We had the opportunity to attend the Tables in Wonderland Flower and Garden Festival Preview Event on Friday!
And we’re excited to share with you all of the news — and photos! — detailing some of the delicious dishes and wonderful drinks that you can expect at the 2016 Epcot Flower and Garden Festival, running from March 2-May 30, 2016!
Epcot Flower and Garden Festival Preview
But, super quick, before we get to the food, we HAD to show you a sneak peek at the festival itself! Crews are busy at working, preparing all of the exhibits.
We also had a first look at the brand new Music Garden Melodies Playground! OK, it doesn’t look like much right now, but kiddos are gonna LOVE this!
Turf wars! ;-D
Of course, the walking tour also gave us a chance to spy where the Outdoor Kitchens would be located. Here’s a shot of one of the brand new Outdoor Kitchens this year — La Isla Fresca!
And as always, the stars of the Flower and Garden show — besides the food that is — are all of the spectacular topiaries. Here’s a first glimpse of Donald as he prepares to take the stage!
Now that you’ve seen a little of what you can expect from the Flowers and the Gardens, let’s take a sneak peek at the food and drink. While there weren’t samples from every single Outdoor Kitchen, there were still plenty of new eats and drinks to enjoy!
For a list of all the Outdoor Kitchen Menus, be sure to visit our 2016 Flower and Garden Festival Menu Page.
Flower and Garden Festival Outdoor Kitchens: Eats and Drinks
Food and Beverage team Chef Gregg Hannon and Marianne Hunnel, along with their small army of culinary pros, are once again preparing a fantastic array of offerings for this event. For the Flower and Garden Festival Outdoor Kitchens, there’s a twin mission: find great flavors to complement one another in food and drink pairings; and celebrate the bounty of fresh food.
And they’ve managed to do it again! Here’s a sampling of what you have to look forward to.
La Isla Fresca
La Isla Fresca, as the name implies, celebrates fresh flavors of the Caribbean Islands. We’ve been waiting with great anticipation for the Jerk-spice Chicken with Mango Salsa, Chayote, and Green Papaya Slaw with Lime-Cilantro Vinaigrette, and we weren’t disappointed! While it may not be spicy enough for Jerk purists, we loved the flavors here. At the Festival, you’ll also be able to try Grouper with the same seasonings as well.
The Urban Mary, which was introduced at the Urban Eats Outdoor Kitchen in 2015, is back this year as well.
While Bloody Marys aren’t really my thing, I know a lot of people appreciate a drink that offers an alternative to something sweet.
But if you DO prefer something sweet, light, and effervescent — then check out the Peach Wine.
There would probably be rioting in the streets if the Watermelon and Feta Salad didn’t return. And so it has. And it’s just as good as ever.
But there’s something new to love here as well. Be on the lookout for Seared Pork Tenderloin with Mushroom Ragout, Spring Vegetables, and Marbled Potatoes. While it may sound a little unadventurous, that’s okay. We’re betting this one will be a crowd pleaser.
As we entered, Cast Members were offering refreshing beverages. We’ve enjoyed the Desert Violet Lemonade at previous Festivals, and I’m happy to see it back again at Pineapple Promenade for 2016!
Of course, we’ll also be enjoying Pineapple Wine, one of three fruit wines we sampled, here as well.
Beer lovers will enjoy a wide array of Craft Beers. Local favorite Cigar City Brewing will be back with a new-to-the-Festival offering, Tampa-Style Lager. Find it at the brand new Cider House Outdoor Kitchen.
Speaking of the Cider House, I’m really looking forward to this spot’s focus on Cider and foods that pair well with it! We’re looking forward to trying Sonoma “The Pitchfork” Organic Pear Hard Cider at this stop as well.
Fans of previous Flower and Garden Festivals will remember the House-made Potato and Cheddar Cheese Biscuit with Smoked Salmon Tartare from Buttercup Cottage. We’re excited to say that it’s back with Cider House as its new home!
And it’s just as good as it was a couple of years ago.
Fleur de Lys
I’m always up for a trip through the France Pavilion — and especially when there’s a Festival happening! Macarons have made a splash at previous Flower and Garden Festivals. For 2016, you can enjoy a variety with Chocolate Fudge and Raspberry Jam at the Fleur de Lys Outdoor Kitchen. The flavors are a match made in heaven!
Taste of Marrakesh
Taste of Marrakesh celebrates the flavors of Morocco. This year, it brings its crowd-pleasing Honey Baklava back.
Hanami in the Japan Pavilion debuts a brand new dish as well. The Beef Teriyaki Udon was one of our top picks of the event!
A celebration of barbecues and brews, you’ll find lots to be happy about at the Smokehouse. Look for Florida Craft Beers, like Funky Buddha’s Floridian Hefeweizen.
A DFB Staff favorite from the 2014 Epcot Food and Wine Festival has popped up here, too — Rosenblum’s Great American Wine Company Red Blend pairs perfectly with the hearty flavors of the Smokehouse Outdoor Kitchen.
But what about the eats, you say? The popular Burnt Ends Beef Brisket Hash with White Cheddar Fondue and Pickled Jalapeños returns! And the crowd goes wild!!
Seriously awesome stuff. Please. Don’t miss it.
Hugo-Charles De Fere Organic Brut with Elderflower and Mint (left) will be available at the Bauernmarkt Outdoor Kitchen. (You’ll find Zonin Prosecco will be available at Intermissions Cafe in Festival Center.)
As for food, we’re excited to try a couple of new dishes this year in this Outdoor Kitchen, which celebrates the flavors of Germany.
Currywurst with Paprika Chips makes its debut at the Festival. Fans of Sommerfest will be excited to see this one return to Epcot, since it disappeared from the counter service spot’s menu a while back.
Brand new to the Festival is Arme Ritter, an Egg Battered Toast with Cherry Compote and Powdered Sugar. Crispy on the outside and soft inside, we predict this sweet treat will be a Festival winner!
Want the inside track? Try it with the Maple Bacon Stout from the Smokehouse. We loved this impromptu pairing!
Food options at the Primavera Outdoor Kitchen have been largely forgettable in the past, with the exception of desserts. So how are the savory dishes looking for 2016?
Behold the Mezze Lune Primavera! Egg Pasta is stuffed with Ricotta and Spinach and served in a Creamy Sauce with Spring Vegetables and Pecorino Cheese.
It’s — wait for it — something NEW from Italy (which never happens)… and it is really good too!!! Good for you, Italy!
But wait — there’s more! Check out the beautiful new dessert that you can sample — the Cremoso al Pistachio – Pistachio Cream, Strawberries and Mascarpone Cream. Yummmmm.
The popular Key Lime Wine returns once more to the Florida Fresh Outdoor Kitchen.
Pair it with Shrimp and Grits with Andouille Sausage, Sweet Corn, Tomatoes, and Cilantro, which also returns.
But if you’re looking for something really special, check out the Fresh Florida Larder Board. It features Orlando-made Ricotta Cheese, Cahaba Farms Micro Onions, Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Balsamic, along with Country Pate and House-made Pickles. Everything on this one is suuuper local — like, from Orlando-local — and that makes this experience really cool IMO! I’m really interested to see what you guys think of this one.
That will do it for our preview of what you can expect from the Outdoor Kitchens at this year’s Flower and Garden Festival! We can wait to try everything next week, when the Festival opens on Wednesday! We hope you join us as we cover all of what’s new and great at this year’s event!
Until then, I’d love to hear your thoughts! What dish from the preview event has you excited to dine at the 2016 Flower and Garden Festival Outdoor Kitchens? Leave us a comment with your thoughts below!