Disney

We got a sneak peak of the 2018 Epcot International Food and Wine Festival. This 75 day long festival has 95 new food or beverage experiences. There’s a load of different kinds of family friendly fun that’s being launched this year such as candy sushi,  the Disney Du Jour Dance Party, three different new market places, nine new artists for the Eat to the Beat concert series, brand new seminars and having brunch with one of the celebrity chefs. 

First thing’s first, what’s on the menu this year? Let’s have a look.

Shown above is the Butternut Squash Ravioli with Brown Butter Vinaigrette, Parmesan Cheese and Pumpkin Seeds by The Wine & Dine Studio.

Another item is the new Brunswick Slider: Slow-braised Beef Brisket “Pot Roast Style” with Horseradish Cream and Crispy Fried Onions on a Potato Roll with Pickled Vegetables on the side by Hops & Barley 

For those with a sweet tooth this will surely satisfy.  On the left side of the plates is Maple Bourbon Boursin Cheesecake with Maple Bourbon Cream, Caramel and Pecan Crunch by The Cheese Studio and on the right is Chocolate Picante: Dark Chocolate Mouse with Cayenne Pepper, Chili Powder and Mango by Flavors from Fire.  

Below is another dish from Flavors from Fire. They showcased Charred Chimichurri Skirt Steak on a Smoked Corn Cake with Pickled Vegetable Slaw and Cilantro Aioli. 

 Brazil featured a Moqueca: Brazilian Seafood Stew featuring Scallops, Shrimp and White Fish with Coconut-Lime Sauce and Steamed Rice shown below.

A flight of beer was also given out for us to try. It was a red, green and blue, none of which had food coloring in it. Red was the most approachable, green was stronger and blue was the strongest.

Besides the food and alcohol, we got to look at this years merchandise for the festival. John Rivers, founder and owner of 4 Rivers Steak House was also there to talk about his new food truck that he will be opened at Disney Springs and his new creation he’ll be serving. “Mexican places have taco salad but it’s kind of boring. Well, not boring, it’s very traditional. With people walking around, it would be very hard for them to eat. So, we came up with a different idea- we put it into a cone,” says Rivers. 

After I was done with the event, I enjoyed the five free fast passes given to us on our admission ticket. I was also given a goodie bag containing a 25 dollar gift card to use anywhere in Epcot (that was well spent) , chocolates, pancake mix, an exclusive Disney bottle opener and more!

Dave Kesting, general manager of Disney festivals says, “you wont be able to do it all in one day. Pace yourself, look a lot at the passport, find the items that you would like to see and use that as your guide to go around the festival.” 

 

  

 

El Cubano – roasted pork, black forrest ham, swiss cheese, mustard, house pickles with a side of tostones and a glass of virgin mojito

Dine in Plancha in Four Seasons Orlando from Monday, Aug. 20 through Saturday, Aug. 25 and enjoy a fabulous special of the El Cubano sandwich & choice of side for only $9 in honor of National Cuban Sandwich Day!  Regular price is $18 so that is an awesome deal.  Plancha is my favorite spot at Four Seasons Orlando for lunch.  The food and drinks there are really good!

Other special offers:

  • $5 mojitos (can be made virgin as well) on National Cuban Sandwich Day, Thursday, Aug. 23.
  • Happy Hour half off drinks from 3-6pm every Mon-Fri.

Plancha is a Cuban-American restaurant located in the stylish Tranquil Golf Clubhouse at Four Seasons Orlando, just a few minutes away from Disney Springs.  They are open daily from 11am-6pm.  You do not need a hotel reservation to dine there.  They have ample parking spots in their lot.

I highly recommend the following appetizers to go along with your El Cubano sandwich:

Tuna Tartare – avocado, ginger coconut vinaigrette, red onions, micro greens, jalapeño, tostones

Guacamole – Roasted corn relish, naan chips, Parmesan cheese

Chorizo Flatbread – smoked chorizo, crispy shallots, piquillo pepper sauce, manchego, cream cheese, arugula

Plancha Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World® Resort
10100 Dream Tree Boulevard Orlando, FL 32836
(407) 313-7777
fourseasons.com/content/dam/fourseasons/images/web/ORL/PDF/ORL-Plancha-Lunch-Menu.pdf

Terralina Crafted Italian opened this summer in Disney Springs of Orlando, FL Starting July 23, Terralina Crafted Italian will begin hosting a late-night happy hour from 9-11 p.m. Sunday – Thursday on the patio. Specials include $5 Beers and half-price wines by the glass.

Every meal comes with fresh bread made in-house at Terralina. The bread is dense and delicious. I suggest having it with the pickled vegetables that comes with it.

Some may dip the bread into the extra virgin olive oil that is made especially for Terralina, but it doesn’t tickle my fancy.

One of guests’ favorite appetizers include herb ricotta-stuffed Fried Olives, which are unique and tasteful. It is served with shaved parmesan that adds a robust flavor on its own.

The Crispy Eggplant Fries were more soggy than anything. I can assure you that eggplant can become crispy if made correctly. Although they weren’t crispy as promised by the name, they are delicious and creamy! It is served with some lemon-caper aioli that adds to the creaminess of each bite.

This Rigatoni Calabrese includes housemate sausage, tomatoes, olives, mushrooms, and escaroles. Escaroles are usually bitter, but there is no bitterness in these greens. The pasta was made to perfection and the sausage was the best part with the abundance of flavors it releases in each bite.

The Lemon Panna Cotta is served with candied thyme that adds such uniqueness to each bite of the panna cotta. The panna cotta itself is served at room temperature, which is a great way to whip together ingredients without the ingredients separating from one another. This dessert is refreshing for a hot Florida summer.

If you’d like some tasty cocktails, the Cozy Terrace is nice for the summer. It was mixed well and refreshing with the cucumber.

The Negroni has nice orange notes, but it was not mixed very well. If you’re a gin type of person, this drink is for you.

Maybe you’re a bourbon type of person. Try the Revered Heritage, which is nice and strong.

For more information, check out the Terralina Crafted Italian website.

Guacamole – Roasted corn relish, naan chips, Parmesan cheese

Dine in Plancha today through Saturday, July 14 and enjoy a complimentary guacamole appetizer & mojito (can be made virgin as well) with a purchase of an entrée in honor of National Mojito Day!  What an awesome deal!  The food and drinks there are really good!

Plancha is a Cuban-American restaurant located in the stylish Tranquil Golf Clubhouse at Four Seasons Orlando, just a few minutes away from Disney Springs.  They are open daily from 11am-6pm.  You do not need a hotel reservation to dine there. They have ample parking spots in their lot.

Loco Coconut Mojito – Rumhaven, Brugal 1988, lime, mint

Plancha Mojito – Barcardi, Prosecco, lime, mint

Virgin Orange Blossom Mojito

Churrasco – Skirt steak, chimichurri, mixed greens, yucca fries

Tuna Tartare – Avocado, ginger coconut vinaigrette, tostones, jalapeño, red onions, micro greens

Plancha Burger – Chorizo & beef patty, maduros, white cheddar, tomato, lettuce, cumin aioli 

Espresso

Traditional Flan – Caña sugar caramel, strawberry, kiwi, blueberries, and mini chocolate disk

Be sure to stop by Plancha soon for FREE guacamole & mojito before the deal ends this Saturday, July 14!

Plancha Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World® Resort
10100 Dream Tree Boulevard Orlando, FL 32836
(407) 313-7777
fourseasons.com/content/dam/fourseasons/images/web/ORL/PDF/ORL-Plancha-Lunch-Menu.pdf

Seafood Tower – King crab, jumbo Gulf shrimp, oysters, crab ceviche, Ahi tuna poke

We were invited to Paddlefish to celebrate their most recent accomplishment of being voted “Best Seafood Restaurant” by Orlando Magazine’s 2018 Dining Awards.  We enjoyed indulging in a delicious 5-course wine pairing dinner showcasing “Best of Paddlefish” dishes amid the rooftop of their luxurious steamboat.  Tickets to the sold out event was $115 per person.  Paddlefish offers fresh and delicious seafood dishes, exceptional architecture and decor, an attentive and friendly staff, and the most gorgeous view that you will ever get from any establishment on Disney Springs property.

Executive Chef Steve Richards welcoming guest at the Best of Paddlefish dinner.

Mini Maine Lobster Roll

Lobster & Corn Chowder 

Our wonderful sommelier of the evening.

August Kessler, Riesling, Germany

Sea Scallop – cauliflower puree, crispy Brussels sprouts

Cider Braised Veal Cheeks – parsnip puree

Dessert Trio – key lime pie, flourless chocolate cake, strawberry cheesecake

June Specials:

  • Paddlefish will be hosting wine tastings the 2nd and 4th Tuesday of each month through September.  Their in-house Sommelier team will lead these tastings on the rooftop deck and wine flights will be served with light bites and tastings.  Guests must be 21+ to attend.  Tickets and additional details can be found here.
  • Celebrate National Vanilla Milkshake Day on Wednesday, June 20, at Paddlefish!  Paddlefish will be offering their famous vanilla brownie milkshake for just $5 all day long!
  • Now through June 30, guests can enjoy a bottle of rose and half a dozen oysters for only $40, only available on the third deck.

Be sure to check out the June specials at Paddlefish soon!  It’s a fun filled month at Paddlefish that you won’t want to miss!

(Source credit: Paddlefish)

Paddlefish at Disney Springs
1670 Buena Vista Dr.  Lake Buena Vista, FL
(407) 934-2628
paddlefishrestaurant.com

Ocean’s Bounty Sustainable Fish and Sea Salt Dusted Filet Mignon – Harvest Vegetable Melange, Leek Fondue and Cassis Red Wine Demi by Chef Tim Majoras, Flying Fish

When Disney chefs collaborate with Second Harvest Food Bank for a good cause, beautiful things happen.  It was an honor to attend this charity dinner as a media guest.

Chefs from Disney’s BoardWalk Resort Restaurants prepared a delicious dinner at Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida as part of the Chef’s Night Series. The team was led by Andrew Larkin, Executive Chef, Disney’s BoardWalk Resort and will include Chef Rich Smich, Trattoria al Forno; Chef Paul Napoli, ESPN Club; Chef Tim Majoras, Flying Fish; Pastry Chef Kurtis Baguley, Disney’s BoardWalk Resort restaurants and Sommeliers Katie Hanewall, Trattoria al Forno and Ted Letsch, Flying Fish.

Chef’s Night brings Central Florida’s top chefs into Second Harvest’s Community Kitchen to celebrate delicious food and raise funds for a good cause.  All proceeds benefit Second Harvest’s Culinary Training Program, which provides students with the skills and inspiration they need to obtain an entry-level position in a food service establishment.

Hor d’oeuvres

Insalata Salad – House-Pulled Mozzarella, Heirloom Tomatoes and Aged Balsamic
Chef Rich Smich, Trattoria al Forno

Spring Gnocchi  – Carrot, Celery, Onion, Pea and Corn.  Loved this dish!  I could have eaten it all night!
Chef Rich Smich, Trattoria al Forno

Ciabatta Rolls with Ricotta Cheese and Herb Oil

Strawberry and Goat Cheese Salad – Baby Kale, Brussel Sprouts, Olive Oil and Sea Salt Ciabatta Bread Crisp
Chef Paul Napoli, ESPN Club


Ocean’s Bounty Sustainable Fish and Sea Salt Dusted Filet Mignon – 
Harvest Vegetable Melange, Leek Fondue and Cassis Red Wine Demi
Chef Tim Majoras, Flying Fish

Vahlrona Chocolate Semolina Torta  – Brachetto Raspberry Crema
Mascarpone Cream Mousse – 
Blueberry Lime Compote, Hibiscus Meringue and Rye Bourbon Caramel
Pastry Chef Kurtis Baguley, Disney’s Boardwalk Resort

Be sure to check out the next out the next Chef’s Night happening on August 30, 2018.  Join the Tasty Trio, three deliciously experienced food and wine experts Tonda Corrente, owner of La Femme Du Fromage, Lisa Wilk, founder of Orlando Uncorked, and Jill Ramsier, co-owner of Quantum Leap Winery for a 4-Course dinner journey where wine, cheese and chocolate confections by Peterbrooke Chocolatier of Winter Park are featured in every course.  Tickets available at https://linktr.ee/feedhopenow.

More pictures from the most recent Chef’s Night below:

(Source credit: Second Harvest Food Bank)

Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida
411 Mercy Drive Orlando, FL
407-514-1070

FeedHopeNow.org

Beets & Burrata – Cherry tomatoes, radish, beech mushrooms, white balsamic

We were invited to Four Seasons Resort Orlando to check out the new menu items at PB&G, short for pool bar & grill.  The restaurant has added several new healthy options, perfect for those who prefer to eat on the cleaner side and/or those who are currently working on their summer bod!

Fruit & Berries – Bourbon vanilla granola, lemon honey Greek yogurt, coconut.  The granola had bourbon vanilla in it and it tasted really great!

Watermelon & Prosciutto – Pressed watermelon, herbed goat cheese, prosciutto, marinated blueberries, arugula

BLTA – Smoked bacon, bibb lettuce, tomato, avocado, parmesan cheese vinaigrette.  This was the best salad that I’ve ever had!  The bacon was perfection. 

Herb-Citrus Shrimp – Grilled pineapple, spinach, baby kale, quinoa, red union, cucumber, feta cheese, red wine vinaigrette

Seared Ahi Tuna – Kale, cabbage, cucumber, jicama, mango, crispy wontons, wasabi ginger cream, sesame vinaigrette

Lobster Roll – Avocado, tomato, remoulade, Hawaiian roll.  The crab is 100% real, 100% delicious!  Omit ketchup and fries to make it healthier.

Chirashi Bowl – Spicy tuna poke, salmon poke, sushi rice, avocado, soy glazed mushrooms, cucumber, edamame, carrot, seaweed salad, spicy mayo

S’mores for dessert!  Because life is all about balance, right?

Kudos to our talented and wonderful chefs!  We really enjoyed our meal.

 

Upcoming Events at Four Seasons Orlando Resort:

Saturday, 06.09
Global Wellness Day
8 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Enjoy special fitness classes for Global Wellness Day, plus spa treatments and a healthy cooking demo and lunch.

 

Sunday, 06.17
Father’s Day Brunch at Plancha Restaurant
10 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Three course brunch (appetizer buffet, choice of entree, dessert buffet), bottomless mimosas and Bloody Mary for $68 per person.  Dads will receive a choice of a complimentary bourbon or complimentary cigar.

 

Four Seasons Resort Orlando
10100 Dream Tree Boulevard
(407) 313-7777
fourseasons.com/orlando/

We were invited to the Pre-Opening Party for Wine Bar George at Disney Springs; and it was certainly a “magical night”. The rain stopped just in time for the party to begin, and a rainbow appeared. How perfect is that?

Wine Bar George officially opens Saturday, May 19th, and from my experience during the event, I only see a very busy future ahead for George and his amazing crew (I’m booking my babysitter in advance to return soon). George Miliotes, Master Sommelier (one of only 249 in the world), has personally hand-picked every available ounce of wine in the wine bar. Paired perfectly with small bites (such as house-made meatballs, jicama salad, grilled octopus), family-style platters (such as skirt steak and wine braised chicken), charcuterie and artisanal cheese boards, and desserts (olive oil cake and key lime pie).  One dessert is an event in itself: The Chocolate Experience (pairings of wines and chocolates). Plus, other amazing offerings of beer and cider, and specialty cocktails. Presently, Wine Bar George is the only Master Sommelier-led wine bar in Florida. George brings a lifetime of wine knowledge and education to his new venture. Practically growing up with a glass of wine in his hand (I like this family), working alongside his father (Chris Miliotes) at a young age in his father’s former restaurant off of John Young Parkway, Chris’ House of Beef, success with California Grill, Seasons 52, and Capital Grille, George Miliotes and Wine Bar George are truly special. George also has an amazing crew working by his side, and from what I saw, working extremely hard. All of them passionate about being an intricate part of Wine Bar George, and it shows with their every gesture and word, so quick to recommend the perfect pairing, and share what they know and love with guests. As if the fantastic staff, wine, and food isn’t enough to love this place, there is also the amazingly beautiful atmosphere of Wine Bar George. Soft lighting, large paneled windows overlooking great views of Disney Springs, oak floors, elements of stone and metal, brick walls, and hints of George’s personal wine collections and treasures, make up the two-story (a bar on both levels) wine bar with plenty of comfy seating. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but I don’t think my pictures (taken on my iPhone) adequately do the beauty of this place justice. Until you can see for yourself, here’s a sampling of our night at Wine Bar George:

Meeting Chris Miliotes
Meeting George Miliotes

I want Wine Bar George to be my Cheers, where the staff knows my name, I have my very own bar stool in both the upstairs and downstairs bar, and my favorite glass (or glasses) of wine awaits when I enter. This was an event I will never forget and I loved the experience of trying new wines hand-picked by George, eating delicious bites, talking with the amazing staff and fellow foodies, and having the honor of meeting George Miliotes and his father, Chris (both completely modest and easy to talk to). I know you will enjoy Wine Bar George as much as I did…so, plan a visit soon…but, if I find you sitting in my stool at the bar…game on (who am I kidding…I’ll just smile at you and find another spot).

 

Wine Bar George

https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/dining/disney-springs/wine-bar-george/

 

Loaded Lobster – 1/2 maine lobster, seafood stuffing, parmesan, breadcrumbs béarnaise sauce

Thank you Orlando magazine for hosting us at deep blu seafood grille at Wyndham Grand Bonnet Creek for a delicious 7-course seafood culinary adventure.  We enjoyed diving deep into their new menu and meeting their new head chef, Chef Wade McLamb.

Gazpacho soup

Grilled Florida Peach & Burrata Salad – pickled blueberries, fennel, crispy country ham, honey truffle vinaigrette

Black & blu Linguine – vita squid ink pasta, jumbo lump blu crab, arugula, cherry tomatoes, marcona almonds, parmigiana


Loaded Lobster – 1/2 maine lobster, seafood stuffing, parmesan, breadcrumbs béarnaise sauce

Scalloped potato


George’s Banks Scallops – corn risotto, smoked tomato jam, crispy black eye peas

Red Snapper – local sweet corn succotash, baby herb salad, basil vinaigrette


Ora King Salmon – red quinoa, black eyed pea fritter, cucumber mint crème fraiche

Banana Pudding – Key Lime Pie Pana Cotta, graham shortbread, toasted meringue

Two hardworking chefs, Chef Ryan Cole and Chef Wade McLamb.

deep blu seafood grille at Wyndham Grand Bonnet Creek 
14651 Chelonia Pkwy Orlando, FL 32821
(407) 390-2420
deepbluorlando.com

Use promo code “Grand Experience” when making reservations for a free dessert or appetizer with the purchase of two dinner entrees (Limit 1 coupon per 2 adults |Valid 5/1/2018-5/31/2018).

Recognized as the region’s premier food and wine pairing event, the 26th Heart of Florida United Way Chef’s Gala at Walt Disney World Resort featured unlimited sampling of signature dishes prepared by 23 of Central Florida’s top chefs, along with thoughtfully paired fine wines.  The evening also included a sparking wine reception, live music and a silent auction filled with unique items and trips. 

This year they served over 460,000 individuals and raised a record-breaking $300,000+ towards the fight for the health, education and financial stability of every person in Central Florida.  95 cents of every dollar raised is invested back into the community to fund critical programs.

Chef’s Gala – what a tasteful way to make a difference in the world!

All beverages were generously donated.

All silent auction items were generously donated.

Live performance by an amazing band

Flying Fish – Disney’s BoardWalk: Chef LT Majoras
Cool Water Lobster and Slow Poached Shrimp, Spring Melon, Hearts of Palm, Shaved Serrano and Cava Vinaigrette

SLATE: Chef Jacob Woolf
Smoked Brisket, Jalapeño Creamed Corn, Charred Scallion Vinaigrette and Annatto Oil

Artist Point – Disney’s Wilderness Lodge: Chef Michael Gonsalves
Sweet Maiz Soup – Dungeness Crab, Avocado, Spring Radish, Ramp Mole, Greens

Urban Tide – Hyatt Regency Orlando: Chef Chef Jared Gross
Plantain-Crusted Atlantic Cod, Roasted Red Beet and Crème Fraiche Mash, Kumquat Mostarda

Todd English’s bluezoo – Walt Disney World Swan & Dolphin Resort: Chef Jason Wiggin
Crispy Puffed Rice Shrimp, Wasabi Pommes Puree, Sweet Thai Chili

Shutters – Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort: Chef Mark Donovan
Caribbean Goat Curry with Fragrant Island Rice and Cilantro-Lime Crema

Hemisphere – Hyatt Regency Orlando: Chef Jeffrey Powell
Chilled California-Style White Fish Ceviche with House Fried Corn Chips

Ale & Compass Restaurant – Disney’s  Beach Club Resort: Chef David Hutnick
Slow Smoked Pork Tenderloin, Bacon Jam, Vermont Cheddar Grits, Barbecue Gastrique and Herb Salad

The Turf Club Bar and Grill – Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa: Chef Dan Marozzi
Pan Seared Salmon Slider – Seared Ora King Salmon, Horseradish Pickled Cucumber Slaw, on a Dill Gougère

blu on the avenue: Chef Tony Krueger
Hot Smoked Scottish Salmon, Dukkah Drop Biscuit, Bacon, Pickled Serrano, Aged Maple Syrup, Flowers

Morimoto Asia – Disney Springs: Chef Yuhi Fujinaga
Foie “PHO”, Kona Kanpachi, Shiso

Latitude and Longitude – Orlando World Center Marriott: Chef Kyle Anderson
Low-Country Perloo Carolina Gold Rice, Chicken Thighs, Andouille Sausage, Florida Rock Shrimp

The Hollywood Brown Derby – Disney’s Hollywood Studios: Chef Craig Schleider
Spicy Togarashi – Crusted Ahi Tuna, House-Made Kimchi, Bamboo Rice and Ginger-Soy Glaze

STK Orlando – Disney Springs: Chef Aaron Taylor
Goat’s Milk Ricotta with Crushed Peas, Mint and Charred Spring Onion

Jiko – The Cooking Place – Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge: Chef Eddie Mendoza
Mandazi

Jiko – The Cooking Place – Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge: Chef Eddie Mendoza
Isitambu – Zulu-Style Samp, Beans with Oxtail and Quail Egg

Tiffins – Disney’s Animal Kingdom® Theme Park: Chef Robby Sayles
Blanquette de Veau, Crispy Sweetbreads, Forest Mushroom Ragout and Charred Pearl Onion

Le Cellier Steakhouse – Epcot®: Chef Kevin Downing
Lamb Loin, Confit Marble Potatoes, Spring Vegetable Vinaigrette and Pinot Noir Syrup

Primo by Melissa Kelly – J.W. Marriott Orlando, Grande Lakes: Chef Eric Santiago
House-Made Casarecche Pasta, Lake Meadows Duck Confit, Local Mushrooms, Ramp Pesto and Shaved Pecorino

Bull & Bear – Waldorf Astoria Orlando: Chef Richard Brown
Seared Shrimp Scampi with Pinot Grigio Butter, Black Venus Rice Risotto and Parmesan Cheese

Cinderella’s Royal Table – MAGIC KINGDOM Park: Chef Axel Martinez
Blood Orange Braised Beef Short Rib, Melted Leek and Kohlrabi Puree and Sweetie Drop Peppers

Joffrey’s Coffee & Tea Company: Roast Master Chris DeMezzo
Made-to-Order Specialty Coffees

Amorette’s Patisserie – Disney Springs: Pastry Chef Yoly Lazo Colon
Amorette’s Petite Signature Cake – Chocolate Chiffon, Raspberry Pate Fruit, Red Velvet Cake, Chocolate Biscuit, Dark Chocolate and Cherry Mousse

Gideon’s Bakehouse: Owner Steve Lewis and Chef Nicole Beebe
Classic Chocolate Chip Cookie and Pistachio Toffee Chocolate Chip Cookie

Epcot® Bakery Team: Pastry Chef Noah French
Meyer Lemon Tart with Mandarin Orange Jam

Beautiful and breathtaking fireworks are the perfect way to end an amazing night.  Be sure to check out this amazing event next year!

