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Fur Dozy

Mayor of Busch Gardens Tampillsburg
Nov 5, 2009
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I thought I would give my opinion on the food and wine festival for this year. The following will be a bit unusual, as I will review the event, but not especially the food. I am by no means a culinary expert and so I do not feel as though it would help many for me to go into great detail on such things. I do not think that the food and wine festival is about serving the best food you've ever had, however, and I would like to review the event as just that, an event.

There are two major differences between the FWF in WBurg and Tampa. The first is that the booths are kept in one area of the park, rather than spreading them throughout. This year the festival covers a fairly large area from the flamingo area across from the garden gate cafe and then continues over through the entirety of Gwazi Park. I found this to be very useful when substituting a meal for sampling many dishes, something you might consider when dishes cost anywhere from 4-8 dollars.

The other main difference is the fact that the booths have no geographic theming. There is a southern cooking booth, but here you can see the emphasis is on the types of food. Some of the themes are very well done, but some seem to be simply another name. The Blazin' Bistro features a very mild "jerk" chicken(ish) sandwich slider, hummus and an ice cream float. The best offering from the Gourmet Lodge is probably the brisket with au gratin potatoes; and while I did find the potatoes to be very well done, the brisket seemed to be a tiny portion of the normal fare you might purchase at the smokehouse right down to the sauce. That's not exactly what I'd call gourmet.

This brings up the important issue of price. Is it worth it? Admittedly, this stuff inst cheap. You will be paying a premium for dishes that in most cases won't knock your socks off. There are some more affordable options in the way of sampler deals, but it still doesn't make it a good amount of food for your dollar. Roughly $25 gets you 5 samples. If you stick to the more expensive dishes, the sampler could be a better deal. If you go and get a few dishes at the 4-5 dollar mark, you lose a lot of the value of the sampler lanyard. There are also beverage sampler lanyards, but I will cover that at the bottom of the review. Overall, if you are looking for a good deal on food, steer clear.

I could wrap up the review right here. But then again to consider the FWF some sort of endless appetizers competitor isn't exactly accurate, as I'm sure some of you might be wanting to scream at me right about now. Me and my wife felt that while the festival offers a low value for the food itself, it has something else about it. There are many dishes at the festival that people might not have tried. Some things like A buffalo burger slider, or a duck taco. A big part of the fun that my wife and I had was going from one booth to another and trying new foods, or even just a new twist on something very familiar. We split each of the dishes which was fairly easy. Most dishes came in a couple pieces, except for the sandwiches that were easily split. As a couple this made it much more affordable to tray many different foods. All said and done we paid $25/person to sample 10 different dishes. We didn't like everything, but the portions were small enough that you didn't really have to worry about not wanting to finish a big plate of mediocre duck tacos.

This is where the festival shines. I'm normally a picky eater but in this setting I felt much more inclined to try new foods and had a great amount of fun while doing so. For those folks who want to have some fun while trying new foods, this is a very good opportunity.

Throughout the area of the festival there are also several horticultural art pieces. There is also a very nicely put together garden that features a "statue person" with built in fountain jets. While we were there they were playing music while she was (very slowly) dancing and manipulating the jets in her hands and hair. I thought it was a very cool touch. There are also several concerts that have been lined up with this event. I felt as though while looking at the line of artists, there wasn't much of a correlation between this aspect and the rest of the festival. Regardless, they do have a very formidable group of concerts to attend and it certainly doesn't detract from the event.

This brings us to the end of the review. You will notice that I didn't mention the beer or wine. This is mostly due to the fact that a large number of the drinks available aren't all that special. You can find them normally for much cheaper at your local store. In the Orlando area there are even a number of great bars that focus on a large selection of beers. Personally I can do without alcoholic beverages at a Theme Park, but if you don't mind paying the price that comes along with it, be my guest. All things considered I found the festival to be a great and different way to enjoy Busch Gardens. It isn't without it's downsides, but I would still recommend it for the multiple reasons covered in this review. If you have any questions about the food I can give you my best honest opinion. I've posted some pictures of the dishes and the other event related sights below.
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