Mission: 2012 Food & Wine Festival
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  1. #1
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    Mar 2004
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    Mission: 2012 Food & Wine Festival

    MISSION: 2012 FOOD & WINE FESTIVAL

    Epcot's annual International Food & Wine Festival (IF&WF) usually runs from the last weekend in September though the second weekend in November. The festival is included in the price of an Epcot ticket, but you have to pay for food and wine samples and to attend the different seminars and special events that are offered.

    Dozens of booths are set up all around the World Showcase, most of them representing different countries, with other booths dedicated to specific items such as craft beers, cheese, desserts, and (new this year) vegan diets. Food and beverage samples range from about $2-$7. Seminars vary widely in price, so check schedules to see what's being offered. Some of the seminars feature famous personalities, such as Food Network's Robert Irvine. These seminars sell out very quickly and are more expensive.

    You can get a free "passport" that lists each booth and what they are serving with little boxes so you can check them off as you try them. You can also get your passport stamped at each booth (just for fun). These passports can be picked up at the Festival Center (the large pavilion that used to be called Wonders of Life) located near Ellen's Energy Adventure.

    We attended two of the more inexpensive seminars located in the Festival Center:

    The first was a cocktail seminar given by Miami-based mixologist Freddy Diaz. The subject was cocktails made with two liqueurs--Cherry Heering and Xante, a cognac-based pear liqueur. During the 45-minute seminar we learned about the history of cocktails and watched an interesting demonstration of mixology techniques, such as using a flaming lemon peel. We also got to try three small cocktails: Singapore Sling, Xante Pear Side Car, and Blood Orange & Sand. (My favorite was the Singapore Sling. It had a sweet--but not too sweet--cherry flavor that was not overwhelmed by the alcohol taste.)

    The second seminar we attended was given by a representative of Mondavi vineyards. The seminar was fairly interesting, but it felt more like an infomercial for Mondavi wine than a seminar. Guests got to taste three samples of Mondavi wine (Fume Blanc, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon).

    Free squares of chocolate were being given out at the Festival Center's Ghirardelli area, which also sold cups of "drinking chocolate." Against the wall in glass cases was a display of intricately created chocolate sculptures of various Disney scenes, including Finding Nemo and Cinderella's Castle. TIP: You could come back to Ghirardelli over and over and get free chocolate squares. They were very generous.

    There were many shops in the Festival Center selling wine, food, cookbooks, kitchen gadgets, aprons, hats, and a lot more, including Duffy bears wearing toques.

    For Disney Chase cardholders there was an exclusive private area called Chase Lounge (a clever play on words of the French term “chaise longue”). The room was filled with sofas and comfy chairs plus a bar with barstools. It also had its own restrooms, and free water and soft drinks were available.

    To makes things easy and avoid fumbling with cash, you could get an IF&WF gift card at the Festival Center to load up and attach to your wrist with an elastic coil band. You then simply swipe it to pay for your purchases at the booths. One note of caution: These cards are like cash. If you lose them, that's it. Keep your receipt when you buy it. If you do lose it, go straight to Guest Relations. They can cancel that card if you have the receipt, but if someone used the card before you get to Guest Relations, there's nothing they can do. This happened to me last year. I lost a card with $25 on it. I took the receipt to Guest Relations, but someone had found the card and had used $11. Guest Relations was able to cancel that card and give me a new card with the remaining $14. You can also use a regular Disney gift card and refill it with more money at any kiosk.

    The following is a review of the foods we sampled, but there were many, many more choices. Between my husband and me, we sampled 38 foods and/or drinks from 25 of the 29 World Showcase booths over the course of three days.


    WE LIKED:

    Argentina: The Grilled Beef Skewer with Chimichurri Sauce was tender and had a creamy, garlicky sauce. The Beef Empanada was a flaky pastry stuffed with nicely seasoned ground beef. The empanada was a decent size and very much worth the price.

    Australia: The Lamington, a chocolate and coconut covered yellow cake, was a bit overpriced, but it was sweet and tasty.

    Belgium: The Belgian Waffle with Berry Compote and Whipped Cream sounded better than it was. It wasn't bad, but it was a bit overrated. My husband described it as a Mickey waffle with a very good compote.

