Time for another lap around World Showcase to taste more of the creative flavors in the Outdoor Kitchens – with 11 different stops, it’s nearly impossible to get a bite of everything before the festival ends on May 18.
We caught up with Epcot Executive Chef Jens Dahlmann for the 411:
We had to try the turkey rib – what, exactly, is it?
Chef Jens: The turkey rib at The Smokehouse: Barbecue and Brews [at American Adventure] is a brand-new item, and we’re pleased to be the first to feature it at Walt Disney World Resort. It’s actually a turkey wing that is split in half, dry rubbed, slow cooked in the oven for about two hours, then slightly smoked in our on-stage smoker for another 45 minutes. The meat is moist, tender and full of flavor.
Which new dish has been the hands-down crowd favorite?
Chef Jens: It has to be the Piggylicous Bacon Cupcake with maple frosting and pretzels, also at The Smokehouse. It was a big hit from day one and a true must-try. Second would be the Ghost Pepper-Dusted Tilapia at Urban Farm Eats.
Which returning dish is the biggest hit?
Chef Jens: This is a three-way tie between the Pulled Pig Slider at The Smokehouse, Shrimp and Grits at Florida Fresh and the Potato and Cheddar Cheese Biscuit with Smoked Salmon Tartare at Buttercup Cottage in the United Kingdom.
Any surprise favorites?
Chef Jens: The Eggplant Scallop at Urban Farm Eats is popular, as guests seem to enjoy the meat-like texture of slowly cooked eggplant with classic Romesco (sweet red pepper) sauce and spaghetti squash.
Marianne Hunnel, the festival’s libations expert, chimed in with the most popular drinks this year: Watermelon Passion Fruit Slush and Hurricane Class 5 White Sangria at Florida Fresh, the frozen Desert Violet Lemonade in Pineapple Promenade and the Chilled Rose Blush Lemonade in the Buttercup Cottage.
And our new finds:
- The divine duck confit at Fleur de Lys in France, a stack of buttery duck, potatoes and caramelized onions;
- Lemon scones with strawberry preserves and crème fraîche at Buttercup Cottage (swirl the two toppings together and dip in the scone);
- Beijing-style Candied Strawberries at Lotus House in China;
- And, perhaps our most favorite, the Sweet Potato-Cinnamon Waffle with Pineapple Soft Serve at Pineapple Promenade. Perfect serving size – a warm waffle with ice cream. Now that’s a happy ending.
For more information about the 21st Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival, call 407/W-DISNEY (934-7639) or visit www.epcotinspring.com. The festival, including all gardening programs and exhibits, is included in regular Epcot admission.