This year at the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival, many tempting food choices await at the booths around World Showcase. I lucked out this year with all good selections. Accompanying us were Sue and Mark Bernstein and Ann Meier.
At World Showcase, we turned left toward Mexico. Our first stop was Lotus House at China. I got the Pan-fried Vegetable Dumplings. They were very tasty and served drizzled with a sweet sauce. I would get these again.
At the Refreshment Outpost by Africa, I got an Ice Cream Float with Tangerine soft serve ice cream and Cream Soda. It was a refreshing drink. This is always my husband’s go-to stop for a hot dog.
Potato Pancakes with homemade Applesauce were found at Germany’s Bauernmarkt Farmer’s Market stand. I thought I’d get one potato latke and ordered two portions, one for me and one for Richard. It turns out we could have shared. On each plate were two thick potato pancakes. They could have been a bit thinner and crispier, but I liked them nonetheless.
At La Isla Fresca (between France and Morocco), I had the Coconut Tres Leches: Vanilla cake soaked in oat milk, almond milk, and coconut milk with toasted coconut. Custardy taste with whipped topping and toasted coconut melted in my mouth. Oh-so-good! Perfect accompaniment was Florida Orange Groves Winery Tropical Perception White Sangria, a light white wine that wasn’t too fruity.
As always, the displays of flowers and topiary were inspiring.
The Festival of the Arts during the winter months at Epcot is always fun to attend. You can view art works on display and sample dishes at food booths around World Showcase.
Here are some of the items we tried:
Duck and Dumplings at the Artist’s Table by the American Adventure. Smoked Duck Breast, Ricotto Dumplings, Petite Vegetables, and Duck Jus. I liked the smoked duck flavor, and the meat was easy to cut. I’ve had better at higher end restaurants, though. The ricotto dumplings were interesting, almost like a potato texture.
Three-Meat Meatloafwith “Peas and Carrots” came with Green Pea Pudding, Carrot Ketchup, Shaved Carrot salad, and Snap Peas. This was a dish that appealed to my husband. He said it was “average,” meaning it wasn’t anything special to his palate. Same location as above.
Red Wine-Braised Beef Short Rib with Parsnip Puree, Broccolini, Baby Tomatoes, and Aged Balsamic at the Pastoral Palate by Germany was by far the best of the batch. The boneless meat was supremely tender and tasty as well. This one would be on my repeat list.
General Tso’s Chicken Shumai at The Painted Panda by China came with three pieces of shumai. These were tasty and enough to share. I’m a fan of Trader Joe’s frozen chicken shumai and so I knew I’d like this version.
On a second visit, our friend Ann Meier had the Napoleon with Beets, Cashew-Herb Filling, Pepper-Pine Nut Sauce, and Balsamic Vinegar Caviar from the France pavilion.
Then Ann tried the Carrots Three Ways from Morocco while I had their Chicken Skewer.
Next, we’ll look forward to the Epcot Flower & Garden Festival. A whole new tasting experience begins March 1st with a fresh set of “outdoor kitchen” choices.
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The Space 220 Restaurant at Epcot in Disney World is an out-of-this-world restaurant. It’s so popular that it is nearly impossible to get an online reservation. We went in person on a Friday morning at 10:30 and lucked out. They had several slots available for lunch. This themed dining establishment is located next to the Mission: SPACE Pavilion. As you come into the park by Spaceship Earth, veer left toward the attractions on that side of the park.
At the designated time, we gained entry and were given boarding passes at a neon-rimmed reception desk.
From there, we lined up to ride on the space elevator. This would take us to the space station 220 miles up from Earth. A small group of us went inside. There’s a round rail in the center where we held on, with viewports at the bottom of this circle and overhead on the ceiling. With a rumbling vibration, we took off. Florida receded below as we shot toward the sky.
The station came into view above and grew larger until we docked. Here we entered a snaking utilitarian corridor. One section rotated with hydroponic vegetables reminiscent of the Land Pavilion.
