The 2017 All in WDW Epcot International Food & Wine Festival FINAL Top 20 – Part 2!

The Top 10, my friends!  The cream of the crop!  The pinnacle of Food & Wine’s culinary mountain!

Epcot is offering dozens and dozens of entrées this year, folks.  Can you eat all 80+?  Do you want to spend that much money?  Of course, you don’t!

That’s why we’re here.  Welcome!  Yes, welcome to the 2017 All in WDW Epcot International Food & Wine Festival FINAL Top 10!

What do we really recommend that you eat?  Where would we suggest you spend your hard-earned cash?  We’ve got the answers.  Let’s see!

10. Traditional Spanish Paella – Spain – Pre-Festival Rank: 14

I’ll admit it.  Given my pre-existing affection for paella and jambalaya-type meals, this dish may have had an unfair advantage when it came to locking in my final menu.

Unsurprisingly, I really liked it!  It was loaded with all sorts of goodness, that’s for sure.  Mussels, shrimp, chicken, chorizo.  Delicious!  Give me a huge bowlful!

9. Grilled Beef Skewer – Patagonia – Pre-Festival Rank: 18

As I mentioned before the festival, this has been an inconsistent item over the years.  Well, 2017 saw it rebound … yet again.

The meat was pull-apart tender as we yanked it off the skewer.  The purée was creamy-delicious.  The chimichurri tasted great.  Put it on your list!

8. Seafood Salad – Spain – Pre-Festival Rank: 12

A very pleasant surprise!  A refreshing bite, this salad has it all!  Mussels, scallops, octopus, green olives, wow!  When all was said and done, Mrs. All in WDW fell in love with this dish.

For my part, I definitely enjoyed it too.  My only critique?  It was a bit heavy with olive oil.  Try not to splash it on yourself.  I learned that lesson the hard way!

7. Lamb Meatball – New Zealand – Pre-Festival Rank: 5

Another former “champion” done in by its condiment, I’m afraid.  Oh, the meatball, itself, was perfect!  Even the bread bowl was good.

The recipe’s chutney, however, delivered way too much sweetness.  Honestly, when this dish topped my lists in 2014 and 2015, its blanket of tomatoes was memorably spicy.

I tried one last helping before we left Epcot, and, where I usually ask for extra chutney, I asked for less (see above).  It was a much better experience.

6. Lump Crab Cake with Napa Cabbage Slaw – Coastal Eats – Pre-Festival Rank: 9

Quite simply, I love crab cakes.  We don’t have them very often, so I’m pretty sure that fact colored my view of this dish.

The accompanying slaw was mediocre, to be truthful, but that didn’t matter.  A nice-sized patty, the cake, itself, was fantastic!  It lived up to my lofty expectations, folks!  Try it!

5. Seared Scallops – Coastal Eats – Pre-Festival Rank: 13

With two dishes in my Top 6, Coastal Eats easily wins best Marketplace in festival, as far as I’m concerned.  Oh, Spain made a very solid run at it, but Coastal’s seafood takes the prize.

A perfectly cooked duo, these scallops are perfect for sharing.  In addition, the accompanying side was exceptional.  I’d go for seconds, thirds, and fourths of this dish, folks!

4. Roasted Verlasso Salmon with Quinoa Salad – Active Eats – Pre-Festival Rank: 2

Whether served by Patagonia or, here, by Active Eats, this plate is a perennial favorite.  It’s an incredibly outstanding bite, in fact.  The salmon is always perfectly prepared.  The dish delivers great flavor.

Of all of it, however, I truly appreciate that this recipe introduced me to quinoa salad.  I have found that I really love quinoa salad!  Thank you, Epcot!

3. Roasted Pork Wings with Korean BBQ Sauce – Flavors from Fire – Pre-Festival Rank: Unranked

Probably the festival’s biggest surprise … at least as far as my menu is concerned.  ‘Fall off the bone’ delicious.  That’s the easiest way to describe these gems.

We’ve seen some critics call this a puny portion, but Mrs. All in WDW and I would beg to differ.  In fact, she said, “Best thing in the festival.  Huge portion.  I don’t care if I ever have chicken wings again.  Just give me these!”

