The 2017 Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival is in full bloom and last week I had the chance to spend one entire day eating and drinking my way through the Festival. If that isn't the most magical way to spend a day, I don't know what is.
Ever since the full menus for the Outdoor Kitchens had been released, I had a running list of what I wanted to eat and drink. After arriving at the Epcot bright and early, I purchased a Flower and Garden Festival wearable gift card (so easy to pay with this!), picked up a F&G passport, and updated my must-eat list. These are just a few of my favorite things that I think shouldn't be missed at this year's Festival.
My first stop was The Berry Basket. This Outdoor Kitchen is new to the Festival this year and is located in Showcase Plaza, just before you enter World Showcase. Each menu item features fresh berries and I decided to eat the Field Greens with Fresh Strawberries, Blue Cheese, Strawberry Vinaigrette, and Spiced Pecans.
I ordered this for the blue cheese and the spiced pecans, but I was pleasantly surprised by the overall dish. It was super fresh and the vinaigrette was perfectly tart, and the strawberries were delicious. The Warm Berry Buckle also looked amazing, but I never made it back to sample it.
Next up was La Isla Fresca. I had not planned to stop here but I'm glad I did because it was where I found my favorite dish of the entire Festival (yes, I'm telling you my favorite now but keep reading, there's more good stuff!).
My choice for the best of the fest is the Sugar Cane Shrimp Skewer. I could have eaten about four more servings of this (and I did end up coming back later in the evening for a second helping). The shrimp were perfectly cooked (not tough) and they were topped with a coconut lime sauce and served over steamed rice.
This was one dish where - had there not been others around - I would have licked the plate clean. It was THAT good.
After a quick pit stop at LaCava del Tequila for an Avocado Margarita, I made my way to Lotus House located in the China Pavilion. I was planning on ordering the Oolong Peach Bubble Tea but I didn't figure that was a good plan after the margarita. ;-) Also, my sole purpose for stopping was the Bejing-Style Candied Strawberries.
These had been on my must-eat list for as long as they've been served at the Festival. And frankly, I was a bit disappointed in them. First, they were super, super sweet (and yes, I do realize they're candied strawberries). Secondly, they were not easy to eat. And, oddly enough, the addition of sesame seeds was a bit off-putting to me. Not my favorite item of the day.
My next stop was an unplanned stop at the Primavera Kitchen in the Italy Pavilion. I needed something savory to counteract the super sweetness of the strawberries, and I chose the Anitpasto Misto.
This was a simple and delicious plate of Cerignola Olives, Sweet Soppressata and Salami, Ovolini, Mozzarella, Sweet Roasted Peppers, and a piece of Ciabatta Bread. The olives were perfectly salty, the fresh mozzarella was delicious (I wanted more!), and the Soppressata and Salami were full of flavor.
I had every intention of stopping at Hanami and ordering Frushi, but at this point I had my fill of sweet things (shocking).
After a brief respite from the food (honestly eating ALL THE FOOD by yourself is a task unto itself and I don't recommend it), I stopped at Fleur De Lys in the France Pavilion for two items - Tarte a l'Onion Alsacienne and the Macaron Chocolat Framboise.
These were two items I had been thinking about for weeks and, despite the fact that I had to eat them in the rain, they were two of my favorite dishes. The Tarte a l'Onion Alsacienne is filled with sauteed onions, fresh thyme, and rosemary on a flaky crust and you really, REALLY need to like onions to enjoy this dish.
I adore macarons and the Macaron Chocolat Framboise did not disappoint! It was a large raspberry macaron filled with chocolate fudge and raspberry jam, and I would have ordered about 10 more to take home if I had planned better.
Next up was The Smokehouse: Barbecue and Brews in the American Adventure Pavilion. My husband had joined me by this point and wanted to try something that wasn't French (ha!), so we decided on the Beef Brisket Burnt Ends Hash. Good gravy this was amazing.
The dish features beef brisket burnt ends, crispy hash, and a white cheddar fondue that brought the whole dish together. Another can't-miss-dish! Seriously. Burnt ends are incredible. I would eat them every day if I could.
Our second-to-last stop was Bauernmarkt: Farmer's Market near the Germany Pavilion. I had two must-try dishes here: Currywurst with Paprkia Chips and the Warm Cheese Strudel with Mixed Berries. Both were delicious.
The Currywurst is definitely different but quite delicious, and the paprika chips were SO good. But the star for me (and my husband) was the Warm Cheese Strudel with Mixed Berries. This was another lick-the-plate kind of dish. Just be sure to grab a knife to cut through the strudel.
We made our last stop at La Isla Fresca because my husband wanted a Red Stripe and I wanted another Sugar Cane Shrimp Skewer. It was just as good the second time, even in the pouring rain. I'll even show you the photo again...it was THAT good.
There were a couple more dishes I wanted to try, but I ran out of time (and stomach space). For more "best of the Fest" recommendations be sure to check out this video from our friends at the Disney Food Blog. And for the most up-to-date information on the Epcot Flower and Garden Festival visit the DFB's 2017 Epcot Flower and Garden Festival page.
What has been your favorite item at the Festival? Or what are you planning on eating when you visit the Festival this spring? Let us know in the comments.