A server escorted us to our table. Out the wide set of windows, we saw the curvature of Earth.
I ordered a Planetary Punch – Bacardi Silver, Malibu, Blue Curacao, Guava, and Coconut. The purple beverage bubbled and had an intriguing taste.
For $55 each, we had a two-course fixed price lunch with an appetizer and entree. Annual passholders get 10% off lunch only. Dinner is $79 and includes different choices of appetizers and entrees plus dessert. Here is the lunch menu. You can see the dinner menu here. Lunch starts at 11:30 am and Dinner at 4:00 pm. Remember that you need a reservation to Epcot for the day plus an admission ticket or pass.
I chose the Space Greens which was huge – Bibb and Red Leaf Lettuce, Honey Crisp Apples, Radish, Cornbread Croutons, Bacon Bites, Warm Bacon Vinaigrette. The lettuce was so fresh it might have been grown right there in the hydroponic garden.
My lunch was the Spaceghetti & Shrimp – Sautéed Shrimp, Spaghetti, Cherry Tomatoes, Basil, Garlic Beurre Blanc. Richard had the Rocket Flame Seared Tuna – Fennel Spice-Rubbed Tuna Loin, Eggplant Caponata, Arugula, Aged Balsamic. Sue and Mark both had the Galactic Miso Salmon – Miso Glazed Salmon, Glazed Rainbow Carrots, Edamame, Celeriac Puree.
While the food was tasty, I wouldn’t return based on the meal alone, although the dinner menu is very appealing. However, the out-of-this-world space station experience would definitely be worth another visit. You can go to the lounge without a reservation if you don’t mind standing in line for a spot, but there’s limited seating and it faces away from the viewports.
As we dined, suited spacemen floated past and various spacecraft came and went. It was awesome to imagine yourself dining on a real space station. Space elevators have been elemental to science fiction novels since I’ve been reading them, and our imagination often fuels invention.
The ride down to Earth was even more exhilarating than the one up to the station. It seemed real as we jostled with movement and sped down toward the land far below. With a gentle thump, we reached the terminal and entered reality once more.
For a more immersive experience, there’s always the Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser Adventure. That’s a mind-blowing two-night stay in the Star Wars Universe. If not for the cost … well, maybe our kids will get there someday.
In the meantime, Space 220 Restaurant offers a stellar adventure. We were glad to enjoy it with Sue and Mark Bernstein. Next time, we’ll have to try this place for dinner.
Epcot Food and Wine Festival is the main reason we get annual passes to Disney World. It’s fun to stroll among the food booths at Epcot’s World Showcase to sample new dishes. A number of cookbooks in my collection feature previous festivals and include many of their popular dishes.
Here is what we sampled this time:
Grilled Sweet and Spicy Bush Berry Shrimp at Australia with pineapple, onions, peppers, and snap peas.
Warm Chocolate Pudding Cake with Irish Cream Liqueur Custard at Ireland
Teriyaki Chicken Bun at Japan with chicken, vegetables and teriyaki sauce.
Chesapeake Crab Slider at The American Adventure with tangy coleslaw and Cajun remoulade.
Warm Raclette Swiss Cheese with Riesling poached pears, red wine braised figs, candied pecans, honey, and cranberry toast. I liked this dish, except for the toast that was too hard to bite.
Alps Wine Flight – I liked the white wine, Huber Vision Gruner Veltliner from Austria. The rosé, Cave De La Cote Rosé Gamay from Romand was also good. I didn’t care for the red choice, René Favre Dole from Chamoson.
Flavors From Fire over by Test Track – We shared the Smoked Corned Beef on crispy potato chips with melted cheese. My blurry photo doesn’t do this dish justice, but it was delicious. It was more than enough for the two of us.
We had a wonderful day at Disney World’s Epcot Food & Wine Festival as we strolled around World Showcase to sample the foods. My writer pal and critique partner, Ann Meier, accompanied us. It was a trek from the parking lot without the trams running and around the new construction obstacles past Planet Earth. We detoured to go on one of my favorite rides at The Land pavilion. I love the boats that glide through the plant and hydroponics gardens where you learn about new growing techniques.
