It’s been a quarter of a century that I’ve been making the happy loop around World Showcase Promenade for the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival. I’ve never missed a single year, and have authored nine Disney festival cookbooks, the first one way back in 2009. It’s a whole new world in 2020, and instead of celebrating, we’re social distancing – but the festival lives on in a quieter “taste of” way.
You can still meander around the promenade, and marvel that you never have to stand in line for food. But here’s your best bet – take a stroll, then slip into the cavernous, cool Festival Showplace tent, this year a respite from the heat with four marketplaces (and you may never have seen the interior unless you bought a ticket for a top-tier event).
It’s spacious and a perfect place to take a break, with all sorts of little bites like mac & cheese, Fisherman’s Pie and a decadent Guinness Baileys Milkshake. Pick your small plates, find a table and ponder your good fortune to experience the festival, even in this new socially distanced way.
Pam’s Top 7 Don’t-Miss Dishes:
Kālua Pork Slider, Hawaii Marketplace. I go back every year for this irresistible slider with sweet-and-sour Dole pineapple chutney and spicy mayo on a soft, sweet bun.
Ribeye Taco, Mexico Marketplace. This new offering folds grilled ribeye and salsa in a corn tortilla topped with onions, chives and a wedge of lime. Simply delicious.
Impossible Burger Slider, Earth Eats Marketplace. You’d never know it’s not beef, and the wasabi cream, spicy Asian slaw and sesame seed bun satisfy.
Tempura Donburi, Japan Marketplace. Hot, crispy tempura anything calls my name, and this rice bowl hits the spot. You get two pieces of tempura shrimp and kakiage veggie tempura with sushi rice and dipping sauce. You might order two.
Fisherman’s Pie, Ireland. This longtime favorite got a makeover, and the little ramekin is full of seafood in a savory sauce topped with mashed potatoes. I liked it so much, I ordered two – the first one had a chunk of lobster and a scallop, the second one two scallops. Like a yummy treasure hunt.
Mac & Cheese, World Showplace. At the new Mac & Cheese Marketplace, there are four renditions of this childhood favorite: Buffalo chicken; plant-based sausage; lobster; and “gourmet” (pictured), straight-up cheese with Boursin Garlic and Fines Herbs.
Le Cellier Wild Mushroom Beef Filet Mignon with Truffle-Butter Sauce, Canada. Yes, it’s been around for years, but it’s the perfect small bite of a rich combo.
For more culinary highlights from Orlando’s theme parks, check out our Visitors Guide.
Images courtesy of Walt Disney World.