    Brewers Collection: The Altenmunster Oktoberfest beer was good, but nothing terribly special.

    Canada: The Wild Mushroom Beef Filet Mignon with Truffle Butter Sauce lived up to its good reputation and was cooked perfectly. The Canadian Cheddar Cheese Soup was creamy, spicy, and very cheesy (in a good way!).

    China: We tried the Mongolian Beef in a Steamed Bun. Chinese steamed buns are a little hard to describe--soft, kind of spongy, but dense and doughy at the same time. That might sound odd, but they're very good. The bun was filled with spicy Mongolian beef and was one of the best dishes we had all day.

    Desserts and Champagne: We tried all three desserts, and all three were great. The Yogurt Panna Cotta with Orange Cake, Raspberries, and Pomegranate was a sweet pudding-like dessert served on top of a thin slice of orange cake. Out of the three desserts, this was our least favorite, but it was still quite good. The Lemon Custard Verrine was very tart and was complemented by a sweet blueberry compote. If you like sour lemon flavor, you'll love this one. Our favorite was the Dark Chocolate Mousse with Chili and Salted Caramel. The chocolate mousse was velvety and had a pretty good kick from the chili.

    France: The Créme Brûlée au Chocolate au Lait was very fresh with a creamy chocolate milk filling and a perfect crust--I love cracking the burnt caramelized sugar crust on a well-made créme brûlée. We also had the Sour Cosmo Slush, which was similar to their Grand Marnier Orange Slush, which is a year-round regular on the menu. It was the same size and just 40 cents more than the orange slush.

    Germany: The Altenmunster Dunkel was a dark beer that was rich, but not too heavy. This was my husband's favorite beer of the IF&WF.

    Greece: I really liked the Spanakopita, a traditional phyllo pastry stuffed with spiced spinach and cheese. The Griddled Greek Cheese with Pistachios and Honey was an interesting dish that was surprisingly good, sort of along the lines of mozzarella sticks, but much better.

    Hawaii: We had the Kalua Pork Slider with Sweet and Sour Dole Pineapple Chutney and Spicy Mayonnaise. The combination of savory pork with sweet and sour pineapple and spicy mayo was delicious. The bun was a little dry, but not enough to take away from this tasty sandwich. The Mai Tai was different than last year. This year it was not on the rocks and tasted more like a classic Mai Tai.

    Hops and Barley: The 17th Anniversary Festival Beer from Samuel Adams was a "Chocolate Bock," which was dark and rich.

    Ireland: The Lobster and Seafood Fisherman's Pie had lobster, scallops, and shrimp with mashed potatoes. It was very good comfort food, best eaten on a cold day, but still good in the heat of mid-October in Orlando. The Bunratty Mead Honey Wine was like a white wine with a touch of honey.

    Italy: The Ravioli Di Formaggia all Emiliana (baked cheese ravioli with creamy beef bolognese sauce) was a basic ravioli but what made it stand out was the mozzarella that covered it--melted to a crispy brown. The Cannoli al Cioccolato (chocolate-covered cannoli filled with ricotta, chocolate, and candied fruit) was excellent. The sweet ricotta cheese was complemented by the crunchy pastry and chocolate coating.

    Mexico: The Crispy Shrimp Taco (with chipotle lime mayo and cabbage served on a flour tortilla) was a bit messy to eat but worth the struggle. The shrimp were crispy and the mayo gave it a little kick. The Taco de Filet was a beef taco with a spicy pepper sauce that was not too hot. The portion of beef in the taco was very generous. Both tacos were a bit expensive, but we were glad to have tried them.

    Morocco: We tried the Kefta Pocket (ground seasoned beef in a pita pocket). The ground beef was solid like a meatball, sort of, and seasoned nicely. There was a tangy slaw in the pocket, which complemented the beef perfectly. The only thing that bothered me was that it was lukewarm. I'm not sure if it was supposed to be like that, but I think I would have liked it better if the beef was hot and the slaw was cold. The Baklava, on the other hand, was excellent. The portion was very generous and the phyllo dough was fresh and flaky with a chopped nuts and honey filling that was sticky-sweet goodness.

