Five Items I want to Try at 2015 Epcot International Food and Wine Festival

It’s less than a month until Elyssa and I head down to Disney World to visit the Food & Wine festival (and run a race, or something….). That means it’s time to really start figuring out which booths I might want to visit at this year’s festival.

My process is simple: start with Josh of easyWDW’s reviews of the new (one and two) and the returning food items, and supplement with other reviews, as necessary. (As you’d probably guess, I would encourage you to check out Josh’s posts for the full description and photos of all the items.)

After going through the various reviews, here are five items that I know I want to try. I’m sure I’ll add to this list as I read more coverage, go back over reviews, etc…, but this is my starting point:

Crispy Pork Belly with Black Beans and Tomato (Brazil)

Josh from easyWDW describes this as:

It’s high quality meat with little fat and a crispy texture, despite sitting in the generous spoonful of flavorful black beans

Potato and Leek Waffle with Beer-Braised Beef and Smoked Gouda Cream (Belgium)

Josh from easyWDW describes this as:

Several large bites of tender, slow cooked beef top a freshly pressed waffle. It’s basically beef stew over a waffle with a little bit of an onion-y kick from the leeks

Chilaquiles de pollo (Mexico)

Josh from easyWDW describes this as:

[A] baked enchilada kind of thing with some corn chips that are no longer particularly crunchy. But it’s piled high with seasoned shredded chicken, melted cheese, and the other ingredients to make a flavorful dish that probably doesn’t reinvent the wheel, but tastes better than anything currently served at the Mexico quick service.

Tacos de camarón (Mexico)

Josh from easyWDW describes this as:

Battered shrimp, pico de gallo, pickled onions, and chipotle mayonnaise is a slightly different take on Mexico’s usual shrimp taco. This is the best version yet, with four lightly fried shrimp sitting underneath a creamy, spicy chipotle mayo and the piquant onions adding a little crunch along with the pico.

Liquid Nitro Chocolate Almond Truffle with Warm Whiskey Caramel (Next Eats)

WDW Magic describes this as:

It is made right in-front of you using liquid nitrogen to rapidly cool the truffle mix. It is all topped in a warm whiskey caramel to make a delicious sweet treat

Early Coverage of the 2015 Epcot International Food & Wine Festival

Sunset at Epcot
Sunset at Epcot

The 2015 Epcot International Food and Wine Festival officially opened on Friday and (as you might expect) there has been a ton of early coverage.

My go-to source for reviews of food items at Disney World is easyWDW and Josh has already reviewed all of the new items at the festival in these two posts: Part 1 and Part 2. He’s already sold me on the $5 Chilaquiles de pollo from Mexico:

This is not exactly what I was expecting – I thought it would be more of a nachos situation, but this is more of a baked enchilada kind of thing with some corn chips that are no longer particularly crunchy. But it’s piled high with seasoned shredded chicken, melted cheese, and the other ingredients to make a flavorful dish that probably doesn’t reinvent the wheel, but tastes better than anything currently served at the Mexico quick service. It’s an above average value that’s easily shared.

Sounds great. If you’re interested in items returning from previous years, Josh also put together a post on those items a couple of months ago. Of course, though I enjoy the food-based posts, I’m still eagerly anticipating his reviews of the various new craft beer options available at this year’s festival. (Yes, I know there is a site dedicated to reviewing beer at Walt Disney World, but since at least one of their reviewers has said she is not a huge IPA fan I discount the site’s opinions pretty heavily.)

UPDATE: September 30, 2015 – I was contacted by Scott of Beers & Ears via Twitter, and he explained that though Jenn isn’t an IPA fan, he actually is. He also pointed me to his recent review of BrewDog’s Punk IPA as an example of an IPA he’s enjoyed. Given this new information, I might have to re-evaluate how I interpret the opinions of the writers on Beers & Ears.

TouringPlans has a series of posts looking at this year’s festival, including one taking a look at this year’s Food & Wine Festival branded merchandise, one reviewing some of the new food items, and one giving some general updates about things like the Chase Lounge and the “Remy’s Ratatouille Hide and Squeak scavenger hunt”. I especially like Julie Mascardo’s description of the new Chocolate-Almond Truffle from The Chew’s “Next Eats” booth:

Essentially the chocolate truffle is a chocolate mousse made into a ball and then dipped into liquid nitrogen, which instantly freezes it. The frozen ball is then tapped with a small hammer to crack it open, and almond powder is sprinkled over the top and then it is coated with a whiskey-caramel sauce.