2. Roasted Irish Sausage with Colcannon Potatoes – Ireland – Pre-Festival Rank: 7

Not Rose & Crown’s very same preparation, to be sure but this version is pretty darn good in its own right.  A very healthy portion size, too!  Served piping hot, it was quite yummy.

Mrs. All in WDW was no where near as enthusiastic as me to try this dish, but even she called it one of the best things she sampled all festival.  High praise, let me tell you!

1. Smoked Beef Brisket and Pimento Cheese – Hops & Barley – Pre-Festival Rank: 3

In 2016, this item was in the running for “Best in Festival” for quite some time before Hawai’i’s pork slider finally took it down.  In 2017, however, it finds the “championship” that it so very well deserves!

A generous serving size shot this item into contention for the second straight year, but the unsurpassed quality of the brisket won it the title.  This year, this masterpiece was simply second to none!

The meat was tender, tasty, delicious!  I could have enjoyed heaping plateful after heaping plateful!  It is a sensational “must buy”, my friends.  Please don’t miss it!

There it is, folks.  The 2017 All in WDW Epcot International Food & Wine Festival FINAL Top 20.  My menu recommendations are “chiseled in stone”.

If you’re going to be lucky enough to attend Food & Wine this year and you want help with deciding what to try, then start at the top of my list and work your way down.  Your stomach will thank me!

The 2017 All in WDW Epcot International Food & Wine Festival FINAL Top 20 – Part 1!

Greetings, my friends!  Welcome to what I feel are my favorite posts of the year – the two-day unveiling of All in WDW’s final Food & Wine “menu”!  The 2017 All in WDW Epcot International Food & Wine Festival FINAL Top 20!

Yes, these are our recommendations for those of you who are lucky enough to get to attend Epcot’s big Fall “party”.  What should you eat?  Well, let’s see!

20. Sweet Pancake with Spicy Chipotle Chicken Sausage – Flavors from Fire – Pre-Festival Rank: 6

Jalapeños in the pancake.  That would have elevated this dish.  The maple butter syrup that adorns the presentation adds way too much sweetness.

Additionally, I would have liked to have seen much more sausage.  Clearly, the pancake was supposed to be the “star”, but three little slices of sausage didn’t cut it.

19. Teriyaki-glazed SPAM® Hash – Hawai’i – Pre-Festival Rank: 16

Just to give it a fair shot, we tried this item twice.  We’ll stand with our original assessment … too little SPAM and too much hash.

18. Red Hot Spicy Thai Curry Beef – Thailand – Pre-Festival Rank: 20

In short, this plate was good, but it wasn’t great.  When I hear “curry”, I think ‘spicy’.

When I see “red hot”, I think really spicy.  Right, wrong, or indifferent, I was expecting way more flavor and way more punch.

17. Charcuterie in a Cone – Spain – Pre-Festival Rank: Unranked

Pretty standard for charcuterie fare, the cheese, olives, sausages, and meats were all very good.

Likely to be a very popular item this year, and I can understand why.  The portion size is pretty generous.  It’s worth trying!

16. Spicy Hummus Fries – Morocco – Pre-Festival Rank: 19

A unique and tasty snack, I might not prioritize these delights over other Food & Wine items, but I would try them again.

15. Grilled Tuna Tataki – Hawai’i – Pre-Festival Rank: Unranked

A really refreshing bite.  The preparation?  It was on the ordinary side as far as seared tuna is concerned.

Having said that, it is good, and the flavors meld fabulously.  Definitely worth trying if you’re a fan of this type of dish.

14. Chilled Scotch Egg wrapped in Sausage – Craft Beers – Pre-Festival Rank: 15

One hard-boiled egg cut in thirds.  Simple and satisfying, that’s for sure.  The dish was excellent.  In fact, the sausage wrapping was crispy and fantastic!

Actually, one or two of these morsels – as a bar snack – with a few beers would really hit the spot.  Disney should sell these at every bar on property!

13. Kalua Pork Slider – Hawai’i – Pre-Festival Rank: 1

What?  The defending “champ” – a three-time festival “winner” – falls out of the Top 10?  It … drops all of the way to 13?!  Huh?

Yeah.  I’m disappointed too.  The only reason it ends this high is because of its past performance.  A really off year, the pork was great, but the spicy mayo killed this “icon”.

