Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival 2013

A feast for the eyes and palate




I’m holding Dole Whip with spiced rum and Sam Adams Cream Stout in front of the Pineapple Promenade. They are not both for me!

I’ve been wanting to visit Epcot’s International Flower and Garden Festival for years, not realizing that it was a feast for more than just the eyes! In their 20th year celebrating mother nature’s finest flora, the festival also offers a variety of spring-inspired culinary dishes available in the Garden Marketplaces. A dozen kiosks are set-up throughout the World Showcase area of Epcot. As you walk around the lake, through the different countries, there are large menu boards in front of the each of the kiosks with vegetarian items clearly marked by a ‘V’ and green leaf. The items are about five to six bites and cost from $1.50 to $6 each. Some sweet, some savory and some available with an adult beverage kick!

I started the culinary trek the opposite direction of the crowd, so reverse direction of the provided map. The first stop was at the Pineapple Promenade, which served up a variety of Dole Pineapple tastes. All items on the menu were labeled vegetarian, but I decided start my taste buds off with the Dole Whip with spiced rum. It was a smooth and creamy pineapple flavored soft serve finished with a shot of straight spiced rum. It was a delicious combination of flavors, which almost resembled what a frozen pineapple daiquiri would taste like. With or without the booze, I would eat the Dole Whip again!

The watermelon salad in front of the Florida Fresh stand. A must-have!

Next, I headed over to the Florida Fresh stand, which featured many locally grown and produced ingredients. The Florida Fresh vegetarian items included angel food cake with Florida berries and a watermelon salad. I chose the watermelon salad, which included some of my all-time favorite ingredients, so my expectations were high. There were about five juicy and flavorful chunks of watermelon, dressed with a handful of fresh and spicy arugula, mild and crunchy pickled red onions, chunks of lightly salted, creamy feta and finished with a sweet and tangy drizzle of balsamic reduction.

It was a medley of complimentary fresh and delicious flavors, which made this dish my favorite of the day!

I skipped the Jardin de Fiestas near Mexico, since the only vegetarian item was a guava flan and I wasn’t ready to dive into the dessert items yet. I did stop at the Lotus House in China for the pan-fried vegetable bun. It was a soft, white bun about the size of my fist.

The inside of the pan-fried veg­etable bun. Pass on this item!

The inside of the pan-fried veg­etable bun. Pass on this item!

China Lotus House

The pan-fried veg­etable bun in front of the Lotus House in China.

Inside it was stuffed with vermicelli noodles and finely-chopped, asian-style vegetables. On the side, it was served with a tangy, slightly-salty, slightly-sweet type sauce. The bun tasted like your typical doughy, undercooked white bread. The filling had a strong sea-vegetable flavor. Overall, the bun was tasteless and the filling had an overwhelmingly seaweed, fishy tasting. I tried two bites and tossed the rest. I should of tried the candied fresh strawberries they offered instead!

The next menu was at the Bauernmarket: Farmer’s Market stand. After reading many rave reviews online about the German potato pancakes, I was excited to try them. I haven’t tried many potato pancakes in my day, so I didn’t have a comparison for the taste. These pancakes were served with house-made applesauce. After the first bite, I was hugely disappointed! The pancake was so extremely salty with an eggy finish, it was almost inedible. I tried a second bite towards the center of the pancake with more applesauce and it was just as salty. The applesauce was flavorless and tasted more like it was just poured out of a jar. This was the second item of the day I tossed after two bites! I was grateful though that I ordered the Hugo-elderflower sparkling wine cocktail to cleanse my palate from the salt overload. The drink was a refreshing and bubbly cocktail with a hint of sweet and floral elderflower syrup and sprigs of fresh mint.


German potato pancake with house-made applesauce and the Hugo-elderflower sparkling wine cock­tail at Bauern­mar­ket: Farmer’s Mar­ket. Skip this salty pancake!


Lasagna primavera at Italy’s Primavera Kitchen. It was not the most appetizing presentation.

Next, it was on to Italy’s Primavera Kitchen, where the vegetarian offerings included lasagna primavera and Limoncello flavored panna cotta with fresh berries. I tasted the lasagna, which had spinach noodles, green peas, mushrooms, zucchini, broccolini, a creamy béchamel sauce and was finished with fresh basil, slices of roasted garlic and chunky, braised tomatoes. The top had a crispy layer of baked cheese. The sauce was very creamy among the noodles and the vegetables were undistinguishable among the sauce and cheeses. Overall, the lasagna was ok, but not worth a second visit. I may not had been served the freshest portion though, since it was late in the day.

I skipped the Smokehouse: Barbecue and Brews, since they didn’t really offer anything vegetarian. They marked on the menu that the Rocky Road Brownie Mousse was vegetarian, but it did contain marshmallows. I don’t consider marshmallows vegetarian since they contain gelatin.

In Japan, the Hanami kiosk offered vegetarian options of fruishi (a fruit sushi roll), yakisoba pan (vegetables, noodles and teriyaki on a bun) and green-tea flan. I was ready for dessert by this point in my culinary adventure, so I chose the flan. The presentation was utilitarian, with a firm, pale-green custard in a mini, metal pie tin. The custard was eggy and creamy with a very slight green-tea flavor. I dug my spoon through to the bottom of the tin and there was a liquidly, caramel sauce to add some more flavor. Personally, I am not crazy about the flavor of eggs, so I was hoping this dish would have a stronger green-tea flavor.

The baked goat’s brie with kumquat chutney, green tea and ginger trifle, and apple chai hot tea. All delicious!

I ended up skipping the Taste of Marrakesh, which offered a vegetarian Moroccan sweet pancake with honey, almonds and Argan oil. I also skipped France’s ratatouille tart with goat cheese. I was holding out for England’s The Cottage: Savories, Trifles and Teas offerings.
The Cottage offered many vegetarian selections such as Waterkist Farms heirloom tomatoes with house made-mozzarella, Minus 8 vinegar and basil, baked goat’s brie with kumquat chutney, a variety of trifle desserts and a selection of hot and iced teas. I enjoyed the baked goat’s brie. It was a light, flaky pastry wrapped around mild and creamy goat’s milk brie. (Not to be confused with the pungent-flavored soft goat cheese, or also known as chèvre.) It was finished with a sweet and citrusy kumquat chutney. I also tried the green tea and ginger trifle. It was a sweet, creamy and flavorful layered custard on top a small piece of vanilla sponge cake. It was very tasty and a step-up from the green-tea flan served in Japan. I finished my tastes with an apple chai hot tea. This kiosk was my second favorite for the day behind the Florida Fresh watermelon salad.

It was a fun-filled, culinary adventure throughout the day. In addition to some new and tasty flavor experiences, there was also visually intriguing varieties of topiaries, flower beds, fresh herbs and vegetables growing throughout the park. It is a must-do event for a vegetarian or garden lover!

March 12 – May 19, 2013
Requires general park admission



One Response to “Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival 2013”
  1. Enjoy your write up on the festival. Sure was a lot of food for thought, but thanks for all the tips!!!!!!!!!!

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