We are currently in the midst of Epcot’s 2019 International Food & Wine Festival and we had the pleasure of visiting Epcot in early September to check out a few of the offerings. Normally, we plan far in advance, taking a look at menus and carefully plotting out which items we know we would like to try.
You can check out our tips to prepare for the Food & Wine Festival here.
This year, however, we were not as successful as we had hoped at crossing things off our list of dishes. Each time we passed a new festival booth, we would get side-tracked into weighing the options, even if the booth wasn’t on our original list. There’s never enough time to try it all (and not enough money). Plus, the extreme heat left us feeling less inclined to stuff ourselves full of delectable morsels. We can typically sample a larger number of dishes when we’re not sweating profusely during the day.
We did however try a few items which we are happy to report on below to help you make wise and delicious decisions at this year’s Food & Wine Festival.
Fondue Savoyarde: Fondue of Imported Cheeses and Chardonnay served with Croutons – $5.25 USD
We are big fans of the France pavilion and the food here. This booth was on our must-do list simply because we’ve always had such delicious dishes here and we’ve never been disappointed. They’ve always had a strong booth in the Epcot festivals, but this year we’re saddened to say, that wasn’t the case.
We have seen the France booth offer a beef dish pretty much every year. This year, the Boeuf Braisé à la Bordelaise made an appearance, but we opted to try something different. Not feeling up to the Croissant aux Escargots in the middle of a hot day (who wants snails in the sun?), we opted for the fondue. I know what you’re thinking, how can they mess up melted cheese?
The fondue itself was fine and more or less what we expected in flavour. Very rich, but also accessible taste-wise. Maybe slightly underwhelming, but overall it was the portion size and execution that we found lacking. The bowl of fondue was served with three small breadsticks. The amount of fondue greatly outweighed the ability of the breadsticks. We loaded the bread up with as much fondue as we could but still had at least half of the fondue left. It would have been better to have a smaller serving of fondue, or larger bread. We felt wasteful. I considered getting a spoon and eating it like soup, which I’m still not convinced was a totally bad or ridiculous idea, but we did end up throwing the rest of the fondue out. It was a real shame.
Ryan summed it up when he said ‘this one’s a dud’. It wasn’t bad tasting, but nothing about it was stand-out and the execution made it a poor experience and bad value.
It’s hurts us a little to report a negative experience at France, but overall we’ve had good experiences so we won’t write-it off completely.
Roasted Lamb Chop with Sweet Potato Purée, Bush Berry Pea Salad and Pistachio-Pomegranate Gremolata – $7.75 USD
Ryan was really interested in this dish. I’m not into lamb, but I did thoroughly enjoy the sweet potato puree and the bush berry pea salad was delicious, adding some freshness to the dish.
The presentation was lovely and very appealing. Overall a really strong dish at the festival with lots of textures that worked very well together. Ryan said the lamb was a perfect portion and extremely tasty. A couple of years ago we tried the Lambington Cake at this booth (no longer available) and found it to be mediocre. It was fine, but not worth a snack credit or purchase at the festival when there are so many other and better desserts and dishes.
This dish really redeemed the Australia booth for us.
Cheese Bread – Pao de Queijo $4.50 USD
This is one of those items we can’t pass up at the Food & Wine Festival. It’s simple, but it’s a favourite and an item we would regret not getting.
The consistency and temperature were perfect. These warm, cheesy little bread balls are so satisfying. They are gluten free and made mostly from starches so the texture may not appeal to everyone, but we recommend giving it a whirl. This is one spot where melted cheese was done so right at the festival.
There are two pieces per order, perfect to share…or not, if you’re feeling a particular need for cheese! It’s a festival classic and we hope it keeps popping up on the menu year after year.
The Cheese Studio
Maple Bourbon Cheesecake with Maple Bourbon Cream, Caramel and Pecan Crunch – $4.50 USD
The Maple Bourbon Cheesecake is a true gem of the festival. We would easily get this again and again and we highly recommend you put this on your must-do Food & Wine Festival list.
The cheesecake has a delicate sweetness and a surprisingly light texture…not too rich at all. The pecans are a great addition giving it some crunch and balancing out the presence of the maple and bourbon. Nuts and maple are such a wonderful combo and it works so well here.
Maybe we loved this cake so much because we feel a national obligation to love all things maple, but we still feel confident in strongly recommending the Maple Bourbon Cheesecake.
Beer-braised Beef Served with Smoked Gouda Mashed Potatoes $5.50 USD
I was really excited for this dish. I put it on my list because the terms beer-braised and smoked gouda got my attention. Unfortunately, the dish fell just a little flat for me. It’s basically a beef stew and it’s not bad by any means, but there wasn’t anything standout about it. I was really hoping the gouda mashed potatoes would be stand-out, but it wasn’t enough to make this a must-try dish.
This plate pretty much helped me make the decision to skip any dishes that sound like beef stew with potatoes because they tend to be mediocre and there are far more exciting items I’d rather spend my money on at the festival. So again, nothing wrong here, but when all the other options are considered this one is a little lack-lustre and less appealing.
Cheddar Cheese Soup $5.25 USD and the Le Cellier Wild Mushroom Filet Mignon $8.25 USD
We’ve said it before and we will say it again, we’re not sure what is Canadian about the cheddar cheese soup, but we really enjoy it and it makes us proud to be Canadian! My favourite is the pretzel roll that comes on the side. This booth is the perfect opportunity to try the infamous soup without having to make a reservation or pay the inevitably large bill at Le Cellier (though we do enjoy eating there). This is a great savoury option at the festival and if you haven’t had it, you should add it to your list.
The Le Cellier Wild Mushroom Beef Fillet Mignon with Truffle Butter Sauce was surprisingly good. I say surprisingly because I’m not a huge steak person and I don’t really care for mushrooms (but truffles are another story). This is a really solid dish at the festival and we don’t think you can go wrong here. Except it is a little pricey at $8.25 USD. However, that makes it a great Disney Dining Plan snack credit option.
The steak, combined with the truffle butter, pairs together really nicely. As a snack credit, this gets a big thumbs up. Paying out of pocket, just make sure you’ve had a look at the lesser expensive options in the passport first.
Both items here seem to have wide appeal. Steak and cheese are pretty safe bets, so we think Canada is a good pick when visiting the festival.
Appleseed Orchard Bar
Collective Arts Brewing Cherry Apple Hard Cider $4.50 USD
Collective Arts is a local brewery to us. It’s located in our hometown of Hamilton Ontario, so it pains us to say we just didn’t enjoy the Cherry Apple Hard Cider. Ryan is a huge cider fan and I also enjoy a dry crisp cider, or a sweet one really. Ontario, which is home to many apple orchards, has so many better ciders to offer than this one. Collective Arts does beer better than cider in our opinion. The cherry overpowers the apple and it just didn’t make me want more. If this had been a full serving, I’m not sure I would have made it through it. There are much better cider and drink options at the festival.
Tropical Mimosa with Sparkling Wine, Passion Fruit, Orange, and Guava Juices – $6 USD
Key Lime Mimosa with Key Lime Sparkling Wine and Cranberry Juice – $6 USD
Blood Orange Mimosa with Sparkling Wine and Blood Orange Juice – $6 USD
Mimosa Flight – $13 USD
I am a huge key lime fan so when I saw that Shimmering Sips had a key lime mimosa I was all over it. But when Ryan saw there was a mimosa flight, the clouds parted and the sun shined upon us at the booth…we were sold. We like being able to try as many different dishes or items as we can so tasting flights are the perfect way to do this when they’re available. They’re also good for those of us who have a tendency to be a tad indecisive.
I enjoyed this Mimosa Flight so much more than I expected to. I was especially surprised at how much I enjoyed the tropical mimosa. It was the thicker juice of the three and full of sweet tropical fruit flavours…it was practically like a nectar. It was definitely the sweetest of the three and I fell in love with it…just a little bit.
The Blood Orange one was also highly enjoyable for both of us. I love anything citrus and Ryan loves blood oranges, so it was another hit with us. Less sweet than the tropical mimosa but more in-line with a classic mimosa, with a more exciting twist.
The Key lime mimosa was the lightest of the three and probably the most refreshing. A perfect answer to the intense Florida heat. It definitely lived up to expectations for me and the key lime growl in my stomach was satisfied.
Each mimosa was so delicious and it was the first thing we tried at the festival this year. It was the perfect way to kick off the festival. To be honest, at $13 USD, we could have picked up a flight every time we passed the booth had we not been side-tracked in our quest to try as much as we could in the festival.
Our Top Picks
Overall we had a great time at the Food & Wine Festival this year. The Maple Bourbon Cheesecake and the Mimosa Flights were definitely standouts. Either one (or both) would make a great addition to anyone’s must-try list. Circle them in your Festival Passport, write them out on your hand…just make sure you give them a try!
Having written about them, and after combing through our pictures, I just might indulge in them again in a couple of weeks when I head back to the festival for round 2.
Stay tuned for updates to this list as we add more Food & Wine reviews later in October!