I posted yesterday that Jason and I went to the Delray Garlic Festival. It’s always held around my birthday, so it’s fast becoming a birthday tradition for us. I’m the kind of person who likes “experience gifts” a lot more than material gifts. I can never remember what Jason got for my birthday any particular year, but I always remember the fun things we do.
I was texting my sister on and off that afternoon, and at some point she asked, “So what do you guys do at food festivals anyway?”. Oh sweety, don’t get me started. Too late, you just did…
Jason and I have been to a few festivals. This was our second Garlic Festival, we’ve been to Epcot Food and Wine a couple of times, and also a Festival of Chocolate. I feel like there was one more, but my mind is going blank. We tend to steer clear of the bigger festivals like South Beach Food and Wine down in Miami. Right now they’re just too expensive (and too crowded). But someday…
In the meantime, we try to hit up as many local festivals as we can, plus cultural events like at the Morikami, or the Filipino festivals. Though they don’t center around food, where else can you get ice cream with red beans?
Food and Wine 2009
Food and Wine 2010.
Festival of Chocolate 2011
Garlic Festival 2012
Here are a few general tips for going to Food Festivals-
Plan ahead. We usually try to do as much research as we can beforehand, especially for bigger events, like Epcot. We make our plan of attack and pick our very favorite things that we know we want to try. That way we can budget, and get all of our food tickets in one go, avoiding extra line standing time. This is also when we decide which demonstrations or classes to hit up. None of this is set in stone, so there is plenty of room for changing of plans. We just tend to be more efficient with time if we have a vague idea of what we’re doing.
Bring cash and buy food tickets first. Some festivals and vendors don’t take credit cards at all, and the cash lines are almost always shorter than credit/ debit card lines. Go ahead and buy your food tickets (or bracelets in the case of Epcot). Do it before you even start looking at things. Who wants to stand in line for tickets when you have tasty arepas staring you in the face?
Divide and conquer. Pick a meeting place and split up if the lines are super long. This isn’t always necessary, but it helps a lot at the larger festivals.
Bring your hat and sunscreen to any outdoor festival. It doesn’t matter how overcast the sky looks, do it anyway. Also be sure to drink plenty of water, especially if it’s hot or you’re drinking alcohol. Don’t want to cut into your eating time with a visit to the medical tent for dehydration.
Pace yourself and take breaks. You’re there all day, so scope out the shady and quiet spots and use as needed. The Nemo ride is especially nice for taking a break if you’re at Epcot.
It’s more than just food. Check out the vendor areas. You can find the coolest stuff there, like jewelry made of computer parts and kitchen utensils. It’s a lot of fun wandering around and looking at all the art. And “non-art” like the Hottie Lane street sign. Still kicking myself for not taking a picture of that.
Chocolate covered cricket. Tastes a bit like chocolate covered rice krispie.
And the most important thing (I think)… try something new! This is your opportunity to go way outside your comfort zone, so don’t play it safe! I’ve tried Filipino milkshakes, escargot, and chocolate covered crickets for the first time at food festivals. (also mimosas and chocolate martinis, but who’s counting?) Everything is not going to be a winner, but you might discover your new favorite thing. (hello, arepas!)