Friday, March 14, 2014

Outdoor Kitchens Food Review from the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival



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The Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival is back from now until May 18th!  For the second year in a row, the (newly named) Outdoor Kitchens have returned as well to line the World Showcase.  Much like the popular Food & Wine Festival booths, the Outdoor Kitchens offer sample size portions of dishes from around the world.  However, at the Flower & Garden festival, the foods focus more on bringing the garden to the table with lots of fresh fruits and vegetables.  This year there are a lot of unique new offerings as well as some favorites from last year.

This week I did a tasting tour of the Outdoor Kitchens and I was extremely impressed by the food quality.  I almost hate to say this, but this year, Flower & Garden food far exceeded the food of this past Food & Wine Festival.  It was all absolutely OUTSTANDING!

And some more great news about the Flower & Garden food is that if you can't make it to the Festival in Epcot, just visit the new Epcot Showcase of Flavors Food Truck located at Downtown Disney to try featured Festival items.  They have both the Piggylicious Bacon Cupcake from the Smokehouse Kitchen and an ENTREE-SIZED Shrimp and Grits from the Florida Fresh Kitchen!

I've listed the food items that I tried this year as well as a few repeat items that I sampled last year.  Please feel free to leave comments about your experience with the Flower & Garden food that you've tried!
Pineapple Promenade-Promenade Entrance
*Pineapple Soft Serve with Myer's Dark Rum
2013
This is a repeat item that I tried in 2013, but I believe a different brand of spiced rum was used last year.  I love Pineapple soft serve. (Who are we kidding?  It's Dole Whip!) I was excited about the rum addition.  Unfortunately, it clashed to me and came off as rather bitter.  I did not try the other rum options this year.
*Sweet Potato Cinnamon Waffle with Pineapple Soft Serve $3.50

I think that I'm a Dole Whip purist.  The waffle was warm and crisp on the outside and soft inside.  It was absolutely delicious.  I liked the two items very much when I ate them separately.  But, I did not like them as much together.  I would eat another one though and just have the waffle first with a Dole Whip chaser!

The Buttercup Cottage-Next to UK

*Freshly Baked Potato and Cheddar Cheese Biscuit with Smoked Salmon Tartare $4.50
2013
This was a repeat from last year.  The biscuit was fluffy and created a very flavorful and filling dish.

*Pork and apple sausage roll with house-made piccalilli $4.00



There are a lot of elements to this dish.  It is hearty and a great value. We really enjoyed the pastry crust and the fresh pickled vegetables added a great balance to the sausage. The sausage had a diced ham texture. It is not what I am used to, but was yummy.


*Freshly Baked Lemon Scones with Berry Preserves and Creme Fraiche $3.25


Two petite warm scones with a bright lemon flavor. They were soft and moist and I hardly needed the jam and creme.


*Iron Horse Fairy Tale Cuvee $5.25


I've had this at other locations around Disney.  It is not my favorite despite the appealing name.  I have found that if I drink it with something sweet, it pairs nicely. (I think it is meant to match well with wedding cake.)  I'm curious if it would work well with the lemon scones.


Fleur de Lys-Next to France


*Gnocchi Parisien a la Provencal-Parisian-style Dumplings with Vegetables and Mushrooms $4.75

 


I really enjoyed this.  The gnocchi were not heavy at all.  They had a strong herb flavor that went very well with the vegetables and cheese. Very yummy. Two plates of this could make for a nice meal.


Taste of Marrakesh-Next to Morocco

*Harissa Chicken Kebab with Couscous Salad $5.00 

We love the food of Morocco in Epcot.  The couscous salad seemed like the same one from the quick-service restaurant.  It was chilled and sweet and tasty. I was a bit afraid of the chicken because I expected it to be very spicy. It had a tiny bit of heat but not at all overwhelming. The chicken was also served chilled. It was moist and delicious.


*Baghrir- Moroccan Pancake with Honey, Almonds, and Argan Oil $3.00
2013
This was another repeat item from last year.  I enjoyed the unique texture and light flavor.