(Source credit: Chef’s Gala)

Chef’s Gala – Epcot Showplace
200 Epcot Center Dr, Orlando, FL 32821
(407) 939-5277
ChefsGala.org

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Olivia’s Cafe at Disney’s Old Key West Resort is no spring chicken.  Opening more than two decades ago, Olivia’s may not be the new kid on the block, but this somewhat hidden Disney gem with mouthwatering food will never go out of style.  Words like glamorous or trendy may not be the first to come to mind, be that as it may, the restaurant is a class-act with a comfortable, family-friendly atmosphere, a laid-back Florida Keys feel, and filled with staff that make everyone feel at home.  After my recent dinner here, I can’t help but wonder – Why don’t I come here more often?

A Friday night outing with close friends on vacation from New Jersey, during the typical chaos of spring break in Orlando, at the most sought after vacation destination in Florida, can be stressful to say the least.  Layer in five energetic children that have spent a very long, hot day in the park, finding a place that is family-friendly but also appealing to a grown-up’s palate (not that I don’t enjoy Disney’s chicken fingers and mac-n-cheese) was a must for all of our sanity.

In a uniquely Disney way, Olivia’s Café came to the rescue!  After the typical musical chairs that comes with a large group trying to navigate a restaurant table, we take our seats.  The kids are all happily plugged-in to electronic devices (desperate times call for desperate measures), and the first question our cheerful waitress asks – Would anyone care for a drink?  All four adults answer in unison – Yes!!!  I ask the waitress, as a foodie usually does, to please bring me one of their most-popular, signature cocktails, and a few minutes later, she gifts me with a Turtle Krawl.  This sweet, but not too sweet cocktail tricks your senses into believing you’re lying on a white-sand beach, and not watching your son spill his entire glass of soda all over the table.  Pineapple and orange juices blend nicely with the tang of lime juice, while three different rums (because one is never enough) marry together in beautiful coconut rum, spice rum, and white rum harmony.

As the Turtle Krawl works its magic granting peace among us four, the waitress suggests many appealing appetizers, but when she says onion rings from the “secret menu”, that’s it! Onion rings are most often a good pick to begin with, onion rings from a “secret menu”, they have to be even better…and yes, they were amazing!  Crunchy, salty, fried, golden rings with a pop of sweet from the cooked onions.  We ate our “secret menu” onion rings feeling like VIPs.  Well, that was us, until we slowed down enough to look up from our munching to see that several other tables also had them.  The jealously subsided faster than it was felt, most likely because of how delicious these secret menu onion rings are.

When it was time to order our entrees, I perused the menu of several dishes that I imagined were all incredible: Plantation Key Pork Chop, Tortuga Seafood Stew, Seven Mile Sea Scallops.  Finally, after several minutes of waffling, I asked the waitress, yet again, for Olivia’s most popular entree, and she recommended one dish that gets a lot of attention: Southernmost Buttermilk Chicken.  After eating this dish, I can clearly see why this southern jewel is the most popular girl in the class, and not in a mean girl kind of way.  Boneless chicken breast so tender, I envision it marinated in the buttermilk for days, and so delicate I barely used my knife to cut it.  The chicken’s crispy exterior is perfectly complimented by the southern gravy that has a perfect amount of spice and is smooth as silk.  Tender and crunchy chicken, creamy southern gravy, nestled on top of crisp green beans and buttery, smooth mashed potatoes.  Comfort food to the max.

I managed not to eat my entire dinner plate, considering the fact that I wanted to unbutton my jeans, a clear warning sign of when to stop, but…there’s always room for dessert!  Our waitress made the kids’ day with DIY sundaes, and she made my day with Banana Bread Pudding Sundae.  It was so sweet of her to bring my husband an extra spoon to share, and he really did put up a good fight, but that dessert had my name written all over it.  A warm bread pudding with a Bananas Foster topping and a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream that slowly melted on top…heavenly!  The bread pudding was moist (sorry, I hate that word too), the bananas foster was syrupy and luscious, and the ice cream was velvety, sweet.  A perfect ending to our dinner.

A successful dinner in the books, I will not let too much time pass without returning to Olivia’s Cafe.  Kids, or no kids, it is a perfect spot for a delicious meal and a serene atmosphere.  A classic Disney resort restaurant, I hope you venture to soon, and if you’ve already been, go again…and order the Turtle Krawl.

Olivia’s Cafe

Disney’s Old Key West Resort

1510 N Cove Rd. Orlando, FL 32830

https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/dining/old-key-west-resort/olivia-cafe/

 

 

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This year marks the 25th anniversary of the EPCOT Flower and Garden Festival, which runs from February 28-May 28, 2018.

This year, there is a special marketplace called “The Honey Bee-stro” Hosted by National Honey Board. As we all know, the humble honey bee plays an integral part in our ecosystem, helping to pollinate our plants as they go about their day. One of my favorite dishes this year is the Roasted Cauliflower with Buckwheat Honey Carrot Puree, Wild Rice Pilaf, Asparagus, Honey Blistered Grapes and Sunflower Brittle from this booth. Not too heavy, but just enough with a nice sweet brittle crunch with the rice.

Here are my other foodie favorites from the festival:

 

Northern Bloom – Griddled Maple Pound Cake with Warm Peach Compote and Sweet Corn Gelato
La Isla Fresca – Tropical Mousse Cake: Layers of Passion Fruit Cake, Coconut Mousse and a Tropical Fruit Glaze with Fresh Pineapple
The Honey Beestro – Roasted Cauliflower with Buckwheat Honey Carrot Puree, Wild Rice Pilaf, Asparagus, Honey Blistered Grapes and Sunflower Brittle
Smokehouse – Beef Brisket Burnt Ends and Smoked Pork Belly Slider with Garlic Sausage, Chorizo, Cheddar Fondue and House-made Pickle

As always, there are also a ton of topiaries to see at the Flower and Garden Festival.

Here are some of our favorite topiaries for 2018:

Here is the menu for all the marketplaces for EPCOT’s Flower and Garden Festival 2018:

The Berry Basket

Food

Lamb chop with Quinoa Salad and Blackberry Gastrique – $7.25,
Field Greens with fresh Strawberries, Crisp Quinoa, Strawberry Vinaigrette and Spiced Pecans (V) – $5.00,
Warm Wild Berry Buckle with Pepper Berry Gelato (V) – $4.50,

Beverage

JDub’s Brewing Company Blueberry IPA, Sarasota, FL – $4.25
Island Grove Blueberry Moscato, Hawthorne, FL – $6.00
Twinings® Green Tea Berry Mint Julep – $8.75
Twinings Green Tea Berry Mint Julep (Non-alcoholic) – $4.25

Northern Bloom

Food

Seared Scallops with French Green Beans, Butter Potatoes, Brown Butter Vinaigrette and Apple-wood Smoked Bacon (GF) – $6.50,
Beef Tenderloin Tips, Mushroom Bordelaise Sauce, Whipped Potatoes with Garden Vegetables – $6.75,
Griddled Maple Pound Cake with Warm Peach Compote and Sweet Corn Gelato – $4.50,

Beverages

Maple Popcorn Shake with Crown Royal Maple Whisky – $11.75
Maple Popcorn Shake (non-alcoholic) – $4.50,
Unibroue Maudite Amber Ale, Chambly, Québec – $5.00
Unibroue À Tout Le Monde Saison, Chambly, Québec – $5.00
Unibroue Éphémère White Ale, Chambly, Québec – $5.00
Beer Flight – $11.00

La Isla Fresca

Food

Jamaican-braised Beef with Pigeon Pea Rice and Micro Cilantro – $6.25,
Sugar Cane Shrimp Skewer with Steamed Rice and Coconut Lime Sauce – $6.75,
Caribbean Conch Salad with Mango, Papaya and Pickled Red Onions – $5.25,
Tropical Mousse Cake: Layers of Passion Fruit Cake, Coconut Mousse and a Tropical Fruit Glaze with Fresh Pineapple – $4.25,

Beverages

Golden Road Brewing Tart Mango Cart Wheat Ale, Los Angeles, CA – $4.25
Tropical Freeze with Cruzan Mango Rum – $9.50
Tropical Freeze (Non-alcoholic) – $4.25

Cider House

Food

Pear Cider-brined Shredded Corned Beef with Braised Cabbage and Branston Dressing with Pears – $10.50,
House-made Potato and Cheddar Cheese Biscuit with Smoked Salmon Tartare – $5.25,
Freshly Baked Lemon Scone with Crème Fraîche and Mixed Berries (V) (GF) – $4.25,

Beverages

McKenzie’s Black Cherry Hard Cider, West Seneca, NY – $4.50
Florida Beer Company Caribé Pineapple Tropical Hard Cider, Cape Canaveral, FL – $4.50
Ciderboys Grand Mimosa Apple Orange Hard Cider, Stevens Point, WI – $4.50
Cider Flight – $10.00
Martinelli’s Sparkling Cider, California (Non-alcoholic) – $4.75

The Honey Bee-stro Hosted by National Honey Board

Food

Roasted Cauliflower with Buckwheat Honey Carrot Puree, Wild Rice Pilaf, Asparagus, Honey Blistered Grapes and Sunflower Brittle (GF) (V) – $4.50,
Honey Tandoori Chicken Flatbread with White Cheddar Cheese, charred vegetables, Clover Honey Sour Cream and Micro Watercress – $5.25,
Local Wildflower Honey-Mascarpone Cheesecake with Orange Blossom Honey Ice Cream garnished with Fennel Pollen Meringue Kisses (V) – $4.75,
Beverages

Florida Orange Groves Winery Orange Blossom Honey Wine, St. Petersburg, FL – $5.00
Orange Blossom Brewing Co. Orange Blossom Pilsner, Orlando, FL – $4.25
Honey-Peach Cobbler Freeze with Blueberry Vodka – $10.25
Honey-Peach Cobbler Freeze (Non-alcoholic) – $4.25

Pineapple Promenade

Food

Spicy Hot Dog with Pineapple Chutney and Plantain Chips – $7.50,
Pineapple Soft-Serve (V) – $5.00,

Beverages

Coastal Empire Beer Co. Coco Piña Gose, Savannah, GA – $4.25
Maui Brewing Co. Pineapple Mana Wheat, Kihei, HI – $4.25
SweetWater Brewing Company Goin’ Coastal IPA with Pineapple, Atlanta, GA – $4.25
Pineapple Beer Flight – $9.50
Florida Orange Groves Winery Sparkling Pineapple Wine, St. Petersburg, FL – $11.75
Playalinda Brewing Company Violet Lemonade Ale, Titusville, FL – $4.25
Pineapple Soft-serve with Parrot Bay Coconut Rum – $10.25
Frozen Desert Violet Lemonade (Non-alcoholic) – $4.25,
Pineapple Soft-serve with Fanta (Non-alcoholic) – $5.75,

Jardin de Fiestas

Food

Pork Taco: Slow-braised Pork Taco served with Apple Relish, Goat Cheese and Chile de Árbol Sauce – $6.25,
Chilaquiles: Chilaquiles served with Chorizo, Mexican Cream and Cotija Cheese – $5.95,
Capirotada: Bread Pudding served with Rompope – $4.25,

Beverages

Tiger Lily Sangria – $10.25
Rose Margarita – $11.50
Violet Cassis Punch – $12.25
Daisy Spicy Beer – $6.75

Lotus House

Food

Spicy Meatballs with Crispy Tofu – $5.00,
Fried Chicken Dumplings with Peanut Sauce – $6.25,
Vegetable Spring Rolls (V) – $4.50,

Beverages

Oolong Peach Bubble Tea (Non-alcoholic) – $6.75
Kung Fu Punch: Vodka, Triple Sec, Mango and Orange Juice – $8.75
BaiJoe Punch: Chinese Bai Jiu Spirit, Lychee, Coconut and Pineapple Juice – $11.00
Plum Wine Cooler – $8.75
Tsingtao Lager – $3.50

Bauernmarkt: Farmer’s Market

Food

Potato Pancakes with House-made Apple Sauce (V) – $4.25,
Potato Pancake with Caramelized Ham, Onions and Herb Sour Cream – $4.50,
Toasted Pretzel Bread topped with Black Forest Ham and Melted Gruyère Cheese – $5.00,
Warm Cheese Strudel with Mixed Berries – $4.25,

Beverages

Hugo-Charles De Fere “Organic” Brut with Elderflower and Mint – $9.50
Paulaner Original Munich Lager – $4.50
Ayinger Bräu Weisse Hefeweizen, Munich, Germany – $4.50
Köstritzer Schwarzbier Black Lager – $4.50
Beer Flight – $10.00

Primavera Kitchen

Food

Frittata di Asparagi: Asparagus Frittata, Mixed Greens and Citrus Dressing (GF) (V) – $7.00,
Fritto Misto: Crispy Shrimps, Zucchini and Spicy Sauces – $8.00,
Ravioli: Maine Lobster Ravioli with Vodka Sauce – $12.00
Panna Cotta al Melone: Cantaloupe Panna Cotta (GF) (V) – $5.50,

Beverages

Pinot Grigio – $8.00
Chianti – $8.00
Prosecco – $9.00
Corbinello – $9.00
Moscato – $9.00
Bellini: Sparking Wine and Peach Purée – $10.00
Frozen Italian Margarita with Limoncello and Tequila – $10.00
Moretti Lager L’Autentica – $5.50
Moretti La Rossa – $5.50

The Smokehouse: Barbecue and Brews

Food

Pulled Pig Slider with Coleslaw – $6.75,
Beef Brisket Burnt Ends and Smoked Pork Belly Slider with Garlic Sausage, Chorizo, Cheddar Fondue and House-made Pickle – $7.25,
Beef Brisket Burnt Ends Hash with White Cheddar Fondue and Pickled Jalapeños – $6.50,
Warm Chocolate Cake with Bourbon-Salted Caramel Sauce and Spiced Pecans (V) – $4.00,

Beverage

Zen of Zin Old Vine, California – $5.25
Central 28 Brewing Company Sunshine Greetings Orange Hibiscus Wheat Ale, DeBary, FL – $4.25
3 Daughters Brewing Phantasmas Spicy Double IPA, St. Petersburg, FL – $4.25
Shipyard Maple Bacon Stout, Clearwater, FL – $4.25
Beer Flight – $9.50
Frozen Lemonade with Firefly Blackberry Moonshine – $11.75
Frozen Lemonade (Non-alcoholic) – $3.50

Hanami

Food

Frushi: Fresh Pineapple, Strawberry and Melon rolled with Coconut Rice, sprinkled with Toasted Coconut and Whipped Cream with Raspberry Sauce on the side (V) – $5.95,
Ginger Beef Yaki Udon: Thin-sliced Beef, Onions and Noodles tossed on the grill with Soy and Ginger – $6.50,
Teriyaki Salmon with Furikake Seasoned Brown Rice (GF) – $6.75,

Beverages

Pineapple Momo Sake Cocktail – $6.50
Karatamba “Dry Wave” Sake – $8.00
Sapporo Draft Beer in a Kampai Cup – $4.25

Taste of Marrakesh

Food

Harissa Chicken Kebab with Dried Fruit Couscous Salad – $6.00,
Fried Cauliflower with Capers, Garlic Parsley and Chili Ranch Sauce – $5.00,
Walnut Honey Baklava – $4.00,

Beverages

Desert Rose: Sparkling Wine topped with Pomegranate Liqueur – $8.00
White Sangria – $6.00
Casa Beer – $4.00

Florida Fresh

Carne Guisada with Black Bean Cake and Cilantro Lime Sour Cream – $6.50,
Spicy Blackened Shrimp and Stone-ground Cheddar Cheese Grits with Brown Gravy and Local Sweet Corn Relish – $6.75,
Key Lime Tart with Toasted Meringue – $4.50,

Beverages

Florida Orange Groves Winery Key Lime Sparkling Wine, St Petersburg, FL – $11.75
Tampa Bay Brewing Company Quat Seasonal Fruit Ale – $4.25
Big Top Brewing Company Conch Republic Key Lime Wheat, Sarasota, FL – $4.25
First Magnitude Brewing Co. Monarch Milk Stout, Gainesville, FL – $4.25
Watermelon Cucumber Slushy with Tamiami Florida Gin – $11.75
Watermelon Cucumber Slushy (Non-alcoholic) – $4.25
Beer Flight – $9.50

Fleur de Lys

Tarte à la Tomate Provençale: Provencal Tomato Tart with Sautéed Onions, Fresh Thyme and Rosemary on a Flaky Pastry Crust (V) – $5.50,
Canard Confit Aux Gnocchi à la Parisienne: Braised Duck Confit with Parisian Gnocchi – $5.75,
Macaron au Chocolat en Sucette: Large Chocolate Macaron Lollipop (GF) – $4.95,

Beverages

La Vie en Rose Frozen Slushy: Grey Goose Orange, St. Germain Liqueur, White and Red Cranberry Juice – $10.75
Kir Pomegranate: Sparkling Wine, Pama Pomegranate Liqueur – $7.95
Cabernet Sauvignon, Village de France – $4.95
Kronenbourg Blanc 1664 – $4.50

Joffrey’s Coffee & Tea Carts Specialty Festival Offerings
Beverages

Showcase Coffee Cart: Orange Blossom Twist — Frozen Orange Pineapple topped with Vodka – $9.99
Disney Traders Port of Entry Coffee Cart: Garden of Guava — Frozen Pink Guava topped with Rum or Vodka – $9.99
Future World East: The Final Lap — Iced Tea topped with Frozen Passion Fruit with Vodka – $9.99
The American Adventure: Strawberry Piña Colada — Frozen Piña Colada and Strawberry with Rum – $9.99

 

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We were invited to a media preview of the 2nd annual Epcot International Festival of the Arts at Walt Disney World.  The month-long festival runs from January 12 – February 19, 2018 and includes an art walk, photo ops, chalk art, culinary offerings, live music, stage performances, art seminars, activities designed with families in mind and so much more.  They’ve rolled everything you love about the arts into one spectacular salute.

Official Festival of the Arts merchandise


These four pins are redemption prizes for the scavenger hunt

Design your own screen printed t-shirt with Enemy Ink

Masterpiece Kitchen
Smoked Salmon Tartare, Caviar, Crisp Lavash and Traditional Accompaniments (delicious!)

Painter’s Palate (Odyssey, Festival Center)
Trio of Savory Croissant Doughnuts: Whipped Boursin Garlic and Fine Herbs Cheese with Fresh Herbs (V), Chicken Salad with Shaved Fennel and Fresh Herbs, Spicy Tuna with Wasabi and Seaweed Salad (really enjoyed biting into these cronut pairings!)

Gallery Bites: A Trio of Hors d’Oeuvres: Chilled Shrimp with Cucumber Cream Cheese on a Crostini, Traditional Deviled Egg with Candied Bacon, Crispy Truffled Risotto Ball with Truffle Aioli
Festival of the Arts White Chocolate Painting with Chocolate Easel (GF)(V)

Festival of the Arts White Chocolate Painting with Chocolate Easel (GF)(V)

Decadent Delights (Promenade)
S’mores Tart: House-smoked Buttermilk Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Mousse, Toasted Marshmallow Meringue, Graham Cracker Dust and Malted Milk Chocolate Sauce

The Destructed Dish
Deconstructed Strawberry Cheesecake: Whipped, New York Style Cheesecake with Fresh Florida Strawberries and Sugar Cookies with Micro-basil (great dessert dish!)

Deconstructed Breakfast: Twinings® Spiced Apple Chai Tea Shake with Maple Syrup, a Waffle Crisp and Candied Bacon (non-alcoholic) (caution: this is a sweet one!)

The Artist’s Table
Roasted Pork Roulade with Butternut Squash Purée, Marble Potatoes and Baby Carrots with a Red Wine Sauce featuring Melissa’s Produce

Cuisine Classique
Seared Corvina with braised Ratatouille and Lemon-Thyme Beurre Blanc (GF)

Pop Eats
Sous Vide Poulet Rouge Chicken Roulade with Apples and Sage served with Warm Brie Fondue, Blueberry and Beet Gel and garnished with Apple and Beet Chips (GF)

Pop’t Art: Modern-design Sugar Cookie with Strawberry Filling (V)

Sous Chef Daniel Contreras

Disney on Broadway Concert Series preview with Jenn Gambatese and Kevin Massey

Jim, a long-time Disney pianist

Trailblazing Ladies of Disney Animation, Presented by Mindy Johnson, Author of Ink & Paint – The Women of Walt Disney’s Animation

They gifted all of us a copy of Mindy Johnson’s book (retails for $60)

Be sure to check out Epcot International Festival of the Arts soon before it ends on February 19.  You will love it!

(Source credit: Walt Disney World)

Epcot
200 Epcot Center Dr, Orlando, FL 32821
(407) 939-5277
disneyworld.disney.go.com/events-tours/epcot/epcot-international-festival-of-the-arts/

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Don’t walk, run.  Epcot is hosting its inaugural International Festival of Holidays now through December 30th.  It is a great event packed with seasonal food and beverage specialties, festive merchandise, and live entertainment only being offered exclusively during the festival.

Epcot International Festival of the Holidays is a festival like no other, featuring the joyous holiday traditions of their 11 World Showcase nations.  Enjoy unique food and beverage offerings at the expanded Holiday Kitchens abound – with a festive global tour as costumed performers bring time-honored traditions to life throughout World Showcase!

We toured the new Festive Center which includes the “Cookie Nook” and other festival goodies.  Cookie Nook is the brand new & biggest feature at Odyssey.  Cookie Nook has already sold over 10,000 cookies since it opened last week.

Make your own FREE snowflake ornament at the Festive Center (same building as Cookie Nook) and take it home with you or hang it on the mini Christmas tree.

Lunch time!  All food items for the festival are distinctly different to celebrate different traditional food from different regions.

Bavaria Holiday Kitchen, Germany – Cheese Fondue In a Bread Bowl with Fresh Steamed Baby Vegetables and Marble Potatoes featuring Melissa’s Produce

Yukon Holiday Kitchen, Canada – Seared Salmon with Crown Royal Maple Whiskey Glaze, Parsnip Silk, Apple Chutney and Hazelnut Croquant

Traditional French Canadian Tourtiere with Canadian Ketchup

American Holiday Table – Slow-roasted Turkey with Stuffing, Mashed Potatoes, Green Beans and Cranberry Sauce

Feast of Three Kings – Roasted Pork with Smashed Yuca and Pickled Green Bananas

Thank you Epcot for the generous goodie bags!

Rockin’ the festive Disney ears with my celebrity friend and Disney expert, Lou Mongello.

The festival includes merchandise that you cannot find anywhere in the world, exclusive to Disney, and some for only this park – like artisan Reinhard Herzog, who creates personalized glass-blown ornaments at the Holiday Market.

Festival gear and exclusive Annual Passholder t-shirt (middle).

Explore the Festival – We encourage you to enjoy some of the cultural entertainment throughout World Showcase at your leisure including:

Sigrid Meets Julenissen The Christmas Gnome (Norway) – Celebrate the season with laugher, as the unsuspecting storyteller Sigrid encounters Julenissen, a magical, mischievous gnome.

El Mariachi Coco de Santa Cecilia (Mexico) – Inspired by the Disney•Pixar film “Coco” and the celebration of Dia de Muertos.

Mostly Kosher (Between Morocco and France) – Capture the joy of Hanukkah and Klezmer music with this unique, high-energy indie band.

Joyful: A Celebration of the Season (Fountain View Stage) – The ‘JOYFUL!’  singers celebrate two holidays of the season— Christmas and Kwanzaa—with spirited, uplifting R&B, Pop and soul-stirring renditions of classic holiday music.

Voices of Liberty (American Adventure Rotunda) – Embrace the spirit of the season with the festive a cappella holiday music of the Dickens Carolers.

Candlelight Processional at America Gardens Theatre – A joyous retelling of the Christmas story by a celebrity narrator, accompanied by a 5-piece orchestra and a glorious massed choir.  The celebrity narrator that evening was actress/comedienne Ana Gasteyer from but not limited to: Saturday Night Live and Mean Girls.

NARRATORS

  • Nov. 24- 26 – Laurie Hernandez – NEW!
  • Nov. 27-28 – Matt Bomer – NEW!
  • Nov. 29 – 30 – Ana Gasteyer
  • Dec. 1-3 – Whoopi Goldberg
  • Dec. 4-5 – Pat Sajak – NEW!
  • Dec. 6-8 – Jodi Benson
  • Dec. 9-11 – Kurt Russell – NEW!
  • Dec. 12-14 – Warwick Davis – NEW!
  • Dec. 15-17 – Trace Adkins
  • Dec. 18-21 – Neil Patrick Harris
  • Dec. 22-24 – CCH Pounder – NEW!
  • Dec. 25-27 – Jaci Velasquez
  • Dec. 28-30 – Chandra Wilson

Festival of the Holidays version of IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth.  The World Showcase Promenade comes alive nightly with the brilliance and splendor of music, lights, lasers, water fountains and custom pyrotechnics.  With the song “Let There Be Peace on Earth” at its center, this special musical finale brings the message of peace and goodwill.

I am going to wrap this up like a gift!  Be sure to check out the inaugural Epcot International Festival of the Holidays before it ends on December 30th, you don’t want to miss this!

(Source credit: Walt Disney World)

Epcot
200 Epcot Center Dr, Orlando, FL 32821
(407) 939-5277
https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/events-tours/epcot/holiday-festival/

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We got invited to check out the 8th Annual Food & Wine Classic at Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin resort.  I had the opportunity to work this two-day event back in 2014 (picture above) and it is a great event filled with lots of wine from around the world and a variety of culinary dishes from pastries to pasta.  Food & Wine Classic also offers eleven one-hour educational seminars if you would like to impress friends with your knowledge of wines, cocktails, beer, pasta-making, cheese pairing or the fine art of sushi and sake.  Due to inclement weather, Saturday’s event was moved inside to the resort’s convention room and the organizers did an amazing job with relocating everything just in time for the event.


Taqueria – Pork Carnitas, Organic Vegetables, Cheddar Cheese, Pico de Gallo, Assorted Hot Sauces – Presented by Picabu


Corzetti Stampati, Lamb Bolognese, Roasted Eggplant, Castelvetrano Olives – Presented by Il Mulino


Dragon Roll – Crispy Shrimp, Tuna, Avocado, Japanese Mayonnaise – Presented by Kimonos


Mac & Cheese – White Cheddar Macaroni and Cheese, Roasted Wild Mushrooms, Winter Truffle – Presented by Carnival Corner


Thai Chicken Salad, Organic Greens, Green Papaya, Tamarind – Ginger Dressing – Presented by Fresh Mediterranean Market


“Tuna Salad”, Seared Yellowfin Tuna, Yuzu Mayonnaise, Candied Marcona Almonds, Spanish Caper Relish – Presented by bluezoo


Seared Florida Red Snapper, Israeli Cous Cous, Lightly Spiced Lobster Nage, Sous Vide Cipollini Onions – Presented by Garden Grove


Sweet Corn Risotto “Arancini”, Wild Chanterelle Mushrooms, Caper Emulsion – Presented by Cabana Bar and Beach Club


Jäger Schnitzel – Lightly Breaded Pork, Hunters Sauce, Späetzle – Presented by Beer Garden


Riesenbretzel – Warm Pretzel, German Mustard, Obatzda Cheese – Presented by Beer Garden


Bratwurst IM BRöTCHEN Mit Sauerkraut – Patak Bratwurst, Laugen Bread, Housemade Sauerkraut, Potato Salad – Presented by Beer Garden


Oven Roasted Beef Rib Eye, Silky Mashed Potatoes, Sauce Bordelaise – Presented by Shula’s Steak House

Carnival Corner for the kids


Nitro Kettle Corn – Presented by Carnival Corner


Corn Dogs – Presented by Carnival Corner


Funnel Cakes – Presented by Carnival Corner

Brown Butter Maine Lobster Roll Fall Truffle – Presented by Todd English

Southern Pulled Pork Sliders, Apple & Cabbage Slaw, Nashville BBQ, Toasted Sesame Brioche – Presented by The Fountain

Chinatown


Crispy Duck – Steamed Bun, Cucumber, Hoisin


Shanghai Dumpling – Pan Roasted Pork Dumpling, Spicy Sauce


Smoked Spanish Iberico Pork Collar, Celery Root Puree, Toasted Hazelnuts, Fall Truffle – Presented by Cib’s Smoke Shop

Sugar Flower & Vase Art – Presented by Executive Pastry Chef Laurent Branlard


Chocolate Cake Pop – Presented by Executive Pastry Chef Laurent Branlard

Raspberry Ice Cream Filled Profiterole – Hot Chocolate Sauce, Raspberry Whipped Cream & Crisp Pearls – Presented by Executive Pastry Chef Laurent Branlard

Mandarin Comfit – Presented by Executive Pastry Chef Laurent Branlard

Vanilla Caramel Cream – Presented by Executive Pastry Chef Laurent Branlard

Zombie dancers

Live music by Atlantic City Boys

Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort     1500 Epcot Resorts Blvd
Orlando, FL 32830
(407) 934-4000  http://swandolphinfoodandwineclassic.com

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We were invited to be the first to preview Ravello’s 3-course Magical Dining Month menu and it was by far one of the best dining experiences I’ve ever had since I started writing for Tasty Chomps.  I will find any and every reason to visit the Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World because I love everything about their property and all of the staff is super friendly and hospitable.  The valet staff are always on point and super welcoming as well.  You can expect a flawless 5-star experience at this resort every time.  I enjoyed trying the Magical Dining menu at Ravello and you can too at a deliciously affordable price.

What is Magical Dining Month?
3-course dinner from a special prix fixe menu
Price: $35 per person
Over 100 + participating restaurants
Beginning August 25 through October 1
This year, $1 of each meal from Magical Dining Month will benefit two charities – Freedom Ride & BASE Camp Children’s Cancer Foundation.
Last year, Magical Dining Month raised over $195,125 for the Russell Home for Atypical Children charity!

Our dinner was scheduled on the same day as the solar eclipse so we got to try a special cocktail called “Eclipse of the Tart”.

At Ravello’s live-action “show kitchen,” savour Modern Italian meals are cooked right before your eyes.
Appetizers

Insalata Mista- trevisana, arugula, lola rossa, moscato vinaigrette

Polpettine – meatballs, mortadella, prosciutto, pomodoro sauce, mascarpone, grilled pan pugliese.  I’m not a fan of meatballs but their meatballs were sooo delicious and I loved them!

Gelato Di Parmigiano – radish, artisan lettuce, cucumber, tomato vinaigrette Parmigiano cheese gelato, taralli crumble

House Made Charcuterie and Cheese Board

Entrèes

House Made Bucatini Amatriciana – guanciale, onion, pomodoro sauce.  This dish was amazing because you can taste how fresh the pasta was.  It was the best pasta I’ve ever eaten in my life.

Chicken Putanessca with Polenta – taggiasca olive, capers

Pesce Spada – swordfish, sale speziato, salmoriglio, roasted potatoes, spinach, pomodorini, laggiasca olives

Desserts

Affogato – vanilla housemade gelato, café Umbrian espresso

Sicillian Cannolis – pistachio, candied orange

 

The following dishes are from the regular menu and they are definitely worth ordering!

Tomato E Mozzarella Focaccia – EVOO, herbs, muffalta. $5

Pizza – buffalo mozzarella, prosciutto cotto, mascarpone, arugula.  Hot and fresh, made in a oven-burning oven.  $16

Umbria Coffee Tiramisu. $5

To book Magical Dining at Ravello, please visit the website below or call (407) 313-6161

Ravello
10100 Dream Tree Blvd
Orlando, FL 32836
http://www.visitorlando.com/magicaldining/restaurants/Ravello/42231/

Last night we got to preview the Magical Dining Month menu at Jiko- The Cooking Place and we were super stoked to be the first ones to experience a Walt Disney World restaurant participating in Magical Dining Month for the first time since Magical Dining Month started 12 years ago.  The additional five participating Walt Disney World restaurants this year are: The Wave, Grand Floridian
Café, Boatwright’s Dining Hall, The Turf Club Bar and Grill, and Olivia’s.

Magical Dining Month
3 courses – Appetizer, Entrèe, and Dessert
Price: $35 per person
Over 100 + participating restaurants
Beginning August 25 through October 1
This year, $1 of each meal from Magical Dining Month will benefit two charities – Freedom Ride & BASE Camp Children’s Cancer Foundation.
Last year, Magical Dining Month raised almost $200,000 for charity!
Click here to view menus and make reservations

During our dinner at Jiko- The Cooking Place, we learned that modern African contemporary cuisine stretches throughout Africa from all over the entire continent.  A lot of African recipes are passed down through word of mouth with no written recipe through generation by generation and even then it has it’s own twist. Over time the dishes has morphed into its own creation.  As always, I love their creativity at Jiko – The Cooking Place and respect their storytelling of the African culture through food, drinks, and decor.

Magical Dining Month items at Jiko- The Cooking Place

Appetizers


Jiko Salads
– Epcot land pavilion greens, stone fruit, pistachio halva, grilled halloumi cheese, apricot ginger dressing

Inguday Tibs in Brik – Mushroom, spinach, cheese in crispy Tunisian filo, apples, curry vinaigrette

Entrèes

Bo Kaap Malay Seafood Curry – calamari, red shrimp, mussels, coconut curry sauce, saffron rice

Botswana-style Seswaa Beef Short Rib – Cassava-potato purée, sambal, baby carrots, and mushrooms

West African Koki Corn – Mushrooms, poblano-tomatillo purée, roasted red pepper sauce

Desserts


Malva Pudding
– Melktart ice cream, kataifi, kanu tuile, Cabernet gelée

Safari Sunset – Carrot cake, cornbread calamansi, and lemon cremeux, Kenyan coffee streusel, citrus gel, valrhona dulcey mousse, candied carrots

At Jiko- The Cooking Place you will discover the culinary magic produced when creative chefs take traditional African dishes and add hints of European, Indian and Asian flavor and flair. The resulting cultural communion is a delectable cuisine we call New African.

To book Magical Dining at Jiko- The Cooking Place, please visit the restaurant website below or call 407-WDW-DINE.

Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge 2901
Osceola Parkway Orlando, FL 32830
Phone: (407) 939-3463
https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/dining/animal-kingdom-lodge/jiko-the-cooking-place/

Summer time fun has officially started for many and STK: Orlando is supplying all the flavor to the fun!

STK: Orlando is located in the heart of the revamped Disney Spring’s surrounded by dozens of shops that will work up an appetite or help you work off a big brunch.

We started our “Sunday Funday” with some signature drinks 

On the left we have the Cucumber Stiletto: ketel one citroen, st. germain, muddled cucumber, mint.  Beautifully crafted cocktail that’s light and refreshing. On the right, is a brunch inspired cocktail the Frose: Chilled sparking Rose with a scoop of raspberry sorbet.  A lighthearted drink that gives you a celebratory sensation.

The Hangover Ceviche: Shrimp – mussels – crab – octopus – jalapeños house made clamato. 
Hair of the dog:
Don Julio Silver Tequila $8 / Vidal Mezcal $8 / Belvedere Vodka $8
We were recommended the Vidal Mezcal for the smoky flavors in the liquor that would aid in provoking flavors out of the dish. However, I found the Mezcal in the ceviche a little overpowering and boozy leaving the palate with little flavors to enjoy.

