Jardin de Fiestas returns along the water either before or after La Cantina de San Angel in the Mexico Pavilion depending on which way you’re walking around World Showcase.
Every item is new this year. *shakes fist*
$6 Chile Relleno de Picadillo
Battered Poblano Pepper filled with Ground Beef covered with Tomato Sauce and Garnished with Queso Fresco and Toasted Almonds.
Half eaten for your pleasure. The substantially-sized pepper is freshly fried and gives the mildly spicy, chewy pepper a nice crispy exterior that’s further enhanced by the earthy crunch of the almonds. The pepper was bursting at the seams with seasoned ground beef that had just a bit of spice on its own and the cheese added a bit of creaminess to each bite. My only issue was the sauce, which was more like a bland tomato paste. It did a really nice job of tempering the spice, but if somehow blandness can overwhelm otherwise interesting flavors in a dish, this would be a good candidate. Still, it was a nice portion size that was executed a lot better than Mexico’s recent entries and I was thoroughly impressed.
$6 Brocheta de Pollo con Salsa Morita
Grilled Chicken with Red and Green Bell Pepper served with Salsa Chile Morita and Garnished with Micro-Cilantro and Edible Flowers.
I thought this one fell squarely on the other side of the spectrum with a short skewer with a couple bites of chicken and pepper for the six dollar ask. The morita pepper is known for its dark red color, which doesn’t do us a whole lot of good since the salsa that’s provided is brown with a pronounced smoky flavor not unlike a chipotle pepper, only a little bit sweeter with a hint of garlic. The chicken was of adequate quality, but it just “felt” like something was missing that would have made this a more coherent dish. You could certainly do worse, but it seems like it’s a stretch for six dollars.
$3.95 Tres Leches
Vanilla Sponge Cake, Cajeta, Condensed Milk and Evaporated Milk and Garnished with Orange Zest.
I’ve enjoyed similar Tres Leches cakes from other kiosks at past Festivals, but this is a new preparation that wasn’t really working for any of us. The cake was as gritty as it was soggy and the thick layer of whipped cream on top contributed little more than making the rest of the bite even slimier. This may be a personal taste thing, but I awarded La Isla Fresca’s version last year an “8.” At a minimum, it’s a lot of cake for the money, relatively speaking. Not sure about the execution.
$10.25 Hibiscus Margarita
Mexico’s margaritas are typically thick and syrupy, but this one was much more watered down than past versions, which makes it a little easier to drink, but also reduces the intensity of the flavor considerably. With so many of the other cocktails served frozen, this is a good opportunity to get away from that consistency, but it’s still pre-mixed and ours at least had virtually no tequila flavor. Which isn’t a good thing in a $10+ cocktail that tastes largely of water. But they were charging $14.25 for their margaritas at the Arts Festival last month and apparently figured they could sell more at a lower price point by reducing the potency. It’s okay at best.
$11.25 Elderflower Pineapple Margarita
This worked a little better with the fruitiness of the pineapple contrasting nicely with the earthiness of the elderflower, both of which helped wash away a more present tequila flavor. Since the new margarita stand hasn’t opened yet, you could do a lot worse on the margarita front. But the frozen concoctions at La Cantina might be smarter if you can stomach another icy drink.
$8.75 Watermelon White Sangria
This is a picture of last year’s “Elderflower Watermelon Sangria” just to give you an idea about portion size. I’m 97% sure that the basis is the boxed Beso Del Sol White Sangria, but Jardin should make it a little fruitier with the infusion of a syrup of some variety.
$6.75 Pacifico Draft Beer with Floater
This was more of a “sinker” in that the “floater” was added to the bottom of the cup before the beer. Your options should be Kahlua or Ginger or Pomegranate liqueur.
The small amount of Kahlua in one and pomegranate liqueur in the other didn’t seem to do much to the flavor profile other than make each taste a little “off” – a little thicker and more syrupy than the beer would be otherwise. In other words, Pacifico still tastes bad.
Overall, the pepper impressed while the other two food options are probably “just okay.” Neither of the margaritas is a candidate for best ever, but virtually all of the Festival drinks are going to include between a half and full ounce of alcohol at best. Those looking to do some damage should stick to the full size beers at the year-round kiosks for the best per-ounce value.