We’ll return to the 2015 edition of the Epcot Food and Wine Festival to visit the two new Chew Marketplaces in Future World, Craft Beer, and more new items from around World Showcase. See Part 1 for an introduction to the event and about a dozen reviews of new items. This post reviews every returning item.
The Sustainable Chew and Chew Lab are both located in the outdoor Next Eats complex behind Innoventions West. You can sort of see the Imagination Pavilion pyramid behind it. This is 1:40pm on Monday September 28th and there are just a handful of people in line. Compare that with Saturday night.
Sustainable Chew offers what I think sounds like one of the better menus:
The portion on the $5 Pork Spareribs with red wine, fennel, and cheesy mascarpone grits is on the small side, here consisting of one small rib bone with some pork on it and the other boneless. The meat is incredibly tender and stew-like sauce is light and helps bring out the flavor from the pork, in addition to lending some flavor to the grits underneath. It was one of the best tasting new items at the Festival, I think, but the portion is on the chintzy side for the money.
The $4.75 Ricotta & zucchini ravioli with tomato sauce was better, with several large, creamy bites of cheese wrapped up in a delicate ravioli wrapper that is easily cut with the side of a fork. It was the best pasta dish we tried – easily fresher with more vibrant flavors than the Italian offerings coming up.
The $4.25 Vanilla panna cotta with fresh figs and pistachio brittle is about $1.50 more expensive than other similarly sized desserts. The panna cotta ends up being kind of jello like underneath the nutty flavors coming from the pistachio and the fruitiness of the candied fig. It’s overpriced by a buck, but one of the better thought out desserts that should be consistently executed well.
The Frozen Chew-tini featuring Crop Organic Meyer Lemon Vodka is reminiscent (read: exactly the same) of the drinks commonly found in France. This one is characteristically light on the alcohol with a nice blended consistency that makes it easy to drink, which is a good thing because they don’t have straws. The apple chip on top is a nice addition. Overall, it’s cold and refreshing, but don’t expect a lot of alcohol for your money.
Chew Lab is the other Future World Marketplace:
The plates here are kind of cool – entirely disposable but look like they just as easily be made of china.
Savory items are a little weaker here, in my estimation.
$6.25 buys you this New York Strip with Parsnip Silk, Balsamic Glaze and Arugula Foam. The slices of meat are probably even smaller than they look on the plate with just about four tender bites surrounded by fat. While parsnip silk and arugula foam sound impressive on paper, I’m not sure the flavors are as pronounced as advertised. The balsamic adds a bit of sweetness, which is in turn cut by the foam on top, but it boils down to just a couple bites of decent steak. It’s a decent value as a Dining Plan credit, but I’d probably skip it if you’re paying cash. The filet in Canada is a little more novel I think.
I liked the Olive Oil-Poached Salmon with Fresh Corn, Bacon, and Pepper Jam. The salmon doesn’t exactly reinvent the wheel, but the poaching method isn’t commonly used at Disney restaurants, so it’s at least a little different than your typical grilled or baked fish. Otherwise, poaching gives the salmon a nice soft, flaky texture that’s naturally flavorful. The side of corn adds a salty component with the bacon. Altogether, I think this is more compelling than Patagonia’s Roasted Salmon.
The $4 Liquid Nitro Chocolate Almond Truffle with Warm Whiskey Caramel is one of the best things they’ve done at the Festival in the last few years. The chocolate is impossibly creamy, enhanced by the caramel with a pronounced and long lasting milk chocolate flavor. If you’re only going to get one dessert at the Festival, I’d make this it.
Lisa commented that the $8.25 Smoking Hibiscus featuring Montelobos Mezcal Joven tasted like Halloween Horror Nights over at Universal smells, which is potentially the meanest possible thing you can say about a food or beverage item. I enjoyed the texture on this one, which is really thin and kind of airy, and don’t come down as hard on the flavor, but it definitely isn’t for everybody. You might consider ordering one and passing it around to try.
Overall, I like the two Chew Marketplaces a lot and think they offer some of the better values and more flavorful selections we’ll see. If you want to participate in the Festival without having to venture all around World Showcase, particularly at night, then you have some nice options.
The Wine Studio wasn’t operating on preview day for whatever reason. You’ll find it in between the Cheese Studio and Dominican Republic Marketplaces.
Don’t worry. As is customary, the website will offer very wordy, full reviews of each wine when it’s time to finalize the list.
For now, these two tasted like wine. I will say that these are two of the best wine pours you’ll ever see at the Festival and the Studio was not at all popular, making it potentially a good choice for a stop. There’s also plenty of tables.
I originally reviewed the pork and yuca souffle from the Dominican Republic booth in Part 1 of the overview. This is the $4.75 Pescado con coco: Seared grouper, pigeon peas and rice with coconut sauce. I actually bumped into Mark from RideMax and his wife in line and they ended up ordering the fish, which was nice because I really wasn’t looking to try a couple bites of grouper when the “RealFeel” was 110 degrees. Some of you may be familiar with the RideMax software, where you basically tell it which attractions you’d like to experience and the program maps it and puts it in an efficient order, along with expected wait and arrival times. Unlike the optimize button, it actually works too, which is a departure from several of the other similar services that launched well after RideMax already dominated the space.
I ordered the $3.25 Caramel flan with rum-roasted pineapple. I am not really a flan person – I find the kind of gooey pudding texture off-putting and the dominant flavor always seems to be burnt caramel. With that said, this is the best I’ve tasted from the Festival offerings over the years. You still do get that caramel flavor, but it doesn’t taste like it’s been cooked too long and the pineapple helps sweeten the overall flavor profile. It’s a good value for the money and plenty large to share. You may want to order just one as it’s very sweet.
Weekdays, people. Early afternoons. This is 2:40pm on Monday the 28th with literally nobody in line ordering.
Scotland offers two new food items – a “real” version of last year’s “vegetarian haggis” and a replacement on the dessert front.
I don’t really get out much, which makes this my first real experience with haggis, which is…well I guess I don’t really want to say. Here it’s served as Haggis with neeps and tatties: Traditional Haggis with rutabaga and mashed potatoes. It ends up tasting mostly like a peppery beef crumble, I think. It might be worth trying on the novelty factor, but the flavors weren’t as unique as I was hoping. Which might be a good thing.
$3.25 buys you The Tipsy Laird: Whiskey-soaked cake with lemon cream and toasted oats. It was one of the fresher tasting desserts with a nice sweet raspberry flavor with cake and a lot of cream. It’s not a particularly unique dish overall, but it is executed well.
The $9 Citrus Thistle featuring Hendrick’s Gin is one of the better cocktails served at the Festival, which really isn’t saying much. But there’s some gin in it and it’s a lot easier and more refreshing than the sugar bombs that are most of the frozen drinks.
Amusingly perhaps, each of the Marketplaces with draft beer have one of these cheat sheets behind in case somebody comes up and asks about the alcohol percentage or flavors.
The sign is inaccurate as Punk IPA is 5.6%.
Greece sees two sort-of-new items in the Greek Salad in a Cone and Vegan Moussaka. Both are items that have seen similar presentations in the past.
I’m quoted as saying last year’s Vegetarian Moussaka was my “favorite vegetarian item at the Festival.”
This year’s looks quite a bit different, removing the thick layer of melted cheese in favor of…whatever this is. The sausage crumbles aren’t necessarily bad, but you’re paying somebody a lot of money to reheat frozen fake sausage. It might be worthwhile for a vegan with limited options, but I’d probably skip it if you have more choices.
There is still a layer of potato and mushroom underneath, but I found both bland.
The $3.25 Greek salad in a cone is your standard issue mixture of feta, olives, lettuce, red onion, and cucumber that’s for some reason served in a cone.
