The 2013 Epcot Food and Wine Festival begins in two weeks, adding plenty of exciting new flavors alongside returning fan favorites. Yesterday I was invited to sample a variety of the newcomers during a private event tucked away in The Living Seas lounge.
Before getting to my thoughts on the delicious new dishes, it’s worth noting that any opportunity to enter The Living Seas lounge should not be missed. It’s like stepping into a time machine back to the 1980s, long before Nemo and friends moved in to the pavilion, complete with fabric-covered walls and ample appearances of a certain classic Epcot symbol.
Inside, my wife / videographer Michelle and I were welcomed with glasses of Carnaval Moscato Sparkling White Wine from Brazil, a country not normally known for its wine. This semi-sweet drink was brought in especially for the Food and Wine Festival and is sure to be a hit for those looking for something cool and refreshing that’s not quite dessert, but sweet enough to almost get there.
From there, introductions were given by festival project manager Michael Jenner, Epcot executive chef Jens Dahlmann, and festival planner Marianne Hunnel, each introducing the variety of flavors available for tasting, almost all new for 2013.
Missing from the sampling was the vegetarian haggis from this year’s new Scotland dishes, not quite ready to serve yet. But Dahlmann did note that the culinary team worked with Scottish officials to develop this version of haggis, free of the internal organs often associated with it, instead describing it as a “grainy vegetable patty” but “really, really good.”
What was served up was a selection of food and drinks that are among the best the popular festival has had to offer.
Video: 2013 Epcot Food & Wine Festival preview with new dishes at Walt Disney World
From the newly reinvented Brazil marketplace returning this year, both Jennfer and Dahlmann believe one of the sure-fire favorites will be the Crispy Pork Belly with Black Beans, Avocado, Onions and Cilantro – and I agree. It’s a very technical dish, prepared in many steps over the course of three days.
The pork belly is fork tender and not as fatty as most servings of this meat. It doesn’t quite melt in the mouth but instead has the texture of a denser pulled pork with a great moist grilled flavor. The guacamole served with isn’t anything special but the black beans underneath are rich and complement the pork well.