Epcot Food & Wine 2012: First Tastes, First Thoughts… Part One

October 6, 2012

This past weekend marked the opening of the 2012 Epcot International Food & Wine Festival, and Dedicated Readers won’t be shocked that Miss Bonnie & I were there for the festivities…

Busy lines early on at the Brewer’s Collection

and as usual, I want to give you a quick overview and my first thoughts on this year’s festival… there was a ton going on, so let’s get started!

The 2013 Disneyworld Marathon Weekend Medals… these will be mine, all mine… Precious… my precious…

The Tower of Terror 10 Mile Race was being held this weekend (and no, we did not participate in this one… it started way too late for a couple of early-risers), so we began the weekend by checking out the race expo.

Race Expo Specialty Beverage and Snack Menu

Despite this race not being food and wine themed (the Wine and Dine Half-Marathon has been moved to the last weekend of the festival this year), you could still get your drink on while shopping for socks and gels!

From there we headed to enter Epcot at the International Gateway…

the lines to get in here on Friday evening were already long, but moved quickly, and we chatted with some other guests and met a nice guy whose shirt I coveted…

The greatest shirt, ever!

I warned hm not to drink too much that evening, for if I found him a bit overly inebriated, I’d find some way to get that shirt off his back…

As we made our way around the lagoon to sample our first items, we were greeted by a gorgeous sky.

A watermelon patch graces the area at the end of the walkway between Future World and World Showcase.

The Watermelon Patch

Sponsored (not surprisingly) by the National Watermelon Promotion Board, the patch features some fun-melon-facts…

Some of the Watermelon Patch signs

it will be fun to see how the watermelons might grow and develop over the course of the festival.

We decided to head to the Australia booth to start our dining. As the sun continued to lower in the sky we saw another beautiful view across the water.

The lamb dish in Australia is always a favorite – each year they mix up the sauce and/or side a bit, but it’s always among the best items served, and this year was no exception…

Grilled Lamb with Mint Pesto and Potato Crunchies along with a glass of a red wine blend from Rosemount Estate

the tender lamb was served atop a bit of mint pesto sauce and topped with “Potato Crunchies” (which are simply crushed salt & vinegar potato chips) – as Miss Bonnie put it: “sheer genius”! The flavor of the chips helps cut the fattiness from the meat, and adds a bit of textural fun. This was the only item we had twice during the weekend, delaying sampling some other new dishes until another visit to get to have another nosh of meaty lamby goodness!

With a a little bit of food now on our bellies, we headed to check out the “Discover the Cranberry” Bog, which (to me at least) was a surprisingly bit hit at the festival last year.

The Fabulous Deb Wills of allears.net

We had heard that a few select media types (yours truly not being that select) would be allowing to roam in the bog and try some cranberry-inspired foods and beverages.

Shelley Caran and Shalon Given of onthegoinMCO.com

We were admittedly quite jealous of seeing so many of our friends and acquaintances tromping around in waders among the little floating fruits!

Wait for it… wait for it…

Flying Cranberries!

Orlando-based food blogger (and all-around-cool-guy) Julius Mayo Jr. recounts his time in the bog at droolius.com.

Now needing some more consumables to assuage our jealousy, we headed towards always-reliable Mexico.

Tequila Flight Selection at the Mexico Kiosk

This year in addition to the usual taco/cervesa/margarita options Mexico is also offering a tequila shot flight.

Taco de Filete, Crispy Shrimp Taco and Lime-Strawberry Margarita

The savory choices are similar to the past couple of years: a beef taco with a nicely spicy sauce and a crispy shrimp taco with a seasoned mayo topping. Both are served on a flour tortilla and were quite good, even if a bit pricey ($5.50 and $5.25 respectively) for the portion size. The beef could have been a bit more tender, but the flavor was good and more spicy that I would have expected (which I like). The Lime-Strawberry Margarita was much better than either of us expected. We both agreed we’d order it again and at $7.75 it is at a pretty reasonable price and size compared to other adult drink options around the park.

Mung Bean Pancake with Shrimp and Kimchi Sauce in South Korea

We continued to wander and came to South Korea where I had to sample the new food addition there for this year, the Mung Bean Pancake.

Inside the pancake…

I really liked this new addition, it was flavorful and moderately spicy from the kimchi-flavored sauce and different from the norm in being a savory pancake. Even Miss Bonnie enjoyed the one bite that I allowed her to sample.

After Korea, Miss Bonnie was on a mission…

a mission for Cheese!

Trio of Artisan Cheeses

Top-flight selections of cheeses have been served at most of the better sit-down restaurants around property in the past few years and (quite deservedly) have become very popular among diners. Likewise we’ve been offered great plates of cultured goodness at the Cheese booth at Food and Wine in the recent years.

This year’s offering includes (from left to right in the pic above): Beecher’s Flagship Reserve Cheddar, Rogue River Creamery Echo Mountain Blue and La Bonne Vie Goat Brie. I’m a big fan of the Beecher’s products, and this Reserve Flagship is fantastic. The Blue from Rogue (justifiably well known for their blues) is intense and powerful – this is not your mamas blue… The Goat Brie we actually found a bit lacking, perhaps it’s more subtle flavor was overshadowed by it’s stronger platemates – I’d definitely suggest you try this one first. The cheeses come with suggested accompaniments – be sure to try them – if you’ve never paired a strong blue with a bit of sweet honey or fruit you really don’t know what you’re missing…

As we headed towards Poland, we made a quick stop in Germany to visit my favorite miniature European village…

Part of the village in the model railroad layout in Epcot’s Germany pavilion

where their own version of the Food and Wine Festival was well under way, including their own cranberry bog!

From the looks of thinks, some of the villagers have already had their limit…

Miss Bonnie wanted to try the Zapiekanki – the adorned cheese bread in Poland (are you seeing a Miss Bonnie cheese theme here?).

Zapiekanki

The thick bread is topped with mushrooms, caramelized onions and cheese and then adorned with a drizzling of seasoned ketchup.

Zapiekanki in profile

Overall this was quite nice, but Bonnie wasn’t fond of the ketchup topping – we’ll try this again sometime and have them omit it to see how it fares.

It was getting late, and Miss Bonnie was pretty full, but I still needed just one more thing…

so we made our way to my favorite pavilion in World Showcase,  Japan, to sample one of the new items there.

Before queuing up at the kiosk, I made my way over to the Kabuki Cafe to check the menu (as has become a habit of mine in the past year) on the off chance that there had been any recent changes… and look at what I found…

Temporary menu at the Kabuki Cafe in the Japan pavilion

a laminated temporary menu featuring four savory items! Dedicated Readers may recall the history of this venue (along with the opening of the Katsura Grill and Gardens area) – the original menu posted before the actual opening featured several hot and savory items (including Wafu pork ribs and Karaage, the Japanese version of  fried chicken) only to have the menu change and those items disappear just days later when they actually started serving (for details go and read, or re-read, Land of the Rising Construction Walls…). I was told these items were being served only on weekends, and only during the Food and Wine Festival.

Display case with the temporary menu items at the Kabuki Cafe

I was later to learn that apparently Sunday isn’t included in “the weekend” as we tried to sample the bento box on that day… so it will be interesting to see if any savory items wind up making their way onto the permanent menu here… and yes, I’ll make a point of trying to get to sample these on the proper “weekend” days…

Menu at the Japan kiosk

After this minor menu revelation, I made my way to get in line at Japan, and came away with the Sukiyaki Beef Pan.

Sukiyaki Beef Pan

The thinly sliced rib eye is tender and yummy and topped with a sweet teriyaki sauce. The flavors are good, but the bun gets soggy quickly… so if it had been toasted this item might have fared a bit better, or if it had just been served atop a bit of rice I’d probably had been happier… didn’t dislike it by any means (and I’ll likely try it again), but it just wasn’t my favorite thing of the day…

This was our end of the eating at the first day of the 2012 Epcot International Food and Wine Festival, so let’s pause here and we’ll pick up again (very) soon with the rest of the weekend and some initial overall thoughts on this year’s festival…

Now back to the kitchen… see you back here soon!

11 Responses to “Epcot Food & Wine 2012: First Tastes, First Thoughts… Part One”


  1. I am getting familiar with that famous Orlando blogging crowd and was quite jealous of their bog adventures as well, so I feel your pain! 🙂

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  2. […] gives us his views of from the Festival at Eating (and Drinking) around the […]

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  3. Sebastian A. Says:

    Every year, I keep hearing a lot about the Epcot International Food & Wine festival, but I´ve never been there. And looking at your pictures I have to say with regret – I should have been there. I hope you had lot of fun, because your pictures definitely proved it was a great event. All that food and wine. And I have to admit, I would be tempted to steal that shirt too. Nothing better than attending a wine and food festival in such fitting shirt.

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  4. […] we made our way to the first weekend of the 2012 Epcot International Food and Wine Festival, and there we sampled a pretty-darn-good margarita at the Mexico kiosk… Crispy Shrimp Taco, […]

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  5. Nice recap! I missed the Watermelon patch, so I have to check it out next trip. I may have to try that Sukiyaki Beef Pan too, I agree it may be better on rice lol, we’ll see. Looking forward to seeing more from Epcot F&W from you! p.s. Thanks for sharing link and I wish we could all get in the bog together. I have no idea how they found me, it my first Disney event invitation & was surprised…

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  6. […] few days ago I gave you the highlights of our first day at this year’s Epcot International Food & Wine Festival, so now let’s look at the […]

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  7. […] Wine Festival opened – I gave you some first thoughts in (the appropriately named) posts Epcot Food & Wine 2012: First Tastes, First Thoughts… Part One and Epcot Food & Wine 2012: First Tastes, First Thoughts… […]

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  8. […] can see many more details and my thoughts on the first weekend of the festival in the posts Epcot Food & Wine 2012: First Tastes, First Thoughts… Part One and the cleverly named Epcot Food & Wine 2012: First Tastes, First Thoughts… Part […]

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  9. […] Last year the bog hosted a media event on the first Friday of the festival with several well-known Disney bloggers, pod casters, Orlando-area food bloggers and members of the traditional media donning waders and getting their chance to play in the bog (you can see some pics, etc from the bog that year in the post Epcot Food & Wine 2012: First Tastes, First Thoughts… Part One). […]

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