I have said this many times in the past, but one of the things I really love about Food & Wine is that everyone’s opinion of what will be good is very different. And, that’s OK. It’s more than OK.
In fact, I did a little bit of research. I compared my Pre-Festival Top 25 to the ones offered up by our Guest Contributors – Scott Adams, Doug Davis, Dennis Conroy, and you – our readers.
When I looked for what dishes we held in common, what I found was quite intriguing. For example, Scott and I only shared 10 items! 10! That means we differed on 15 others!
My Pre-Festival menu is more in alignment with those set by Doug and Dennis, but only by a little bit. I agreed on 11 dishes with Doug and 13 items with Dennis.
To be honest, my friends, you and I are much more in sync, but, yet again, by just a slighter higher degree. We hold 15 of Epcot’s creations in common.
Comparing all of our lists, there were only 7 dishes that could be found in all of our Top 25’s. These:
- Kālua Pork Slider (Hawaii)
- Grilled Beef Skewer (Patagonia)
- “Le Cellier” Wild Mushroom Beef Filet Mignon (Canada)
- New York Strip (Chew Labs)
- Seared Sea Scallop (Scotland)
- Loaded Mac n’ Cheese with Nueske’s Pepper Bacon (Farm Fresh)
- Grilled Sweet and Spicy Bush Berry Shrimp (Australia)
What’s the morale of the story? Well, as I’ve published before, one of the Golden Rules of Food & Wine is …
Everyone’s tastes are different. Just keep in mind – there’s no wrong choice. There are just different choices … based on personal taste!
Everyone’s tastes are different. It’s the reason I adore the Food & Wine festival. Everyone’s tastes are different, and I love the conversation that this fact generates.
Now, back to the 2015 Top 25 …
15 – Seared Sea Scallop (Scotland)
As I said last year, I love scallops. This was a great scallop! Every component of the dish was good. Crispy bacon. Spinach gratin. Perfectly cooked scallop. It was first-rate.
Having said that, as Food & Wine dishes go, for me, Epcot has way too many better and heartier options from which to choose.
14 – Crispy Pork Belly with Black Beans (Brazil)
A nicely-sized, perfectly-prepared piece of pork belly. Black beans. Tomato. Onion. The flavors meld together very well.
Brazil can be a bit inconsistent with its preparation, at times, but when they get it right, this item is outstanding!
13 – Potato and Leek Waffle with Beer-braised Beef (Belgium)
Belgium really scored with this one in 2014. The waffle, itself, tasted very good. The beef was even better. Looking for a repeat!
12 – New York Strip (Chew Labs)
I’m anxious to see the portion’s size. Hopefully The Chew won’t be serving just a couple mere slices of steak. Having said that, I can’t imagine that celebrity crew of chefs delivering anything short of a phenomenal taste.
11 – “Le Cellier” Wild Mushroom Beef Filet Mignon (Canada)
When it comes to steak, I’ll always choose a filet over a New York Strip. I much prefer the more tender cut.
In 2014, Canada’s filet was well-prepared. The truffle butter sauce tasted phenomenal. Even the mushrooms (which I ordinarily dislike) were very nice.
10 – Battered Shrimp Taco (Mexico)
As you might expect, Mexico always delivers high-quality tacos, but, year after year, their shrimp taco is the best of the bunch.
9 – Olive Oil Poached Salmon (Chew Labs)
Similar comment as the one I made above … I can’t imagine that Michael Symon and his pals would deliver anything short of delicious. I enjoy salmon, but I don’t know that I’ve ever had a “poached” piece of fish. I’m intrigued.
8 – Roasted Pork (Dominican Republic)
Yeah, I love pork roast. In fact, Mrs. All in WDW makes a fabulous version. Smothered with onions, it’s delightful. I’m not saying that I’m going to compare you to her recipe, Epcot, but I do have lofty expectations!
7 – Korean Barbecue Short Rib (South Korea)
Uh, you had me at “short rib”. I’ve said this before, but my absolute favorite meal on property is the Cabernet-braised Short Rib with Corn Risotto that is served at the Yacht Club’s Captain’s Grille.
In my opinion, France’s Food & Wine recipe (being served again this year) falls very flat. You’re “up”, South Korea! Oh, by the way … this dish is displacing your delicious Kimchi Dog. It better be good!
6 – Grilled Beef Skewer (Patagonia)
I can’t believe that there was a day that I didn’t like this dish. Proving that actual meal preparation is everything, after having a very over-cooked piece of beef in 2011, I knocked this masterpiece off my menu for 2012.
Fortunately, I gave it a second chance in 2013. This marketplace, then called Argentina, absolutely delivered! The beef. The purée. Their signature chimichurri sauce. Wow! Highly recommended.
5 – Roasted Verlasso Salmon (Patagonia)
2014’s version was outstanding. The salad includes quinoa, sweet corn, as well as finely chopped tomato, bell pepper (both red and green), and red onion.
The salmon was the star. Cooked perfectly, it looked beautiful and tasted great! Nice size portion too!
4 – Buttered Chicken (Africa)
Sanaa. That’s what I want. Sanaa. Have you been to Sanaa, my friends? One of their menu selections, of course, is a delectable, rich-tasting Butter Chicken.
It is usually my “go to” dish when we visit that great restaurant. You have a lot to live up to, Africa. This high ranking is based on that promise!
3 – Chicken Sausage with Creamy Polenta (Canada)
This “gem” is coming back to Epcot after a two-year absence. I’m hoping it’s a triumphant return.
In 2012, I absolutely loved the spice of the sausage and the flavor of the sweet corn polenta. Mrs. All in WDW had a small taste the first time I bought it. The second time we stopped by for a helping, she had to have her own!
2 – Kālua Pork Slider (Hawaii)
Is this the year that Hawaii’s slider reclaims the “crown” it won in 2011 and 2012? Only time will tell. Always a very reasonable price, this morsel has been a Top 5 dish four years running. I’m expecting it to be a strong contender in 2015.
1 – Lamb Meatball (New Zealand)
To BE the best, you have to BEAT the best, eh? Saving the best for last, 2014’s “champion” item (and 2015’s pre-festival #1) is undeniably New Zealand’s Lamb Meatball.
Its tomato chutney accompaniment provided the perfect amount of spiciness. The meatball, itself, was absolutely delicious. Don’t be turned off by the fact it’s lamb, folks. The dish was phenomenal!
There! Now, you have it, my friends! The 2015 All in WDW Epcot International Food & Wine Pre-Festival Top 25! Now, it’s TIME to EAT!
Look for the pictures, my friends! They’re coming REALLY soon!