Busch Gardens Food & Wine Festival 2017: India, the Mediterranean, and Chef Presentations

India kiosk

Between roller coasters, musical shows and animal encounters, there’s always something fun and exciting going on at Busch Gardens. And right now, one of my favorite events is taking place.

The 2017 Busch Gardens Food & Wine Festival takes place now through July 2 on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. Park guests can sample and enjoy food and beverage items from around the world. This event is part of park admission, though food and beverage samples are at an additional cost.

New for Food & Wine 2017 is India, the Mediterranean and the Island Freeze frozen beverage stand. The Mediterranean takes the place of Greece, though many of the menu items remain the same. You’ve got to try the baklava.

The park has also added some fun chef presentations, which are conducted by Williamsburg area chefs. This allows guests to get an up-close look at how to prepare some of the dishes. They give out samples after the dish is prepared. Hang around for that! You can also visit the park website for recipes to try on your own.

India kiosk at Busch Gardens Food & Wine Festival 2017

The first thing you’ll notice about the India kiosk is the incredibly colorful exterior, including that adorable elephant. The second thing you’ll notice are the scents of curry, cardamom, ginger and coconut floating through the air.

 

India kiosk

India

Colorful elephant sculpture at India kiosk

India menu items include:

Samosas – India

Samosas are an Indian pastry filled with curried potatoes and peas and mango chutney. This is a vegetarian item.

Tandoori Chicken – India

Tandoori chicken is spiced yogurt-marinated chicken with cardamom ginger rice and cucmber raita.

Spicy Potato Curry – India

Spicy Potato Curry is a combination of garbanzo beans, sweet peas and potatoes stewed in coconut milk with curry spice. This is a vegetarian item. This particular sample is what I received at the Chef Presentation. The actual sample from the kiosk is bigger, however, this is a great way to test your tastebuds to see if you want to try a bigger portion … as well as portion control so you can try even more items.

Mango burfi is a mango and coconut snowball. I did not get the chance to try this item, but I plan to go back.

Beverage choices at India include a mango mint lassi frozen cocktail and a Masala chai iced tea (non-alcoholic).

Mediterranean kiosk at Busch Gardens Food & Wine Festival 2017

The Mediterranean kiosk

The Mediterranean region replaces Greece from previous years. Most of the menu items remain the same, including this marvelous baklava.

Baklava – Mediterranean

Baklava is a sweet pastry with nuts and honey between layers of thin crispy filo pastry.

Lamb Burger Slider – Mediterranean

The lamb burger slider is made of seasoned ground labm on pita bread with feta cheese spread, cucumber, tomato and olive.

The falafel is a chickpea fritter with seesame dipping sauce.

Halloumi is griddled Greek chesse with clover honey and crushed pistachios.

Wine, cocktails and specialty beverages include Elios Mediterranean red, Elios Mediterranean white, Ouzo and iced cafe au lait.

Island Freeze frozen drink kiosk

Island Freeze frozen drink stand

When you replace the S in island with CE, you get Iceland. And that’s exactly what Hans has done with Island Freeze. As the backstory goes, Hans is the surfing (snow, not water) son of Verbolten’s proprietors. He decided to take his love of the frozen stuff and turn it into a boozy beverage business. Choose from rum runners, daiquiris, sangria, mojitos and more.

This is on my list to try the next time I’m at the park. I just couldn’t stuff myself any further on my first visit. It’s surprising how full you actually get with those sample-sized portions.

Island Freeze details

I love the details – snowboards and goggles – displayed all over this kiosk.

Chef Presentations in Pictures

I had almost as much fun watching the Chef Presentations as I did eating the food. These talented folks are so much fun. When I grow up, I want to be a chef. I’m thinking that’s bound to make me interesting by association, right?

Chef K prepares India’s spicy potato curry

Chef K demonstrates how to prepare the spicy potato curry from the India kiosk.

Spicy potato curry in the making.

 

Chef K presents the final product.

Visit Chef K on Facebook.

Chef Erica Rouse prepares Asia’s lettuce wrap

Chef Erica Rouse

 

Asia’s lettuce wrap ingredients – vegetables and tofu

The lettuce wrap consists of vegetables and tofu wrapped in tender butter lettuce with toasted almonds and sweet chili dipping sauce. For this presentation, Chef Erica did not use the lettuce, but the sample purchased from the kiosk does have the lettuce.

I had never had tofu before, and I really enjoyed the chance to taste it. At the risk of sounding cliche, it reminded me of chicken. Chef Erica also showed us a great way to slice an onion to make perfect slivers.

Meet the chefs at the Busch Gardens website.

Food & Wine Festival facts:

  • That beautiful blue dome on top of the kiosk is made out of foam.
  • The park has one artist who paints all of the kiosks. I think she deserves a huge round of applause.
  • Many of the soups and sauces are prepared ahead of time in locations around the park. When there’s this much volume, you have to get creative.

I won’t go into all of the other countries in depth. Check out these articles from previous years to get an idea of what to expect from the other kiosks. The menus have remained deliciously similar.

On a final note, Busch Gardens has created a really unique culinary experience with Pairings of Note. This tasting experience takes place inside Castle O’Sullivan and features live music and a six-course sample meal, paired with wines to go along with each course.

Pairings of Note

Pairings of Note menu

Chef Justin

No, Chef Justin will not be personally conducting Pairings of Note presentations. But there will be a food and wine expert on hand to explain and discuss each course and its paired wine. This unique experience is at an additional cost. Bottles of wine can also be purchased to enjoy at home.

My best advice when attending Busch Gardens’ Food & Wine Festival? Purchase a Food & Beverage Sampler pass. It includes 10 entrees, desserts and (new this year) wine or beer. Frozen drinks, shots and cocktails aren’t included. Another option is to load money onto a Cashless Wristband. That way, you can just scan without having to dig into wallets, bags and backpacks.

Food & Beverage Samplers can be purchased at any Food & Wine Festival kiosk.

Cashless Wristbands can be purchased/loaded at the Welcome Center, Castle O’Sullivan, Bella Casa, Acadia Traders, the Main Gate, Guest Relations and Guest Services.

Bon Appetit!

Photo: Busch Gardens

 Disclosure: I received complimentary admission to the park as part of the Food & Wine Media Day event. All opinions are strictly my own.

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