Tuesday, November 11, 2014

2014 Epcot Food & Wine Festival Wrap-up Part One

While assembling this post we have determined he will never be a food photographer. When he actually remembered to take photos 1/2 of them were blurry or poorly lit, while the others are just meh. If you want to see photos of anything related to the festival, we (strongly) encourage you to check The Disney Food Blog for AJ's superior coverage.

One of our favorite things to do at the festival is to grab a free Festival Passport and collect all the stamps. To collect the stamps you need to visit each festival booth that lines The World Showcase; usually 24-27 of them. This year Disney threw in the existing counter service stops as well and gave them each one signature item. So now we have 34 stops. We considered this unfair and against the spirit of F&W. You do not need to buy anything to collect the stamps so we should stop complaining. After collecting all booth stamps you can get a completion stamp at the Festival Center.

We split the festival over two separate visits to WDW this year. The first visit we had items from about 1/3 of the booths and rounded out our passport in November. During the last trip we spent three afternoons/evenings at the festival and found we had more than enough time to hit all the booths. A good plan of attack for future trips would be to hit another theme park in the morning, then the festival in the afternoon and evening. Booth traffic was especially light during the last hour of park hours - perfect for dinner.

Eat to the Beat shows are fun and crowded. In September we had reserved seats for all three Hanson shows. In November we were scrambling to find two seats for 38 Special 25 minutes before show time. American Pavilion area was pretty busy during Boyz II Men (didn't bother for seats - listened to a few songs while sitting by the fountain).

It looks like the Flower and Garden Festival will see a return of the mini Food and Wine Festival.
Terra was the vegan booth - something we were not interested in. However, the Blackened Chick'n was one of the most flavorful items at the festival. The Paperboy red was like Greek wine: port with some water pouring in it - yuck!

We loved both the skewer and empanada at Patagonia. Dave actually called the empanada his favorite item (it was great as far as empanadas go).
New Zealand mussels were awesome. We really should have had a second helping. The bread crumbs put them over-the-top.

During the trip Dave had several iced coffees at Joffrey Coffee carts so that was the food item at all coffee carts that we tried.

Craft Beer was inside the closed Odyssey restaurant. They had a nice area set up with pub tables and smooth jazz playing in the background. Most beers here were easy to find in a grocery store so we didn't sample much. The muffuletta was ok, but the real winner was the snack mix.

Australia shrimp were good. Nice mix of everything.

The tacos in Mexico were really good, but not as good as the tacos at the Swan and Dolphin Food & Wine Classic (post to come).

We visited Farm Fresh many times. We got the hash twice - Great dish! This kiosk had two great beers - Uinta's Ba Ba Black and Duke's Cold Nose Brown Ale. Ba Ba is one of our favorites and Cold Nose has now joined that list.

We had China's Mongolian Beef twice and loved it (Dave got beyond the mayo). Black Pepper Shrimp was ok.

The Kimchi dog in South Korea was ok.

The beef in Africa wasn't as good as it was in other years - too salty. The bobotie was tasty and the wines were pretty good.  On our first visit the stamp was broken so a cast member signed our square.

We skipped the special items at The Refreshment Port and visits there were for Yuengling refills.

To try everything at Brewer's collection we shared two flights of four oz beers. One flight was the lighter beers and the other the darker beers. We enjoyed the darker flight.

Singapore's mahi had great flavor, we just got an overcooked portion.

The German bratwurst and pasta were our dinner after the marathon Hanson sets. We repeated the pasta another time because it was that good.

Poland - the sausage was good but the pierogi was similar to Mrs. T's.
In Italy we had the ravioli - they phoned it in.
Liberty Inn was a beer stop (who eats here?).

Five and Drum also a beer stop. We did try Hanson's Mmmhops. Ok for a Pale Ale, but we are not fans of the genre.

The Slider at Hops and Barley was decent and the we enjoyed the lobster pasta. Lots of pieces of lobster.

At Block and Hans we tried a wine for the fun of it. Nothing too exciting with the red blend.

That takes us 1/2 way around the World Showcase. We will follow up with the second half of the Festival Passport in another post. We'll close up with a quick review of The Hollywood Brown Derby patio in Disney's Hollywood Studios.

The patio is a separate seating area and small bar attached to The Brown Derby restaurant. A hostess will seat you. It seats maybe 30 or so people at a time. We just missed arriving at opening so no seats were available. We put our name on the list and timed it right to arrive back for a short table wait. The outdoor menu is more appetizer and sandwich focused, but you could order food from the inside menu. Since we were hitting the festival we split an order of waygu sliders. Excellent choice. We opted for two beef as opposed to one beef/one duck. Holly had the martini flight and Dave the Jack Diamond (a Manhattan). We look forward to future visits.

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