The DIS Unplugged: Disneyland Edition team has once again sacrificed their waistlines for the purposes of research and hit up the first two days of this year’s California Adventure Food & Wine Festival…visiting nearly every booth along the way.
On Friday, I was joined by Nancy, Mary Jo, and Kelly as we began our quest for the perfect bite of food.
Our first stop was Garlic Kissed, where we ordered the grilled beef tenderloin slider with chimichurri sauce [$7.75], the black garlic soy-braised pork belly bao with pickled vegetables [$7.00], and the garlic-rosemary and avocado oil ice cream pop [$4.50].
There were no winners here. The ice cream pop was interesting, but not something worth repeating. The meat on the slider was underseasoned, but if you made sure there was red onion and chimichurri in every bite, it had good flavor. The bao was underwhelming.
The only way to go was up, so we headed to the Off The Cob booth!
Here we ordered the corn nuggets with beef chili, spring onions and sour cream [$6.75], the Jackfruit carnitas banh mi nachos with cilantro crema and pickled de gallo [$6.00], and the roasted sweet corn custard tart with honey tuille and smoked chili-infused chocolate sauce [$4.50].
So…two out of three isn’t bad. The corn nuggets with chili was awesome, with the perfect amount of sweetness in the nuggets balanced with the mild spice of the chili. While we didn’t taste much of the “smoke chili” in the chocolate sauce, it didn’t matter because the tart itself had a wonderful flavor. We didn’t enjoy the nachos. We realized later that the “carnitas” wasn’t pork, but was actually Jackfruit acting as a meat substitute. Sorry. No.
To cleanse our palettes, we headed to the Lemon Grove.
Once there, we picked up the roasted cauliflower with Meyer lemon-infused Greek yogurt cauliflower puree topped with sundried tomatoes and fried capers [$6.00], the duck confit on potato smash with Meyer lemon preserves [$7.00], and the Meyer lemon macaron with blueberry marmalade, Meyer lemon cream and blueberry dust [$4.75].
This booth was perfect! The cauliflower paired well with the lemon yogurt, the duck confit was wonderfully prepared and the macaron had just the right amount of sweetness. We were split on which was our favorite, but we would return for any of them.
We could’ve stayed at the Lemon Grove all day, but for the sake of researched headed next to Seafood…Sustained.
This booth featured a sustainable salmon tataki with avocado-wasabi puree and Furikake dust [$7.50], cage-free cream cheese deviled eggs with farm-raised smoke trout and chives [$4.00], and a passion fruit posset and coconut chia with mango compote and jelly [$4.25]
We enjoyed all three dishes, but the winner here was the salmon tataki, which was prepared perfectly and melted in your mouth. The deviled eggs were interesting and we enjoyed them, and the dessert was good, but not great.
After half a day, it was finally time for BACON!
At Bacon Twist, we ordered the baby iceberg and heirloom tomato wedge with peppered bacon and blue cheese dressing [$5.50], the smoked bacon mac and cheese with barbecue-seasoned crispy onions [$7.50], and the maple-bacon whoopie pie [$4.25].
The maple-bacon whoopie pie is really just last year’s apple-bacon whoopie pie in disguise. It has bacon throughout, with a maple-flavored cream filling and bits of apple in the center.
The wedge salad was good, but we thought it was something you could find anywhere. Still, if you’re looking for something a little lighter, it might be a good choice. The mac and cheese was good, but not great. The mac and cheese itself was pretty bland, so be sure to ration those toppings so you get some in every bite. They make the dish!
Our last stop for the day was at I Heart Artichokes.
We finished up with the fried artichoke carbonara with garlic aioli and smoked bacon [$6.00], the grilled and chilled artichoke hearts with Romesco sauce [$5.25], and the creamy artichoke and dark chocolate cake pop [$4.25].
The carbonara was delicious…and we probably should’ve ordered two! I didn’t enjoy the second dish (cold artichoke…ewww), but the others did and thought that the Romesco sauce was very good.
We ended with a very interesting dessert. I didn’t really enjoy it, and I’m not sure the others would get it again either. The texture of the cake pop was creamy, almost like raw cookie dough, and was very sweet. If there was really artichoke inside, it was hidden well.
This year’s Food & Wine Festival looks like it has something for everyone, so you should be able to find something that you will enjoy.
We shared our thoughts on video along the way and you’ll be able to find those on the DIS Unplugged YouTube channel if you want to check them out. Here’s the first one to get you started: