When you live close enough to Disney that you can make a day trip out of it and you have an annual pass, there is no excuse not to go. Original plans for the extended weekend did not play out and by the time I knew they weren’t going to, everyone else already had plans. Not wanting to sit at home all weekend with nothing to do, my sister and I decided to take a spontaneous trip to Disney World.
Being the *unofficial* Disney World experts that we are, we initially had 2 parks planned out. However, we realized that it was the opening weekend for our favorite Epcot festival: Food & Wine. How could we not squeeze in a couple of hours at Epcot?! Of course we could. So the day trip became more about food than about going on rides (we did throw in a few of those too—Avatar Flight of Passage, totally worth the wait if you can’t get a fast pass and don’t get motion sick or claustrophobic too easily). When we were heading to Epcot to close out our day trip, the sky all around us was threatening to release the watery heavens, so we were pretty worried that our Food and Wine adventure would be cut short. We said a prayer to the heavens and by some miracle did not get any rain except for a very short, light drizzle when we first arrived. Thank heavens.
Alright, the food. This blog is about my food adventures after all. My sister and I ate lunch at one of my favorite quick serve spots in Disney: Pandora’s Satu’li Canteen. The sustainable fish bowl with red and sweet potato hash and creamy herb dressing is fairly healthy and extremely yummy. You can build your own lunch from a variety of ingredients like beef, chicken, fish, vegetables, sauces, etc. and they have allergy-friendly options as well, good drinks with and without alcohol. Satu’li Canteen tries to be, like all of Animal Kingdom, environmentally friendly (real plates and silverware, paper straws and cups). They also offer online ordering, which, if you’ve been to Disney and never used that feature, get the app and enjoy some convenience! One of these days I’m going to attempt to recreate the sustainable fish bowl at home, but for now, I’m enjoying it being cooked for me.
Next up we went to Magic Kingdom. I’m not the biggest fan of the food at this park, even Be Our Guest is just OK for me—although I have not been since they rolled out the new menu and format. I do however, really enjoy the milkshakes from Tomorrow Land’s Auntie Gravity’s Galactic Goodies. They come with cotton candy on top and a marshmallow straw. Sugar overload, but if you’ve got a friend to share with, or a solid stomach, get a milkshake! Right now the specialty shake is a candy corn flavored milkshake and it’s gooood. I like it better than the millennial pink one they had back in the spring. If you don’t want all the sugar, you can pitch the cotton candy and the marshmallow, but really, it’s not going to make it any healthier.
Epcot’s Food & Wine Festival: Take 1
If you’ve never been to Epcot’s Food and Wine Festival, here is a brief rundown: a whole bunch of stations set up around the World Showcase representing countries in Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Americas with small menus (usually 2-3 entrees, a dessert and specialty drinks) and you get small portions encouraging you to stop at multiple countries. To get the most from the experience, you can pick up a passport that has all the menus, stickers to mark where you’ve eaten, concert schedules etc., and load money onto a wristband gift card so you’re not pulling your credit card out at every stop.
This time we went to sample the Festival and get the layout of the land. We’re planning to go back later in the fall when it’s hopefully cooler (who am I kidding? This is Florida) and less crowded. We stopped in Mexico for a margarita — Mexico at Epcot has some great margaritas, France, Germany, Belgium, and Ireland. I did not get a picture of our drinks because that’s when the rain hit for a very short time and my phone was buried under the poncho.
In Mexico I got the “El Padrino” blackberry Mexican punch with Velo Blanco Tequila. Bueno. It was sweet, salty and I could drink those all day. My sister drank the “Mariachi Loco” margarita with Libelula Tequila Joven, mango purée and chamoy. That one was really good too. So far Mexico’s margaritas were a hit.
We weren’t feeling particularly adventurous so we passed on sampling the escargot croissant and went with the “Carbonade de Boeuf, Purée de Pommes de Terre” beer-braised beef and mashed potatoes which was perfectly cooked, tender and flavorful. A little salty, but still delish. I was a bit turned off though when they handed it to me and there was a small, soggy piece of bacon sitting atop the beef. Aside from that, totally worth eating and I will definitely return to the booth on my next trip.
Total bust, I hate to say it. Let me start by saying, I remember the food in Germany (the actual country) being pretty good. Few of my family or friends are fans of German Food, and every time I dragged them to a German restaurant here in America, FAIL. I’m 0 for I lost count with German Food. We didn’t try the bratwurst or the apple strudel here, but from what I saw and heard people saying, the dishes left something to be desired. I tried the “Schinkennudeln” pasta gratin with ham, onions and cheese. Hardly any flavor, soggy ham, white onions that added nothing to the dish, and where France’s beef had a little too much salt, this had way too little. I was disappointed, and probably won’t be going back to the booth when I return.
My knowledge of anything to do with Belgium is severely limited, but the menu looked pretty good. More beer-braised beef (this seems to be everyone’s choice of dish no matter what country) waffles, and beer. Having already had enough sugar, I wanted to try the beef because the smoked Gouda mashed potatoes sounded pretty good.
This one gave me mixed feelings. The beef was meh. Dry and hard. The gravy and potatoes I thoroughly enjoyed, even though I’m not sure I tasted much smoked Gouda. The waffles looked really good and the people I shared a table with seemed to enjoy them. I may give Belgium another chance when I go back because I feel like it has more to offer than what I tried.
My people. Most of my ancestors came from Ireland. I love Ireland, and the food in Dublin was some of the best I’ve ever had (which surprised me because I never thought of decadent food when I thought of Ireland).
So the booth: my sister wanted to get the Guinness and Baileys shake but they were out so we settled for the “Warm Chocolate Pudding” with Irish cream liqueur custard. DELICIOUS. Almost like a warm, half-baked brownie drizzled in liqueury sweetness. Sure, I’d eaten my weight in sugar with the milkshake and margarita, but this was totally worth it and a great way to end the day. I will certainly be returning to the Ireland booth to try the sausage and the stout dip, and get another chocolate pudding (and I’m sure my sister will want to get her shake).
Even though some of the countries were a bust in terms of the food we ate, we still had a really fun time and can’t wait to go back and try the other booths we missed and then return to the good ones!
Stay tuned for “Epcot’s Food and Wine Festival: Take 2” sometime later in the fall!