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Dedicated Readers will know our love for the Food & Wine Classic held annually at the Swan and Dolphin resorts at Walt Disney World.

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The Classic, which is held on one weekend during the Epcot Food & Wine Festival, offers guests unlimited food and wine at over 40 stations featuring culinary selections from the hotel’s restaurants and wine from more than 30 wineries on the hotel’s causeway.

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There are also cocktail and beer selections (including a dedicated beer garden for an additional charge)…

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as well as live entertainment on the causeway during the event.

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In addition are hands-on seminars with the hotel’s chefs and beverage experts.

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Considering that the Classic is over a half-year away why are we talking about it now?

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Well, the official dates for the 2016 Classic were announced a few weeks ago, and it will be held on October 28 & 29. We usually don’t get confirmation of the dates this early…

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and there’s something else we don’t get nearly this soon…

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the menus!

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Yes boys and girls… we were surprised just a few days ago with an email from the events media rep…

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and we already know that 2016 menu will include an American wagyu beef slider with avocado-bacon aioli and Applewood smoked bacon on a toasted brioche from the Fountain; a salt-roasted prime New York strip loin served with mashed potatoes and sauce bordelaise from Shula’s Steak House and seared striped bass with fall artichokes and Nicoise olives in a Spanish caper emulsion from Garden Grove. Returning dishes include the popular shrimp cocktail steamroller from Todd English’s bluezoo and dragon sushi roll from Kimonos.

I’m personally looking forward to the Hand Crafted Bacon with Sweet Corn Puree, Fried Brussel Sprouts and Compressed Heirloom Apple… (see it here).

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The only part of the menu missing are the updated items from the new Carnival Corner section that was very popular last year.

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Funnel cakes with a variety of toppings, corn dogs, and a “Pop-up Mac & Cheese Bar” with do-it-yourself toppings were among the offerings, so we can probably assume similar items will be available this year.

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You can view the 2016 menu (with drool-worthy pics!) at the Swan/Dolphin Classic website.

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The cost for the causeway tickets (which allow you all you want to eat and drink during the event) looks to be the same as last year ($105 per person per day) while the ticket plus the beer garden option has gone up $5.00 to $130 (which is not worth the extra charge in my opinion…).

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Package rates (which include room and causeway ticket) look to have jumped up by at least $40 per night… the “packages” are not really much of a deal (again in my opinion) as you don’t really save any money compared to the regular room cost plus the cost of the event ticket, you just get the convenience of buying them both at the same time (and yes, it is very nice to have a room right there to stagger back to… but it would be nice if they cut a bit of a break on the price for the package or at least throw in one of the seminars for free or at a significantly reduced price…).

You can see the complete rates and details at the Classic site.

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But yeah, we’ll be there one way or another… will we see you there?

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

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

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

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

And beverages had to be sampled as well...

And beverages had to be sampled as well…

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

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

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

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

Eggplant "Scallop" from Urban Farm EATS booth

Eggplant “Scallop” from Urban Farm EATS booth

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

The ever-youthful Peter Noone of Herman's Hermits

The ever-youthful Peter Noone of Herman’s Hermits

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

Three Cheese Manicotti from Primavera Kitchen

Three Cheese Manicotti from Primavera Kitchen

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

Shrimp and Grits from Florida Fresh booth

Shrimp and Grits from Florida Fresh booth

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

Mmmm... margaritas....

Mmmm… margaritas….

Oh yeah, there was a visit to La Cava…

 

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

Kouzzina on Disney’s Boardwalk

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

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

Turkey-Sweet Potato Hash with Two Eggs and Arugula Salad

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lamb Brewat Roll with Prunces and Sesame from Taste of Marrakesh

Lamb Brewat Roll with Prunes and Sesame from Taste of Marrakesh

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

Quesadilla de Hongos con Queso from Jardin de Fiestas

Quesadilla de Hongos con Queso from Jardin de Fiestas

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

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

“Second verse, same as the first…”

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

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

Home of the Don’t-Call-It-A-Cronut

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

Outside the Cronut

Outside the Croissant Doughnut

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

Inside the Cronut

Inside the Croissant Doughnut

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

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

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

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

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

The backside of Ankole Cattle

The backside of Ankole Cattle

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

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

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

Seared Ahi Tuna (top) and Thai Chili Chicken Wings

Seared Ahi Tuna (top) and Thai Chili Chicken Wings

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

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

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

Indian Style Bread Service

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

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

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

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

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

DVC construction at the Poly

DVC construction at the Poly

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

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

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

Capt' Cook's current lunch/dinner menu

Capt. Cook’s current lunch/dinner menu

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

Thai Coconut Meatball on Rice

Thai Coconut Meatball on Rice

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

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

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

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

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

Bread service sampler at Sanaa cultural tour

Bread service sampler at Sanaa cultural tour

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

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

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

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

Market Nachos at the Pepper Market

Market Nachos at the Pepper Market

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

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

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

Can you see it?

