If you’re someone who observes Lent, I hope you haven’t pledged to give up festivals, because the next in Epcot’s rotating roster of special events is the International Flower & Garden Festival, beginning the day after Mardi Gras, which this year falls on a Tuesday.
The EIF&GF, which runs from March 6 through June 3, is dedicated to all things that grow. That of course includes a lot of food.
I tiptoed through a media preview of the upcoming fest and sampled some of the dishes that will be available this year.
Just as with the 37 other Epcot International Festivals, food and drink items are available at kiosks around the World Showcase and in other nooks in the park. For this event, the kiosks have been cleverly dubbed Outdoor Kitchens. Also, food and drink items are individually priced and may be purchased at each kitchen. Admission to the park is also required. And parking. You may also be searched at the entrance to the park. They’re not looking for weapons, they just want to make sure you don’t have any loose change left.
There are a few new kitchens this year: Arbor at the Gardeners Terrace; Flavor Full Kitchen; Trowel & Trellis; and the Citrus Blossom among them.
From the latter, I liked the Tuna Tataki with spicy yuzu glaze, mango and avocado on a pappadam crisp. The pappadam, which seemed more like a rice cake than the lentil-flour wafers you get in an Indian restaurant, made a nice platform for the cool tuna, allowing it to be eaten without utensils.
Also at the Citrus Blossom, Citrus Shortcake, an orange chiffon cake with mandarin oranges and lemon curd. Light and refreshing.
I really liked the Farmhouse Meatball with lentil bread, spinach and a creamy herb dressing that can be found at Trowel & Trellis, which is sponsored by Impossible Foods. That should be a clue that the meatball is meatless. Still, it had the texture and taste of ground beef — that’s Impossible!
The Chocolate Pudding Terrarium with avocado cream was the only item I sampled at the event that I didn’t care for. It certainly looked pretty, but the taste was a bit cloying.
The taste was easily removed with a swig of the Bloomin’ Blueberry Lemon and Ginger Tea with Tito’s Handmade Vodka. None of the first three ingredients appealed to me, but the last one made it all bearable.
From Arbor, the Fried Green Tomatoes with blue crab-fennel salad was a definite winner.
Bauernmarkt had a Potato Pancake with caramelized ham, onions and herb sour cream that satisfied.
And the Shredded Beef Brisket with smoked potato, chorizo fondue and green tomato relish from the Smokehouse: Barbecue and Brews kitchen is a throwback to the days when jacket potatoes were all the rage.
Besides the food and drink, the Flower & Garden Festival also features the popular Disney character topiaries; how-to exhibits on gardening; a concert series called Garden Rocks (get it?); and, of course, merchandise. Nice try hiding that loose change.
For more information on Epcot’s International Flower & Garden Festival see the official webpage.
Note: Attendees to the media preview received complimentary admission to Epcot and free parking. We were still searched.