During our recent Walt Disney World trip, we ate snacks and desserts from booths at the 2018 Epcot International Festival of the Arts, buying (or sharing with friends) most food items at the event. In this post, we’ll share some of our favorites, compiling a list of what we consider the must-try items at this year’s “Artful Epcot.”
After getting past the initial sticker shock–items are a good 25-33% more expensive across the board than Food & Wine–we were quite impressed with the cuisine at Festival of the Arts. Most food items were plated with care and artfully presented, and this event benefits from being far less popular than Epcot’s flagship fall festival, meaning that the culinary team (ironically) can be more ambitious and create higher quality food.
In addition to this post, we’ll also be back later this week to offer our top 10 tips for the 2018 Epcot International Festival of the Arts. We’ll give you a preview of one of those tips now, though: mostly skip the food. We want to put that out there now because we won’t want to come across as disingenuous with a whole list of stuff you should try now, only to say you should not try most things later…
The big problem with the food at Epcot International Festival of the Arts is that it’s all really expensive, and in no way integral to enjoying the event. You can have an absolute blast at the Epcot Festival of the Arts without spending a dime, which is delightful and refreshing in terms of Epcot events. If you only have a day at Festival of the Arts, we’d highly recommend focusing on entertainment and less on grazing these booths. (Except for the two items at the end of this list–those everyone should get.)
Anyway, let’s start with the best-of Epcot Festival of the Arts food list…
Deconstructed BLT with Crispy Pork Belly, Tomato Jam and Soft Poached Egg, Deconstructed Dish – Deconstructed is one of many obnoxious and fairly meaningless buzzwords used among people who like food (I’m not using that buzzword). In this case, the Deconstructed BLT is not really deconstructed, nor is it actually a BLT. Neither thing matters, as it’s still really good.
The pork belly here has a surface crispness providing a nice contrast to its absurd tenderness, and the poached egg is like icing on the proverbial pork cake.
Red Wine Braised Short Rib with Parsnip Purée, Broccolini, Baby Tomatoes and Aged Balsamic, Cuisine Classique – A high quality short rib that fell apart when “cut” with a fork, but the real highlights here were the juicy tomatoes, rich parsnip puree, and kick provided by the balsamic.
As with many of the items at Epcot International Festival of the Arts, the question here is one of value. Even high quality short rib does not warrant this high of a price (at least for the portion), making this something that’s tough to justify unless you’re using the monopoly money of Disney Dining Plan snack credits.
Smoked Salmon Tartare, Caviar, Crisp Lavash and Traditional Accompaniments, Masterpiece Kitchen – A small portion of salmon tartare, but topped with caviar, and beautifully plated. Every bite packed a wallop, and we ate this slowly to savor the excellent flavor.
In terms of value, this is a mixed bag. Salmon tartare is never cheap, and the caviar atop this certainly doesn’t help on that front, but I still have a tough time with the price of a dish so small.
Wild Mushroom Risotto, Masterpiece Kitchen – Another item from Masterpiece Kitchen, the booth that probably could have its entire menu on this list. (Best booth of the event, edging France, in our estimation.) This risotto was nuanced, with the truffle shavings and wine reduction giving it richness and depth. If you can get past the price (high for risotto), this is an excellent dish.
Note: While none of the items at Masterpiece Kitchen are listed as snack credits on the Disney Dining Plan, we were able to use snack credits for them. When we asked about this, the Cast Member at the register was surprised, and said he had been ringing them up as snack credits all day long. (Oops?) Your mileage may vary.
Mixiote de Cordero: Wrapped Slow Braised Lamb marinated in Tres Chiles Paste and Spices, The Hungry Artist – When we received this, I wasn’t quite sure whether I should light it on fire and leave on Journey into Imagination’s doorstep, or eat it.
Thankfully, we chose the latter. It was delicious. Even though presentation here leaves a ton to be desired, the lamb is incredibly tender and flavorful. The value proposition leaves a lot to be desired, but if you’re on the Disney Dining Plan, it’s a good use of a snack credit.
Callebaut Belgian Sipping Chocolate Flight, Artist’s Table – This was something we hadn’t planned on trying, but it was handed to us for free by a random Cast Member, and it turned out to be one of our favorite desserts.
I don’t know what I was expecting, but this is incredibly rich. It’s the chocolate equivalent of drinking (very good) maple syrup or honey, which might sound like a glorious idea, but is probably something that should be enjoyed in moderation. Definitely share this.
Saumon en Croute Façon Paul Bocuse, L’Art du Cuisine Francaise – There are several salmon dishes at this year’s Festival of the Arts, and this is far and away the best. The puffy pastry is light and airy, with the salmon inside being–almost inexplicably–perfectly prepared and juicy. The Spinach and Beurre Blanc sauce adds a bit of richness and nice punch, rounding the dish out well.
Although pricey, this is unquestionably the best savory dish at the event–and arguably the best savory dish at any Epcot event, period. How much better this is than the salmon at Italy’s booth is really astounding, but it seems like the Italy booth goes out of its way to be mediocre at every event, so it should come as no surprise.
Almond Frangipane Cake layered with Raspberry Jam and Chocolate, Pop Eats – Aside from the salmon pastry above, we’d say this is the only dish that we view as a must-get for everyone. Stylized to resemble a Piet Mondrian painting, this cake is also delicious.
We’ve ordered several of these in the last two years (the only item about which we can say that–thanks in large part to its shockingly low price), and have found each piece we’ve had to be moist and with a nice balance of berry jam and chocolate flavors. Very photogenic, too.
Okay, that’s it for the Best Snacks at the 2018 Epcot International Festival of the Arts. Like we said at the outset, you’re really not missing much if you skip the food entirely. It’s a nice enhancement and the foods are definitely nicely done, but you can rack up a costly tab pretty quickly, and the event stands well on its own, minus food. You’ll also want to read our full Epcot’s International Festival of the Arts Guide before you go to get an idea of what to do, strategy for the festival, and much more.
Do you have any favorites from the 2018 Epcot International Festival of the Arts? Anything you’re excited to try? Any questions we can help you answer? Hearing feedback about your experiences is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!