Event Review: EPCOT’s 2022 Food & Wine Festival

0
Photo Credit: Mike Phalin

We’re in the last two weeks of EPCOT’s Food & Wine Festival. Earlier this year, we covered the edible offerings at the Festival of the Arts, where we encountered shortages but a plethora of fantastic food. Can EPCOT the Fall festivities top what we sampled in January? Let’s dive in.

On the non-food-related front, we had an issue with our tickets. I purchased them online and had them shipped to us. In the Walt Disney World app, our reservations appeared just fine, but when trying to enter the park, we were told that the tickets were not valid for that day. I showed the cast member my phone with the tickets clearly showing our November 4th tickets, but that was insufficient. We were told that the tickets were not for the 4th at all. Odd, since I’m looking right at it on my phone. This isn’t the first time we’ve encountered this issue with tickets purchased via Disney online. Previously, our Magic Bands, which we had linked to our tickets, were not showing up in Disney’s ticket system, even though we had evidence on our phones showing they were. Odd.

Photo Credit: Mike Phalin

After that, however, everything was smooth sailing. Once we were past Spaceship Earth, we encountered the same maze of construction walls we’d seen during our Festival of the Arts visit. The renovation of this area is moving very slowly. We could see part of a new building that wasn’t there in January, but at first, I thought it was a part of the old Communicore West structure. Once you’re away from the center of Future World, everything starts to look normal again, thankfully.

Photo Credit: Mike Phalin
Photo Credit: Mike Phalin
Photo Credit: Mike Phalin

Our first stop was in Australia, right at the Port of Entry. We decided to try the Roasted Lamp Chop, which sat atop a mint pesto and covered with potato crunchies. For afters, we picked up the lamington, which is a chocolate and coconut covered yellow cake with raspberry filling. The chop was superb, even though the mint pest was very muted, but the crunchies made up for it. The lamington is soft, and the raspberry filling is perfect, but you’re really going to have to love coconut because the thing is encrusted with it. Certainly not my favorite dessert of the day.

Photo Credit: Mike Phalin
Photo Credit: Mike Phalin

Unlike the Festival of the Arts, several of the foods at this event didn’t sound appetizing. This is the first time I’ve ever felt this way in nearly 20 years of covering the event. Typically, there’s something at 95% of the stalls that we’d want to try. Here, it was down about 50%. Thankfully, we did not encounter the same shortages from January’s event.

However, we did not pick a single item that failed to satisfy. After Australia, we moved to Canada. Knowing that we wouldn’t have time for dinner at Le Cellier this evening, we decided to try the wild mushroom beef filet mignon with truffle-butter sauce. Dining at Le Cellier is an expensive trip, but the Food and Wine Festival allows you to sample just how well food is prepared at this steakhouse.

The filet was very tender, if not as warm as I’d hoped. If you enjoy rich food, the truffle-butter sauce adds a lot of heft to this plate of two small filets. The steak is cooled at about medium well, leaving almost no pink inside. However, it’s not tough by any means. I would have gone back for the mushrooms alone.

Photo Credit: Mike Phalin

After a visit to our friends in the Great White North, we walked down to England in the World Showcase to find the Ireland stall. Fisherman’s Seafood Pie and warm chocolate pudding cake were a must for the Missus. Meanwhile, I got my annual taste of Bunratty mead honey wine and roasted Irish sausage. Given that I’m allergic to fish, I couldn’t try the pie, but according to my wife, it was the single best deal in all of Food & Wine. For the price, under $10, you get a decently sized “pie” loaded with a generous portion of seafood and shellfish.

The Irish sausage comes on a bed of Colcannon mashed potatoes with onion gravy. The links are somewhat small but were roasted to perfection. The onion gravy (with small amounts of carmelized onions within) paired well with the potatoes and sausage. The real star of this course, though, was the pudding. Not dense and not too light, the chocolate pudding was surprisingly just that: pudding. Over the years, I’ve had many puddings that turned out to be chocolate cake, but this was an honest puddin’. The custard that topped it was not as thick as I’d expected it to be, but I’m not going to deny that it was indeed tasty without being too sugary.

