Okay, I know what you’re thinking; the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival presented by Chase® (F&W) is not a “food”, but who among F&W attendees has not experienced a “craving” for this event and all the oh-so-yummy things that go along with it? As cravings go, I am typically either passionate about trying something new to me or yearning to partake of something wonderfully familiar to me. At F&W, it is always a perfect, limitless combination of both. With so many new things to try and old things to enjoy again, it would be nearly impossible to discuss them all within the confines of this short post. So, I have limited my list of F&W cravings to three for three very different reasons.
“The New Craving”
The Crispy Pork Belly with Black Beans, Onions, Avocado and Cilantro from the Brazil Marketplace kiosk won me over in just one bite. Simply put, pork belly is, in essence, a block-style cut of bacon, which allows for a beautifully balanced layering of meat and fat and meat and fat, and so on. Pork belly, prepared properly, is a succulent, textural experience like no other. It has a thin, crisp surface char that enhances the flavorful, creamy fat and fork-tender meat. Cooked to perfection, here it is wonderfully paired with refreshing cilantro, avocado, and onions, and served atop black beans, which delivers a pleasing balance of textures. If you enjoy food combinations that allow each component to speak for itself while harmoniously blending with the others, this is a must-try for you.
“The Perennial Craving”
The Kielbasa and Potato Pierogies with Caramelized Onions and Sour Cream from the Poland Marketplace kiosk is a dish so popular that it is a festival mainstay. Prior to visiting F&W for the first time back in 2008, I had never had a pierogi. Oh, pierogies, pierogies where were you all of my life? After having just one, I instantaneously understood why so many people consider these Polish dumplings a quintessential comfort food. They quickly became one of my favorites. In this particular dish the pierogies are potato filled. They are perfectly delightful, creamy, carb-filled pasta pillows that have been boiled, and then pan-fried in butter until lightly crispy. Here, they are paired with salty slices of Kielbasa sausage, which take on a nice crisp when fried with the pierogies. The saltiness of the two main components is balanced by the addition of sweet, caramelized onions and the cool tang of a dollop of sour cream. This relatively simple F&W dish is such a favorite of mine that it has become a go-to meal at our house. Even so, I will always look forward to satisfying this craving at F&W, the place where I was introduced to these ever so enjoyable potato-dumplings for the first time.
The Craving that Cannot be Satisfied
The 2008 F&W brought me another first, genuine German spaetzle. Traditional German spaetzle (dumplings or noodles made of flour, eggs, salt, and water), are boiled, then pan-fried in butter and served with a ragout/sauce as a side dish. There have been several variations of this dish made available at the Germany Marketplace kiosk over the years. In 2008, the dish offered was Spaetzle with Creamy Mushroom Ragout. In that particular version, the spaetzle was prepared in dumpling form and topped with a rich, flavorful white wine and cream sauce containing garlic, shallots and four types of mushrooms: crimini/light brown button, white button, shiitake, and Portobello. For a mushroom-lover like me, the pleasure of eating such an earthy, rich dish cannot easily be matched. I remember savoring every bite. Sadly, it has been replaced by a traditional noodle dish (not dumpling style). While it is unlikely that the dish I loved will ever return to F&W, recipes similar to it are available on the internet. This is a dish that requires a time commitment, and is a bit pricy to make at home. However, with sacrifice comes reward, and this dish is well worth it. My husband and I actually made it together on Christmas day last year… and it was quite satisfying.
At Epcot International Food & Wine Festival presented by Chase® the phrase “so much food and so little time” is never more true… perhaps with an addition, “and so little tummy space”. The F&W food cravings I have shared in this post are based exclusively upon some of what I have tried while there during specific years. If you have visited this year, which item are you already craving? If you visited in the past, which dish is your all-time favorite?
(Photos from the personal collection of Kendall Foreman.)
Kendall began visiting Walt Disney World in 1991 with her family and has continued to visit the resort with her husband. As a child, she and her family filled vacations with challenges such as “How many times can we ride Splash Mountain during SpectroMagic and the fireworks?” (Answer: 7) Now, after marrying a converted Disney skeptic, she and her husband enjoy challenges such as “How many hours can we eat nonstop at the Food & Wine Festival?” (Answer: 4)