A few weeks ago I told you about the 2017 Busch Gardens Food and Wine Festival. On Sunday, Ron and I were guests of Busch Gardens at the Festival. It was our first time attending this event and we had a wonderful time! When we arrived at the park we picked up our 2017 Festival Guide and we stopped by the Adventurer’s Outpost to pick up our lanyards. I love the concept of the lanyards, it makes budgeting easy. There are 3 different sampler lanyards available. The 5 item sampler is $29.99 + tax, the 8 item sampler is $37.99 + tax, and the 12 item sampler is $54.99 + tax. As you can see in the picture, these are punch card lanyards and you just walk up, place your order and the cashier punches however many item you ordered. Each punch is good for 1 food, wine, brew, or cocktail option. Items range in price from about $4-$9 with most being in the $6-$8 range. So basing your math on the lower $6.00 price you break even on the 5 sampler, and you save money with the 8 and 12 item samplers.
When we arrived we wandered through Busch Gardens checking out the animals and watching some of the rides. Ron has been dealing with a head cold that makes his head “swimmy” so we didn’t ride any rides on this visit. Due to the way we wandered the park, we arrived at the back end of the Food and Wine Festival area first. Ron’s first dish was the Pan-Seared Hangar Steak with Chimichurri & Roasted Poblano Hash from #29 Coast to Coast Cookery. The steak and chimichurri were delicious, the hash was basically flavorless. My first stop was at #24 Field House Eatery for the Grilled Lamb Chops with Tabouleh & Tzatziki. I love a good lamb chop and here I got 2! The tzatziki was a nice addition to the lamb and the tabouleh was fresh and tasty. My next stop was at #22 Cooking with Coke Pavilion where I had the Baked Brie with Strawberry Fanta Syrup. Yum! I love a good baked brie and this was done in a small puff pastry with chopped strawberries in the strawberry Fanta syrup, it was delicious. As we were exiting the park, I stopped back by this booth to get the Coke-infused Chocolate Pop Rocks Cupcake for dessert. This cupcake was moist and flavorful with a fudge frosting and pop rocks on top. It was delicious and fun. I got the recipe and I hope to make it soon!
Ron stopped at the other Coca-Cola booth, #21 Coke Fusion booth where he got the Jerk Chicken Empanadas with Curry Coke or Cherry Coke Dipping Sauce. Ron got both sauces to try and he said the Curry Coke sauce had a spicier flavor, which he liked better. At #18 Comfort Kitchen Ron got the Bacon Mac & Cheese, which he liked so much I didn’t even get a bite! At #15 Tasty Taqueria Ron got the Grilled Bacon-Wrapped Shrimp which he said was delicious. I got the Short Rib Taco with BBQ Demi-Glace. This taco was the only letdown of the day. The meat had no flavor, nor did the sauce. The tortillas were extra crisp in some areas and flaccid in others. It wasn’t worth eating and I threw one of my tacos away. My Korean Gochujang Ribs from #12 Chef’s Plantation were flavorful in their soy sauce based BBQ sauce. My favorite food of the day came from #10 Gourmet Lodge. The Smoked Beef Brisket on a Spiced Corn Waffle with Amber Bock BBQ was AMAZING! The waffle was delicious, the brisket was cooked perfectly and the tang of the BBQ sauce was divine. I could eat that anytime. After eating ourselves silly we headed to Gwazi Park for an awesome Kool & the Gang concert. They were my first concert back in 1984 and I truly felt like a kid again dancing to their music. You can see my concert videos on my Instagram page.
We have been to other food and wine festivals and we both though that the portions at the Busch Gardens Food and Wine Festival were larger that at others we have attended. Our only complaint was that there aren’t enough garbage pails around. We would get our food and eat it while walking around looking at the animals and topiary. When we were done there was never a garbage can close by so we often had to carry dirty plates, napkins, and utensils until we came across a garbage can. We are already looking forward to next year’s festival and even contemplating a trip back once more this year.