But! The Cinnamon Monkey Bread was a delight! It was fluffy and doughy with the perfect amount of cream cheese icing.

Fried Chicken & Funnel Cake: sriracha honey – lime – burnt onion powdered sugar
A carnival twist on a classic brunch item with a nice touch of spice.

Dry-Aged Delmonico: boneless ribeye – with generous marbling decadent & tender.  We topped the steak off with some truffle butter as well. The steak was done wonderfully and how we had asked for it to be prepared, while not being over seasoned or over cooked.

We didn’t have much room for a hefty dessert so we went with Mini Ice Cream Cone Sampler. It was adorable and helped us cool down from Florida’s Heat.

Overall, STK:Orlando is a very chic and upbeat environment. The staff is also amazing and courteous!

Address: Walt Disney World Resort, Disney Springs, 1580 Buena Vista Dr, Orlando, FL 32830
Phone: (407) 917-7440

 

We’ve all heard and seen Planet Hollywood as it was the iconic building at the old Downtown Disney. Well, along with Disney’s revamping to Disney Springs, Planet Hollywood is also new and improved. Planet Hollywood Observatory offers a new dining experience altogether with a fun and spunky environment to match their menu creations from Guy Fiery.

We began with this impressive ferris wheel of appetizers. The High Roller Platter (34.99)  is meant to be shareable for four people offering a varieties of bites that includes the Famous Chicken Crunch, Texas Tostadas,  Buffalo Wings, Five Cheese Dip, and Peri-Peri Shrimp. 

The entrees came rolling in soon after starting with the L.A Lasagna (19.99) which was definitely a twist to the traditional lasagna dish. A tube of pasta stuffed with ricotta and bolognese meat sauce then lightly fried to a golden brown and then topped with roasted garlic cream & tomato basil sauce.

BBQ Ribs (29.99) was next. Plated on the cutest miniature picnic table with a baby bucket of fries. The ribs are slow cooked St.Louis Style smothered in BBQ sauce.

The Turkey Pic-A-Nic (16.99) reminded me of thanksgivings in a sandwich with the roasted turkey breast and cranberry relish. The kettle chips in the middle provided a nice texture separations between the layers of flavors all inside a garlic-buttered pretzel bun.

Guy’s award wining burger Bacon Mac-N-Cheese (18.99)  also winner of NYC Wine & Food Festival Burger Bash! Was a monster of a burger containing Applewood smoked bacon, 6 cheese mac-n-cheese, onion straws, Donkey Sauce all in between buttered brioche buns.

Next would probably be the kid’s favorite items on the menu

Chocolate Comet (14)  Classic chocolate milkshake that’s overtopped with chocolate goodies like double chocolate brownies, frosting, candies, and a cookie straw. A chocolate Coma all in one.

This unicorn milkshake is The Strawberry Big Bang (14). There’s an entire slice of a birthday cake that’s hanging on top of a the classic hand spun strawberry milkshake! Then it’s doused in magical sprinkles and chocolate chips.

Planet Hollywood Observatory offers a fun and exciting way to dine with the whole family involved and both nostalgic and current.

Planet Hollywood Observatory

Address: 1506 East Buena Vista Drive, Orlando, FL 32836

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Celebrating 24 years when it kicks off March 1, 2017, the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival will jump-start spring with blooms aplenty and gardens of edibles including toothsome morsels from the new Northern Bloom and The Berry Basket Outdoor Kitchens.

A new, next-generation Belle topiary from “Beauty and the Beast” will debut in France, and a redesigned “Cars” play garden will introduce a colorful new character topiary sure to capture children’s imaginations.

The 90-day festival, open March 1-May 29, will feature an irresistible array of new gardens and character topiaries, popular entertainers and tasty food and drink offerings:

Fresh, farm-market food and beverage flavors will debut at the new Northern Bloom and The Berry Basket Outdoor Kitchens that will join 13 returning Outdoor Kitchens. Delectable chef-inspired bites from Northern Bloom include Seared Scallops with French Green Beans and Butter Potatoes with brown-butter vinaigrette and Applewood smoked bacon. A Maple Popcorn Shake for sipping can become an adult libation with the addition of some Crown Royal Maple Whiskey. At The Berry Basket, the Lamb Chop with Quinoa Salad and Blackberry Gastrique can pair with the new Founders Raubeaus Pure Raspberry Ale.

Chef Gregg Hannon

One of the popular Outdoor Kitchen gardens, Urban Farm Eats, will return with savory bites, sweet treats and ideas for planting produce that can inspire growing numbers of guests who want to learn to grow their own edibles.

“A lot of people, including young children, are serious foodies now, and they have lots of questions about gardening,” says Eric Darden, festival horticulture manager. “We’re getting more and more people in their 20s and 30s asking, ‘How can I grow this?’ I think we’ll be creating more gardeners because people can see what’s possible.”

The festival, including all gardening programs, exhibits, concerts, complimentary English Tea Garden tours and special appearances, is included in regular Epcot admission.

For more information about the 24th Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival, call 407/W-DISNEY (934-7639) or visit www.epcotinspring.com.

Epcot Flower and Garden Festival
Epcot Flower and Garden Festival
Epcot Flower and Garden Festival
Epcot Flower and Garden Festival
Epcot Flower and Garden Festival
Epcot Flower and Garden Festival
Epcot Flower and Garden Festival
Epcot Flower and Garden Festival
Epcot Flower and Garden Festival
Epcot Flower and Garden Festival
Epcot Flower and Garden Festival
Epcot Flower and Garden Festival
Epcot Flower and Garden Festival
Epcot Flower and Garden Festival
Epcot Flower and Garden Festival
Epcot Flower and Garden Festival
Epcot Flower and Garden Festival
Epcot Flower and Garden Festival
Epcot Flower and Garden Festival
Epcot Flower and Garden Festival
Epcot Flower and Garden Festival
Epcot Flower and Garden Festival
Epcot Flower and Garden Festival
Epcot Flower and Garden Festival
Epcot Flower and Garden Festival
Epcot Flower and Garden Festival
Epcot Flower and Garden Festival
Epcot Flower and Garden Festival
Epcot Flower and Garden Festival

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Flying Fish restaurant on Disney’s Boardwalk recently underwent massive interior renovations as well as a reboot of their menu. Gone from Flying Fish is the “cafe” part of the name, welcoming in a new, more sophisticated setting that does justice to the quality of cuisine, focused on sustainable seafood.

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New Look Inside Flying Fish at Disney’s Boardwalk

Gone, too, are the golden fish and golden columns that brought a touch of boardwalk carnival feel to the old Flying Fish Cafe – the interior features an all-new silver-accented kitchen and dining room (with expanded space for private dining events) with silver, shimmering chandeliers – providing a very modern and upscale dining experience. Guests can still watch the chefs prepare dishes in the open kitchen, and sit at the kitchen counter to watch the action up close if desired.

Flying Fish at Disney's Boardwalk
Flying Fish at Disney’s Boardwalk

Chef Tim Majoras, who has been with the Flying Fish culinary team since 2011, takes the over the helm in the kitchen from our friend Chef Tim Keating, bringing his take on a whole new menu to delight the palate and senses.

Chef Tim Majoras of Flying Fish at Disney's Boardwalk
Chef Tim Majoras of Flying Fish at Disney’s Boardwalk

We were invited recently for a media dinner at Flying Fish to get the latest updates to the menu and the interior decor.

The table’s bread is baked locally with little slivers of nori seaweed inside – a touch of the sea here, too – giving the bread a wonderful umami savory flavor. The bread features the telltale signature crusts from Orlando’s Olde Hearth Bakery. I could not stop at just one piece, despite my better judgement.

Nori bread at Flying Fish at Disney's Boardwalk - made by Olde Hearth Bakery
Nori bread at Flying Fish at Disney’s Boardwalk – made by local Orlando Olde Hearth Bakery
Blue Crab Bisque - Flying Fish at Disney's Boardwalk
Blue Crab Bisque – Jumbo Lump Crab, Melted Leeks, Aged Sherry, Tarragon Crème Fraîche – Flying Fish at Disney’s Boardwalk

The stacked seared yellow fin tuna with compressed watermelon is a work of art – served with thinly sliced avocado, pink radishes, and pickled daikon radish and edible flowers. It tastes even better than it looks.

Compressed Tuna and Watermelon - Flying Fish at Disney's Boardwalk
Flying Fish’s Yellowfin Tuna – Compressed Watermelon, Citrus Espelette, Black Cyprus Sea Salt, Avocado
Peaches and Prosciutto - Flying Fish at Disney's Boardwalk
Peaches and Prosciutto – Sicilian Pistachio Dust, Vero Beach Arugula, Sonoma Chevre – Flying Fish at Disney’s Boardwalk

Another great starter is the Kurobuta pork belly featuring the finest Berkshire pork topped with a shirred quail egg and stacked with a taste of apple slaw and bing cherry gastrique.

Kurabuta Pork Belly - Flying Fish at Disney's Boardwalk
Kurobuta Pork Belly – Shank Croquette, Royal Gala Apple Slaw, Bing Cherry Gastrique, Shirred Quail Egg – Flying Fish at Disney’s Boardwalk
Flying Fish at Disney's Boardwalk
Corn Encrusted Wild Gulf Shrimp – Spiced Hearts of Palm, Orange Supremes, Piquant Aioli – Flying Fish at Disney’s Boardwalk

The newly renovated Flying Fish also now offers an expanded space for wine storage for their extensive wine list, including 80 wines available by the glass.

For my entree, I chose the Wood-fired Spanish Octopus and Chilean Seabass served with Bomba Arroz, Peruvian Sweet Peppers, and Housemade Chorizo. The octopus was cooked to perfection and paired nicely with the seabass and bomba arroz.

Bomba arroz is short-grain variety of rice commonly used in paella and other dishes in Valencian Spanish cuisine. The rice had a wonderful depth of flavor that had me licking my lips at the end of the meal.

Flying Fish at Disney's Boardwalk
Wood-fired Spanish Octopus and Chilean Seabass served with Bomba Arroz, Peruvian Sweet Peppers, and Housemade Chorizo- Flying Fish at Disney’s Boardwalk

I was able to sample my friend’s Lobster Nero pasta – nero pasta, or black pasta, is traditionally made from scorched or burnt kernels of wheat. It tastes wonderful.

Maine Lobster Nero Pasta - Golden Tomato Sauce, Young Artichokes, Micro Lemon Grass
Maine Lobster Nero Pasta – Golden Tomato Sauce, Young Artichokes, Micro Lemon Grass
Bison Strip Loin - Ancient Grains, Salsify, Cipollini Onions, Haricot Verts, Sun-dried Tomato-Choron Sauce
Bison Strip Loin – Ancient Grains, Salsify, Cipollini Onions, Haricot Verts, Sun-dried Tomato-Choron Sauce
Plancha-seared Hokkaido Scallops - Antebellum Grits, Brentwood Sweet Corn, Peppadew Emulsion
Plancha-seared Hokkaido Scallops – Antebellum Grits, Brentwood Sweet Corn, Peppadew Emulsion
Wagyu Filet Mignon Okinawan Potatoes, Chanterelle Mushrooms, Romanesco, Bordelaise Sauce
Wagyu Filet Mignon
Okinawan Potatoes, Chanterelle Mushrooms, Romanesco, Bordelaise Sauce
Wild Alaskan King Salmon - Pancetta-Ivory Lentils, Wilted Varietal Kale, Meyer Lemon, Garden Vinaigrette
Wild Alaskan King Salmon – Pancetta-Ivory Lentils, Wilted Varietal Kale, Meyer Lemon, Garden Vinaigrette

Dessert is stunning – a work of art – The Under the Sea and Florida Reef desserts are shaped like little pieces of the ocean seafloor, and are all quite delectable. The pastry team at The Flying Fish is top rate and you can tell in their craftsmanship and in the balance of sweetness in their desserts.

