The Epcot International Food & Wine Festival in Walt Disney World Orlando was a great experience on Friday. Epcot itself is rich with representation of culture around the world and the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival expands on that in numerous ways. I loved the attention to detail throughout the massive event. From Canada to South Korea, there were tons of cultures represented. I was surprised when I made my way to Japan and actually ran into a friend from Osaka who has made Orlando her home and runs one of the booths there.
My favorite part of the park was Japan which boasts some awesome Japanese cuisine including the Osaka creation: okonomiyaki – a type of Japanese egg pancake. My favorite Japanese soda, ramune, was also sold around the Japan booths and shops. The performances there were awesome, especially the taiko drummers which have to be the best I have seen in the United States. The stores within were also neat and sold a ton of Japanese imported goods, including Japanese sweets, tea, kimonos, and kitchenware. Without the tourists, it might be possible to forget you were still in the United States while wandering around this part of the theme park and event.
I thought it was great to see South Korea represented at the event and that event planners took the time to include Jinro Soju on the menu which is actually not easily available in Tampa Bay or most of Florida. Soju is an important part of Korean cuisine. Some things I would love to see in the future with South Korean representation would be kimbap (a Korean version of sushi), ddeokbokki (spicy bean cakes), makgeolli (Korean farmer’s wine) and patbingsu (the most popular dessert in South Korea). The popular Korean soda Milkis would be a cool option to introduce for those not necessarily seeking an alcoholic beverage. The mung bean and shrimp cake with kimchi sauce was spicy and something I think many Koreans themselves would enjoy.
Traveling by Canada and the Canadian area of the event reminded me of friends I have made throughout the world. Many of the dishes here were also cool – although I would definitely want to see my personal favorite Canadian treat, poutine, in the future. Venturing through France and Germany was great fun and the overall appreciation for cultures abroad was just awesome. My friends raved about Singapore and South Africa.
The festival by the numbers:
- Nearly 30 food and beverage marketplaces
- More than 300 national and international wines
- 160 American and Walt Disney World chefs
- 100,000 desserts
- More than 76 kinds of international foods
The culinary events were all very exciting and my personal favorite was Kitchen Memories with Buddy Valastro from Cake Boss. Buddy and his wife shared their stories with us as they cooked some absolutely amazing dishes. Buddy walked us through each dish as he made them in front of us. Each dish was delicious and yet surprisingly simplistic. My favorite was the cannoli, Buddy personally flew the ingredients with him and it was the best cannoli I have ever tasted in my life. It will be a very long time before I will forget the taste that was left in my mouth after that dish. All dishes were paired with Iron Horse wines from sparkling to Pinot Noir. It was great hearing the stories about the wines and their deep ties to our political system with history dating back to Reagan years and the Cold War era.
I thought Club Cool was neat, especially the soda fountains with complementary tastes of sodas around the world. The sodas from Asia fared better than the ones from Europe in my opinion. My favorite was the Chinese soda called Smart Watermelon. China produces almost 40% of the worlds watermelon. They call it his-kua (pronounced she-gua).
Overall, Epcot International Food & Wine Festival was a fantastic experience that I would recommend. This year’s event ends on November 12th. Make sure to bring at least 40-60 dollars to spend on dishes. They have passports you can get stamped as you visit booths to make memories from and I recommend grabbing one when you enter the event. The best part about the festival is that it shows appreciation for all the wonderful food cultures that make up our world even if it is just a taste into a world outside our world of American cuisine.
Check out these other great blogs about the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival
- My friend and Orlando-native Droolius: http://droolius.com/2012/10/2012-epcot-food-wine-festival-new-dishes-twists-on-favorites/
- Another Orlando blogging friend Tasty Chomps: http://tastychomps.com/2012/10/2012-epcot-food-and-wine-festival-presented-by-chase.html
Category: Food Events