Hanami-Next to Japan


*Frushi-Fresh Pineapple, Strawberries, and Melon, Rolled with Coconut Rice, Topped with Raspberry Sauce, Sprinkled with Toasted Coconut and Served with Whipped Cream on the Side $4.50
2013
This was a repeat from last year.  It is really fun and a great item for kids to try.  It is very delicate and the Epcot chefs definitely put a lot of time into assembling this pretty treat.


*Temaki hand roll-Sliced Panko Fried Chicken, Curry Sauce, Rice and Pickled Julienne Carrots Wrapped with Nori $4.95
This was fantastic.  The nori was crisp and held together well.  I especially loved the sweetness from the pickled carrots. All of the components of the dish balanced perfectly for salty, sweet, and a bit of crunch.

The Smokehouse-Next to American Adventure


*Pulled Pig Slider with Cole Slaw $5.75



I think that we ate this sandwich a dozen times last year. It was delicious and this year is no exception. Tender smoked pig. YUM!


*Smoked Beef Brisket with Collard Greens and Jalapeno Corn Bread $6.75 


Although I did not try this, some guests sitting next to me were kind enough to give me their opinion.  To sum up Dick and Jane, "We love it!"  They said the meat was tender and not dry and the cornbread was moist.  Jane said she's never met a collard she didn't like and she became quick friends with these!


*Smoked Turkey "Rib" $4.75

 


Delicious juicy smoked turkey on the bone.  Another YUM!


*Sauces


For those of you who would like a bit of sauce on your smoked meat, there is a sauce station that offers "hot", "sweet", and mini Tabasco bottles.  Sorry if you are looking for something more "tangy."  I enjoyed mixing the sweet and hot together for the best flavor.



*Piggylicious Bacon Cupcake with Maple Frosting and Pretzel Crunch featuring Nueske's Applewood Smoked Bacon $3.50



I gotta admit, this kinda scared me. But, for research purposes, I had to try it.  Luckily, it was GOOD!  It's basically pancakes and bacon!  The cupcake is dense and just slightly sweet.  I'd love this in the morning with a cup of coffee.  Grab your Starbucks and head to the Smokehouse!


This Piggylicious Bacon Cupcake is also available at the World Showcase of Flavors Food Truck at Downtown Disney!  It is only there during Flower & Garden Festival dates, so hurry over to try it!
 



Primavera Kitchen-Next to Italy

*Three Cheese Manicotti-Egg Pasta Stuffed with Ricotta, Mozzarella, Parmesan, Tomato Sauce, and Bechamel $5.75




This is a sizable portion of delicate pasta overflowing with a creamy blend of cheeses. The tomato sauce is very light and the fresh leaves of basil on top of the dish brighten it up just beautifully.  Two of these would make a delicious entree.

*Torta di Ricotta-Lemon Cheesecake with Limoncello-Marinated Strawberries $5.00

 


I believe this is my favorite dish of the festival.  If you enjoy rich, dense, cheesecake, this is the dish for you!  It is not the fluffy-whipped style of cheesecake.  It has a touch of graham cracker crust at the bottom that adds a bit of texture to the creamy cake.  The strawberries add just enough tart to cut the richness of the dessert and the lemoncello was not at all overpowering.  A restaurant quality dessert and real WINNER!




*White Peach Bellini-Prosecco and White Peach Puree $11.00

I enjoyed this last year at the festival. It is sweet, sparkly, and refreshing on a sunny day at the parks.  What's not to love?


Florida Fresh-Next to Germany

*Watermelon Salad with Pickled Onions, BW Farm Baby Arugula, Feta Cheese, and Balsamic Reduction $3.50
2013
I had this dish last year and was pleasantly surprised. I did not think that I would enjoy it, but it was one of the most refreshing dishes of the festival.  Definitely worth a try!



*Florida Kumquat Pie $3.75

 


IT'S JUST SO PRETTY!  This was my first time trying kumquat.  It was refreshing with a bright flavor similar to a tangerine.  The pie was not only adorable like a delicate flower, it was delightful. I loved the crunchy sugar crystals on the flaky puff pastry crusty along with the creamy kumquat filling and toasted meringue topping.



