Epcot is a brilliant backdrop for millions of blossoms, classic topiaries, celebrities and live entertainment at the annual Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival from March 6-May 19. But for some of us, the all-new food and drink offerings are the stars of the spring show.
“What a natural progression (it is) to go from the garden to the table,” said Michael Jenner, Epcot Park Event Content Development Manager.
“That progression is showcased with raised garden beds around the marketplaces that will be growing some of the produce and herbs in the dishes,” says Epcot Executive Chef Jens Dahlmann.
“We want to show our guests how food grows,” says Dahlmann, “to help make that connection from the kitchen to the garden.”
Some of our favorite tastes are at the Florida Fresh Marketplace, with watermelon salad with pickled red onions, baby arugula, feta cheese and balsamic reduction; shrimp and stone-ground grits with andouille sausage, zellwood corn, tomatoes and cilantro; and angel food cake with Florida berries. Pair that with tomato or carrot wine, or a cold Florida-brewed beer.
“Each marketplace has three to four dishes, and there are no repeats from the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival,” says Dahlmann.
Here’s just a small sampling of favorites, each can be paired with wines, beers and other fun beverages (like a white peach bellini in Italy, or Red Ale from Orlando Brewing at American Adventure):
- Crab tostadas with chipotle aioli and salsa in the Jardin de Fiestas in Mexico.
- A spring pancake with grilled chicken and green apple at the Lotus House in China.
- Savory bread pudding with spring peas and wild mushroom ragout at the Bauernmarkt in Germany.
- Green asparagus and lobster with a garden cocktail sauce at Primavera Kitchen in Italy.
- Stir-fried veggies and soba noodles served in a bun at Hamai in Japan.
- Spiced lamb kebabs with couscous salad at Taste of Marrakesh in Morocco.
- A pig slider with cole slaw at The Smokehouse at American Adventure.
- A ratatouille tart with goat cheese at L’Orangerie in France.
- Heirloom tomatoes with house-made mozzarella, Minus 8 Vinegar and basil at The Cottage in the United Kingdom.
- Sip the garden at Fruits by the Glass Marketplace, with watermelon passion fruit cocktail, non-alcoholic wild berry slush, blueberry beer and wine, mango wine, gluten-free raspberry ale, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.
- And, saving the best for last, Dole Whip with Florida-made spiced rum at the Pineapple Promenade. A grown-up delight!