Wine Enthusiast Magazine has published their 2015 list of 100 Best Wine Restaurants in America, eateries they identify as this year’s top spots to eat and drink across the country. In the August 2015 issue you can find this year’s annual list that features interviews with star chefs and sommeliers.

WineCover

And there’s a WDW restaurant listed in the top 100!

Those who have dined at Jiko in the Animal Kingdom Lodge won’t be shocked at its’ inclusion on this list of the best places to wine and dine! According to the piece Jiko houses the largest foreign collection of South African wine. The list contains approximately 120–140 selections, several exclusive to Jiko.

 

Jiko

Above is a photo from the article showing one of the signature appetizers at Jiko, grilled wild boar tenderloin with mealie pap and chakalaka which they recommend to pair with Spice Route’s 2011 Chakalaka from South Africa. And from personal experience I can say this is one fine dish!

You can click here to see the Jiko listing, and here is the complete list of the top 100.

Now I’m thinking about a trip to Animal Kingdom Lodge… open the wine please!

A couple of weeks ago Bonnie & I made our way to the World for an abbreviated weekend to finally check out the Frozen festivities at the Studios. And of course, there were some eats (and drinks) along the way…

Sign

Must be fun! The sign says so…

You’ve likely seen all about the Summer Frozen Fun by now, so I won’t recount all the goings on…

The ladies love Kristoff!

The ladies love Kristoff!

We did happen to catch the parade as it was exiting the park near Star Tours (which is not a bad place to try and see it from), it was cute and actually better than expected.

And speaking of better than expected, I must admit I really did enjoy the Frozen Sing-Along (although like pretty much all the males in the audience, I didn’t do too much singing-along…). There are a couple of fun hosts in addition to Anna and Elsa, and it’s a blast to just watch the kids (and some adults as well) in the crowd who all seemed to be really getting into it!

I didn’t think too much of the Trading Post area with the skating rink and snow play area, but Bonnie and Mama Ginny (who along with her other half Papa Harry had joined us for the day) really though it was done well.

Snax

Which shall we choose???

And of course there was lots of merch and Frozen-themed eats to be had…

Snax

All Olaf, all the time (okay, it’s almost all Olaf…)

In several places you could get a variety of baked goods and sweets. Many, if not most, were Olaf-centric, and while they were all pretty cute, they seemed quite pricey (not that I should be surprised…).

Snax

Do some look like he’s screaming in fear of being eaten?

The Olaf cake pop here for example would be about two bites-worth (at least for an average adult, who I assume is not the primary target) for $4.19, or about $2.10 per bite…

Below the Olaf pops you can also see some Snowballs… we’ll come back to those later…

Buffalo Nuggets

Buffalo Nuggets

For lunch we slid into the Backlot Express. New to the menu since we’d been there last (which had been a while) were Buffalo Chicken Nuggets, which Harry and I both ordered. They weren’t bad at all – Disney’s nuggets are usually pretty good – and the basic Buffalo sauce was actually a bit hotter than I had expected. You can get both Ranch and Blue Cheese dressing at the condiment area, so there were dipping options for the chicken, even though there wasn’t any celery or other cruchy-things served with the nuggets (fries come on the side, I guess you could have gotten a side of carrot sticks instead to take the place of the traditional celery, but just a few sticks of those thrown on the side would have been nice, and for nine bucks or thereabouts I’m sure it wouldn’t really kill their bottom line).

Bonnie and Virginia both went with the old standby Grilled Veggie Sandwich (which I think is consistently one of the better sandwich options available in several locations around property).

Compare and contrast...

Compare and contrast…

Virginia made the genius move to order the childs version and the sandwich came at about two-thirds the size of the full version (you may not be able to tell that from the pic about due to the perspective). There was a smaller side of fries (and even my spud-loving wife admitted that she didn’t need to eat the full adult side of fries and the smaller version would have filled her fried potato cravings) along with a cookie and small bottled water (or milk if you want). It was plenty of food and for $5.99 a really good deal. Likewise, if two people both want the same sandwich, the full version is plenty big enough to split if you’re not starving…

Later in the afternoon our friends left us to our own devices, and we took that time to head back to our resort and relax a bit and have a bite to eat before coming back to the Studios for the Frozen fireworks later that night.

