The 2013 Epcot Flower & Garden Festival started five days ago and today will mark my third day attending. I just can’t get enough of the new “Garden Marketplace” additions to the festival!
If you haven’t heard the news yet, the “Garden Marketplaces” are booths where guests can try culinary creations and special libations inspired by the gardens around World Showcase. This portion of the Flower & Garden Festival shouldn’t be confused with the Epcot Food & Wine Festival. While it is a similar concept, the “Garden Marketplaces” have completely different menu items and all of the dishes offered are inspired by Spring and the gardens which surround them.
During my recent “research trips” I tasted and sipped all kinds of Garden Goodness. Let’s take a look at the hits and misses of the festival thus far.
My first stop was in between Canada and the UK.
The Cottage: Savories, Trifles and Teas
Here I tried one of favorite items of the entire festival! On the left we have the Potato, Chive & Cheddar Cheese Biscuit with Smoked Salmon Tartare and Sour Cream ($4.25). This was divine and oh so filling. The biscuits are baked right on site and are soft and moist with a touch of course salt. The salmon filling is generous with just a drizzle of sour cream and a hint of dill. This was the only menu item that I went back for seconds later on in the day.
In the center is an unsweet Peach Cold Brewed Iced Tea ($2) Sweeteners are available at the booth and I found the tea very refreshing.
On the right is the Baked Goat’s Brie with Kumquat Chutney ($4.50). This dish was a surprise. The cheese is baked in puff pastery and then smothered with the chutney. While my brain anticipated something more on the savory side, my mouth enjoyed something similar to a turnover. As an uber puff pastery fan, I really enjoyed this dish!
Also available at “The Cottage” were an assortment of trifles
The three options (available individually $1.50 or as a trio $3.75) were Chocolate, Berry and Ginger Tea Trifles. The chocolate was probably my favorite. If there’s a chocolate option for dessert, its the one I’m usually going for. The berry was light and refreshing and then we have the Ginger Tea. This one I called sushi pudding for the rest of the day. Green tea mousse with candied ginger on top. I dare you to eat this one and not think of it as sushi pudding. It was so odd!
Next up we made a bee line for…
The Smokehouse: Barbecue and Brews
Y’all know I like my beer and this marketplace’s beer sampler was going to allow me to try four new brews!
DISNEY NERD ALERT! If you look real close at one of the menu boards here you can see that it was previously used for the Korea booth during Epcot’s Food and Wine Festival.
The Smokehouse Beer Flight ($13) offers four distinct 6oz options (pictured lightest to darkest)
- Mama’s Little Yella Pills from Oskar River Blues in Lyons, CO (Pilsner Czech style)
- Liberty Ale from Anchor Brewing Co. in San Francisco, CA (India Pale Ale)
- Red Ale from Orlando Brewing Company in Orlando, FL (Red Ale-Organic)
- Blackwater Porter from Orlando Brewing Company in Orlando, FL (Stout-Organic)
While cute in name and color, the pilsner was my least favorite. I am not a light beer drinker and consider my palette a bit more sophisticated. If you are into American light beers, this may be right up your alley. The IPA was of course my favorite, followed by the delicious red and then the chocolatey porter. These beers are also available in 12oz options if you know which one you like and want to forego the sampler which comes in a convenient beverage carrier for portability.
Of the two savory items on the menu here…there was a clear winner:
Smoked Beef Brisket with Collard Greens and Jalapeno Corn Bread ($6.75). The beef was tender and juicy and the collards were on point! Paired with the sweet yet salty and spicy savoriness of the cornbread and a beer, and this country girl was in foodie euphoria!
The Pulled Pig Slider with Cole Slaw ($5.50) was a distant second for me. The hubby found the cole slaw a bit vinegary for his taste. Make sure you head to the silverware cart for the BBQ sauce that should accompany this sandwich. It wasn’t a “miss” in my book but it definitely wasn’t as big a “hit” as it sounded.
I heard from other diners that the Rocky Road Brownie Mousse ($3) was THE dessert to try at the festival. I was full so I didn’t partake but here’s a photo to get your mouth watering in anticipation.
Here’s another stunner that I didn’t try cause my belly was just too full! Probably the one with the most cult classic following here and the star of the ‘Garden Marketplaces” is the Dole Whip with Siesta Key Spiced Rum ($6.25) available at the…
My friend Beth’s pour seemed to be a little more generous than some of the other photos I’ve seen on the internet. I think the trick to this dessert is to take your spoon and mix all of the flavors together. That’s what I saw a lot of the customers doing. What’s not to love about this item? There’s also an unleaded version ($4) if you’d prefer. No Dole Whip Floats available here. Just the soft serve.
No jiggers here for measurements just non-bartender Cast Members free pouring. “Hey Frankie! Keep a pourin’!”
I tried a 12oz cup of the Samuel Adams Cream Stout ($6.25) beer here. Nothing too remarkable. It was strong though!
Here’s a dish that may make me have to hunt down Jens Dahlmann (Executive Chef of Epcot Food & Beverage) and beg for the recipe.
Probably the best representation of what the festival is about, the fresh asparagus and garden cocktail sauce over lobster scream Spring! The Asparagi con Aragosta all’Ortolana ($7.75) is a simple dish that packs a powerful punch. Growing up in Key West, I grew tired of lobster. We could catch them in the canal in our backyard and I had consumed so many of them in my youth that lobster was nothing special to me when I saw it on a restaurant menu. What made THIS dish was the creamy garden cocktail sauce. I wish there had been more lobster and asparagus on the plate as vessels to get more of the delicious sauce to my lips. Short of licking the plate, I devoured my portion!
There’s so much more that I want to share with you including dishes I tasted at “Florida Fresh”, “Jardin de Fiestas” and “Taste of Marrakesh” but I am literally heading out the door and back to the Epcot Flower & Garden Festival for more sampling. Stay tuned to Disney Every Day for more Garden Marketplace food pics. I will be sharing photos today on my official Facebook page as well Instagram. Give me a follow over there to see everything as it unfolds at the 2013 Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival!