Epcot’s Food and Wine Fesitval: Partake with extreme prejudice
I made it back from Augusta, GA without any further incidents from my apparent curse, so apparently my plea to the town’s patron saint was heard and answered. I returned to find the first hints of Florida’s gloriously beautiful fall/winter weather had descended, so we immediately made plans to attended the Food and Wine Festival at Epcot Sunday. Before I get to my review that I am writing on a well deserved day off, a quick word about our very successful fundraiser held on Saturday for the National MS Society. We pledged our proceeds from Avalon Park’s community yard sale towards my participation in Bike MS: The Citrus Tour 2012 and raised $200 hawking our old junk and too small kids clothes. That donation pushed me over the halfway mark towards my goal of $2500! Very excited about that and looking forward to getting back out on the bike consistently now that my recent travel is complete. As always, your donations and continued support are much appreciated!
On to the Food and Wine review. The Lo family are F & W veterans, so let me share with you our 5 tips for a successful trip:
- Get to the park early (around 10/10:30) on a Sunday before the festival kicks off for the day. This reduces the crowds you will be fighting, as most people roll in later in the afternoon and stay through the evening.
- Buy gift cards in the festival welcome center beforehand. This will save you time, keep you from fumbling with cash or credit/debit cards, and let’s you control how much you are going to spend. The expense can add up quickly once you start sampling if you are not careful. Plus, you may randomly see some of the personalities that are there for the festival. Mrs. Lo and one of my sons (somewhat concernedly) were very excited to see somebody named Vern Yip.
- Plan ahead on your first lap around the park, identify those things that you really want to try and head straight for them. If you are there right at 11 and skip the congestion at the beginning of the route you’ll find you have many of the booths in the back virtually to yourself.
- Follow the opposite route from the map numbering. For whatever reason, most people seem to follow the numbering on the festival maps and walk clockwise around the park starting near Mexico. Walk counterclockwise (starting near Canada) and you won’t get caught up in early congestion.
- Make a beeline for Ireland and get the Fisherman’s pie (with lobster and scallops). And then get some more. You will not be sorry.
Tip number 5 brings me to our first stop, Ireland (while Canada is really good, especially the soup, they have the same stuff every year and the line tends to be long since it is near the front, so we always jump to Ireland as our first stop) for a steaming hot portion of my favorite dish there, paired of course with a fine Guinness. Think of it as joy and happiness, washed down with a glass of ecstasy.
Right next to Ireland is probably the best all around stop, France. The escargot is an old favorite (yes, they are snails and they are awesome), but we were both pretty impressed with the coq au vin, and dubbed it best new entry into the F & W rotation. Top that off with a Kir Royale (champagne and pomegranate kir) and you’ve got yourself some good eating. And that’s not even mentioning the chocolate creme brulee. France, you do yourself proud.
Continuing around the circle, we pushed forward to Italy and Germany, where the kids got a dish of ravioli and a strudel, while mom and dad shared some goulash, a cannoli, glass of prosecco, and a German pilsner. All good, but it made for kind of a schizophrenic photo op.
At this point is was time to sit down in the shade on a picnic table, enjoy the weather, and sample of fine German beer. There is a German “beer walk” where you can order individual portions of 6 different German brews of varying sizes. We opted for the 2 flights that gave you a small sample of each for $8 and were happy with that choice. The only selection that neither one of us cared for was the smoked wheat beer.
After that break, we headed towards China and Australia (unfortunately no pics of those) where the kids got and really enjoyed the black pepper shrimp and chicken skewers, while I snuck off to Australia and devoured an excellent lamp chop out of sight of my 7 year old son, who has recently taken a militant “don’t eat cuddly animals” stand. I respect his conviction, but my love for a medium rare piece of lamb is borderline obscene, so I chose to get my fix in private and avoid his wrath. I’ll live with the guilt.
It was getting near 3:00 at this point and we had sampled most everything that we truly wanted to, so we quit while we were ahead and decided to leave (most important lesson you learn as a parent, know when to get out while the getting is good.) We took a quick stop on the way out to buy some Christmas presents (the festival shops are good for that if you have relatives/friends who like to cook), cool off in the Spaceship Earth ride, and stop and look at a cranberry bog, which the kids found endlessly fascinating.
All in all another really fun visit to our favorite event of the year at Disney. Mrs. Lo and I will probably try to go back one evening without the kids in tow and attend some of the demonstrations and special events (but not the “Eat to the Beat Concert Series” – not sure if I could handle eating and listening to Taylor Dane), but if this was our only time attending this year we hit most everything that we wanted and enjoyed it.
Have you been to the Food and Wine Festival before? What did you think?