Outside the resort (we were staying the night at the Villas at Wilderness Lodge) near the bus stop I noticed a small sign with a QR code on it…

Give it a try...

Give it a try…

when I scanned the code with my phone it immediately went to the info and online booking engine for the signature restaurant at the resort, Artist Point. This is a simple and great idea by Disney, and I’m assuming there are also in place at other resorts (anyone seen them?). I also assume that they only put these out when they know that the restaurants in the resort are not full and could use some seats filled…

Territory Lounge Menu

Territory Lounge Menu

In spite of the temptation of Artist Point, we had planned to have some eats at one of our favorite places on property, the Territory Lounge. This cozy and nicely-themed room is right next to Artist Point. With comfy seating, a nice atmosphere and good, casual service I’m always surprised that this place is rarely crowded. And with the food coming from the kitchen next door, it has some of the best “bar food” you’ll find anywhere in the World.

Beer

Ummm… Beer

And in addition to the food, it has a real decent selection of craft beers…

beer

More beer…

so much so that I had to try more than one…

Literally everything on the menu sounded good to us, and we debated starting with two items, but we decided to share the fondue to begin with and if we were still hungry after that we’d try something else.

fondue

Fondue and beverages

The melty cheese was even better than we expected and we happily dipped the variety of breads into the pot. A couple of types of apples were also good with the cheese, but the best were the (oh-too-few) figs! We finished it off (with Bonnie debating about licking the bowl) and sadly had no more room for anything else on this visit.

We made our way back to the Studios and after an eerie visit to the Hollywood Tower Hotel, we decided to stake out a spot for the fireworks. By now Bonnie wanted a bit of something sweet so she went to get into line at Sweet Spells to see if any of the sweet snacks met her approval (did I mention the word sweet yet?). While she did this I got into a not-overly-long-but-incredibly-slow-moving line at the outdoor bar by the Brown Derby to try out one of the Frozen-themed specialty cocktails. After what seemed like an eternity without the line making much progress, I actually bailed out deciding that an over-priced cocktail wasn’t in the cards for me that night (yes, Dear Dedicated Readers, I of all people, passed on a margarita…).

As I met back up with Bonnie I found that she had selected a Snowball: a white sugar-coated Rice Crispie treat. We made our way towards the front of the park to be able to make a quick getaway after the fireworks and plopped our rears down on the curb to enjoy our sweet snack before the evenings pyrotechnics.

Well… “enjoy” wasn’t exactly what we did with the not-so-snowy snowball…  The sugar coating surrounding the crispies was so thick and hard that Bonnie was afraid she’d break a tooth getting through it! I tested the strength of my bridge and forced my artificial incisors into the rigid crust finally making my way to the insides. The rice cereal inside was, like the outside, overly sweet as to be actually unpleasant… so I think this will be the last snowball we try… now to check my insulin levels…

Oh yeah, the fireworks were great! Not quite to the level of the ones we saw at last years villains event in the Studios, but well worth braving the crowds for!

Popcorn

New Mickey Halloween Popcorn Bucket

The following day we took a boat over to the Magic Kingdom to check out the newly added waffle fries options at the Golden Oak Outpost.

Like we’d noticed at the gift shop at Wilderness Lodge, the Halloween merchandise was in full push mode in the Kingdom despite it still being August on this visit. I’m not usually a big fan of paying extra for the souvenir popcorn containers, but we both agreed that the new Haunted Mansion inspired Mickey bucket was awfully cute…

Golden Oak Outpost

Golden Oak Outpost

We eventually made it to the Outpost in Frontierland. Situated across the walkway from Pecos Bills, this location has gone through a few permutations since the exit of the McDonald’s fries several years ago, and just recently a potato-heavy bill of fare had begun to be offered.