Under the Sea - Valrhona Manjari Chocolate, Chocolate Coral Sponge, Pistachio Sand, Dehyrdrated Milk Foam, Tasting of Three Sea Salts and The Florida Reef - lemon tart, toasted meringue, Florida citrus and ruby red grapefruit sorbet.
Under the Sea – Valrhona Manjari Chocolate, Chocolate Coral Sponge, Pistachio Sand, Dehyrdrated Milk Foam, Tasting of Three Sea Salts and The Florida Reef – lemon tart, toasted meringue, Florida citrus and ruby red grapefruit sorbet.
Under the Sea - Valrhona Manjari Chocolate, Chocolate Coral Sponge, Pistachio Sand, Dehyrdrated Milk Foam, Tasting of Three Sea Salts and The Florida Reef - lemon tart, toasted meringue, Florida citrus and ruby red grapefruit sorbet.
Under the Sea – Valrhona Manjari Chocolate, Chocolate Coral Sponge, Pistachio Sand, Dehyrdrated Milk Foam, Tasting of Three Sea Salts and The Florida Reef – lemon tart, toasted meringue, Florida citrus and ruby red grapefruit sorbet.
Flying Fish at Disney's BoardWalk
Flying Fish at Disney’s BoardWalk

Flying Fish at Disney’s BoardWalk
Hours: 5-10 p.m. daily

https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/dining/boardwalk/flying-fish/

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Skipper Canteen

Located in Adventureland at Magic Kingdom Park, the newly opened Jungle Skipper Canteen features a menu full of Asian, South American and African cuisine inspired by the flavors of the rivers found on the nearby Jungle Cruise attraction.

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This new 222-seat table-service restaurant is staffed by the wise-cracking crew of the Jungle Cruise and is open for lunch and dinner. The staff is full of “colorful” jokes and puns that they bring to the experience – it definitely makes dinner a bit more interesting.

The theme is based on the story of Jungle Navigation Company Ltd. owner Alberta Falls (granddaughter of the company’s founder Dr. Albert Falls – who fans will recognize from the quips about the waterfall on their Jungle Cruise journey), who opened the doors to their home base of operations to hungry explorers.

There are three different themed dining rooms: The Mess Hall, a large multipurpose space used by the skippers for decades; The Jungle Room, a parlor featuring treasures from the Falls family’s personal collection; and The S.E.A. Room, a secret space once hidden by a false bookshelf that served as the meeting place of the Society of Explorers and Adventurers (S.E.A.).

Begin your culinary cruise with the delicious house-made arepas, an Amazon-inspired appetizer made with ground maiz, slow-cooked beef, black beans, fried plantain slices and queso fresco.

Entrees include a rice noodle bowl of pho broth served with choice of chicken, duck breast or tofu and served with jalapenos and mix of fresh herbs; Trader Sam’s Head-on Shrimp with sustainable, local farm-raised shrimp tossed in a chili-garlic sauce and served with Chinese broccoli and five-grain or white rice; and house-made arepas with slow-cooked beef, black beans, tostones and queso fresco.

There’s also Dr. Falls’ Signature Grilled Steak, with strip loin marinated in sofrito and served with house-made chimichurri, avocado and yuca planks.

Menu items for children include delectable dishes such as Junior Skip’s Special Mac and Cheese, which is inspired by an Egyptian dish with ground beef, pasta, Bechamel Sauce and house-made cheese gratin, served with broccoli; and Amazon Annie’s House-made Arepas with beef, black beans and queso fresco served with yuca planks.

For dessert, there’s a special kids volcano with gooey chocolate cake overflowing with caramel lava and exploding chocolate rocks.

Guests can choose from two non-alcoholic specialties, the Punch Line Punch with tropical fruit juice and mango puree (also available with a savory spiced-rim); and the Schweitzer Slush, with frozen apple juice and passion fruit topped with bursting green apple boba balls.

Both of the special ‘mocktails’ also can be ordered in a souvenir mug.

Appetizers

Shiriki Noodle Salad
Shiriki Noodle Salad

Shiriki Noodle Salad
Rice Noodles, Edamame Beans, Mushrooms, Green Mango, and Cucumber tossed with a Sweet Chili Sauce. Famously served at Hotel Hightower on December 31, 1899

S.E.A. Shu Mai
S.E.A. Shu Mai

S.E.A. Shu Mai
A Legendary blend of Pork, Shrimp, Edamame Beans, and Spices wrapped in Gyoza Skin then steamed

Falls Family Falafel
Falls Family Falafel

Falls Family Falafel
A secret recipe of of Chickpeas, Garlic, Onions, Lemon Juice, and Herbs served with White Bean Dip and Tomato-Cucumber Salad

House-made Arepas
House-made Arepas

House-made Arepas
A trip down the Amazon with Slow-cooked Beef, Black Beans, Tostones, and Queso Fresco
Entrées

Dr. Falls' Signature Grilled Steak
Dr. Falls’ Signature Grilled Steak

Dr. Falls’ Signature Grilled Steak
Strip Loin Asado marinated in Sofrito and served with Yuca Planks, Avocado Salsa, and House-made Chimichurri

 

Trader Sam's Head-on Shrimp
Trader Sam’s Head-on Shrimp

Trader Sam’s Head-on Shrimp
Sustainable Local Farm-raised Shrimp tossed in a Chili-Garlic Sauce and served with Chinese Broccoli and choice of Five-grain on White Rice

Grilled Lamb Chops
Grilled Lamb Chops

Grilled Lamb Chops
Seasoned with a North African Berber Spice Blend served with Green Lentil Stew

Sustainable Fish
Sustainable Fish

Sustainable Fish
“Not Piranha,” served over Chinese Broccoli, Carrots, Shiitake Mushrooms, and Red Bell Peppers in a fragrant Lemon Grass Broth

Skip's Beefy Baked Pasta
Skip’s Beefy Baked Pasta

 

Skip’s Beefy Baked Pasta
Egyptian-inspired dish of Spiced Braised Beef, Pasta, and Béchamel Sauce served with Seasonal Vegetables
Dessert

 

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Coconut Bar with Pineapple-Basil Compote and Vanilla Cream
Vanilla Chiffon Cake with Coconut and Lime-White Chocolate Ganache

Kungaloosh!
An African-inspired Chocolate Cake with Caramelized Bananas served with Cashew-Caramel Ice Cream topped with Coffee Dust

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DSC03019“Tiffins” is an indian word to describe a lunch box used by travelers for a light meal during the day. Tiffins, the restaurant, is meant to showcase the experiences of the Imagineers as they travel the globe to research and design the unique park of Disney’s Animal Kingdom here in Orlando, Florida.

DSC03014We began our journey in the Nomad Lounge, and like Tiffin’s it also focuses on storytelling. Each hang tag above the bar are from guests’ own anecdotes that inspires the cocktails on the menu. They can be purchased for 1.00$ and 0.85$ will be donated to Disney’s conservation funds.
DSC03002This was recommended to me by the staff at Guest Relations as he raved on about how much he loves Tiffins. The Hightower Rocks has bits of lime leaves, sweet and sour mix, house watermelon batch, and silver tequila. Definitely refreshing!

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We start off with our first course. On the left is the salad of Roasted Baby Beets with goat cheese crema, walnut granola, and sun-dried cherry vinaigrette. Then it’s the Sustainable Seasonal Fish Crudo, which currently is the Japanese Hamachi with a roasted corn salsa.
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Our second course is the Black-Eyed Pea Fritters with Zhough Yogurt and Peppadew Puree. DSC03050Marinated Grilled Octopus with an artichoke barigoule, saffron aioli, lemon-caper olive oil.  The Octopus had been sous vide for about 5 hours and then quickly tossed on the grill for a nice char.

DSC03055For my main entree I chose the Whole-Fried Sustainable Fish. This one happens to be a Yellowtail Snapper with fermented black bean sauce, Som tam, and peanuts.
This dish is quite familiar to me and brought out a comforting feeling. The fish was light and mild with the perfect texture. I thought it was genius to set up the fish the way it is on the plate as well, usually it’s laid on one side. However, with the fish sitting up, one side of the fish did not get dull and soggy while the other side remain crispy.

I was able to snap some of the other guests main entree choices as well.

DSC03069Grilled Head-On Prawns with tomatoes, roasted fennel, olives, and sea urchin butter sauce.

DSC03061Hosin-Glazed Halibut with forbidden rice, swiss chard, and turmeric sauce.

DSC03060Berbere-Spiced Lamb Chop with mustard greens, lentil stew, and tomato-mint jam.

DSC03073We approached the end of dinner with a teensy cup of Mustang, an Ethiopian inspired coffee made with brown sugar, butter, and Crown Royal. Definitely perked me up a bit.

DSC03085Dessert was a sampler of Calamansi Mousse (front), Lime Cheesecake (left), Passion Fruit Tapioca (back), and South American Chocolate Ganache (right). My favorite would have to be the lime cheesecake. I’m usually not a lemon/lime dessert fan but the flavour was so delicate that I thoroughly enjoyed every bite.

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The magical aspect about Disney’s signature restaurant is that you forget you’re still in the little town of Orlando, Florida. The incredible details of sculptures and rich stories that are offered along with the dining experience really have you believe that you are one of the imagineers traveling the world. DSC03030

The travel-inspired artwork includes a static, three-dimensional piece that features prayer flags blowing in the wind. “As our research team traveled up the high mountains of Nepal, the winds were strong,” explained O’Brien. “The prayer flags are rarely seen hanging, they are always blowing.” This portrayal of the motion is realistically captured in the display which will hang above a corner booth in the Trek Gallery.

“Tiffins is not about a make-believe place, it’s about real people and places,” said O’Brien.

 

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Epcot’s Tapestry of America: Celebrating African American Heritage

Guests can celebrate Black History Month throughout the month of February with special experiences at the American Adventure Pavilion at Epcot. From historical displays and intriguing artifacts to book signings by Celebrity Chef G. Garvin and best-selling author Terry McMillan, guests can take a stroll through the pages of America’s history and learn about the influence of African-American culture.

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Dorcas Williams, marketing manager at Disney Parks and Resorts, tells us that Epcot’s American Adventure Pavilion features Legacy Portraits of famous African Americans and their contributions around the rotunda as well as “Re-Discovering America: Family Treasures from the Kinsey Collection,” a collection of pieces displayed at the American Adventure pavilion at Epcot, which draws from an extensive assortment of rare art, documents, books and artifacts attributed to African American history. The exhibit will be available all year long.

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At the Liberty Inn at the American Adventure, guests can try out a peach cobbler based on Mrs. Fischer’s recipe. Mrs. Abby Fischer was one of the first African American authors to publish a cookbook dating back to 1881. “What Mrs. Fisher Knows About Southern Cooking,” includes 160 Southern-style recipes.

Chef G. Garvin, one of many authors visiting Epcot for Black History Month this month, spoke with us about his plans from upcoming food product projects as well as a new cook book based on tastes of the South (which includes not only Georgia and the Carolinas, but also New York and Los Angeles). He currently has a list of spices, olive oils, cookies, and sea salts available at marketplaceonline.co.

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Chef Garvin grew up cooking for his mother and grandmother as part of his daily chores – yardwork, cleaning, making dinner. It wasn’t until when he was 18 years old when he worked at the Ritz Carlton in Atlanta that he fell in love with cooking. The streets in his childhood were rough – kids were getting jailed or killed, and he did not want any part of that.

“Food didn’t save me, I saved myself through food,” Chef Garvin tells us.

Today he works with Magic Johnson as Chief Culinary Advisor for SodexoMAGIC, which serves as the catering culinary team for Walt Disney World. He also has several successful shows under his belt, including Road Trips on Cooking Channel.

The first person who told Chef Garvin that it might be a good idea to get into television was Chef Tim Keating of The Flying Fish. When Chef Garvin was 20 years old, the two actually roomed together at the opening of the Ritz Carlton in Palm Springs. Chef Keating told him he had the personality that would do well on TV and gave him opportunities to demo when he could.

His latest book, “Turn Up The Heat With G. Garvin: More Than 200 Incredible Recipes from the Chef Who Keeps it Super Simple”, is available now online.

