Final Thoughts on 2011 Epcot Food & Wine Festival

Well we have finally finished our posts about the 2011 Epcot Food & Wine Festival. Without being too critical – most food and events were hit or miss. It is important to do all these things with an open mind. Plus, with things like food booths, the quality can vary from week to week, day to day and even hour to hour. With the signature dinners, the chefs only have one shot to “get it right”. Basically it is not like you can read a review from 2010 and expect the same experience in 2011.

The best – all the friends we got to share Food & Wine experiences with. Thanks to Al, Judy, Big Sis, Asta, Harry & Sandy & Sandy’s Parents, and Kate & Calvin for sharing so many of the things we did. No matter what we tried, it was always better with friends. I guess that is what makes life good – sharing experiences with friends and “hanging out.” If we have friends visiting (or living here) next year, I think we’d do any food and wine event that interested them.

Trying to name the best thing we did at Food and Wine was easy. It was the Tequila Lunch (link). One of the most enjoyable aspects was that the Chef was out with every course talking with us and explaining the food. Hilda knows her tequila and she kept us informed of the pairings. But sharing it with friends, especially one who did not really want to go and who thoroughly enjoyed it, made it great. We did enjoy the 3D Dessert party too but I had to put Tequila Lunch as tops.

We also really enjoyed our lunch pairing at Japan (link). The food education was tops, the pairing explanations understandable and the service was excellent! The 2010 lunch in Japan was really good but for 2011 the chefs stepped it up a notch and I cannot wait to go in 2012. We might even do this event 2 or 3 times in 2012.

We left the Swan and Dolphin Food and Wine Classic out of the list of the best only because it is not technically part of Food and Wine. This was the second year for the Swan and Dolphin. The value was definitely down from 2010 BUT they are learning and trying to find a balance. Epcot’s Food and Wine Festival has had 16 years to learn. Still, the Swan and Dolphin made numerous improvements and expanded greatly. If we were wine drinkers, this event would be near impossible to beat on a “value” basis. Yet and still, we enjoyed it and plan to attend next year. We’ll wait to see how they adjust pricing before we decide how much we do… Again this event was done on one of the two nights with friends – there is a theme here!

There were some low points. The two that stand out are the mixology seminars and the signature dinners. Mixology Seminars were new this year. Some presenters had good stage presence and were entertaining. But most of the drinks were on the rocks, they were made backstage and by the time they were served they were so watered down they were near impossible to drink. The signature dinners lacked any education on the food served – not even why the foods were served. Plus there is just too much food and wine for us… These may work for some folks but at the price, they are not a good value for us, especially with the shortcomings we experienced.

The Epcot Food and Wine Festival is still our favorite event at WDW. Unless something changes in our lives we plan to do many, many events again in 2012. Hopefully we have learned enough in the last two years to make even better choices. We will not rule anything out – we’ll continue to keep an open mind. We’ll reserve the bigger events to do with friends – that is always way more fun!

nick & nora

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