Outpost Menu

Outpost Menu

We tried the first two options on the menu: Brown Gravy and Cheese Waffle Fries and the BLT Waffle Fries.

Waffle Fries

Waffle Fries!

The Gravy and Cheese Fries are a take on the traditional Canadian treat of Poutine, while the BLT version is somewhat reminiscent of the once-popular Figaro Fries that were served at Pinocchio Village Haus in Fantasyland.

The topped fries were not-quite-as-large-as-you’d-like for $5.99 each, but still after sharing the two servings we were sated for lunchtime. We really liked both versions (of the two I’d say I preferred the gravy option… when in doubt always choose gravy…) and are looking forward to coming back to try some of the other spudly items from the menu.

Well, that was it for our dining adventures during the abbreviated weekend at the World, hope you enjoyed coming along!

As always, we’re back to the kitchen, and soon we’ll be back to the World – I hear there is a little event coming up soon at Epcot…

See you soon!

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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.

IMG_4453

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!

DSCF6097

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!

 

 

 

 

 

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!

Hello again, Dear Dedicated Readers, several days ago we took our first delayed look at the events of the 2014 Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend in the post “WDW Odds and Ends: 2014 Marathon Weekend Spell-Check Edition“, so now it’s (finally) time to take a little look at some of the dining (and drinking) events from the same weekend…

Pork Belly Nigri

Pork Belly Nigri

Despite being in the World for a long weekend, we did relatively little dining out, but what we did do was memorable, so let’s dig in!

Quite a while before the weekend we’d been asked to join several friends in trying out the newly renovated California Grill high atop the Contemporary Resort and of course we jumped at the chance…

Passion Fruit Margarita

Passion Fruit Margarita

Dinner was the night after the 10k, and some of us were still a bit creaky after the race that morning, but a few adult beverages would serve to ease those with a few pains…

Bonnie and I started with one (okay, maybe two…) of the delicious Passion Fruit Margaritas off the cocktail menu while our companions made wine their libation of choice.

BBQ Pork and Apple Flatbread

BBQ Pork and Apple Flatbread

As we perused the menu and enjoyed the great company, we also took in our gorgeous surroundings and the fantastic view (there have been plenty of great pics online of the refurbed restaurant, and my photography isn’t going to surpass what’s already been published, so take a look at some nice pics over at the Disney Food Blog).

Bonnie & I decided to share one of the flatbreads and a not-so-everyday-sushi item as our appetizer course.

A closer look at the BBQ Pork and Apple Flatbread...

A closer look at the BBQ Pork and Apple Flatbread…

The BBQ Pork and Apple Flatbread had pieces of coffee-brined pork, and was topped with apple butter, queso fresco, BBQ sauce and julienned pieces of sweet apples for crunch. Nope, it didn’t suck… but as good as it was, our other app choice was, well, flipping amazing

Pork Belly Nigri

Pork Belly Nigri

The Pork Belly Nigri was a roll of bacon and yuzu seasoned rice with a nice piece of cured pork belly sitting on top and all drizzled with a lightly spicy teriyaki sauce… damn…

Duck in all its Glory

Duck in all its Glory

Other apps around the table included Duck in all its Glory (duck served in several ways: House-made Sausage, Rillettes, Prosciutto, Duck Liver Pâté) and Yuzu-marinated Sashimi…

Yuzu-marinated Sashimi

Yuzu-marinated Sashimi

a beautiful plate of Yellowfin Tuna, Salmon, Hamachi, Snapper with Wasabi Oil.

Oak-fired Filet of Beef

Oak-fired Filet of Beef

Entrees included Oak-fired Filet of Beef (served with tomato risotto, marinated baby tomatoes, petite basil and tomato butter)…

Georges Bank Scallops

Georges Bank Scallops

Georges Bank Scallops (with French curry spice, squash ravioli and citrus butter)…

Spicy Kazan Roll

Spicy Kazan Roll

while Bonnie and I shared one of huge and delicious sushi rolls: the Spicy Kazan Roll with crab, shrimp, scallops, tuna and fireball sauce. The sushi here isn’t cheap, but it’s pretty darn good!

As always one of the best things about the California Grill is the spectacular view, and during Wishes the lights are dimmed and the music is piped into the restaurant!

Wishes!

Wishes! as seen from our table

While the wife and I were stuffed to the gills, some of our party still had room for dessert…

Lemon Meringue Cheesecake

Lemon Meringue Cheesecake

Sundae Sampler - perhaps the most adorable dessert ever!

Sundae Sampler – perhaps the most adorable dessert ever!

The food and service on our visit to the California Grill was great, and the refurbished space was gorgeous. Yes, it’s among the more expensive locations on property, so it will remain a “special-event” type of place for most diners, but we’re already looking forward to going again… mmm… pork belly sushi…

Thanks to Alice, Elizabeth, Karen and Marty for some great company on that night! Yes, lucky me, I was the only guy along with five lovely ladies!

The backside of the Spice Road Table

The backside of the Spice Road Table

The next day Bonnie and I made our way to Epcot (big shock, huh?) and met up with Papa Harry and Mama Ginny. Word had been going around that the highly anticipated Spice Road Table in Morocco was scheduled to make it’s official opening that day so we wanted to check it out.

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Much of the 10k route was through Epcot, and it was the day before during that race that some of us got our first look at the Spice Road with the final construction walls down.

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So on this Saturday we made our way to World Showcase in the morning and as the rope dropped to allow guests in we, along with several others, hightailed it to the restaurant. As we got near there was a fair amount of activity in the outside seating area which we were facing, so it seemed they were getting ready to receive diners.

Outdoor seating area at Spice Road Table

Outdoor seating area at Spice Road Table

The cast members at the restaurant welcomed us and ushered in the first guests with much applause.

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Bar area inside Spice Road Table

Bar area inside Spice Road Table

We were led in past the gorgeous bar and seated outside by one of the hostesses. She left us with the menus and soon our server (who was great BTW) arrived.

Spice Road Table Menu

Spice Road Table Menu Cover

He gave us a complete rundown of the restaurant and the ideas behind the menu – the food items are made from authentic recipes from the ancient Spice Road (see the back page of the menu below for some details on this).

Back of the Spice Road Table Menu

Back of the Spice Road Table Menu

He noted that some of the items may not be to our (or even his) particular tastes, but were authentic to the original recipes and not altered to make them more appealing to American palates (and I’m paraphrasing here – I actually wish I’d taped his discourse as it was quite interesting and informative). He left us to peruse the menu and when he returned we selected our beverages to start…

Spice Road Table Beverage Menu

Spice Road Table Beverage Menu

Bacj

Spice Road Table Wine Menu

Bonnie ordered the White Wine Flight…

White Wine Flight

White Wine Flight

she thought all were fine, but other than the Ksara Blanc de Blanc (which she graciously allowed me to sample and I quite liked) were nothing special. The flights come in glasses with the Spice Road logo on them and a description of each wine is provided.

Estrella Damm Beer

Estrella Damm Beer

I had a Spanish beer while Papa Harry ordered a glass of wine.

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Tangier’s Breeze

Mama Ginny had one of the signature cocktails – the Tangier’s Breeze. When asked how it tasted, she replied “Like something I want to drink for the rest of the day”! I think she liked it…

Spice Road Table Wine Menu

Spice Road Table Small Plates Menu

Menu

Chef’s Special and Dessert Menu

We ordered our food and enjoyed the beautiful weather, setting and company while we waited for our meal to arrive.

Hummus and Olives

Hummus and Imported Olives with Cornichons (little pickles) and Za’atar Flatbread

Mama Ginny wasn’t famished, so she selected the Hummus while the rest of us opted for the samplers.

Mogador Sampler

Mogador Sampler

I ordered the Mogador (seafood) Sampler with Mussels Tagine, Salted Cod Croquettes & Fried Calamari.

Tingis Sampler

Tingis Sampler

Bonnie & Harry both chose the meaty Tingis Sampler composed of Moroccan Lamb Sausage, a Harissa Chicken Roll and a Lamb Slider.

Mama Ginny was a bit underwhelmed with the hummus selections – I tried them and even though the plain version wasn’t anything special, I personally liked the tomato version, and the olives and pickles were nice. This would be a good item for a table to share as an “appetiser” to some other small plates.

Mussels Tagine

Mussels Tagine

I’d really been looking forward to trying the Mussels Tagine as I’m a Mussel-Fan, but these didn’t really do it for me…

According to the menu these are prepared with cilantro, garlic, lemon confit and tomato sauce… I’m more used to a steamed or perhaps grilled presentation of these bivalves served in the shell, but these were sans shell and had a more mealy texture like you’d find in a tinned, smoked version. They weren’t bad mind you, but I wasn’t excited by them and doubt I’d order them again.

Salted Cod Croquettes

Salted Cod Croquettes

I was pleasantly surprised by the Salted Cod Croquettes however – I was expecting a stronger flavor from the salt cod, but these fritters were mild and nicely flavored.

Fried Calamari

Fried Calamari

The best of the sampler was without a doubt the Fried Calamari. Our waiter said this was by far his favorite item on the entire menu, and these crispy, tender (for calamari) rings and tentacles were delicious! I’ve downed plenty of fried squid in my day, and these were among the best I’ve ever had – I’d return here just for more of these!

Moroccan Lamb Sausage

Moroccan Lamb Sausage

The Tingis Sampler was pretty much all a hit. The dense Lamb Sausage came served atop a salad of chopped tomato, red onion and cilantro and was quite good.

Harissa Chicken Roll

Harissa Chicken Roll

The Harissa Chicken Roll (with a side of spicy ketchup) is the same item as usually seen at the Morocco booth during the Food & Wine Festival. Like an egg roll filled with slightly spicy chicken mixture and studded with corn kernels this is a really nice item.

Lamb Slider

Lamb Slider

The real winner of the sampler for Miss Bonnie (and I couldn’t argue with her on it’s virtues) was the mini lamb burger (yes, I have an aversion to the term “slider”… keep waiting for that rant Dedicated Readers…). Served on a seeded brioche bun and topped with a tzatziki sauce, this juicy lamb patty was really good… I’d love a full-size version of this!

Despite this being a “small plates” kinda-place, we were all sated after our choices and couldn’t find the room for dessert – our servers favorite was the Chocolate Pyramid, which we saw at a neighboring table, and sometime we’ll return to try it out…

Now for a couple of notes about this place…

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You do get served on real plates and with real silverware, the napkins aren’t cloth, but they are very heavy and have the logo nicely printed on them.

When asked if we wanted water, we were brought bottled sparkling water (which of course we were charged for), so be sure to specify you want a glass of ice water unless you want otherwise.

At this time they do not take Tables in Wonderland, but our server indicated “they were looking into it”…

Also for the time being the bar was only for drinks being served at the tables, but our server noted that they hoped to have the bar open for walk-up guests in the fututre.

Inside seating area

Inside seating area

The restaurant is gorgeous… simply gorgeous…

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but the seating areas are fairly small – total capacity looks to be under 100. And I’m sure the outside seats will be in high demand for Illuminations.

There’s been a lot of “compare and contrast” online about this and the Tangerine Cafe, but they are really two different animals and two different experiences. Yes, per “volume of food” this is more expensive, but it’s also a sit-down, even if the servings are “small plates”… I’d give it a try before downplaying it as many seem to have done… we’re looking forward to going back and trying some items we didn’t have on our first visit!

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In the attached building is also the gift shop, a section of which is currently devoted to food items.

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Spices, coffees, teas, wines and more are available for purchase.

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Next door to the gift shop is the Art of Henna…

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and at the end of the building opposite the restaurant is a take-out window…

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with an assortment of sweets and beverages.