Our first stop was for the Beer-Braised Beef with Smoked Gouda Mashed Potatoes at Belgium. This was a tasty dish, although the meat could have been more tender.
The Griddled Cheese with Pistachios and Honey at Greece was delicious. The flavors were unusual and reminded me of melted Brie with jam on top. The honey and chopped pistachios were inspirational.
Who wouldn’t like the Wild Mushroom and Truffle Tart at the Rotunda Bistro in the American Adventure? It was a perfect melding of sauteed mushrooms atop a puff pastry shell.
At the Alps, Richard had a wine flight, and I had the Blueberry and Almond Frangipane Tart. Since I love marzipan, this was a yummy dessert. The portion was large enough for us to share.
And how could I pass up the Traditional Macaroni and Cheese with Herbed Panko at Mac & Eats? If you’re a mac and cheese fan, you’ll want to make a stop there. Creamy with a slight crunch from the topping, this dish is the ultimate comfort food.
We were lucky to have perfect weather, partially cloudy in the low seventies, before a cold front came through the next day with heavy rain. It wasn’t terribly crowded at Epcot, which made for almost no waits in line anywhere. There were still other foods I might have liked to try but I got too full to eat anymore. The lower temperature and drier air made walking pleasant as we strolled around World Showcase. I achieved over 12,000 steps this day but counteracted it with all the extra calories consumed.
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We had the opportunity as WDW Passholders to preview Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure ride at Disney World’s Epcot theme park. Getting there was a hike. The trams weren’t running in the parking lots, presumably due to Covid changes, and so we had to make a trek in the heat to the gate. The entire front part of this theme park is being renovated, leading to long detours to get to World Showcase at the rear. Wear your sturdiest walking shoes if you plan to come. Here I am geared up. Besides my sun hat, I have on a rechargeable portable fan around my neck to keep me cool in the heat and a water bottle holder purchased at the Animal Kingdom.
On our way around World Showcase, we stopped at the Noodle Exchange to sample a bowl of Shrimp Coconut Curry Rice Noodles with Shitake Mushrooms and Thai Basil. Basically, we got three shrimps and a bowl of spicy broth with noodles. I didn’t care to fill up on a bowl of what was essentially chicken noodle soup, so I ate the shrimp and took a few spoonfuls of the broth. This satisfied my stomach until later, but by then it was too hot under the sun for me to have an appetite. I’ll come back to the Epcot Food and Wine Festival when it’s cooler out.
Since it wasn’t time yet for the ride, we stopped into the Beauty and the Beast Sing-Along, a new attraction in the France pavilion. In a quiet, air-conditioned auditorium, you sit and watch an abbreviated version of the animated film unfold for approximately fifteen minutes. Closed captions encourage you to sing along with the characters, or you can sit back and relax and enjoy the music. It’s definitely worth a stop to experience this happy, feel-good experience. Here is Belle outside posing for photos.
At our appointment hour, we headed to Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure to check in. We still had to snake through a line for about twenty minutes to enter the building. We noted a new Crepe restaurant next door that was bustling with customers. Once inside the Ratatouille ride, we wound through darkened corridors with these scenes.
Then we were herded into mouse cars. A safety bar lowered, and we swerved away from the dock on our trackless vehicle. Here we donned 3-D glasses and became part of the film. It was awesome how the effects were done. You really felt you were inside this house and careening through the kitchen, even scooting under the ovens with a hot blast of air. Twice we got spritzed with water as part of the action. All too soon, the ride was over. It swirls around a bit but it’s not jerky. If you keep your eyes on the visuals, you’re fine. It’s really an amazing technology, and I hope we’ll see more experiences like this one.
As we strolled through the rest of World Showcase, several Disney heroines made their appearances. Besides Belle above, here are Snow White, Princess Jasmine, and Alice in Wonderland.
