Just days after the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival wrapped up, another festival has taken its place. Epcot International Festival of the Holidays began on November 29th, and we were there to try things out!
This festival is fairly new, beginning in 2017. Previously, Epcot celebrated the season with Holidays Around the World, featuring decorations and small performances in each of the eleven World Showcase countries, demonstrating the traditions celebrated this time of year. Festival of the Holidays expands on this with various food kitchens serving up some traditional eats and drinks.
We battled the opening day crowds to try some of the grub, which is undoubtedly the most important part of any Epcot festival (in our opinion).
First Things First
If you’ve ever been to opening day to any Epcot festival, you know it’s going to be crowded.
We waited probably 15 minutes to get through security and about 10 minutes to enter the park. Once we did, the first thing we did was receive our Festival of the Holidays Annual Passholder magnets. This year, APs are receiving two mini, ornament-shaped magnets featuring Chip and Dale. They’re very cute. These magnets are a great collectors item.
We were very focused on food so we didn’t get to look at the decorations in each country very closely. Each one of the countries features some beautiful decorations to match the rest of the countries’ theming.
Greeting you, when you enter the World Showcase, is this topiary featuring some of the classic Disney characters in their holiday get-ups. It’s a great spot for a photo opportunity
Before you start eating, you need to pick up a Passport. It’s an easy way to see each countries’ menu quickly without having to walk to each individual kitchen.
It is also a fun vacation keepsake since you can put a sticker next to every booth that you try out.
We started our journey counterclockwise, heading to Canada instead of Mexico. We were very careful to make our selections, since we decided to only try three items during this first outing.
Our first stop was L’Chaim! This kitchen is centered between the France Pavilion and Morocco. (It’s the same booth used for Brazil during the Food and Wine Festival) Here you can try some traditional Jewish cuisine that are often enjoyed during the Hanukkah season, including a corned beef sandwich, latkes, black and white cookies, and egg creams.
We decided to go for the latke. The traditional potato pancake is served with a sour cream sauce that is very heavy on the dill. It was a tasty snack, but it didn’t feature any frills. It was pretty much a fluffy hash brown, but what more do you need? The dill in the sour cream is very profound, so if that’s a flavor you enjoy, you will like this sauce. Additionally, this offering is only $3.75, so it is a great option if you are looking to try a festival food without spending too much.
We continued walking through the countries and faced a very strong internal battle on what to eat next. Several options sounded delicious, and while it was hard to pass up on some tasty snacks, we decided to go to China.
The Shanghai kitchen in the China Pavilion features a Mongolian beef bao bun, celebration barbeque pork, along with pork and vegetable egg rolls amongst other options.
While I am not the biggest bao fan, I found this one very enjoyable.
The bun is soft and has a nice sweetness to it. The combination of flavor thanks to the meat, veggies and sauce was savory and rich. The dish also came with a fortune cookie, which is always fun.
At $6.00, this portion was a bit small and it only took a few bites to finish the meal. If you are looking for something good from this kitchen, I can vouch for the bao bun.
After eating the latke and the bao bun, it only made sense that I ended my day with a dessert.
This took me to the Mexico Pavilion.
At the Las Posadas holiday kitchen, I went outside my comfort zone and tried a horchata cheesecake. While I am not afraid of the traditional cinnamon flavors of a nice horchata, I was a little thrown off by the addition of cooked rice in the cheesecake.
However, this cheesecake was DELICIOUS!
The cheesecake does not have a strong flavor itself, but the thick caramel sauce along with its crunchy graham cracker base added a delicious component to this dish. The cheesecake itself was mild, and the rice gave it a very interesting texture which was different, but in a good way. At $5.75, I would highly recommend this dessert.
Even though the Festival of the Holidays just started this past week, are you heading to Epcot to try out any of the themed dishes? If you have already attended, which dishes were some of your favorites? Leave them in the comments!
You can follow me on Twitter @itsaustindoes !!