Juice Bar Menu

Juice Bar Menu

Here ended our visit to Morocco, but we weren’t quite done with Africa…

Dawa Bar

Dawa Bar

as we made our way to the village of Harambe in Disney’s Animal Kingdom…

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for a visit to the recently re-located Dawa Bar for a few African Margaritas.

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With the on-going construction in Harambe due to the new theater being built for the Festival of the Lion King show, the Dawa Bar was moved from it’s original location to the new one a few yards away to the right of the entrance area/podium for the Tusker House restaurant.

The back side of beer!

The back side of beer!

The new bar is certainly larger and more open than the previous incarnation – you can even walk all around the back of it if you are so inclined.

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There is more seating right at the bar, but there is precious little other seating right now, and we’ll have to see if the former plethora of tables returns after the construction walls come down and the area opens up again.

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After a couple of rounds we made our way out of the park, and thus ended our culinary and cocktail highlights of Marathon weekend.

Hope you enjoyed the look back at some eats & drinks… there is more from the World to share with you soon!  But for now its back to the kitchen!


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If you read the recent post “It was like a Dream…” (and if you didn’t, why the heck not?), you know that Miss Bonnie and I recently tied the knot and right after went on a cruise on the Disney Dream.

Seeing that we were accompanied on the cruise by over forty of our family and friends, we considered our time on the Dream not as our honeymoon but more of an “extended reception”.

So the weekend after we decided to have a bit more “alone time” and where else would you go to be alone but to Walt Disney World?

Since we hadn’t had an opportunity to check out much of the the holiday decor and such around the parks this year we wanted to spend some time doing that, and of course along the way there were some eats and drinks… so let’s take a look back at the events of our Honeymoon Weekend at the World (well, at least some of the events…).

We checked into our resort Friday afternoon and soon made our way to the Studios to take in the Osborne Lights (and see if we could find that damn purple cat…). Trying to decide where our first food stop would be Bonnie had the genius suggestion that we try and check out the new Brown Derby Lounge.

An outdoor area adjacent to the Brown Derby restaurant, this venue had opened only about a month earlier and had been getting great reviews, so we were eager to give it a try. As luck would have it, there was a small table for two just calling our names as we walked up, so we quickly sat down and perused the menu.

Champagne Flight and Flavored Margarita Flight

Champagne Flight and Flavored Margarita Flight

The main attraction here is a “small plates” menu with a limited but interesting variety of eats, and in case you really need an adult beverage (and who doesn’t?), several beverage flights. There is also a menu of specialty cocktails and a pretty good selection of wines by the glass.

We each started with a flight (and it seems now that you can hardly go anywhere on property now without being offered a flight of some beverage), Bonnie having the Champagne Flight (with Taittinger Brut, Fairy Tale Cuvee and  Rosa Regale) while I selected the “Citizens Take Flight” which was three margaritas (mango, pomegranate and “derby”) each named after one of the Citizens of Hollywood. All were quite good, but I think the “Melvin Macheezmo” (mango) was my favorite of the three. These drinks don’t appear on the menu of speciality cocktails, but I did ask the bartender and he said they would gladly make a full size version of any of them.

Other flights available include martini (with these drinks also named after some of the Citizens of Hollywood), Scotch, Grand Marnier, and a couple of wine flights (one red and one white).

Artisanal Cheeses - Champignon brie, Midnight Moon goat cheese and Flora Nelle blue cheese served with raisins on the vine, pear jelly, spiced pecans, and crostini

Artisanal Cheeses: Champignon Brie, Midnight Moon Goat Cheese and Flora Nelle Blue Cheese served with various accompaniments

Bonnie needed her cheese-fix satiated so we started with the Artisanal Cheese plate – a nice selection of three cheeses with accompaniments to enhance their flavors. The portions could have been a bit bigger, but we really enjoyed this, especially the Midnight Moon.

