REVIEW: Disney’s California Adventure Food & Wine Festival
The Epcot Food and Wine Festival at Disney World has always been a favorite of mine and I have wanted to try Disneyland’s version for some time. I finally got the opportunity in March to experience it. The 2019 Festival Ran from March 1 to April 23 and will hopefully be making a return in 2020.
Compared to the Epcot Food and Wine Festival, the California Adventure version is smaller in scale, but it does not suffer from the limited offerings. The festival focuses on the specialties of California and all that the state has to offer agriculturally. Think artichokes, avocados, garlic, peppers, wine, craft beers and more!
In 2019, there are 16 booths located at the start of the Pacific Wharf Area and they continue back through Pixar Pier. Some booths are close together and some are more off on their own. One nice feature is that you can order select offerings at one booth and pick them up at their location.
If you plan on sampling several items or visiting the festival for several days, I highly recommend the Sip and Savor Pass. For $54, you get coupons for 8 items. They can be either a food item or a non-alcoholic drink. The pass can be shared and I found it to be a good value.
While I was unable to sample all of the booths, I did manage to eat at a good variety of the booths. Overall, everything was excellent. Good sized portions, nice presentation (even at the mass production level) and great flavor all around.
Now, on to the good stuff – the food and food pictures!
My first stop was the Cluck-A-Doodle-Moo Booth. Both the Salt & Vinegar Parmesan Wings and the Harris Ranch Grilled Beef Tenderloin Slider with Chimichurri Sauce were outstanding. The wings were crispy and full of flavor. The slider was tender and the sauce complimented it perfectly. I also had the Festival Beer Flight, which had 4 samples – a lager, a pale ale, a Belgian-style Brown and a Blackberry Saison. They were all very tasty, but the Thorn Brewing, Barrio, Baja-style lager from San Diego was the standout. I even went back for a full serving later in my trip.
The nearby Garlic Kissed booth was one of my favorites. The Black Garlic Soy-braised Pork Belly Banh Mi was flavorful and very tender. The Chocolate Crunch Cake was very chocolaty and very rich. It was only a couple of bites, but that was the perfect amount. The Bloody Mary with Garlic Stuffed Olive was spicy and a good compliment to the savory dishes.
The Creamy Mac & Cheese with Garlic Bread Crumbles was the superstar here. This dish was very cheesy. The garlic bread crumbs on top gave a delightful crunch and added flavor to the dish.
The Citrus Grove selections included an Orange Chicken & Rice, Citrus Brined Pork Roast and a Meyer Lemon Macaron. There was also a Meyer Lemon Ginger Mule. I sampled the pork roast and enjoyed it. It wasn’t as memorable as the selections at Cluck at the previously mentioned booths, but it was good.
California Craft Brews featured 10 selections from 10 small breweries from throughout California. The beers ranged from Golden Ales to IPAs. This booth also offered 2 flights to sample several selections at once. Guests can choose from the Bright & Balanced side or the Hoppy & Bold side. The booth also offers one food item – Pepperoni Pizza Egg Rolls with Marinara and Pesto sauces. I tried the Golden Ale which was a nice smooth beer. The pizza egg rolls were great! I was traveling with a 5 year old and these were her favorite items of the whole trip.
The Spiced Roasted Chicken on Pita with Avocado Hummus and Garlic Sauce from the Avocado Time booth was very good, Nicely spiced and the flavors blended well together.
When it was time for some dessert, I headed to the Berry Patch for the Fresh California Pie and the Strawberry and Coconut Rice “Frushi”. The frushi was interesting, but not my favorite. However, the Berry Pie was more to my liking. The combination of the different berries and custard was the perfect ending to my festival experience.
In conclusion, the California Adventure Food and Wine Festival, was a great time and a great value. Though it’s smaller in scale than it’s Epcot counterpart, this festival definitely holds its own. The food selections are well thought out and representative of the variety within the state of California. The items were priced well and the portion sizes were decent. I will definitely return to sample more!