Epcot’s 24th Annual Flower & Garden Festival!
Last week, Nico & I went to the 24th Flower & Garden Festival at Walt Disney World’s future-themed Epcot here in central Florida! Was it good? Was it great? What was our favorite and what is this festival, anyway? All your questions about the festival and our food-based thoughts (and our video) below!
About Epcot’s Flower & Garden Festival
The Epcot Flower & Garden festival is a unique & beautiful way to welcome Spring into the year. As of 2017, Disney’s Epcot theme park is transformed from March until the end of May with topiaries, beautiful plant arrangements, and (why Nico & I like going) foods & drinks from all over the world! Culture, food, being outside surrounded by flowers – all in a Disney theme park: what’s not to like?!
If you’re not yet convinced, here’s a bit more about the festival.
It has happened every year since 1994 and in 2016 expanded the festival from 75 days to a full 3 months. If you’re not familiar with the layout of Disney’s Epcot theme park, here’s the general gist:
The bottom half, surrounding the lagoon, is a World’s Fair-esque layout featuring 11 countries* (counter-clockwise: Canada, United Kingdom, France, Morocco, Japan, the U.S., Itlay, Germany, China, & Norway) called the World Showcase. This is where all of the majority of the food is served, outside of a butterfly garden and a few newer pavilions at the beginning of the World Showcase.
Now, without further ado, to the foods & drink we had! This year we only had one drink, which seems to make for a fun time for some, and went to 6 different pavilions and had a ton of fun!
* UK’s not a country – it’s pretty much England-themed! Also, there is an outpost which serves as a shoutout to the … continent of Africa. No shoutout to Antarctica, unfortunately!
Crabless Cake w/ Crispy Vegetable Slaw, Lemon Vinaigrette, & Old Bay Remoulade from the ‘Urban Farm Eats’ pavilion near the beginning of the World Showcase. This was one of our first dishes of the day and also turned out to be one of our favorites, with a wonderful mix of flavors and textures!
What-was-in-it: The base of this little entree was made of a wonderfully-crunchy tofu-based cake. On further investigation, this Vegan recipe has featured throughout the years in Epcot both in-festival and out-of-festival. On top of that was a slightly spicy, Old Bay seasoning mayonnaise-like dressing called a remoulade. All of this was steeped on a bed of similarly crunchy vegetable slaw and a tangy lemon-based vinaigrette. Can you tell what we thought of it already?!
How-did-it-taste: We loved this one. The crunchiness of the cake and vegetable slaw went together well, and the vinaigrette (cannot be seen in the above picture) served as a sort of soup that balanced the flavors of the remoulade. Nico & I have been trying to eat vegan more often, so to think this was one of the tastiest and also environmentally friendly dishes.. well, let’s just say we were happy (Disney) characters.
Quick bites (thoughts): This was one our favorites (the Ma even agreed)! Tangy, spicy, crunchy, and refreshing – a perfect mixture of flavors and textures on a warm, spring day in Florida!
Beef Teriyaki Udon & Matcha Sake Cocktail from the ‘Hanami‘ pavilion in Japan. Japan is one of our favorite countries in Walt Disney World’s Epcot World Showcase (and in the world, #Tokyo2020). From the yummy snacks to the cute toys (Nico…) to the architecture of the buildings, Japan is always our go-to. Both of us have yet to travel to Japan but it is in our near-future, so never turn down the chance to have udon or green tea-flavored stuffs!
What-was-in-it: Udon noodles, a beef-based broth, and a few hearty slices of teriyaki-flavored beef. We unfortunately were not able to find the ingredients for the cocktail, but it was green (check out our video at the bottom of the page)! So, that basically means it was green tea. :’D
How-did-it-taste: There are three characteristics to a good udon (in our mind): a soft, yet bouncy noodle (texture); a tasty, warm soup base (soup); & the variety and quality of the garnish. This dish had one out of the three (noodle texture). No soup and besides the decently seasoned beef, no garnish. Here’s two no’s for you: No, No! The cocktail was alright. Not very matcha-flavored and had sour, raisin-flavor. Kind of reminiscent of the pruny flavor you get in rum-flavored treats. So-so.
Price: $6.20 (udon) & $7.50 (cocktail)
Quick bites (thoughts): If you love Japan, treat yo self. Otherwise, there are likely better dishes & alcohols around the showcase!
