We are just 49 days away from this year’s Epcot Food & Wine Festival…the most WONDERFUL time of the year! Today, pre-booking opened for Annual Passholders, Tables in Wonderland, and Disney Vacation Club members. I was up bright and early to book culinary seminars with Cat Cora from Kouzzina and Kevin Dundon from Raglan Road. I’ve never been to a seminar during Food & Wine and I’m excited to see these amazing chefs in action. Booking opens for everyone on August 14th at 7:00 am, so mark your calendars!
While the special events look amazing, we’ll save that for another day. Today I want to look at the Food & Wine Festival Marketplace Booths. This year there are 29 booths to choose from….like there weren’t an overwhelming number of choices before! I was recently going through various menus and noticed that there aren’t many healthy options available. Now I know there aren’t any calories in WDW 😉 and Food & Wine is a time to splurge, but I have searched out some of the healthier items so I don’t need to be rolled out of Epcot after my culinary journey around the World. Yes, I will still be having my beloved Coq au Vin from France, the Kielbasa & Potato Pierogies from Poland, and the oh so decadent Chocolate Lava Cake with Bailey’s Ganache from Ireland on my trip, but I have also found some of these less gut busting options to help keep me on track.
Let’s go clockwise around the World Showcase and start at the new Terra booth. As a former vegetarian, I actually enjoy “fake meat ” and I’m looking forward to this booth. The Trick’n Chick’n Curry with Basmati Rice not only sounds good, but it looks good from the preview photos. I’m glad Disney has stepped up and is offering more vegetarian and vegan options at the Food & Wine Festival. This is something that has definitely been lacking in the past with the majority of vegetarian options being desserts.
You’re actually going to find many of the healthier options right in this beginning area, the next being the Caribbean. This booth was only introduced last year and the Jerk Spiced Chicken Drumstick with Mango Chutney received many positive reviews. The chicken is simply grilled and has a nice kick to it. This is a great carb and gluten free option.
Moving across the pathway, we come to Australia. This was one of my favorite booths last year. They are bringing back the simply grilled Shrimp on the Barbie with Pepper Berry Citrus Glaze, which is just delicious! The Grilled Lamb Chop is back, but this year instead of the Potato-Goat Cheese Salad, it is paired with a Mint Pesto and Potato Crunchies. The pesto is going to be like a kicked up version of mint jelly which is a traditional accompaniment with lamb, so that will be a nice addition. I’m not thrilled about the potato crunchies and I’m hoping we can order this without them.
To finish out this little cluster of healthier options, there is Argentina. Here they have a wonderful Grilled Beef Skewer with Chimichurri Sauce and Boniato Puree. Are you sensing a grilled theme here?? Sometimes beef skewers can be tough and chewy, but this is nice and tender. I really like chimichurri, but they give you a lot and it can be overly oily so use that sparingly. If you’re wondering what Boniato is (I had to look it up last year), it’s a sweet potato found in South America. It’s very starchy and a nice accompaniment to the beef.
Now we come to the Asian portion of our journey starting with China. This year the Barbecue Chicken Stick (which didn’t sound all too appealing) will change to a Chicken Satay with Spicy Peanut Sauce and Pickled Vegetables…YUM! I love a good peanut sauce so this is definitely on my must try list.
Across the way is my all time favorite booth at the Food & Wine Festival, South Korea. The Lettuce Wrap with Roast Port and Kimchi Slawis to die for! It is incredibly flavorful and actually pretty good for you. The nice crisp lettuce takes the place of a heavy bun and the pork is just simply roasted with no heavy sauces. I’m sure I will have at least 3 of these.
Next to the China pavilion is the African Outpost where you will find the South Africa booth. The Seared Filet of Beef with Smashed Sweet Potatoes and Braai Sauce is always a big hit among festival patrons. The sauce is a tomato based sauce that has a bit of spice to it, but plays nicely off of the sweet potatoes. This booth also has a wonderful Pinotage that goes wonderfully with the filet. This brings us to about halfway around World Showcase, which is a good point to take a breather from all of this amazing food. Next week in the Friday Feast, we’ll tackle the 2nd half of the Food & Wine Festival and even more healthy options!
Great news, the Disney Food Blog has released the “DFB Mini-Guide to the 2012 Epcot Food & Wine Festival“!! This e-book is far from mini with 160 pages full of Food & Wine Festival goodness. The guide has a full, daily schedule of events for the entire 46-day festival, mouthwatering photos of all 29 marketplace booths and the food available at each, and a brand new chapter on What’s NEW at the 2012 Festival! Also included are touring strategies, an Eat to the Beat! MP3 playlist, and 11 themed booth crawls, a really fun way to experience the festival! Click here to view more details and make sure to use the discount code CHEFSto get a $3 discount!!
Hope this got you as excited for the festival as I am! So between now and next week, tell me: what’s your favorite healthy food at the Epcot Food & Wine Festival?