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Eating 'Round the Globe at Epcot's Food & Wine Festival

All Whole Foods locations in Florida are doing a promotion until October 18 giving customers a shot at free tickets to the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival, so I considered it my duty to go on an investigatory road trip. 

If you've already been, you know the drill: Each "land" has its own restaurant, all of which are open year-round, and in between are booths set up for the festival, representing major cities nearby. They offer two entrée-type samplings (priced at $2 to $7), desserts, and various beer and wine pairings. 

My best friend and I arrived fashionably late and simply ravenous. Here's how we conquered six continents in less than six hours:

3:35 p.m.: Hit the Buenos Aires booth first, not only because it was close to the entrance and mama needed a snack, but also because beef skewers with chimmichuri atop boniato puree were on the board. Can't turn down a hunk of meat, you know. In retrospect, perhaps I should've turned it down, though, as the components were lukewarm. But the flavors were decent.

My vegetarian buddy started her journey with a lovely plate of guac and chips at "Mexico" and a churro that was easily as long as Pinocchio's nose after telling Geppetto he was really hetero. 

4:25 p.m.: Realized, after looking over the schedule of events, that most of the wine seminars, spirit tastings, and professional culinary demonstrations required advance reservations. Bummer.

4:35 p.m.: The two of us shared a fluffy and flavorful rice and lentil crepe from New Delhi, followed by a slice of chocolate-covered caramel rolled in pecan pieces from some shop in "Germany" that lacked caramel flavor but made up for it in sugar content. 

4:55 p.m.: Had a Keegan Gerhard celebrity sighting. 

5:15 p.m.: Heard Sister Hazel take the stage but decided it was better to not stop for a listen, as the promise of eating my way across 25 regions loomed.

5:35 p.m.: Stopped to watch a pasta-making presentation. It was interesting, though the lack of free samples made us question the time investment.

6:20 p.m.: Went on the Test Track ride, despite the growling, churning knot in my stomach. Totally fun.

7:10 p.m.: Ignored the numerous warnings to avoid Mission:SPACE if untrained astronauts like me would be prone to motion sickness. Big mistake. Almost projectile vomited on the screen even before takeoff. Note to self and others: Massive food combining before any G-force rides is not a wise idea. 

7:55 p.m.: Though my nerves were tangled and we only had another 30 minutes to imbibe, my buddy and I decided to skip the alcohol. After all, we had a long drive home ahead and, frankly, no desire to mimic the growing list of stumblers who tried to drink every type of beer from Rio to Shanghai and overindulge among the 300 wines and champagnes offered.

8:55 p.m.: Headed for the trams with a bag full of souvenirs and a stomach stuffed with representation of every major food group, along with some bonus attempts (did I mention I managed to also down maple sugar candies from Montreal, Mealie soup with crabmeat and chili oil from Capetown, and a frozen cappuccino from goodness-knows-where?).

9:15 p.m.: Got back in the car and realized I somehow missed eating my way through Antarctica. Well, I guess there's always next year... or next weekend. 

The Whole Foods drawing will take place on October 20, and the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival runs until November 8.

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Riki Altman

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