Monday, October 30, 2017

The weird and the wonderful: Epcot Food & Wine Festival

It's become a tradition! Every year, we trek over to Epcot and pay a huge amount of money to sample foods of dubious deliciousness. Some are supposedly authentic to a particular country. Lately, however, Epcot has added booths of less "international" flavor, probably to keep things shaken up enough to warrant return trips year after year.

This year, we made it a point to choose things we've never had before--things we might not otherwise want to eat. It was interesting, to say the least. And I feel like we ate more this year than last year. I don't know if that's good or bad.

So, here's the run down!

1. First stop. Coastal Eats. New this year. No country affiliation. Just seafood.

We chose "lump crab cake with Napa cabbage slaw and avocado lemongrass cream." $5

The "lump" in the crab cake must mean the lumps of breading, because as crab cakes go, this one had the typical amount of crab--as in, not all that much. The crab cake was not very tasty, rather bland, and was mushy. It was overpowered by the avocado sauce, which was pretty good. So, I guess that's a win? The slaw underneath had a soy taste, not appealing.

And we had the "seared scallops with roasted corn and butter bean succotash and chili-chipotle butter sauce." $6

The scallops were seared very nicely and the succotash was yummy! We ate all of this one.

2. Next stop, Active Eats. Also new this year.

Here we had a "sweet avocado crema with strawberries, yellow cake, and tortilla streusel." $3.75

It tasted of vanilla. We couldn't taste any avocado in it; but the strawberry was strong and sweet. The crunchies on top (is that the tortilla streusel?) were nutty, a bit bitter. Over all, it was a nice dessert.

3. The Cheese Studio

At the cheese studio, we had the "braised beef 'stroganoff' with tiny egg noodles, wild mushroom, and Boursin Garlic and Fine Herbs cheese sauce." $5 That's right, stroganoff was in quotes.

The beef was very tasty. There was a warm mushy pickle on top of this dish which gave it a warm, mushy pickle taste. It wasn't bad. The "tiny egg noodles" were like thick, tough bits of fried dough, completely lacking in any flavor at all. But the beef was good. Did I mention that already?

4. Ireland! 

Finally, a country! We stopped here for the "warm chocolate pudding with Irish Cream Liqueur custard." $4 We always stop for that. 

This is some good stuff. But, the more I eat it, the more I think it looks a lot more chocolate-y than it actually is. Wait...did I say this last year? It's as if they made this thing bigger, which I'm sure they did, and yet, didn't double the amount of chocolate. It looks very dark and rich, but it doesn't have nearly the chocolate punch I'm expecting. I might skip this next year. (Sacrilege!)

5. Spain

"Seafood salad with shrimp, bay scallops and mussels, extra virgin olive oil, white balsamic vinegar, and smoked paprika." $5.25

This was not good. At all. The seafood was tough and chewy. The vinegar overpowered the dish. We didn't eat very much of it. The green olive was really good though.

6. On to Craft Beers

Here we had a "Scotch egg wrapped in sausage with mustard sauce." $4 
This description is ridiculously redundant. A Scotch egg is a boiled egg wrapped in sausage.

I've never had a Scotch egg before and was looking forward to it. So much so that I dug in before remembering to take a picture. Sorry about that.

Unfortunately, the egg was very hard boiled (a softer boil would have been much better) and flavorless (they could have salted them before wrapping them in the sausage), and the sausage had only the very slightest hint of flavor. The mustard sauce was fabulous.

7. Hawai'i

I had to try the "teriyaki-glazed SPAM hash with potatoes, peppers and onions and spicy mayonnaise." $4

The SPAM chunks were very salty and definitely tasted of teriyaki sauce. And soy. Overall, it tasted of generic Chinese food. But hey, I tried the SPAM hash and that's all that matters.

8. Flavors from Fire. Another new booth. 

We went all out here with three items. First, "Piggy Wings: roasted pork wings [wait, what?] with Korean BBQ sauce and sesame seeds." $4.50

I didn't like the sauce but hubs said it was all right. This was the best of the three samples we had from this booth. I still have no idea what piggy wings are. I assume it was pork.

Next we had "smoked corned beef with warm crispy potatoes, pickled onions and blonde ale beer fondue." $5

Very salty and tough. The chips were okay, though surprisingly not salty at all. I guess they figured we'd get plenty of salt from the beef. It was pretty much inedible.

Then we had the "sweet pancake with spicy chipotle chicken sausage, onion jam and maple butter syrup." $4

The pancake was dry, thick, and tough. It had a sweet corn taste, but the texture was just awful. I liked the sausage well enough, and it had a spicy aftertaste.

We took a break here, having tried all of our "must haves." I saw this adorable dragon.

Turns out, his name is Figment, and he has a ride. I shouldn't have gone on the ride. I liked Figment so much better before I was subjected to his grating voice and annoying manner. Oh, well.

9. Next we went to the Chocolate Studio for the "liquid nitro chocolate almond truffle with warm whisky caramel." $4.75

Basically, this is hardened, barely flavored, and very creamy, ice cream. I have no idea what the white powder on top was. We decided it was a sweet shaky cheese of some kind. (We call the parmesan we put on spaghetti "shaky cheese.")

10. Earth Eats, Inspired by The Chew
Here we had the "peanut butter and white chocolate mousse with a caramel drizzle." $3.50

This was the best thing I ate all day! And it was the cheapest,  too. (Well, the strudel could have been cheaper, but I don't have the receipt for that.) Just yummy. If you go, get that. Lots of that. It was like a buckeye without the chocolate, but so good you hardly notice the chocolate isn't there.

11. India
At the India booth, we had a "pistachio cardamom bundt cake with chocolate coconut mousse." $3.50
Tied, price-wise, with the peanut butter lusciousness above, but sadly, symbolically more expensive because it sucked.

This cake had a lovely, spicy flavor, but it was so dry and heavy it was ruined. Like a dry lemon 50 pound cake.

12. Germany

Last, we had the strudel. Why do we always go for the strudel? I think I think hubs likes it. But neither of us do.

The strudel is not sweet at all. At all! If anything, it's sour. It's such a shame. I mean, I get that it's not apple pie. In fact, I'd say that apple pie is almost always too sweet. But the remedy is not to cut out sugar entirely. This was just not good. I vow to pass it by next year.

Despite what you might think, based on my food reviews, we had a great time! We rode the Gran Fiesta Tour featuring the Three Caballeros.

And we visited The Seas with Nemo and Friends. We skipped the Frozen ride, but there didn't seem to be a line (so unlike last year). All the lines were short. 

We were hoping for some drunken excitement, with maybe a famous person, an athlete perhaps, being dragged out of the park by police. But we only came across one seemingly drunk couple, dancing as they walked.

Maybe next year

P.S. The pictures are supposed to be in the center all the way down and according to Blogger...they are. I can't spend any more time messing with it.