Busch Gardens Food & Wine Festival 2015: Asia and The French Quarter

The third annual Food and Wine Festival is well underway at Busch Gardens Williamsburg. The event runs Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from May 22 through June 28, 2015.

Park guests can take in the shows, rides and family fun of the Most Beautiful Theme Park in the World while sampling flavors from around the world. In addition to the culinary regions featured in previous years, the park has added two new regions: Eastern Asia and the French Quarter of New Orleans, which consists of Cajun and Creole dishes.

I recently had the chance to attend the Food and Wine Festival on Media Preview Day and was able to try out some of the new menu items being offered. Following are a few of my thoughts.

ChefJustinAsiaBigger

Chef Justin talks about the 2015 Food & Wine Festival at the Asia kiosk.

Eastern Asia

Beautiful red paper lanterns lead the way to the Eastern Asia kiosk, which is located in Italy near DaVinci’s Garden. This is a great location due to the cluster of trees that provide shade for tasting. I really enjoyed all of the selections and had a hard time picking my favorite.

Asia

Banh Mi – Asia

Banh mi is a Vietnamese-style sandwich with marinated pork and pickled vegetables served on crispy bread with lime and nuoc mam slaw.

Lettuce Wrap - Asia

Lettuce Wrap – Asia

The lettuce wrap consists of vegetables and tofu wrapped in butter lettuce with toasted almonds and sweet chili dipping sauce.

Dumplings - Asia

Mushi-Gyoza – Asia

Mushi-gyoza is a Japanese-style steamed chicken dumpling with citrus ponzu sauce. If I absolutely had to pick a favorite, this would be it. The dumplings are really tender and the sauce is a perfect complement.

Ginger lemongrass pudding - Asia

Ginger Lemongrass Pudding – Asia

The ginger-lemongrass custard is a creamy custard infused with fresh ginger and lemongrass. It was very light yet filling. I would have liked more of a lemon taste, but it was still very good. I also tried the Chai tea, which was quite refreshing.

Chai Tea - Asia

Chai Tea – Asia

The French Quarter

French Quarter

French Quarter

The only item I tried from the French Quarter was the chicken and andouille gumbo. This traditional dish is a Creole-spiced stew with shredded chicken and spicy sausage over rice. I enjoyed it very much, even though I was rather stuffed after sampling all of the Eastern Asia items. All the more reason to come back!

Gumbo - French Quarter

Chicken and Andouille Gumbo – French Quarter

Other selections from the French Quarter include muffaletta, bananas foster cheesecake and a frozen hurricane as well as several beer options that include Abita Purple Haze, Abita Wrought Iron IPA and New Belgium Skinny Dip.

Taste of Scotch

Taste of Scotch

Taste of Scotch

Along with the food kiosks, there is a new Taste of Scotch experience located in the Scotland section of the park across from the Highland Stables. The three samples I tried were Glenmorangie Lasanta, Highland Park and McCallan, however the selections may vary based on availability. They were all 12-year single malts.

I have to admit, I’m not a Scotch whiskey drinker, but this was a fun experience nonetheless. The best part was the short presentation on the history of Scotch.

Other beverage sampling at the Food and Wine Festival includes French wine, German sparkling and dessert wine and Italian wine. There is a fee for the Scotch and wine tastings, but I highly recommend it.

Scotch Egg- Scotland

Scotch Egg- Scotland

I also had the chance to try some of the food selections that I’ve missed in previous years (after walking around for a while, of course). I’ve always heard great things about the Scottish egg in Scotland, and I don’t know why I waited so long to try it. A hard-boiled egg is wrapped is sausage, breaded and served with a sweet and spicy mustard sauce. The egg itself is really good, but my favorite part was the mustard sauce.

Irish Cheese Sampler - Ireland

Irish Cheese Sampler – Ireland

How does it work?

If you’ve never been to Busch Gardens’ Food and Wine Festival, here is how it works. Individual-sized tasting portions of food, desserts, beer and wine are for sale at 14 themed kiosks located around the park. This makes a great date night event, girls’ day out or family outing. Picky eaters may even find a few new items to put on their list of likes.

Purchase a pre-loaded wristband to make the purchase process more convenient. Skip the hassle of digging around in wallets and purses. Simply present the wristband to the cashier for scanning. Busch Gardens Annual Passholders can use their food and beverage discount at the Food and Wine Festival.

Busch Gardens’ 2015 Food & Wine Festival culinary regions

  • American Southwest
  • Canada
  • Caribbean
  • Coffee & Crepes
  • Eastern Asia
  • France
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Ireland
  • Italy
  • Scandinavia
  • Scotland
  • Spain
  • The French Quarter (Cajun and Creole)

As always, I must give credit to Chef Justin Watson and the entire culinary team at Busch Gardens. They have once again created a top notch event with Food and Wine Festival 2015. The kiosk theming is perfect and the selections are delicious. I will definitely be back. I still have to conquer Greece, crepes and coffee and the rest of the French Quarter.

For more information, please visit www.buschgardens.com/foodandwine.

Disclosure: The author received complimentary entrance to the Food and Wine Festival as well as samples during the Food and Wine Media Preview. All opinions expressed herein are strictly those of the author.

This article was previously published at Examiner.com in June 2015.

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