The 2018 Disney California Adventure Food & Wine Festival kicked this past weekend! We tried all the new items from every booth, and will be bringing you full reviews of each this week. While we write those reviews we wanted to give a taste of what’s to come and talk about out TOP 7 NEW items at the festival. For thoughts on returning items, check out our full reviews from last year.
7. Compressed Asian Cucumbers with Green-Green Sauce, Toasted Almonds, and Sea Beans (V) – $6.00
From the “Eat Your Greens” booth (some of these booths sure could be more creatively named), these cucumbers were probably the biggest surprise of the festival. While I don’t typically like cucumbers, the spicy sauce and the freshness of the ingredients made them fantastic. I don’t even know what sea beans are, but they were a nice accompaniment.
6. Lolea, No. 2 Sparkling Frizzante White Sangria, Spain – $9.00
In years past, we really liked some of the floats and other alcoholic and non-alcoholic concoctions Disney created for this festival. This year, however, only one of those stood out for us (see below), while the rest were generally forgettable (or downright awful). This sangria was featured at the “Eat Your Greens” booth as a mixed cocktail with Beet Kombucha, but we much preferred it alone. An artisanal sangria made with high-quality Airen and Moscatel white wine, fresh orange and lemon juice, and a touch of vanilla. This sangria is not pasteurized in order to conserve all the characteristics of the wine and to give it a fizzy touch which makes for a refreshing and enjoyable drink. Thus, a simple off-the-shelf bottled white sangria was able to make it into our Top Seven. This was much better than White Sangrias we had tried at either U.S. Disney property.
5. Black Garlic Soy-Braised Pork Belly Banh Mi – $7.50
Located at “Garlic Kissed”, this pork belly sandwich was a standout. Though pork belly has been somewhat overused in the past few years, this offering was a perfect cut with an amazing flavor provided by the Garlic Soy (which isn’t overpowering) and just the right, light amount of accompaniments on the petite bun.
4. Salmon Poke – $7.50
The salmon poke would be the number one new item at many other events, which speaks to the overall quality of the California Food and Wine event. Available at “Peppers Cali-ente” and served with Cucumber-Lime Salad and Ajl Verde Salsa, this spicy and wonderfully fresh dish is an absolute must for anyone attending the event.
3. Selection of Three California Cheeses – $14.00
While expensive, this is a nice amount to share and all of a good quality (although it could use a few more crackers than just 6 considering how much cheese there is). Cheeses include a Point Reyes Blue, Vella Jack, and Fiscalini Cheddar, all of which are very enjoyable, along with some fruit and candied nut accompaniments.
2. Jalapeño Popper Mac & Cheese with Bacon – $7.50
Both of the mac and cheese offerings this year were quite different from last year. We sorely missed the French Onion Mac & Cheese, but this was a great replacement. The French fried jalapenos were the perfect spicy accompaniment to the creamy cheese and crunchy bacon. They weren’t too spicy – even the older children in our group enjoyed this dish.
1. Popcorn Lemonade Cocktail – $12.25
While not the most photogenic beverage, I thought this was fantastic, with a perfect combination of salty popcorn flavor and sweet lemonade. Others didn’t like it nearly as much, describing it as overly-fake flavored, like a buttered popcorn Jelly Belly jelly bean. If you’re into trying something different, this offering from the “Off the Cob” booth is worth a try.
Honorable Mention: Orange-Vanilla Cream Float with Whipped Cream (non-alcoholic) – $6.50 ($10.50 in souvenir tumbler)
Jason argued with me that this didn’t belong in the Top 7 because it’s just an ice cream soda float, but I wanted to include it anyway since I’m not averse to fun. Although it’s simply vanilla ice cream, orange Fanta, and whipped cream, it was pleasantly delicious and would be a great option for the kids (or if you just want a creamsicle-flavored dessert concoction).
Expect FULL booth reviews in the coming days, but if you make it to Disney California Adventure before then make sure to check out these awesome new items!