WDW Weekend Eats

July 14, 2013

Miss Bonnie and I recently made a brief, not-quite-a-full-weekend, trip to the World, and along the way we stopped by a few new/relatively new venues, and consumed a few new items, so it seems like it’s time for another edition of WDW Weekend Eats!

We’ll also look at a few non-edible, but food related items as we go along (so maybe it’s also a bit of a WDW Odds & Ends post too…), so let’s dig in shall we?

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We started our tour by meeting Mama Ginny and Papa Harry at the Magic Kingdom (and they would accompany us for the rest of our culinary adventures during the weekend) on Saturday morning. We made at stop at the recently refurbished Main Street Bakery, now sponsored by Starbucks.

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There’s been much online hand-wringing and gnashing of teeth ever since it was announced that the Bakery would be the home of the Magic Kingdom Starbucks, and especially once the menus were revealed and alas the much beloved Cinnamon Roll was no longer going to be available at this location.

Interior of the new Main Street Bakery

Interior of the new Main Street Bakery

Much of the pre-opening ballyhoo seems to have died down, and we all thought the refurb looked good and fit in pretty well along Main Street. The former indoor seating area is gone, replaced by dual serving lines (thankfully replacing the old single line that tended to creep along very slowly). Shockingly Miss Bonnie didn’t need an additional caffeine fix that AM, so we actually didn’t sample and of the goods there on this trip, but I’m sure we’ll make more than one or two stops here in the future months…

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At the refreshment cart that’s stationed near the hub we came across a Castmember holding a larger-than-life Mickey Bar sign (or is it a fan?).

If only they really had Mickey Bars as big as your head!

If only they really had Mickey Bars bigger than your head!

Okay, so now let’s actually get to some Weekend Eats, starting at Downtown Disney for lunch and some beverages…

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The newly rebuilt volcano is now on display atop the Rainforest Cafe…

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and just a few days prior to our visit they opened a new outside bar, the Lava Lounge.

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The bar area sits waterside and runs into the existing outside seating area for the restaurant. There are seats at the bar and several tables by the water.

Lava Lounge bar

Lava Lounge bar

As it started to rain just before we arrived, the bar area was already full, but we were soon seated at the adjoining outside seating section. One of the reasons we wanted to visit was that the Lava Lounge had it’s own new menu of appetizer items and drinks, so we asked to see that menu in addition to the standard Rainforest menu we were given and our server returned with a thick, surprisingly heavy bill of fare…

Lava Lounge Food Menu

Lava Lounge Food Menu

it turns out the bar menu is filled with liquid, some of which is red, so as you touch it the “lava” inside flows around – very cute!

Her’s a closer look at the menu items:

Lava Lounge Food Menu

Lava Lounge Food Menu

Lava Lounge Food Menu

Lava Lounge Food Menu

Lava Lounge Food Menu

Lava Lounge Food Menu

And on the opposite side is the specialty drink menu:

Lava Lounge Bar Menu

Lava Lounge Bar Menu

Lava Lounge Bar Menu

Lava Lounge Bar Menu

Lava Lounge Bar Menu

Lava Lounge Bar Menu

We ordered drinks while we made our food selections (and yes, you can get the specialty drinks sans the souvenir glass for less).

Cheetah Rita

Cheetah Rita

Harry went with the ceviche, Bonnie and I shared the pot stickers and the flatbread, while Mama Ginny opted for the Jungle Chop Salad off the regular menu. There were several of the margaritas at our table, and they were pretty good, but nothing out of the ordinary.

After we placed our food order, I asked our server if I could hold on to the menu for a bit longer while I took pictures – she hesitated a bit and then said it would be okay, but asked that I give it back as soon as possible. She then noted we could buy one for $20.00 if we so desired… “Some people collect menus…” she said (now who would do something like that?). I imagine that more than one of the lava-filled menus have already made their way into some guests bags and that was her hesitation to leave it with us…

Polynesian Pot Stickers

Polynesian Pot Stickers

The pork pot stickers were good, but like the margarita, nothing exceptional.

Krakatoa Flatbread

Krakatoa Flatbread

I liked the flatbread better, especially with the inclusion of the slightly bitter broccolini (aka broccoli rabe).

Seaside Ceviche

Seaside Ceviche

Papa Harry liked his ceviche, and it was an attractive presentation with the colorful tortilla chips scattered around the base of the glass (and yes, serving seafood in a martini glass has become a bit of a cliche…)

Seaside Ceviche

Seaside Ceviche

The large Jungle Chop Salad is advertised as containing: “Romaine and Iceberg lettuce, black olives, cucumbers,carrots, candied pecans, Blue cheese crumbles, dried cranberries and grilled chicken tossed in a raspberry vinaigrette dressing.”

Jungle Chop Salad

Jungle Chop Salad

And Mama Ginny was eagerly devouring and enjoying the salad until she came across an unadvertised ingredient… a not-too-small piece of plastic kitchen film… (and no, I don’t know why I didn’t take a picture of it!).

When this was pointed out to our server, she was appropriately apologetic, as was the manager who soon came to the table (well, we assume she apologized, but her thick accent of some unspecified apparently Eastern European origin made her words unintelligible to our Floridian ears). They offered to make Ginny another salad, but she had already eaten about as much as she was going to, and since it wasn’t like it was some sort of vermin or something she continued to dine even after she found the piece of plastic, so she declined the offer. In the end the salad came off our bill, and they gave us one of the signature Volcano desserts on the house (little of which was left at the end of our meal).

Volcano Cake

Volcano Cake

Our server was very personable, but service was a bit on the, well, not-exactly-speedy side… but considering they did get slammed with a lot of patrons all at once in the outdoor seating area due to a downpour, I’ll give them a pass on this… and we had no place to be in any particular hurry and we were enjoying the company, so it was no big deal…

All in all, our visit to the Lava Bar was well, okay… nothing special, nothing horrible (even considering Mama Ginny’s little extra in her salad). The food was fine, and for Rainforest not-horrifically over-priced, but this is certainly not “Destination Dining”…

The view is nice (but will likely get ugly for a while as the next door Cap’n Jack’s restaurant goes away in part of the Disney Springs renovation to Downtown Disney), so if you’re at that end of DTD and want a quick drink or bite while taking a shaded seat waterside the Lava Lounge might fit the bill… but I think it’s main attraction is going to be the location and view, as just a few steps away you can get much better food (and value) at Wolfgang Puck Express, or a usually pretty good margarita at the waterside Margarita Bar… not to mention the many other options that already exist around the Downtown Disney area (and more to come in the next couple of years).

On the way out we made a quick stop in Mickey’s Pantry and found a display of cleverly-named varietals from “Once Upon A Vine”.

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I looks like at least one of these will be featured at the booths during the Epcot Food & Wine Festival this year, so we’ll see how they are then…

From here we made our way to Epcot, with at least part of our trip there to check out the new ice cream parlor in France – but before we made it there we got a nice surprise…

Kabuki Cafe

Kabuki Cafe

We were heading first to the American Adventure Pavilion to take in one of that’s evenings “Sounds Like Summer” concerts, and as I am want to do I took a swing by the Kabuki Cafe in Japan.

Dedicated Readers may recall that when the building first was unveiled from behind construction walls, the menus on either side promised several savory items such as Karaage (Japanese Fried Chicken), Sushi and Wafu Ribs, however just a few days later when the venue actually opened for service the “permanent” menus had changed and all these were missing… (you can go back and read all the details and intrigue in the post “Land of the Rising Construction Walls…“). Since then they have primarily provided flavored shaved ice, ice cream and beverages, but from time-to-time they have offered some savory items (generally during busy times of the year) advertised on small placards at the counter, so I usually will swing by just for fun to see what may be there at the time… usually I find nothing new, but on this day there was something Completely Different…

Updated Kabuki Cafe Menu

Updated Kabuki Cafe Menu

The Kakigori still took top billing, but now on the “permanent menu” was a selection of sushi! As everyone else went to take a seat, I grabbed one of each (and of course a Kirin) for Bonnie & I to sample.

California Roll from Kabuki Cafe

California Roll from Kabuki Cafe

Temari Sushl from Kabuki Cafe

Temari Sushi from Kabuki Cafe

Combo Sushi from Kabuki Cafe

Combo Sushi from Kabuki Cafe

The California Roll was the usual “safe” sushi, but had a bit of surprising roe inside…

Temari Sushi

Temari Sushi

The Temari Sushi is three round, bite size versions of Nigiri-style sushi, topped with shrimp, salmon and tuna.

The combo had two pieces of California Roll and two of the Temari. At $4.98, the price is not bad for Disney, and they also qualify for a snack credit if you’re on the dining plan. I though the quality was pretty good (comparable to other made-ahead/take out sushi) and even though the toppings on the Temari were a bit skimpy, we did enjoy these and are really glad they are now at Kabuki!

I spoke with one of the castmembers there – an older Anglo Management-type – and he told me they had just started serving the sushi the Sunday before and had so far been popular… as I walked away I also overheard him speaking to one of the other castmembers about how well the sushi had been selling… good news I think for us – if it continues to sell, maybe we can get a few more items added to the bill of fare – some spicy tuna roll for me please?

L’Artisan des Glaces in the French Pavilion in Epcot

L’Artisan des Glaces in the French Pavilion in Epcot

For dessert we went to the new L’Artisan des Glaces ice cream and sorbet shop in France.

Inside of L’Artisan des Glaces

Inside of L’Artisan des Glaces

In the location of the formerly crowded bakery, L’Artisan des Glaces is now a much more open space and offers up 16 flavors.

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And even an “adult” option…

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We tried a couple of flavors to see how they were…

Caramel flu de sel on top, Profiterole on the bottom

Caramel fleur de sel on top, Profiterole on the bottom

unfortunately when you order two different types, one gets slapped on top of the other, so it’s hard to get a good sample of the bottom flavor without the top one infiltrating it… it would be nice if they had a larger side-by-side dish…

Anyway, the ice cream was rich and nicely cool on a warm and humid Florida summer evening – it was good, but nothing transcendent…

Now you may be surprised to read that yours truly didn’t sample the adult version with booze atop the ice cream… no one else in our party seemed to be up for sharing one on this evening, and since they only offer a two-scoop option on the liquor-added version, I didn’t think I could (or should) consume that much ice cream on that night, so a review of that item from L’Artisan des Glaces will have to wait for another time… and yes, it would be nice if they offered a single scoop adult option!

This wrapped up our Saturday eats, so let’s see what Sunday offered up…

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Sunday found us in Miss Bonnie’s favorite park, Animal Kingdom, to explore the wilderness (more on that in a future post…).

Anandapur Ice Cream Truck

Anandapur Ice Cream Truck

In Asia, the Anandapur Ice Cream Truck has come back out from behind construction walls.

Anandapur Ice Cream Truck Menu

Anandapur Ice Cream Truck Menu

Looks like all the truck got was a new coat of paint, as there isn’t anything too exciting or new on the menu.

For lunch we chose counter service at Restaurantosaurus, deep in the heart of Dinoland.

Restaurantosaurus "Main Dish" section of the menu

Restaurantosaurus “Main Dish” section of the menu

Bonnie and I decided to split a couple of items – the mac & cheese hot dog and the old favorite veggie sub.

Mac & Cheese Hot Dog and Vegetable Subasausus

Mac & Cheese Hot Dog and Vegetable Subosaurus

The grilled vegetable sub was good as always, and the mac & cheese hot dogs was, well a hot dog topped with mac & cheese… the basic dog is pretty good, and the cheesy pasta passable, but it was helped by the addition of a few sauteed onions and mushrooms for the limited “fixins” bar.

Unfortunately Restaurantosaurus no longer offers the option of sweet potato fries… the cashier castmember said lots of people still ask for them, so maybe if enough people keep asking we’ll see them return.

Well, maybe that was a less-than-exciting culinary end to the weekend, but it was what it was… so there you have it Dear Dedicated Readers, another (briefer-than-normal) edition of WDW Weekend Eats… hope you enjoyed dining along with us!

Back to the kitchen, see you soon!

well, sort of…

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If you listen to any Disney-centric podcasts, or frequent any Disney related message boards, the subject of “Four Parks in One Day” inevitably comes up…

How feasible is it to visit all four Walt Disney World parks in a single day? What highlights would you show someone who’s never been to the World if you took them to all the parks in a day? And so on…

A while back this sort of talk got me to thinking about the fun that could ensue from having Four Margaritas in Four Parks in a Day… and after mentioning this idea (and some other, somewhat idiotic alcohol-related quests) to Miss Bonnie I thought not much more about it.

Until late February that is, and the Best Holiday of the Year, National Margarita Day, came around!

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Miss Bonnie and I, along with several members of the Harem (Mamma Ginny, Papa Harry and Lori Loves Tigger) were going to be in the World on that most Holy-of-Holy Tequila Days, and the ever-wise Bonnie suggested we finally give my goal a try!

Okay, I know Dedicated Readers are saying Four Parks? Four Margaritas? Is there some Magic Place in the Magic Kingdom that serves the Best Cocktail Ever??? Well, sadly no, and even though there is now beer and wine during dinner inside the Beast’s castle, there is not a ‘rita to be had, so for one of the four parks, we’re going to have to fudge a bit…

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One option for the “Fourth Park” could be Downtown Disney (the future “Disney Springs”), and the waterfront Margarita Bar, where they do make a nice beverage…

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but as Miss Bonnie & I were lodging around Crescent Lake, we all decided to meet up there and start our Tequila Trek at Boardwalk Joe’s on (where else but) the Boardwalk.

Boardwalk Joe's Margarita Menu

Boardwalk Joe’s Margarita Menu

Like the kiosk at Downtown Disney, they also make a nice (and also not-inexpensive) drink here… the beverage of choice for this day was the high-end Patron Anejo…

Paron Angejo Margarita at Boardwalk Joe's... do you know how sad it makes me that thae sign on top doesn't light up at night???

Patron Anejo Margarita at Boardwalk Joe’s… do you know how sad it makes me that the sign on top doesn’t light up at night???

this was a nice start to the festivities, but from there we had to get a move on… whereas most of the “Four Park” type events start at rope drop and go to the last fireworks at night, we didn’t start until about 5 in the afternoon, and with two of the parks (Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios) closing at 7 that night, we had a lot of traveling (and drinking) to get in in a short amount of time! And to add to the time constraints, we were only going to use Disney transportation (and our legs) to get from place to place, everyone was taking part in the festivies, and with no sober designated driver no Harem member needed to be behind a wheel during this event!

So we hopped a bus from the Boardwalk Resort to take us to Miss Bonnie’s favorite park (and the home of one of my favorite bars on property) Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

Dawa Bar in Harambe Village

Dawa Bar in Harambe Village

When we arrived we quickly hoofed it to the Africa section of the park, and right across the bridge on the left we came to the Dawa Bar in the busy village of Harambe.

If you insist...

If you insist…

The Dawa Bar is a spacious, open-air area next to the Tusker House restaurant, and is a great place to get a respite from the heat of Animal Kingdom. And yes, have a tasty cocktail, or three…

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but on this day, we sadly only had time for one, and the choice du jour just had to be the African Margarita.

African Margarita

African Margarita

This refreshing beverage features a South African tangerine liqueur that is apparently-unobtainable-to-normal-humans (if you know where to find it, drop me a note!) – this flavor makes this different from any other margarita on property, and truly one of my favorites!

Even more African Margaritas!

Even more African Margaritas!

We took a seat to have a quick rest, drank down about half of our drinks, then downed the rest on our way back out of the park to make our next stop in Hollywood Studios.

After the bus arrived at the Studios, we hustled in not long before the turnstiles closed and made our way to the Tune-In-Lounge next to the ’50’s Prime Time Cafe.

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Dedicated Readers know that this is definitely one of my favorite haunts on Property, and home to my Favorite Blonde Czech Bartender (who unfortunately was not there for this weekends festivities, but Ivan, who has served us more than once, was there to take care of our tequila needs).

Bar at Tune In Lounge

Bar at Tune In Lounge

In addition to drinks we also ordered some not-too-bad onion rings to help sop up the tequila.

Onion Rings at Tune in Lounge

Onion Rings at Tune in Lounge

I think the straight-forward Patron Silver Margaritas here are great (and goodness knows I’ve had plenty of them!) – if you’re looking for a good, basic ‘rita on property you could certainly do worse than the one here.

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Patron Silver Margaritas waiting to quench our thirsts…

Now with three drinks, and three “parks” down, we had a bit of time to spare and made the scenic walk from the Studios to (my favorite park) Epcot, and what has become the epicenter of the Margarita World on Property…

La Cava!

La Cava!

La Cava del Tequila in the Mexico pavilion.

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This cozy, and incredibly popular, spot in Epcot was luckily for us sparsely inhabited as we looked for our final drink of the quest, and we were able to snag a table while most of the other Epcot guests found their spots to view Illuminations.

Pineapple Margarita at La Cava del Tequila

Pineapple Margarita at La Cava del Tequila

To wrap up our Margaritafest I chose something a bit different, the Pineapple Margarita – I figured the healthy extra fruity goodness of the pineapple would counteract some of the deleterious effects of all the alcohol – yeah, right

So there you have it dear Dedicated Readers, our festival of Four Parks and Four Margaritas as we celebrated National Margarita Day! It was sure fun and I can’t wait to do it again next year!

Have you done any unique “Four Park” things? Or any different adult-beverage-related trips around the parks? If so, please share in the comments!

Back to the kitchen – see you soon!

Hello there Dear Dedicated Readers – once again it’s time to take a look at some edibles from a recent weekend at Walt Disney World, and this was the long weekend Miss Bonnie and I spent at the World for Marathon Weekend.

Despite it being a long weekend, we actually dined out around the World relatively little – since we were participating in a couple, yes, a couple, of races that weekend, we actually did a lot of cooking in our room at Kidani so we could better control what we had to eat (and hit the hay early for some extra rest) on the night before the races. That being said, we did have a few interesting things to eat while we were there, so let’s put on the digital feedbag, shall we?

One of the posters on the wall in the seating area of Boulangerie Patisserie

One of the posters on the wall in the seating area of Boulangerie Patisserie

We arrived on Thursday, the same day that Boulangerie Patisserie, the quick service location in the France pavilion in Epcot, reopened after a refurbishment. Finding ourselves at Epcot late that night, and needing sustenance, we gave it a try…

Soupe de Potiron - pumkin soup $4.25Bisque de Homard - lobster bisque

Soupe de Potiron (Pumpkin Soup, top), Bisque de Homard (Lobster Bisque)

Much of the menu is the same as the former location, but a few more savory items have been added. We tried the two soups: the Lobster Bisque was very good (probably not the best version of that soup I’ve ever had, but very serviceable) and the Pumpkin Soup was thick and full of gourdy goodness – I’d make a trip back here just to have the Pumpkin Soup again.

Quiche Lorraine (top), and well, Quiche Lorraine

Quiche Lorraine (top), and well, Quiche Lorraine

There are also a couple of traditional quiches now offered: Quiche Lorraine (with ham and gruyere cheese) and Florentine (with spinach and goat cheese). The Grand Plan was to try one of each, but as it was near closing when we got there (we did close the joint down, they locked us inside while we finished our meal), they only had the Quiche Lorraine left, so we got two of those. The egg-pies were good and filling, and paired with the two tasty soups made a nice meal – and at about $20 for two, not too bad a deal. We’re both looking forward to trying the French bakery again – maybe we can try that other quiche the next time…

Beverage Menu at Boulangerie Patisserie

Beverage Menu at Boulangerie Patisserie

There is also a separate dedicated beverage window serving coffees, wines, soft drinks and the like so you don’t have to go through the full line if all you want is too whet your whistle…

A cup of Plastic Cheese from Casey's in honor of our good friend AJ...

A cup of Plastic Cheese from Casey’s in honor of our good friend AJ

Other than a trip to Casey’s Corner in the Magic Kingdom, most of the rest of our calories Friday and Saturday were consumed in house at Kidani, so we now move to the post-race feasting of Sunday…

Splitsville pre-opening concept art

Splitsville pre-opening concept art

Bonnie & I, along with BFF Laura & Lil’ Sis Lindsay, made our way to Downtown Disney West Side to try out the recently opened Splitsville.

Loaded Fries at Splitsville

Loaded Fries at Splitsville

This high-end, retro-designed bowling alley also features pool tables, dancing at night and a big menu of food items and beverages. This is the largest, and first two-story venue of the small chain, and initial reviews had been good (I’d also always heard good things about the food at the Tampa location). Having burned about a gazillion calories in the prior day-and-a-half-or-so, Bonnie and I started out with the Loaded Fries (Bonnie will rarely turn her nose up at any culinary use of the humble spud…). The menu listed (and our server echoed) and ingredients: french fries smothered with nacho cheese, bacon, ranch, scallions and love… we weren’t exactly so sure about how the love was added, but we gave them a try anyway… despite the addition of love, these really weren’t anything too special, not bad at all, but nothing to get overly excited about… we did still clean our plate…

Splitsville's Sliders

Splitsville’s Sliders

Lindsay opted for the Sliders and a side of fries. The burgers were made with a special selection of ground meats and topped with an onion ring, on the side was “Special Slider Sauce” (maybe like the “love” that went into the Loaded Fries?). She shared these all around and I thought them quite good, especially the meat. The fries were the same typical crinkle-cut fries as in our loaded ones, but came with a good chive dip that Lindsay raved about.

The rest of us went the sushi route…

Spicy Tuna Roll

Spicy Tuna Roll

BFF Laura took the most traditional approach with a nice Spicy Tuna Roll, while Bonnie and I shared a couple of the over-the-top rolls on the menu…

Super Tuna Roll

Super Tuna Roll

the Super Tuna Roll has ahi tuna, tempura shrimp, cream cheese and is topped with seared ahi, avocado, eel sauce, tempura flakes and a spicy mayo sauce…

Crab Rangoon Roll

Crab Rangoon Roll

while the Crab Rangoon Roll has surimi (the imitation crab common in sushi rolls), cream cheese, water chestnuts, and chives which is rolled and then tempura fried and topped with Thai chili sauce and spicy mayo.

This is not the place to go if you’re looking for uni or toro – the menu doesn’t even list any nigiri sushi (although I’ve heard they will make it if asked)  – it’s all big, ornate rolls, and many feature cream cheese and/or are fried rolls. Most are in the $13-$15 range, and are big and tasty (at least the ones we tried), not exactly “challenging” sushi selections, but pretty darn good!

We wandered around he venue a bit after eating – this looks to be a really fun place and full of energy in most of the spaces – while the outside seating on the second level gives a great view of the area and a bit more laid-back vibe. We all loved it and are looking forward to coming back – BFF Laura was even ready to make a special trip up to the World just to hang out there!

Big Bamboo at Yak & Yeti

Big Bamboo at Yak & Yeti

Our long Marathon Weekend ended on Monday with lunch at Yak & Yeti in Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

Pork Pot Stickers

Pork Pot Stickers

Lori Loves Tigger treated Lil’ Sis Lindsay, Miss Bonnie and myself to a celebratory meal – a couple in our group started with the Big Bamboo, a fruity alcoholic concoction – then the table shared the Pork Pot Stickers.

Bonnie & I are both suckers for most any Asian-styled dumplings, and pot stickers are a particular favorite. The version here is quite good and we quickly wolfed them down – actually I could have had a couple of orders of this (or maybe three…) and had a happy lunch.

Lo Mein

Lo Mein

Lori had a huge portion of Lo Mein, while Bonnie and Lindsay both had the Stir-Fried Beef and Broccoli.

Stir-Fried Beef and Broccoli

Stir-Fried Beef and Broccoli

I had them add some extra spice to my order of Bourbon (of course!) Chicken…

Bourbon (of course!) Chicken

Bourbon Chicken

and our obliging server even brought me an extra side of chili sauce in case I needed to kick it up some more (which I did). All the portions were generous and we shared and sampled all around. The mains weren’t anything spectacular, but all were pretty tasty and more than adequate. The restaurant and it’s decor is always fun, and our service was good. With the great company, it was a satisfying end to a emotional and eventful Marathon Weekend at the World… more on that Emotional and Eventful stuff when I give you a wrap-up of the Marathon Weekend itself… and there was some other stuff that went on besides the races themselves, but I’ll save that for the next time…

Back to the kitchen – see you soon!

WDW Odds & Ends

January 31, 2013

Along with about 65,000 of our closest friends, Miss Bonnie and I made our way to Walt Disney World a couple of weeks ago to take part in Marathon Weekend.

It had actually been quite a while since we had been there (for us, that is), and in addition to the race-related events we were able to find a few new odds & ends of things from around the World that I thought I’d share with you, my dear Dedicated Readers…

Of course our trips to WDW almost always include a visit (or two, or three, or…) to the World Showcase in Epcot, and this long weekend was no exception.

Above the entrance to the new version of Boulangerie Patisserie

Above the entrance to the new version of Boulangerie Patisserie

The new version of France’s quick-service eatery, Les Halles Boulangerie Patisserie, had just opened in the rear of the pavillion with a newly expanded menu (more on the food from the weekend in another post…).

Inside the seating area of Boulangerie Patisserie

Inside the seating area of Boulangerie Patisserie

The indoor seating/dining area has some nice decor for a quick-service location.

Plastic utensil dispensers in Boulangerie Patisserie

Plastic utensil dispensers in Boulangerie Patisserie

Even the utensil dispensers are themed!

The former site of the bakery is closed and will reopen later in the year as an ice cream parlor.

The Phineas and Ferb fanaticism continues…

Sign at the Refreshment Port

Sign at the Refreshment Port

and at the Refreshment Port you can still get the Agent P Cookie and wash it down with a new diabolical beverage served in a lab beaker: The Doofenslurper!

Now over to the Magic Kingdom…

New Magic Kingdom entrance area for use with the "Next-Gen" wristbands

New Magic Kingdom entrance area for use with the “Next-Gen” wristbands

a new entrance area is along the right side, replacing the “now-old-fashioned” turnstiles. This is for resort guests who have their park tickets tied to their reservations and are using the new super-duper MyMagic+ wristbands… (see the official Disney Parks Blog word on this on their post “Taking the Disney Guest Experience to the Next Level”). We’ll see more of these later at other parks…

More construction wall fun at the entrance to the Magic Kingdom!

More construction wall fun at the entrance to the Magic Kingdom!

The center section in front of the train station is now sporting construction walls – was told it was for new ticket-selling booths…

Sign in the window of the shuttered Main Street Bakery

Sign in the window of the shuttered Main Street Bakery

And it wouldn’t be a day at the MK if we didn’t come across some new construction, closings or openings…

the Main Street Bakery is now closed for the refurb that will (controversially to some) add a Starbucks location to the park. I’m not all up in arms about this as some other people are (remember that Walt said that the parks would never be finished or stay static, and sponsored food/beverage locations do go back to the opening day in Anaheim…) I’ll reserve final judgement until it’s been open for a while… but for the time being I think it will be a good thing (and hopefully be the beginning of the end of the Nescafe stranglehold on Disney’s coffee-drinking guests).

Tomorrowland Terrace temporary breakfast menu

Tomorrowland Terrace temporary breakfast menu

While the Bakery is down, they are serving breakfast at the woefully underused Tomorrowland Terrace location.

Tomorrowland Terrace temporary breakfast menu. Begnets? Fry me some up please!

Tomorrowland Terrace temporary breakfast menu. Beignets? Fry me some up please!

