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.

IMG_4237

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 usual, Miss Bonnie and I were in the World for Marathon Weekend in January. We had originally planned on not actually doing any of the races this year after finishing the Goofy Challenge (a half-marathon on Saturday and a full on Sunday, for a total of 39.3 miles) in 2013, and with what occurred after that race (and one of these days I’ll get around to fully recounting that story…) anything this year would just be anti-climatic…

Bib from new 10k race

Bib from new 10k race

Well, leave it to the good folks at runDisney to announce a new race (the Walt Disney World 10K) and also a new challenge (the official Dopey Challenge: four races over four days totaling 48.6 miles!). We weren’t exactly excited about the training time and expense that the Dopey would require, especially with all we’d have going on right before that in our lives (and if you’re not sure what that was, you can check out the post “It was like a Dream….“), but with a 10k being basically a “walk in the park” after Goofy, and it being a new medal we didn’t have, we signed up for the 10k as soon as it opened for registration (and good thing as it sold out in a nanosecond).

As always, we had a wonderful long weekend seeing many friends, eating some good food (that post to come later), and yes, earning a new medal…

New Minnie medal in the middle

New Minnie medal in the middle

Other than the usual fun and frivolity around the parks, there were some very odd odds and ends around the races… so let’s take a look shall we?

Sign

One side of the Bus Route Sign after the 10k

If you’re staying on Disney property, they provide bus transportation to and from all of the races. After the end of each days race there is a line of buses going to each of the resorts, and large signs directing you to where the bus for your particular resort is (or will be) parked awaiting your tired and sweaty self. On this day the signed provided a bit of, well, odd information…

A closer look at the sign above... notice anything?

A closer look at the sign above… notice anything?

An even closer look for you...

An even closer look for you…

apparently you can’t go to the Art of Animation resort, you have to go to either Art or Animation… didn’t know they were separate…

And around the corner...

And around the corner…

The other side of the same sign also provided a bit of amusement…

And here's your close-up...

And here’s your close-up…

apparently there are no longer any “Springs” at Coronado Springs… all you have now are “Spings”… I think I’d ask for a discount if I was staying there…

And it wasn’t just the signs… let’s take a closer look at the runners bib for the 10k…

Let's look at that bib again...

Let’s look at that bib again…

This race was extra-special - it was the Inaguaral one!

This race was extra-special – it was apparently the Inaugurual one!

As this was the first time the 10k was held, it was the Inaugural running of this race, or that’s what you would have thought – the bib declared it the “Inaugurual” 10k!

So now I’m thinking there might be a job opening at runDisney for a proof-reader… brushing up my resume…

Okay, I just really don’t know what to say about all that… I’ll leave it up to you… comments???

So, let’s wrap-up on a fun note – along the race courses there are usually lots of bands, well-wishers, and of course, characters… and sometimes you’ll see some characters you rarely (if ever) see around the parks.

Just don't look up my name in the Urban Dictionary...

Just don’t look up my name in the Urban Dictionary…

Bonnie and I went out to cheer the racers Saturday and Sunday (the 10k was on Friday), and towards the end of the marathon course just outside of Mousegears in Epcot we came across Launchpad McQuack from Ducktails!

DSCF5626

He even took time to pose with another non-human!

So there you have it dear Dedicated Readers, some more Odds and Ends… and a few very odd ones it was!

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!

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…

DSCF0855

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…

DSCF0984

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.

DSCF1973

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!

As the New Year looms it seems that most blogs, websites, etc have to have some sort of year-in-review post, and being the Internet Lemming that I am, I will follow suit… so here are some random things from this this past year around the World – many, of course, food & drink related.2012-Disney-pin-1

Let’s hop into our TARDIS and go way back in time – all the way to January of 2012…

runDisney Event Medals

runDisney Event Medals

The first big event of the year at the Walt Disney World Resort is Marathon Weekend: thousands of runners, joggers, walkers and assorted hangers-on swamp the World to take part in the athletic endeavors that wind their way through property over the long weekend.

Disney Marathon Weekend Packet Pickup

Disney Marathon Weekend Packet Pickup

One of the first stops for the participants is at the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex to pickup their bibs and other race paraphernalia and to browse and shop at the race expo.

