The Seven Seas Food Festival is back at SeaWorld San Diego weekends through April 15th. This year Chef Axel Dirolf has created a “Daring” menu of 14 items designed to challenge your palate and showcase exotic ingredients from around the world. While some of the daring items aren’t to my mind that exotic, some were definitely a bit daunting.
The Seven Seas Food Festival consists of 14 food and 10 alcoholic beverage locations throughout SeaWorld. You can purchase individual items starting at $5 or buy a 5, 10, or 20 item for $25, $45, or $65. The lanyards are a great deal for sampling. Two 10 item lanyards were more than enough for my wife and I for one afternoon.
Let’s get to the good stuff, the food. Many favorites are back. The number one seller lamb slider (basically a gyros burger), black pepper strawberries (surprisingly refreshing), pretzel mac and cheese, and the poke stack with an edible spoon are back along with 50 other food and drink items grouped by flavor themes. Each food theme location has one item from the new Daring menu.
I’ll take you through them from least daring to most.
On the low end of daring we have Nitrogen Fromage which is a fancy way of saying cheese puffs frozen with liquid nitrogen. They’re pretty much what you expect from cold cheese puffs although the outgassing nitrogen feels weird in your mouth.
There’s nothing particularly daring about the Spiced Tomato Gazpacho. We didn’t find it very spicy but it was refreshing.
Likewise the Candied Bacon Cheesecake was tasty but not daring. Pop rocks add a nice surprise to this item.
Two alcoholic drinks made the daring menu. Buzz button sake is interesting for the included acmella oleracea flower bud which produces a pleasant (or not) tingling sensation in your mouth when eaten. That was weird. The Pretzel Crawfish Mary is a basic bloody mary with a garnish of pretzel and a whole crawfish. I’m not a big seafood eater so a whole crawfish staring at me from a cocktail swizzler was a little discomforting.
Depending on your familiarity with boba, the Bursting Boba Snow Pop (in Coke or Fanta Orange flavor) might be daring. The flavored snow is a shaved ice like confection with an interesting texture. It’s more dry than shaved ice or a slurpee.
Rice Paper and Quick Pickles is a pretty and pretty refreshing dish that’s a mess to eat.
At the Caribbean Flavors station you can be extra daring by getting your jerk chicken skewer or spare rib with the spiciest sauce and a Scotch bonnet pepper on the side.
Moving onto the more exotic, we have Lava Rock Grilled Oysters with wasabi mustard sauce and Peruvian Ceviche with scallops and octopus.
Getting on to the more daring side: Escargot Maison (snails in puff pastry) and Crispy Thai Basil Frog Legs.
This one is fairly familiar to folks here in Southern California but it’s still pretty out there: Tripe Florentine with tomato basil sauce and goat cheese polenta. I’ve never had tripe before. Its chewy. The sauce and the polenta were really all you could taste but you could always tell you were eating tripe. That chewiness was always there.
And finally, the undisputed champion of daring items at the Seven Seas Food Festival, the Chili Lime Chapulines Tostada with with avocado spread, queso fresco, and pico. I’ll save you the trip to Google Translate. Chapulines are grasshoppers. Yeah, grasshoppers. No getting around it, the grasshopper tostada is as daring as it gets.
“They mostly just taste like sunflower seeds.” This must have been the guidance in the employee handbook for this item because we heard some variation from at least 4 different Food Festival hosts. And really the taste was fine. Between the pico, avocado, and queso the chapulines were just a slightly nutty note that went fine with the rest of the dish.
WARNING! THIS NEXT PART GETS A LITTLE GROSS!
Until you started chewing. And feeling all those bug guts and legs and bits swirling around your mouth. It’s rough. I could only take one bite. It just wasn’t worth the experience to keep going. Daring. Yeah.
The Seven Seas Food Festival remains a fun way to spend an afternoon grazing your way across SeaWorld. The new Daring Menu offers some exciting and exotic choices for those who want to challenge themselves. Or maybe you just want to see if you can peer pressure a spouse or friend into eating grasshoppers. Whatever floats your boat.