Compare and contrast…

September 17, 2009

Its now 8 days and counting to the official opening of the 2009 Epcot Food & Wine Festival! Several weeks ago I got the Festival Guide for his year in the mail, and on a quick perusal it looked as if there is going to be a lot of new items at the kiosks this year (yeah!).

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For those of you who have never had the pleasure of attending Food & Wine, there are many events (most with an extra, and some exorbitant, charge) such as special dinners, wine tastings, cooking classes, etc., etc., during the weeks it runs. But for many people, myself included, the best part of the festival is the food (and beverage!) kiosks that are placed around the World Showcase. There are usually around 25- 30 of these booths, most representing the foods of a specific geographical local (they used to be just listed as a country, say Japan, but starting last year specific cities were added, so now it’s Tokyo, Japan…). Each country in Epcot always has it’s own kiosk, and several others are pretty much “regulars” (like Australia and Poland). Each year there are two or three that are new, replacing some from the prior year. Some are a bit more specific (dedicated to cheese or champagne or maybe Florida seafood, etc.). Small appetizer sized portions are served – there are usually two or three savory selections (last year, most had been reduced to two, this year it looks as if we’re back to getting three at most booths), one or two sweets, and regional wines and/or beers. And on occasion you may even find a special non-alcoholic drink (as if anyone would really care!) – a couple of years ago Peru was featured – much to my surprise they had Inca Cola – the soft drink that is as ubiquitous there as Coke is here… the funny thing is that Inca Cola isn’t a cola drink (at least as we know it), but something more like Mountain Dew. Having spent a week on the Peruvian Amazon many years ago, I had to try the Inca Cola to see if it was as nasty as I recalled… it was…

At any rate, grazing your way through the World Showcase is the heart of the festival, at least in my opinion (which, of course, is the only opinion that counts here)… and yes, if there is any question, you do pay for the food per serving, it is not included in your admission fee. Most items are in the $3.00 to $4.00 range. I’ve found most of the food to be good to very good, some items average or even disappointing, and several actually outstanding. Of course the beauty of the whole thing is that if you don’t care for something, you haven’t invested a lot of time or money into it, and you can just move on a few yards to the next selection!

Now to the “Compare and Contrast” part… I took the guides for last year and this and compared the items offered to see just how many new choices we would have (I only counted the actual food items, not beverages – after a few of the beverages we won’t know the difference anyway…). From the descriptions, I counted an astounding thirty-five new food items! In addition, there are seven items that seem similar to the previous year, but are different enough (say a new side/garnish, or slightly different sauce) that they might qualify as a “new” item, and there were a couple that could also fall into this category, but was difficult to tell exactly from the description if the change will actually be in the food or just the semantics… needless to say, I’m very excited about the offerings this year… I am literally counting the minutes! I’ll be spending a lot of time at Food & Wine this year and if you can’t make it, I hope you’ll enjoy consuming vicariously through me, because I’m sure there will be a lot of Food & Wine talk going on here over the next few weeks!

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