The 35 Best Things to Eat And Drink at The 2017 Epcot Food & Wine Festival
You're never short on things to eat and drink at Epcot's World Showcase—from pizza and wine in Italy to curry in Japan to Norway's famous pastries, it can take multiple visits to come to grips with the offerings at this never-ending World's Fair of sorts that's delighted visitors for 35 years now.
But wait, there's more—each fall, Epcot welcomes its International Food & Wine Festival, which features gala events, lots of live music, chef demos, talks, classes and, of utmost importance to the visitor, dozens of temporary mini-pavilions, many from countries and regions that are otherwise not represented within the Showcase.
The fun kicked off in late August and goes until November 13—if you haven't been and are planning to go eat, first know that you'll need a strategy. Not even the most adventurous eater could do justice to what's here in a week, never mind a day. (Also, according to the Orlando Sentinel, to eat one of everything at this year's festival would cost nearly $600.)
Luckily, we've combed through this year's expanded offerings to find the very best eats and drinks—here, we present our list of musts for 2017.
#35 Florida Beers Craft Beers
If you haven't had time to get around to trying all the fascinating brews coming out of the Sunshine State right now, save yourself a lot of driving and just come here—from Sarasota's JDub's to Tampa's Cigar City, there's a lot to choose from. Order up a couple of tastes and get relaxed.
#34 Seared Scallops Coastal Eats
At a new, seafood-focused pavilion that also serves Oregon wines, this proper dish features diminutive, seared scallops on top of a succotash made with giant butterbeans and roasted corn, doused in a chipotle butter sauce. Could see this on a real restaurant menu. Could also see it with more scallops.
#33 Roasted Beet Salad Farm Fresh
Salad, at a food festival? At one this extensive, eventually, you're going to want something healthy, and here's the thing that you're looking for. Quality greens, beets, feta (an interesting choice, but it works), toasted walnuts and vinaigrette. It's surprisingly good. Good value, too.
#32 Roasted Salmon Active Eats
Farmed fish—no bueno, right? Verlasso, a salmon farming company in Chile's remote Patagonia region, is a little different. A collaborator with the Monterey Bay Aquarium on sustainability issues, their product earned a "Good Alternative" designation through the aquarium's respected Seafood Watch program. Try a nice hunk of it here, served with a quinoa salad and doused in a brilliant chimichurri made with arugula.
#31 Charcuterie Cone Spain
After a day of culinary insanity, the simplicity (and portability) of this terrific snack of imported Spanish meat, cheese and olives, splashed with a bit of herb vinaigrette, can be oddly satisfying.
#30 New England Lobster Roll Hops & Barley
There's nothing New England about this almost fraudulent offering, which is only a lobster roll insofar as there is a roll, piled high with lobster—but who's going to argue against that? Not us.
#29 Loaded Mac Active Eats
Sharp with cheddar and smoky with Nueske's pepper bacon, this upgrade of everybody's basic fave comes topped with scallions and is supremely delicious.
#28 Redstone Meadery Black Raspberry Mead Earth Eats
Surprisingly, it's not the only mead available at the festival—mead is going mainstream, will somebody break it to the fans—but this one, from Colorado, is the best one. Sessionable, 8 percent alcohol, nice and crisp for a hot day.
#27 Bubble Tea China
Mango, Assam Black, milk, pearls. Boom—your new favorite Disney World walking-around beverage. (Don't worry, once the festival is over, you can always get it at the Joy of Tea kiosk, which operates year-round next to the main China pavilion.)
#26 Schinkennudeln Germany
Figures Germany has a beer garden, but you won't want to head in without an empty stomach, so grab a hunk of what's essentially baked macaroni and cheese, but with ham. It's one of the most basic dishes on this list, but it's also delicious.
#25 SPAM Hash Hawai'i
It's not a country, but why shouldn't the Aloha State have its own pavilion? This absolutely delicious (if totally trashy) dish calls upon that notably authentic Hawaiian ingredient—SPAM—to create a tasty, teriyaki hash drizzled with spicy mayo.
#24 Lamington Cake Australia
It's as Australian as Vegemite, but it's not Vegemite, so that's a great place to start—this wonderfully classic dessert is just sponge cake coated in chocolate and rolled around in shredded coconut. You might want more than one piece, particularly when you see how small it is.
#23 Lidio Carraro Dádivas Chardonnay Brazil
Hailing from the Serra Gaúcha, or Gaucho Highlands region of Brazil's southernmost state, this crowdpleasing Chardonnay from one of the country's top producers is a great gateway to an underappreciated wine genre.
#22 Belgian Waffles Belgium
Obviously, right? They're too small, but they are being made right there, in front of you, and you can get them topped with either chocolate ganache and whipped cream, or a nice berry compote (and also whipped cream.) Kind of hard to say no.
#21 Savory Cheese Tart Cheese Studio
Skip past all the other offerings at this Boursin-sponsored pavilion and crab one of these simple and tasty tarts. Good crust, well-baked, lots of herbs, cheese and caramelized onions. There's a little garnish of arugula drizzled with balsamic on top. Very nice.
#20 Apple Strudel Germany
A good slice of a competently-executed classic, served with a little puddle of vanilla sauce to mop up. One of the least glamorous desserts, but for sure one of the nicest.
