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Guest Review: Epcot Food and Wine Festival Seafood Dishes

Thanks to Disney Food Blog reader Galloping Gourmand for relaying his reviews about a few seafood dishes featured in this year’s Epcot Food and Wine Festival!

This was my first trip to the Epcot Food and Wine Festival, and while I couldn’t go to any events I was determined to make the most of it. I arrived early so I could ride all the rides I wanted (first load on Soarin’!) and maximize my eating time. I saw it as an opportunity to try things I have never tried before and ignore the myriad of health problems one could get from eating them all in a 10 hour period. Some of these are international foods that are hard to get where I live (near NYC, so not many of those) and others are things that I’ve simply never tried before.

Here are a few reviews of seafood dishes around the World Showcase.

France: Escargot
The most common way you see escargot in restaurants up here is in the shell. That can be a lot for an American to take. We, myself included, have this problem with the idea of eating what is essentially something that crawls around on slimy rocks at the shore and occasionally crunches under our feet. I have to hand it to the France booth — they do everything to take your mind off the fact that you are eating a gross-looking snail. Instead of being placed in the shell or on a plate in sauce so you can see what you are consuming, the snail is cleverly hidden in brioche bread. You can’t see it. Someone walking by would think you were holding a plate of cream puffs.

France Booth Escargot

The fact that I couldn’t really see the main ingredient was likely a good thing. Unfortunately, I couldn’t taste it either. That was a bad thing. In fact I couldn’t really tell I was eating seafood at all. The sauce was traditional –- buttery, garlicky, and delicious, but I hardly tasted anything else other than an occasional mild rush of salt. Instead I felt a lot of texture, sort of like that of an oyster only much mushier and slimy. The sauce made the bread mushy as well. The flavor was great, but the texture was so off-putting that I don’t think I’d have this particular escargot dish again. But I would give that in-the-shell escargot a shot next time I go to a French restaurant. They proved that snails aren’t that scary. Unless I’m at the beach and step on one.

Australia: Seared Barramundi
Simple and absolutely delicious. The fish at the Australia Booth was perfectly cooked with just a little brushed-on lemon oil and no other seasoning. When something is served so simply without a lot of flavors other than that of the fish, the key is the preparation. My kudos to the chef, who was juggling about 24 pieces on a small griddle and seemed to know the exact time each one was finished. He wouldn’t let one that was either overcooked or undercooked out the window.

Seared Barramundi

The fish itself had a delicate and subtle flavor. It was flaky but firm, and simply everything you wish a fish dish to be. To be honest — too much sauce would have ruined it. They let the food speak for itself, and that’s all this fish needs. I’ll be seeking it out on menus, that’s for sure.

Belgium: Mussels
At the Belgium booth, the chef let the meal down. Shellfish need to be open when you eat them or you could get very sick. 2 of my 5 were served closed. I have mussels all the time where I live, and all you have to do to avoid this is look in the pot before you serve to make sure most of them are open. The cream sauce congealed very quickly, going from a milky white to a kind of tan/grey in less than 3 minutes. It was also way too heavy and masked much of the flavor of the mussels. Overall, this was the most disappointing dish.

Belgian Booth Mussels With Garlic and Cream -- Disney Food Blog photo from earlier in the Festival

To read more about the Epcot Food and Wine Festival booths, check out menus, pricing, and food photos here.

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7 Comments

  1. Kelly says:

    I like the snails, but I think half of the joy is the butter & garlic in the bread :) I think the escargots at F&W are a nice intro to the joys of scary snails!

    As for the mussels: I thought they were delicious, but my sauce stayed okay (I ate the waffle first…don’t judge!) and all of my mussels were open. I’m surprised they even served ones that were closed!

  2. Ivis Suarez says:

    My brother received 1 unopened mussel. We ate the open ones and went back to show them the dead mussel.. they gave us a new plate of fresh mussels.

  3. AJ says:

    Kelly — The butter and garlic is always my favorite part of escargot, too!

    Ivis — Thank you so much for this piece of advice!

  4. Mike says:

    Had the same problem with the mussels. They were under cooked so they weren’t opened. Had to take mine back too.

  5. Galloping Gourmand says:

    Mike – I agree. You cannot serve unopened mussels. Someone could get sick. I’m surprised it wasn’t just me who got an unopened one. Two other commenters who got the same thing show that this is a preparation issue. Compare the way the mussels were prepared to the care that went into the Barramundi. Mussels are simple enough to prepare. The cooks at that book seem to either not care or not be paying attention.

    Ivy – I should have thought of that, but by the time I got to the mussels I had started to get full so getting another plate wasn’t a big deal to me.

    AJ & Kelly – The sauce sold me on the dish. I think I would like real top notch escargot.

  6. Sarah says:

    I typically don’t order the escargot at France anymore. While tasty, I prefer them whole in garlicky butter! I do agree that it’s a good way to introduce the food to those who may be weary of otherwise trying it.

    The mussels I ordered were all open, but I felt the sauce was a little lacking. I can’t believe they would serve unopened mussels! It’s not hard to look and see that a mussel isn’t open. It’s nice for them to rectify the problem by replacing the mussels, but that shouldn’t have to happen in the first place.

  7. Josh says:

    Great job GG, hopefully we’ll see more to come! :)

    So is the Escargot completely blended up then mixed in the brioche bread or is sort of like a jelly filled donut?

    The mussels don’t look to bad, and I believe the reason that people leave them in-shell is so they are a bit fresher.

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