Busch Gardens Williamsburg’s Food and Wine Festival kicked off its third year by introducing new ambitious kiosks and food and beverage options while returning with some favorites from previous years.
The festival, which started May 22 and runs every weekend until June 28, is hoping to further solidify itself as a draw for both locals and out-of-town visitors with two new kiosks for guests to enjoy this year: Asia and the French Quarter.
The Asia kiosk – located in the Italy section of the park – give guests a diverse but familiar taste of popular Asian foods and beverages that represent several different countries.
The menu features Banh Mi, a Vietnamese pork sandwich; a lettuce wrap filled with vegetables and tofu and toasted almonds, served with a sweet chili sauce; mushi-gyoza (Japanese steamed dumplings); and ginger and lemongrass custard. Drink offerings include Kirin Ichiban and Tiger beers, and Thai Tea and Korean Soju cocktails.
The samplings at the Asia are all common enough that most guests will feel comfortable ordering them, but they are unique enough to seem new and different. The new kiosk seems to be well received by festival attendees and casual park goers alike.
The other new kiosk – the French Quarter – located in France, replaces the Belgian beer stand from previous festivals. It offers a variety of dishes made famous in New Orleans, including chicken and Andouille gumbo; muffaletta, a sandwich featuring salami, ham, provolone, and mortadella; and bananas foster cheesecake. At this kiosk, you can also get frozen hurricanes, one of many famous cocktails popularized in New Orleans.
While it’s not the same as picking up these food items while on Bourbon Street, the dishes are delicious, especially the gumbo, which features delightfully spicy flavors, and you get a lot of food for what you pay.
For $5, you get a large bowl of gumbo that can easily be shared, and the muffaletta, served with tasty Cajun coleslaw, can pass for a quick lunch for just $4.
In addition to the new kiosks, all of the kiosks featured at the previous festivals, except Belgian beer, returned for 2015.
Many of the favorites from the last two years returned, such as Canada’s mac and cheese with bacon and the Caribbean’s gamba fritters, but there are also a few new dishes for tasting.
For example, Scotland added the surprisingly tasty rumbledethumps, a tradition Scottish cheesy casserole with potatoes, cabbage, and turnips.
Aside from adding new items to the festival, the park is hoping to improve on the options offered during other festivals. To do so, the chefs are making more dishes in house, such as the Scotch egg.
In addition to being able to browse the kiosks and try different dishes and drinks, guests can also enjoy other enhanced Food and Wine experiences for extra cost.
A new Scotch Tasting seminar is featured all day near the Scotland kiosk, where for $24 guests can learn about and try three 12-year-old single malt Scotches and take home a souvenir glass.
While guests are free to pick up the drinks without a lesson, seminar participants will learn about how and where the scotch was made, and why each tastes different, which is a new and welcomed addition for the festival.
The Wine on the Rhine river cruise, which has been part of the festival for its duration, is a 45-minute cruise that takes place three times in the evening. For $25 for anyone older than 21 and $15 for guests 20 and younger, cruisers enjoy fruit, cheese, and wine and beer selections as well as live music.
Overall, this year’s Food and Wine Festival is an improvement on an already great tradition for Busch Gardens Williamsburg.
The addition of new items and the move to improve classic options shows initiative to continue to expand on the tradition of Food and Wine at the Williamsburg park and to guarantee it as a key event that gives guests a great reason to visit during the late spring season.