There is no more colorful theme park than EPCOT when the Flower & Garden festival is in full bloom. For 20 years it has been a must stop destination for Disney fans who also appreciated the colors of spring, talents of the gardener, and who hoped to maybe pick up a tip or two for their own home garden. If you wanted food and drink you had to go to that other festival in the fall.
This year, Disney decided to import a little of the fall flavor into the spring lineup and the result is a new mix of floral and food. While I don’t have Disney’s internal numbers, my personal observations and the reports of others indicate that the food and drink offerings haven’t been all that popular. That’s a shame because there really is some great food out there.
I hope Disney doesn’t throw out this idea after just one attempt. Next year guests will know what to expect and Disney will have a better idea of what works and what doesn’t.
If you follow me below the jump, I have a short review of a number of the food and drink selections that I’ve had the opportunity to try.
I found that food portions are larger at the Flower and Garden festival, but wine and drink portions remain the same. I like the idea of larger portions. With only 8 booths I wasn’t going to find as many options to eat, so what I bought needed to be more substantial.
From Florida booth we sampled two items. The Watermelon Salad with pickled Red Onions, Baby Arugula, Feta cheese, and Balsamic Reduction was right on point with an unexpectedly yummy combination of flavors. The Shrimp and Stone Ground Grits with Andouille Sausage, Sweet Corn, Tomatoes and Cilantro was hearty and dish I’d eat at any time of day. To drink, I had the Carrot Wine and my son the Strawberry Slush. The slush was a hit, but the carrot wine was a one trick pony. Next time I’ll try the Orange Blossom Pilsner instead of the Carrot Wine.
In China we tried Pan Fried Vegetable Bun and Spring Pancake with Grilled Chicken and Green Apple. The bun was steamed and then lightly fried, but it worked, and the vegetable stuffing was very tasty. The real hit of this booth is the pancake. As you can see above, it’s more of a taco. Of all the items I had, this is the one I know I’ll be ordering again on my next trip.
France sold a Tarte a la ratatouille et fromage de chevre (Zucchini, eggplant, bell peppers, onions, and tomator tart with goat cheese). My portion suffered from being lukewarm with a soggy crust. But if it was better prepared, I could see myself liking this dish quite a bit. I also had the Cabernet Sauvignon, Bordeaux Beau-Rivage. The less we say about that the better.
I did not try the Frushi in Japan, but my friend had it and said it was delish. It’s composed of fresh Strawberries, pineapple, and cantaloupe rolled with coconut rice, atop a raspberry sauce sprinkled with toasted coconut and whipped cream. Holding it all together is dyed rice paper.
Last but not least, is the adult version of the popular Dole Whip. After looking forward to this, I was more than a little disappointed the execution. The Siesta Key Spiced Rum was merely poured over a regular serving of Dole Whip. I expected it to be mixed in so you would taste it throughout, rather than just where your spoon happens to pick up some of the rum. Spend your drink allowance on some of the other unique drink opportunities around EPCOT and skip the rum Dole whip.
We’ll be back and sampling more items this Friday night. Have you tried any dishes at the Flower and Garden festival this year, which were you favorites?