Yes, please.

Both WDW Magic and Disney Food Blog also have reviews and recommendations of items at this year’s festival, but I found the WDW Magic reviews lacked detailed descriptions of the food items, and I think my sense of taste differs slightly from those who write for DFB. That said, I’m including the links should your preferences differ from mine.

One new wrinkle I plan on trying this year is the Food and Wine Tracker app by Dave Kennedy of disneypodcast.net. I first heard about this app via EatingWDW and, though it seems fairly basic, I think I am going to give it a shot. (Of course, if easyWDW puts together a PDF version of its 2015 Food & Wine coverage, I’ll probably end up downloading that as well.)

Finally, if you want to get a flavor (pun kind of intended) of what this year’s Food & Wine festival looks like, there are a ton of photos over on DISboards.com. The gang from the DIS also put together this video walk through: (which seems like a great way to end this post)

Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party 2015 featuring Josh Gonzalez

Tip of the Hat Selfie from Josh
Tip of the Hat Selfie from Josh

The reviews of this year’s Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party are starting to pop up. Though we’ll get to those in a minute, I was more interested in hearing what friend of the site, recent Not So Scary party attendee, and all around class actJosh Gonzalez, had to say about the party. Thankfully, Josh was happy to oblige:

I attended my first Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party this past Sunday night and I had an amazing time.  I saw the Boo to You Parade twice and I was very impressed with all of the performers and I really liked the parade music.  My favorites include the grave diggers and ballroom dancers from the Haunted Mansion and the portion that had characters from Splash Mountain and the Country Bears Jamboree.  I was also very impressed by Hallowishes.  I caught the very last Hocus Pocus Villains stage show at midnight and I was thoroughly entertained.  It was funny, creative, and included lots of very talented performers.  The villains in the show were a lot more impressive than the standard villains you see in parades and meet and greets.  I was thrilled to see Oogie Boogie with an articulated face that included a moving mouth and moving eyes.
I also really liked the overall atmosphere of the party, especially considering that it was only late September.  If you plan on going to a Halloween party, I highly recommend you wear a costume!  One of the real highlights of the night was seeing all of the different costumes that everyone was wearing.  I think the people who were wearing costumes were definitely having more fun than those who were not.  One last bit of advice: if you are planning on trick or treating, ask around about which locations are giving out the most candy and the best type of candy.  Some of the locations were only giving out 2 or 3 pieces of candy per person, while others were giving out 2 large handfuls of candy per person.

As you might expect, Josh practices what he preaches and put together amazing Hipster Minnie and Mickey costumes with his lovely wife, Carye:

Carye & Josh as Hipster Minnie and Mickey (Photo Courtesy of Josh)
Carye & Josh as Hipster Minnie and Mickey (Photo Courtesy of Josh)

For more of Josh’s photos from the party, check out Josh’s 2015 Mickey’s Not So Scary Google Photos Album. (which includes photos of the dancers and Splash Mountain characters he described in his recap.)

If you want even more information and reviews on this year’s party, this review by Dave at YourFirstVisit.net is probably the best place to start. He provides a nice level of detail about the party, as well as gives some general touring tips and information about some of the schedule changes they made to this year’s show. On the audio side of things, the gang from DIS Unplugged provides a pretty good recap of their experiences at the party in their most recent episode.

In a similar vein, Denise over at Mouse Steps also has some good tips on how to make the most of your visit to the party. My favorites from her list are:

  • Trick or Treating is for Everyone – Adults and children can trick-or-treat! Make sure to pick up a bag when entering the park. (And as Josh said, make sure you ask to see where they are giving out the best candy.)

and

  • Meet “Talking Mickey” in his Halloween costume at Town Square Theater

Her tips related to shows and parades (view the latest show and parade, watch the parade from Frontierland, etc..) are also good advice for whenever you are visiting the Magic Kingdom (whether there is a hard ticket party or not.) You can also check out Denise’s photo / video post, that includes over a 130 photos from the 2 nights that she attended if you want to see even more images from the party.

Lastly, if you’re a TouringPlans subscriber, you can find touring plans for the party on their Miscellaneous touring plans page (including plans for family’s with small children and for adults).