Can you see it?

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

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

Caprese Flatbread

Caprese Flatbread

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

Friar's Nook Menu

Friar’s Nook Menu

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Green Cabin Room Afternoon/Evening Menu

Green Cabin Room Afternoon/Evening Menu

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

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

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

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

Artisan Cheese and Cured Meats Platter with Herb Flatbread

Artisan Cheese and Cured Meats Platter with Herb Flatbread

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let’s play a game…

September 9, 2013

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or maybe two…

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A few weeks ago Miss Bonnie, Mama Ginny, Papa Harry and I got a chance to check out the two newest interactive experiences at Walt Disney World – A Pirate’s Adventure: Treasures of the Seven Seas in the Magic Kingdom and the Wilderness Explorers in Disney’s Animal Kingdom. I figured it was about time to share a some pics and a little commentary on the two games – this will be more of a “teaser” and mostly spoiler-free for those of you yet to try them out (but if you want more details and spoilery-info, just let Google be your guide, it’s all out there). So let’s start in Adventureland in the Magic Kingdom…

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You “enlist” for A Pirate’s Adventure in a small building (which previously had been a camera/film store) in Adventureland.

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Your park ticket (and I assume also now Magic Bands) serve as your “talisman” to enlist…

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you are instructed which map to pick up…

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and told basically now to get the heck out…

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The small structure is chock-full of maps and details, so linger a bit if you have the opportunity.

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You’re given one of five maps (actually on the day we were there, there were only four as one of the adventures wasn’t working that day)…

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and told where to begin your quest…

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You touch your talisman to a designated symbol at each location and, well, things happen…

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You visit several locations around Adventureland during each adventure, and when you complete the map you can either stop or continue on to collect the other maps and finish other or all the adventures – if you do finish all the adventures you’re treated to a special “finale”.

Many of the locations are crammed full of details…

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hidden Mickeys…

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and other “Easter Eggs”…

And what's this a reference to?

And what’s this a reference to?

The effects here are more physical objects (a la the Kim Possible/Agent P games in Epcot) rather than the video screens of the Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom, and I like the way they were done. All in all we really enjoyed our day exploring this new activity in the Magic Kingdom, and according to one of the castmembers many of the effects are different at times (I won’t say how some of them are, just not to spoil things for those of you that would rather find out for themselves), so this looks to have a lot of repeatability factor. If this proves to be popular for the long-term (as I suspect it will), we may even see them adding other effects as they did in Epcot as the games there went along. Of course it would have been more fun if we could have had a bit of grog while we played…

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Over at Animal Kingdom is a much more low-tech, but no less interactive activity…

Wilderness Explorers Headquarters on the bridge between the Oasis and Discovery Island

Wilderness Explorers Headquarters on the bridge between the Oasis and Discovery Island

just like Russell from the movie “Up”, you can become one of the Wilderness Explorers and earn badges while treking around the park and (shhh, don’t tell the kids) actually learn something along the way.

A brand-new Wilderness Exploere being given his first instructions for one of the Troop Leaders

A brand-new Wilderness Explorer being given his first instructions from one of the Troop Leaders

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When you sign up you get your Wilderness Explorers Handbook, which has a few pages of introductory material…

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followed by many pages where you have to visit a specific area of the park and complete some requirements to earn your badge (sticker) for that page.

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Troop Leaders are at each location to help you in earning your badges…

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Miss Bonnie apparently being told to "talk to the hands" of one of the Troop Leaders

Miss Bonnie apparently being told to “talk to the hands” of one of the Troop Leaders

There are places to explore, and badges to earn, all over the park.

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There’s a wide variety of things to do (and learn)…

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including meeting someone from Asia!

Completed Gorilla Badge page

Completed Gorilla Badge page

There’s lots of cool facts and information presented at most of the badge locations…

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plus there’s plenty of hidden fun details in this experience too!

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You can earn as many or as few badges per visit as you want, and you can bring your handbook back each time you visit the park until you become a Senior Wilderness Explorer!

Really, really love this! It’s educational, and the kids (as well as the adults) were engaged at the badge stations – while earning the stickers may be the main motivation for many of the youngsters (okay, and the oldsters too) there will be lots of learning going on at the same time!

When we first visited, the Wilderness Explorers had been going on for just a few days, but the castmembers all said it had been very well received, and from what we saw it looks to be an early success, and I hope it continues to do well as this is one of the things Disney has always done well: “Edutainment”.

Badges? We need some stinking badges!

Badges? We need some stinking badges!

And if this continues and is popular, how long before we see WE sashes and actual embroidered badges for sale? If you have to earn them before you can buy them, I’m all for it!

Well there you have it Dear Dedicated Readers, an Eating (and Drinking) around the World look at the two newest interactive experiences at WDW… have you done either (or both) of them? What do you think?