The best booth at the race expo!

The best booth at the race expo!

And in case the runners need sustenance to make it up and down the crowded aisles of the expo, one can avail themselves of some fresh fruit, an energy drink, or, thank goodness, a glass of bubbly or a beer!

Marathon Weekend Cupcakes

Marathon Weekend Cupcakes

The Main Street Bakery in the Magic Kingdom was in the Marathon Mood during the weekend with some specially decorated cupcakes… can you say Carb-Loading?

Lots of things were going on in the brief month of February…

Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom Banner

Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom Banner above the Firehouse on Main Street

The new Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom interactive game was now in full swing in (of course) the Magic Kingdom.

Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom Training Session

Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom Training Session

Valentine’s is always a busy time at the World (what’s more romantic than a cozy ride for two through the Haunted Mansion?).

Wild Caught Jumbo Prawn and Crab "Hot-Pot" at Artist Point

Wild Caught Jumbo Prawn and Crab “Hot-Pot” at Artist Point

Miss Bonnie and I shared a nice dinner at Artist Point in the Wilderness Lodge to celebrate Valentine’s Day.

House-made Sweet Potato Gnocchi at Artist Point

House-made Sweet Potato Gnocchi at Artist Point

Another popular runDisney event. the Princess Half-Marathon, is held the end of February.

Princess Half-Marathon Snack Box and Medal

Princess Half-Marathon Snack Box and Medal

After the race instead of the usual “grab-a-bannana-and-a-bagel” line at most running events, the finishing Princesses (and Princes) were handed a nice little box of post-race refueling items.

Also that month there was a debut at the Kidani Village:

Makemba the Okapi at Kidani Village

Makemba the Okapi at Kidani Village

Makemba (an African name for “Goddess”) is a female Okapi calf that was born on October 1 of 2011 and was just making her first forays into public view for limited times at Kidani Village.

Makemba with mama Zoe keeping a watch nearby

Makemba with mama Zoe keeping a watch nearby

The rare and reclusive Okapi are kept on Pembe Savannah at the resort – this is the smaller savannah near the pool area. Even if you aren’t staying at the resort you can always stop by and try to catch a glimpse of these gorgeous creatures.

Construction at Tutto Gusto in Italy pavilion

Construction at Tutto Gusto in Italy pavilion

In Epcot’s World Showcase the refurbishment in Italy continued as we eagerly kept checks on the soon to open wine bar…

Temporary food kiosk in Italy

Temporary food kiosk in Italy

A kiosk was set up on the promenade to help service guests Italian food needs while Tutto Italia was closed.

Fancy-dancy restrooms at the new Storybook Circus train stop

Fancy-dancy restrooms at the new Storybook Circus train stop

March saw the first part of the New Fantasyland expansion debut – sections of the Storybook Circus area, including the refurbished train stop (and perhaps the nicest restrooms in the Magic Kingdom!) were opened to the public.

The Great Goofini's Ill-fated Rocket Flight

The Great Goofini’s Ill-fated Rocket Flight

DSCF8148

Also in March I had the opportunity to attend the Food Blog Forum event that was held on WDW property for the first time this year.

Food Blog Forum opening reception at the Grand Floridian

Food Blog Forum opening reception at the Grand Floridian

"Hanging" Salads at the Food Blog Forum opening reception at the Grand Floridian Walt Disney World

“Hanging” Salads at the Food Blog Forum opening reception

In addition to a day of great seminars and the opportunity to meet many food bloggers from all over the country (as well as re-connect with friends made before), the attendees got a couple of chances to see how the Disney chefs can really strut their stuff when given the chance! An opening reception was held the evening before the seminars at a lovely outside venue at the Grand Floridian resort.

Food Blog Forum lunch in the Millennium Village in Epcot Walt Disney World

Food Blog Forum lunch in the Millennium Village in Epcot

Lunch on the seminar day was held in the Millennium Village in Epcot. Chefs from restaurants around property served a huge variety of great dishes that emphasized the healthier side of dining while still keeping the taste and style high.

Spreads and Dips from Sanaa at the  Food Blog Forum lunch

Spreads and Dips from Sanaa at the Food Blog Forum lunch

The sign says it all... I ate two of these without getting a good picture!

