It might sound funny to highlight a post about Epcot's Flower and Garden Festival by mentioning food, but trust me, the new food booths are the best thing to hit Flower and Garden since, well, since flowers. Disney started small last year, with just a few food booths, but they've added more this year. Now almost every pavilion has something to offer. Here are a few items you'll find.
Frushi from Japan.
Frushi, basically fruit sushi, was a big surprise, a delightfully refreshing option with a subtle taste. A homemade fruit roll takes the place of seaweed, with coconut infused, lightly-sweetened rice and chunks of cool fruit making up the filling. It's served with a side of whipped cream, but it really doesn't need it. I have been craving this ever since.
The Piggylicious Cupcake.
You'll find this cupcake at the Smokehouse Barbeque and Brew kiosk at the American pavilion. This is the one pavilion where we wanted to try everything, and it mostly came through for us. As for the cupcake, despite the praise I'd seen elsewhere, it didn't live up to the hype. A yellow cupcake flavored with bacon and topped with maple icing and crushed pretzels. A good idea, right? Unfortunately its more smoke than bacon. Everyone in our group agreed it was a "must not do."
Pork Slider and the Turkey "Rib."
The pork slider, also at the Smokehouse, was a big surprise. It's a meaty barbequed pork sandwich with cole slaw on a big bun. It's a regular size sandwich, not a tiny serving like some of the items you'll find at these booths, so bring your appetite. I live in North Carolina so I know my barbeque and this definitely passed the test.
The same cannot be said for the turkey "rib," which is essentially a small turkey leg. Really, the taste is fine, it's more the idea behind it that doesn't really work. Well, it might work if you eschew pork and have a hankering for a rib experience. However, you're probably better off sticking with tofu and passing on this.
Shrimp and Grits.
This was my favorite item both this year and last, making the Florida booth a must-do on everyone's list. It's pan-seared shrimp, chorizo, and grits, a traditional shrimper's breakfast from the Carolinas. As I said above, I live in North Carolina and if you know Southern food, you've probably heard of Bil Neal and Crook's Corner, which is just a few miles from my house and considered the birthplace of new Southern cooking. Crook's Corner is famous for its shrimp and grits but this little tiny food booth blows their recipe out of the water any day of the week! If you've never had this dish, give it a try. It's a real treat that might spoil you for an other rendition of this dish.
Also from the Florida booth, this watermelon salad was huge surprise. It's served with greens, goat cheese, and a balsamic reduction. Everything about this dish was perfect, with each ingredient adding to the dish as a whole. The goat cheese was so mild it was like butter! The balsamic reduction was tangy and contrasted nicely with the sweet melon. Looking back, you could make a delicious meal at the Florida booth--in fact, I think I will next time.
I tried a few other items but the only one that really stands out is the Taco al Pastor in Mexico. This has spicy pork and a pineapple salsa on a corn tortilla. I absolutely loved it. I'd have taken a picture, but I had a small disaster right after I bought it which involved breaking my phone. However, the taco was good! Maybe not worth dropping my phone over though.
As if Flower and Garden wasn't an enjoyable enough experience, the addition of food booths really puts it over the top, feeding all your senses. Now you can go and enjoy a few noshes and drinks while you get inspiration for your own gardens back home.