Epcot Flower and Garden Festival Food Review
Last week I went to the Epcot Flower and Garden Festival. It was such tasty fun!
You see, last year Epcot introduced Outdoor Kitchens to the Flower and Garden Festival. Food-loving friends of mine checked it out and came back raving about it.
They even claimed it was better than the Epcot Food and Wine Festival. I had to find out for myself.
So, what’s so great about the food at the Epcot Flower and Garden Festival?
My Favorite Dishes at the Epcot Flower and Garden Festival
My favorite bite was the Beijing-Style Candied Strawberries at the Lotus House. The strawberries were slightly tart, the caramel candy coating was sweet and the sesame seeds were a small hit of savory. Really tasty and easy to share.
I also fell in love with the Macaron à la Fleur d’Oranger (Orange Blossom Macaron with White Chocolate Ganache) at the Fleur de Lys. It is probably the best macaron I’ve ever had.
The Flan de Chocolate Abuelita (Mexican Chocolate Custard) was unlike any flan I’ve ever had. It had a denser texture, almost like a cheesecake. And trust me, that’s NOT a bad thing. It was delicious.
You have to try the “Piggylicious” Bacon Cupcake with Maple Frosting and Pretzel Crunch at The Smokehouse, if only to say that you’ve had a bacon cupcake. The cupcake itself is pretty savory and really full of bacon. It has a texture somewhere between cake and cornbread. As suggested to me by Suzanne from Kokocooks (one of the pals I was with on this Epcot adventure), you can’t skip the frosting. It’s the sweet of the maple that counters the salty meaty bacon in the cupcake. Neither one on their own is particularly noteworthy but together they really work.
How is it that me, the gal without a sweet tooth, has mentioned four sweet things first? I guess the Epcot Flower and Garden Festival really knows how to do dessert.
For savory items, my favorites were:
The Freshly Baked Potato and Cheddar Cheese Biscuit with Smoked Salmon Tartare at the Buttercup Cottage. The biscuit was soft and so tasty and the tartare was incredible. So good in fact that I’m planning to try to make something like it soon. I’ll share the recipe here if it turns out close to the one at Epcot.
The Shrimp and Stone Ground Grits with Andouille Sausage, Sweet Corn, Tomatoes and Cilantro at Florida Fresh was some of the best shrimp and grits I’ve ever had. It was a great balance of sweet and savory. The shrimp were cooked perfectly and the sausage was particularly tasty.
The fresh mozzarella on the Caprese Plate at the Primavera Kitchen was particularly well-loved by my friend Julie from The Little Kitchen. She compared it to the grocery store brand of fresh mozzarella she usually buys and said, well, that there is no comparison. This was ultra-tasty cheese.
The Ghost Pepper Dusted Tilapia with Crisp Winter Melon Slaw and Mint Oil featuring The Original Sauce Man’s Kick It Up Rub wasn’t as hot and spicy as I expected. But it was mouthwateringly good. The tilapia was flaky and moist and I really liked the melon slaw with the fish.
Food that I didn’t love at the Flower and Garden Festival
I know that people want advice about not only what to try but also what to skip. I’ll tell you that everything I had that day was really good so it’s hard to tell you not to have something. But if I had to, I’d say that the following are not as good as other items you could buy:
The Confit de Canard, Pommes de Terre Sarladaise (Pulled Duck Confit with Garlic and Parsley Potatoes) at the Fleur de Lys wasn’t the best confit de canard I’ve ever had. It somehow wasn’t as rich as I’m used to and lacked any of the crispy skin I’ve come to expect. I think that perhaps this was not meant to be a crispy skin preparation of duck confit, which is too bad since the crispiness would have been a nice contrast to the very soft potatoes.
The Quesadilla de Hongos con Queso (Flour Tortilla Filled with Mushrooms and Cheese) from the Jardin de Fiestas were exactly that: flour tortillas, mushrooms, cheese. Both the cheese and the mushrooms were really tasty but the overall effect was a bit boring. This dish needed something extra (a flavored sour cream, perhaps) to make it special.
Sadly, I was disappointed by the Smoked Beef Brisket with Collard Greens and Jalapeno Corn Bread at The Smokehouse. Since moving to Florida 5 years ago I’ve had a lot of brisket and this just wasn’t the best. It had a reasonable smokey flavor but a dry texture on the inside and somewhat wet on the outside. It reminded me more of pot roast than smoked brisket. The collards and the cornbread were both top notch and possibly saved this dish.
Prices, Prices, Prices:
I found the food prices at the Outdoor Kitchens to be quite reasonable. Most of the entrees were in the $5-5.75 range. These are small plates though so keep in mind that you won’t be filled up from just one. If you wander around and have perhaps 3 of the entrees and 1 dessert, you’ll be full of delicious food for around $20. That’s not too bad for a theme park.
What we did: Our group was made up of 4 people who don’t mind sharing. At each food kiosk 2 or 3 of us would buy something and we’d all dig in and share. I think we managed to try 18 different dishes. We probably spent around $25-$30 each. And yes, we were STUFFED at the end but MAN was it good.
Note that the alcoholic beverages can be a bit pricey. I saw some at around the $5 mark (not bad) but at least one at $9.75. I had a long drive home after the festival and therefore wasn’t drinking so I can’t speak as to whether they were worth the money. (Based on the tastiness of the food though, my bet would be that it would be worth trying at least one or two if you were in the mood).
The experience at the Epcot Flower and Garden Festival more generally:
Spring is a beautiful time to be at Epcot and the Flower and Garden Festival really highlights this. The 21 topiaries that you spot as you wander the park are fantastic. Everyone is taking pictures of them, they’re really that cool.
There are gardens and flowers everywhere. It’s really magical.
The weather is lovely at this time of year too. Warm but not hot and humid.
And since we’re not quite at Spring Break time yet, the park isn’t too crowded, especially over at the international pavilions where all the tasty food is found. In fact, we never had to wait in line for more than 5 minutes to buy food at the outdoor kitchens. That’s pretty amazing for a Sunday afternoon.
And an amazing Sunday afternoon, it really was.