2014 Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival: Florida Fresh

Florida Fresh returns to the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival this year with a new dessert and two delicious dishes from last year’s festival: Watermelon Salad and Shrimp and Stone Ground Grits. From the official website:

“Experience a taste of several fresh Florida ingredients, each grown and produced locally. It’s a perfect opportunity to treat your senses to some of the most delightful fruit and drink the Sunshine State has to offer! Florida Fresh can be found next to the Germany Pavilion.”

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I had skipped last year’s dessert of Angel Food Cake, but decided to try the more interesting-sounding Florida Kumquat Pie. Last year, kumquats made an appearance at The Cottage as a chutney alongside their Baked Goats Brie, which was a very nice accompaniment.

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The $3.00 sample was a good size, and those with a sweet tooth would probably find it a nice value.

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For me, however, there was too much sweetness going on, and many of the elements seemed disjointed. The toasted marshmallow topping was somewhere between fluff and a meringue in consistency, but leaned to the side of fluff in sweetness. The crunchy sprinkles were more or less there for their pop of color against the white topping, which probably would have been improved had it just been a regular meringue or a light whipped cream.

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Even the flaky-yet-somewhat-soggy crust had a coating of sanding sugar. I imagine the moisture from the cooler the pie was stored it had to do with the crust being a bit chewy. With so many other sweet elements, the sugar coating could have been nixed, but if nothing else, it was at least a change in texture for the crust.

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The kumquat filling was a bit more balanced in sweetness itself, with a touch of tartness like marmalade. As for its use, though, I prefer it as a pairing alongside cheese than incorporated in a sweet dessert.

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If you lean toward the savory, I recommend the Watermelon Salad and the Shrimp and Stone Ground Grits.

2013-flower-garden-florida-fresh-watermelon-saladWatermelon Salad

2013-flower-garden-florida-fresh-shrimp-and-stone-ground-grits Shrimp and Stone Ground Grits

I tried the Hurricane Class 5 Florida White Sangria at the Florida Local kiosk during the 2013 Epcot International Food & Wine Festival, and I found it too sweet.

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Florida Fresh is worth a look for those on both ends of the spectrum, from fans of savory to fans of sweet desserts. While I can’t say I would recommend the Florida Kumquat Pie, I’m interested in hearing what other guests that have tried it think!

Have you visited the Florida Fresh kiosk at the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival? What did you order and what did you think of it?

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3 responses to “2014 Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival: Florida Fresh

  1. We ordred the shrimp and grits this year. We had it last year and enjoyed it so we knew we’d have to go back for it. Shrimp and grits is one of my specialties when I’m at home so I like to try other varieties since there are so many different ways you can prepare this dish. The shrimp were cooked very well and the grits were creamy and smooth, just the way they should be. I’d recommend this dish to anyone wanting to try shrimp and grits for the first time.

  2. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Alan! I never had grits until maybe 4 or so years ago, and I love them! I always am happy to try new versions, and this dish was no exception. 🙂

  3. I’m a good old southern boy so grits have been a staple in my life forever. The shrimp and grits that I make is more of a “breakfast” type with bacon and cheese as opposed to one with sausage and veggies. Like I said, there are so many different ways to prepare shrimp and grits which makes it a really versatile dish. Plus, both grits and shrimp can pair well with so many things.