Press Release

Black History Month Author Series
In honor of Black History Month, guests have the opportunity to meet three renowned African-American authors and cultural icons select Saturdays during the month of February. Book signings are open to all guests and hosted at the American Adventure Pavilion, where books written by each guest author are also available for purchase throughout the month.

Terry McMillan, author of “Who Asked You?”
Saturday, Feb.6, 1-2 p.m. and 3-4 p.m.: Critically acclaimed New York Times bestselling author Terry McMillan is known for her powerful novels and short stories about African American women. Her novel, “Waiting to Exhale,” was adapted into a film starring Whitney Houston and Angela Bassett in 1995. Many of McMillan’s other novels, including the award-winning “How Stella Got Her Groove Back,” “Disappearing Acts,” and “A Day Late and a Dollar Short,” have also been brought to life for film and television audiences. McMillan recently published her eighth novel, “Who Asked You?,” a story about the challenges and strength of a family.

Chef G. Garvin, author of “Turn Up The Heat With G. Garvin: More Than 200 Incredible Recipes from the Chef Who Keeps it Super Simple”
Saturday, Feb.13, 1-2 p.m. and 3-4 p.m.: Acclaimed chef and television host, Chef G. Garvin has mastered the art of cooking as well as writing. His first cookbook, “Turn Up the Heat with G. Garvin: More Than 200 Incredible Recipes from the Chef Who Keeps it Super Simple,” received an American Literacy Award and nomination for an NAACP Image Award. Chef Garvin has enjoyed continued success with his subsequent cookbooks and television show “Road Trip with G. Garvin” on The Cooking Channel.

Pattie LaBelle, author of “Recipes for the Good Life”
Saturday, Feb. 20, 12:30-1:30 p.m. (one signing only): Patti LaBelle is a New York Times bestselling author, two-time Grammy Award-winning recording artist, three-time Emmy nominee, and star of the cooking television series, “Pattie LaBelle’s Place.” This beloved soulful performer is just as captivating in the kitchen as she is on stage with her hit cooking show and cookbooks filled with southern-style recipes, including her recent book, “Recipes for the Good Life.”

Terrence Roberts, author of “Lessons from Little Rock”
Saturday, Feb. 27, 1-2 p.m. and 3-4 p.m.: Terrence James Roberts, Ph.D. is one of the “Little Rock Nine,” a group of history-making African American students who, in 1957, were the first black students ever to attend classes at Little Rock Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas. Roberts was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal by President Bill Clinton in 1999. His book, “Lessons from Little Rock,” is a memoir of his experience during the integration of Little Rock Central High School and the lessons learned from that historic episode.

New pieces at Epcot’s Kinsey Collection exhibit
“Re-Discovering America: Family Treasures from the Kinsey Collection,” a collection of pieces displayed at the American Adventure pavilion at Epcot, draws from an extensive assortment of rare art, documents, books and artifacts attributed to African American history. Philanthropists Bernard, Shirley and their son Khalil Kinsey share some of their vast personal collection of artifacts spanning 400 years of history. Touch screens and guest-activated lanterns with narration by Whoopi Goldberg, Diane Sawyer and other celebrities help bring the history to life. Three new pieces recently have been added to the exhibit which is open daily.

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“Banneker’s Almanack and Ephemeras” by Benjamin Banneker, is the mathematical and mechanical work of Benjamin Banneker. Thomas Jefferson, then Secretary of State, read and approved of Banneker’s work. The almanac was published in 1771.

“My Bondage and My Freedom” by Frederick Douglass, is an autobiography recounting Frederick Douglass’s life as a slave and that as a freeman. Published in 1855, the book is a first edition.

“Survivor” by Elizabeth Catlett, is a beautiful Linoleum block print inspired by a photograph taken by Dorthea Lang titled “Ex-slave with a Long Memory.” The print was created in 1983.

“Re-Discovering America: Family Treasures from the Kinsey Collection” is included in Epcot admission. For more information about the collection, visit TheKinseyCollection.com.

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Legacy Portraits Tell a New Story
As guests explore the American Pavilion Rotunda, they are greeted by images of influential men and women who contributed to the progress of America. New portraits have been added to the collection for the month of February to further illustrate the contributions of many African American notables.

The new displays feature African American figures such as Thurgood Marshall, the first African American U.S. Supreme Court Justice; Ronald Erwin McNair, the second African American to fly in space; and Bessie Coleman, the first African American woman to stage a public airplane flight in America.

Taste of Southern Comfort
Mrs. Abby Fischer was one of the first African American authors to publish a cookbook dating back to 1881. “What Mrs. Fisher Knows About Southern Cooking,” includes 160 Southern-style recipes. One popular dessert recipe featured in the cookbook, Mrs. Fisher’s Peach Cobbler, is available for guests to purchase and enjoy at Liberty Inn at the American Adventure Pavilion.

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Capa steakhouse at Four Seasons Resort Orlando offers a “From Matsusaka With Love” special for Valentine’s Day weekend –

In February 2016, for the first time in history, Matsusaka beef, the ultimate within the Japanese beef industry, will be directly imported from the Matsusaka Region of Mie Prefecture, Japan and introduced at Capa restaurant at Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World Resort.

For six evenings, February 10 to 15, 2016, the Matsusaka beef will be on the menu at Capa in a special tasting called “From Matsusaka with Love.”

Read more from their Press Release below:

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Japanese beef, known as wagyu, is famed for its soft, buttery texture, high marbling ratio and superior taste.

Matsusaka beef from Mie Prefecture has been recognized and honored with the highest rankings for decades in the Japanese beef market. Four Seasons Resort Orlando Executive Sous Chef Sam Faggetti travelled to Japan in March 2015 to learn about Matsusaka beef.

Later this January, Stephen Wancha, Director of Food and Beverage for Four Seasons Resort Orlando, will travel to Japan as well.

“We strive to offer a variety of exceptional meats on the menu at Capa, and our wood burning grill gives our steaks an amazing flavour profile,” says Faggetti. “It has been a privilege to travel to Japan to learn more about the care and preparation of the Matsusaka beef, and we are honoured to offer this special tasting at Capa.”

For six evenings, February 10 to 15, 2016, the Matsusaka beef will be on the menu at Capa in a special tasting called “From Matsusaka with Love.”

The tasting menu is offered for USD 250 per couple, with an optional wine pairing available for USD 75 per person.

The Matsusaka Beef Tasting for Two includes:

– Trio of wood grilled special grade Matsusaka beef: 3-ounce strip loin, tenderloin and ribeye
– Served with side dishes of patatas bravas, blistered pimientos, roasted asparagus and truffle aioli
– Trio of steak sauces: rioja, peppercorn and verde

By definition, Matsusaka beef cattle can only be virgin female cows of the Japanese black wagyu variety that have spent the majority of their lifespan, up until the time of slaughter, in Matsusaka City and its surrounding area and are registered under the Matsusaka Beef Identification and Management System.

Some cattle farmers provide beer to cows to stimulate their appetites and give them thorough massages to improve blood circulation and encourage even fat distribution. Many farms raise their cows in individual rooms so they can be finely managed and assure a comfortable, stress-free life for their cows.

Matsusaka beef producers spare no effort to produce the highest quality, richest, most finely dispersed marbling possible while managing their cows on a day to day basis. The rich marbling results in an exquisite taste.

Reservations to experience the Matsusaka Beef Tasting for Two at Capa can be made by calling 407 313 6161.

Here are some photos from a recent media preview of the Matsusaka Beef Tasting at Capa:

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New York Strip Tataki Nigiri
Filet Flash Seared Sushi Roll
Raw Filet Maki Roll
Hand Roll

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48 Hour Sous Vide Short Rib
Served with a Red Wine Natural Reduction and Baby Tatsoi (Micro Green)

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Grilled New York Strip (left) Filet Ribeye Seasoned with Maldon Salt (middle) Filet Seasoned with Maldon Salt (right)

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Dessert from Assistant Pastry Chef Peter Whitley. An Open Face Macaroon with Green Tea Cream and Raspberry Jelly.

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Staff and chefs of Four Seasons Resort Orlando and Capa

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Best of Orlando award!

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By Gina Nguyen

2 4620

On far-flung World Center Drive, near the Epcot area, you can find authentic Shanghainese Chinese cuisine at the newly opened iShanghai. It’s a hidden gem that is a welcome addition to the rather bleek Orlando Chinese restaurant landscape.

Shanghai, the bustling port city on the central coast in China, is known for their seafood and the use of fresh flavors and methods that retain the taste of the ingredients.

Shanghai dishes usually are pickled in wine, stewed, braised, steamed, or deep fried.

A notable Shanghai delicacy is xiaolongbao, also known as soup dumplings in the United States. Made popular by the Michelin starred Din Tai Fung restaurant, which is headquartered in Taiwan, but have locations around the world including in the US, the xiaolongbao is a type of hot steamed bun made with a thin skin of dough and stuffed with pork or minced crab, and notably, soup.

The soup is said to be congealed first before placing into the pork mixture and then steamed, allowing for the soup to stay inside the dumpling. Often times in local Chinese restaurants here in Orlando, they may advertise xiaolongbao and the flavors are there but the soup is not there to many a disappointed patron.

Photo Jan 16, 7 49 31 PM

So let’s just say we have finally found the holy grail of dumplings in Orlando – the soup dumplings are found here at iShanghai – with a few caveats.

A good xiaolongbao should be able to hold in the soup until it is bitten – nothing is worse than a soup dumpling that has its soup just missing from the dumpling. The soup dumplings here at iShanghai do hold up well, and there is some soup, some very little soup – but still soup, inside the dumplings.

Photo Jan 16, 7 52 53 PM

A common way of eating xiaolongbao is to place it on your spoon, puncture the dumpling or bite off the top, blow on it to cool down the steaming soup, and then drink the soup from the spoon. Then, finally, eat the whole dumpling together.

Photo Jan 16, 7 55 17 PM

It’s satisfying and quite tasty – but I do believe it is priced a bit high at $6.00 for 3 dumplings, or $2.00 a dumpling. I think even Din Tai Fung’s soup dumplings at locations in California are priced at $10-$13 for 10, or about $1.00-$1.30 each. For that much, there better be a whole cup of soup in those dumplings.

Overall, it was a good soup dumpling and I am glad we finally have a place to try some here in Orlando, even though it is nearer to Epcot than to downtown Orlando.

Photo Jan 16, 7 24 48 PM

The other dishes we tried at iShanghai were also quite good – we started with the salami ham and winter melon soup, a very authentic Chinese soup that is quite refreshing, hearty, and healthy.

Photo Jan 16, 8 04 58 PM Coo Lao Meat (Pork Belly)

Our coo lao fried pork is a sweet a sour crispy pork belly dish that had praises from all around our table that evening. Crunchy, sweet, and sour – you’d hardly realized you were eating a dish that is literally half pork and half bacon fat.

Photo Jan 16, 8 02 12 PM Stir-Fried Grouper Fish with Pine Nut

A rather exotic dish – the crackling eel – piqued our interest, but we decided to go for a safer
Stir-Fried Grouper Fish with Pine Nut dish instead.

We were quite happy with the selection – the fish, sliced and tender, went well with the pine nuts that added a nice crunchy texture to the dish.

Photo Jan 16, 8 31 04 PM Crispy Skin Chicken

We ordered the Crispy Skin Chicken, a super crispy fried salt and pepper chicken for an appetizer, but they seemed to have put it the order in late – maybe they forgot – so it arrived after our entrees.

They were very apologetic though and service overall was pretty good.

They upgraded the interior from what was formerly the location of an Asian buffet. They need to play some light music or something because it is awkwardly silent inside.

Photo Jan 16, 7 33 09 PM

I noticed an elderly couple helping out in the back – you know the food is good if you have grandma and grandpa making it.

I definitely recommend coming here with a family or a group of at least four to try several dishes and share family style.

IShanghai Orlando
http://www.ishanghaiorlando.com/menu.html
8216 a World Center Drive, Orlando, FL, United States
+1 407-238-2997, 407-238-2998

Hours
Mon – Thu 12pm – 10pm
Fri – Sat 12pm – 11pm
Sun 12pm – 10pm

IShanghai  Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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