Photo Credit: Mike Phalin
Photo Credit: Mike Phalin
Photo Credit: Mike Phalin

Another jaunt across the water brought us to Belgium for something I’d been looking forward to since this year’s menu was announced: Belgian waffles with berry compote and whipped cream. The whipped cream, sadly, is from a can rather than being freshly whipped, but that waffle … oh, man! Light, fluffy, and still crispy! The berry compote is pretty tart, so keep that in mind while trying to decide between this one and the one with the chocolate ganache.

The beer-braised beef with smoked gouda mashed potatoes is OK. However, the potatoes managed to be more pleasant than the beef. This may have been the fault of whatever beer had been used or too much pepper, but the smoked gouda is something I’d certainly get again on its own.

Photo Credit: Mike Phalin
Photo Credit: Mike Phalin

The Belgium stall was just outside Morocco, our next stop. Here we picked up the pistachio cake and the fig cocktail. Aesthetically, the cake is a work of art, with the printed chocolate tile beautifully accenting the pistachio-colored cake and cream. To enjoy Morocco’s dessert, you will need to be a fan of this specific nut. Unfortunately, I didn’t taste the cinnamon in the cream because the pistachio caste of the cake overpowers everything else. Mrs. Phalin, though, thoroughly enjoy it, along with the cocktail. This drink is made with white cranberry juice and fig vodka. The vodka is nearly undetectable thanks to the fig and white cranberry mixture—possibly the best alcoholic beverage this year.

Photo Credit: Mike Phalin

Photo Credit: Mike Phalin

Japan was my biggest letdown. During the Festival of the Arts, this country offered a fantastic sake drink and chicken skewer. This Fall, it was a steamed bun and Hanan Fuji apple sake. The buns were pre-prepared and sitting under a lamp. Although they were large, the teriyaki chicken inside was far sweeter than I had expected. It almost tasted like BBQ. Although the sake wasn’t nearly as good as the Niseko Flurry, it had an almost cider taste, and if I saw it elsewhere, I’d have another glass.

Photo Credit: Mike Phalin

Spain offered up an exciting concoction called a seafood salad. While it was not served in the traditional way we usually expect a salad to be, it was a healthy amount of scallops, shrimp, and mussels in a glass.

Photo Credit: Mike Phalin

After carefully considering the remaining countries, we made our last stops at Germany and the Alps. At these two stalls, which are right next to each other, we ordered the schinkennudeln, roasted bratwurst, apple strudel, and warm Raclette swiss cheese.

The schinkennudeln is like having an entire breakfast plate put into a casserole. It is a heavy item loaded with ham, onions, and cheese held together with pasta gratin. I’d suggest hitting this one up if you’re arriving in the park before noon and haven’t had anything to eat.

The bratwurst is more slender than I had imagined, looking more like a frank. However, the taste was all brat, and the pretzel roll tasted outstanding with the mustard. But you may not want to finish that entire roll if you want dessert.

The apple strudel was giant. Look at that thing! It’s almost going off the plate. Pick up a plastic knife because this thing requires cutting. However, the apples are not mushy, and the pastry is thick enough to hold the contents together while not being a doughy mess.

The Alps’ swiss cheese came with riesling-poached pears, red wine-braised figs, candied pecans, and cranberry toast, all drizzled with honey. It is a lovely dish, and the smell mixed with the swiss cheese can be a bit much. The taste, however, is well worth the momentary assault on the nostrils. This is another example of Disney giving you more than expected for your money and was a great way to end our trip to this year’s Food and Wine Festival.

Photo Credit: Mike Phalin
Photo Credit: Mike Phalin
Photo Credit: Mike Phalin
Photo Credit: Mike Phalin

This year’s event left me puzzled. I’d never had to curate my trip this much before, but nearly half of the offerings didn’t sound or look appetizing. But, of course, it’s fair to say that every event has an off year, and in 2022 it was Food and Wine compared to the Festival of the Arts. So maybe next year, both festivals will knock it out of the park? We shall see!


Pirates & Princesses (PNP) is an independent, opinionated fan-powered news blog that covers Disney and Universal Theme Parks, Themed Entertainment and related Pop Culture from a consumer's point of view. Opinions expressed by our contributors do not necessarily reflect the views of PNP, its editors, affiliates, sponsors or advertisers. PNP is an unofficial news source and has no connection to The Walt Disney Company, NBCUniversal or any other company that we may cover.