Get the Party Started! 2016 “Food” & Garden Preview – Part I!

Good morning, my friends. Are you ready to “party”?  After all, Epcot’s International Flower & Garden (er, “Food” & Garden) Festival kicks off today!

Catch “Food” & Garden’s Full Menus Right Here!

As I prepared my previews of 2016’s edition of Disney’s springtime food-fest, I realized that I had to start with a short rant about what isn’t on the menu this year.

To zero in on that, let’s take a look back at All in WDW’s 2015 Final “Food” & Garden Top 15, shall we?

  1. Kung Pao Chicken Bun – Lotus House
  2. White Corn Arepa with Braised Beef – Botanas Botánico
  3. Shrimp and Stone-ground Grits – Florida Fresh
  4. Ghost Pepper-dusted Tilapia – Urban Farm Eats
  5. Pulled Pig Slider – The Smokehouse
  6. Watermelon Salad – Florida Fresh
  7. Teriyaki Curry Bun – Hanami
  8. Achiote-marinated Pork Corn Tortilla – Jardin de Fiestas
  9. Seafood Ceviche – Botanas Botánico
  10. Osaka Salmon Sushi – Hanami
  11. Smoked Debreziner Sausage – The Smokehouse
  12. Spicy Hot Dog – Pineapple Promenade
  13. Parisian-style Dumplings – Fleur de Lys
  14. Cachapas with Farmer’s Cheese – Botanas Botánico
  15. Beef Brisket Burnt Ends Hash – The Smokehouse

Fifteen great items … TEN of them gone!  Yes.  Ten!  Gone!  What?!  Are you kidding me?

Yes, folks.  Last year’s “champion” – Lotus House’s Kung Pao Chicken Bun?  Gone.

2015's Kung Pao Chicken Bun

2015’s Kung Pao Chicken Bun

My “runner up” – Botanas Botánico’s White Corn Arepa with Braised Beef?  Farewell.  Botanas Botánico, itself?  Axed!

2015's White Corn Arepa with Braised Beef

2015’s White Corn Arepa with Braised Beef

One of the single-best items in the history of “Food” & Garden – Urban Farm Eats’ Ghost Pepper-dusted Tilapia?  Vanished!

2015's Ghost Pepper-dusted Tilapia

2015’s Ghost Pepper-dusted Tilapia

Hah!  Three of my 2015 Top 5 thrown in the trash bin.  I guess that tells you what my personal tastes are worth. 😦

Moving into this year, I’m gearing up to build All in WDW’s 2016 Pre-Festival Top 10.  As always, I’m going to focus on savory entrees.  So, what’s my first stop in that quest?  It is … Future World?

For the first time in history, Sunshine Seasons in The Land pavilion is crashing Epcot’s festivities.  Sadly, however, their Oak-grilled Vegetable Flatbread and Tomato and Cucumber Salad fall flat.  Too mundane for me, I’ll pass.

True, I am really going to miss Urban Farm Eats’ pepper-laden tilapia.  What will replace that delectable piece of fish?  Enter their Seared Pork Tenderloin with Mushroom Ragoût.

Frankly, Mrs. All in WDW and I have pork tenderloin quite often.  Plus, I don’t truly like mushrooms.  That leaves me with little choice.  Sorry, Urban.  I’ll move on, thank you.

Having said that, in 2015, I did sample this kitchen’s “Naanwich”.  Then called a Quinoa Vegetable “Naanwich”, I found it good.  It just wasn’t great.

2015's Quinoa Vegetable “Naanwich”

2015’s Quinoa Vegetable “Naanwich”

This year, this kiosk is serving a Vegetable and White Bean “Naanwich”.  Will it be better?  Will it make my Top 10?  Well have to see!

Finally, Urban delivers a returning festival favorite – the ever-refreshing and tasty Watermelon Salad.  Great little dish, folks.  It’s certainly worth a try!

2015's Watermelon Salad

2015’s Watermelon Salad

Oh, yes!  Pineapple Promenade returns in 2016, and they’re bringing their Pineapple Soft-serve (er, dare I say “Dole Whip”?) with them!

What you really want to try, though, is their Spicy Hot Dog.  A small, but very tasty, bite, folks!  Grab one!

2015's Spicy Hot Dog

2015’s Spicy Hot Dog

Now, we get to “fresh” business!  In fact, we get to La Isla Fresca – one of “Food” & Garden’s brand new kitchens.

I’m intrigued by Fresca’s choices. For instance, Jerk-spice Grouper or Chicken?  Uh, I’ll take the chicken.  As I’ve said before, I find the taste of grouper to be just a bit too strong for me.

I have an admitted weakness for braised beef.  Epcot must know this, because “Food” & Garden’s rookie entry is going to cater to that preference (not solely on my account, of course) with a Jamaican-braised Beef!  Yes!

From the new, let’s move on to some old standards, first stopping by Mexico … it’s Jardin de Fiestas!

Mexico always serves up an outstanding fish taco.  In 2016’s case, I can’t wait to enjoy their Tempura Shrimp Tacos!

Not a fan of corn tortillas, I’m going to decline the kitchen’s other option – a Corn Tortilla Quesadilla.

Lotus House “won” 2015’s “Food” & Garden Festival with their, aforementioned, Kung Pao Chicken Bun.  In 2016, China has dropped that great dish.

Will their Gaoli Beef Bun be a repeat of a plate served mere months ago at 2015’s Food & Wine Festival?

Food & Wine '15's Gaoli Beef Slider

Food & Wine ’15’s Gaoli Beef Slider

Or, did Disney listen to me when I said, “With [a] steamed bun, this beef is a contender. As is, it was just a good dish.”  I can’t wait to see!

China also returns with Vegetable Spring Rolls in 2016.  Honestly, it is an enjoyable offering, but it’s too ordinary to order, in my opinion.

2015's Vegetable Spring Rolls

2015’s Vegetable Spring Rolls

There.  That’s more than enough for one day, I’d say.  We’ll be back tomorrow with more!  If you’re going to be at the “Food” & Garden Festival today, folks, please enjoy!  We can’t wait to hear your reports!

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