EPCOT International Food & Wine Festival

It’s a foodie’s dream.  Or it could be a gastric nightmare!

Welcomed to the festival by Tinkerbell.

Welcomed to the festival by Tinkerbell.

Why?  Because there is so much great food and so little time (or room in the tummy) to travel this unique world experience and taste it all!  We finally took the plunge to sample Disney’s EPCOT International Food & Wine Festival during a trip to Walt Disney World in October, and it was quite a treat!

Now in its 22nd year, this annual food festival provides Disney guests with an opportunity to taste the many flavors of the countries that line the World Showcase lagoon in EPCOT.  For 2016, it runs every day from September 14th to November 14th.

Whether you crave mild or spicy, domestic or international, sweet or sour, wet or dry, hot or cold, a hungry traveler can find something to satisfy their cravings and even try something new, especially if you don’t have the means to travel abroad.  Countries from Africa to South Korea and many in between are represented with offerings that are common to their part of the world.

Food is provided in appetizer-sized portions, so you won’t fill up on a single entrée and giving you the chance to experience more flavors.  Also, if you are with someone, order different selections and share to broaden your experience without taxing your budget or digestive system.

Clockwise starting at 10 o'clock - Picked Beet Salad; 2 - Chicken & Dumplings; 6 - Loaded Mac' & Cheese.

Clockwise starting at 10 o’clock – Picked Beet Salad; 2 – Chicken & Dumplings; 6 – Loaded Mac’ & Cheese.

We began our tour at the “Farm Fresh” kiosk at the entrance to the World Showcase lagoon where we enjoyed Loaded Macaroni and Cheese that was enhanced with peppered bacon, peppers and green onions, Chicken and Dumplings with stewed chicken, mushrooms and spinach, and topped it off with a Pickled Beet Salad consisting of pickled red and golden beets, herbed goat cheese, vinaigrette, micro greens and toasted walnuts.

The next stop along our journey was a short rest at The American Experience music pavilion where we watched Tiffany perform the songs that made her famous.  Disney always has quality performances to enhance your experience in the parks and these concerts are included in your park admission.  There is a full lineup of performers scheduled during this two month festival, so check the dates to see if your favorite artist is coming by.

Golabki and Kielbasa & Pierogi

Golabki and Kielbasa & Pierogi

From there we marched onward to Poland where we just had to stop and try the Golabki,” a pork stuffed cabbage covered with tomato sauce (what we would call a cabbage roll), and Kielbasa and Potato Pierogi with caramelized onions and sour cream.  We each had our favorites in these lands and a couple of them left us wanting more.

But, we weren’t done.  On around the lagoon we stopped at Italy to sample the fare.  Some of the offerings here were a little more familiar to our taste buds.

Upper left - Pennete alla Parmigiana, upper right - Cannoli al Cioccolato, lower right - Spezzatino alla Toscana.

Upper left – Pennete alla Parmigiana, upper right – Cannoli al Cioccolato, lower right – Spezzatino alla Toscana.

We tried the Pennete alla Parmigiana, a baked ziti with chicken parmigiana, tomato sauce, mozzarella and parmesan cheeses, and Spezzatino alla Toscana con Polenta, a Tuscan-style stew with carrots, mushrooms and crispy polenta, and we topped that off with a Cannoli al Cioccolato, a chocolate covered cannoli filled with sweet ricotta, chocolate and candied fruit.  Melvin especially liked the pennete.

At this part of the trip, all we have left is dessert.  So we stopped at the new Chocolate Pavilion to finish off our trip around the world.  Here we picked up a Liquid Nitro Chocolate-Almond Truffle with warm whiskey caramel.  This is an ice cream treat that is frozen with liquid nitrogen.

Chocolate Pavilion offerings.

Chocolate Pavilion offerings.

Unfortunately, there is just too much to eat to try everything.  This is definitely something that takes many trips to experience it all.  But that’s ok, as we have a few days left, and we will be back in November for Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas party and will have another chance to travel some more.

While we are not partakers of “adult beverages,” there is a full line up of wines, craft beers and mixed drinks from these countries that are available to sample.  Even though this is Disney, you are still required to be aged 21 or older and must show ID to purchase alcohol.

Park admission is required which will give you access to the food, beverages and music.  There are additional costs if you want to enhance your experience.  You can purchase a $59 ticket which provides 8 tickets for food or beverages; or $109 for 16 tickets.  This is one of the things where you want to “do the math.”  The majority of the food samplings are around $4, and the wines, beers and mixed drinks usually run in excess of $7, so plan accordingly.  You can plan ahead by reviewing the map and you can pick up a passport like booklet that has menus, checklists and stickers representing passport stamps to keep track of your travels.

Additional options include demonstrations, seminars and talks that start at $15.  These give you an opportunity to have breakfast and watch celebrity chefs fix their favorite foods; or attend a seminar on wine & cheese pairing, or a wine tasting seminar that puts you in touch with your inner connoisseur.  Some of these events are not held within EPCOT, so park admission is not required.  This is one of the advantages of having a theme park as large as Walt Disney World.  There is plenty of room to hold these events and not crowd the guests.

We are planning on going back at least two more times in the next month, so maybe we can check off a few more tastes from our passports!

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