Jolene Eats at Epcot
If you read my Epcot blog, you know I was pleasantly overwhelmed with everything Epcot has to offer, from its futuristic rides and emphasis on progress, to its spectacular 11-country World Showcase. However, in this post, I will be addressing the other significant aspect of Epcot: the food.
In every other Disney World park, I made a point to make one reservation per day for a sit-down meal, ensuring that we'd have at least one big meal. After all, it's hard to find time to sit down and eat when you're in a Disney haze! This was not the case for Epcot, though. Initially, I made reservations at Akershus Royal Banquet Hall, a princess/character buffet located in the Norway Pavilion. The more I thought about it, the more I realized how much I was limiting our options - why fill up on one big meal when we could try several different options from around the world? I wanted to take advantage of the Food & Wine Festival as well, so our game plan was not a very specific one.
Of course, I reviewed the menus on blogs like Disney Food Blog so I would have a general idea of what I was getting into. Epcot is already overflowing with options throughout the World Showcase, but the addition of the Food & Wine Festival would be adding countless booths with specialty small bites, drinks, and more.
Our first stop after finishing up our ride itinerary (and of course grabbing coffee at Starbucks) was the Norway Pavilion. I'd read countless rave reviews about the bakery serving "Schoolbread," a rich, vanilla-custard filled pastry rolled in toasted coconut that quickly became one of my favorite bites of the day.
Next, we continued our scavenger hunt through the World Showcase, all while eating and drinking plenty of delicious items. Our first real savory item was from the Islands of the Caribbean booth: Jerk-spiced Chicken Lollipop with Roasted Sweet Plantain Salad and Mango Chutney Yogurt.
The clouds began to darken, and I could feel a thunderstorm coming on. Conveniently, we had to make our way to a beverage seminar, which was located at the Festival Center. We back-tracked a bit to claim our seat at the seminar, and it began to pour. Always make sure you have a game plan for when it rains!
The festival center had a number of booths in it, including a wine tasting bar with small bites, a mimosa bar, a Ghiradelli chocolate shop, and a coffee section. We had a quick mimosa before heading to our beverage seminar. The skylit space was a wonderfully air-conditioned break from the commotion all over Epcot.
There was a stage with a kitchen, just like you see on food shows, and tables set with drink samples, a pencil, paper for notes, and some recipe cards. This particular beverage seminar was one of the few seminars still available, and I wasn't sure how it would go. Fortunately the seminar was about liqueur, not to be confused with hard liquor. Two Dutch liqueur experts taught us the ABC's of liqueur, and taught us how to taste the three samples in front of us.
For less than $20, I thought the seminar was completely worth it. Not only did we get to sample things we never would have otherwise, but we learned a ton! The seminar was a great example of the attitude Epcot takes to the Food & Wine Festival: It isn't just about eating a lot. The festival is about celebrating, appreciating, and learning about food and drinks.
The rain was still coming down, so we decided to try out a couple of the charcuterie options at the Festival Center: A more classic charcuterie plate and also a Bloody Mary Seafood Cocktail: Shrimp, Bay scallops, mussels, olive salad and crisp lettuce in a Bloody Mary vinaigrette. I preferred the classic charcuterie plate over the seafood, but that's probably because I am allergic to tomatoes (I could not have the vinaigrette), and I don't care for olives.
We then grabbed drinks at the "Light Lab," a glowing, futuristic lounge serving drinks that matched its decor. We opted for blue champagne with popping boba pearls and enjoyed the fun atmosphere. Epcot clearly knows how to utilize its space, turning an otherwise unnoticed indoor area into something that looked straight out of Tron.
Right outside of the Light Lab, we tackled Coastal Eats for a lump crab cake with Napa cabbage slaw and avocado-lemongrass cream, Flavors from Fire for roasted pork wings with Korean BBQ sauce and sesame seeds and charred Chimichurri skirt steak on a smoked corn cake with pickled vegetable slaw and cilantro aïoli.
The avocado cream on the crab cake was SO GOOD! I thoroughly enjoyed all three of these bites - the pork wing was tender, sweet and salty, and the corn cake was the perfect complement to the skirt steak, which was perfectly charred and had a great smokiness.
We continued our trek through Epcot, taking a short break at the Italy Pavilion for both the views and the bites.
Jennifer grabbed a charcuterie cone from the Spain booth, while I opted for a sweeter option: a cannoli cupcake from a cart at the Italy Pavilion. Both were perfect snack options for our gorgeous view - our stomachs and feet appreciated the care.
The charcuterie cone was exactly as it sounds, a paper cone with cured meats, cheese and olives with an herbed vinaigrette, and the cannoli cupcake was surely a cannoli in cupcake form. Layers of cake and ricotta cream filled the cup, topped with cherries and a mini cannoli. It was super rich and I couldn't finish it!
Our last snack was at the France Pavilion. Partnered with our sparkling Kir with St. Germain liqueur, we shared a Croissant aux Escargots: Escargot croissant with garlic and parsley. While escargot isn't always for the faint of heart, this croissant offered a great balance to the richness of the escargot. We'd had a full day and the sad reality of its ending was coming upon us. We sat in the Pavilion for a while, admiring its surroundings and wishing we had more time to explore.
We ended our night with Prosecco and Dom Perignon (Of course I HAD to try Dom! Where else am I going to be able to afford it??) to celebrate one of our last nights in Disney World. We got a waterfront spot for Illuminations and were already feeling nostalgic for all of the food we'd eaten, and all of the experiences we'd had at Epcot.
Until next time,