Deciding to take on four Orlando theme parks in a single day is a lofty task, even for this native. Even more daunting is the list of menu items I’m determined to sample.
First stop, Universal’s Wizarding World of Harry Potter for a frothy butterbeer (much better than the slushy version), a bag of Bertie Botts Every Flavour Beans, and a ride on the Forbidden Journey. The snowy castletops and towering pine trees would suggest cooler temperatures, but it’s still hot as hell in October.
We hustle over to Universal Studios, bound for Krustyland. I’ve heard legends of Duff Beer and chicken and waffle sandwiches.
Mr. Doom and I are both children of Gen-Simpson, he at the beginning and me on the tail end. That combined with Ren & Stimpy arguably dictated the humor of an entire generation.
All I can think is “D’oh!” as nearby grandparents attempt an explanation to squirming kids whose minds are preoccupied with pink sprinkle-covered donuts.
Krustyland truly is for the adults, a realization of the 7-11-inspired menu we’d always dreamed about. From the Flaming Moe, an orange soda concoction that bubbles and smokes, to the three tap handles of Duff Beer, brewed just for Universal, it all tastes like I’d imagined; Miller Light meets Yuengling.
Mr. Doom digs into his Krusty burger, a school cafeteria-like patty dripping in cheese sauce. I grab hold of the chicken and waffle sandwich: crispy fried chicken covered in maple syrup mayo, trapped between two Eggo-shaped waffles. Our inner 12-year-old appetites delight, but a food coma is imminent. To the donut stand we go, looking for a perfectly pink glazed confection to shock us awake.
We try to rally, but only manage to lumber back to the car under the weight of Krustyland. It was good while it lasted, but the sun is beginning to set and we are bound for Epcot’s Food and Wine Festival for some “adult” dining. It’s Saturday night, and families empty out as F&W veterans in matching shirts pour in.
Epcot usually showcases 11 countries, but during the festival (which runs through Mon., Nov. 11) the globe expands to over 40.
We start with fresh watermelon juice and chili Colorado with chips and cashew cheese (all vegan) at the Terra booth, thinking we’ll ease into our second wind. But Brazil’s crispy pork belly with black beans, onions, avocado and cilantro calls. And we’re off.
Next thing I know, we’re in Australia and I’m biting into a grilled lamb chop lollipop drizzled with mint pesto and potato “crunchies.” Mr. Doom has Australian roots and knows how to whip up a mean rack of lamb. We both approve of Epcot’s efforts, especially the fresh mint pesto. We also try the Pavlova; the crispy meringue with fresh berries and custard is light and delicious.
In Singapore, we try the Singapore Sling, a cocktail of Hendrick’s gin, cherry Heering, and all natural maraschinos.
“Those are really strong,” the cashier notes with a laugh. Indeed they are, and we slip in seamlessly with the buzzing and bustling masses.
The South Korean kimchi hot dog with spicy mustard and slaw is so delicious, I get a little cranky it isn’t full-sized. A few glasses of wine, an artisanal cheese platter, and something called schinkennudeln (German mac & cheese with ham) later, I take Mr. Doom to Norway for some school bread.
It’s arguably my favorite food in the park with its less-than-sweet exterior and lighter-than-custard center. He approves. The line for pierogi in Poland (my homeland) is too long to attempt. It’s nearly 10 p.m., so we make a mad monorail dash to the Magic Kingdom for a late-night ride on Space Mountain, the Haunted House and Pirates of the Caribbean.
We’ll have to come back another time for the pierogi.