The sign says it all… I ate two of these without getting a good picture!

High-tech Soda making!

High-tech Soda making!

The Kitchen meets the Laboratory

The Kitchen meets the Laboratory

Chocolate Ravioli in Cognac at Food Blog Forum lunch

Chocolate Ravioli in Cognac at Food Blog Forum lunch

March also saw the opening of the 2012 Epcot Flower and Garden Festival.

Cheers to the Flower & Garden Festival!

Cheers to the Flower & Garden Festival!

Haiti area at Flower & Garden Festival

Haiti area at Flower & Garden Festival

This year’s festival featured an area devoted to Haiti.

Haiti Refreshment Kiosk

Haiti Refreshment Kiosk

And yes, there were cocktails!

Haiti Refreshments Menu

Haiti Refreshments Menu

April saw the continuation of the Flower & Garden Festival…

Dragon in China pavilion

Dragon in China pavilion

Bonsai in Japan pavilion

Bonsai in Japan pavilion

Construction walls in Italy

Construction walls in Italy

and the continued construction at the restaurant in Italy.

New signage up behind the construction walls

New signage up behind the construction walls

But the new signs were up and the refurb seemed near to an end!

While impatiently waiting for the wine bar in Italy to open, we took advantage of the Wine Walk in Epcot and sampled several wines in three countries.

Sampling wines in France...

Sampling wines in France…

Italy...

Italy…

and Germany

and Germany

The Wine Walk is available all year and makes a fun (and relatively economical) way to sample several varietals as you make your way around the World Showcase.

Illuminations: Reflections of Earth

Illuminations: Reflections of Earth

And of course the best way to end any day at Epcot (regardless of the time of year) is with a viewing of Illuminations!

 Illuminations finale

Illuminations finale

Over at the Magic Kingdom an old friend returned…

Poster at the Magic Kingdom

Poster at the Magic Kingdom

The Sunshine Tree Terrace in Adventureland re-opened after a bit of a refurbishment…

Sunshine Tree Terrace

Sunshine Tree Terrace

and along with it came the return of the Orange Bird character to the park.

"Little Orange Bird..."

“Little Orange Bird…”

And at the very end of April in Epcot…

Italy sans construction walls!

Italy sans construction walls!

the walls were down in Italy!

Almost open...

Almost open… but not quite

But staff posted outside (along with signage) informed guests that the restaurant and adjacent wine bar weren’t quite ready to open to the public.

Sign outside Tutto Italia

Sign outside Tutto Italia

Which brings us to the merry month of May….

Italy at night...

Italy at night…

The first weekend of the month we got to stick out heads into the much-anticipated wine bar (you can see some pics from that visit in the WDW Odds & Ends post from May 24, 2012)…

Tutto Gusto entrance

Tutto Gusto entrance

but it would still be a while before we got to eat and drink there… we’ll get to that later…

The first weekend of May also included Cinco de Mayo…

Inside the Mexico pyramid...

Inside the Mexico pyramid…

and not surprisingly the lines were long at La Cava del Tequila in Mexico.

Why yes, I'll have a cocktail...

Why yes, I’ll have a cocktail…

That weekend was also the weekend that the Flower & Garden Festival was highlighting the “Fresh from Florida” agriculture in the Festival Center (aka the Wonders of Life Pavilion). With the “Real Job” coming under the umbrella of Florida agriculture, and our company hosting a display at the Festival Center that weekend, Miss Bonnie and I were invited to a small private function “after hours” upstairs in the Festival Center and once again, I got to see the Disney chefs stretch themselves (and we also found out how easy it would be to wander around backstage fairly unnoticed if one wished to do so… but that’s perhaps another post for another day…).

Peanut Crusted Beef Skewers

Peanut Crusted Beef Skewers

They tailored the food items to represent several of the groups and companies that were displaying during that weekend: a peanut farm (who knew we raised peanuts in Florida?); kumquat farmers; a couple of ornamental aquaculture suppliers; and of course strawberry farmers .

