For the past few years, I've found visiting the EPCOT International Food & Wine Festival to be nothing short of amazingly delightful and delicious. This year was no exception; I'm daydreaming daily about my favorite treats and experiences. For this blog, I'm dishing all about my top picks of the Taste of EPCOT 2020 Food & Wine Festival. And a few bonus tips and ideas to make the most of your visit.
First, don't let the mask stop you! They have set up more tables than usual so you can comfortably eat and drink. (Reminder: you can't eat & drink on the move. You need to be stationary and distancing for noms).
Favorite Flavor Head-to-Head: Buffalo Mac 'n Cheese with Pinot Noir and Chenin Blanc
The Location: Mac & Cheese Booth (Hosted by Boursin Cheese) in the Festival Pavilion
The Eats: Buffalo Chicken Macaroni and Cheese with Boursin Garlic and Fine Herbs
The Drinks: Evolution by Sokol Blosser Point Pinot Noir (Willamette Valley, OR) and L'Ecole No. 41 Chenin Blanc Old Vines (Columbia Valley, WA)
Why The Favorite: One of the best ways to learn wine and food pairing - is to test a bunch of stuff! Food & Wine festival is great for that. This wine head-to-head was fun because of the complexity of the dish. Do you pair the white wine with the dish because traditionally that goes with seafood? Oh wait...buffalo sauce is spicy and if you have it with an acidic white wine it could feel like burning....Ok, so we will get a red wine! Oh, but will that over power the delicate lobster and pasta?! Ah. How do you decide? Try them both! Take small bites of your pasta with small sips of the wine. Then pick YOUR winner. Wine is about what you like. (Feel free to repeat this experiment at as many booths as possible).
Favorite Wine: Prestige Red
The Location: Morocco Festival Booth
The Drink: Prestige Red Wine
Why The Favorite: It was full of flavor and delicious. I was taking a food break and wanted a wine to sip on. I was genuinely sad when I got to the bottom of this tasty glass of red wine. It was a dry red bursting with red fruits, ripe and sweet red fruits - like they'd been raisined or dried.
Bonus Good News: This is on the menu at Spice Roads Table year round
Favorite Liquid Dessert: Key Lime Mimosa
The Location: Shimmering Sips Festival Booth
The Drink: The Key Lime Mimosa. Located near the International Gateway, the Shimmering Sips booth is a great first stop when the park opens at 11am for a brunch mimosa, or at 10-minutes until closing and you want one last sweet treat before heading to the Skyliner.
Why The Favorite: Made with Key Lime Sparkling Wine and a splash of white cranberry juice it is sweet with a touch of tart and lots of bubbles. Perfect dessert for when you are just too full at the end of the day. (Especially if you like to start at Mexico, by the time you get over here you will be stuffed)
Favorite Food Item: Pork Tostada
The Location: Mexico Festival Booth
The Eats: Pork Tostada. A fried corn tortilla with chipotle black beans, roasted pork, and salsa verde.
The Drink: Pictured is the Mexican Craft Lager - any of the beverage options at the Mexico booth would pair nicely.
Why The Favorite: I usually start going right to Canada (I know I know) but something pulled me to start in Mexico (Logistics....logistics to maximize my Food & Wine Festival experience made me go that way. #EngineeringLife ). It must have been the Pork Tostada knowing it shouldn't be missed. The crunchy tortilla, the smoky beans, the flavorful pork and the tang of the salsa verde....all played beautifully together in harmony, both in flavors and textures.
Favorite Booth: Canada
The Location: Canada Festival Booth (outside the Canada Pavilion)
The Eats: Cheddar Cheese and Bacon Soup with Pretzel Roll and the Wild Mushroom Beef Filet.
The Drinks: Château des Charmes Merlot and Inniskillin Icewine
Why The Favorite: One of the most happy memories of my life was in 2017, the Wine & Dine after party...sitting on a bench at midnight eating the cheddar bacon soup, sipping that year's red wine offering...listening to the DJ, watching all those happy runners, on the most beautiful clear skyed evening. So, this booth will always have a very happy memory for me. In the years since, the treats at this booth Do.Not.Disappoint. The merlot is practically perfect in everyway for the cheddar soup and filet small plates. The Icewine is a treasure; a real unsung hero in the wine world, Canadian Icewine is. Go get it, and sing it praises (especially for you lovers of sweet style wines).
Favorite Photo Op: Remy Topiary
The Location: Outside the France Pavilion
The Drinks: Stop at the France Festival Booth for a glass of wine. Pictured here is the Rosé Pétillant Méthode Traditionelle Champenoise - Rosé Sparkling Wine, Pink Flamingo
Why The Favorite: As the official unofficial mascot of the Food & Wine Festival - you must stop by to say hello! Also, later in the evening (not pictured below) as the sun starts to set, the colors behind the Remy Topiary/France pavilion turn the sky a gorgeous pinky-orange for a beautiful, I can't believe it isn't a filter!, photo op.
Bonus!: The area around the France fountain and Remy topiary has plenty of space to enjoy your treats. Also, it is a great spot to watch the cavalcades. The path opens up slightly in this area, so you can see them better than in some of the contested areas.
Bonus Favorite Entertainment: The Festival Pavilion Piano Player
By the time we made our way around the world to the Festival Pavilion (near International Gateway) we were running out of time in our day. Which was a shame, one reason being that I so very much enjoyed the talented piano player and the songs she played. I easily could have stayed there for a few more hours - bobbing along to the tunes and eating more. Do yourself a favor and leave more time to listen to the piano music.
Honorable Mention: The Photopass Photographers
Capturing your memories and entertaining you in the process. I noticed throughout our days at Disney, the Photographers really spent time with you. Not just taking the photos, but chatting and conversing - a rarity in the long-lined queues of pre-COVID. Yeah, all our photos have us in masks (as it should be right now!) but those photos have the most vivid behind-the-scenes memories of capturing the moments with the Photographers. Thank you!
Bonus Tip: Don't put your mask down on the table! Don't keep twisting around for your backpack! Put a carabiner on your belt or belt loop or the like. Then hang your mask while you eat. And it is right there to grab again when it is time to move to the next booth.
~A very happy cheers & ears for the Taste of EPCOT 2020 Food & Wine Festival