Puerto Rican Culture Stands-Out at 2014 Epcot Food and Wine Festival

There are certain things I believe should not be missed, and the Epcot Food and Wine Festival is one of them.  The festival, in its 19th year, has spanned a record setting 53 days this year – open from September 19th – November 10th.  And this year, they’ve added on new booths and expanded others, all while keeping some classic favorites.

Epcot Food and Wine Festival

The Puerto Rico marketplace, new this year, is the superstar stand out of the booths.  Most kiosks are a stand-alone structure that is somehow representative of the culture of the county they represent.  However, the Puerto Rico booth is its own tiny island of experiences.  You enter through a brightly colored gate and are immediately drawn in by the rhythmic sounds of island music.

Puerto Rico at Epcot Food & Wine FestPuerto Rico at Epcot Food & Wine Fest

Past the gate, there is a small courtyard where the line forms.  On each side, reminiscent of Epcot’s Living with the Land attraction, plants and vegetables that are used in the dishes, such as okra, tomatoes and onions, are in bloom.  The various tables throughout the courtyard border on a garden filled with tropical flowers and as people eat and mingle, the area starts to feel more like a party than anything else.

Puerto Rico at Epcot Food & Wine FestPuerto Rico at Epcot Food & Wine Fest

The Puerto Rican food is also a stand out, though it might not please someone with a pickier palate.  The tostone, fried, mashed plantains, were among the most popular things we saw being ordered and they are quite a large serving for the price.  The braised beef was delicious, with a light tomato sauce on it, strong flavors from the onions and cilantro and perfect, fluffy rice.  The conch salad was a cool treat and had a strong pop of vinegar and a mild flavor.  The salad is served in a paper cone, which makes it harder to eat, but it’s still a nice treat.  The caramel flancocho was a delight – creamy and sweet, with a nice chocolate base.  I would say the Puerto Rico marketplace is definitely worth a stop when visiting the Epcot Food and Wine Festival.

Puerto Rico at Epcot Food & Wine FestPuerto Rico at Epcot Food & Wine FestPuerto Rico at Epcot Food & Wine Fest

Also new this year is the Patagonia booth, themed after its South American roots.  This station, not far from the Mexican pavilion, does feature past Food and Wine favorite: a steak skewer with chimichuri sauce.  It also features a beef empanada, which we found on the dryer side.

Patagonia at Epcot Food & Wine FestPatagonia at Epcot Food & Wine FestPatagonia at Epcot Food & Wine Fest

One of the most popular marketplaces by far is the re-imagined Farm Fresh booth.  In the past, this area had been billed as a Florida local booth.  This year, the kiosk has a variety of fresh dishes – including the one I had been most excited for, a pepper bacon hash.  However, nearly everyone I was waiting in line with ordered the other dish – a grilled “yard bird” or chicken, with braised greens.  Both dishes were hot and fresh, despite a long wait.  I was slightly disappointed the bacon hash had more of a potato flavor than anything else.

Farm Fresh at Epcot Food & Wine FestFarm Fresh at Epcot Food & Wine FestFarm Fresh at Epcot Food & Wine Fest

For those interested in more of an adult spin on things, the Craft Beer area has been enlarged and now takes up the entire Odyssey restaurant.  All beer purchases come with a snack mix, which was quite tasty.

Craft Beer at Epcot Food & Wine Fest

If you’re not interested in any of the new booths, the Epcot Food and Wine Festival still features many classics.  The cheese soup, rainbow trout and steak from the Canada marketplace were incredible and some of the best things we ate that day.

Canada at Epcot Food & Wine Fest

These taste delights were closely followed by the lamb chop with mint pesto from the Australia stand.

Australia at Epcot Food & Wine Fest

The Epcot Food and Wine Festival is definitely worth a visit, whether it’s a first time or a repeat visit.  Visit the Food and Wine site for more information about dishes, dates and the festival’s Eat to the Beat Concert series.  Have you attended this year’s Epcot Food and Wine Festival?  If so, let us know some of your favorite dishes in the comments below.

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About Cristen Curley-Edwards