In the five years I have been a “blogger”- never once have I been invited to any kind of social media or blogging type event. Now, before we start getting into the “poor poor me”s- I wasn’t exactly going out looking for opportunities either, but I always dreamed of the day where I’d get to do something, for lack of a better word, legitimate.
A few weeks ago, it finally happened- and in the most perfect way. I received an email from Busch Gardens Williamsburg inviting me to their Food & Wine Festival.
I say perfect not only because I frickin’ LOVE food, but because I basically grew up at Busch Gardens and consider it my 2nd home. I have been going there for so long, I know all of the music, I don’t need a map, and I take great pride when I hear first-timers expressing glee (and sometimes sheer terror) while riding a ride.
With that being said- after so many years of going to the park and eating their food- let’s just say I was getting a little bored.
This is the first year that the “World’s Most Beautiful Theme Park” (for 20 years!) has done a Food & Wine Festival- but like with their Christmas festivities and all out Howl-o-Scream transformation- I knew they didn’t ever do anything halfway. Once I saw the VAST and expansive menu- I couldn’t wait to go and pig out around the world.
Busch Gardens Williamsburg is actually “Busch Gardens Europe- the Old Country.” You walk in and you are transported back in time to many different countries. Italy, France, Scotland, Ireland, etc- how exactly would they work in cuisine from places like Austria, Canada, Scandinavia and SO much more?
Well, I can tell you now- they REALLY pulled it off. They didn’t just toss kiosks into the park and slam out run of the mill fresh-frozen foods. They made “The World’s Most Beautiful Park” even MORE beautiful, the new country additions were gorgeous and creative and decked out- and the employees were friendly and more than happy to give their advice on what they thought the most delicious sample-sized meal was.
Oh, and did I mention it is ALL affordable? Shocking for a theme park, am I right?
I made the day a girl’s day out with my friend Nikki, and I can tell you- we had TROUBLE deciding what to eat- but it was a our job so we made it happen, and I want to take you along with me!
Here are some of the pictures from our Food & Wine adventure.
In Scandinavia we tried a dessert called a Krumkake- a Norweigan waffle cone cookie served with hazelnut cream & tart berry pudding, along with a drink called the “Dirty Shirley”- which is a frozen drink with cherry vodka, sprite, and cherry syrup
|The Krumkake was so light and airy- which was perfect for the bajillion degree heat making us sweat our faces off, and the Dirty Shirley? SO refreshing and delicious. By far my favorite drink of the day.
We then trekked our way over to France to sample the Ratatouille! I’ve always wanted to try it, and Busch Gardens made it special. The Tomates Farcies a la Ratatouille is a tomato stuffed with roasted vegetables and topped with parmesan bread crumbs with extra virgin olive oil- and it is SO so good. Can’t rave about it enough.
|After that- it was on to Austria, where I tried the Schnitzelwich- a pork schnitzel slider with a sliced lemon (eat it with the rind ON, no joke!) and caper sauce, and Nikki had the Tafelspitz mit Apfelkren- slow braised beef sirloin with apple horseradish sauce. DELICIOUS! So delicious that we ate them before I could get pictures. Whoops!!|
Up next? Germany! I know, I know- Germany is already at Busch Gardens year long, but they added a whole new menu! We decided to try the Rahmgulasch (creamy veal stew with mushrooms & onions served on a puff pastry) and a German Carrot Cake topped with blackberry compote and I think filled with some kind of magical cream cheese (this actually is NOT on the menu we had!)
|I have actually never had veal before, so I wasn’t sure what to expect- but it was SO yummy! I’m glad I took a chance and tried something new.
The carrot cake was spectacular. The heat forced us into the Festhaus to eat, so we got to watch a show while we stuffed our faces where they brought back the show I grew up with “This is Oktoberfest”- great entertainment and great food. Can’t beat that!
Starting to get SUPER full- but our job was not done!
|Off to Spain we went- for Chorizo Empanadas (spicy pork sausage pastry pocket with a cilantro lime cream)!|
|I gotta tell ya- I’m not big on spicy foods, but this was the kind of spicy anyone can handle. Flavorful meat and the cream was the perfect kick! You can see the lovely new kiosk in the background, too!
We then hopped skipped and jumped (as fast as you can with a belly full of goodies) over to Canada where we had Venison Sausage and corn porridge (wood fired venison sausage & creamy polenta with apple cider & caramelized onions) and Sharp Cheddar & Canadian Lager chowder with smoked paprika oil.
|I am STILL craving that Cheddar & Lager chowder.
One of our last stops of the day was at the Crepes and Coffee stand in France- which was the most beautiful set up of all the stands so far. They really had the ambiance down- and delivered your freshly made crepe right to your table!
|The hazelnut crepe was SO decadent, but SO delicious; and the blueberry was just downright gorgeous. Both totally sinful and worth it. I couldn’t finish the blueberry though!|
|And last but not least? Another special feature for the Food & Wine Festival called “Wine on the Rhine”- where you get to take a boat tour on the Rhine River while drinking whine, eating cheese, crackers, and other goodies all while listening to live music! It was pretty wonderful. There is a tour of the Rhine river at Busch on most days- but never at night with all the extra perks. Such a peaceful, relaxing way to end a long and HOT day|
|It was a wonderful day- even with all the sweat. And to think- we didn’t even get to try HALF of what there was offered.If I have one word to say about the Busch Gardens Food & Wine Festival as a whole, it would be: GO!
Seriously, go. It’s only for a month, and if ya don’t- it might not come back again next spring/summer, and that would be a frickin’ shame!
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Hard pass from me pic.twitter.com/VayvW1eopK
I've gotten to the point where I'd let my kids summon a demon with a Ouija board before I'd let them play Monopoly together again.