Panna Cotta with Kumquat Jam

Panna Cotta with Kumquat Jam

Koi Colored Chocolate Drops with Sugar Coral

Koi Colored Chocolate Drops with Sugar Coral (this was incredibly impressive from both an aesthetic and taste perspective)

Strawberries and Cream

Strawberries and Cream

As we exited the event and took the tiny elevator down to the first floor, Bonnie & I (like the true Disney-nerds we are) took the chance to nose around a little in the closed building and found a fun room…

"Carnival" room in the Epcot Wonders of Life Pavilion

“Carnival” room in the Epcot Wonders of Life Pavilion

"Carnival" room in the Epcot Wonders of Life Pavilion

“Carnival” room in the Epcot Wonders of Life Pavilion

"Carnival" room in the Epcot Wonders of Life Pavilion

“Carnival” room in the Epcot Wonders of Life Pavilion

"Carnival" room in the Epcot Wonders of Life Pavilion

“Carnival” room in the Epcot Wonders of Life Pavilion

"Carnival" room in the Epcot Wonders of Life Pavilion

“Carnival” room in the Epcot Wonders of Life Pavilion

"Carnival" room in the Epcot Wonders of Life Pavilion

“Carnival” room in the Epcot Wonders of Life Pavilion

"Carnival" room in the Epcot Wonders of Life Pavilion

“Carnival” room in the Epcot Wonders of Life Pavilion

This is the room that became the Chase Lounge at this year’s Food and Wine Festival, so sadly it no longer exists in the cool decor we saw… but we were excited to see it and I’m glad to be able to share these pictures with my Dear Dedicated Readers.

There is another “Carousel” room upstairs (see the post at Zannaland about this room) that Bonnie and I got to see after the Food and Wine Festival Preview last year – hopefully the decor in that room will stay around for a while!

And yes, there was yet another runDisney event that weekend – the Expedition Everest Challenge – Miss Bonnie and I declined to run in that event, but we did volunteer and had a great amount of fun helping runners out with the scavenger hunt clues!

Flower Power Concert Poster

Flower Power Concert Poster

A couple of weeks later we once again made our way to Epcot for the final weekend of the Flower & Garden Festival. I specifically wanted to see the performance of Micky Dolenz who was taking the place of the late Davy Jones. It was a fun, nostalgic, and at times emotional show as Micky talked about his friend and band-mate who had just passed away in February.

Mickey Dolenz

Micky Dolenz

After the concert we finally got the chance to have a nosh at Tutto Gusto…

Polenta Funghu e Fontina at Tutto Gusto

Polenta Funghu e Fontina at Tutto Gusto

and Miss Bonnie quickly fell in love with the place! For more details on the eats we had there (and lots of other eats from that weekend as well!) check out the WDW Weekend Eats post dated June 1, 2012.

Star Wars Weekends stage in front of the "Hat"

Star Wars Weekends stage in front of the “Hat”

Another popular event opened up that weekend: Star Wars Weekends at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

R2D2 filled with Churros

R2D2 filled with Churros

And yes, there was food there as well!

Lord Vader turns out to be a sweetie...

Lord Vader turns out to be a sweetie…

The June fun started in Animal Kingdom…

Safari Guide Tip Board at Animal Kingdom

Safari Guide Tip Board at Animal Kingdom

with the Sundowner Celebration.

There was food…

Indian Wine

Indian Wine

beverages…

Bollywood, baby!

Bollywood, baby!

and dancing!

Even though they could have made more of it, it was a fun event – you can see more in the post Sundowner Celebration: A First Look.

"Brave" Billboard in Hollywood Studios

“Brave” Billboard in Hollywood Studios

The publicity machine for the soon-to-open film “Brave” was in full motion with huge billboards in the Studios…

"Brave" Billboard in Hollywood Studios

“Brave” Billboard in Hollywood Studios

a Merida meet-and-greet in the Magic Kingdom…

Merida

Merida

and the Highland Games going on in Epcot.

Highland Games Banner in Epcot

Highland Games Banner in Epcot

You usually don't get to chose your family!

You usually don’t get to chose your family!

"Brave" Sand Sculpture in Epcot

“Brave” Sand Sculpture in Epcot

And already merchandise galore…

Just a small sample of the Merida/Brave merchandise available even before the movie hit the big screen

Just a small sample of the Merida/Brave merchandise available even before the movie hit the big screen

Another part of the Storybook Circus opened up in June…

with the very well-themed and very wet Casey Junior Splash ‘n’ Soak Station in the Magic Kingdom.

