Ever since it’s inception, the Food and Wine Fest is one event I look forward to at the park every year. I love food. I love wine. Perfect combination, right? This is also the time when you get to try foods from around the world, as well as eating something different in the park if you’re tired of eating at Das Fest Haus or Trapper’s Smokehouse. I will say though, this year is full of mixed emotions for me. Too many changes missed kiosks from previous years.
First off, what happened to the chef demos??? The demos have been a huge favorite of mine the last couple years! I loved seeing the dishes being prepared, and yes, being able to try them on the spot, fresh made. The demos were always a huge hit. Those kiosks have been replaced by drink stations. Not a bad swap really as some of the infusions are really good, but I still miss the demos.
New kiosks this year are Mexico, Jamaica, and Philippines, as well as the herbal infusions, garden to glass, and the sangria garden.
If you pay close attention to the new food kiosks, you’ll notice some of your past favorites were kept for some of the new kiosks. Like the empanadas from Spain are now at Mexico.
My favorite booth this year once again was Brazil. I’m crazy for the churrasco (steak with chimichurri sauce). This is a hard one for them to mess up. The steak is cooked on the grill pit outside of Trapper’s Smokehouse. Pair this with the Brazilian Lemonade or Caipirinha (rum with sugar and lime) and add their abacaxi (grilled pineapple).
If I had to pick one food booth to skip though, it would be the Philippines. I was intrigued about their Mamon, a
butter sponge cake topped with shredded cheese with raspberry sauce. Cheese on a sponge cake with raspberry sauce? My curiosity got the best of me with this one. My idea of sponge cake, or any cake for that matter, is something soft and moist. The sponge cake here was hard and crispy, more like a cookie than a cake. The raspberry sauce was good but there was no shredded cheese on the cake (or was it cooked inside?). I wish I had tried the Siopao (steamed pork bun with sweet soy glaze) instead. If you have to pick a kiosk to skip, this one would be it.
Other returning favorites from Ireland (bangers and colcannon), Korea (beef bulgogi), and Mediterranean (lamb sliders and loukoumades) were still popular and very good. While I was looking forward to ending my sampling with the pecan bacon bars from Virginia, by the time we made it back around to them, they were sold out, unfortunately.
Another new favorite though was at the Italy kiosk. Italy replaced Spain (I miss the scallops and gazpacho!) with their mushroom risotto and caprese. I skipped the risotto (although I have heard from others it’s really good) and opted for the caprese. This simple dish is a hit. The tomatoes and mozzarella cheese make for a nice light, refreshing, dish to enjoy in the hot summer. Yes, I can make it at home, and I do, but this one is worth it at the park as well.
Now for the drinks. The new herbal infusion station offers up drinks such as lavender lemonade, watermelon mojito and mint julep, and rosemary lemon Moscato. We opted for the lemonade and mojito. the lavender lemonade was REALLY strong. The lavender overpowers the lemonade flavor. In fact, as we drank it down, we added water and more ice and it was still too overpowering for us. This was one drink we couldn’t finish. The watermelon mojito however…..SO GOOD!!! I could get this over and over. Not too sweet, not overpowering in flavor. It had the perfect combination of everything to it. Highly recommend!
I will admit I skipped the Garden to Glass kiosk. I don’t do Bloody Mary’s and after the lavender lemonade, I was scared to try the Strawberry, Orange, Beet & Ginger Smoothie
My absolute favorite new kiosk this year though, is the Sangria Garden. You cannot pass this one up!! If they kept this year round, I would be one happy girl. They offer four flavors:
Red Sangria – Traditional red sangria
White Sangria – Citrus Moscato sangria
Rose Sangria – Strawberry rose sangria
You can buy the sangria by the glass or try all four as a flight. Either way, it’s worth it! The frozen sangria was the best, followed by the red, but honestly, all four are very good, very refreshing, and perfect on a hot summer day.
The food and wine festival runs Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, through June 30. If you’re a member, don’t forget to scan your pass at the self serve kiosk at the park entrance and claim your free sample with EACH visit!