Tomorrowland Terrace temporary breakfast menu. Iced Green Tea

Tomorrowland Terrace temporary breakfast menu. Flavored Iced Green Tea sounds pretty good – wish they had that in the heat of the day and not just for breakfast!

And construction continues in Fantasyland…

Rapunzel's Tower

Rapunzel’s Tower

over at the former home of the skyway station in Fantasyland (to the left of Small World) is what’s is supposed to be the new restroom location for this section of the park (the current ones near Peter Pan will reportedly go away as that attraction gets one of the expanded/interactive queue lines). Themed after the film “Tangled” it has a large tower and what (from behind the walls) looks to be a fancy-dancy-extra-themed place to relieve yourself!

New "Tangled" themed restroom currently behind construction walls in Fantasyland

New “Tangled” themed restroom currently behind construction walls in Fantasyland

With all the work that looks like it’s going into this area, you’d assume something more than just a place to pee would be here… the assumption is that the tower will be a dedicated meet-and-greet area for Rapunzel, and I’m sure the ladies (and a few gents as well) hope this also brings Flynn Rider back to the parks full time… smoulder and all…

Entrance area to New Fantasyland expansion with construction on the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train ride

Entrance area to New Fantasyland expansion with construction on the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train ride evident in the background

And nearby in the New Fantasyland expansion area, there is more construction (and even a few non-construction things) to view…

Seven Dwarfs Mine Train Construction Wall

Seven Dwarfs Mine Train Construction Wall

the construction walls around the Mine Train area now feature some cool artwork…

Seven Dwarfs Mine Train Construction Wall

Seven Dwarfs Mine Train Construction Wall

including the Dwarfs tools and time cards as well as several pieces of concept art showing scenes from the finished attraction.

Seven Dwarfs Mine Train Concept Art on the Construction Wall

Seven Dwarfs Mine Train Concept Art on the Construction Wall

Seven Dwarfs Mine Train Concept Art on the Construction Wall

Seven Dwarfs Mine Train Concept Art on the Construction Wall

Seven Dwarfs Mine Train Concept Art on the Construction Wall

Seven Dwarfs Mine Train Concept Art on the Construction Wall

New Fantasyland Seven Dwarfs Mine Train Concept Art Construction Wall Walt Disney World Magic Kingdom

Seven Dwarfs Mine Train Concept Art on the Construction Wall

There are even some places with peepholes in the wall and you are actually invited to take a look at what’s going on behind the scenes!

Peephole in the construction wall of the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train ride

Peephole in the Construction Wall of the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train Ride

Not nearly as much fun to peek as when they don’t want us to look!

A look thru the Peephole in the Construction Wall of the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train Ride

A look thru the Peephole in the Construction Wall of the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train Ride

There were some new items already in the Bonjour Village Gifts – and the egoistical Gaston would likely be pleased with some of the new offerings (though he’s likely to think he should have a gift shop devoted solely to him!).

New Gaston Tee-Shirt

New Gaston Tee-Shirt

He sports a Lefou’s Brew mustache in one new tee-shirt…

Another new Gaston tee-shirt...

Another new Gaston tee-shirt…

and his more-than-impressive biceps are shown off in another.

Gaston's Tavern (I'm sure not for beer) Steins

Gaston’s Tavern (I’m sure not for beer) Steins

And there are nice, heavy Gaston’s Tavern steins now for sale.

Belle and Beast "Relationship Status" Shirt

Belle and Beast “Relationship Status” Shirt

And a couple of cute Facebook-inspired shirts are now available.

And yet another Gaston shirt...

And yet another Gaston shirt…

Our base of operations for the weekend was our favorite resort, Kidani Village at the Animal Kingdom Lodge. And of course one of our favorite things about the resort is viewing the animals on the savannah right outside the room…

Ankole Cattle at Kidani Village

Ankole Cattle at Kidani Village

and one of the most common critters on view here (and on the savannah at the Kilimanjaro Safari at Animal Kingdom) is the Ankole Cattle. Also known as Watusi Cattle, every time I see one of these surely-delicious ruminants one of my favorite songs runs through my mind: Watusi Rodeo by Guadalcanal Diary… but that’s neither here nor there…

New-and-improved (and much prettier) Ankole Cattle

New-and-improved (and much prettier) Ankole Cattle

what was there is a new piebald/mottled/pinto/whatever-you-want-to-call-it color variety of Ankole Cattle.

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Much more attractive than the usually seen form, the three new animals were just introduced to the Kidani savannah the week we were there. I don’t know if this delicious-looking morph will make it’s way to the Kilimanjaro ride or not, but keep your eyes peeled… or just make a visit to Kidani…

Animal Kingdom entrance area

Animal Kingdom entrance area

Like at the Magic Kingdom, the entrance to the Animal Kingdom park has the MyMagic+ area for those with the new wristbands for park admittance.

Castmember at the entrance to Animal Kingdom

Castmember at the entrance to Animal Kingdom

Castmembers were stationed outside the entrance area doing their best to direct guests to the correct areas to enter the park. The gentleman above told me that the new system was working “pretty well”, but that some guests were getting into the “new” line and if they didn’t have the wristband for entrance some were becoming quite irritated at having to then again go and stand in line again to get into the park.

Inside the park we noticed one of the food kiosks along the path between Africa and Asia…

Note the massive lines for veggie cuisine...

Note the massive lines for veggie cuisine…

and how it was now serving 100% vegetarian items.

Menu at "Safari Egg Roll" Kiosk in Animal Kingdom

Menu at “Safari Egg Roll” Kiosk in Animal Kingdom

We also took a ride on the Kilimanjaro Safari as we hadn’t been on it since the new zebra area was opened…

There's something missing between my legs...

There’s something missing between my legs…

the first thing we noticed when sitting down in the ride vehicle was that the net bags to hold your random goodies had been removed from the back of the seats… were too many people leaving things behind in them? Was just our safari vehicle being re-done? Inquiring minds…

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We had several close-up animal viewings on this safari ride, and then eventually got to the new zebra area…

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you get a pretty close encounter with the striped-horsey-looking-critters, but considering how much work looked to being done during the construction I though the zebra space was kinda small… I guess size matters after all…

On this trip we also made our way over to Downtown Disney, made our first visit to Splitsville (more on that in another post), and while there we ambled into D Street and found some nice new shirts….

DSCF2894one features an image of Walt on the front…

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and there are several with famous quotes from Mr. Disney emblazoned upon them.

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And considering the popularity of the Turkey Leg shirts and other Disney-food related apparel, it’s not surprising we get another piece of garb featuring an iconic Disney edible…

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popcorn!

Okay kids, with a food reference we’ll call it a post… hope you enjoyed this look at some Odds & Ends form the World!

Back to the kitchen, see you soon!

A few days ago I gave you an “Eating-and-Drinking-Around-the-World-Style” look back at some of the goings-on around Walt Disney World in the first half of 2012 (if you neglected to spend your spare time reading around the New Year, you can go back now and peruse WDW Odds & Ends: 2012 Year End Edition, Part One, we’ll wait for you here while you do so…).

So now it’s time to pick back up with our review…

Walk... or fly?... this way...

Walk… or fly?… this way…

After we regained our land legs, Miss Bonnie and I took a July trip to check out the further updates to Fantasyland in the Magic Kingdom, and the newly reopened (and multiplied) Dumbo was on our list…

We were mostly interested in checking out the new “queue-less-queue”…

we found the indoor play/waiting area to be quite cute and nicely themed…

Dumbo play/waiting area

Dumbo play/waiting area

but our real goal was to “fly high buddy” and get an elephant’s eye view of the construction ongoing at the New Fantasyland…

but even from upon high, the apparently strategically placed foliage prevented us from getting a clear elephant’s-eye-view of the construction…

The mostly obscured view of the New Fantasyland construction from Dumbo

The mostly obscured view of the New Fantasyland construction from Dumbo

And yes, the construction continued behind the walls…

Construction walls in the Magic Kingdom

Construction walls in the Magic Kingdom

With the Agent P Adventure now officially open over in Epcot…

Agent P World Showcase Adventure Kiosk

Agent P World Showcase Adventure Kiosk

floral versions of Phineas and Ferb greet guests on their way to the World Showcase.

A Phineas and Ferb Topiary on the walkway between Future World and the World Showcase in Epcot

Phineas and Ferb Topiary on the walkway between Future World and the World Showcase in Epcot

And yes…

Miss Bonnie's new Happy Place...

Miss Bonnie’s new Happy Place…

there was another visit to Tutto Gusto – it was on this visit we learned about the upcoming menu change – you can see the details on this revelation in the post “Go for the Gusto!“.

Sign at new exhibit in Mexico Pavilion

Sign at new exhibit inside the Mexico Pavilion

The new exhibit on Life in Ancient Mexico was now up inside the Mexican pavilion.

Wanna shoot some hoops?

Wanna shoot some hoops?

How do you spell "H-O-R-S-E" in Spanish?

How do you spell “H-O-R-S-E” in Spanish?

And at the Happiest Place in the Happiest Place on Earth (aka La Cava del Tequila) we found a couple of changes to the specialty Margarita list since our last visit.

La Cava del Tequila Specialty Margarita Menu

La Cava del Tequila Specialty Margarita Menu

The Organic Skinny Lime and Coffee Margaritas were new additions.

Specialty Margarita Menu La Cava del Tequila

La Cava del Tequila Specialty Margarita Menu

We sampled both – the Skinny Lime was fine, but nothing special, but the Coffee was a frozen/slushy concoction that was delicious – especially good on a hot day!

We did eat someplace other than Tutto Gusto in July…

Kouzzina Trio (Cinnamon-stewed Chicken, Greek-style Lasagna and Lamb Burger)

Kouzzina Trio (Cinnamon-stewed Chicken, Greek-style Lasagna and Lamb Burger)

We had a really good meal at Cat Cora’s Kouzzina on the Boardwalk – it was Miss Bonnie’s first visit there and afterwards she dubbed it her New Favorite Restaurant!

Landscape of Flavors Food Court at the new Art of Animation Resort

Landscape of Flavors Food Court at the new Art of Animation Resort

We also got our first chance to eat at the new Landscape of Flavors Food Court.

Indian-inspired eats at the Landscape of Flavors Food Court

Indian-inspired eats at the Landscape of Flavors Food Court

We were very impressed with the Indian-style food offerings at the Art of Animation Resort and looked forward to coming back to try some of the other eats there!

You can see details of our dining from July at Tutto Gusto, Kouzzina and the Landscape of Flavors food court in the post WDW Weekend Eats dated August 5, 2012.

New Wine Flights at Tutto Gusto

New Wine Flights at Tutto Gusto

August again found us at Epcot (is anyone shocked?) and one again at Tutto Gusto to check out the new Wine Flights and “Gusto Plates”.

"La Siciliana" Plate - Caponata, Cacciatorini Sausage & Fresh Mozzarella

“La Siciliana” Plate – Caponata, Cacciatorini Sausage & Fresh Mozzarella

We also checked out some merchandise…

An Eating & Drinking Around the World shirt!

An Eating & Drinking Around the World shirt!

tried a sparkling Sake in Japan…

Hana Awake Sake in Japan

Hana Awaka Sake in Japan

and scoped out the construction walls inside the gift shop in France.

Part of the bakery expansion in France

Part of the bakery expansion in France

Also in August we ventured over to the Hilton Bonnet Creek Resort for their second annual Barbeque Weekend.

There we sampled several types of chili in a competition between chefs from the various restaurants at the resort.

Chili Competition at Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek Resort

Chili Competition at Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek Resort

We also tried a couple of the specialty cocktails being offered up for the weekend….

Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek Resort Barbeque Weekends Specialty Cocktails

Watermelon Crawlita and BBQ Honey Bacon Bloody Mary

This year each of the bars and restaurants were offering different cocktails for the weekend – last year each of the locations were serving the same drinks – this was a nice change!

Cocktail Menu at the lobby bar in Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek Resort for Barbeque Weekends

Cocktail Menu at the lobby bar in Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek Resort for Barbeque Weekends

The restaurants were also featuring special BBQ-inspired dishes, unique to each…

Zeta Lounge and Sushi Bar specialty items for Barbeque Weekends

Zeta Lounge and Sushi Bar specialty items for Barbeque Weekends

We also gave the poolside barbeque grill a try….

Barbeque & Bikinis!

Barbeque & Bikinis!

Poolside Barbeque Grill Menu

Poolside Barbeque Grill Menu

and lunched on a couple of the “Gourmet Dogs”.

Brooklyn Dog & Nacho Dog

Brooklyn Dog & Nacho Dog

Back over in the World, we went to check out some merch at Downtown Disney, and at the Team Mickey store we realized that you can’t really escape the Platypus…

Agent P taking it to the hole...

Agent P taking it to the hole…

and that Mickey is a fan of the Crimson Tide!

Roll Tide, Roll!

Roll Tide, Roll!

September found us making our first stay at the new Art of Animation resort as the Little Mermaid section (the only part of the resort with “regular”/non-suite rooms) opened for business the middle of the month.

We loved the decor and detail in the room…

Beds and headboards in Little Mermaid room

Beds and headboards in Little Mermaid room

Sheet Music for "Under the Sea" on table in Little Mermaid room

Sheet Music for “Under the Sea” on table in Little Mermaid room

we even found a couple of Hidden Mickeys!

"Classic" Hidden Mickey in Little Mermaid Room at Art of Animation Resort

“Classic” Hidden Mickey in Little Mermaid Room at Art of Animation Resort

Hidden Mickey Watch in Little Mermaid Room at Art of Animation Resort

Hidden Mickey Watch in Little Mermaid Room at Art of Animation Resort

And where were these Mickeys?

Pull back the curtain...

Pull back the curtain…

In the shower of course!

Inside of the shower in Little Mermaid room

Inside of the shower in Little Mermaid room

The exterior of the resort was pretty cool as well!

A Not-So-Little Mermaid

A Not-So-Little Mermaid

And a big scary !

And a big scary Ursula!

One evening while there we took the bridge over to the food court at Pop Century and partook of an overly indulgent dessert…

"The King"

“The King”

the King – a huge chocolate cupcake in honor of Elvis (Presley, not Costello). Filled with banana custard, glazed with a peanut butter icing and topped with candied bacon (hell yeah!) and chocolate, this is an homage to Elvis’ favorite grilled peanut butter and banana sandwich.

Stir-fried Veggie Noodles at Captain Cook's

Stir-fried Veggie Noodles at Captain Cook’s

One night we went to the Magic Kingdom to check on the construction progress of the New Fantasyland expansion, and on the way we stopped at the Poly for a quick bite at Captain Cook’s.

Hawaiian Flatbread at Captain Cook's

Hawaiian Flatbread at Captain Cook’s

At the Magic Kingdom, we found some of the construction walls down…

and the new walls that mark the entrance to the New Fantasyland were out in the open.

New Fantasyland entrance wall

New Fantasyland entrance wall

Detail on column of New Fantasyland wall

Detail on column of New Fantasyland wall

And a new place to nap...

And a new place to nap…

We once again made our way to Epcot…

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and found a few sultry Princess pics at the Art of Disney Store…

hubba, hubba!

hubba, hubba!

And there was a new Haunted Mansion-inspired figure from  Jim Shore….

So want!

Play that funky music, Ghost-boy!

Play that funky music, Ghost-boy!

Moving out to the World Showcase I kinda got that Special Feeling…

Terra Vegan booth with Craft Beer booth in the background

Terra Vegan booth with Craft Beer booth in the background

as the booths for the 2012 Epcot International Food & Wine Festival had started to go up around the lagoon.

Belgium behind the hedges

Belgium behind the hedges

The official opening of the festival was a couple of weeks later, and there was yet another runDisney race then – the inaugural Tower of Terror 10 Miler.

And once again, those attending the race expo could find plenty of “sustenance”…

Tower of Terror 10K Race Expo cocktails

Tower of Terror 10K Race Expo cocktails

The lines to get into Epcot were predictably long the first weekend…

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but with extra-tasty foods…

Grilled Lamb Chop from Australia Kiosk

Grilled Lamb Chop from Australia Kiosk

and fun in the cranberry bog awaiting…

Having fun Deb?

Having a good time in the bog Deb?

And how about you Ms. Wolfe?

And how about you Ms. Wolfe?

no one was complaining too much… certainly not us!

Karaage Hand Roll and Spicy Hand Roll from Japan Booth

Karaage Hand Roll and Spicy Hand Roll from Japan Booth

We sampled plenty of foods and beverages…

Fruit Wines at the Florida Local Booth

Fruit Wines at the Florida Local Booth

and checked out the new Chase Lounge (see WDW Odds & Ends: 2012 Year End Edition, Part One to find out what this room formerly looked like!)…

Chase Lounge in the Festival Center of the Epcot Food & Wine Festival

Chase Lounge in the Festival Center of the Epcot Food & Wine Festival

and the merchandise offered up in the Festival Center.

Just some of the merchandise at the 2012 Epcot Food & Wine Festival

Just some of the merchandise at the 2012 Epcot Food & Wine Festival

You can see many more details and my thoughts on the first weekend of the festival in the posts Epcot Food & Wine 2012: First Tastes, First Thoughts… Part One and the cleverly named Epcot Food & Wine 2012: First Tastes, First Thoughts… Part Two.

September also marked the 30th Anniversary of Epcot’s opening day…

Panel of men who were involved with the building and opening of Epcot hosted by Jason Surrell

Panel of men who were involved with the building and opening of Epcot hosted by Jason Surrell

and we had the chance to attend the D23 Anniversary Celebration.

Food & Wine Classic Banner

Food & Wine Classic Banner

October saw more fun at the Epcot Food & Wine Festival, and what has become our favorite event of the fall, the Swan/Dolphin Food & Wine Classic.

Just a few of the booths being set up for the Food & Wine Classic

Just a few of the booths being set up for the Food & Wine Classic

The Classic features beverage seminars, tons of food…

Shrimp Cocktail Shooters

Shrimp Cocktail Shooters

Pork Belly!

Pork Belly!

even more to drink…

Beer anyone?

Beer anyone?

and celebrity chefs… some meet-and-greets are by design…

Yours truly with Big-Time chef and restauranteur Michael Mina

Yours truly with Big-Time chef and restauranteur Michael Mina

and some just a bit of serendipity…

That Retro-Rad Chic Emily Ellyn showed up for the festivities and I quickly accosted her - she got rid of me by giving me a gift of cherry tomatoes to go away...

That Retro-Rad Chic Emily Ellyn showed up for the festivities and I quickly accosted her – she got rid of me by giving me a gift of cherry tomatoes to go away…

all in all, the Food & Wine Classic is a blast! You can see more food pics in the post Food & Wine Classic 2012: Food Photo Gallery, and I will strive to finally get a full post/review up on the event soon… just don’t hold your breath…

The same weekend we also got to check out one of the soft openings (aka “Dress Rehearsal” in Disney-speak) of the Enchanted Forest section of the New Fantasyland expansion…

Part of the mural in the load area of the new Little Mermaid ride

Part of the mural in the load area of the new Little Mermaid ride

The Little Mermaid attraction is a cute dark ride with a great queue…

Hello Ariel...

Hello Ariel…

and after that Miss Bonnie, Mamma Ginny and I got to meet the red-headed-gal-with-a-tail.

Lumiere and Belle

Lumiere and Belle

Enchanted Tales with Belle was a wonderful experience – great effects, fantastic animatronics (especially Lumiere) and lots of guest interaction. The queue and cottage are full of details to keep you busy while waiting to meet the literature-loving Princess.

Entrance to the Beast's Castle and the Be Our Guest Restaurant

Entrance to the Beast’s Castle and the Be Our Guest Restaurant

We also go to poke our heads into the (at the time) yet to open Be Our Guest restaurant….

Lunchtime/quick service ordering area at the Be Our Guest restaurant

Lunchtime/quick service ordering area at the Be Our Guest restaurant

the interior of the restaurant is spectacular, and yes Virginia, there is alcohol…

Beers from France and neighboring Belgium...

Beers from France and neighboring Belgium…

at dinner beer and wine will be served – a first for the Magic Kingdom – and following the theme of the restaurant, the alcoholic beverages are all from France (or beer from nearby Belgium)… with one exception…

this sure is a Conundrum...

this sure is a Conundrum…

the white wine list includes the wine blend Conundrum from Caymus… a wine I actually like quite a bit, but why the inclusion of one single bottle from California in a French restaurant?

Enchanted Forest area of New Fantasyland with the Beast's Castle in the background

Enchanted Forest area of New Fantasyland with the Beast’s Castle in the background

The whole area just looks fantastic – can’t wait to see how it all looks when the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train area is finished!

Who's that guy in the red shirt?

Who’s that guy in the red shirt?

Belle’s Village was also looking good…

Hey Gaston! Watch those hands!

Hey Gaston! Watch those hands!

but you have to watch out for handsome egomaniacs trying to steal your girl!

Exterior of Gaston's Tavern

Exterior of Gaston’s Tavern

Gaston’s Tavern was open and serving that day!

Surprised that Lafeu got that many...

Surprised that Lafou got that many…

Not surprisingly, there are also tons of details in this fairly small quick-service establishment.

Roasted Pork Shank at Gaston's Tavern - tender, juicy meat inside, crispy skin outside!

Roasted Pork Shank at Gaston’s Tavern – tender, juicy meat inside, crispy skin outside!

We tried the roasted pork and gave it two-greasy-thumbs-up!

Another view of pig...

Another view of pig…

This is not a big venue, and the entrance/ordering area is cramped and not easy to get in and out of if there are more than just a few people in line… this is likely to be a popular spot with “Lefou’s Brew” (aka Disney’s answer to Butterbeer) being served there and the cute, detailed seating areas, but it’s gonna be crowded… mark my words…

Seven Dwarves Mine Train construction

Seven Dwarfs Mine Train construction

Work continues on the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train attraction…

Seven Dwarves Mine Train construction

Seven Dwarfs Mine Train construction

The construction over at the Storybook Circus section of the expansion looked to be pretty much completed by mid-October…

Storybook Circus Entrance

Storybook Circus Entrance

with the mandatory gift shop, Big Top Souvenirs, now open…

Big Top Souvenirs

Big Top Souvenirs

and inside we found snacks…

Some of the "Big Top Treats"

Some of the “Big Top Treats”

and castmembers eager to teach guests how to juggle!

The new meet-and-greet area, Pete’s Silly Sideshow, was also open.

Entrance to Pete's Silly Sideshow

Entrance to Pete’s Silly Sideshow

Inside you can meet a couple of Lovely Ladies…

Signage inside the Sideshow

Sign inside the Sideshow

or a couple of not-so-lovely Gents…

Sign inside the Sideshow

Sign inside the Sideshow

The characters are in sideshow-appropriate garb and eager to meet their fans.

The Great Goofini in the flesh!

The Great Goofini in the flesh!

There is also a covered Fastpass distribution area with some shaded seating…

Storybook Circus Fastpass area

Storybook Circus Fastpass area

and nearby food carts for the famished while waiting….

Food cart in Storybook Circus

Food cart in Storybook Circus

Anyone for a weenie?

Anyone for a weenie?

A week later we had a step-up from hot dogs and pretzels…

Thanks to Mamma Ginny, Papa Harry and (especially) their Offspring Jen, Miss Bonnie and I got to attend the Party for the Senses for the first time.

A nice selection of cheeses and accompaniments

A nice selection of cheeses and accompaniments

Diver Scallop with Pea Puree and Micro Greens

Diver Scallop with Pea Puree and Micro Greens

This over-the-top event features a great variety of exciting food items…

Fry me a Quail Egg please...

Fry me a Quail Egg please…

to go on top of my Duck Confit Burger

to go on top of my Duck Confit Burger

and great wines and beers…

A really nice Riesling from Chateau Ste. Michelle & Dr. Loosen

A really nice Riesling from Chateau Ste. Michelle & Dr. Loosen

and performances from Cirque du Soleil! Just pretend I got a good picture of them…

To top it off I even got to talk Doctor Who with a real Brit! And speaking of the time-traveling Gallifreyan…

Doctor Who Tee-Shirt in the UK pavilion at Epcot

Doctor Who Tee-Shirt in the UK pavilion at Epcot

that same weekend I found the first evidence of Doctor Who merchandise finally showing up in the United Kingdom at Epcot (see The TARDIS has landed… for more).

The first part of November was filled with more Food & Wine Festival goodness….

Dessert Trio at Epcot Food & Wine Festival

Dessert Trio at Epcot Food & Wine Festival

and another runDisney event, the Wine and Dine Half-Marathon, coincided with the last weekend of the Festival.

Wine & Dine Weekend schedule of events outside the race expo

Wine & Dine Weekend schedule of events outside the race expo

And once again…

Get ready for the race!

Get ready for the race!

those attending the race expo could find plenty of sustenance!

I always enjoy how many revelers at the Food & Wine Festival like to come in special attire…

Not that there's anything wrong with that...

Not that there’s anything wrong with that…

and I think this might be the favorite shirt I saw this year!

The second weekend of the month marked not only the end of the Food & Wine Festival, but the beginning of the holiday season at the World…

Goodbye Food & Wine Festival - hello Christmas...

Goodbye Food & Wine Festival – hello Christmas – the Epcot Christmas Tree goes up…

and the first night of the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights at Hollywood Studios.

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In addition of the spectacular light display…

and a hidden Purple Cat to find…

Found it!

Found it!

there were some special food items…

"Santa Mickey" Cupcakes

“Santa Mickey” Cupcakes

and cocktails to be had!

Holiday Cocktail Menu at High Octane Refreshments in the Studios

Holiday Cocktail Menu at High Octane Refreshments in the Studios

The Merry Margarita - nothing says the Holidays like Blue Curacao and a Glow Cube!

The Merry Margarita – nothing says the Holidays like Blue Curacao and a Glow Cube!

This would actually be the only Holiday Goodness we’d experience in the Parks for this year, but it wouldn’t be the last Disney Fun w would have in 2012.

The next Disney holiday decorations we’d see would be…

Atrium of the Disney Fantasy decorated for the holidays

Atrium of the Disney Fantasy decorated for the holidays (photo by Miss Bonnie)

on board the Disney Fantasy as we set sail for our second Disney Cruise of the year.

Pool area of the Disney Fantasy at night (photo by Miss Bonnie)

Pool area of the Disney Fantasy at night (photo by Miss Bonnie)

The Fantasy was perhaps even most spectacular than the Dream that we had sailed upon earlier in the year.

Tequila Seminar in the Meridian Bar

Tequila Seminar in the Meridian Bar (photo by Miss Bonnie)

From drink demos…

Beef Tenderloin with twp sauces at Palo

Beef Tenderloin with two sauces at Palo

to fine dining…

Arrrgghhh... come with me wench!

Arrrgghhh… come with me wench!

to the frivolity of Pirate Night…

Mistress of the Fantasy

Mistress of the Fantasy

there’s just way too much to cover about a Disney cruise to squeeze into this already-too-long recap… so someday I’ll try and and give you some more details…

Okay, so there you have it – a look back at 2012 from an Eating (and Drinking) Around the World perspective – hope you enjoyed!

Now what will 2013 hold? We’ll see soon as this year’s Marathon Weekend at WDW is just days away…

Back to the kitchen… and the starting line! See you soon!

WDW Odds & Ends

August 28, 2012

Time for another random assemblage of stuff garnered from a few recent (and maybe not-really-that-recent) visits to the parks…

Let’s start at Miss Bonnie’s favorite park, Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

At what was the former Fastpass location in Discovery Island everyone’s favorite Wilderness Explorer Russell and his verbose canine pal Dug are having a meetup with their fans and fellow explorers.

