect dessert for the indecisive eater. The passion fruit coconut creamsicle is an explosion of flavors and textures with crumbly cookie on the bottom, smooth custard center with a pop of coconut, topped with a fruity passion fruit gel. The blueberry lime cheesecake roll is creamy, sweet, and tart, a smooth dessert with a punch of citrus. The chocolate espresso opera cake is composed of layered sponge cake and cream reminiscent of tiramisu. This one is for coffee lovers with a strong kick of espresso and rich, fudgy chocolate icing.
4. Ireland: Warm chocolate pudding with Kerrygold Irish Cream Liqueur Custard, $3.50. A deeply satisfying, gluten-free chocolate pudding with a warm, oozy Irish Cream center. Perfection.
5. Brazil: Moqueca de Pescado, $4.50. Regal Springs Fresh Tilapia with coconut lime sauce and steamed rice (gluten free). The sweet and savory flavors of this dish remind me a little bit of creamy Thai curry, a delicate dish with an unexpected kick. While at the Brazil booth, stop and listen to the live guitar music throughout the day.
6. Hops and Barley: Baked Lobster Alfredo, $6.25. Although it’s one of the more expensive dishes, the huge chunks of lobster in this luxurious alfredo sauce with crunchy baked topping make it worth every penny.
7. Germany: Berliner Yeast Doughnut filled with Apricot Jam, $3.25. This light and airy doughnut filled with sweet apricot jam sells out quickly, so eat dessert first!
8. South Korea: Roasted Pork Lettuce Wrap with kimchi slaw, $3.75. A huge portion of succulent roasted pork stuffed into a crisp, green lettuce leaf and topped with creamy and spicy kimchi slaw. Pair it with the crowd favorite Bokbunjajoo Bohae black raspberry wine, $4.25.
9. Mexico: Shrimp Taco, $5.50. My all-time festival favorite went through a few changes this year, but the Shrimp Taco still makes my list of must-have dishes. The shrimp is now deep fried for more crunch, and the purple cabbage slaw has been ousted by tangy pickled habanero pepper and onions.
10. Mexico: Sweet Corn Cheesecake, $3.50. Sounds unusual, but turns out to be surprisingly delightful.
Those are my go-to Epcot Food and Wine dishes, but everyone has their own top picks. Other crowd favorites include: Canadian Cheddar Cheese Soup, $4.25 (Canada), Grilled Beef Skewer with Chimichurri sauce, $5.50 (Patagonia), Ravioli alla Caprese, $6.00 (Italy), Kielbasa and Potato Pierogi, $5.25 (Poland), and Black Pepper Shrimp with Sichaun Noodles, $5.50 (China). There are plenty of delicious dishes to try, and half of the fun is finding your own favorites while experiencing new flavors from around the world. Which dishes would you most like to try at this year’s International Food and Wine Festival?
Brittany is a lifelong Disney fan and freelance writer, focusing mainly on food and travel tips for the Central Florida area theme parks. Her work has appeared on DisDining.com and Examiner.com. She is best described as an adventure-seeking nerd who loves good food and a good read.