The 2017 Epcot® International Flower & Garden Festival kicked off March 1st and continues through May 29th this year.
We enjoyed the festival last March and decided to return again this year.
Even with no special events going on, Epcot is our favorite Walt Disney World theme park. We enjoy the beautiful views all around the World Showcase, the wide variety of gluten-free (and other “free”) foods we are able to try, as well as rides like Soarin’ and Livin’ with the Land.
But with 15 outdoor kitchens added during the Festival, it’s even better! Gluten-free menu items are marked “GF” on menu boards outside of each kitchen. Vegetarian offerings are also noted with a “V”.
This year, there were less gluten-free food items marked on the menus compared to last year. Some items that were noted as GF last year were not indicated as such this time around.
There are plenty of non-GF options, but because two of the three of us must be gluten-free, that’s how we all ate. That’s a great way to avoid cross-contamination (hand-holding, touching items that belong to the other person, etc. can lead to gluten contamination).
If you plan to enjoy the Festival this year, here’s a run-down of what’s on offer and the items we tried from the GF selections.
2017 Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival Gluten-Free
Bauernmarkt: Farmer’s Market
Apologies no photo for this dish. We had it twice, but maybe it was so yummy we couldn’t wait? ;-)
Head to Germany for Roasted Bratwurst with Curry Ketchup and Paprika-spiced Chips – the chips are fried in a small fryer on the opposite side of the kitchen as the other (gluten-containing) foods (like potato pancakes).
The bratwurst is sliced with a nicely flavored curry ketchup over the top, chips are served on the side. This is a flavorful, but not spicy, dish all of us enjoyed.
Located near the United Kingdom Pavilion, you’ll find a Freshly Baked Lemon Scone with Crème Fraîche and Mixed Berries (above), which is both gluten-free and vegetarian. Dreamy and Ma Petite had these for a late breakfast one morning and loved them. I tried one last year and it was good, but in last year’s post on the Festival, I noted it was a bit gummy. This year, Dreamy said it was better than last, so I bought one to take back to our resort for a late-night snack. I ordered mine with no crème fraiche, no berries and no added powdered sugar (they sprinkle this on top of the already-glazed scone). I ended up not eating it (my eyes are always bigger than my tummy!). The scones smelled and looked wonderful, with a zesty lemon scent, so I know they were tasty! Maybe next year I’ll save room for one.
Fleur de Lys
While I didn’t try any food at the France pavilion, I did find my favorite festival cocktail here. La Vie en Rose Frozen Slushy (above) is a grown-up pink slush that contains Grey Goose Orange, St. Germain Liqueur, White and Red Cranberry Juice and in my opinion, it’s a must-try! Not too sweet, perfectly flavored and great for a bright sunny day at Epcot. Or any other day/location.
Ma Petite and Dreamy enjoyed the Macaron Chocolat Framboise, which is a Large Raspberry Macaron with Chocolate Fudge and Raspberry Jam. Both agreed chocolate was the predominant flavor and the raspberry filling was in the center of the macaron. They gave it a big thumbs-up! It is very large and could easily be shared by two.
There was a duck confit dish that was GF last year, so hopefully France will bring back a non-sweet GF option next time around.
Being beverage lovers that we are, Dreamy and I also tried the Kir Pomegranate (Sparkling Wine with Pama Pomegranate Liqueur) and the Brut de Pêche (Natural Peach Sparkling Wine). Both were good, the peach sparkling wine was much less sweet than we expected so that was a pleasant surprise!
A favorite with all of us from last year and this year is the Shrimp and Stone-ground Grits with Andouille Sausage, Sweet Corn, Tomatoes and Cilantro (above). The grits are creamy, the seasoning is not too spicy, but you get that bit of kick from the sausage, and this year, the sausage was more present.
Ma Petite had a couple of the Watermelon Cucumber Slushy (Non-alcoholic) and we both tried it as well; very refreshing! I would definitely have this again. There is also a version with gin for the adults.
We didn’t try anything from this kiosk, which is in the Japan area. This was one of our favorites last year. The Frushi, which was listed as GF last year, was only marked as V this festival. I don’t know what the gluten ingredient is, but we weren’t going to risk it. Also regarding the Frushi – this year I learned they use soy wrappers, so be aware if you need to avoid soy.
The biggest disappointment here was the absence of the Yuzu Plum Wine Slushy. This was far and above our favorite cocktail last year and we missed it (dearly) this time around.