Back to the kitchen… see you soon!

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The 20th version of the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival began a couple of weeks ago in the waning days of winter with the usual collection of topiaries…

Watch that finger Phineas!

Watch that finger Phineas!

a big butterfly house…

Floral Butterfly outside the Butterfly House

Floral Butterfly outside the Butterfly House

which this year houses Tinkerbell and her Pixie friends…

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gardening displays…

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and gorgeous flowers everywhere!

These buds are for you!

These buds are for you!

But there is a big difference this year…

DSCF3200food and drink!

The Smokehouse in the American Adventure

The Smokehouse in the American Adventure

Several of the Food & Wine Festival booths have been re-purposed to provide guests with new dining (and drinking) experiences while wandering around World Showcase during Flower & Garden! This is a first for this festival, and the Harem and I were there to take in the first full weekend of Flower & Garden. We sampled many of the items offered, so I thought I’d give you a look, and my thoughts, on some of the edibles (and drinkables) at this year’s event, so let’s start by taking a counter-clockwise trip around the lagoon and dig in…

Fruits by the Glass

Fruits by the Glass

To start your visit off right, as you enter World Showcase from Future World you’re greeted with Fruits by the Glass (the Food & Wine Craft Beer location) featuring several interesting wines, brews, a watermelon cocktail and a non-alcoholic slushie (if you must).

Fruits by the Glass bill of fare

Fruits by the Glass bill of fare

The specialty here is a Watermelon Passion Fruit Cocktail.

Watermelon Passion Fruit Cocktail

Watermelon Passion Fruit Cocktail

This frozen drink features a Florida made cane vodka, the drink is pretty sweet, but nice during the heat of the day – certainly worth a try.

Just keep pouring...

Just keep pouring…

There are also a couple of nice Florida fruit wines available here.

Mango Mama and Blueberry Blue Wines

Mango Mama and Blueberry Blue Wines

Now properly fortified we can make our way to the right and find the Pineapple Promenade…

Pineapple Promenade

Pineapple Promenade

The Promenade Refreshments stand (usually the location where I get my first Stella of the day) has been converted into a Dole Pineapplepalooza….

Pineapple Promenade Menu

Pineapple Promenade Menu

The big hit here is the iconic Dole Whip, but with a twist….

Dole Whip with Spiced Rum

Dole Whip with Spiced Rum

the addition of spiced rum! Yes boys and girls, you don’t have to sneak your own booze into the Magic Kingdom to get a spiked Dole Whip! And yes, this was really good… the frozen pineapple flavor mixes real well with the rum, just remember to mix it up from the get-go, or else it will get really strong at the bottom of the glass.

The Cottage Menu

The Cottage Menu

Next in the United Kingdom is the Cottage, and one of the best things we tried…

Poato, Chive and Cheddar Cheese Bisquit with Smoked Salmon Tartare with Sour Cream (left), and Baked Goat's Brie with Kumquat Chutney

Potato, Chive and Cheddar Cheese Biscuit with Smoked Salmon Tartare with Sour Cream (left), and Baked Goat’s Brie with Kumquat Chutney

a savory biscuit filled with a chopped concoction of smoked salmon – this might have been Miss Bonnie’s favorite dish of the festival, and even though I’m not a huge salmon fan I’d gladly stuff another one of these down my craw…

L'Orangerie Menu

L’Orangerie Menu

L’Orangerie in France seemed to get mixed reviews from the Harem (the peach dessert was not particularly liked), but all I had was a bite of the Pate, so I’ll reserve judgement for now…

Verrine Charlotte au Peches (Caramelized Peaches with Rosemary and Light Vanilla Cream) in France

Verrine Charlotte au Peches (Caramelized Peaches with Rosemary and Light Vanilla Cream) in France

Yet another alcoholic slushie in France... Grey Goose Orange Vodka with St. Germain Liquor and White and Red Cranberry Juice

Yet another alcoholic slushie in France… Grey Goose Orange Vodka with St. Germain Liquor and White and Red Cranberry Juice

In Morocco we find the Taste of Marrakesh…

Morocco - the Land of Young Ladies with Amazing Hair...

Morocco – the Land of Young Ladies with Amazing Hair…

we tried a couple of items here, but got distracted with a Random Encounter with a Disney Blogger, so there are no pics from here… maybe we’ll revisit at a later date…

Hanami ("Flower Viewing") kiosk in Japan

Hanami (“Flower Viewing”) kiosk in Japan

The familiar Japan booth has some interesting dishes, but I only got to sample one this trip…

YakiSoba Pan and Yuzu Rita

YakiSoba Pan and Yuzu Rita

and sadly the one food item I had here was the only real culinary mis-step I found that weekend…. the YakiSoba Pan is a teriyaki flavored soba and veggie dish (which would have been perfectly fine on it’s own in a bowl) that is served, for some reason, in a hot dog bun… it wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t good either… I’m looking forward to trying the other items here on our next visit, but I won’t be ordering this one again. The version of a frozen margarita here, the Yuzu Rita, was however a winner – I’m not a huge frozen-drink-kinda-guy, but for the ilk this was pretty good – the bit of yuzu flavor seemed to keep the drink from being overly sweet (as many frozen concoctions seem to be) – this will be real nice as the weather warms…

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In the courtyard of the American Adventure we have a tribute to that All-American favorite combo of Barbecue and Beer.

The Smokehouse

The Smokehouse

The Smokehouse was one of the busier booths the first weekend, and with good reason…

The Smokehouse Menu

The Smokehouse Menu

Dedicated Readers probably know I can be a bit of a Barbeque Snob, but I do cut a bit of slack to someplace that’s going to have to serve mass numbers of patrons, and certainly don’t expect high-end competition-style cue, or even the best thing I can produce off of my Egg from a theme park… in any case, the food here was among the best things we had all weekend.

Smoked Beef Brisket with Collard Greens and Jalapeno Corn Bread (left) and Pulled Pig Slider with Cole Slaw

Smoked Beef Brisket with Collard Greens and Jalapeno Corn Bread (left) and Pulled Pig Slider with Cole Slaw

The brisket was tender and not too fatty, and the greens and cornbread were the perfect foil to the meat. Sweet and (not very) hot tomato-based sauces were served at the condiment area, but really the brisket didn’t need much help. The slider (and don’t get me started on that whole slider-thing) was a take on the usual pulled-pork sandwich, and came out well – it could have used a bit more slaw, and it did need a bit of sauce, but overall was a nice portion and quite good.

Beer Flight at the Smokehouse

Beer Flight at the Smokehouse

The genius idea of offering beer flights surfaced the last couple of years at Food & Wine, and continues here at the Flower & Garden Festival. The flight here features fours American brews of very different styles, and I enjoyed them all (including the Porter, which I’m usually not crazy about – it had an smoky, almost caramel, taste that went well with the meat-heavy entrees here).

Rocky Road Brownie Mousse

Rocky Road Brownie Mousse

Dessert here was a fluffier take on the typical brownie (and the only thing that the currently-vegetarian Surly Teenager tried at this location) and was another nice item – all-in-all this was one of our favorite booths and I expect will be one of the biggest hits at the festival.

Primavera Kitchen Menu

Primavera Kitchen Menu

Waterside in Italy we have the Primavera Kitchen, where Miss Bonnie tried the most expensive food item of the festival….

Asparagi con Aragosta all'Ortolana

Asparagi con Aragosta all’Ortolana

the Asparagi con Aragosta all’Ortolana, which is a combo of asparagus and lobster enrobed in “Garden Cocktail Sauce”. She begrudgingly allowed me to share a bite, and we both agreed this was totally delicious, and it was the sauce that really made it. Miss Bonnie thought there was a bit too much of the sauce, but it was damn delicious and I gladly lapped up the remaining drops after the seafood and veggies were gone…

Bauernmarkt Food Booth

Bauernmarkt Food Booth

Bauernmarkt, the “Farmers Market” in Germany comes up next…

Bauernmarkt Food Menu

Bauernmarkt Food Menu

This area is laid out just as it is during Food & Wine, with one kiosk serving food and some beverage…

Bauernmarkt Beer Booth

Bauernmarkt Beer Booth

and another set up to service the needs of the beer drinkers among the guests…

Bauernmarkt Beer Menu

Bauernmarkt Beer, etc. Menu

sadly the brew selection is not nearly as extensive as the one offered during the fall event, and for some reason this kiosk in Germany, with a German name, only has one German beer…

I tried two of the savory food items here, the Bread Pudding and the Potato Pancakes.

Savory Bread Pudding with Spring Peas and Wild Mushroom Ragout (top) and Potato Pancakes with House-made Apple Sauce

Savory Bread Pudding with Spring Peas and Wild Mushroom Ragout (top) and Potato Pancakes with House-made Apple Sauce

Both were quite good – the bread pudding was like a great Thanksgiving dressing with a mushroom gravy – I’ll have this again on the next trip…. the potato pancakes were very popular, and the requests for them kept them coming off the grill hot and fresh – the applesauce was a bit too much and could overwhelm the pancake itself, but if you kept it to a minimum was a nice compliment…

Pan-Fried Vegetable Bun and Lychee Aerated Water from the Lotus House

Pan-Fried Vegetable Bun and Lychee Aerated Water from the Lotus House

We also tried both of the savory items offered in the China pavilion at the Lotus House.

The insides of the Vegetable Bun

The insides of the Vegetable Bun

The Pan-Fried Vegetable Bun had a nice filling inside the soft, spongy breading and is served with a sweet dipping sauce.