I dare you to stay dry!

I dare you to stay dry!

While nearby the seemingly ever-present construction walls could hardly hide the advancing work going on for the New Fantasyland expansion.

Construction wall in Fantasyland

Construction wall in Fantasyland

The middle of the month found the Harem at Animal Kingdom for another run at the Sundowner Celebration.

Cheers from the Wine Walk!

Cheers from the Wine Walk!

Who's having more fun that This Guy?

Who’s having more fun that This Guy?

Spring Roll Making Demonstration

Spring Roll Making Demonstration

Miss Bonnie explaining the virtues of Rice Paper to Mama Ginny...

Miss Bonnie explaining the virtues of Rice Paper to Mama Ginny…

Mama Ginny doesn't look so sure...

Mama Ginny doesn’t look so sure…

There were also things goings on over at Epcot…

Sign up!

Sign up!

We got to play-test the new Agent P’s World Showcase Adventure which replaced the Kim Possible Adventure.

Goodbye Kim, hello Perry

Goodbye Kim, hello Perry

Inside Mexico most of the entrance area had been cleared out…

Inside the pyramid...

Inside the pyramid again…

to make way for a new exhibit.

Coming soon to a pyramid near you...

Coming soon to a pyramid near you…

And down in La Cava…

Looks good to me!

Looks good to me!

they had introduced a new high-end tequila flight!

What a name for a drink!

What a name for a drink!

And I finally got a chance to try a new beverage at the Joy of Tea kiosk in China.

And what a drink it was! Two Quacks up!

And what a drink it was! Two Quacks up!

Towards the end of June Miss Bonnie and I got our first look at the Art of Animation resort.

Art of Animation Resort exterior

Art of Animation Resort exterior (photo by Miss Bonnie)

Light fixture in the entrance way of the Art of Animation Resort (photo by Miss Bonnie)

Light fixture in the entrance way of the Art of Animation Resort (photo by Miss Bonnie)

Part of the main pool area at the Art of Animation Resort

Part of the main pool area at the Art of Animation Resort

Radiator Springs section of the Art of Animation Resort (photo by Miss Bonnie)

Radiator Springs section of the Art of Animation Resort (photo by Miss Bonnie)

And to end up the month we stepped outside the World…

  and onto the Disney Dream…

Dream a little dream...

Dream a little dream…

You can check out a few food & drink pics from that trip in the post “Life could be a Dream…”

Wow… it was quite a busy first half of the year! And since the second half wasn’t much less busy, let’s take a break for a cocktail… or two… or three…

So much for a short little post with some odds & ends…

See you soon for part two! Happy New Year!

Off to the bar…

This past weekend marked the opening of the 2012 Epcot International Food & Wine Festival, and Dedicated Readers won’t be shocked that Miss Bonnie & I were there for the festivities…

Busy lines early on at the Brewer’s Collection

and as usual, I want to give you a quick overview and my first thoughts on this year’s festival… there was a ton going on, so let’s get started!

The 2013 Disneyworld Marathon Weekend Medals… these will be mine, all mine… Precious… my precious…

The Tower of Terror 10 Mile Race was being held this weekend (and no, we did not participate in this one… it started way too late for a couple of early-risers), so we began the weekend by checking out the race expo.

Race Expo Specialty Beverage and Snack Menu

Despite this race not being food and wine themed (the Wine and Dine Half-Marathon has been moved to the last weekend of the festival this year), you could still get your drink on while shopping for socks and gels!

From there we headed to enter Epcot at the International Gateway…

the lines to get in here on Friday evening were already long, but moved quickly, and we chatted with some other guests and met a nice guy whose shirt I coveted…

The greatest shirt, ever!

I warned hm not to drink too much that evening, for if I found him a bit overly inebriated, I’d find some way to get that shirt off his back…

As we made our way around the lagoon to sample our first items, we were greeted by a gorgeous sky.

A watermelon patch graces the area at the end of the walkway between Future World and World Showcase.

The Watermelon Patch

Sponsored (not surprisingly) by the National Watermelon Promotion Board, the patch features some fun-melon-facts…

Some of the Watermelon Patch signs

it will be fun to see how the watermelons might grow and develop over the course of the festival.

We decided to head to the Australia booth to start our dining. As the sun continued to lower in the sky we saw another beautiful view across the water.

The lamb dish in Australia is always a favorite – each year they mix up the sauce and/or side a bit, but it’s always among the best items served, and this year was no exception…

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

the tender lamb was served atop a bit of mint pesto sauce and topped with “Potato Crunchies” (which are simply crushed salt & vinegar potato chips) – as Miss Bonnie put it: “sheer genius”! The flavor of the chips helps cut the fattiness from the meat, and adds a bit of textural fun. This was the only item we had twice during the weekend, delaying sampling some other new dishes until another visit to get to have another nosh of meaty lamby goodness!

With a a little bit of food now on our bellies, we headed to check out the “Discover the Cranberry” Bog, which (to me at least) was a surprisingly bit hit at the festival last year.

The Fabulous Deb Wills of allears.net

We had heard that a few select media types (yours truly not being that select) would be allowing to roam in the bog and try some cranberry-inspired foods and beverages.

Shelley Caran and Shalon Given of onthegoinMCO.com

We were admittedly quite jealous of seeing so many of our friends and acquaintances tromping around in waders among the little floating fruits!

Wait for it… wait for it…

Flying Cranberries!

Orlando-based food blogger (and all-around-cool-guy) Julius Mayo Jr. recounts his time in the bog at droolius.com.

Now needing some more consumables to assuage our jealousy, we headed towards always-reliable Mexico.

Tequila Flight Selection at the Mexico Kiosk

This year in addition to the usual taco/cervesa/margarita options Mexico is also offering a tequila shot flight.

Taco de Filete, Crispy Shrimp Taco and Lime-Strawberry Margarita

The savory choices are similar to the past couple of years: a beef taco with a nicely spicy sauce and a crispy shrimp taco with a seasoned mayo topping. Both are served on a flour tortilla and were quite good, even if a bit pricey ($5.50 and $5.25 respectively) for the portion size. The beef could have been a bit more tender, but the flavor was good and more spicy that I would have expected (which I like). The Lime-Strawberry Margarita was much better than either of us expected. We both agreed we’d order it again and at $7.75 it is at a pretty reasonable price and size compared to other adult drink options around the park.

Mung Bean Pancake with Shrimp and Kimchi Sauce in South Korea

We continued to wander and came to South Korea where I had to sample the new food addition there for this year, the Mung Bean Pancake.

Inside the pancake…

I really liked this new addition, it was flavorful and moderately spicy from the kimchi-flavored sauce and different from the norm in being a savory pancake. Even Miss Bonnie enjoyed the one bite that I allowed her to sample.

After Korea, Miss Bonnie was on a mission…

a mission for Cheese!

Trio of Artisan Cheeses

Top-flight selections of cheeses have been served at most of the better sit-down restaurants around property in the past few years and (quite deservedly) have become very popular among diners. Likewise we’ve been offered great plates of cultured goodness at the Cheese booth at Food and Wine in the recent years.

This year’s offering includes (from left to right in the pic above): Beecher’s Flagship Reserve Cheddar, Rogue River Creamery Echo Mountain Blue and La Bonne Vie Goat Brie. I’m a big fan of the Beecher’s products, and this Reserve Flagship is fantastic. The Blue from Rogue (justifiably well known for their blues) is intense and powerful – this is not your mamas blue… The Goat Brie we actually found a bit lacking, perhaps it’s more subtle flavor was overshadowed by it’s stronger platemates – I’d definitely suggest you try this one first. The cheeses come with suggested accompaniments – be sure to try them – if you’ve never paired a strong blue with a bit of sweet honey or fruit you really don’t know what you’re missing…

As we headed towards Poland, we made a quick stop in Germany to visit my favorite miniature European village…

Part of the village in the model railroad layout in Epcot’s Germany pavilion

where their own version of the Food and Wine Festival was well under way, including their own cranberry bog!

From the looks of thinks, some of the villagers have already had their limit…

Miss Bonnie wanted to try the Zapiekanki – the adorned cheese bread in Poland (are you seeing a Miss Bonnie cheese theme here?).

Zapiekanki

The thick bread is topped with mushrooms, caramelized onions and cheese and then adorned with a drizzling of seasoned ketchup.

