The first day of summer was just a couple of days ago, so we all know what that means…

Welcome!

Welcome!

It’s time to start thinking about this years Epcot International Food & Wine Festival! And there’s plenty to think about…

Sushi (and sake!)

Sushi (and sake!)

of course there’s the food…

Fish!

Fish!

more food…

Grilled Lamb with Mint Pesto and Potato Crunchies along with a glass of a red wine blend from Rosemount Estate

Lamb!

even more food…

Dessert

Dessert!

and yet even more food…

Yeah, beer!

Yay, beer!

and the adult beverages…

Mmmm... whiskey...

Mmmm… whiskey…

and yes more adult beverages…

The she's-so-freaking-adorable Carla Hall autographing a Crasins package (don't ask...)

The she’s-so-freaking-adorable Carla Hall autographing a Craisins package (don’t ask…)

the celebrity chefs…

Chef Duffy!

Chef Duffy!

and the merchandise… and lots, lots more!

Yes, Dedicated Readers know that here at Eating (and Drinking) around the World, we’re pretty much thinking about the Food & Wine Festival all year round, but it’s this time of year that details are starting to emerge about the upcoming Festival, so we really start to think about it!

Not long ago Pam Brandon on the official Disney Parks Blog gave us some info on what’s new for this year, and some of the highlights include Sunday morning brunch events, the Patagonia Marketplace combining the cuisines of Argentina and Chile, a “Back to Basics” series in the Festival Center and a Friday morning celebrity chefs cookbook event.

Crispy Pork Belly with Black Beans, Onions, Avocado and Cilantro

Crispy Pork Belly with Black Beans, Onions, Avocado and Cilantro

Also some notable returning favorites include the Brazil booth (and yes, Pork Belly will be back! Yay, Pork Belly!), the Party for the Senses and the Eat to the Beat concert series.

The Bog!

The Bog!

Also back this year is the somewhat-surprisingly-ever-popular Cranberry Bog! You can see Pam’s complete post at the Disney Parks Blog.

Puerto Rico Returns

Puerto Rico Returns!

And thanks to our good buddy AJ Wolfe over at the Disney Food Blog, we just learned that one of our favorite booths from years past, Puerto Rico, will be making a (hopefully triumphant) return at the 2014 Festival! AJ does a great job in keeping up with the latest details as they come out, so I always bookmark her Food & Wine Festival page (and you should too).

With the Festival officially opening on September 19th (and running a record 53 days!), we’ve got just under three months to wait… so in the interim we’ll keep thinking (and dreaming) about the 2014 Epcot International Food & Wine Festival, and yes, we’ll keep posting about it too… so stay tuned! And tell us what you’re thinking about this years event, what are you looking forward to most?

As always, we’re back to the kitchen, see you soon!

If you enjoyed this post, please be sure to “like” and “share”!

I realized it’s been a while since we’ve done a “Weekend Eats” post, and it’s not because we haven’t been to the World, it’s just my usual slack posting schedule… so here, Dear Dedicated Readers, is a combo edition of several relatively recent visits to WDW, and a very recent trek to another off-property-property…

Brisket, Turkey "Ribs" and the amazing Maple Bacon Cupcake at the Epcot Flower & Garden Festival

Brisket, Turkey “Ribs” and the amazing Maple Bacon Cupcake at the Epcot Flower & Garden Festival

Even though I’d made a couple of trips to the Flower & Garden Festival (which you can review in the posts “A First Taste of Spring: Epcot Flower & Garden Festival Opening Day 2014” and “Second Helpings at the 2014 Epcot Flower & Garden Festival“), Bonnie hadn’t been yet by mid-April, so we made a day trip so that she could exercise her camera-muscles on the festival foliage, and of course sample some of the savory offerings…

And beverages had to be sampled as well...

And beverages had to be sampled as well…

There was an interesting “visitor” at Epcot on that day…

World Showcase food truck in, of all places, the World Showcase...

World Showcase food truck in, of all places, the World Showcase…

the Epcot-centric food truck that normally resides at Downtown Disney made a test appearance at the entrance to World Showcase. I was told by a management-type that it was a test run for that weekend to see how guests responded – if it did well we might actually see the truck (or trucks) show up again during the Food & Wine Festival (which sounds kinda crazy, but if they parked one or two closer to the entrance of the park it might just work).

Eggplant "Scallop" from Urban Farm EATS booth

Eggplant “Scallop” from Urban Farm EATS booth

We wandered, ate some good stuff, and after an all-to-brief visit, we made our way back home, but it wouldn’t be long before we were back…

The ever-youthful Peter Noone of Herman's Hermits

The ever-youthful Peter Noone of Herman’s Hermits

the next weekend, to be specific, as Miss Bonnie graciously indulged my desire to see one of my childhood faves, Peter Noone of Herman’s Hermits (and shockingly, after five concerts, Bonnie still doesn’t know the words to “Henry the Eighth”).

Three Cheese Manicotti from Primavera Kitchen

Three Cheese Manicotti from Primavera Kitchen

And during the weekend we did have some more of the goodies served at the kitchens of the Flower & Garden Festival.

Shrimp and Grits from Florida Fresh booth

Shrimp and Grits from Florida Fresh booth

The manicotti from Italy was a dish I hadn’t sampled yet this year – cheese-filled as advertised – good but not life-changing. The shrimp & grits was a favorite from Florida Fresh last year, and Bonnie deemed it just as good this go round.

Mmmm... margaritas....

Mmmm… margaritas….

Oh yeah, there was a visit to La Cava…

 

Epcot Flower & Garden Festival 2014 Walt Disney World Orlando Kouzinna Cat Cora

Kouzzina on Disney’s Boardwalk

Saturday morning of that weekend we had a “good-bye” breakfast at Cat Cora’s Kouzzina.

Turkey-Sweet Potato Hash - with Two Eggs and Arugula Salad

Turkey-Sweet Potato Hash with Two Eggs and Arugula Salad

The restaurant is scheduled to close the end of September after a five-year run in the former Spoodles location on the Boardwalk. I’ve always enjoyed the place, and had a really great experience and meal there during Food & Wine a few years ago, which you can see a bit of in the post “Who’s that strange man trying to fondle an Iron Chef?” (and no, I never followed up with a full post on that night…). I’ll be sad to see it go, and so to say farewell we decided to have at least one more meal there.

Classic Golden Waffle with Whipped Mascarpone Cheese, Honey, Chopped Pecans and Bacon

Classic Golden Waffle with Whipped Mascarpone Cheese, Honey, Chopped Pecans and Bacon

As we were seated and our server arrived with the menus I though she looked quite familiar – turned out it was the ever effervescent spikey-hair-blonde Holly who seems to always be on hand at the River Roost in Port Orleans when YeHaa Bob Jackson is on stage! She was a bit more subdued at a more sober breakfast service (although there were a couple of “eye-openers” on our table…) than during the raucous YeHaa Bob shows…

Mama Ginny and Papa Harry, who had never been there before, joined Bonnie and I for breakfast and liked it so much that they returned just a couple of weeks later.

Stacked Kouzzina Breakfast: Two Poached Eggs, Kalamata Olive Toast, Artichoke Spread, and Sweet Potato Hash with Bacon

Stacked Kouzzina Breakfast: Two Poached Eggs, Kalamata Olive Toast, Artichoke Spread, and Sweet Potato Hash with Bacon

The Stacked Kouzzina Breakfast, which Bonnie & Harry both had, was the real winner here – it’s a nice combo of somewhat unusual flavors for a breakfast meal and they both were happy members of the Clean Plate Club at the end of the meal.

Afterwards we made another trip to Epcot for some more Flower & Garden food and fun…

Lamb Brewat Roll with Prunces and Sesame from Taste of Marrakesh

Lamb Brewat Roll with Prunes and Sesame from Taste of Marrakesh

I really liked the lamb roll from Morocco – a crispy egg-roll-like-thing filled to the brim with shredded meat!

Quesadilla de Hongos con Queso from Jardin de Fiestas

Quesadilla de Hongos con Queso from Jardin de Fiestas

We also tried the mushroom and cheese quesadilla from Mexico with less than spectacular results… it was fairly bland, and we both agreed it wasn’t very “Mexican” to our tastes…

"Second verse, same as the first..."

“Second verse, same as the first…”

And yes, there were some more songs to enjoy that evening…

Home of the Don't-Call-It-A-Cronut

Home of the Don’t-Call-It-A-Cronut

On Sunday we found ourselves once again around the World Showcase and I finally tried the Croissant Doughnut from the Refreshment Port…

Outside the Cronut

Outside the Croissant Doughnut

this hybrid between a croissant and (you guessed it) a doughnut is better known as a Cronut, but that moniker has been trademarked, so hence the “Croissant Doughnut”.

Inside the Cronut

Inside the Croissant Doughnut

There are flaky layers inside the cinnamon-sugar coated outside, and yes, it’s pretty dang tasty, but at $4.49 I think it won’t be an everyday treat…

Lemon Scones, Pork & Apple Sausage Roll and Salad with Strawberries, Almonds and Stilton from the Buttercup Cottage

Lemon Scones, Pork & Apple Sausage Roll and Salad with Strawberries, Almonds and Stilton from the Buttercup Cottage

We ended our eating at Epcot for this weekend by having a trifecta of dishes from the Buttercup Cottage in the UK. We enjoyed all the items, and I liked the sausage roll a bit more the second time than I had when I first tried it.

The next weekend we found ourselves back in the World for Expedition Everest weekend – we weren’t participating in the race, but several friends were in WDW for the event, so we came to just hang out a bit… and eat some more…

The backside of Ankole Cattle

The backside of Ankole Cattle

We were staying at our favorite resort, Kidani Village, and made a quick trip over to Animal Kingdom late on Friday afternoon.

As it was close to closing time for the park by the time we got there, many of the quick-service eating locations were closing down, so we stepped into Yak and Yeti and quickly were granted a table.

We ordered a couple of adult beverages while we perused the menu and eventually settled on just having a couple of appetizers.

Seared Ahi Tuna (top) and Thai Chili Chicken Wings

Seared Ahi Tuna (top) and Thai Chili Chicken Wings

Neither were particularly memorable – they looked better than they tasted. The food wasn’t bad, just sorta there – we’ve certainly had better-tasting items there before. The marinated cucumbers alongside the wings were probably the best thing on the table (other than the beverages…). Our server was great though!

It still irks me a bit that they don’t take Tables in Wonderland – they do give a 10% annual passholder discount, but it’s only on entrees… gee, thanks…

Not quite sated, we headed to the bar at Sanaa when we made it back to Kidani.

Indian Style Bread Service

Indian Style Bread Service – Jalapeno-lime Pickle, Coriander Chutney & Tamarind Chutney with Garlic Ginger Naan, Spiced Naan and Onion Kulcha

You can order appetizers from the restaurant while at the bar (and I have seen them serve from the full menu in the bar as well in the past, even though they say they aren’t supposed to do so), so Bonnie had a glass of wine while I tried an IPA as we looked over the bar menu.

We settled on one of our absolutely favorite things, the bread service. You get to choose three of five great Indian breads, and three accompaniments for $9.99 (or you can have all nine of the saucy sides for two more bucks). Unless you’re carb-phobic, this is a great choice to start a meal for two or more, or like we did here share between two for a nice, filling later night snack. The naans are our number one, and are freshly made to order, they are pretty hard to beat with any of the accompanying sauces.

And yes, they do take Tables in Wonderland at the bar there!

We wound up going all over the place on Saturday to find sustenance…

DVC construction at the Poly

DVC construction at the Poly

After a quick trip to the Wide World of Sports to check out the race expo, we went over to the Polynesian Resort to see about the goings on there.

The addition of a Disney Vacation Club area to the resort had been announced quite a while back (and very obvious construction has been taking place for several weeks), but there had been many other rumors going around about some other changes to the resort, and as it happened, many of those changes had been officially announced the day before we got there (most notably to the adult-beverage-indulgers among us, the addition of a east coast version of Trader Sam’s!). We did our best to get info from several cast members there as to the exact location of where the new bar will be, but all, including a couple of managers, claimed ignorance as to where in the resort Trader Sam’s will eventually reside.

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Looking to fill our grumbling bellies, we made our way to the temporary location of the resort’s quick-service eatery, Captain Cook’s. The normal location for the restaurant (lower lobby level facing the pool) has been shuttered for a while undergoing a refurb – with the announcement of the upcoming changes (and the recent closing of the Wyland Gallery) we now wonder if Cook’s will actually return to it’s former location or wind up somewhere else in the resort. It’s old site sure seems like it would be prime territory for a new bar…

Capt' Cook's current lunch/dinner menu

Capt. Cook’s current lunch/dinner menu

We’ve enjoyed several items from Capt. Cook’s before (notably the Pork Nachos and Pork Sandwich). This day we tried a new item, the Thai Coconut Meatballs.

Thai Coconut Meatball on Rice

Thai Coconut Meatball on Rice

We also ordered a side of the chips – a seasoned combo of potato chips, tortilla chips and fried wonton skins. This isn’t on the menu, but if you ask they’ll gladly serve you up a nice plate of them.

Capt. Cook's Chips and Thai Coconut Meatball on Rice

Capt. Cook’s Chips and Thai Coconut Meatball on Rice

The meatballs themselves were fine, but I found the sauce to be way too sweet. Bonnie liked them a bit better, but after she added a bit of soy sauce we both found them more palatable. Also a few steamed/stir-fried veggies on the plate would have been nice. The chips were the hit of the table – I’d go back just for some more of those!

While in the neighborhood we met up with our friend Corndog Laura and took a quick monorail trip over to check out the DVC rooms at the Grand Floridian (they are pretty gorgeous!). From there we went back to Kidani, and as Laura hadn’t done it before, we took the cultural tour of Sanaa.

Bread service sampler at Sanaa cultural tour

Bread service sampler at Sanaa cultural tour

We were taken around the restaurant by a lovely young woman from South Africa and she gave us background on the details of the dining area. It’s a very interesting tour, and at the end they feed you! We (once again) got a sampling of the bread service, this time on the house!

In case you’re not aware, they give this tour for free every day at 4 PM. You don’t have to sign up, just arrive at the restaurants podium a few minutes before four. You don’t even have to be a guest staying at the resort, just show up!

Likewise they do a restaurant tour (also at 4 PM) over at Jambo House. Just make your way to the entrance of Boma and you’ll get a tour there (along usually with a sample of one of their great soups and a Zebra Dome or other dessert). From there they take you to Jiko for a tour of that dining establishment, and they usually wind that up with a sample of their signature Taste of Africa appetizer (which is also a bread and dips sampler). Definitely worth a trip over there (if you’re not already staying there), and a rare freebie at Disney!

As if we’d not had enough to eat for the day, we wound up heading over to the Coronado Springs Resort to check out the options at the Pepper Market. Laura went for the roasted chicken, while Bonnie & I shared a huge serving of nachos.

Market Nachos at the Pepper Market

Market Nachos at the Pepper Market

The big plate of chips was topped with chicken and beef (you can choose either or both), salsa, gooey-cheese-like-product and sour cream (jalapenos were one the side in deference to Miss Bonnie’s still mild palate). If you want a big plate of messy, bad-for-you goodness, that’s more than plenty for two people to split, this is a diet-busting deal for ten bucks. If only the beers alongside were a better deal…

On our Sunday getaway day, we went over to the Magic Kingdom to check out the final bits of construction on the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train (and hope for a soft-opening ride, but that wish was to go ungranted…).

We did however get shown a pretty amazing Hidden Steamboat Willie in the exit queue of the Little Mermaid ride…

Can you see it?

Can you see it?

it’s almost impossible to see from a picture, and you’d likely never notice it without it being pointed out to you, but when you see it, it’s down-right spectacular! We’ll be glad to show it to you sometime in the park!

For our final feasting of this weekend in the parks, we wandered into Pinocchio’s Village Haus.

Caprese Flatbread

Caprese Flatbread

Bonnie snagged us a seat overlooking Small World while I got us a Caprese Flatbread to share. Tomatoes, mozzarella and a Balsamic drizzle atop a flatbread crust, this was a very passable lunch (along with a side of fries to sate Miss Bonnie’s spud-addiction). It’s worth a try if you’re looking for something just a bit different in the Magic Kingdom.

Friar's Nook Menu

Friar’s Nook Menu

While there I took a peek at the Friar’s Nook menu and noted that the Blue Cheese & Balsamic version of Mac & Cheese (that we had quite liked on a prior visit) had been replaced with a Pot Roast one… we’ll try next visit…

So to continue (and conclude) this extended edition of Weekend Eats, we head off property proper to visit the east coast of Florida.

We’d long been talking about wanting to visit Disney’s Vero Beach resort, and when the Iowa O’Briens had planned a trip there and asked us to come along, we jumped at the opportunity.

Early morning on the Treasure Coast - view from our room at Disney's Vero Beach Resort

Early morning on the Treasure Coast – view from our room at Disney’s Vero Beach Resort

The resort is fairly small, but nice and full of Disney-touches. Like most of the DVC resorts, you’re not hit over the head with characters and such (in fact, the only walk-around characters appear at one lone character breakfast on Saturdays), but there are enough details, Hidden Mickeys and the like to keep even the most rabid Disney-phile happy. And without the lure of the hectic parks nearby, this is a perfect place for a relaxing stay with a Disney touch.

As we spent most of our time either at the beach, the pool or just exploring the resort, (and since we’d also brought along some foodstuffs to have in our room) we actually spent relatively little time at the on-site dining establishments.

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That being said, we did visit the Green Cabin Room bar a couple of times, and really enjoyed our time spent there. Located on the second floor of the resort facing the ocean, the interior is dark and cool and chock-full of details and memorabilia of the ships that had sunk offshore of the Treasure Coast (so called because of the abundance of riches that is on the sea bed from the many shipwrecks).

Green Cabin Room Afternoon/Evening Menu

Green Cabin Room Afternoon/Evening Menu

Overlooking the Atlantic is a small outside deck with just four prime tables and a long bar by the window with hightop chairs. On our first visit we sat at the latter, the few tables all being filled.

Chicken Wings and Kettle Chips with Blue Cheese and Herb Dipping Sauce

Chicken Wings and Kettle Chips with Blue Cheese and Herb Dipping Sauce

We ordered the chips with blue cheese and dip along with an order of wings. The chips were good, but the cheese, while nice and strong flavored, was a bit skimpy. The fluffy fresh-herb dip was just right when you could find a nice bit of the blue cheese to pair with one of the crispy chips. The breaded wings were just average and came with a choice of three sauces (Thai Chili, Buffalo or Barbeque) – we asked for both the Thai and Buffalo and they gladly brought us ramekins of each for dipping. Despite the less-than-stellar eats, the beer was cold (and the wine expensive), the service was top-notch and it was a beautiful day with a great view of the ocean… life was good that day at the Green Room Cabin…

Artisan Cheese and Cured Meats Platter with Herb Flatbread

Artisan Cheese and Cured Meats Platter with Herb Flatbread

The next day we met the O’Brien Brood inside the bar for some more consumables. This time we chose the cheese and meat platter. Served on a long cutting board (which could have served well as a paddle in case one of or party decided to get a bit out of line) this was a nice selection of cheeses (a couple nicely stinky) and cured meats with warm flatbread and cool grapes on the side. Cheese plates are now offered at pretty much all the restaurants and resort bars in Property proper, but this one was a bit different, and a bit more hearty, with the inclusion of the meats. Bonnie and I scarfed it down with much glee and enthusiasm.

The drink menu here is the standard one used at all the bars on WDW property, with just the beers and wines varying slightly. The food menu is a bit more varied and complete compared to the ones at most of the bars on Lake Buena Vista property, there is even a separate bill of fare for lunch. All the food here comes from one floor down out of the kitchen of Shutters (the more casual of the two sit-down restaurants at Vero, the other being the more upscale Sonya’s).

We’re looking forward to getting back to the Vero Beach resort – we vowed to return sooner rather than later for another chill-out weekend – and maybe we’ll actually try the two sit-down restaurants the next time!

There you have it Dear Dedicated Readers, another (much longer than I expected) edition of Weekend Eats – hope you enjoyed the vicarious vittles!

If you enjoyed this post, please be sure to “like” and “share”!

We’re back to the World, and of course, the kitchen! See you soon!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As you may remember from the post “Another Dream come true… the Disney Dream that is…” we recently got to take another sojourn on the gorgeous Disney Dream to celebrate Miss Bonnie’s birthday. Along with Meme and Bapa, her Parental Units, we were able to board the same big ol’ boat we spent our post-wedding celebration on and this time we got to spend her Big Day on Castaway Cay!

Having the good fortune to sail on the Dream and the Fantasy several times in the past few years, one of our plans (or my plan at least) for this trip was to try as many different menu items as possible. The menus at the main restaurants on board both ships haven’t changed dramatically since we first went on these ships, so I wanted to venture out from some of the items we’ve had on prior sailings – of course there would be a few items we just couldn’t pass on, but I wanted to make a concerted effort to try some different dishes.

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With that being said, I of course went to my old favorite standby for the boarding day buffet: a big pile of mussels!

Shellfish

Mussels & Shrimp…

I really have a “thing” for the chilled mussels and had been thinking about them for days before we got on the Dream, so when we hit Cabanas after we boarded the ship I started off my culinary cruise with a huge plate of the bivalves – so much for trying new things…

Crab

Claws!

Someone in our party (can you say Mama Meme?) has a similar affection for the crab claws… we’ll see more of those in the future…

Veggies

There were a few veggies…

We did sample a few other non-shellfish items off the buffet…

Our just desserts...

Our just desserts…

and yes, there was a big plate of desserts to start off our trip!

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Dinner the first night was at Enchanted Garden.

North Atlantic Lobster Ravioli

North Atlantic Lobster Ravioli

There were a few old favorites among the appetizers/salads/soups…

Ahi Tuna and Avocado Tower

Ahi Tuna and Avocado Tower

with the tuna & avocado always being a fave…

Applewood Smoked Bacon Wild Mushroom Tart

Applewood Smoked Bacon Wild Mushroom Tart

Romaine Wedge Salad

Romaine Wedge Salad

Heirloom Tomato Soup

Heirloom Tomato Soup

Cream of Green Asparagus Soup

Cream of Green Asparagus Soup

I really enjoyed the tomato soup, while Bonnie & Meme both loved the asparagus soup.

Caramelized Sea Scallops

Caramelized Sea Scallops

The scallops and sea bass are also old favorites – we usually think the sea bass is one of the best items served anywhere on board.

Pan-seared Sea Bass

Pan-seared Sea Bass

Even though the sea bass wasn’t a new item for us to try, it was a bit different from prior times. In the past it was served more Asian-style with a sweet chili sauce, this time it sat atop a fava bean and pea risotto and was napped with a dill-chive Riesling sauce… mmmm… Miss Bonnie loves both Riesling (and had a glass of same to accompany the dish) and sea bass, so this version was a big hit with her!

Part of the Enchanted Garden menu

Part of the Enchanted Garden menu

Harrisa Lamb Salad

Harrisa Lamb Salad

I picked a couple of new-to-me dishes for the first evening: Harrisa Lamb Salad from the “Lighter Note Offerings” section of the menu…

Glazed Portobello Mushrooms

Glazed Portobello Mushrooms

and from the “Vegetarian” section the Glazed Portobello Mushrooms. I liked the cold lamb atop couscous quite a bit, and the meaty mushrooms and lentils was also a very satisfyingly plate.

Sweet Temptations - A trio of Esterhazy Cake, Strawberry Cheesecake, and Chocolate Silk Mousse

Sweet Temptations – A trio of Esterhazy Cake, Strawberry Cheesecake, and Chocolate Silk Mousse

Even though we were all pretty well stuffed from dinner and the afternoon buffet, desserts still made their way to our table…

Apple Cinnamon Crunch Sundae

Apple Cinnamon Crunch Sundae

Our Most Excellent server Christian pretty much insisted that we try the date pudding…

Warm Sticky Date Pudding

Warm Sticky Date Pudding

and I have to admit that even though I had no desire to stuff another bite of anything into my mouth at that time, the Warm Sticky Date Pudding was incredibly delicious – the best dessert we’d have on the entire cruise (in my most humble dessert opinion)

The Infamous Mickey Bar

The Infamous Mickey Bar

And it wouldn’t be a Disney Cruise without Mickey Bars…

Early morning trivia on the Funnel-Vision screen

Early morning trivia on the Funnel-Vision screen

The first morning on board Bonnie & I had coffee on the deserted pool deck while Disney trivia questions were presented to us…

Good morning...

Good morning!

Meme and Bapa soon joined us and we all watched as one of the crew members made his way through the Aqua Duck on an early AM inspection trek.

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First drops thru the Aqua Duck...

First drops thru the Aqua Duck…

After our morning entertainment, we again headed to Cabanas (this will be a theme for the trip as you’ll see) for the breakfast buffet.

Just a small part iof the breakfast buffet at Cabanas

Just a small part of the breakfast buffet at Cabanas

There’s always the usual suspects: scrambled eggs, bacon, Mickey waffles and the like, but there’s also things many would think to be a bit different as a breakfast item…

Fish for breakfast???

Fish for breakfast??? Don’t carp about it…

in addition to the not-so-unusual lox and bagels is a whole selection of  cured fish…

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the pastrami-style salmon being one of my breakfast staples while on ship (even though most of the others I’m not too fond of).

Pancakes, the ever-popular Mickey Waffles and the I'm-sure-They-Are-Horrible-For-You-But-Oh-Are-They-Dang-Tasty Mexican Hot Pockets

Pancakes, the ever-popular Mickey Waffles and the I’m-So-Sure-They-Are-Horrible-For-You-But-Oh-Are-They-Dang-Tasty Mexican Hot Pockets

The meaty/cheesy wraps called Mexican Hot Pockets are another go-to item for me in the morning – you could imagine having these at any time of day, but they seem even extra-bad-for-you (and delicious) at breakfast!

And lunch at Cabanas...

And lunch at Cabanas…

Lunchtime found us, well, back at Cabanas. And other than lunch on Castaway day, every breakfast and lunch would be spent there. There is a huge variety of items offered, and they do change things up at least a little bit from day-to-day, so you have plenty to choose from at each feeding.

Sushi

Sushi

Bonnie was looking forward to the sushi, but the offering is fairly mundane – not bad, but certainly nothing to get too worked up about. My first sailing a few years ago on the Wonder featured a much more extensive selection of sushi at the lunch buffet where you could pick and choose from many options, but every cruise we’ve been on since has offered just a one-size-fits-all plate… I’m certainly not expecting uni or toro, but I’d like just a bit more variety.

Big 'ol pile of crab claws

Big ‘ol pile of crab claws

But yes, there’s crab claws… Meme is happy…

Jerk Pork with Rice & Beans

Jerk Pork with Rice & Beans

And there were a few interesting dishes that were quite tasty…

Alsatian Stuffed Chicken Breast (with some Fried Shrimp lurking in the background...)

Alsatian Stuffed Chicken Breast (with some Fried Shrimp lurking in the background…)

And of course more sweets…

Just desserts...

More just desserts…

Royal Palace menu, page one

Royal Palace menu, page one

Royal Palace was the dining venue for our second night.

Royal Palace menu, page two

Royal Palace menu, page two

Iced Lobster and Jumbo Shrimp

Iced Lobster and Jumbo Shrimp

A couple of standard, but good apps were ordered…

Breaded and Deep Fried Brie

Breaded and Deep Fried Brie

and I selected an item from the vegetarian entree section as my appetizer…

Porcini Mushroom Ravioli

Porcini Mushroom Ravioli

the Porcini Mushroom Ravioli were ‘shroom-stuffed pasta pillows in a veggie broth and were among the best things I ate all cruise. Mama Meme had it for her main and agreed with me on their absolute yumminess.  This was another “new-to-me” item, but will be on my “order-again” list if it’s available on our next cruise.

Roasted Steak

Chateaubriand-Roasted Filet Steak

Papa Bapa went for the meat & potatoes main…

Ahi Tuna Nicoise

Ahi Tuna Nicoise

while I again went for something I’d never had off of the Lighter Note section of the menu: the Ahi Tuna Nicoise  with seared tuna, green beans, potatoes, hard-boiled egg and onions all with a vinaigrette dressing. This cold dish was a great lighter option (but still plenty of food) and really tasty – this would also serve as a nice app/salad split between two people.

Tahitian Vanilla Crème Brûlée and Strawberry Shortcake Sundae

Tahitian Vanilla Crème Brûlée and Strawberry Shortcake Sundae

And yes, even though we were all stuffed once again, there just had to be dessert… I think it’s a law…

Peanut Butter Mousse

Peanut Butter Mousse

The Peanut Butter Mousse here is another old favorite, and to me one of the better desserts.

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One thing a lot of people don’t seem to know is that there is food all over the ship for a good part of the day, and not just at the fast-food eateries on the pool deck.

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Vista Cafe, the small coffee bar in the main atrium area usually has several goodies available, and we made use of this to get some (free!) snacks to take into the movie theater for our after dinner flick (and if you haven’t seen Saving Mr. Banks yet, stop here and go watch it!).

Peanut Butter Chocolate Brownies

Peanut Butter Chocolate Brownies

Mocha Filled Chocolate Eclairs

Mocha Filled Chocolate Eclairs

Just ask the crew member for what you’d like, get it on a plate and take your eats with you!

Carrot Cake and Citrus Cream Cheese

Carrot Cake and Citrus Cream Cheese

Oatmeal Cookies on a Stick

Oatmeal Cookies on a Stick

Cookies on a Stick – sheer genius!

The Cove Cafe in the adults area is another place you can get eats – sweets much of the time – but I have seen sandwiches there during the day as well – and even though you do have to pay for beverages in these places, the food is on the house!

There’s also late-nite snacks available for the grown-ups in the adult entertainment area – mostly of the fried bar-food style (not that there’s anything wrong with that!).

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This night was also Pirate Night. If you’re on longer voyages there will be a special menu at your sit-down restaurant on that night, but on a 3-nighter, it’s the standard menu…

Turkey legs, ham, taco fillings...

Turkey legs, ham, taco fillings…

However, after the show on deck and fireworks (yes, there are fireworks at sea!), there is a special late-night buffet.

and desserts, oh my...

and desserts, oh my…

Turkey legs are the highlight for many, but there is also taco fixings, wraps, sweets and a crepe bar among other things.

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To me the coolest part of the buffet is the decor, especially the incredible carved melons!

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And we all know how much a pirate loves melons…

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After a late night snack (and yes, Meme did have more desserts) we all settled down for a not-so-long springtime sleep anticipating Bonnie’s Birthday-Bash-on-the-Beach.

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After another breakfast at Cabanas, we headed ashore on Disney’s private island, Castaway Cay.

One of the first places you pass on the way along the path is the Conched Out Bar – and even though it was a day for celebration, we held off on the adult beverages until later in the day.