*Shrimp and Stone Ground Grits with Andouille Sausage, Sweet Corn, Tomatoes, and Cilantro $5.75

Another favorite dish that returned to the festival this year.  When I tried this at the festival last year, I definitely wanted a full portion of the rich creamy grits topped with shrimp and fresh diced tomatoes, corn, and cilantro. 

Luckily, it is also available as a limited time Entree-Sized dish at the World Showcase of  Flavors Food Truck at Downtown Disney! ($11.50, quick-service meal credits accepted)

 


  Lotus House-Next to China

*Beijing-Style Candied Strawberries $4.25

2013

This is a very popular Festival item that returned from last year. It has fresh whole strawberries coated similar to a candy apple.  I enjoyed the sweet candy smell and flavor of them a lot.  However, all of the people touring the festival with me suffered a bit of injury from the very sharp candy when biting into it.  My mouth actually bled from being cut by the thin sugar pieces.  I decided to skip trying it again this year.



*Spring Pancake with Grilled Chicken and Green Apple $5.25 

This was another surprise winner.  The pancake was tender with a bit of crispy fried texture.  The chicken with crisp vegetables and apples topped with sweet hoisin sauce created a wrap style sandwich that would satisfy as a light lunch.



Jardin de Fiestas-Next to Mexico


*Quesadilla de Hongos Con Queso-Flour Tortilla Filled with Mushrooms and Cheese $5.25



I got caught by a bit of heat in this dish.  I enjoyed it, but a drink was definitely needed.



Urban Farm Eats NEW!!


*Land-Grown Eggplant "Scallop" with Romesco Sauce and Spaghetti Squash $3.75



I was excited to see a "Land-Grown" food at the Outdoor Kitchens.  I love the Land Pavilion at Epcot. I've done the "Behind the Seeds" tour of the gardens and highly recommend it.  However, I was a bit disappointed in this dish.  The portion was extremely small.  The romesco sauce had good flavor and I liked the char on the eggplant but it was over-salted.  This dish may just need a few tweaks as the Festival progresses.



Intermissions Cafe-Inside the Festival Center


*Vegan Trio $6.99


I had this twice last year. The cast members at the Festival Center said that it is the same this year as last year.  It is a large serving of hummus, couscous, and tabouleh salad similar to the side dishes served at the quick-service in Morocco.  It is definitely a full meal. (quick-service credit accepted)

*Asian Tuna Salad with Noodles $10.69


This was also offered last year and I tried it then.  It is served chilled and the flavor was good but the spice was overpowering for me.  I could not eat much of the dish.  I do not know if the spice level is the same this year. But, if you enjoy a lot of heat, this would be a good dish for you.  It is also a full meal portion. (quick-service credit accepted)

 


Once again, the Flower and Garden food is a clear HIT!  The chefs have done a great job of bringing the flavors of the garden to the table.  If you are going to the Flower and Garden Festival, be sure to give some of the food a try.

Don't forget to get your Festival Passport stamped at the Outdoor Kitchens as well as at many of the fantastic garden attractions. 
Also, be certain to stop by the Downtown Disney Showcase of Flavors Food Truck for F&G Festival Shrimp and Grits and a Piggylicious cupcake!  Let them know The Princess Papers sent you!

*If you would like to see a complete list of Flower & Garden Festival food, drinks, concerts, and HGTV presentations, please go to the EVENTS page of WDWFanZone.com here http://www.wdwfanzone.com/disney-events/


*All Flower & Garden Festival Outdoor Kitchen Food items are available for a snack credit.

*For more info on the Downtown Disney Food Trucks  http://www.theprincesspapersblog.blogspot.com/2014/02/the-food-trucks-at-downtown-disney.html


*Accessibility: All Outdoor Kitchens are accessible.  Some roped areas may be a bit tight, but the ropes are able to be moved.  Or just ask a cast member for assistance if needed.


*You can follow Jeanie on Twitter @PrincessPapers





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