EPCOT’s International Festival of the Arts brought several great eats with it. Today we’re taking a look at some of the best dishes that were not sugary sweets.
The longest line we encountered was at The Artist’s Table. Situated just outside the American Adventure building, the deceivingly small line ended up being an hour-long wait. The two items on the menu that caught our eyes were the beef wellington and the pan-seared scallops. I’ve never been disappointed with EPCOT’s festival food, but I was hesitant when it comes to shellfish and a prep-heavy dish like the wellington. It’s so easy to go wrong, but the skilled staff at Disney refused to let me down.
The pastry parts that were not covered in red wine demi-glace were flakey, and the beef itself remained tender, probably partly due to the mushroom duxelles. My only complaint is that this is a dish that requires a knife. Due to seating limitations and crowds, attempting not to butcher this finely crafted cuisine is a bit hard. You may end up having to separate everything with a fork.
The pan-seared scallops arrive on a spread of vanilla-butternut squash purée and brown butter cauliflower purée. Each scallop is topped with lime foam. The presentation deviated from what we’ve seen from the official images. However, the scallops are perfectly prepared. They were not rubbery in the least, which is always a concern for me since I’m very picky about how mollusks are prepared.
The cauliflower purée was not impressive, but cauliflower typically isn’t. The squash, however, added that little dash of festive flavor that made me yearn for Thanksgiving to come early.
In Japan’s Goshiki, we had the Chicken Kushiage and Niseko Flurry. The chicken is breaded and lightly fried. Yum yum sauce is drizzled on top. The vegetables themselves weren’t anything to write home about, but the chicken was a surprise. The original pictures we saw of the dish made it look like the fowl was heavily friend, possibly leading to a dried-out chicken nugget underneath. However, that was not the case.
The chicken was tender and moist, while the outside coating retained just enough crunch. Devour it, though, as the cold weather this time of the year quickly started to cool off the meat. The sauce, while noticeable, didn’t do much to the overall flavor of the dish.
Niseko Flurry is an alcoholic beverage made from sake, rum, white cranberry juice, blue curaçaom, and lime juice. As with many other mixed drinks at the festival, this one is already made in sitting in a dispenser. After downing the mix, the exact portions of the sake and rum couldn’t be determined. However, I can say that it is indeed a sweet drink, and the only liquor I could make out was the rum. The cranberry juice is the most substantial element you’ll notice when it hits your palate.
Gourmet Landscapes had possibly one of the more interesting plant-based items. The Blood Orange-Braised Beet Carpaccio. There’s a lot on this place. Pickled clamshell mushrooms and golden beets join the blood-red beets. The toasted crostini are also golden in color, thanks to being prepared just right.
Beets are a hit-or-miss item. We’ve had them on with various meals, and they usually end up discarded as a garnish. Here, they’re the main attraction. Blood oranges have a signature taste, and braising the beets with this citrus fruit makes all the difference to the flavor. The mustard vinaigrette was used as glue for the golden beets, but make sure it gets on the crostini along with a couple of beet slices. Delicious.
While at Vibrante & Vívido: Encanto Cocina we also got the chorizo and potato empanada. Empanadas are very common where I’m from, and they can go from being fantastic to over-baked disasters. EPCOT’s version was just right. The empanada was baked to just the right point, giving the pastry enough strength to hold in its contents while not turning into a little turnover brick.
Now, I’m not sure if it is Disney’s policy to tone down the spices of certain dishes, but the chorizo was pretty mild. What little actual pork we found inside, that is. The kick came mainly from the turmeric and annatto aïolis. The potatoes were perfect on the inside, but I had hoped for a little more out of the chorizo. It may have been a lousy scoop during prep, but the inside of the empanada was 90% spud and very little pork.
Everything in France is impressive. Well, the EPCOT version of France. The L’Art de la Cuisine Francaise was one of the stands that commanded us to order everything on the menu. From the bisque to the frozen martini, it was all going in our mouths.
Mousseline de Bisque de Homard Froide and Brioche Feuilletée à l’Aneth were … interesting. The brioche certainly had the flavor of dill withing, and the lobster bisque mouse could be mistaken for a sweet. A chilled bisque may sound odd, but it works oddly well in this fashion. The smooth mound retained all the signature aspects of lobster bisque, making it a unique experience. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the croissant.
I’ll admit that I sometimes have fun at the expense of my kid. On the outside the Croissant à la Truffe Noire d’Hiver looks like a chocolate croissant. I made the same mistake when I first saw it on the menu.
Well, it ain’t chocolate. Within the warm and crispy pastry are hidden black winter truffles. While the truffle innards are good, my kid didn’t seem to enjoy it. At least I got a laugh out of it.
The best way to describe the truffle interior is to call it a thick paste, which would not erode the delicate case surrounding it. The taste is distinct and is best eaten with a knife and fork.
The Crème de Brie en Petit Pain is pretty basic as far as presentation. The warm brie is served in a small bread bowl measuring about 3″ diameter. The brie is delicious, and the bread bowl maintained its structural integrity enough to be eaten with one hand. Impressive.
Then there was the French Frozen Martini. I believe this drink shows up often during various festivals, as I remember having something very similar before in France. The vodka is smooth enough to go almost undetected, but there’s no mistaking this for a non-alcoholic beverage. The liqueur hits quickly but is easy on the tastebuds.
Of course, Figment wanted to taste the mix of Grey Goose, vodka, Chambord Liqueur, pineapple, orange, and grape juice with lemon-lime foam. Figment was later arrested for disturbing the peace.
Check out our gallery below to see what you can expect when you book your trip to Epcot now through February 21st.
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