February 18th, 2017
| by Mealtrip
The very first Seven Seas Food Festival
began at SeaWorld "Orlando"… (because they already have a Seven Seas Food Festival at SeaWorld California)… last Saturday, and everything seemed pretty great quite honestly. This is clearly not the first big food event that SeaWorld (and Executive Chef Hector Colon) have presented, but they did ramp things up quite a bit this year.
SeaWorld Executive Chef Hector Colon.
In addition to all of the best BBQ items from 2016's BBQ festival, they've added 11 new "marketplaces" (i.e. food booths) around what I call the "right loop" of the park. Even though the festival is being held on Saturday's only, adding 11 new food booths is no small task.
Rather than provide one of those "here's what every single thing looks like" type of posts, we would just have some fun with it, and stroll around a couple different Saturdays... just to make sure the first day, wasn't the best day… and to gauge the measure of consistency here and there (an issue that frankly, keeps me from being a huge food booth patron).
The setup here is very similar to other theme park food booth events. There are a couple of registers in front of a little kiosk that houses cooking, storage and refrigeration appliances and a culinary team to execute the dishes that are being sold at that booth. At Seven Seas, most of the food booths have two hot and one cold item, along with paired cocktails, beer and/or wine.
There are a couple of registers for placing your order and paying on the right. Once finished, you move into the line in front of the booth with your receipt, to pick up your food and beverage items.
There's usually a giant menu board close by, and SeaWorld has provided the menu in English on one side with Español on the other, along with a couple of "staged" photos of some of the food.
Not all food booths are created equal. Some (like the Asian Market Booth) use preexisting structures.
The Asian Market food booth is a little larger than the others. It is an existing structure that has been re-purposed for the festival.
Some are even completely covered by a giant roof like the Polynesian and Gulf Coast booths.
The entire Polynesian Market Booth is located under a giant roofed building!
You select and pay for your food at the register and are given a receipt for your order. Once you move up closer to the food booth, a cast member will take your receipt and tell the chef in the booth what you need. The food is prepared to order, your receipt is torn slightly (to make sure you don't reuse the same receipt to get more food without paying again), and you are given your plates and/or bowls of food. The only exception here is with some of the cold items, which are pre-plated.
Be sure to check out the Mealtrip menu boards page (click here)
, to see all of the prices, items and beverages available at each booth.
Our first stop of Saturday's stroll was at the Mexican Market booth.
The Mexican Market sign.
We previously tried the Grilled Corn on the Cob at a preview event and decided to get the Braised Chicken Adobo this time.
Grilled Corn on the Cob with Cheese from the Mexican Market booth.
Braised Chicken Adobo with Mole Sauce, Cheese and Mexican Rice.
The next stop was a really great little booth called the Florida Market.
The Florida Market sign.
First up, the Shrimp Mac & Cheese.
The Shrimp Mac and Cheese from the Florida Market features Sustainable Local Shrimp, Bacon Bits and Green Onions.
Next, (also from the Florida Market), is what I would consider a "must get" if you're going to the festival. We all know that fried anything tastes great. You could probably fry a piece of paper and it would taste good, but they've done something here that I can honestly say I've not come across before… a fried orange.
The Fried Kataifi Orange is drizzled with Local Honey.
It is a hot, juicy half an orange… that's been deep fried. The item is called a "Fried Kataifi Orange". Kataifi is traditionally a Greek pastry, (that's the part that looks like shredded wheat… it's a form of phyllo dough), and it's been properly drizzled with honey, as phyllo dough should be. And when you cut into this one…
Cut open, you can clearly see that someone did, in fact, deep fry an orange!
… you can see the orange half! The phyllo provided a bit of savory against the sweet honey and slightly acidic orange. Messy, heck yeah. A hot mess in fact, because this one really kept warm (well I mean, you're deep frying an orange)… so there's that.
"Kataifi" is a type of phyllo dough that is traditionally associated with Greek cuisine.
It's really unique... and that's one thing I really like about small plate type dining… it gives chefs an opportunity to show you something that would be hard to present in any other way... and gives guests an opportunity to try something that they never even knew existed. If you're going to the Seven Seas Food Festival… don't pass this one up.
Next up, something a bit more familiar and "the" most expensive items at the festival (at $7.75) a New England Lobster Roll Served on a Buttered Roll from the North Atlantic Market.
The North Atlantic Market sign.
I found the actual lobster meat to be a bit stringy honestly… which generally means it was overcooked or possibly frozen or possibly both. A little ironic coming from a place called "SeaWorld", but… there you go.
The New England Lobster Roll is served on a Buttered Roll. There is a good amount of Lobster meat on the bun!
I've often found Lobster to be a bit overrated at most food-booths and festivals though… so maybe I'm just grumpy. There's nothing like fresh, just caught lobster cooked right… and I usually don't bother unless I "know" that's what's going on. But you know, everybody wants to see what the Lobster Roll looks like, and now you know.
The North Atlantic Market Booth is located by the Nautilus Theater.
The North Atlantic Market has (at least) two other items that (I think) are more in keeping with the "street food" theme, and those are the amazing Bacon and Cheddar Hushpuppies and a Grilled Venison Sausage Slider.
The Bacon and Cheddar Hushpuppies from the North Atlantic Market Booth are topped with a dollop of Honey Butter.
The Grilled Venison Sausage Slider is another great item from the North Atlantic Market booth. If you really want to taste the Venison in the sausage, ask them to go light on the mustard. It will overpower the venison if used too liberally.
Finally, I skipped over to the Asia Market and tried the Peking Duck Lo Mein.
My "Peking Duck Lo Mein" was served missing a very important ingredient... the Peking Duck.
Notice anything missing? Well I saw about four of these go out… looking just like this… with zero explanation or indication that anything was missing. We all just thought "this must be the dish" and how would anyone know any different really? The couple that I was sharing a table with also remarked "wow, there's not much duck in the Duck Lo Mein".
On later inspection, I found that (at least) several of us had fallen victim to dreaded consistency (and possibly) training issues. It was later discovered that the Peking Duck Lo Mein actually does come with a decent sized piece of duck meat. Some even appeared to be getting a wing! My dish, and my photo of the dish… contains no duck. There's was no "oh, we ran out of duck" explanation, there was no discount, just a little "wool over the eyes pulling".
That, is an issue that I've seen pop up.. yes… even at Disney and with the multitude of festivals at Epcot. I guess the theory is, only a handful of people will be looking for something like consistency. Most guests will buy an item, and never re-visit a booth. The Lo Mein was good, so there's that… but if someone would have mentioned at the resister that the item could not be made the way it was intended… I simply would have ordered something else.
All in all, the first Saturday seemed to go quite well. There weren't as many guests mulling around as I had thought there would be (i.e. no Epcot-like Food & Wine sized lines at any of the booths), but on the second Saturday, there did seem to be an increase in crowd levels.
In my next article, we'll take a look at several more food items… and I'll explain why we kept hearing "wow, this is so much more reasonable that the Epcot festival food booths"! Because in just looking at the menu boards, it might not be that obvious. There is a little trick to getting those costs down… but more on that, in the next article!
The Seven Seas Food Festival takes place at SeaWorld, Orlando
on Saturdays only... from February 11th through May 13th, 2017. If you are in town, give it a go! It's a great new food-centered festival that offers really great street-style food and beverages at a price point that won't break the bank.