We heard a mariachi band by the American pavilion. Back in Future World, we ducked by the new Space 220 Restaurant, which is already booked out 60 days in advance. You don’t need a reservation for the Lounge but be prepared to wait in line for an indeterminate time if you plan to visit the space station restaurant.
Gold statues of various characters are spotted around the park to commemorate Walt Disney World’s 50th Anniversary. A long trek back to our parked car ended the day. We were happy but tired. I’m hoping the trams are running again by our next visit.
We visited Epcot International Festival of the Arts at Disney World in Orlando. The tram let us off directly in front at the entrance instead of making us detour like last time due to construction. There was plenty of that going on inside the park. I liked how the baggage inspection is now in a shadier location with fans and multiple personnel so the process goes quicker. Spaceship Earth was open but the whole rest of the central portion of Future World was sectioned off due to remodeling.
We made our way around to the Land and watched the new film Awesome Planet. The scenery depicted was awesome indeed, including simulated flashes of light in the auditorium to accompany lightning on the screen and a sprinkle of water on my wrist when the screen showed rain. The film made me want to go right out and sign up for a conservation effort. We need to preserve our beautiful home planet so it’s safe for future generations.
At World Showcase, we turned left toward Mexico. Along the way, we stopped at the Pop Eats booth and sampled the sous-vide chicken roulade ($6.75). The dish was artistically presented and very tasty.
Next we tried the red wine-braised beef short ribs ($8.00) at Germany. The meat was very tender, accompanied by a dollop of mashed potatoes and broccolini. It was really good but didn’t leave much room in our stomachs for more.
I’d seen a dessert I wanted back at Pop Eats, so we returned there after making a full rotation around the lake. My husband got the cookie with strawberry filling ($4.50). I had the almond frangipane cake ($4.50) as I’m a fan of rainbow cakes. This was nice and moist. I’d ordered the popping bubbles cocktail as well. This champagne drink has gel pearls that burst in your mouth with extra flavor ($10.50).
There were other dishes I might have liked to try, but I got too full. Plus, it was hot out with temps in the eighties, and I was beginning to wilt. After a very long walk to the exit, we boarded the tram to the parking lot and headed home to relax in our air-conditioned condo.
Our dining adventures in Orlando continue with a visit to Epcot Food and Wine Festival and Magical Dining Month. Now is not the time to reduce your calorie intake.
Since I can never pass up the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival, we had to go for a tasting. I didn’t plan to go far in the 90+ degree heat. We killed time until 11am when World Showcase opened by going on the Living with the Land and the Imagination rides. I still love to see the vegetables and fruits growing in their experimental environment and the fish in the aquaponics tanks.
Our first food stop was Flavors from Fire for the Steakhouse Blended Burger, a blend of beef and mushrooms in a slider on a brioche bun with melted Brie cheese, arugula, and a blue cheese potato chip. It was a gooey dish but satisfying and tasty. We passed by a few other marketplaces to stop at Thailand for their Marinated Chicken with peanut sauce and stir-fried vegetables. This was good enough to make at home.
We got no farther on either side of Showcase Plaza, by now being overheated and worn out, so we left at noon. A word of warning – the main entry is under construction, so you have to walk a long stretch to get to the security bag check. Nor does the tram from the parking lot let you off in front anymore. You still have to walk around the construction site. It makes for an extra-long hike before you get anywhere.
We celebrated my husband’s birthday at Vines Grille and Wine Bar on Restaurant Row at W. Sand Lake Road in Orlando. On the Magical Dining menu, I chose the Vines Salad with mixed greens, pistachio, heirloom tomato, goat cheese, and citrus vinaigrette. Next came Faroe Island Salmon with fingerling potatoes, asparagus, confit tomatoes, and lemon-dill sauce. For dessert, I selected crème brulee. It was a memorable dinner with excellent food and service. I’d definitely make a return visit here.
