We continue from Fleur de Lys.
Florida Fresh returns to the 2019 Epcot Flower and Garden Festival in between the France and Morocco Pavilions.
Only the Tampa Bay Brewing Co. beer is new.
As seen with nothing in focus.
Carne Guisada with Black Bean Cake and Cilantro Lime Sour Cream – $6.50
This is tender, smoky, nicely-marinated shredded beef that boasts a surprising kick that’s washed away by the cool sour cream and the citrus notes from the lime and cilantro topping. The Black Bean Cake offers a nice, crispy, contrasting texture to the beef and soaks up all of the flavors well, including the flavorful tomato salsa.
Compared to a couple of years ago, when it was called Carne Asada, the spices seemed to be toned down and the flavor “felt” less complex than I remember. I think the meat was a little overcooked with a less pleasant, softer mouthfeel that may be a little more stew-y. It’s still an above average choice and a considerable portion for the money.
Spicy Blackened Shrimp and Stone-ground Cheddar Cheese Grits with Brown Gravy and Local Sweet Corn Relish – $7
The Shrimp have taken many forms here over the years. The current version sees three large, nicely-grilled Shrimp on a small bed of creamy, cheesy Grits with a pepper-heavy Corn Relish sprinkled over the top.
Personally, I miss the sausage days when the above was served during Florida Fresh’s inaugural year. Still, the current plating is an above average, “safe” dish for anyone that enjoys Shrimp. I wouldn’t let the spice in the title deter you. There is a bit from the pepper, but you can scrape it off the shrimp if you feel the need. There’s some good stuff here.
Key Lime Tart with Toasted Meringue – $4.50
The sweet, sugary crust is on the thin side, but it still holds up well against the creamy sweet/sour key lime custard inside. The meringue, which is perfectly toasted, has a nice fresh marshmallow flavor with a slight crispiness to the top. $4.50 is a fair price.
Florida Orange Groves Winery Key Lime Sparkling Wine – $11.75
A bottle of this will set you back $30, which is a lot higher than the retail price on most of the wines available at the Festival. And with the prices of the regular wine pours rising so fast over the last couple of years, there’s probably some value here, in addition to the novelty factor. The flavor profile is carbonated key lime pie, which contrasts nicely against the spiciness of the Carne Guisada or Shrimp and Grits. You might give it a whirl if you’re curious and making a stop.
Beer Flight with Tampa Bay Brewing Company Twisted Strawberry Fest Fruit Ale, Big Top Brewing Company Conch Republic Key Lime Wheat, and First Magnitude Brewing Co. Monarch Milk Stout – $9.50
Another terrible beer flight picture to add to the collection.
That’s a little better. The Twisted Strawberry Fest Fruit Ale tastes mildly of strawberries with a surprisingly tart, acidic lime citrus aftertaste. Fans of fruity beers should enjoy it as there’s nothing artificial-tasting. I enjoyed it as part of the Flight.
The Conch Republic Key Lime Wheat is a refreshing lime-forward beer that captures the trajectory of this website pretty well – sweet to start, followed by a bitter, drawn out finish. It’s pretty easy to drink as part of the flight, which comes with three individual pours that measure four ounces each, or as an individual pour that comes in at six ounces.
The Monarch Milk Stout is interesting in that it’s a partnership between the brewery and the Florida Museum of Natural History that attempts to “shed light on the recent population declines of the iconic Monarch butterfly.” There’s probably some literature available somewhere that the beer flight buying public probably isn’t going to take the time to search out. The beer is decent enough – perhaps a little watered down with less of a roasted malt presence and little of the creamy quality that you’d hope to find from a milk stout. But a couple of cents may go to the butterflies, which is reason enough to get two.
Watermelon Cucumber Slushy with Gin – $11.75
While it’s incredibly small, this one works better than most – the watermelon flavor was subtly sweet, tempered by the cucumber and gin with a couple pieces of ice cold, fresh melon on top. But this is more than Disney charges for most cocktails on their standard lounge menu and something like $7.75 would be more fair.
Florida Fresh isn’t quite as good as it was at its onset, but most people should find at least a couple of things that they want to pick up.