Spring Pancake with Grilled Chicken and Green Apple

Spring Pancake with Grilled Chicken and Green Apple

The Spring Pancake is filled with tender chicken and topped with essentially a slaw with julienned green apple. The sweet/tart flavor of the apple really sets this dish off while the fried noodles also give a bit of crunchy texture component. Bonnie and I both thought this was another big winner.

Jardin de Fiestas

Jardin de Fiestas

Near the end of the trip around World Showcase is Jardin de Fiestas in Mexico.

Tostada de Jaiba (left) and Tacos de Carnitas

Tostada de Jaiba (left) and Tacos de Carnitas

The two savory choices here were both good and worth a try: the Crab Tostada was served with a creamy Chipotle-flavored Mayo and Valentina Sauce (a squeeze of citrus did help to liven it up a bit) while the Pork Carnitas Taco had a Tamarindo Salsa (could have used a bit more of this) and fine Chicharron topping in a flour tortilla. But the best thing here was…

Rosita Margarita

Rosita Margarita

the margarita!

Served on the rocks (thank you for not freezing yet another drink) the Rosita Margarita had a light, unique flavor enhanced by the smell of a fresh rose petal floating on the top. Try this one… trust me…

Florida Fresh Kiosk

Florida Fresh Kiosk

The last stop in our tour around the lagoon was (spoiler alert) one of our favorites. Florida Fresh had a couple of very good food choices (one that might be a bit out-the-ordinary to some guests) and a couple of very unique Florida wine selections.

Hot Sun Tomato Wine and 40 Karat Carrot Wine from Florida Orange Groves Winery

Hot Sun Tomato Wine and 40 Karat Carrot Wine from Florida Orange Groves Winery

Florida Fresh Menu

Florida Fresh Menu

The Watermelon Salad is a wonderful contrast of the sweet fresh fruit with the combo of pickled red onion, spicy arugula and feta cheese all glazed with a reduced balsamic dressing, just so, so good! Although this combo may sound a bit odd to some, it really works.

Shrimp and Stone Ground Grits with Andouille Sauage, Zellwood Corn, Tomatoes and Cilantro (left, paired with the Tomato Wine) and Watermelon Salad with pickled Red Onions, BW Baby Arugula, Feta Cheese and Balsamic Reduction (along with the Carrot Wine)

Shrimp and Stone Ground Grits with Andouille Sauage, Zellwood Corn, Tomatoes and Cilantro (left, paired with the Tomato Wine) and Watermelon Salad with pickled Red Onions, BW Baby Arugula, Feta Cheese and Balsamic Reduction (along with the Carrot Wine)

Miss Bonnie devoured the shrimp and grits, barely allowing me a tiny taste… the spicy sausage gave it just the right amount of zing – the recommended pairing of the unusual tomato wine (which also had just a bit of spice to it) was right on the money! The carrot wine is much drier than you’d expect, and went well with both dishes.

One of the interesting things they are doing at the food locations is to highlight some of the products being used with signs that have some facts about the produce in the dishes.

Some corny stuff here...

Some corny stuff here…

Who knew???

Who knew???

There are also living examples of the produce going into the dishes…

Planter near Florida Fresh

Planter near Florida Fresh

they do something similar during the Food & Wine Festival, but mostly in smaller pots, these large planters really emphasize the fresh fruits and veggies.

Garden Passport

Garden Passport

Another great idea lifted from the Food & Wine Festival is the Passport Booklet.

Garden Passport

Garden Passport

Inside are all the food locations where you can check off what you’ve tried, and at each place the castmembers have a cute ink stamp to denote your visit there, and in some places the castmember might even write a personal note!

Garden Passport

Garden Passport

Unlike the Food & Wine version which only lists food & drink stations, this Passport also lists garden locations such as the Butterfly House and the Land of Oz where you can get your passport stamped. Kids (and more than a few adults) love collecting the stamps and getting their booklet completed – this has been one of the big hits at the Food & Wine Festival the past few years and I love it’s inclusion in Flower & Garden!

Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival Festival Center

Festival Center

And the new food and drink offerings aren’t just limited to the World Showcase booths – you can find some different offerings, including one very fun one, at the Intermissions Cafe inside the Festival Center.

Intermissions Cafe

Intermissions Cafe

There is a nice selection of food items, and beverages here…

Intermissions Cafe Menu

Intermissions Cafe Menu

but the fun, and different, item here is the Beet Lollipop… a couple of pieces of roasted beet (one red, one golden) and a wad of cream chesse – you push the whole mess into you mouth and let the flavors mix as you chew!

Beet Lollipop

Beet Lollipop

Even if you’re not fond of beets, this fun little item is worth a shot (who knows, you may change you opinion of the much-maligned root…), and at 99 cents there’s not a lot to lose… hell, even if you don’t eat it it’s worth buying it just to say you got something at Disney for less than a buck! Just how often does that happen???

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The Festival Center of course has lots of merchandise, including several specialty adult beverages by the bottle…

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and it’s interesting to note that the Florida Orange Groves wines are actually cost less at Disney than at the winery (by several dollars)!

While you’re at the Festival Center, be sure to check out the interesting tribute to Disney Legend Bill Evans.

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Soon after we entered the World Showcase on that Friday of the opening weekend, we ran into Epcot Executive Chef Jens Dahlmann. Gracious as always, Chef Jens spent a few minutes telling us his about the festival eats and sharing his favorites with us. He noted they made an effort to have all the food items as different as possible from the Food & Wine favorites to give this event a distinct feeling, and I’d have to say he and his staff succeeded. Overall we found the food to be of high quality and flavor, and with a nice variety (especially considering the smaller number of booths compared to the fall festival).

One thing we noticed on the opening weekend was the distinct lack of lines at the booths…

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despite it being a beautiful weekend during spring break, we rarely had to wait long to be served… from a selfish guest perspective, it was great not having to wait long, but from a fans perspective, who wants this concept to be successful and continue, it was a bit disconcerting…

This was the last weekend of the very popular Strawberry Festival in not-too-far-away Plant City, and certainly the nearly 200,000 people who attended that event the same weekend siphoned many potential guests from the opening weekend of Flower & Garden, so it will be interesting (and maybe frustrating) to see if lines and crowds grow during the coming weeks… I’m hoping (and fully expecting) that Epcot will have a huge hit on it’s hands and the new Food & Wine version of Flower & Garden will continue for many years to come, but as always, time will tell.

If you’ve made it to Flower & Garden already please chime in with your thoughts, or if not, let everyone know what you’re looking forward to trying (or wish you could try if you can’t make it)!

Back to the kitchen, see you soon!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Quiche Lorraine (top), and well, Quiche Lorraine

Quiche Lorraine (top), and well, Quiche Lorraine

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

Beverage Menu at Boulangerie Patisserie

Beverage Menu at Boulangerie Patisserie

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

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

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

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

Splitsville pre-opening concept art

Splitsville pre-opening concept art

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

Loaded Fries at Splitsville

Loaded Fries at Splitsville

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

Splitsville's Sliders

Splitsville’s Sliders

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

The rest of us went the sushi route…

Spicy Tuna Roll

Spicy Tuna Roll

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

Super Tuna Roll

Super Tuna Roll

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

Crab Rangoon Roll

Crab Rangoon Roll

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

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

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

Big Bamboo at Yak & Yeti

Big Bamboo at Yak & Yeti

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

Pork Pot Stickers

Pork Pot Stickers

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

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

Lo Mein

Lo Mein

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

Stir-Fried Beef and Broccoli

Stir-Fried Beef and Broccoli

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

Bourbon (of course!) Chicken

Bourbon Chicken

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

Back to the kitchen – see you soon!

WDW Odds & Ends

January 31, 2013

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

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

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

Above the entrance to the new version of Boulangerie Patisserie

Above the entrance to the new version of Boulangerie Patisserie

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

Inside the seating area of Boulangerie Patisserie

Inside the seating area of Boulangerie Patisserie

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

Plastic utensil dispensers in Boulangerie Patisserie

Plastic utensil dispensers in Boulangerie Patisserie

Even the utensil dispensers are themed!

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

The Phineas and Ferb fanaticism continues…

Sign at the Refreshment Port

Sign at the Refreshment Port

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

Now over to the Magic Kingdom…

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sign in the window of the shuttered Main Street Bakery

Sign in the window of the shuttered Main Street Bakery

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

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

Tomorrowland Terrace temporary breakfast menu

Tomorrowland Terrace temporary breakfast menu

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

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

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

Tomorrowland Terrace temporary breakfast menu. Iced Green Tea

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

And construction continues in Fantasyland…

Rapunzel's Tower

Rapunzel’s Tower

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Seven Dwarfs Mine Train Construction Wall

Seven Dwarfs Mine Train Construction Wall

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

Seven Dwarfs Mine Train Construction Wall

Seven Dwarfs Mine Train Construction Wall

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

Seven Dwarfs Mine Train Concept Art on the Construction Wall

Seven Dwarfs Mine Train Concept Art on the Construction Wall

Seven Dwarfs Mine Train Concept Art on the Construction Wall

Seven Dwarfs Mine Train Concept Art on the Construction Wall

Seven Dwarfs Mine Train Concept Art on the Construction Wall

Seven Dwarfs Mine Train Concept Art on the Construction Wall

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

Seven Dwarfs Mine Train Concept Art on the Construction Wall

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

New Gaston Tee-Shirt

New Gaston Tee-Shirt

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

Another new Gaston tee-shirt...

Another new Gaston tee-shirt…

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

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

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

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

Belle and Beast "Relationship Status" Shirt

Belle and Beast “Relationship Status” Shirt

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

And yet another Gaston shirt...

And yet another Gaston shirt…

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

Ankole Cattle at Kidani Village

Ankole Cattle at Kidani Village

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

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

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

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

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

Animal Kingdom entrance area

Animal Kingdom entrance area

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

Castmember at the entrance to Animal Kingdom

Castmember at the entrance to Animal Kingdom

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

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

Note the massive lines for veggie cuisine...

Note the massive lines for veggie cuisine…

and how it was now serving 100% vegetarian items.

Menu at "Safari Egg Roll" Kiosk in Animal Kingdom

Menu at “Safari Egg Roll” Kiosk in Animal Kingdom

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

There's something missing between my legs...

There’s something missing between my legs…

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

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

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

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

DSCF2894one features an image of Walt on the front…

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

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

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popcorn!

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

Back to the kitchen, see you soon!

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

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

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

Walk… or fly?… this way…

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

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

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

Dumbo play/waiting area

Dumbo play/waiting area

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

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

The mostly obscured view of the New Fantasyland construction from Dumbo

The mostly obscured view of the New Fantasyland construction from Dumbo

And yes, the construction continued behind the walls…

Construction walls in the Magic Kingdom

Construction walls in the Magic Kingdom

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

Agent P World Showcase Adventure Kiosk

Agent P World Showcase Adventure Kiosk

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

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

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

And yes…

Miss Bonnie's new Happy Place...

Miss Bonnie’s new Happy Place…

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

Sign at new exhibit in Mexico Pavilion

Sign at new exhibit inside the Mexico Pavilion

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

Wanna shoot some hoops?

Wanna shoot some hoops?

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

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

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

La Cava del Tequila Specialty Margarita Menu

La Cava del Tequila Specialty Margarita Menu

The Organic Skinny Lime and Coffee Margaritas were new additions.

Specialty Margarita Menu La Cava del Tequila

La Cava del Tequila Specialty Margarita Menu

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

We did eat someplace other than Tutto Gusto in July…

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

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

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

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

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

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

Indian-inspired eats at the Landscape of Flavors Food Court

Indian-inspired eats at the Landscape of Flavors Food Court

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

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

New Wine Flights at Tutto Gusto

New Wine Flights at Tutto Gusto

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

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

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

We also checked out some merchandise…

An Eating & Drinking Around the World shirt!

An Eating & Drinking Around the World shirt!

tried a sparkling Sake in Japan…

Hana Awake Sake in Japan

Hana Awaka Sake in Japan

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

Part of the bakery expansion in France

Part of the bakery expansion in France

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

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

Chili Competition at Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek Resort

Chili Competition at Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek Resort

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

Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek Resort Barbeque Weekends Specialty Cocktails

Watermelon Crawlita and BBQ Honey Bacon Bloody Mary

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

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

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

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

Zeta Lounge and Sushi Bar specialty items for Barbeque Weekends

Zeta Lounge and Sushi Bar specialty items for Barbeque Weekends

We also gave the poolside barbeque grill a try….

Barbeque & Bikinis!

Barbeque & Bikinis!

Poolside Barbeque Grill Menu

Poolside Barbeque Grill Menu

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

Brooklyn Dog & Nacho Dog

Brooklyn Dog & Nacho Dog

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

Agent P taking it to the hole...

Agent P taking it to the hole…

and that Mickey is a fan of the Crimson Tide!

Roll Tide, Roll!

Roll Tide, Roll!

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

We loved the decor and detail in the room…

Beds and headboards in Little Mermaid room

Beds and headboards in Little Mermaid room

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

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

we even found a couple of Hidden Mickeys!

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

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

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

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

And where were these Mickeys?

Pull back the curtain...

Pull back the curtain…

In the shower of course!

Inside of the shower in Little Mermaid room

Inside of the shower in Little Mermaid room

The exterior of the resort was pretty cool as well!

A Not-So-Little Mermaid

A Not-So-Little Mermaid

And a big scary !

And a big scary Ursula!

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

"The King"

“The King”

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

Stir-fried Veggie Noodles at Captain Cook's

Stir-fried Veggie Noodles at Captain Cook’s

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

Hawaiian Flatbread at Captain Cook's

Hawaiian Flatbread at Captain Cook’s

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

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

New Fantasyland entrance wall

New Fantasyland entrance wall

Detail on column of New Fantasyland wall

Detail on column of New Fantasyland wall

And a new place to nap...

And a new place to nap…

We once again made our way to Epcot…

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

hubba, hubba!

hubba, hubba!

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

So want!

Play that funky music, Ghost-boy!

Play that funky music, Ghost-boy!

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

Terra Vegan booth with Craft Beer booth in the background

Terra Vegan booth with Craft Beer booth in the background

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

Belgium behind the hedges

Belgium behind the hedges

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

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

Tower of Terror 10K Race Expo cocktails

Tower of Terror 10K Race Expo cocktails

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

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but with extra-tasty foods…

Grilled Lamb Chop from Australia Kiosk

Grilled Lamb Chop from Australia Kiosk

and fun in the cranberry bog awaiting…

Having fun Deb?