Zapiekanki in profile

Overall this was quite nice, but Bonnie wasn’t fond of the ketchup topping – we’ll try this again sometime and have them omit it to see how it fares.

It was getting late, and Miss Bonnie was pretty full, but I still needed just one more thing…

so we made our way to my favorite pavilion in World Showcase,  Japan, to sample one of the new items there.

Before queuing up at the kiosk, I made my way over to the Kabuki Cafe to check the menu (as has become a habit of mine in the past year) on the off chance that there had been any recent changes… and look at what I found…

Temporary menu at the Kabuki Cafe in the Japan pavilion

a laminated temporary menu featuring four savory items! Dedicated Readers may recall the history of this venue (along with the opening of the Katsura Grill and Gardens area) – the original menu posted before the actual opening featured several hot and savory items (including Wafu pork ribs and Karaage, the Japanese version of  fried chicken) only to have the menu change and those items disappear just days later when they actually started serving (for details go and read, or re-read, Land of the Rising Construction Walls…). I was told these items were being served only on weekends, and only during the Food and Wine Festival.

Display case with the temporary menu items at the Kabuki Cafe

I was later to learn that apparently Sunday isn’t included in “the weekend” as we tried to sample the bento box on that day… so it will be interesting to see if any savory items wind up making their way onto the permanent menu here… and yes, I’ll make a point of trying to get to sample these on the proper “weekend” days…

Menu at the Japan kiosk

After this minor menu revelation, I made my way to get in line at Japan, and came away with the Sukiyaki Beef Pan.

Sukiyaki Beef Pan

The thinly sliced rib eye is tender and yummy and topped with a sweet teriyaki sauce. The flavors are good, but the bun gets soggy quickly… so if it had been toasted this item might have fared a bit better, or if it had just been served atop a bit of rice I’d probably had been happier… didn’t dislike it by any means (and I’ll likely try it again), but it just wasn’t my favorite thing of the day…

This was our end of the eating at the first day of the 2012 Epcot International Food and Wine Festival, so let’s pause here and we’ll pick up again (very) soon with the rest of the weekend and some initial overall thoughts on this year’s festival…

Now back to the kitchen… see you back here soon!

Here’s a healthy, warming soup – perfect for those cold winter nights (or at least as cold as it’s been here in Florida this year…).

The recipe comes from the December 2011 issue of Runner’s World magazine. The article by Jessica Girdwain features several healthy soups, all of which sound really good… I tried the one in question, not intending for it to be a blog recipe, but when I posted the picture of the finished product on Facebook there were several requests for the recipe, so here you go!

It was one of the rare times I didn’t take photos while cooking, so this time you’ll have to settle for a less-than-fantastic pic of the dish at the end, but I’m sure you’re all bright enough to figure out the steps without the usual visual aids… so now, Let’s Cook!

Spicy Sausage Mushroom Soup

Ingredients

4 oz (should be 1 link) of a Spicy, Cooked Chicken Sausage, sliced thin

1 Lb Sliced Mushrooms (your choice)

1/4 Cup Water (hope you have this on hand…)

1/4 Tsp Dried Thyme

1/8 Tsp Red Pepper Flakes

4 Cups Chopped Kale Leaves

1/4 Cup White Wine (plus more for the cook as needed)

2 1/2 Cups Chicken Broth (plus more as may be needed)

1/2 Tsp Salt

1 1/2 Cups Cooked Wild Rice

Procedure

Over medium to medium-high heat, saute the sausage in 1 tablespoon of oil until brown.

Remove the sausage and add the mushrooms and cook until softened.

Add the water and deglaze the pan.

Add the thyme, red pepper, kale and wine. Cook until the greens are wilted – about 4-5 minites.

Add the broth and salt, bring to a boil and reduce the heat and simmer about 15 minutes.

Stir in the sausage and wild rice and simmer at least 5 more minutes. If not “soupy” enough, add more broth as desired.

Serve with a nice whole grain bread for dunking…

Spicy Sausage Mushroom Soup

Yummm (forgive me for quoting Rachael…)!!!!

Tasty, and good for you, give it a try!

We’re back to the kitchen, see you soon!

%d bloggers like this: