Exploring the International Food and Wine Festival the Foodie Way!

Desserts and Spaceship Earth

The Orlando Sentinel reports that traversing the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival really feels like a trip around the world if you’re trying to visit all 30 marketplaces geared to a country, region or theme.

I’ve mapped out a few dining options that won’t take you quite “around the world” — but will fill some other needs, whether you’re looking to try some new drinks, celebrate date night or find lunch for your kids. The 62-day festival runs through Nov. 14. Regular theme-park admission is required and food and drink cost extra (usually $4-$8 per item).

Beer crawl

Start your meal with Florida brews from the Craft Beers marketplace, which is on the side walkway from Future World East to the World Showcase. Try the saucy fried piggy “wings” (actually pork shanks) that are doused in a Korean barbecue sauce. It’s bar food — but you won’t find it just anywhere.

Down the wings with some beer, of course! 3 Daughters Bimini Twist IPA from St. Petersburg is refreshing with its citrus notes. Looking for something less hoppy? Try Two Henrys Blueberry Vanilla American Wheat Ale from Plant City. Beer flights also are available at this booth.

You’re going to want some snacks on the way to German beers at the Brewer’s Collection (head east along the showcase), so grab a shrimp taco at Mexico, sichuan spicy chicken at China and/or buttered chicken at Africa.

Beer Mug

At the Brewer’s Collection, grab the Hacker-Pschorr Hefe Weisse, a citrusy Hefeweizen, before heading to the Germany marketplace next door for a bratwurst in a hard roll (a change that makes the dish more authentic).

Head to the final marketplace (at least according to my itinerary) and visit Hops & Barley for American brews.

Along with a Samuel Adams Rebel Grapefruit IPA, Anchor Brewing Liberty Ale or Dogfish Head Chicory Stout, chow down on a New England lobster roll and the indulgent smoked beef brisket and pimento cheese on griddled garlic toast.

Date night

This route begins in the back of World Showcase. I would try to time your date night to end with the IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth fireworks display, which takes place at 9 p.m.

Mosey on over to the Morocco marketplace to begin your date with some more exotic flavors such as the kefta pocket stuffed with seasoned ground beef or the spicy hummus fries. You also can grab a Moroccan sangria or white wine.

Finish off the appetizer portion of your date with cheese bread or crispy pork belly from Brazil. Dinner can be escondidinho de carne, a filling meat pie with mashed yucca at Brazil, or beer-braised beef with smoked gouda mashed potatoes from Belgium.

Couple at Buffet

If you’re ready for dessert, pick a Belgian waffle (either the chocolate or fruit-topped variety) at Belgium before starting to make your way along the showcase to Canada.

Grab a drink before the fireworks start. You’ll find champagne at the France marketplace, a nonalcoholic Twinings pumpkin chai tea and caramel shake in Ireland, a stout or a citrus thistle cocktail featuring Hendrick’s gin in Scotland or a lager in Canada.

Look up for IllumiNations! You’ll find some great views from the elevated areas in Canada.

Family friendly

As a former picky eater and a lifelong theme-park buff, I’ve tailored this walkabout to kid-friendly eats near Epcot attractions.

Snag peanut butter and white chocolate mousse at The Chew Collective, found along a separate walkway from Future World West to the World Showcase, before or after hopping onto the nearby Journey Into Imagination with Figment.

Hike over to Desserts and Champagne for soda floats (adult versions are available, too). Other snacks in the Showcase Plaza section include beef empanadas from Patagonia, pork sliders from Hawai’i and loaded mac and cheese in the Farm Fresh stand.

Head to Test Track if you have some adrenaline junkies in your group. After the ride, stop by Craft Beers for pimento cheese dip with pretzel crisps.

Family with Food Boats

Order lamington, a yellow cake dipped in chocolate and shredded coconut, at Australia or a lamb meatball at New Zealand before heading to Mexico for the Gran Fiesta Tour in the Mexico pavilion. Grab some chocolate flan from the Mexico kiosk and head to Frozen Ever After in Norway.

Other possible kid favorites on your way to Japan include chicken pot stickers in China, schinkennudeln (a pasta with ham and cheese) in Germany, kielbasa and potato pierogis in Poland, cannolis in Italy and/or carrot cake at Hops & Barley.

In Japan, visit the Mitsukoshi Department Store for Japanese snacks, housewares, toys and more. The whole family should be entertained.

Veggie fix

If meat is not on your menu, I have an itinerary just for you.

The Chew Collective, near the front of World Showcase, is your first stop for the ricotta and zucchini ravioli. The nearby Greenhouse Guru offers an heirloom tomato salad with goat cheese, aged balsamic vinegar, and basil.

If you need something sweet, I suggest the quesito, a puff pastry with sweetened cream cheese and guava sauce, at the new Islands of the Caribbean booth.


Continue down the walkway to World Showcase. Head right for the Greece booth for loaded nachos, in which meatless sausage crumbles, vegetables and vegan tzatziki are sprinkled onto pita chips. This dish was one of the biggest surprises during a media preview.

Backtrack to the showcase plaza’s Farm Fresh marketplace for a pickled beet salad with herbed goat cheese, Minus 8 Vinaigrette and toasted walnuts.

You’ll have a bit of a walk to South Korea, which is near the China pavilion. Hydrate along the way with a glass of wine in New Zealand or Australia, a margarita in Mexico, or mango bubble tea in China.

At South Korea, try the vegan Korean barbecue, made with Gardein beefless tips and steamed rice and cucumber kimchi.

Wine walk

Toast the festival with a glass of the festival chardonnay or cabernet sauvignon paired with the grilled beef skewer at The Chew Collective.

Head down that side walkway from Future World West to the World Showcase for two other new marketplaces.

At the Wine and Dine Studio, you’ll find Californian wines along with dishes inspired by the Golden State. I’m a fan of the buttery seared scallop, but you’ll also find artisan cheese to pair with the wines — including actor Kurt Russell’s GoGi “Tiger.”

If you think chocolate goes better with wine, you’re in luck: The new Chocolate Studio is nearby with its own drink and food selection. The Ghirardelli chocolate raspberry torte is a decadent treat, but it’s fun to watch the liquid nitro chocolate-almond truffle be assembled.

Wine Bottle Glasses

Once you’re finished enjoying this “oasis,” set your sights on France and walk along the west side of the World Showcase. Along the way, munch on a spanakopita at Greece, Neige Premiere Apple Ice Wine and cheddar cheese soup from Canada, and/or Bunratty Meade Honey Wine and a cheese plate from Ireland.

By now, you’ll likely be ready to sit and enjoy the goal of your hike: France. Pick a favorite type of wine (or try a new one) and a bite. Those with a sweet tooth should choose the caramel and chocolate creme brulee, while escargot is a different savory nibble.

If you’re still raring to go, trek to Italy for some chianti along with baked ziti and chicken parmigiana.

via Orlando Sentinel



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