Preview Tastes of Epcot's 35th International Food & Wine Festival

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I attended a media preview for some of the items that will be available at this year's Epcot International Food & Wine Festival, the 35th.

Nothing knocked my socks off, but nothing tasted like socks, either, so there's that.

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This year, the food kiosk of Hawaii, which they're spelling Hawai'i just to show off, will feature Teriyaki-glazed Spam® prepared in a hash with potatoes, peppers, onions and spicy mayonnaise. The real news here isn't just that they're using Spam but that the makers of Spam aren't paying a sponsor fee. The culineers at Disney asked for and received permission to use the food item. Taste? It was OK.

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I liked the Seared Scallops that will be served in the Coastal Eats marketplace in Future World. The scallops, which had a nice char on the outside and soft translucence on the inside, came the closest to removing my foot coverings. They were served with a succotash of roasted corn and butterbeans and seasoned with chili-chipotle butter.

India is one of the returning marketplaces and it will offer a vegetarian option of Madras Red Curry with roasted cauliflower, baby carrots and chickpeas over basmati rice.

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To go with it, two Indian wines will be available. The wines, from Sula Vineyards in Nashik (also known as Nasik), are a chenin blanc and a shiraz, and both were surprisingly good. The chenin was light and fruity, a refreshing summer-style sip-by-the-pool type. The shiraz had a little more heft. Should be popular at the festival -- how often do you get to try Indian wines?

Florida Beer Company of Cape Canaveral has produced a special brew to commemorate the occasion with Passport 35 Triple Chocolate Milk Stout. It's a little like drinking carbonated chocolate. You'll like it if that's your thing; it is not mine. But I liked that Epcot partnered with a local brewer to produce something special.

Speaking of beer, one of the items available in the merchandise department is a Brews Around the World growler. You can't fill it up at the festival, but you may certainly purchase one.

The Cheese Studio is hosted by Boursin® Cheese, which did not have the same good luck as Spam in terms of free participation. The items that were sampled at the preview were all very sweet. Maybe not as sweet as the Passport 35 stout, but pretty sweet. Especially the macaroon topped with pepper cheese.

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Another one that I liked was the Smoked Corned Beef with Crispy Potatoes that will be at the Flavors from Fire kiosk. With the shredded meat on the chips and a fondue with blonde ale, it was sort of like an American style nacho dish.

The Epcot International Food & Wine Festival will run from August 31 through November 13. Tickets for tastings and events that require reservations will go on sale Thursday, July 20. Check the official website for details.

You can also hear from some of the event organizers in the most recent Chow Hound Report video, below.