Having a good time in the bog Deb?

And how about you Ms. Wolfe?

And how about you Ms. Wolfe?

no one was complaining too much… certainly not us!

Karaage Hand Roll and Spicy Hand Roll from Japan Booth

Karaage Hand Roll and Spicy Hand Roll from Japan Booth

We sampled plenty of foods and beverages…

Fruit Wines at the Florida Local Booth

Fruit Wines at the Florida Local Booth

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

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

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

and the merchandise offered up in the Festival Center.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Food & Wine Classic Banner

Food & Wine Classic Banner

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

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

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

The Classic features beverage seminars, tons of food…

Shrimp Cocktail Shooters

Shrimp Cocktail Shooters

Pork Belly!

Pork Belly!

even more to drink…

Beer anyone?

Beer anyone?

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

Yours truly with Big-Time chef and restauranteur Michael Mina

Yours truly with Big-Time chef and restauranteur Michael Mina

and some just a bit of serendipity…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hello Ariel...

Hello Ariel…

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

Lumiere and Belle

Lumiere and Belle

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Beers from France and neighboring Belgium...

Beers from France and neighboring Belgium…

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

this sure is a Conundrum...

this sure is a Conundrum…

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

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

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

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

Who's that guy in the red shirt?

Who’s that guy in the red shirt?

Belle’s Village was also looking good…

Hey Gaston! Watch those hands!

Hey Gaston! Watch those hands!

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

Exterior of Gaston's Tavern

Exterior of Gaston’s Tavern

Gaston’s Tavern was open and serving that day!

Surprised that Lafeu got that many...

Surprised that Lafou got that many…

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

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

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

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

Another view of pig...

Another view of pig…

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

Seven Dwarves Mine Train construction

Seven Dwarfs Mine Train construction

Work continues on the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train attraction…

Seven Dwarves Mine Train construction

Seven Dwarfs Mine Train construction

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

Storybook Circus Entrance

Storybook Circus Entrance

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

Big Top Souvenirs

Big Top Souvenirs

and inside we found snacks…

Some of the "Big Top Treats"

Some of the “Big Top Treats”

and castmembers eager to teach guests how to juggle!

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

Entrance to Pete's Silly Sideshow

Entrance to Pete’s Silly Sideshow

Inside you can meet a couple of Lovely Ladies…

Signage inside the Sideshow

Sign inside the Sideshow

or a couple of not-so-lovely Gents…

Sign inside the Sideshow

Sign inside the Sideshow

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

The Great Goofini in the flesh!

The Great Goofini in the flesh!

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

Storybook Circus Fastpass area

Storybook Circus Fastpass area

and nearby food carts for the famished while waiting….

Food cart in Storybook Circus

Food cart in Storybook Circus

Anyone for a weenie?

Anyone for a weenie?

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

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

A nice selection of cheeses and accompaniments

A nice selection of cheeses and accompaniments

Diver Scallop with Pea Puree and Micro Greens

Diver Scallop with Pea Puree and Micro Greens

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

Fry me a Quail Egg please...

Fry me a Quail Egg please…

to go on top of my Duck Confit Burger

to go on top of my Duck Confit Burger

and great wines and beers…

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

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

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

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

Doctor Who Tee-Shirt in the UK pavilion at Epcot

Doctor Who Tee-Shirt in the UK pavilion at Epcot

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

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

Dessert Trio at Epcot Food & Wine Festival

Dessert Trio at Epcot Food & Wine Festival

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

Wine & Dine Weekend schedule of events outside the race expo

Wine & Dine Weekend schedule of events outside the race expo

And once again…

Get ready for the race!

Get ready for the race!

those attending the race expo could find plenty of sustenance!

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

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

Not that there’s anything wrong with that…

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

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

Goodbye Food & Wine Festival - hello Christmas...

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

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

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In addition of the spectacular light display…

and a hidden Purple Cat to find…

Found it!

Found it!

there were some special food items…

"Santa Mickey" Cupcakes

“Santa Mickey” Cupcakes

and cocktails to be had!

Holiday Cocktail Menu at High Octane Refreshments in the Studios

Holiday Cocktail Menu at High Octane Refreshments in the Studios

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

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

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

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

Atrium of the Disney Fantasy decorated for the holidays

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

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

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

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

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

Tequila Seminar in the Meridian Bar

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

From drink demos…

Beef Tenderloin with twp sauces at Palo

Beef Tenderloin with two sauces at Palo

to fine dining…

Arrrgghhh... come with me wench!

Arrrgghhh… come with me wench!

to the frivolity of Pirate Night…

Mistress of the Fantasy

Mistress of the Fantasy

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

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

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

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

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