    Poland: Here we tried the Zapiekanki (toasted mushrooms and caramelized onion on cheese bread with house-made ketchup). I'm not a big fan of ketchup, but this house-made version was more like a tomato sauce. It seemed like a Polish version of pizza and was quite good.

    Scandinavia: The Xanté Sunshine was a cocktail made with the pear liqueur we had sampled earlier in the cocktail seminar. The pear flavor came through very strongly, but the drink was not overly sweet.

    Singapore: We tried the Singapore Sling, a classic gin drink with a strong cherry taste, but not too fruity at the same time. Very good, but not quite as complex and balanced as the version we had in the cocktail seminar.

    South Africa: The Seared Filet of Beef with Smashed Sweet Potatoes and Braai Sauce was delicious. The beef was tender, the sauce was creamy and savory, and the potatoes were a really nice comfort food. The Spinach and Paneer Cheese Pocket was a pastry filled with spinach that had a spicy curry kick to it. The portion size was good, and it's highly recommended. The Fairview Pinotage was a red wine that paired well with the filet.

    Terra: This is the first vegan booth they've ever had at the IF&WF. The Chocolate Cake with Passion Fruit Sorbet and Coconut Foam sounds like an odd combination, but the ingredients worked nicely together.


    NOT SO IMPRESSIVE:

    Caribbean: The Bacardi Frozen Dragon Berry Colada was cloyingly sweet like a milkshake. If you're a fan of strawberry-flavored milk, you might like it, but it wasn't worth the price of a cocktail.

    Japan: The Sukiyaki Beef Pan (marinated thinly sliced rib eye with sauteed onions and teriyaki sauce served in a bun) was disappointing. Although the beef was tasty, the bun was a failure. It became soggy within seconds, which was not only kind of icky, it also made it difficult to eat. This could have been a good dish if a different type of bun was used, I suppose.

    South Korea: A big disappointment was the Lettuce Wrap with Roast Pork and Kimchi Slaw. The lettuce was a soft wilted type lettuce, which made the wrap hard to hold. The filling tasted good, but it was so juicy the little paper bowl it came in contained a half inch of liquid by the time we were done. This was a very messy dish. The pork should have been drained and they should have used cold, crispy iceberg lettuce.

    Florida Local: The Florida Beer Company Florida Lager was just a bland beer. Nothing to write home about.


    BOOTHS WE DIDN'T MAKE IT TO: Cheese, Fife & Drum, Craft Beer, New Zealand

    A few final tips:
    To make the most of your trip to the festival, look over all the menus in advance, read other reviews, and plan which items you'd like to try. Then set a side as much time as you can during your trip for Epcot, preferably split up over more than one day. Last year, we did just one day at IF&WF and it was a lot to take in. Splitting it over parts of three days (with other parks mixed in) seemed like a reasonable amount of time to get samples from just about every booth. Also study the map of the World Showcase booths so you know where you're going. To avoid too much walking back and forth, take advantage of the Friendship Boats, with docks in Germany, Morocco, and World Showcase Plaza (between Mexico and Canada).
    TALK DISNEY MODERATOR

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  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
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    Re: Mission: 2012 Food & Wine Festival

    Love the report!

    I'm sitting at my desk debating lunch and, having read that, I'm really hungry now!
    There's a great big beautiful tomorrow
    Just a dream away!

    TALK DISNEY ADMINISTRATOR


  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
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    Uk
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    Wow great report
    Have never been to this event
    Gutted we missed the event as we left the week before it started we saw all the booths been set up

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
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    Re: Mission: 2012 Food & Wine Festival

    Great report! Food and Wine is definitely one of my favorite events of the year
    Dream: Feb 12-16, 2012,Fantasy: 20-27, 2012, Dream: Sept 8-12, 2013,Magic: Jan 20-24, 2014,Dream: Sept 14-18, 2015
    TD Moderator

  5. #5
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    May 2009
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    Re: Mission: 2012 Food & Wine Festival

    Thanks for the great report. I would love to try this one year!
    Couldn't imagine life without WDW!
    Last Trip: Oct 2015
    Upcoming: Feb 2016
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