This past weekend I went to Busch Gardens in Williamsburg, VA to try out their Food and Wine Festival. I had never been to the festival before and was really interested in seeing how it turned out. My husband and I were ready to explore and taste everything we could get our hands on. We consider ourselves foodies, so we knew this could turn out to be a real treat!
The Food and Wine Festival was set up pretty cleverly with cultural/region-themed kiosks strategically located throughout the park. What’s great is that the kiosks weren’t limited to the specific countries that make up the Busch Gardens theme park. For example, our first stop was Asia, which is set up right across from the Battering Ram ride in Italy. There is no Asia at Busch Gardens, Williamsburg! So if you go, be on the lookout for unique kiosks such as Caribbean, American Southwest, and Scandinavia! You can review the complete menus for all kiosks here.
The area around the Asia kiosk was adorned with red Chinese lanterns. So beautiful!
In Asia, we tried Banh Mi, a popular Vietnamese pork/pickled vegetables sandwich with nuoc mam slaw. This is my husband’s favorite sandwich to get when we eat at Vietnamese restauratns. I’m sad to say that this primarily tasted like American pork barbecue. It was rather sweet. Regardless, it was a yummy sandwich. In the pick is my hubby’s shot of Soju-that’s Korean alcohol!
We also ate Mushi-Gyoza, which is chicken dumplings with citrus ponzu sauce. Notice we got 2 gyozas in our order. The size of each order at the Food and Wine Festival was similar to ordering tapas. However, some portions were larger than others, depending on what you ordered! These dumplings were tasty too, but I found the wonton slightly gummy.
For dessert we tried ginger-lemongrass custard. It was very light, airy, and delicate in flavor. The ginger and lemongrass flavors were not strong enough for my palate. However, I can see for those who don’t eat Asian food on the regular, they may appreciate the extremely subtle flavor!
There are several extra experiences accompanying the festival outside of food tasting. Right in the middle of Italy near San Marco, there is an “Art of Food” station. Here you can watch culinary artists do what they do best. We were excited to see this demonstration of sugar pulling to make exquisite sculptures!
…and yes, that’s all sugar!
Our next stop was Spain (located right before San Marco in Italy). I love how each kiosk had cultural information on display. Very educational!
Each kiosk also had a menu…loved the display of herbs here! Yummy!
In Spain we tried Venera con Jamon (Scallop, wrapped in cured ham with saffron rice and romesco sauce), Chorizo Empanadas (Spicy-pork sausage pastry pocket with cilantro lime cream) and red wine sangria. Although it technically didn’t look too “pretty” to me, it was all delicious! I originally thought the empanadas looked like microwaved hot pockets, but they were VERY GOOD. It actually was my husband’s favorite of the day.
Also…the sangria was delicious! Unfortunately, we learned our lesson late that you can’t hydrate in the heat on sangria!
Here is a closeup of the Venera con Jamon. The portion was quite decent!
After many rides later, we made our way to the American Southwest located in New France. This was my FAVORITE kiosk! We had Chicken Adobo with Sauce Mole (Southwestern-marinated chicken with rich brown chili chocolate sauce), Sonoran Spice Pork (Spice-rubbed pork tenderloin with jicama- chayote slaw & sweet pepper salsa), and Chocolate Lava Cake (Fudge brownie cake with molten Ancho-spiced Chile chocolate filling).
I had tried mole before and wasn’t a major fan of it, but eating this made me a fan!
We were so excited to try the chocolate cake because it had ancho chile. I had heard of the pepper/chocolate combo before. This was the BEST CHOCOLATE CAKE ever! What we loved was that the ancho chile taste was not overpowering at all. What it did was give the chocolate a deeper flavor and a little “heat” with each bite….just enough to warm you (like how a good sip of wine does!).
Here is the menu board at the American Southwest kiosk. You can see what the average prices looked like.
Unfortunately, we were so full after these stops that we couldn’t check out the others. So I guess that means I’ll have to take another trip to taste the 11 other kiosks we missed!
Here are important details if you want to visit as well!
WHEN? Every Friday, Saturday and Sunday from May 22 – June 28, plus Monday, May 25 (Memorial Day)
HOW? Included with admission to the park. Items at each kiosk are to be paid a la carte (average $3-7 for a food item, ~$7-9 for alcohol). You can pay at each kiosk or link up your credit card to a Quick Pay Cashless Wristband (available to set up before you enter the park).
ALLERGIC? Ask at each kiosk for input and recommendations. Read advisory here.
I hope you have the opportunity to check this festival out. It makes for a unique experience at the park and it’s fun to have your family sample diverse flavors from around the world!
Disclaimer: I am serving as a Busch Gardens Thrill Chaser Ambassador for 2015. The thoughts and opinions here are completely my own.