Today marks the beginning of the 2016 Epcot International Food & Wine Festival. Over the next two months, Epcot guests will be able to enjoy a plethora of delectable offerings, fun cooking demonstrations, special dinners, and amazing concerts throughout the park. If you consider yourself a foodie or if you just enjoy food (who doesn’t?), this is the most wonderful time of the year to visit Epcot, and it’s one of the best things about fall at Walt Disney World.
The International Marketplaces are the main draw of Epcot Food & Wine, where you can purchase small plates of cuisine from around the globe. Because the portions are small, it’s a blast making a meal out of going from food booth to food booth and sampling some of the world’s many bold flavors. With so many options to choose from, it can be a tough decision deciding what to spend your hard earned money (or hard earned snack credits) on. Here are 10 of our favorite returning dishes that we know are great, plus 9 intriguing new additions that we can’t wait to try at the 2016 Epcot International Food and Wine Festival.
10 Returning Favorites
Lamb Chop (Australia) – Big hypothetical: If, for some sadistic reason, Disney restricted you to only be able to eat one of the amazing dishes offered at the Food & Wine festival’s booths, it would be hard for my family to pick anything but the Lamb Chop from Australia. Whether its the bursting-with-lamb-flavor chop or the refreshing mint pesto or the delightful crunch of the potato chips, this is just an all around great dish.
Liquid Nitro Chocolate-Almond Truffle with Warm Whiskey Caramel (Chocolate) – For me, this was the breakout new item at the 2015 Food & Wine Festival. Now located at the new Chocolate booth, this dessert makes a dramatic entrance with its liquid nitrogen-frozen ice cream. Even if you’re not interested in buying this, look out for all the liquid nitro smoke from behind the counter as the cooks prepare this dish. It’s so cool. Because liquid nitrogen freezes the ice cream so quickly, the result is a super smooth and creamy treat, topped with a delightfully boozy caramel sauce. By far my favorite dessert at the festival.
Le Cellier Filet (Canada) – Le Cellier is one of our favorite table service restaurants at Disney World, and their filet mignon is definitely our favorite item on the menu. However, at over $50 inside the restaurant, it’s definitely a pricey dish that we only opt for when we’re feeling particularly fancy. That’s why it’s so great that the Canada marketplace offers a very petite portion of this dish for around $8. You can get a taste of the tender meat and the succulent mushrooms offered inside the restaurant without having to worry about reservations or the large bill at the end. Tip: This is a great use of a snack credit. One of the best snack credit values at Disney World.
Cheese Soup (Canada) – For years, the cheese soup from the Canada marketplace has been a huge crowd pleaser, so it’s no surprise that it’s coming back. But this year has a very intriguing addition: pretzel bread! Now, this comes with a caveat: If it’s the same bread that’s served up inside Le Cellier, then this might be our new favorite item at the festival. Le Cellier’s pretzel bread is one of the best things to eat at Disney World, period. However, if it’s the same pretzel bread that has been offered at the German marketplace (which has typically been much more stale than Le Cellier’s), then the addition is a wash. Fingers crossed.
Crispy Pork Belly (Brazil) – Crispy, rich, and flavorful without feeling too heavy: that’s the best way to describe the pork belly offered at the Brazil marketplace. Over the past two years, this has been one of my favorite options for price per portion, as the pork belly is very satisfying and filling.
Cheese Bread (Brazil) – Want a light treat to compliment the rich pork belly at the Brazil booth? Try the cheese bread. This gooey little ball of goodness is delightful, and, surprisingly, it’s completely gluten free.
Shrimp Taco (Mexico) – With its flour tortilla and the fried shrimp, this taco from the Mexico marketplace is very much not gluten free. However, with an amazing slaw and somewhat addicting cream sauce, it’s unbelievably delicious.
Chicken Wontons (China) – These steamed wontons are the ideal snack to tide you over between marketplaces, and they’re perfect to split with another person.
Escargot (France) – Picky eaters, don’t shy away! The escargot served up inside a flaky croissant are garlicky, buttery, and divine. If you’ve never tried escargot before, this is an approachable way to be a bit adventurous in your culinary samplings at Epcot.
Short Ribs (France) – OK, if Escargot still sounds like a bit too much of a stretch for you, definitely try the Short Ribs, which will be much more familiar to American palates. Rich, decadent, and filling.
9 Intriguing New Additions We Can’t Wait to Try
Seared Scallop, Truffled Celery Root Purée, Brussels Sprouts and Wild Mushrooms featuring Melissa’s Produce (Wine & Dine Studio) – One of my favorite dishes from the past two festivals was the scallops from Scotland. Sadly, that dish has been retired, but with brussels sprouts and a celery root purée, this looks like it could be an even more elevated dish. I’m very eager to find out if this fulfills my scallop craving.
Pork Tenderloin with Cannellini Bean Ragoût and Zinfandel Reduction (Wine & Dine Studio) – Pork tenderloin with a wine reduction? If they’re able to keep the pork juicy, then this should be a home run.
Piggy Wings: Fried Pork Wings with Korean BBQ Sauce and Sesame Seeds (Craft Beers) – Confession: As much as purées and reductions get the foodie inside me excited, deep down my favorite foods are chicken wings and ribs. This looks like it could be a beautiful marriage of the two with a Asian twist. This is the first year that the Craft Beers marketplace has offered food. Since it has such a great location (inside the Odyssey building), this could be a very welcome addition.
Pimento Cheese Dip with Pretzel Crisps (Craft Beers) – Another addition that just makes me want to spend as much time at Craft Beers as possible. Bar food, but elevated.
Duck Confit with Creamy Polenta and Fire-roasted Salsa (Greenhouse Guru) – I love duck, I love polenta, and I love salsa. Like the dishes at the Wine & Dine Studio, this looks to be one of the more refined, elevated offerings at the festival.
Heirloom Tomato Salad with Goat Cheese, Aged Balsamic Vinegar and Micro-Basil (Greenhouse Guru) – You’ll end up walking a few miles around Epcot, so it’s good to not go too heavy with everything you eat. This salad with heirloom tomatoes sounds refreshing and delightful.
Grilled Beef Skewer with Romaine, Apricots and Feta Cheese (Chew Collective) – I was really impressed with the offerings from the Chew marketplaces at last year’s Food & Wine Festival. The steak, which is no longer offered, was delicious despite its tiny portion. Hopefully this beef skewer can take its place by bringing the flavor and increasing the portion size.
Peanut Butter and White Chocolate Mousse with a Caramel Drizzle (Chew Collective) – Desserts at the Epcot Food & Wine Festival have been very hit or miss for me. White chocolate is also equally hit or miss for me. Hopefully this is a fun twist on the classic combination of peanut butter and chocolate.
Ghirardelli Chocolate Raspberry Torte (Chocolate Lab) – If there’s one combination I love almost as much as peanut butter and chocolate, it’s raspberry and chocolate. Add Ghirardelli’s excellent cocoa to the mix, and this one should be a winner.
If you want to check out the full menus for the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival, click here. And let me know what you’re looking forward to trying in the comments below or on Facebook and Twitter.
(Header, Cheese Soup, and Scallops images – Copyright Disney)