Can you believe it? We are nearing the halfway point of the 2014 Epcot Food and Wine Festival already!
So far, we’ve shown you delicious dishes — both brand new options and returning favorites — that are featured at the International Marketplaces located around World Showcase. But I’m thinking that leaves another question:
What are some of the items that we would definitely cross off the list?
Of course, in a perfect world, where there would be unlimited time, money, and stomach space, I know you’d gladly try everything on offer. But here in reality, those dollars (and Disney Dining Plan snack credits) must be spent wisely.
So while we’ve told you several dishes and beverages that we don’t think you should miss at this year’s Festival, today, I thought we’d run down the list of items that we plan to cross off. Because, well, something’s gotta give. I’ll also give you some suggestions for what we’d get in place of these items.
Ghirardelli Sundae at Fife & Drum
In the past, Fife & Drum Tavern in the America Pavilion has had Festival success with extra menu additions like the Frozen Red Stag Lemonade. (That one proved to be so popular, it was added to the menu permanently.)
But while the Ice Cream Sundae with Ghirardelli Chocolate Sauce on the menu this year is good, it’s not “skip another awesome menu item” good.
The sundae is Vanilla Soft Serve with a few pumps of Ghirardelli Chocolate Sauce. There are way more tempting options all over World Showcase.
Guylian Seashell Truffles at the Desserts & Champagne Marketplace
So, here’s where we make a bit of a confession. If there were one booth I’d outright skip at the Festival it would probably be Desserts & Champagne.
It’s not that there’s anything wrong with it. It’s just that I find so many more compelling options circling World Showcase Lagoon. Case in point: one of the menu items here is Guylian Seashell Truffles. This is not a dish. This is something that the Cast Member takes out of the box and hands to me.
Sure, they’re only $1.75. But they can be bought at the grocery store…and when we are Food and Wine Festival-ing, we are definitely passing on this in lieu of more exotic fare.
If you’re looking for a truly satisfying chocolate dish, head to the Ireland Marketplace and try the amazing Warm Chocolate Pudding with Kerrygold Irish Cream Liqueur Custard, which is more than worth the price difference.
Dole Squish’Ems at Refreshment Port
But one featured Festival food we will not be making time or money for is the Dole Squish’Em. The prepackaged, applesauce-based snack may be a big hit with the preschool crowd.
But unless you’re under 3 (or you really, really like flavored applesauce), we wouldn’t worry about checking this box off your passport. If you’re looking for a fruit fix, the Dole Whips served here for the Festival will give you that, plus a healthy dose of that Disney food-loving feeling.
Dom Pérignon at the Desserts & Champagne Marketplace
Aaaaaand we are back to Desserts & Champagne Marketplace. You won’t be surprised to find that they offer a selection of — you guessed it — Champagne, in addition to the sweets.
Now, kudos to Disney. They’ve kept it real here by offering authentic French Champagne — the only sparkling wine that should technically be called by that moniker. But there’s a reason that Champagne is considered a luxury item: its price. A glass of bubbly will set you back here anywhere from $12 to $32. And at the upper price tier, that glass of Dom Pérignon just isn’t worth it to me. Do you know how much Griddled Greek Cheese I can get for $32??
I mean, we understand if you must. But if you’re simply looking for something in the bubbly and effervescent category, give the Nicolas Feuillatte Rosé a try for about a third of the price. Better yet, head to the Block & Hans Kiosk in the America Pavilion where they’re serving up a delicious, limited edition Blanc de Noir by Domaine Chandon.
And it will only set you back $6.25.
Filetto di Pollo, con Funghi al Marsala at the Italy Marketplace
On our recent dine around day, we knew we needed to pay attention to the Italy Marketplace, which featured some brand new savory bites. While we were sorry to see the Sausage and Peppers as well as the Cheese Ravioli with Beef Bolognese go, we were hopeful that the new dishes would be just as good or better.
While the latest Ravioli, a “Caprese” version featuring a vegetarian profile, is good, it’s not the must-have dish that the previous version was. And when it comes to the Filetto di Pollo, con Funghi al Marsala, well, we were downright disappointed. Good Chicken Marsala is awesome, but this just didn’t measure up.
And the Italian Booth continues its odd aversion to salt. Really — we understand that you don’t want to make things too salty. But some salt — any! — would have helped the dish out immeasurably.
Selections from Craft Beers
My jury is still out on how I feel about the change to the Craft Beers Marketplace in 2014. Previously, Craft Beers occupied a large Marketplace at the entrance of World Showcase. This year, it’s been moved indoors to the Odyssey Center. Further, a selection of snacks have been added to the menu.
Yay for air conditioning! But not so yay for it feeling out-of-the-way and not part of the Festival.
The Craft Beer Snack Mix is pretty decent — after all, it’s complimentary with any Craft Beer selection. But the House-made Country Pâté with Pickled Carrots and Farmhouse Bread and the Muffuletta Pinwheels with House-Made Pickles didn’t make much of an impression on us (though the pickles are pretty cool).
Sure, this is kind of like a bar, and these are kind of like bar foods. We get that. But there are tastier ways to complement your Craft Beer throughout Epcot.
If you must eat here (i.e. if you go another step without food, you’ll perish), go with the Spicy Pimento Cheese Dip. While I wasn’t thrilled that it was served with generic water crackers, it was actually pretty awesome.
Dessert Trio at the Desserts & Champagne Marketplace
The biggest reason why I’d skip Desserts & Champagne altogether? We aren’t even all that impressed with their desserts.
This year’s options are particularly upscale in their presentation, with three different types of desserts represented — Passion Fruit Coconut Creamsicle, Blueberry Lime Cheesecake Roll, and Chocolate Espresso Opera Cake. Unlike other years, the desserts are not available individually.
Here’s my problem. The desserts definitely have the feel of something mass-produced (my common complaint with Disney desserts in many spots). And while each name has a lot of words in the title, I just don’t feel like any of them are particularly special.
Pavlova at the Australia Marketplace
Ok, on this one, a teensy bit of subjectivity might enter into my recommendation. If you’ve been reading Disney Food Blog for any amount of time, you know that I’m not a fan of many desserts that involve egg white and sugar. Meringues are uniformly lost on me; it’s as though chefs have cleverly packaged sugar air and expect me to be excited about it. For that reason, I simply am not going to be a fan of the Pavlova served at the Australia Marketplace, since it’s little more than a baked meringue serving as a dessert cup.
Selections from Intermissions Cafe
Our thoughts about some of the food selections at Intermissions Cafe are somewhat similar. Located in Festival Center, this can be a spot for some interesting beverages, but the food selection, by and large, is a pass for us. We can think of much tastier fare than the Southwest Chicken Wrap. And while snacks like Grapes might be great for picky little ones, we don’t really feel like a stop is warranted otherwise.
Our suggestion? If you’d like to include a stop at Intermissions Cafe in your passport, make it a drinks-only stop. The Caposaldo Sweet Sparkling Peach Moscato is fun, and if you like it, you can purchase a bottle at the neighboring Festival Wine Shop.
And that’s a wrap! We could go down a road of personal preference and make more suggestions, but we realize that our “Skip It” may just be your “Gotta Have it”! And so, we leave you with this solid list, understanding that there will still likely be a difference of opinion.
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