Jardin de Fiestas
This kitchen doesn’t offer any gluten-free foods, but we did try the Elderflower Pineapple Margarita and the Watermelon White Sangria, which we enjoyed. The sangria is one we tried last year, too. Very refreshing for those 89F days!
La Isla Fresca
Nothing marked GF from this kitchen, and we weren’t interested in the beverages here, so we skipped this one.
Last year we had the Beijing-style Candied Strawberries at Lotus House (China) and they were delicious! This year, even with four days of strolling the Festival, we never had these. Maybe it was a good thing, as they are only marked vegetarian and not GF this year. Last year they were noted as GF. I’m guessing this may have to do with cross-contamination. The kitchens are very small and several cast members are working in each, trying to get orders out quickly.
Ma Petite likes the Oolong Peach Bubble Tea they serve here and she had a couple during our visit.
New this year, this kitchen is near the Canada pavilion. The GF offering is Seared Scallops with French Green Beans, Butter Potatoes, Brown Butter Vinaigrette and Apple wood Smoked Bacon (above) – Dreamy’s favorite of the Festival. The green beans were just slightly crisp, there was only a small bit of crumbled bacon, and the potatoes were perfectly cooked (small potatoes, skin on, different varieties – purple, red, and white).
We didn’t try anything from the Pineapple Promenade, but I wanted to try the Frozen Desert Violet Lemonade (Non-alcoholic). It sounded delicious, as I love violet flavored foods. This is just another one of those “I can’t possibly taste anything else” items that I didn’t get to this time around.
We skip this kiosk near Italy. With Italian food, there’s too much risk of cross-contamination in these small areas, but there are no GF offerings here, anyway. This is a beautiful area to walk around and view flowers, though. I especially loved the arrangement of various sizes of flower pots near here this year. You will find lots of cocktails to enjoy in this area, by the way!
Taste of Marrakesh
Another open kitchen with no GF offerings. We didn’t try food or cocktails here.
The Berry Basket
This is another new kiosk for 2017. There are no GF foods, but Ma Petite did try the non-alcoholic version of the Twinings® Green Tea Berry Mint Julep (no photo, we got this at night and it was too dark) and I had a sip – tasty if you love a good julep!
The Smokehouse: Barbecue and Brews
Smoked Pork Ribs with Black Bean and Corn Salad (above) is the only GF option this year at this kitchen located in the America pavilion. I tried the ribs on the first day of the Festival and they were so-so, a little on the chewy side and not as browned as I would have liked.
Dreamy had the ribs a few days later and they were perfect – tender, well-sauced and browned to perfection.
Again this year, the Beef Brisket Burnt Ends Hash with White Cheddar Fondue and Pickled Jalapeños (above) is not listed as GF because the fondue contains wheat; however, if you order it without the fondue, which is easy to do, it is GF. We all tried this dish and it was good. I love the addition of jalapenos, but you could also ask for those to be left off if you’re not a fan.
Urban Farm Eats
The Watermelon Salad with Pickled Onions, B&W Gourmet Farms Baby Arugula, Feta and Balsamic Reduction (above) was a favorite with all of us this year. We had it twice and both times it was fantastic.
We also had a glass of Avivé Natural Peach Sparkling Wine (no photo) from France, which is also the same Brut de Peche served at the France pavilion. Again, it was not too sweet and was fresh, light and peachy.
I had an Urban Mary with House-made Pickled Green Bean (below, right) which was fantastic! The bean was very dilly and added a nice crunch. Ma Petite had the non-alcoholic version and we both agreed you could call these “spicy”, which I love!
Upon my request, Dreamy had the Urban Fairy Cocktail – absinthe, cucumber and lime garnished with a cucumber slice. All the cast members at the kiosk raved about this one, and Dreamy liked it very much. The prominent flavor is cucumber and the absinthe flavor wasn’t too strong (it’s pictured on the left below).
Have you visited Epcot to attend the Festival this year? Are you planning to? If so, I hope this info helps you! If not, I hope it gave you a little taste of what it’s like to visit.
In addition to the food and drinks, of course, you’ll see lots of pretty flowers (like that floral dragon up top!). Here are a few more that caught our eye.
If you follow my Instagram, be sure to check out my video from the monorail of the flowers around the lake!
And last, but certainly my favorite, was this sunset!
Happy gluten-free travels!