There’s a lot to love about Epcot during just about every season. With the Epcot Food and Wine Festival in the Fall, and Holidays Around the World celebrating Winter holidays, this has truly become a festival Park!
But Spring in the park is especially beautiful as the Epcot Flower and Garden Festival gets going. (I know. It doesn’t feel like Spring everywhere. But trust me. It does in Florida.)
The Flower and Garden Festival, which runs through May 30, opened last week, and we were there for the very first day! After an afternoon of Eating and Drinking Around the World, we came away with pictures of all of the dishes — and more than a few new favorites! Today, we’d like to share with you our Best of the Fest — our top picks from the new dishes that you can enjoy when you visit this year’s Festival.
Jerk-spice Grouper (or Chicken) from La Isla Fresca
La Isla Fresca debuted at the 2016 Flower and Garden Festival, and it brings with it the fresh flavors of the Caribbean. Everything that we tasted here was a winner!
But we especially liked the option to choose between Jerked Grouper or Chicken (although we went for both! :-D) But seriously — not everyone is a fish lover, and not all folks eat chicken. So having a dish where you can decide, but still enjoy the flavors, is a great idea!
The other incredible standout was the Jamaican Braised Beef. Check out our pictures on the Flower and Garden Page. Don’t miss this saucy short rib on your visit to this Outdoor Kitchen. Tender and delicious!
Tarte à l’Onion Alsacienne from Fleur de Lys
We were excited to try an all-new lineup at the Fleur de Lys Outdoor Kitchen in the France Pavilion. And while we enjoyed all of the dishes and sips, one stood out as a new favorite.
The Tarte à l’Onion Alsacienne features a creamy filling of Sautéed Onions, Fresh Thyme, and Rosemary built on a tender Puff Pastry Crust.
This is a situation where the picture absolutely doesn’t do the dish justice. I couldn’t stop eating this one. Pair it with any of the drinks at Fleur de Lys.
It was especially nice with the Kir Imperial!
Snakebite from Cider House
Both the Epcot Food and Wine Festival and the Flower and Garden Festival have become hotspots for another huge trend — Craft Beer. But at this year’s Springtime event, we’re also seeing another drink showcased: Craft Cider. So it was fun to try a classic British Pub Blend with a fun twist — a Snakebite!
The Snakebite is featured at one of the Festival’s newest Outdoor Kitchens, Cider House. Enjoy this refreshing blend of Cigar City Tampa-style Lager and McKenzie’s Black Cherry Hard Cider.
If you aren’t a fan of cider, which can be sweet, you might enjoy how the crisp lager mellows the sweetness (which comes from fresh black cherry juice, by the way). The light beer cocktail is the perfect sip for the increasingly warmer days of the Florida Spring.
Flan from Jardin de Fiestas
We always look forward to a fun twist on traditional fare at the Jardin de Fiestas Outdoor Kitchen in the Mexico Pavilion. And the chefs in this corner of World Showcase didn’t disappoint!
In 2016, you’ll find floral flavors up to bat. And one of our favorite sweet treats was the traditional Flan, served with a Hibiscus Reduction.
The dessert was both beautiful and delicious!
Gaoli Beef Bun from Lotus House
While their Beijing Candied Strawberries have become a bit of a tradition at the Festival, I love that China decided to offer a new savory item. The Gaoli Beef Bun offered a nice contrast to the vegetarian offerings at Lotus House.
Currywurst from Bauernmarkt
So we were overjoyed when we not only heard that the Bauernmarkt, Germany’s Outdoor Kitchen, would return after a 2-year hiatus…but it would be bringing Currywurst with it!
We love the rush of flavor in the Sauce against the mild Sausage.
But the curry flavor takes front and center here! So if you’re not a fan, ask them to go light on it or choose the booth’s Spring-inspired Chicken Fricassee instead.
Elderflower Watermelon Sangria at Jardin de Fiestas
Elderflower is having a bit of a moment (still). And we found the Elderflower Watermelon Sangria at Jardin de Fiestas to be a a really refreshing offering. What a fun take on a classic Spanish drink!
This is a great sip for guests who would like to have an adult beverage that doesn’t pack quite as big of a punch as the booth’s Rose Margarita does.
Armer Ritter from Bauernmarkt
We found ourselves back at the Germany’s Bauernmarkt for our next sweet treat: Armer Ritter. Literally translated “Poor Knights,” you’ll recognize the dish as a rich version of French Toast. And yep — we’ve also seen it spelled “Arme Ritter” — so we’ll let you decide. 🙂
Etymology and spelling aside, DFB staff loved the Egg Battered Toast and the topping of Cherry Compote. We just may have to rethink this dish as solely a breakfast favorite.
Beef Teriyaki Udon from Hanami
Hanami might be an Outdoor Kitchen that you’re tempted to skip. I have one word of advice: Don’t. Because the Beef Teriyaki Udon is truly one of the most delicious dishes we had all day! (And it was one of only two that we actually finished. Seriously. There were fork fights.)
The Minced Beef on top of the noodles was packed full of flavor. But even without the meat, we found the umami-rich Noodles to be utterly addictive. Go here and get this.
Smoked Pork Ribs from Smokehouse
The Smokehouse, located in the America Pavilion, is always a popular stop. While their very popular Pulled Pig Slider and Beef Brisket Burnt Ends Hash with White Cheddar Fondue and Pickled Jalapeños both return, they’ve also introduced a brand new offering: Smoked Pork Ribs with Roasted Corn Salad. Hearty portions and authentic smoke — you can see the Smoker right next to the booth! — make this a winner.
We also couldn’t stop raving about the Roasted Corn Salad. I have a feeling this is gonna be a popular dish at Summer picnics.
Dragon Pearl from Lotus House
The Lotus House brought another new flavor to the Festival table this year: the Dragon Pearl. Get ready for this one, because it’s like nothing else you’ve ever tried. We’re talking a combo of Beer, Honey, Cream, and Tapioca Pearls.
Our staff acknowledges right up front that this one is definitely going to fall into the “you either love it or you hate it” column. And since we like out-of-the-ordinary drinks — we loved it!
With a creamy finish, depth from the beer, and those addictive Tapioca “bubbles,” we give this one high marks.
Warm Chocolate Cake with Bourbon Salted Caramel Sauce from Smokehouse
For our last sweet, we’re heading back around for one more visit to the Smokehouse to try a new addition to the menu.
There was widespread outcry when it was announced that the Piggylicious Cupcake would be sitting this dance out. I mean, really — Bacon + Cake. How could you possibly replace that?
Well. I’ll be the first to nominate Chocolate + Bourbon. Because Chocolate. And Bourbon.
The cake is served warm with a generous drizzle of the super boozy sauce.
A scoop of melty vanilla ice cream, and this would have been perfection.
And that will wrap up our review of this year’s new and favorite dishes at the Epcot Flower and Garden Festival! Don’t forget — you can check out photos of every single dish — both new ones as well as returning favorites — on our main Epcot Flower and Garden Festival Menu Page!
But now I’d really love to hear from you! What looks great to you at this year’s Flower and Garden Festival? Leave us a comment and tell us your thoughts below!
DFB Staff contributing to this post include AJ, Brooke, and Tina.