It’s my favorite time of year! No, it’s not Halloween, but it’s pretty close. It’s Busch Gardens Food & Wine Festival time! I’m not kidding when I say I look forward to it all year long and am sad when it’s gone.
The BGW Food & Wine Festival isn’t just awesome because the food is amazing, and the drinks are amazing- but because you can be adventurous without going bankrupt. Seriously! I always fear trying foods WAY out of my comfort zone because I don’t want to be spending the money for a full plate only to eat a few bites. With the sample-sized offerings at Busch Gardens, you don’t have to worry about being wasteful… not that you’re going to want to throw ANYTHING away you grab, because it’s all so delicious. Even the spam. Yeah! I said it!
Along with my old favorites (mmmm, Caribbean fritters), two new stands are being introduced this year– Virginia (naturally!) and Hawaii, and I want to give you all the delicious details!
Now, as someone who was born and raised in Virginia, when I heard one of the new stands being introduced was, in fact, Virginia, my first thought was “what? why?” because… what could Busch Gardens possibly feed me that wouldn’t taste like every single thing every restaurant in the area serves?
Never underestimate Chef Justin Watson- who is beyond dedicated to finding the best, most delicious, and true to location dishes for every kiosk.
When it came to Virginia, he knew people (ahem, like me) would be especially picky- and I have to tell you, he absolutely got it right!
Ham, nuts, seafood & moonshine! it’s so perfectly Virginia it’s not even funny.
Every Virginian has an opinion on what kind of ham biscuit is the “right” kind of ham biscuit (and if you didn’t know that, now you do. It’s a topic of heated debates!) Knowing that, when you order the Ham Sampler from the Virginia kiosk, you get a little bit of everything so you can make up your own mind!
Chow down on Red Eye Country Ham, Hickory smoked pit ham, and Applewood carved ham, served with a giant honey biscuit, apple butter, raspberry jam, and whole grain mustard. I honestly can’t pick a favorite.
I am a changed women. And what are those delicious little balls to the right? None other than Bacon & Cheddar hushpuppies served with honey butter. Mouth-watering. I could eat 75 of them.
It’s so pretty, floating there on a crunchy crostini, that you almost don’t want to eat it! But you will. My kid ate an entire friggin’ bowl.
The shining gem of the Virginia kiosk, though, if you ask me, is the dessert offering:
This is no ordinary pecan pie- it’s a Pecan, BACON, and chocolate bar. YAAASSS BACON ALL THE THINGS! Worth every single calorie.
Wash it all down with one of 4 local beers, 5 wines from the Williamsburg Winery, or my choice…
When you’re done stuffing your face with the finest fare Virginia has to offer (and recovered enough to be able to cram more into your face) head on over to Hawaii (located right behind Ireland- no plane ride necessary)
Seriously- how adorable is it??
Spam is another one of those things I’ve never tried…. and honestly never had any intention to- BUT! The whole point of Food & Wine is to be adventurous, so I chowed down, and y’know what? It was good! Really good, in fact! And that slaw… perfect on a hot day.
Beautiful, right? It’s soy & sesame tuna in a wonton flower with wasabi aioli, served with wakame seaweed salad. Surprisingly, the kids really enjoyed the seaweed part! But their absolute favorite was the dessert
A Haupia Tart! Coconut mousse with Kona coffee ganache in a crispy tart shell. You say coffee, I say SOLD!
Make sure you grab a big Blue Hawaiin (alcoholic) or a refreshing Hibiscus Lemonade (non-alcoholic, and absolutely delicious) while you’re there!
I know, what about the rest of the food? WELL, it is ALL worth trying, but I wanted to feature the two new kiosks in this year’s roundup (you can see my past faves here), but whether you’re grabbing Bangers in Ireland, Bananas Foster Cheesecake in the French Quarter, Ratatouille in France, Cheddar & Lager Chowder in Canada, Fish Tacos in the American Southwest, Gamba Fritters in the Caribbean, a Schnitzelwich in Germany, Tiramisu in Italy, Chorizo Empanadas in Spain, Bahn Mi in Asia, Souvlaki Tzatziki in Greece, or one of the MANY wine tastings, scotch tastings, there is something (or a dozen things) for everyone!
And if food and beverages aren’t your thing (snort) or you just can’t seem to get your kids to eat anything other than the chicken nuggets & fries, The Busch Gardens Food & Wine Festival STILL has something to offer you, from amazing food art displays like this awesome Griffon made out of pound cake, rice krispies & fondant
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AND an ice-carving show!
So, seriously, WHAT are you waiting for?? Well… actually… you kinda have to wait. The Busch Gardens Food & Wine Festival is on Fridays, Saturdays & Sundays from May 27th – June 26th.
See you there!
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