#19 Cheddar Stout Dip Ireland
Irish cheddar and a bracing, black stout come together in a simple, craveable dish that comes with hunks of Irish brown bread. Not particularly dainty, but still, rather outstanding.
#18 Chicken Korma India
Back for the first time since 2009, India's pavilion serves up terrifically good (if rather petite) versions of some classic staples; this one comes topped with fresh cucumber and tomato, roasted almonds and cashews, with a bit of naan for dipping.
#17 Marinated Chicken Thailand
This is Thailand's first year at the festival, and while it's not pushing any boundaries, not just yet, this generous portion of tender, well-marinated meat comes with a crunchy vegetable stir fry and a good portion of peanut sauce on the top. This is real food, like something you'd like to eat at home.
#16 Baked Shrimp Scampi Dip Coastal Eats
Cheese, cream, herbs, garlic, butter and shrimp. End of list. It comes with not nearly enough sourdough bread to spoon it all up.
#15 Teriyaki Ginger Pork Japan
There's a lot of buzz on this one little dish—it's one of the most expensive dishes on offer, if not the most expensive, and all you get is one little shank. But what a shank it is—sticky, sweet, hot from ginger. It never seems to come out the same way twice, and nobody can decide if it's worth the money or not, but while the debate rages, everyone's eating it anyway.
#14 Crispy Pork Belly Brazil
There are other, more obviously Brazilian things on the menu at this popular pavilion that takes way too many years off, but it's here this year, that's the important thing, and they have this nice, big hunk of roasted pork belly served with black beans and fresh tomato. It's almost healthy! (No, it's not.)
#13 Lamb Stew Scotland
Served up with the requisite "neeps and tatties" (turnips and potatoes), this is definitely an after-dark (or cooler day) kind of dish, conceived of and typically consumed somewhere that never sees the kind of weather Orlando does. Lots of tender lamb and a nice bit of carrot and onion seal the deal—makes you want to book a pub tour of Scotland.
#12 Sweet Pancake with Spicy Sausage Flavors from Fire
Chipotle chicken sausage, a light, sweet pancake, a bit of heat from a good chunky onion jam and some maple butter syrup to top it all off. If you like brunch, you're going to really like this dish, a new offering for this year.
#11 Goat Cheese Pudding France
Moelleux au Fromage de Chèvre et Épinards, to be precise. You're thinking quiche, maybe, goat cheese and spinach quiche—but there's where you're wrong, see, because there's no crust. Otherwise, it's similar. Served warm, you could almost eat it like a dip, but bread doesn't come with it. (Which is fine. You're not here to fill up on bread.)
#10 Pistachio Cardamom Bundt Cake India
This little green cake comes with a bit of chocolate coconut mousse and some roasted pistachios. Pair with a mango lassi ($4.75) for a proper sugar rush.
#9 Filet Mignon Canada
People go crazy for Canada's cheddar cheese soup, but we'll save our appetite for Le Cellier's well-cooked filet, topped with wild mushrooms and served with a decadent truffle butter sauce. Pair it with a glass of quality, Niagara Peninsula red blend from Fielding Estate ($7). Not a cheap outing, but who cares.
#8 Wasabi Shumai Japan
Well-spiced pork goes into these delicate little dumplings; the fact that they're colored green should be a hint that you'll get a big wallop of wasabi at the end. The whole thing is terrific.
#7 Liquid Nitro Chocolate-Almond Truffle Chocolate Studio
Using liquid nitrogen to make ice cream and other desserts? So hot right now. Or, rather, make that cold. This spectacular dessert, one of the most interesting at the festival, is made right in front of you and then topped with a warm whiskey-caramel sauce.
#6 Smoked Corned Beef Flavors from Fire
One of the raves of this year's event for good reason—very good smoked meat sits on top of a bed of thick, warm, potato chips; it's topped with a beer cheese fondue made with blonde ale, Romano and Parmesan, with a little pile of pink pickled oinons on top. Eat this first, maybe. Then eat it again.
#5 Grilled Beef Skewer Patagonia
Hey, if we're giving all the great places that aren't actually countries their own pavilion (we see you, Hawai'i), why not Patagonia? Here, a skewer of thinly-sliced beef is almost buried in an avalanche of chimichurri, on top of a bit of boniato mash (it's a white sweet potato, and it's pretty good).
#4 Spicy Ethiopian Red Lentil Stew Africa
Hearty, but very good for you, this garlicky, vegetarian offering is topped with a mound of quinoa and a dollop of vegan yogurt. This may be one of the healthier things you can eat around here, but it's also one of the best.
#3 Lamb Meatball with Chutney New Zealand
Just beautiful, but also potentially messy, except that it comes inside an almost Yorkshire Pudding-like bread puff that allows you to pick it up and eat it. Mind that the chutney—spicy, tomato-ey, well-executed—doesn't get all over you.
#2 Croissant aux Escargots France
Everyone loves this one, and for good reason—it's a croissant with garlicky, buttery snails baked in, and then topped with a garlic butter sauce. Yes, you want one.
#1 Seared Scallops Wine & Dine Studio
One of the nicest things you could ever eat from a kiosk in a theme park, this thoroughly civilized dish pairs nice scallops with a truffle-y celery root puree and a little mountain of braised, wild mushrooms, plus a couple of Brussels sprouts. Voila, dinner is served.