Derby Sliders - Wagyu beef with cognac-mustard aioli, smoked gouda cheese, bacon and avocado, AND house-made chorizo with chipotle mayo, manchego cheese, pickles and crispy onions Brown Derby Lounge Disney's Hollywood Studios Walt Disney World

Derby Sliders:  one Chorizo with chipotle mayonnaise, manchego cheese, crispy onions and pickles and one Wagyu Beef with cognac-mustard aioli, smoked gouda cheese, bacon and avocado

For our “meatier” selection we shared the Derby Sliders, two decent-sized mini-burgers. Served with good freshly made chips, one of the sliders was Wagyu beef while the other was a spicy Chorizo sausage. Both were topped off with some tasty goodies and we really liked both of these – Bonnie preferred the beef while I favored the Chorizo.

We had a fun time and there are other things on the menu here we want to try, so I’m sure we’ll be back…

As we finished up eating we were joined by a friend (who’s quite the character) to view the lights (and yes, we found the not-so-well-hidden-this-year purple cat!).

Not the cat...

Not the cat…

After a bit of time with the dancing lights we hightailed if over to Epcot for a quick beverage before viewing Illuminations with the spectacular holiday tag at the end.

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Afterwards we decided to call it a night, bade farewell to our friend and made our way back to our resort.

We were staying at the Bonnet Creek Hilton (which is a beautiful resort that we quite like, but the transportation sucks if you’re going to the parks…), and when we returned to the room we were greeted with a pleasant surprise from the nice folks at the Hilton – a chilled bottle of champagne and chocolate-covered strawberries!

And yes, we were making no secret of our recent nuptials, wearing our “Wedding Ears” and “Just Married” buttons that we got on the cruise (they no longer have those buttons at the parks or resorts BTW)… milking it for all it was worth…

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Saturday we started where we had left off the night before – in Epcot to check out the holiday decorations and some special food and beverage selections that were being offered during the holiday season.

Holiday Menu at Promenade Refreshments

Holiday Menu at Promenade Refreshments

At Promenade Refreshments in the World Showcase they were cooking up a couple of fresh-made waffles and we tried the “Savory Seasonal” option.

Seasonal Savory Waffle

Savory Seasonal Waffle

The waffles were being made to order, so each took several minutes to serve… also the cast members seemed to be having a bit of an issue getting our waffle to cook properly, so the waffle didn’t look too pretty (nor was it firm enough to pick the thing up and eat like a sandwich, which I think at some point was the idea of the thing…), but the stuffing-waffle tasted pretty good, and when it was filled with the turkey and cranberry sauce you had your typical Thanksgiving/Christmas-dinner-next-day-lefover-sandwich flavors on the plate. This was a big portion (plenty enough for us to share), and at $6.39 one of the best values you’ll ever find at Disney.

As you can see in the pic above, much like the passport at Food & Wine, there was a “Holiday Passport” booklet highlighting the special items around Epcot for the holiday season (and yes, there were special ink stamps of ornaments for the holiday version).

Inside of the Holiday Passport with stamp from Promenade Refreshments

Inside of the Holiday Passport with stamp from Promenade Refreshments

There were a few new holiday decorations this year…

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the courtyard in France was sporting several large “ornaments” with miniature winter/holiday scenes from Paris inside – very cool! It wasn’t a big huge deal, but I really liked these!

I always enjoy the holiday storytellers around World Showcase…

Père Noël

Père Noël

we didn’t get to see many of them this go-round, but we had fun watching the ones we got to see.

We’ve been watching the construction progress in Morocco for a while hoping that the new Spice Road table restaurant would magically be open for us one day…

Spice Road Table

Spice Road Table

but this would not be the day… maybe Marathon weekend?

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In Japan the Kabuki Cafe was serving up a savory treat…

Teriyaki Chicken Kaarage

Teriyaki Chicken Karaage

crispy fried boneless chicken topped with a sweet teriyaki sauce… nothing amazing, but pretty good… and nothing says “holidays” to me like Japanese fried chicken!

Sugar and Spice Bake Shop

Sugar and Spice Bake Shop

The Sugar and Spice Bake Shop in the American Adventure offered up several baked goods along with some hot and cold beverages.

