What's good, and what's not-so-good, at the 2014 International Flower and Garden Festival Outdoor Kitchens

Apr 23, 2014 in "Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival"

For the second year, a taste of the Food and Wine Festival makes its way to Spring time with the outdoor kitchens at the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival.

With over 10 kiosks located around the World Showcase promenade, you get a chance to try some spring-time flavors from around the world. Just as with the Food and Wine Festival, each kiosk offers a couple of appetizer-size food and beverage items, but with a distinct flare of spring time. Think fresh, vibrant colors and tastes.

The WDWMAGIC taste-testers have travelled the World Showcase on a quest to find the best dishes. We are going to break it down into ‘Whats’s Good’, ‘What’s Not so Good,’ and our choice of best dishes.

What's Good

Urban Farm Eats

New for 2014, Urban Farm Eats honors mother earth, with a menu of all-natural dishes. 

Our favorite here was the Pickled beet salad with goat cheese cream, mizuna and pistachios. It was fresh, full of flavors, and satisfying to know it was all as nature intended. This is one dish that you could easily eat more than once.

Jardin de Fiestas - Mexico Pavilion

Mexico is always a solid participant in any festivals involving food at Epcot, and this year is no exception. We had three good dishes here that are well worth a mention. First up is the Tacos al pastor – Corn tortilla filled with achiote-marinated pork garnished with grilled diced pineapple, onions and cilantro. This one has lots of flavor, a little bit of heat, and was a good size compared to many kiosk’s offerings. Following this was the Quesadilla de hongos con queso – which is a flour tortilla filled with mushrooms and cheese. Again, great flavor and very satisfying. 

To round things off at Mexico, comes one of the best desserts at the festival, the Flan de chocolate Abuelita – a Mexican chocolate custard. Topped with whipped cream, this thing just melts in your mouth, and is full of gooey chocolaty custard and a sweet caramely sauce at the bottom.

Lotus House - China Pavilion

Lotus House brings a taste of Chinese Street food to Epcot, with two dishes catching our attention. The Spring pancake with grilled chicken and green apple is a dish of two halves. On one side, you have the fresh, light taste of the apple and vegetables, all wrapped in a delightfully flakey pastry pancake, complete with all its buttery goodness.

The Vegetable spring rolls continue the pattern, goodness of the vegetables wrapped up in a great tasting roll, served with a sauce that gives the dish an extra bit of kick that it needs.

Florida Fresh - Between Africa Outpost and Germany

This kiosk, which is also found at the Food and Wine festival, offers dishes that are all grown and produced locally in Florida. It is always a favorite and does not disappoint here. Our favorite dish here was unexpected - on paper it does not sell itself, but on the taste buds, it excels. We’re talking about the Watermelon salad with pickled onions, BW Farm baby arugula, feta cheese and balsamic reduction. It is a fantastic salad, fresh tasting, tangy, and the balsamic is a wonderful addition. This is one where a much bigger serving would be very welcome.

The perfect follow up to the watermelon salad is the Florida kumquat pie. Sitting in a pastry shell, the creamy kumquat filling is topped with a meringue. It is light and delicious.

Primavera Kitchen - Italy Pavilion

The Italy kiosk always tends to disappoint us at the Food and Wine Festival, and sadly it did again with the Flower and Garden Festival. Infact, one of the dishes made it to the ‘What’s Not so Good’ list. But focussing on the good, the Torta di ricotta, which is a Lemon cheesecake with limoncello-marinated strawberries was a good dessert. If you are a fan of cheesecakes, this is one for you.

The Smokehouse - The American Adventure

American smoked cuisine is the focus here, with some bbq classics taking center stage. We tried the Pulled Pig Slider, Smoked Beef Brisket, and the Piggylicous bacon cupcake. The slider was good, topped with a coleslaw, and was a good size. 

The cupcake is a must-try selection at this year’s festival. It’s sweet, creamy, and flat out tasty. 

Fleur de Lys - France Pavilion

Some classic French dish are on offer here, and we have to say that the Gnocchi Parisien à la Provençal – Parisian-style dumplings with vegetables and mushrooms, was one of our favorites. It was very well prepared, lots of flavor, and seemed worthy of the near $5 asking price. 

For dessert, the classic Macaron a la Fleur d' Oranger is on offer. Is $5 worth it for this? We are not convinced, but they are good, and so make it to our list of worthy tastes.

The Buttercup Cottage - United Kingdom Pavilion

The United Kingdom brings a classic English dish to Epcot with the Pork and Apple sausage roll - a definite must do at this year’s festival. The meat is beautifully seasons, and wrapped in a buttery, flakey pastry - served warm with a side of piccalilli.

What's Not so Good

Urban Farms Eats scored a hit with the pickled beet salad, but unfortunately the eggplant scallop with squash was a miss for us. It was somewhat bland, lacked any flavor punch, and was not worth the money. On the redeeming side, it does feature eggplant grown in Future World’s Land pavilion. So if you have ever wanted to actually eat something that you have seen growing there, this is your chance.

We love BBQ, but The Smokehouse at the American Adventure served us a brisket that just does not do justice to this fabulous cut of meat. Our sample was everything other than what brisket should be - it was dry, tasteless, and flat out dull. The corn bread it came with was ok, but did not make up for a very disappointing dish.

Taste of Marrakesh at the Morocco Pavilion is one of our favorites at Food and Wine, but the two dishes we tried at Flower and Garden really let the side down. The Harissa Chicken kebab was dry, and in no way worth the $5 asking price. Likewise, the Lamb Brewat Roll at $5 just did not hit the mark.

The United Kingdom blew us away with the Pork and Apple sausage roll, but really dropped the ball on the lemon scones. They were oddly flavored with a hint of lemon, and were just not particularly good scones. Sadly we had to declare this one a miss.

Best savory dish

This is a really tough call, as there are so many good dishes on offer.

After much careful consideration, the Buttercup Cottage Pork and Apple sausage roll takes the honors. The flavor is fantastic, it is really well prepared, serving size is one of the more generous, and it comes in at a midlevel price of $4.

Best dessert

There are easily 3 or 4 that could win this one - and you wouldn’t be disappointed with any that we highlighted above.

If we had to have just one spring time dessert, Florida Fresh kumquat pie is the winner.

It screams spring freshness, and it’s all made from local ingredients, and at $3, it is one of the best deals.

Best drink

With some many drinks to choose from, and barely a bad one in the entire bunch, it becomes a difficult choice and can easily change from one minute to the next. Our choice, for now, is the Japan Pavilion's Orange Mango Slushie, which is a frozen blend of Nigori sake, mango and orange juice. It really hits the spot on a warm Epcot afternoon.

The 2014 Epcot Flower and Garden Festival runs through until May 18 2014. You can view the full menus for the outdoor kitchens here, and take a tour of the rest of Flower and Garden Festival here.
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Article Posted: Apr 23, 2014 / 10:00am EDT