12. Salmon BLT Sushi Roll – Japan – Pre-Festival Rank: Unranked

A generous helping of salmon, my friends.  That’s for sure.  The bacon sprinkled across the top of the presentation was just the right amount.

The flavors – especially the sauce – worked very well together.  My only critique?  The price.  At $7.95, this was one of the most expensive Food & Wine items that I purchased!

11. Spicy Hot Dog – Refreshment Cool Post – Pre-Festival Rank: Unranked

Much more generous in portion size than the retired South Korea Marketplace’s old “recipe”, this one is a meal in itself!

Plus, at $6.75, it is a definite festival bargain.  If you like hot dogs and spicy mustard, this one’s for you!

There.  You, now, are in possession of the bottom half of the All in WDW’s Food & Wine “menu”!  What do you think?  What would you choose to enjoy?  What did I rank too high?  What did I rank too low?

Stop back tomorrow, folks!  We’re not done!  The Top 10, as well as our 2017 “champion”, will be revealed!

Food & Wine ’17 “Dishonorable” Mentions?

Howdy, foodies!  Yes, every festival has “winners”.  Of course, each Epcot “bash” also has “losers”.

We’ll cover all of the entrees that excelled to some degree or another – and, thereby, made my Final Top 20 – over the next few days, but, for now, let’s discuss Food & Wine’s so called …

“Dishonorable Mentions”

It’s hard to believe that Disney could ever deliver something dishonorable, isn’t it?  2017’s biggest “loser” was tough, chewy, hard to cut, and horrible.  Frankly, I never expect much from Australia’s lamb, but even I was saddened by the portion we received.

Having said that, for Mrs. All in WDW to be so discouraged by their Grilled Lamb T-Bone that she clearly voiced her disappointment and displeasure to a Disney chef?  Well, that speaks volumes to me.  The dish is a dud.  Avoid.

My initial report sums this one up the best.  “I’ll never learn my lesson, folks.  This heat-lamped hot mess was nothing but fat.  Looks good, but it wasn’t.  As a result, I didn’t even bother to finish it.

It’s a shame, I tell you.  Brazil’s Crispy Pork Belly, when fresh(!) and prepared properly, is really good.  Poor form, again, Epcot.”

I saw one YouTube walk through of Food & Wine where the host indicated that Thailand’s Seared Shrimp and Scallop Cake were pretty darn good.  That wasn’t my appraisal.

As much as I was looking forward to this dish, it disappointed me … greatly.  I found the cake to be way too “fishy” tasting.  Plus, the accompanying pasta was pretty bland and tasteless.  Another dud.

Craft Beers is serving a Zesty Cheeseburger and Cheddar Cheese Macaroni Handwich.  Sounds innovative and interesting, eh?

My opinion?  The “bread” really was more of a shell than it was a bread.  It totally overpowered what little bit of ingredients filled the cone.  Pass.

More sauce, China.  Please.  Mrs. All in WDW commented that she was surprised I didn’t enjoy this item.  I do like steamed buns, after all.

I had high hopes for this Spicy Chicken Bao Bun, but its chicken was dry, dry, dry.  The steamed bun just made it drier.  A generous helping of spicy sauce?  That’s what it needs.

The Wine & Dine Studio’s 2017 Seared Scallops paled in comparison to 2016’s presentation.  Let’s let the pictures tell the story.

2016’s Seared Scallops

2017’s Seared Scallops

Sure, they served two scallops this year.  A big plus!  Unfortunately, the mushrooms and cauliflower purée overpowered the dish.  2016’s recipe was much more enjoyable.

When I reviewed Farm Fresh’s Crispy Chicken with Griddled Cornbread, I said that I’m not going to discourage you from trying it.

Having said that, my particular portion wasn’t prepared well.  The chicken was overdone.  The cornbread was crumble-apart dry.  I’m sure that they’ll get better as the festival rolls forward, but, for me, this serving was a complete failure.

There.  I’m glad that’s over with.  I really hate calling anything Disney-related “bad”, but I feel obligated to provide you with my honest opinions.  Hopefully you’re all OK with that.

Stop back tomorrow, everyone!  Then, we get to cover the “good”.  We get to unveil the 2017 All in WDW Epcot International Food & Wine Festival FINAL Top 20!

Finally, I get to share with you my list of recommendations.  What should you eat during your visit to Food & Wine?  That advice starts tomorrow!