Cocked Out Bar drink menu

Conched Out Bar drink menu

There are some good Hidden Mickeys at this location… look for them next time you’re there.

"I'm not bad..."

“I’m not bad…”

And speaking of hidden, a certain Ms Rabbit keeps an eye out at the adult beach…

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The BBQ at the adults-only area, Serenity Bay, is always one of our favorite things on the cruise.

Adult BBQ

BBQ at Serenity Bay

You can find the usual dogs & burgers along with ribs, mahi mahi, chicken and thin rib eyes…

Ribs

Ribs!

They also have a nice Greek-style salad with tomatoes, cukes, feta, etc. that goes really well with couscous that’s also on the menu there.

Fish & Meat...

Fish & Meat… let’s eat!

On our way back to the ship we made a stop at one of Bonnie’s favorite spots: the Heads Up bar.

Heads Up Bar

Heads Up Bar

With a great view, and some dang good beverages, this is a really nice way to end your day on Castaway.

Enjoy a beverage and the view...

Enjoy a beverage and the view…

And speaking of beverages, most of the specialty drinks on the island are really pretty good, with the Konk Kooler being a favorite. And at $5.75, they’re actually a pretty good deal! They could get away with gouging you a bit more, but I think most of the beverage prices on Castaway and aboard ship are really pretty reasonable (but they do need a much better beer selection on the island!).

While still on the subject of booze (which I guess is one of my favorite subjects), you do know you can carry it onto the ship don’t you? Disney allows each adult a carry-on bag which you can fill with bottles of wine, beer and/or the hard stuff! You can’t take bottles with you to dinner (not without a corking fee, that is), but if you want to enjoy an adult bev or twelve in your stateroom you can, and it really helps save to some cash!

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Dinner on our last night was at Animator’s Palate.

"Finding Nemo" Artwork

“Finding Nemo” Artwork

We were (appropriately) seated in an area filled with drawings from “Finding Nemo”.

"Finding Nemo" Artwork

“Finding Nemo” Artwork

"Finding Nemo" Artwork

“Finding Nemo” Artwork

Despite my edict to try new items, we did have to pretty much all order the Black Truffle Pasta Purseittes as an appetizer – cheese-filled pasta with the earthy aroma of truffles doused with a champagne sauce, what’s not to love? If I had to pick a death row meal, this would be on it…

Black Truffle Pasta Purseittes - maybe not the best pic, but my, oh my, what a dish...

Black Truffle Pasta Purseittes – maybe not the best pic, but my, oh my, what a dish…

I did try a salad here for the first time, and quite enjoyed the Arugula and Curly Endive Salad – the almost-meaty figs with the most defiantly-meaty chorizo make this plate of greens more than just the average salad.

Arugula and Curly Endive Salad with Sliced Chortzo, Dried Figs, Herbed Croutons topped with a Cider Dressing

Arugula and Curly Endive Salad with Sliced Chorizo, Dried Figs, Herbed Croutons and topped with a Cider Dressing

Bonnie went for the chicken for the first time here, but was a bit underwhelmed… the meat was a bit dry… the roasted root veggies that surrounded the breast were the best part of this dish.

Lemon-thyme Marinated Organic Chicken Breast

Lemon-thyme Marinated Organic Chicken Breast

Meme went for the standby signature meat dish here, the Beef Tenderloin. It was really tender, and had a nice Asian influence to the flavor.

Disney Dream Disney Cruise Line Animator’s Palate

Ginger-Teriyaki dusted Angus Beef Tenderloin

I did try a new item as a side to share with Bonnie: the Potato, Celeriac and Onion Gratin. With collards on the side, this is listed as a veggie entree, but as a main course I’d say it’s a bit on the small side. It was very tasty, so I’d have it again as a compliment to the meal.

Potato, Celeriac and Onion Gratin

Potato, Celeriac and Onion Gratin

My main was a “sorta” new dish – I had a single bite of it on a prior sailing, and had been wanting a full portion of it ever since!

The A-Freaking-Amazingly-Good Herb Crusted Veal Chop

The A-Freaking-Amazingly-Good Herb Crusted Veal Chop

The crusted veal chop sits on a plate with risotto and a wine sauce, but the tender meat doesn’t need anything else to be among my favorite dishes on the ship (not that I’m going to order it next time without the risotto and sauce mind you…). Unless you really have something against dining on baby bovine, this is a must-have meal!

"Make Your Own Pie"

“Make Your Own Pie”

And again, we couldn’t end the night without something sweet – Meme loved the fun and lemony flavors of the Make Your Own Pie…

White Chocolate Fudge Cheesecake

White Chocolate Fudge Cheesecake

while I couldn’t resist the version of cheesecake.

Happy Birthday Bonnie!

Happy Birthday Bonnie!

It being Bonnie’s birthday, she did get a big serenade from much of the staff, and was brought out a special chocolate dessert (including fruity Hidden Mickeys in the plate).

The “special” dessert isn’t bad at all, but it seems that it’s the same one for any celebration, with the only difference being what’s printed on the piece of chocolate (as you can see in the pic below we got essentially the same dessert on our wedding cruise).

Generic Chocolate Celebration Cake

Generic Chocolate Celebration Cake

Animator’s is by far our favorite dining location of the restaurants in the regular rotation – the decor, the “show”, and the menu are all top notch!

Throughout the meal the artwork, well, changes… and there is a visit or two from a certain aged terrapin… but in case you haven’t experienced it for yourself, I don’t want to spoil it for you…

There was an unusual ending to each of our evening meals: magic! The servers did some close-ups magic tricks at the end of each dinner service, I’m sure for the capable conjurer they are pretty pedestrian prestidigitation, but they baffled and amused us! I don’t know when they began this practice (it was the first time we experienced it), or how long it may last, but it was a fun way to wrap up the meal. Have any of you seen this?

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Sadly that was our last night on the Dream, and the next AM we once again visited Cabanas for a farewell breakfast buffet (they do serve a seated breakfast on departure day, but I’ve always found it to be a bit lackluster).

Thanks to Meme and Bapa for a great birthday trip! We’re now counting down the days to our next scheduled sailing on the Magic for our first anniversary! Why don’t you join us?

As always, back to the kitchen – see you soon!

 

 

 

 

 

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Dedicated Readers will no doubt recall how much we loved a couple of special events held in Disney’s Animal Kingdom park the past several years…

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the Taste of Africa Street Party in 2010…DSCF9053

and in 2012 the Sundowner Celebration.

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Both featured food demos…

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musical acts…

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special food items…

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and more beverages than you can shake a swizzle stick at!

Wine Walk at Taste of Africa Street Party

Wine Walk at Taste of Africa Street Party

So why bring this up now you say?

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Well, today Disney sent out an email to annual passholders with this semi-cryptic message:

 

When the sun goes down, the story comes alive.

Annual Passholders, mark your calendar for Saturday nights this summer where you can enjoy an all-new, never-before-seen, immersive experience.

Look for more details soon, because the grandest tales and tastes of Africa are going to come alive like never before.

There was also a link to a video which hints that we will see the Rivers of Light show this summer for sure.

The event(s) look to be dubbed “Harambe Nights”, and rumors around the interwebs say that DAK cast members (and I assume the rest of us civilians shortly thereafter) will get the lowdown in early May.

As Animal Kingdom shifts into being a later night destination with the new light show and upcoming Avatar Land, I had been hoping we’d see a revival of something like these events (which I’d been told by more than one cast member were specifically trial runs for the opening of Avatar and guests staying past the usual early closing times for the park). The precise use of the phrase “tastes of Africa” also gives a clue to this (hopefully) being some more than just the addition of the Rivers of Light show, but also a special food/beverage affair as well.

From the email it looks like annual passholders may be the guinea pigs and given an early look at the show and any extra foods/drinks/entertainment/etc. This would be especially welcome news for AP holders as special events, previews and the like have been few and far between in recent years (read that to mean “non-existent”.

If you want to take a look back at the prior events, you can check out the posts “Taste of Africa Street Part: A preview of things to come?“, “Taste of Africa Two???” and “Sundowner Celebration: A first look“.

This has certainly got us excited around here at Eating (and Drinking) Around the World, and we’re waiting to make our reservations for the first Saturday night! What are your thoughts?

 

While wandering through Mouse Gears in Epcot the other day, Miss Bonnie & I came across an interesting set of shirts…

Full "O" Hops, are we?

Full “O” Hops, are we?

these were all baseball-style long sleeve shirts and each featured a beloved Disney animated character.

Cheers!

Cheers! Everybody knows this guys name for sure!

They look to be cute shirts highlighting the personality types of each of the animated entertainers…

Carbonated Quacker

Under pressure? A Carbonated Quacker?

but upon closer inspection they sure look to be representations of…

Stout

Of course Grumpy would be a Stout… can’t imagine him as a Lite…

nothing other than beer labels! And clever ones at that!

Pin

Grumpy “Xtra Stout” Pin from several year ago

This isn’t the first time for something like this from Disney merchandise – a few years ago Grumpy appeared on a pin that was pretty obviously a beer label. Of this collection of shirts, his looks to be the most obvious adult-beverage-logo-looking… I always figured Grumpy to be a pretty heavy drinker anyway…

To cap it off...

To cap it off…

There is also a cap with all the labels on it, and compared to the $36.95 price tag for the shirts, the $19.95 hat is almost a bargain.

Think it’s time for a cold one…

 

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After my first visit to the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival (which you can see in the post “A First Taste of Spring: Epcot Flower & Garden Festival 2014“) I was itching to try some of the food items I’d missed on my first go-round, so the next week I trekked back to the World for another spin around the World Showcase.

Urban Farm EATS

Urban Farm EATS

My first food stop was at the Urban Farm EATS kiosk (and yes, they put “Eats” in all caps in all the literature).

Pickled Beet Salad with Goat Cheese Cream, Mizuna and Pistschios

Pickled Beet Salad with Goat Cheese Cream, Mizuna and Pistachios

First I tried the Pickled Beet Salad…

There's that goat cheese!

There’s that goat cheese!

the tart goat cheese cream was tucked under the mizuna (an Asian green of the mustard family) and surrounded by pickled beets and topped with crushed pistachios for texture. This was a great start to the days dining… if you don’t think you like beets, give this one a try.

Next up was the tilapia from the same booth…

Tilapia with crisp Winter Melon Slaw and Mint Oil featuring The Original Sauce Man's Kick it Up Rub (phew...)

Ghost Pepper dusted Tilapia with crisp Winter Melon Slaw and Mint Oil featuring The Original Sauce Man’s Kick it Up Rub (phew…)

the generous portion of mild (some would say tasteless…) fish was coated in a lightly (for me at least) spicy, and very flavorful, seasoning mix and sauteed until done. It sat atop a crunchy slaw that was a nice compliment to the fish.

When this dish was first announced I was very curious as to what the heat level would be (as Ghost Pepper is considered one of the hottest peppers in the world), especially since they had fired things up considerably during the Food & Wine Festival last year, but this wasn’t quite as fiery as I’d hoped, yet it was chock-full of nice flavors. The Ghost Pepper is an ingredient (the last by weight) of the rub used, so I assume that there wasn’t any extra added to that.

And here we saw yet another Florida producer, The Original Sauce Man, being featured at one of the booths… I may just have to order some of that rub….

The next stop was in China…

Vegetable Spring Roll

Vegetable Spring Roll

to go to the Lotus House for a Vegetable Spring Roll – basically an egg roll using the thinner spring roll skin… not bad but nothing really memorable…

Kumquat info in the Florida Fresh area

Kumquat info in the Florida Fresh area

Florida Fresh was next on the agenda to try the Kumquat Pie.

Florida Kumquat Pie

Florida Kumquat Pie

The filling was tasty and wasn’t overly tart (as kumquats can be sometimes) and the toasted meringue topping was nice, but I found the crust to be a bit chewy. Other than the crust I liked this much more than I had anticipated.

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And since nothing goes better with pie than beer, I had to try the “Festival Exclusive” Feast of Flowers Farmhouse Ale. I’d have to say this is my favorite “new” beer I’ve tried at Flower & Garden so far!

Primavera Kitchen Menu

Primavera Kitchen Menu

Pretty much next door in Italy is the Primavera Kitchen…

Caprese

Caprese

and opting for something a bit to the lighter side here I had the Caprese – fresh mozzarella and roasted sweet peppers topped with good olive oil. Mild in flavor, but nice… I would have liked just a touch more basil and oil, and maybe a small piece of bread, but still a good dish.

I steeled my resolve to try and pass by The Smokehouse in the American Adventure pavilion so that I wouldn’t stuff myself with yet another “Piggylicious” Bacon Cupcake

 

Condiment area of The Smokehouse on opening day of the festival...

Condiment area of The Smokehouse on opening day of the festival…

but I did actually swing by the condiment area, where just a few day ago a large basket of cute little Tabasco bottles was sitting there for the taking by guests, I wondered at that time how long that would last…

same area the next week sans hot sauce...

same area the next week sans hot sauce…

well, not longer than six days it seemed…

One of the many bonsai trees on display in the Japan pavilion during the Flower & Garden Festival

One of the many bonsai trees on display in the Japan pavilion during the Flower & Garden Festival

A trip to Japan, and some sushi from the Hanami booth was next.

Hanami Sushi

Hanami Sushi

Similar to the “ball sushi” now served at the Kabuki Cafe, the Hanami Sushi is described as “A flavorful combination of Salmon, Scallop and Beef topped Rice Balls served atop a Shiso Violet Sauce”. They forgot to mention the single edamame in the middle…

The scallop was mild, the beef tender, and the salmon, well, tasted like salmon… and the color of the sauce was a bit disturbing… all tasted fine, but nothing amazing for the $5.50 price tag. If you want to get a sushi-averse friend to give it a try, these wouldn’t be a bad choice, but if you’re an experienced sushi-consumer, you won’t kick yourself for passing on this…

Taste of Marrakesh Menu

Taste of Marrakesh Menu

I decided to take a trip on the Marrakesh Express next (and I’m dating myself with that reference for sure!)…

Harissa Chicken Kebob with Couscous Salad

Harissa Chicken Kebob with Couscous Salad

I was trying to decide between the Lamb Brewat and the Chicken Kebab and asked the cast member at the register which one he liked better – he was non-committal as to his favorite, but asked if I preferred sweeter dishes or spicy, and to chose that way – so the spicier Harissa Chicken was the selection for this day.

The white meat was a little dry (as is not unusual for chicken breast) but had a nice flavor from the harissa marinade – it was (for me at least) far from really spicy (it does seem like the nicely hot dishes we saw this last year at Food & Wine are not showing up at Flower & Garden…). The kebab would have been a bit juicer if they had used thigh meat instead of the bland breast meat. The accompanying couscous was delicious and the best part of this dish – I’d have gladly eaten a big bowl of just that!

Confit de Canard, Pomme de Terre Sarladaise Pulled Duck Confit with Garlic and Parsley Potatoes

Confit de Canard, Pomme de Terre Sarladaise aka Pulled Duck Confit with Garlic and Parsley Potatoes

After trying the two other food items in France on the opening day, it was now time to dig into the duck dish: Pulled Duck Confit with Garlic and Parsley Potatoes. The topping of duck meat was as rich and flavorful as pretty much any duck confit I’ve had elsewhere, the crispy edges of the potato base were good, but the center was a bit overly greasy tasting from the butter. All-in-all not a bad dish, but if the potatoes had matched up to the quality of the meat it would have been an outstanding dish.

Buttercup Cottage

Buttercup Cottage

The Buttercup Cottage in the United Kingdom would wind up being the last dining stop for this day in the World Showcase…

Pork and Apple Sausage Roll with house-made Piccalilli

Pork and Apple Sausage Roll with house-made Piccalilli

The sausage roll featured a pork and apple filling encased in a pastry crust. The apple lightens up the pork a bit, and the crust was flaky – I wasn’t too crazy about the piccalilli, it seemed a bit to one-note for me, mostly tasting of acid with little of the vegetable tastes coming through. Again, not a bad dish at all, but nothing I’m compelled to have again.

Sand waiting to be sculpted on the opening day...

Sand waiting to be sculpted on the opening day…

Around the way I came upon the Disneynature sand sculpture promoting the upcoming “Bears” film. We’d seen the tabula rasa of sand the week before (as seen above), and I was looking forward to the finished product.

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and the results just a few days later…

As always, I’m amazed by the talents of the sculptors in what I’m assuming is not the easiest medium to work with.

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There are several cute details, and it’s worth walking all around it to be sure you don’t miss anything.

The backside of sand sculpture...

The backside of sand sculpture…

I made a quick stop in one of the gift shops at the entrance to the World Showcase and came across a piece of merchandise I hadn’t noticed on my first visit.

Calendar

Cover of the Flower & Garden Calendar

New for this year is a Flower & Garden Festival calendar featuring pictures of topiaries and other plantings from prior years festivals.

Calender

Back of the calender showing the inside pages

Now I’m hoping for a Food & Wine Festival calendar!

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I took one last look as some gorgeous flowers on the way out of the park, and made a mental list of the few new food items I still had to try… and when those get sampled, I’ll be sure to share them with you…

And now Dear Dedicated Readers, it’s back to the kitchen! See you again soon!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

dream

Yes, Dear Dedicated Readers, we’re off for another sailing on the Disney Dream…

Why yes, we will...

Why yes, we will…

As you may remember, we (along with 41 of our Nearest & Dearest) took a trip on the Dream just last December (and if you don’t, you can check it out in the post It was like a Dream….).

Someone (maybe Miss Bonnie?) has a certain birthday coming up, and thanks to the generosity of her Parental Units, the four of us will be celebrating that joyous day with a cruise!

Escargots Gratinés Herb-marinated Snails with Finely Chopped Mushrooms, topped with Garlic Butter and Breadstick

Escargots Gratinés

So, of course, we’ve been thinking mostly about what we’ll be eating…

Pan-seared Sea Bass With Saffron and Fennel Risotto with a Sweet Chili Glaze

Pan-seared Sea Bass

There are many favorites from our last few trips on the Dream and the Fantasy that we’re sure to re-visit, but we’re going to make a concerted effort to try as many new/different dishes as possible (and considering you can order as much as you want on a cruise, that’s shouldn’t be too difficult a task…), and of course afterwards we’ll share our eats with you…

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And if my mater-in-law has anything to do with it, there will probably be more Mickey Bars than the law should allow!

You do know

Do you know that you can order these for dessert (even if they aren’t on the menu), and from room service too?

So we’ll be away for a few days, but keep an eye out for a report from our trip on the Dream, as well as a follow-up trip to the Flower & Garden Festival… see you (fairly) soon!

Bon Voyage!

Bon Voyage! To us!

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