The flavors are good, but it’s not particularly unique.
As I was taking this picture, Lisa was off grabbing forks and such. And as she was walking some lady said, “But why the hell is he taking a picture of a POPSICLE?” Such is the life of the celebrity Disney blogger.
I continued the photo shoot over here. Anyway, this is the $6.75 Ice Pop Pomme: Apple juice, vodka, and St. Germain liqueur. I really enjoyed the Flower and Garden Festival version, but mine wasn’t nearly frozen enough. The girl working the booth ended up putting the first one she grabbed back because it had melted, but the second one didn’t turn out to be much better. And perhaps because it was melting and I sort of had to down it in three licks, it was extremely syrupy and tart. Hopefully you’ll have more luck on the frozen front.
As I mentioned before, the Chase Lounge is back. Everybody apparently knows about it because despite relatively low crowds, there was still a wait to get in and once inside, nowhere to sit. But they do have three Coke Freestyle machines with complimentary cups, so you can save a few bucks filling up on soda here in exchange for a few minutes in line.
Crowds picking up around 4:30pm in the U.S.
The train is back and looks better than it has in years.
The Food and Wine Festivals booths are back.
The Kimchi Dog is basically back at the Refreshment Cool Post, this time in a larger size for a couple dollars more.
South Korea offers a new Soju Banana Milkshake with The Ginger People Ginger Smoother. I’m refraining from making a lot of jokes here. This has sort of a strange flavor, not unlike if you were to somehow whip banana Runts into a frozen drink and then pour a shot of fireball over it. The flavor is sweet and pretty intense. You may want to share. It’s topped with a few banana chips.
China sees two new drinks in the $10.50 Ritzy Lychee with cognac and vodka and $8.50 Happy Peach with peach liqueur and dark rum. While the drinks look different and have different ingredients, we found it nearly impossible to differentiate which is which. The drinks are otherwise pre-made and then they add the liquor on top while you watch. The pours are usually well above average, making both good choices. Unfortunately the 2013 version of the Singapore Sling, which even made me blush in its high alcohol content, is long gone.
Here you go with World Showcase filling up by 5pm. There will be very few days that are any better than this.
Australia’s Grilled sweet and spicy bush berry shrimp with pineapple, peppers, onions, and snap peas is new.
$4.75 buys you three decently sized grilled shrimp mixed in with what is mostly onions and peppers with a few pea pods. The pineapple is not particularly present, but may help cut the spice just enough so each bite has a zesty zip to it. Australia is usually very consistent, making these one of the safer dishes for seafood lovers.
I’ll cover the rest of the beers in the full reviews, but the Coopers Extra Strong Vintage Ale enjoys a nice high ABV at 7.5% with more hops and bitterness than you might expect. It’s worth trying here on draft.
Craft Beer is all Florida this year, which is kind of cool. While these probably aren’t world class selections, each is unique and going to be difficult to impossible to find outside of Florida. The Bloody Mary Shrimp Cocktail is new and the Craft Beer Snack Mix is now offered separately for $1 instead of a smaller cup included with each beer purchase.
Beer fans will likely want to purchase one of each flight. Remember that the individual cups are six ounces and each cup as part of the flight is four ounces, so the per-ounce price is nearly the same regardless of which size you purchase.
I personally preferred the flavors in the Craft Beer Lovers Flight.
But I’m not so much a fruity beer person. If you’re just going to get one, I’d obviously go with your style preference or perhaps the Passport 20 Belgian as you won’t see it anywhere else.
The snack mix is great and is a no-brainer for $1 if you’re looking for something sweet and salty to go along with your beer.
The $4 Bloody Mary shrimp cocktail is just five or six smallish shrimp in a thin cocktail sauce. It’s not necessarily “bad,” but that’s exactly what you’re going to get.
That covers most of the new items at the Festival.