The cozy atmosphere at this country club restaurant with its enticing golf course view in Winter Park invites you to linger with friends and family. However, I’m thinking it might be better for lunch. Prices are reasonable for either lunch or dinner, but our experience at the latter was less than stellar. We asked for the Magical Dining menu. I ordered the Buffalo Cauliflower topped with blue cheese crumbs and served with ranch dressing for an appetizer. Either the topping or the sauce was too spicy for my taste, but I couldn’t finish this dish. As an entrée, I’d chosen crab cakes with yellow rice and asparagus. They were out of asparagus. I selected broccoli as an alternative. It was served raw. Besides asking to replace it with a cooked portion, I had to ask for the rice since mashed potatoes had come with my meal. As for dessert, the Key lime pie came in a jar but looked tasty. My brownie sundae was okay, but I’ve had moister and fudgier brownie sundaes at the Red Lobster. This one satisfied my sweet tooth but wasn’t anything exceptional.
This meal at Wolfgang Puck Bar and Grill in Disney Springs was worthy of a return visit. Unfortunately, the items I chose are not part of the regular menu but were among the Magical Dining selections. The Late Summer Tomato Soup with garlic pecorino croutons and basil oil was savory and just the right consistency. The Braised Beef Short Ribs came with sunchoke purée and wild mushrooms ragu. The boneless meat was tender and shredded easily. For dessert, the mango tart with toasted almond crumble and coconut tapioca was lip-smacking delicious. The lively atmosphere and modern décor proved popular as there wasn’t an empty seat in the house. I saw standards like meatloaf on the regular menu that would bring me back. While a bit pricey for a normal dinner, this full-service restaurant is worth a visit on your list.
We spent a couple hours at the Epcot Flower & Garden Festival the other weekend. Construction is going on at the front entrance, so we veered around the barriers to the package inspection station. From here, we headed into one of my favorite spots, the building with free cola drinks from around the world. I like the raspberry-flavored one the best.
Next we ventured outside and to the right toward Canada. One of our party had the Citrus-Poached Salmon at the Flavor Full Kitchen. I tried the Roasted Beets with Cashew Cheese. It was delicious. Between this dish and the beets we ate recently at a Publix cooking class, I could make a meal from this vegetable.
At the Honey Bee-Stro, we sampled the Roasted Cauliflower with Carrot Puree, Rice Pilaf and Asparagus. It was good, but I like my roasted cauliflower recipe better. Also from this booth, a member of our group had the Honey Tandoori Chicken Flatbread. It looked good, although maybe not as crispy as I like flatbreads.
Our kids sampled the Fruit Sushi called Frushi from Hanama in Japan and a few other items. By now, I was too hot to eat any of the meat dishes and the heat had sapped my appetite. We finished our rounds and left for the day.
Later, my husband and I visited Disney Springs. We had lunch at Paddlefish. While enjoying a lovely view of the lake, we ate New England Clam Chowder and the Crabcake appetizer with corn relish that was more than enough for a meal. We watched the amphicars glide past from the Boathouse Restaurant.
Others meals we had were at Seasons 52 and Bahama Breeze. And now that we’re home, it’s time to go back on our healthful diets.
Our most recent visit to Orlando had us visiting Epcot for the Festival of the Arts. I tasted the mushroom risotto at the Masterpiece Kitchen around World Showcase but held off eating more until we went to the Morocco café for a vegetarian platter with hummus and more. At Disney Springs another day, I indulged in a root beer float at Ghiradelli. We enjoyed the ambiance as we strolled through the marketplaces and past numerous restaurants. Our adventures continued at historic Winter Garden as we strolled downtown. The main street still has its old-time charm, while a brewery hall attracts a young crowd with several fast-food eating choices. Here’s a peek at the lobby of an earlier era Edgewater Hotel and an adjacent ice cream shop. We took walks at Disney’s Riverside and Boardwalk resorts, and gained a couple of extra pounds from dining out the entire weekend. Now we’re home, and we brought a cold along with us as a souvenir.
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