Food & Wine ’17 – BONUS Coverage Re-Cap! Are These Our Final Dishes?

No.  They hopefully are not.  Morning, all!  It’s a great, great day in the All in WDW household.  Why, you ask?

Well, we’ve just scheduled an impromptu, yet brief, October weekend return to Orlando!  More Food & Wine, my friends?  Oh, you bet!

Having said that, coverage of my final list of Food & Wine recommendations – the 2017 All in WDW Epcot International Food & Wine Festival FINAL Top 20 – will begin tomorrow!

Yes.  What should you eat?  What are the “must haves”?  What should you avoid?  I’m going to tell you!

In the meantime, for those who may have missed them, let’s take one last run through the final six bonus dishes we enjoyed on Opening Weekend … or, well, maybe did not enjoy!

  • Charcuterie in a Cone – Spain

Pretty standard for charcuterie fare, Spain’s cheese, olives, sausages, and meats were all very good.  Did they stand out?  Not necessarily.

2017’s Charcuterie in a Cone

Close-Up

  • Baked Shrimp Scampi Dip with Sourdough Baguette – Coastal Eats

In truth, my podcast partner, John Peters, tried this one.  What were his thoughts?

2017’s Baked Shrimp Scampi Dip with Sourdough Baguette

Sadly, he reported that, although the scampi delivered great flavor, the dish, itself, was a bit of a sticky, glutinous mess.  That’s too bad, Epcot.

  • Crispy Pork Belly – Brazil

I’ll never learn my lesson, folks.  This heat-lamped hot mess was nothing but fat.  Looks good, but it wasn’t.  As a result, I didn’t even bother to finish it.

2017’s Crispy Pork Belly

It’s a shame, I tell you.  When fresh, and prepared properly, this item is really good.  Wow.  Poor form, again, Epcot.

  • Zesty Cheeseburger and Cheddar Cheese Macaroni Handwich – Craft Beers

Just the name of this dish generated excitement in the days leading up to the festival.  Cheeseburger?  Cheddar cheese macaroni?  Handwich?  What can that be?

2017’s Zesty Cheeseburger and Cheddar Cheese Macaroni Handwich

Bread “Shell”

View of Filling

Underneath

Very unique item, Epcot.  My opinion?  The bread overpowered what little bit of ingredients filled the cone.  I’m sorry.  Way too little filling.  Way too hearty of a bread.  Pass.

  • Spicy Hot Dog – Refreshment Cool Post

Finally!  Something I liked!  I’ll give Epcot this … they sure have improved on the days of the “dog” once served by Food & Wine’s “retired” South Korea marketplace.

2017’s Spicy Hot Dog

Where that serving was tiny, this portion is a meal!  This dish’s spicy mustard has always melded well with its ‘kimchi’ to make a very tasty bite.  Buy it!

  • Salmon BLT Sushi Roll – Japan

Another enjoyable plate, Epcot!  Japan did a great job with this roll.  Plenty of salmon, that’s for sure.  And, yes, that is bacon sprinkled on top of the presentation!

2017’s Salmon BLT Sushi Roll

Underneath the Salmon

To be truthful, at first, ‘salmon plus bacon’ didn’t sound like a perfect marriage to me.  In reality, however, the flavors – including the sauce – worked well together.  Great job!

There, you have it, everyone.  Stop back tomorrow.  I’ll begin my run through our final menu with Food & Wine’s … Dishonorable Mentions!  Yes, fans, I’m going to begin with what we feel were the worst of this year’s “party”!  Stay tuned!

Listen Up, Folks! Let’s Talk Food & Wine’s 2017 “Winners” and “Losers”!

Good morning, my foodie friends!  Every festival has its “winners”, that’s for sure.  Having said that, there are usually a few “losers”.

Winner or Loser?

Which of Epcot’s dishes landed on my short lists of “delicious” and “disappointing”?  We’ll cover that in print in a day or two.  To catch a sneak preview now, however, listen to …

Episode 392 – Our Weekly News … and a Feast of Food & Wine!

In the latest episode of the WDW Main Street Podcast, we discuss this year’s Food & Wine festival.  You’ll be surprised by my choice for ‘Biggest Loser’!  Catch it!

Winner or Loser?