At this point I’ve tried 65 different items from this year’s Food & Wine Festival, so I feel it’s time to rank the year’s best and worst dishes. There are still a handful of items that I’m still planning on trying for the first time. But most of these items are things I’ve been waiting for cooler weather before trying… and who knows if the weather will ever get cooler. I really don’t want to wait until November to publish these lists, as then they will be of no use to anybody.
I’ve decided to list 12 items in the best category. I’ve settled on this number because I feel that is how many items separated themselves in terms of their tastiness.
Make sure to read our list of the Worst Items of the Festival.
We’ll start at #12 (the 12th best):
#12 – Seared Scallops (Wine & Dine Studio)
This was by far the best of the two scallop preparations at this year’s festival. The scallops were large and perfectly cooked, and the puree and wild mushrooms were excellent accompaniments.
#11 – Jerk Spiced Chicken Lollipop (Islands of the Caribbean)
I wasn’t really excited to try this, so I was pleasantly surprised by how good it was. Tender juicy chicken bursting with spicy jerk flavor.
#10 – Short Rib Tostada (Mexico)
This really worked for me. The short rib was tender and delicious, the salsa verde was tangy and perfect, and the tostada was crispy. If you like salsa verde you may want to ask for extra.
#9 – New England Lobster Roll (Hops & Barley)
I don’t know if I got lucky, or they changed something. But all the early reviews tore this apart, and mine was excellent. It was loaded with tender lobster, and not much else. And the buttery bun was grilled to perfection.
#8 – “Le Cellier” Wild Mushroom Beef Filet Mignon (Canada)
Like the lobster roll, I was expecting the worst when I ordered this due to terrible early reviews. But I got a sizable portion of tender juicy filet, topped with ample mushrooms and sauce.
#7 – Ropa Vieja Empanada (Islands of the Caribbean)
I’ve never been a fan of festival empanadas… until now. The ropa vieja was delicious, the shell was crispy, and the tomato aioli was just what was needed to keep it from being too dry.
#6 – Maple Bourbon Boursin Cheesecake (Cheese Studio)
Definitely the best of the two cheesecakes offered this year. It was very smooth and soft, which is how I prefer my cheesecake. The caramel sauce and pecan crunch were both amazing and brought the cheesecake to another level.
#5 – Xi’an Pancake with Beef (China)
I was shocked how flavorful the beef in the pancake was. I don’t know what sauce that tender beef is cooked in, but I’d like an I.V. of it please.
#4 – Freshly Baked Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Icing (Hops & Barley)
The carrot cake itself is moist and delicous, but it’s the sauce that lands this in the top 5. It’s really sweet, but somehow not too sweet.
#3 – Banana Almond Soft-serve Sundae (Almond Orchard)
This is the item we have ordered the most this year. The extremely high temperatures have something to do with that, but mainly it’s because it’s so freaking delicious and refreshing. I absolutely love the chocolate streusel topping, and you can’t go wrong adding a nice berry compote.
#2 – Fritto Misto (Italy)
I can’t tell you how shocked I am to have an item from Italy at #2 on the Best list. But this is a huge portion of crispy fried shrimp and zucchini, as well as sweet potato fries, drizzled in a nice spicy (not really spicy) aoili. If you are on a budget and trying to get full, make sure to get one of these.
#1 – Teriyaki Glazed SPAM Hash (Hawai’i)
My very favorite item of the festival for 2 years running. This is a hearty portion of flavorful SPAM, tender potatoes (with peppers and onions), covered in spicy mayo. Order one of these and a fritto misto and you are probably good to go.
There you have it, the best items from this year’s Food and Wine Festival. If I try anything else this year that is good enough to make the list, I’ll update this post.
Thanks for reading!