Merguez “Hot Dog” Sandwich from the ‘Taste of Marrakesh‘ in Morocco. This bite-sized beef and lamb sausage, from one of our favorite designed countries in Epcot, was fun. But was it tasty?
What-was-in-it: Spicy beef and lamb, with sautéed onions and green peppers – all within a proportionally bronzed bun.
How-did-it-taste: Nice crunch to the bun & nice spiciness to the sausage. Vegetables did not add very much. I am not a big fan of lamb so the gaminess got to me. Nico’s parting thoughts, “if you like lamb, get it! A bit too gamey for me, though.”
Quick bites (thoughts): If you lamb’s your jam, get you some of this one. Otherwise, this $6 won’t be so fun!
Beef Brisket Burnt Ends Hash w/ White Cheddar Fondue & Pickled Jalapeños (& a Mickey Mouse Pretzel w/ Cheese!!) from the Smokehouse – aka the American Adventure aka the United States.
What-was-in-it: From top-to-bottom: diced potato hash, the beef brisket, a generous dollop of white cheddar fondue, and a few tangy pickled jalapeños.
How-did-it-taste: The bomb. I mentioned earlier that we are trying to eat more vegetarian/vegan – dishes like this are the problem. Comfort food to the max. It tastes exactly what you would think it would taste like.
Quick bites (thoughts): Comfort food. Comfort food. Comfort food! This is why Americans are chunky. You know if you’ll be in the mood for this one. Also, try some of the beer here (if you’re alright with paying $8 for one bottle)!
Warm Cheese Strudel from the ‘Bauernmarkt: Farmer’s Market” pavilion in Germany. Roughly translated to the, “Farmers Market: Farmer’s Market” in German, this crunchy, cream-cheese filled strudel had us wanting for ‘mehr’!
What-was-in-it: A flaky, warm strudel filled with a sweet cream cheese based filling, covered in a tangy & sour cherry-blueberry marmalade. What sugar-filled sugar-thing would be complete with out a sprinkling of powdered sugar!? A nice amount of powdered sugar graced the top of this German delight.
How-did-it-taste: Yummy, yummy, yummy. If there are two things that Nico & I love, it’s jalapeños and cream-cheese based deserts. This nails at least one of those and turned it into our favorite desert of the day. Danke schön!
Quick bites (thoughts): If you love crispy pastries, tangy berry jams, or cream-cheese based deserts – this is a must-have!
Warm Wild Berry Buckle from the new ‘Berry Basket‘ pavilion at Walt Disney World’s Epcot theme park. Our last dish during our first visit to Epcot’s Flower & Garden festival. Was it warm? Was it wild? Was it a berry buckle? Our thoughts and more below!
What-was-in-it: A very warm, oat-y cake filled with an equally warm mix of berries (blueberry mostly, it seemed). Sort of like a granola bar, cake edition. This was topped with more berries and a single scoop of sumptuous sorbet (Raspberry flavored).
How-did-it-taste: The one thing you should know about Florida isn’t that we have nice beaches, world-class theme parks, more golf courses than golfers, or that the majority of us are not even from Florida – no, no no, what you should know is that Florida is warm. It is humid, it is hot, and it doesn’t care if you wore sun screen! Now, my point is that this was too warm. How people (us, even!) will brave this festival in May with even warmer, sunnier days.. who knows.
Either way, this one was too warm. It tasted just fine, and the sorbet was great. If this was more cold, tasty sorbet and less warm, tasty buckle-thing.. well, this would be a completely different review, wouldn’t it!
Quick bites (thoughts): If you’re in the mood for a warm, mixed berry treat – this is your trick. It was a bit too warm for us, but the sorbet was amazing on a warm, March day.
‘Wrap’ping up this post: Nico and I had another wonderful time at the 24th annual Epcot Flower & Garden festival. Walt Disney World truly is a magical place – and we’re lucky enough to be able to go to festivals like this and be apart of it.
Please feel free to check out our video for this week at the Festival!:
¹ Epcot Map – wdwinfo: http://www.wdwinfo.com/maps/epcot.htm
² Crabless Cake, Warm Cheese Strudel, & Warm Wild Berry Buckle – disneyfoodblog: http://www.disneyfoodblog.com/2017/02/20/first-look-2017-epcot-flower-and-garden-festival-new-food-photos-and-more/