Sugar and Spice Bake Shop Menu

Sugar and Spice Bake Shop Menu

Nearby in Italy, the Buona Festa booth had an extensive listing of alcoholic body-additives.

Buona Festa

Buona Festa

Buona Festa Bill of Fare

Buona Festa Bill of Fare

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As usual, my favorite little village in Germany was decked out for the holidays…

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even some of the train engines were adorned with Christmas finery.

Christkindlmarkt

Christkindlmarkt

Elsewhere in Germany, Christkindlmarkt had several caramel-based concoctions…

Christkindlmarkt oddly priced menu

Christkindlmarkt (oddly priced) menu

and another good selection of wines and other adult beverages. Bonnie’s favorite item of the day was from here…

Hot Salted Caramel Drink and Caramel Mocha Iced Coffee Drink

Hot Salted Caramel Drink and Caramel Mocha Iced Coffee Drink

the Hot Salted Caramel Drink… the Caramel Mocha Iced Coffee was pretty good, but the Hot Salted Caramel was, well, wow… rich, creamy-tasting (without any cream)… I think if Bonnie could have married this drink, she would have divorced me then and there to wed this glass of sweet & salty goodness!

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We made one more holiday food stop before we exited Epcot.

Sweet Tamales

Sweet Tamales

The quick service location in Mexico was serving a sweet version of tamales…

Mmmm... guava...

Mmmm… guava…

Filled with guava paste, the slightly sweet masa was drizzled with a fruity sauce and was a great, sweet end to our Epcot eats. Neither of us was expecting much from this, but we both loved it!

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From Epcot we boarded the monorail to head to the Magic Kingdom.

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The Magic Kingdom, and especially Main Street, always look great for the holidays!

Stay classy, Dapper Dans...

Stay classy, Dapper Dans…

After watching a great performance of holiday songs by the Dapper Dans, we headed to Adventureland to take a ride on the  Jingle Cruise…

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this simple holiday overlay of the Jungle Cruise was a lot of fun and we really enjoyed it…

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I think some people were expecting much more and were disappointed with it, but we both thought it was great. I’m hoping they do more special holiday transformations like this in the future (and we do have some ideas… we’re just waiting for Imagineering to call…).

Before...

Before…

We stayed around MK for that evenings holiday Castle Lighting…

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after…

and no, we didn’t have anything to eat at the Magic Kingdom that day (yes, I know this is supposed to be a Weekend Eats edition, but I guess it’s also part Odds & Ends…), but we soon made up for it by hopping on the monorail over to the Polynesian resort…

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where we quickly made our way to one of our favorite spots, the Kona Island Sushi Bar.

Located in the Poly lobby outside the Kona Cafe, this venue serves coffee and pastries during the day, but in the evening it serves up Island-styled sushi.

Caterpillar Roll

Caterpillar Roll

A look inside the Caterpillar Roll

A look inside the Caterpillar Roll

You can also order from the full Kona Cafe menu (and likewise you can order from the sushi menu if dining at Kona). The sushi chefs actually used to make the food inside the “Island”, but now ply their trade unseen in the kitchen, sadly taking away a bit of the show and fun from this locale.

Pork and Vegetable Pot Stickers

Pork and Vegetable Pot Stickers

We chose the Pot Stickers from the regular Kona menu (pork and vegetable dumplings topped with a creamy ginger-soy sauce – pretty good but the duck pot stickers they used to serve here were better); the cute Caterpillar Roll (an inside out tuna roll with shrimp salad and topped with avocado); and arguably our single favorite item served on property, the Tuna Poke (a traditional Hawaiian poke salad of seasoned, diced tuna).

Tuna Poke

Tuna Poke

At the end of our meal our server (who did a great job, especially on what was a very busy and hectic night at Kona) brought us a couple of congratulatory cupcakes – there were nothing really special taste-wise, but still it was a nice touch.

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So Dear Dedicated Readers, that about wraps up the events of our Honeymoon weekend (or at least the events I’m going to tell you about)… next we’re off to the World for Marathon Weekend… I’m sure we’ll be eating something there… stay tuned…

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

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