Hello Russell!

As we wandered down the Pangani trail in Africa…

we came upon a fairly recent addition…

Termite Mound Display on the Pangani Forest Exploration Trail

a cutaway display of the impressive construction talents of the little termite.

In one of the retail locations we found several pieces of merchandise featuring a nice new AK graphic.

Scarves, dinnerware…

trivets, notebooks…

and even ball caps are adorned with the attractive logo featuring the Tree of Life.

There were also a couple of nice tee-shirts.

With merchandise in mind, let’s make a quick trip over to Downtown Disney and visit the sports-themed store Team Mickey Athletic Club.

Phineas and Ferb, along with their pet Perry the Platypus (aka Agent P), are now seemingly ubiquitous around the World (and we’ll see even more on this later).

Looks like he can handle the ball, but how’s his three-point shot?

And Agent P seems even to have joined the NBA!

The Big Cheese Mickey Mouse is adorning the shirts of several colleges and universities…

Mickey says “Roll Tide”!!!

of course right in front of the display is Mickey on the shirt of the defending NCAA football National Champs, the University of Alabama!

Now let’s move over to my favorite park, Epcot.

France Pavilion Gift Shop

Lot’s of changes are going on in the dining scene in the France pavilion – most of which are behind the scenes… the upstairs restaurant, Bistro de Paris, is currently closed while undergoing a refurbishment, while the only overt evidence of big changes are the construction walls inside the gift shop.

Inside the France Pavilion Gift Shop

The current Boulangerie Patisserie will become the Glacier ice cream parlor, while the expanded bakery area under construction will have a larger menu of savory items in addition to the currently offered pastries.

Inside the France Pavilion Gift Shop

For more details on the changes coming soon in France check out “Major Makeover for the France Pavilion at Epcot” on the official Disney Parks Blog.

New Tutto Gusto Menu

Over in Italy the new menu has gone into effect at the Tutto Gusto Wine Bar (see the post “Go for the Gusto!” for a preview of the new menu).

Wine Flights at Tutto Gusto

Of course we tried out some of the new wine flights and food offerings… will give you details in another post…

La Sicilaina Plate at Tutto Gusto

At the outside merchandise kiosk in America is a new version of a World Showcase tee-shirt…

Looks like this could be the official “Eating (and Drinking) Around the World” shirt!

food and drink from each of the countries around the World Showcase adorns this cool shirt.

Inside the pyramid of the Mexico pavilion is a new display in the entrance way (which of course you have to pass through to get to La Cava…) showing a bit of what life was like in ancient times in Mexico.

A replica of an Aztec Calendar Stone sits in the middle of the room.

Aztec Calendar Stone

Along the walls are several displays.

Anyone for a game of horse?

There is some pretty interesting stuff here – well worth stopping for a few minutes on your way to (or back from) having some tasty tequila.

Also in Epcot the Agent P’s World Showcase Adventure is now in full swing.

We had the chance to play-test the game before the official opening and have done a couple countries since it’s been in operation.

Can you help save the World Showcase from the evil ideas of Dr. Doofenshmirtz?

We’ve enjoyed what we’ve seen of it so far, and it’s looks like the Imagineers have added a few more wrinkles on top of the former Kim Possible game, so Miss Bonnie and I look forward to more adventures with the heroic Perry.

There’s still a ton of stuff going on at the Magic Kingdom, so let’s see what’s up in the new Fantasyland and elsewhere around MK.

Both of the Dueling-Dumbo spinners have been up and running for a few weeks now, and the new play/wait/don’t-call-it-a-queue area is also open.

The play area is very cute – we’ll see how the parents hold up to the screaming, running hordes while waiting for their turns on Dumbo when the crowds really attack Fantasyland…

maybe they should add a bar in the waiting area for the adults…

and this could become “Drink While You Wait”… I can dream, can’t I?

Nearby, the incredibly wet Casey Jr. Splash ‘n’ Soak Station has been open since mid-June.

This well detailed area features Casey Jr. and several circus train cars and their respective inhabitants. Here you see the giraffe and elephant train cars on the weekend the area opened:

Now let’s look at the elephants train car about two months later:Notice anything different???

Nut allergies be damned!

Yes boys and girls, the elephants former basketful of fruity goodness has been replaced with peanuts…

And while on the subject of changes in the area, let’s look at the restrooms… yes, the restrooms… at least the gentleman’s side…

Back in March we shared some, well, interesting signage in the new bathroom area (you can now pause and go read, or re-read, Thanks for the heads up…).

Directly above the urinals in the mens room was the sign noting the porcelain fixture used non-potable water… as if anyone would be taking a quick sip from same fixture…

Well now the urinals are sans-signage, as the “Non Potable Water in Use” message has been removed from above the urinals…

and in the entryway to the facility is this relatively generic message:

I’m guessing Disney Legal finally decided they really didn’t need to tell us not to drink from the toilet…

At one side of the Fantasyland train stop there is some luggage that looks to have been just unloaded from a train…

and it looks to be the baggage of some of the circus performers.

And one piece appears to be an homage to the recently departed Toontown:

Just up the way is the ever-popular construction walls…

While much of the major construction on the new Fantasyland is nearing completion (with most of the new area scheduled to open by the holiday season of 2012), the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train ride (and surrounding mountainscape) is still in the early stages.

Here’s a more recent view (taken August 11, 2012) than the prior two that were taken a couple of weeks before:

And just for fun, here’s a couple of more shots over the construction walls:

And if you can’t look over the walls…

one can always try to peek through he cracks…

Now let’s head over to Tomorrowland for a couple of quick things.

A while back, the big thing at The Lunching Pad was the specialty hot dog (see Magic Kingdom Odds & Ends… from September 3, 2010). The weenie-selection changed a bit over time, but the hot dogs were the featured menu item:

Part of the Lunching Pad Menu from 2010

It will not shock Dedicated Readers that I will stop by places just to check out menus and see if there is anything new, or perhaps to see if anything has been taken away… so we stopped by Fantasyland to look at the Lunching Pad.

Part of the Lunching Pad Menu from 2012

The specialty dogs have disappeared from the overhead menus, but if you go up to the window, you’ll see a small plastic menu with the dogs still on them.

I’d imagine this signals their ultimate dining demise here, but time will tell…

We’ll make a final stop in the gift shop at the exit of Space Mountain.

Here we came across a few Princess shirts neither Miss Bonnie or I had noticed anywhere before (not that I’m constantly looking for Princess-garb, mind you…).

These four tees were a bit more sassy, sorta sultry, and well, just more mature than your typical Princess merchandise.

A couple of odd things about these – one was they are being sold in the Space Mountain gift shop, and B, they were only in children’s sizes… (Bonnie searched for one that would fit her to no avail).

These looked like something that would be much more at home on the racks at TrenD, and perhaps these are left-overs from some other merchandise location… have you seen these before? If so, please post a note in the comments! Actually I really liked the images of the Princesses shown here – how about a few 8 x 10’s of these??? I’d put them on my wall…

Okay, we’ve gone on long enough for one post – hope you’ve enjoyed this version of Odds & Ends!

Now it’s time to get back to the kitchen – see you again soon!

WDW Weekend Eats

June 1, 2012

Once again it’s time to take a look as some eats & drinks from a recent weekend trip to the World… let’s look at the food, beverages and just for fun a few other random and related things from WDW that weekend.

Miss Bonnie and I decided we wanted to hit the last weekend of the Flower & Garden Festival at Epcot and the first weekend of Star Wars Weekends at the Studios (which happened to be the same weekend), so we headed to WDW on that Friday.

We were staying at Saratoga, so while I was waiting for Bonnie to arrive I sauntered over to Downtown Disney to survey the scene there…

Thinking I would need sustenance for the long trek around DTD, I stopped in at the Margarita Bar which sits on the water (roughly across from the Tren-D Store) on the Marketplace side…

on a prior visit to DTD, we had seen this same sign advertising a Grapefruit Margarita, but we didn’t have time to give it a try (shocking I know, too busy for a new margarita, even surprised myself…). Needed to rectify that oversight…

Grapefruit Margarita

And I was glad I tried it – this is a refreshing and delicious drink that ranks up there with many of the offering at La Cava! Especially great on a hot day, this drink has a nice fruit flavor, without any of the bitterness you might expect from grapefruit juice. I’ve had some really good drinks before at this locale, so don’t hesitate to give one a try there if you’re so inclined next time you’re in Downtown Disney.

So now fortified, I wandered over to the West Side to see what was going on at the under-construction Splitsville. And knowing how much my dear Dedicated Readers love pictures of construction walls, I expected there to be some to show you, and I wasn’t disappointed.

Splitsville

Taking over the old Virgin Megastore building, this dining, drinking and entertainment venue is scheduled to open this fall.

Bowling, billiards and dancing are mixed with an upscale (somewhat retro) environment with a menu that is a step, or three, above what you may find at your local bowling alley.

The other Splitsville locations have a policy of 21 and up only after 8 PM (and a dress code after 7 PM)…

this will be an unusual policy to enforce at Disney, but if it is the same at this location it could signal a welcome (to many at least) return to a more adult-themed entertainment area as Pleasure Island once was… maybe the start of something interesting?

Splitsville at Downtown Disney Concept Art

If you want to check out their website to see samples of the menus, etc at other locations, go to splitsvillelanes.com.

There is a location not too far from the Eating (and Drinking) Around the World kitchens, so if we get to check it out before the new location opens, we’ll give you a semi-preview.

After Miss Bonnie arrived, we made our way to Epcot to spend Friday evening around World Showcase.

Prior to eating and drinking (okay, I had a beer with me…) we went to see My-Favorite-Monkee, Mickey Dolenz at the last of the Flower Power Concerts. Mickey was a late replacement for fellow Monkee, and Flower Power regular, Davy Jones who sadly passed away (way too young!) earlier this year.

After a couple of songs, Mickey made a heartfelt tribute to his late band mate and launched into “Daydream Believer” (on which Davy originally sang lead). As one who grew up watching (and loving) the Monkees during their original run (yes, I’m an old man…) this was actually quite emotional for me, and yes, a few salty tears made their way down my cheeks as I sang along…

More hits followed, and the set wound up with the Neil Diamond-penned “I’m a Believer” – Mickey prefaced the song by pointed out to the youngsters in the crowd that he had performed the song long before a guy named Shrek…  It was an enjoyable, nostalgic and just a bit sad start to the weekend, and one of the main reasons I wanted to be there on this date…

Now on to the food… and drink…

Tutto Gusto Wine Bar

On a recent trip (see WDW Odds & Ends from May 24) we checked out the newly-opened Tutto Gusto Wine Bar, but didn’t have a chance to sample the goods. On this night we made up for it.

Castello Beer and an Italian (duh…) Moscato Wine

We perused the huge list of wines and other adult beverages and made our order while also thinking about the food…

Mmmm… meat… cheese… Finocchiona (at bottom), Asiago and Parmigiano Reggiano (with Focaccia bread)

While we were waiting to be seated, we queried one of the hostesses (a native Italian, of course) as to her favorites on the menu – she suggested three of the meat and cheese choices and we took her recommendations – and she was right on…

The flavorful Finocchiona (a fennel and pepper enhanced salami) was thinly sliced and a perfect, fatty foil to the cheeses. The hostess noted she had never had this in her native country, but since trying it here it was her favorite, and we could see why!

The Asiago and crumbly Parmigiano Reggiano were just amazing (especially the latter) – if you think of the green can when you think of Parmesan, think again… you’ll never buy it again after you have the real thing…

We also ordered some marinated olives and the Polenta with Mushrooms and cheese.

Olive Finocchio e Arance

The olives were briny and delicious, and converted Miss Bonnie into an olive-lover!

Polenta Funghu e Fontina

Fancy-Italian-Grits with sauteed mushrooms and cheese – how bad could it be?

More cheese? Yes, please!

The polenta was actually our least favorite item of the night – but it was still very good! Everything else was just that much better!

And to top it all off – yes, they do take the Tables in Wonderland card!

After catching the tail end of Illuminations we made our way back to the resort to catch a few winks before the early morning start at the Studios on Saturday.

A couple of strange characters in stage… and a couple of even stranger ones in front of the stage…

With Star Wars Weekends started we make our way to the merchandise tent to check out the goods…

and even inside Darth’s Mall, we found some food…

Snacks and beverages were available here…

many items being served in a cute R2-D2 container.

The same droid holder was seen throughout the park with different items being offered at various food locations.

From here we made our way over to Ehco Lake…

for an early lunch at Min & Bill’s.

Min & Bill’s Dockside Diner Menu

The main attraction here are the stuffed sandwiches: a baguette is stuck down upon a metal device and hollowed out…

Bread being prepped

and the rest of the sandwich ingredients are stuffed inside.

Chicken Caesar Sandwich

Miss Bonnie chose the Chicken Caesar Sandwich (chicken with salad greens, Parmesan cheese and Caesar dressing) while I had the Italian Sausage with Peppers and Onions.

Italian Sausage Sandwich with Peppers and Onions (insert your own joke here…)

The Sausage Sandwich was big and filling – the sausage itself was fine, but the peppers and onions were a bit on the bland side – overall it certainly needed the help of a couple of mustard packets. Not bad, but I’m not going to run back to have it again.

Italian Sausage Sandwich with Peppers and Onions

The Chicken Caesar Sandwich however was a “two thumbs up”.

Chicken Caesar Sandwich

The filling was tasty, and the portion size is good. We both agreed we’d be glad to have this one again… At about nine bucks each, these are both actually a good value considering the size (and they include a side of chips) – if you’re not starving, these could even be split between two people.

After our meal we walked over to Epcot for some final Flower & Garden goodness.

Miss Bonnie graciously allowed me to ogle the comely HGTV celeb Genevieve Gorder for a while before we made our requisite visit to La Cava.

I stood in line a while to order one of my favorites, the Jalapeno Margarita.

Jalapeno Margarita – with something extra…

I asked the bartender to make my drink extra spicy, so he added a whole jalapeno to the chopped cucumber and mashed them together before adding the rest of the margarita goodies. After I took a quick sip, he asked if it was hot enough.

“Its’ good, but I could take hotter,” was my response.

“I have a habanero…” he said.

I paused.

“I have a habanero…” he repeated.

“Go for it,” I said and handed the drink back to him.

He smashed a whole (seeded) habanero pepper and added the drink back to the shaker and now infused the insidious fiery fruit into the drink. “You’ll remember me in the morning,” he said as he handed it back to me.

Wow… hot, flavorful, fantastic… it’s not going to be my regular drink, but for fiery sipping and savoring on a hot day, it’s a great choice if you can take the heat.

Miss Bonnie dipped the tip of her pinkie finger in and tried just a couple of drops – she was on fire for hours afterwards… this isn’t a drink for everyone… but if you’re the heat-loving adventurous type, ask if they have a habanero handy the next time you’re at La Cava!

Jalapeno – Habanero Margarita. The drink of the Gods!

We wandered the World Showcase for a while, and then made our way back to the Studios for the evening.

Bonnie had a Jones for the Darth Vader cupcake that was being offered at several locations throughout the park during Star Wars Weekends. So we made our way to the ABC Commissary  to sample one…

Darth Vader Cupcake

adorned with chocolate sprinkles a white chocolate light saber…

Shouldn’t ALL light sabers be made of white chocolate???

this chocolate-cakey-cupcake held a gooey surprise inside…

Deconstructed Darth… exposing the peanut butter for all to see…

Chocolate and peanut butter – genius! How come no one thought of combining them before?

Okay, I guess the peanut butter wasn’t that much of a surprise… it was on the sign…

So after dessert-as-an-appetiser, we went in search of some real food (or at least as real as quick service in the Studios would be).

After traversing the park several times and with much discussion and compromise, we finally settled on the Studio Catering Co.

Deciding to eschew our usual favorite of the Grilled Vegetable Sandwich, we split the two Pressed Sandwiches: Tuscan Deli and Turkey Club.

Sandwichfest! Grilled Turkey Club an the Grilled Tuscan Deli

Both were actually pretty good – but we gave the Tuscan a bit of an edge over the turkey.

After dining, we made our way to view the Hyperspace Hoopla, with a stop on the way at the Tune in Lounge.

To keep us busy and hydrated while waiting for the show to start, we got a couple of Patron Margaritas to go made by my Favorite Blonde Czech Bartender Alena.

Despite the huge crowd, the show was, as always, a lot of fun.

Afterwards we made our way back to Saratoga Springs to await the culinary fun on Sunday.

The morning started with a bit of exercise to try and work off the cupcake calories (we laced the running shoes up – get your collective minds out of the gutter), and after we packed up the cars, we sauntered over to Downtown Disney to eat at one of our favorite overlooked spots.

Cookes of Dublin

Even though it’s a place we’ve passed by countless times, only fairly recently have we discovered the great eats available at Cookes of Dublin in Downtown Disney. And now it’s among our favorite places to eat on WDW Property.

Cookes of Dublin Menu

We ordered some Whiskey and Pepper Glazed Wings (which like many menu items, come with chunky fries – aka “Chips”), and needing even more spuds, we added an order of the Skinny Chips with Thyme and Rock Salt along with Cheese and Bacon Dip.

Miss Bonnie secured us a table while I went next door to The Hole in the Wall bar to secure myself an IPA…

The Hole in the Wall Bar

Thyme and Rock Salt Skinny Chips

The “Skinny Chips” are more the size of a McDonalds-type fry – these had fantastic flavor all on their own, but if you want to add an extra layer, dunk them into one of the available dips or some of the Dalkey Mustard from the condiments area.

Thyme and Rock Salt Skinny Chip heading into the Irish Vintage Cheese and Bacon Dip

The wings here have become one of my favorites anywhere, on or off Property. Big and juicy, they have been cooked perfectly and freshly every time we’ve tried them. The sauce has just enough bite from the black pepper (even if I do add some Tabasco on occasion…) and great flavor from the whiskey.

Chicken Wings in Whiskey and Crushed Pepper Glaze

Now properly sated, we called an end to the weekends eats at WDW. A great start at a new place, a good end at a new/old favorite, and some acceptable quick eats in-between… and a few drinks as well… all-in-all another fun and flavorful weekend at the World!

Back to the kitchen – we’ll see you soon!

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