Epcot International Food and Wine Festival -- Presented by Chase

on on .

epcot terraTrick'n Chick'n, a vegan item new to this year's festival.The Epcot International Food and Wine Festival Presented by Chase kicks off today and runs through November 12, one day longer than usual. It’s the standard setup that has worked so well for the last 17 years, with...

Wait a minute. Hold on. Presented by Chase? 

It seems that is the new official name, making what was already a mouthful of a title something that requires an extra breath to say fully.

I’m going to go out on a limb and assume the Chase who is presenting the festival is not some rich guy but rather the bank, formerly known as Chase Manhattan. I can only assume it at this point because there is no other mention of Chase on the official EIF&WF(PBC) website other than in the banner at the top of the page.

Corporate sponsorship is not new to the festival. Vanity Fair, the paper plate people, not the magazine, has been, and still is, a major sponsor. (They go through a tremendous amount of plates, napkins and plastic forks in the festival’s six weeks.) Ocean Spray is again sponsoring the cranberry bog. And along with Chase, Beam, inc., the National Watermelon Promotion Board and Ghirardelli Chocolate Company are also new sponsors.

The way things are going, you can probably expect Spaceship Earth to soon be sponsored by  Titleist golf balls.

“But sponsorship is good,” you say. “Sponsorship helps keep costs low, and in some cases allows free entry in turn for the opportunity to get one’s brand in front of an audience.” To which I say, “You’re new here, aren’t you?”

No, the sponsorship undoubtedly helps defray Walt Disney World’s cost of putting on the festival, but don’t expect those savings to be passed along to the guests (unless the guests are also Disney stockholders, in which case they’re probably pretty happy with the new arrangement.)

As I started to say earlier, the festival is arranged pretty much the same as it has been for the past 17 years. The main draw -- the attraction that gets the attention of most of the attendees, simply because it doesn’t involve an additional fee to attend -- is still the collection of food kiosks (the official designation is International Marketplaces) that are set up around the World Showcase. Besides the foods of the countries that have permanent pavilions there -- France, China, Canada among them -- other countries join in for the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival <gasp> Presented by Chase. Some of those include New Zealand, Poland and South Africa. 

This year, two new countries have been added: Florida Local and Terra. OK, those aren’t really countries, but they’re new nonetheless.

Epcot floridaCeviche from Florida.I had an opportunity to sample some of the new dishes that are being offered this year at a special tasting. Florida Local will have a shrimp ceviche with fire roasted vegetables, fried plantains and cilantro. The small shrimp in the sample I, um, sampled were firm and had a pleasant citrusy taste that was accented nicely by the fresh cilantro.

Terra is another first for the festival -- the first food kiosk dedicated to vegan food. From here, I sampled the Trick’n Chick’n, a term that has an entirely different meaning in certain parts of Los Angeles. This dish features a (wink) chicken breast served on basmati rice and topped with a curry sauce. The “meat” is actually fashioned out of rice and soy and is made by a company called Gardein. It was firm -- probably firmer than an untrick’n chicken would be -- but the flavor was good. The vegan item will start showing up on the menus of other WDW restaurants soon as a vegan offering. (It’s also available at Publix, I hear.)

For those not restricted to the food from the country ofepcot canadaCanada will serve steak this year. Vegania, Canada is offering a new item this year. (Don’t worry, the cheese soup, which is the number one seller at the festival each year, will still be available.) They’re serving a wild mushroom beef filet with truffle butter sauce. I really wanted to like it, but I found the steak to be a bit tough.

I liked Poland’s zapiekanki not just for its taste but also because it’s fun saying zapiekanki. A zap is a sort of open-faced sandwich, this one with mushroom, caramelized onions and cheese bread. It was served with what was described as housemade ketchup, but it tasted more like cocktail sauce, and we epcot polandSay it with me: zapiekanki!were wondering if maybe there had been a mixup with the red squeeze bottles. Whatever, it was good.

Australia is still serving its lamb chop, but this year it is with a mint pesto and potato crunchies (let’s just call them crumbled potato chips, shall we?). The mint was a bit too heavy on the chop I tasted, and it overwhelmed the little lamb.

Disney’s special Fairy tale Cuvee, a sparkling wine, will be offered in the Scandinavia marketplace. For the kids, there’s Nesquick (sponsorship!). epcot lambOverminted lamb from down under.There’s also a special rum drink to celebrate Epcot’s 30th anniversary. (I thought it was a bit too sweet.)

I’ll be heading out to the festival later today, so I’ll report on some of the other things I spot along the way.

In the meantime, you can check out the official website for <deep breath> the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival Presented by Chase by clicking that link. I’ll also try to get a picture of Chase.{jcomments on}

We hope you find our reviews and news articles useful and entertaining. It has always been our goal to assist you in making informed decisions when spending your dining dollars. If we’ve helped you in any way, please consider making a contribution to help us continue our journalism. Thank you.