The 2018 Epcot Food & Wine Festival kicks off on August 30, and as usual it's enhanced yet more with new foods, beverages and other offerings. This 23rd annual, technically called the 2018 Epcot® International Food & Wine Festival, begins, in my opinion, with steak.
Background: The Epcot Food & Wine Festival is a multi-week series of food- and beverage-focused offerings at the Orlando theme park.
At a media preview of new food offerings, my photographer and I were most hyped up about three beef dishes that will be introduced this year. Each will be featured at one of the festival's 41 global marketplaces – themed kiosks with comestible specialties from a particular country, or that fit within a distinct theme.
Charred Chimichurri Skirt Steak I'm a sucker for Latin American steak with chimichurri sauce universally, and this version, at the Flavors from Fire marketplace, is the kind of flavor mix that makes me swoon. The marinated steak and herb-garlic sauce are served atop a smoked corn cake that's nearly creamy, plus pickled vegetable slaw and cilantro aïoli, a garlic mayonnaise.
The Steakhouse Blended Burger I adore a well-done mix of flavors, while my photographer is a just-give-me-a-beef-patty-with-no-toppings guy. We both went nuts for this hamburger, which is sold at the Earth Eats marketplace. I didn't mention the ingredients to him, and so he was able to enjoy this hand-held treat. The ground beef is complemented by wild mushrooms, brie cheese fondue and arugula, and served on a brioche bun with a thick truffle-blue cheese potato chip under the lid. Oh my.
New Brunswick Slider My own pot roast puts me to sleep, but this slow-braised brisket from the Hops & Barley marketplace is a thriller. The comforting yet bold potato-roll sandwich also has horseradish cream and crispy fried onions. It's served with pickled vegetables on the side.
Please don't think lighter eaters won't be just as pleased at the 2018 Epcot Food & Wine Festival. The Disney culinary folks are way smarter than that. There's an abundance for vegans, vegetarians, pescatarians, dessert fanatics – pretty much all of us. I used to visit annually with two friends. One always chose heavy old-fashioned foods like beef stews and schnitzels. The other went for chocolate everything. Meanwhile, I chose the most adventurous options. We all filled up before we could sample everything we wanted. Which is why I'm glad this festival returns every fall.
Craft beers, mimosas (they have their own marketplace!), pancake milkshakes ... there's a whole lot going on.
While most of us are content meandering around the Epcot World Showcase sharing bite after bite of foods from around the world, Global Marketplace fare is only – well, not a sliver, but only a part of what the 2018 Epcot Food & Wine Festival has going on. Some features are included in the price of park admission, and others require an additional fee. Here are more:
Children's programming, such as lessons in making candy sushi
Dining events, like brunch with a chef, who'll chat with guests; food- and beverage-pairing meals; and the weekly Party for the Senses, a wowzer of an evening replete unlimited tastes from multiple restaurants and beverage specialists.
Eat to the Beat, a concert series
Educational programs, including a chocolate workship, a coffee experience, spirits seminars and cheese lessons
I'm lucky enough to live half an hour away, and Orlando locals regularly make an annual trip to the Epcot Food & Wine Festival – even those who aren't big on theme parks in general. Others travel to Orlando year after year just to indulge.
If you want to learn more, surf around TasteEpcot, the official website. The 2018 Epcot Food & Wine Festival will run from August 30, 2018, to November 12, 2018. Enjoy every bite.