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Start Planning Your Foodie Getaway – Epcot Food & Wine Festival Dates Announced for 2015

posted on January 16th, 2015 by Pam Brandon, Disney Parks Food Writer


It’s official! Epcot International Food & Wine Festival launches September 25 and runs through November 16 this year – 53 days of sweet and savory tapas-sized dishes and beverages, plus tasting seminars, culinary demos, signature dining experiences, live entertainment and more.

Aloha Foodies!

Check back for more information. We’ll share right here as details unfold.

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Orange County Restaurant Week, March 1-7, Features Disneyland Resort Favorites

posted on January 16th, 2015 by Pam Brandon, Disney Parks Food Writer


Back for the seventh year is Orange County’s annual OC Restaurant week, March 1-7. With more than 100 restaurants participating, it’s is a fun way to try new dining experiences with discounted prix fixe menus.

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Steakhouse 55 at the Disneyland Hotel is back for its third year, now under the helm of Chef Marcel St. Pierre. Take a look at the delectable menu – three courses for $50, and an optional wine pairing.

Along with Steakhouse 55, Downtown Disney District participants include Naples Ristorante, Tortilla Jo’s, Catal Restaurant and Ralph Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen. For reservations, call (714) 781-3463.

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ORANGE COUNTY RESTAURANT WEEK 2015

Starter Course
Choose One
HEARTS OF ROMAINE
Castelvetrano Olive /Bacon Lardons / Caesar Dressing
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CHILLED TIGER PRAWNS
Bloody Mary Cocktail Sauce / Shallot Mignonette / Lemon Gelée
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CREAMY ONION SOUP
Grilled Onions / California Muenster Cheese Focaccia

Entrée Course
Choose One
GRILLED PETITE FILET MIGNON
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PAN-ROASTED DOUBLE BREAST OF CHICKEN
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SLOW-ROASTED PRIME RIB
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FAVA BEAN & RYE CRUSTED KING SALMON

All Entrées Served with Sautéed French Green Beans and Delmonico Potatoes

Dessert Course
Choose One
VANILLA BEAN CRÈME BRULEE
Pear Marmalade / Candied Bacon Madeline / Cranberry Compote
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CHOCOLATE MOUSSE CAKE
Chocolate Sponge Cake / Milk & Dark Chocolate / Nutella

Vegetarian options are available upon request

Menu Price $50.00
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Additional Wine Pairing $35.00

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‘Food Truck Takeover’ Jan. 16-18 by New Trattoria al Forno at Disney’s BoardWalk

posted on January 13th, 2015 by Pam Brandon, Disney Parks Food Writer


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What a fun way to get a taste of the new Trattoria al Forno menu – the first-ever “food truck takeover” January 16-18 at Exposition Park at Downtown Disney.

Beef and Spinach Meatball in a Sourdough Bread Bowl from Trattoria al Forno at Disney's BoardWalk Lasagna from Trattoria al Forno at Disney's BoardWalk Tiramisu from Trattoria al Forno at Disney's BoardWalk

Superstar Catering food truck, which usually features tastes of Disney’s Hollywood Studios, will be the makeshift kitchen for the Trattoria chefs to serve three of the restaurant’s most popular dishes: an oversized beef and spinach meatball in a sourdough bread bowl (inspired by the restaurant’s Polpetta Gigante) with housemade “Sunday gravy” ($12.25); lasagna ($10.75), and tiramisu ($6).

They’ll also be pouring a bright, well-rounded Sogno d’Italia Chianti from Tuscany, representing the restaurant’s all-Italian wine list and a perfect pairing for the lasagna and meatball.

Exposition Park hours are noon-11 p.m., weather permitting. And look for more Disney restaurants to showcase menu favorites with upcoming takeovers!

If a taste at Exposition Park leaves you wanting more, Trattoria al Forno on Disney’s BoardWalk is open 7:30-11 a.m. for breakfast, 5-10 p.m. for dinner, and accepts the Disney Dining Plan. For reservations, visit www.disneyworld.com/dine or call 407-WDW-DINE.

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A Bowl of Comfort: Clam Chowder from Captain’s Grille at Disney’s Yacht Club Resort

posted on January 2nd, 2015 by Pam Brandon, Disney Parks Food Writer


Just in time for chilly weather, Chef David Hutnick from Captain’s Grille at Disney’s Yacht Club Resort is sharing the recipe for their popular clam chowder. With chopped clams, clam juice and fresh clams, there’s a fresh taste of the ocean in every warm bite. (Plus a little bacon for rich flavor.)

Fresh seafood from around the U.S. is one of the specialties at Captain’s Grille – steamed mussels, lump crab cake, lobster roll, buttermilk-fried rock shrimp, seared tuna, blackened corvina, salmon, snow crab legs and scallops are on the menu, but carnivores will also find a Cabernet-braised short rib and pan-seared chicken on the dinner menu.

Captain’s Grille is open daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner. For reservations, visit disneyworld.com/dine or visit 407-WDW-DINE.

Clam Chowder
Makes 6 cups

Chive Oil
1/4 cup light olive oil
1/2 cup chives

Clam Chowder
1/3 cup chopped bacon
1 cup diced red onion
1 cup diced celery
18 ounces chopped clams in juice
3 cups heavy cream
24 ounces (3 cups) bottled clam juice
1 cup diced white or gold potatoes
1 cup dry white wine
1 pound fresh clams, well scrubbed

Bacon-Chive Biscuits
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/3 cups cake flour
1 tablespoon sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup cold unsalted butter
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/3 cup finely chopped fresh chives
1/4 cup cooked, crumbled bacon

For chive oil:

  1. Cut chives into 1-inch pieces. Place in a fine-mesh sieve and place under very hot running water for about 3 minutes (this avoids a “grassy” flavor).
  2. Combine chives and oil in a blender. Blend on low until well combined, then blend on high for 2 minutes. Set aside to cool, then refrigerate for 24 hours.
  3. Place a fine mesh sieve over a bowl; pour chive oil into sieve. Do not press on solids; let oil drip through sieve into bowl, discarding solids.

For chowder:

  1. Heat a stockpot over medium heat; add bacon, cooking until golden and beginning to crisp, about 5 minutes. Add onion and celery, stirring to combine. Cook until onion is translucent and celery softens, about 4 to 5 minutes.
  2. Add clams with their juice, stirring to combine. Add cream, clam juice, and potatoes. Simmer, uncovered, until potatoes are tender and soup has thickened slightly, about 5 to 8 minutes.
  3. Heat wine in a large sauté pan with a lid over medium-high heat until simmering. Add clams, cover pan, and cook until clams open, about 5 minutes.
  4. Serve chowder garnished with cooked whole clams and a drizzle of chive oil.

For bacon-chive biscuits:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Using fingers or a pastry cutter, blend in butter until mixture resembles wet sand.
  3. Stir in buttermilk; fold in chives, cheese, and bacon, just until combined.
  4. Roll dough to 3/4-inch thickness, then use a small round cutter to cut 8 biscuits.
  5. Whisk together egg and water in a small dish. Brush tops of biscuits with egg wash.
  6. Bake until golden brown, about 8 to 10 minutes.
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2014: A Delicious Year for Walt Disney World Disney Dining

posted on December 31st, 2014 by Pam Brandon, Disney Parks Food Writer


From food trucks to new dining rooms, 2014 was a busy year for the Walt Disney World Resort chefs. Here’s a look at the top stories for Walt Disney World Resort Dining:
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  • DISNEY SPRINGS – The first two restaurants were announced for Disney Springs, an entertainment-dining-retail district re-imagined from Downtown Disney. Opening in summer 2015 at The Landing in the heart of Disney Springs, Chef Masaharu Morimoto is teaming up with Patina Restaurant Group to debut Morimoto Asia, the Japanese master chef’s first pan-Asian dining experience. Also coming to The Landings in spring 2015 is The BOATHOUSE: Great Food, Waterfront Dining, Dream Boats. The BOATHOUSE restaurant will immerse guests both on land and on water with live music and Captain’s guided tours aboard The Venezia, a beautifully crafted 40-foot wooden Italian water taxi featuring Champagne toasts and chocolate-covered strawberries. There also will be guided Amphicar rides that launch from land, entering the water with a splash, taking guests on a 20-minute tour of the landmarks of Disney.

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  • TRATTORIA AL FORNO (December 2014) – The newest Walt Disney World dining experience is Trattoria al Forno at Disney’s Boardwalk, featuring authentic flavors of Italy’s diverse regions – wood-fired pizzas, house-made pastas, hand-crafted mozzarella, imported charcuterie and cheese and a 100 percent Italian wine list. Trattoria al Forno is open 7:30-11 a.m. for breakfast, 5-10 p.m. for dinner, and accepts the Disney Dining Plan.
  • EXPOSITION PARK (December 2014) – The Disney food trucks got a new home at Downtown Disney West Side – Exposition Park, where guests will always find one or more of the trucks, along with visiting food trucks. Nightly entertainment, plenty of seating. Hours may vary during peak times and special events, but daily hours are 4-11 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 3-11 p.m. Friday through Sunday.
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  • EPCOT INTERNATIONAL FOOD & WINE FESTIVAL EXPANDS (September 2014)The festival was expanded to a record 53 days – that’s a whole extra week to take in the marketplaces, cool concerts and some very special dinners.

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  • NEW SMOKEHOUSE AT HOUSE OF BLUES (January 2014) – Popular House of Blues opened their new Smokehouse, a quick-service window where it’s easy to grab a generous smoked beef brisket sandwich, pulled pork or chicken sandwich, smoked turkey leg, St. Louis half-rack of ribs or an all-beef hot dog. That’s the menu, short and sweet. The Smokehouse opens at 11:30 a.m. daily, with closing around 10 p.m.

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  • SPICE ROAD TABLE (January 2014) – Spice Road Table opens in the Morocco pavilion at Epcot World Showcase, featuring regional flavors from the Mediterranean with small plates such as a Mediterranean omelet with sausage, potatoes and caramelized onion; mussels with preserved lemons and tomato sauce baked in an earthenware tagine pot, and Moroccan merguez sausage with a fresh tomato salad. Inspired by the outdoor cafes along the Mediterranean, there are 120 outdoor terrace seats and 60 seats inside with a scenic view of World Showcase lagoon.

We’re looking ahead to 2015!

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IllumiNations Sparkling Dessert Party Reservations Now Open for January and February 2015

posted on December 27th, 2014 by Pam Brandon, Disney Parks Food Writer


Looking for an exciting and delicious way to start 2015? IllumiNations Sparkling Dessert Party will delight your senses. Savor a confectionery assortment of delectable desserts and sparkling wines from around World Showcase.

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This sparkling soiree will take place select Wednesday, Friday and Saturday evenings at Epcot’s Showcase Plaza — an exclusive setting perfect for viewing “IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth.” Sample sweets from around the globe, such as traditional Moroccan baklava, Italian tiramisu, French chocolate ganache tarts and more.

IllumiNations Sparkling Dessert Party reservations are now open for January and February. Cost to attend is $49 for adults and $29 for children ages 3-9. For reservations, visit Disneyworld.com/dine or call 407-WDW-DINE.

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Trattoria al Forno Opens Today at Disney’s BoardWalk

posted on December 18th, 2014 by Pam Brandon, Disney Parks Food Writer


It’s opening day for the newest Walt Disney World Resort restaurant, and we’ve got Vinnie Tai, area manager, to walk us through Trattoria al Forno on Disney’s BoardWalk.

With four distinct dining areas, authentic Italian cuisine and top-notch Italian wines, the Trattoria al Forno story was inspired by the authentic Italian menu and the rich storytelling of the turn-of-the-century boardwalk setting.

Trattoria al Forno Brings the Italian Countryside to Disney's BoardWalk

Trattoria al Forno will be open 7:30 – 11 a.m. for breakfast, 5 – 10 p.m. for dinner, and accepts the Disney Dining Plan. For reservations, visit www.disneyworld.com/dine or call 407-WDW-DINE.


For more on Trattoria al Forno at Walt Disney World Resort, visit the posts below:

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Disney Characters Stay for Dinner at Tusker House Restaurant at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

posted on December 17th, 2014 by Pam Brandon, Disney Parks Food Writer


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Tusker House Restaurant in Africa at Disney’s Animal Kingdom has been a popular spot for breakfast or lunch with favorite Disney characters, and starting March 8, 2015 the lovable bunch is staying on for dinner.

Donald Duck Dressed in his Safari Best at Tusker House Restaurant at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Donald Duck Dressed in his Safari Best at Tusker House Restaurant at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Guests will find Donald Duck dressed in his safari best, and other favorite Disney pals Daisy Duck, and Goofy at the restaurant daily, with a lively celebration about once every hour. As you dine, Disney characters visit your table for laughs, photos and autographs.

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This is one of our favorite Disney buffets with the flavors of Africa offered along with all-American tastes. At breakfast, for instance, you can have bacon and eggs, waffles, cereal, fresh fruit and pastries – but also try beef bobotie (spiced minced meat with egg) or fruit chutneys.

Lunch and dinner offer an abundance of savory and sweet tastes, such as spit-roasted chicken, carved beef and Kenyan coffee BBQ pork loin; sides like vegetable samosas, curried rice, tandoori tofu and saffron-infused veggies; classic African tastes such as peri peri salmon, curry chicken and tamarind seafood stew, and pita and lavosh breads. Add chutneys, hummus and tabouli – so many interesting flavors to try. (Youngsters get their own buffet with corn dog nuggets, mac ‘n cheese, mashed potatoes and assorted meats and cheeses.)

And save room for the warm banana-cinnamon bread pudding with vanilla sauce (even at breakfast), chocolate fudge volcano cake, cherry-apple cobbler or a bite of passion fruit tart. Breakfast is 8 a.m. – 10:55 a.m.; lunch, 11 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. and dinner starts at 4 p.m. Cost is $29.99, $16.99 ages 3 to 9 for breakfast, $34.99 and $17.99 for lunch and $41.99 and $19.99 for dinner.

For reservations, call 407-WDW-DINE or visit disneyworld.com/dine.

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Special Dishes, Where to Find Bubbly for New Year’s Eve at Disneyland Resort

posted on December 16th, 2014 by Pam Brandon, Disney Parks Food Writer


So fun to ring in the New Year at the Disneyland Resort, and the culinary teams have added a few goodies to celebrate in ways grand and small.

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In Disneyland park, you can go for the gusto with a pan-seared New York strip loin a la Oscar with Dungeness crab, classic Béarnaise and a chive-café au lait sauce from Blue Bayou Restaurant. Another delicious steak is on the menu at Carnation Café: sirloin with skewered shrimp, mashed potatoes, fresh broccoli, sun-dried tomato butter and a rich herb beurre blanc (French butter sauce). Round out the beef ideas with a simple flat iron steak served with garlic mashed potatoes, butternut squash and green beans at Café Orleans.

At the French Market Restaurant, a generous roasted pork chop is flavored with Calvados applesauce, braised greens and sweet potato soufflé.

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If you’re on the run, try the Jambalaya Skewer at Bengal Barbecue. Café Orleans is serving a rich pecan praline Yule Log. Or go for the old-fashioned chocolate funnel cake with peppermint at Stage Door Café, if you simply want dessert.

Disney California Adventure park has two New Year’s Eve specialties: herb-roasted rack of lamb with potato rosti, fresh veggies and Zinfandel jus at Ariel’s Grotto Restaurant, and a simple New York strip steak with mashed potatoes and fresh veggies at Wine Country Trattoria. You also can sip a mulled wine at Alfresco Tasting Terrace – rich and warm with berry tones, hints of orange and aromatic seasoning spices (no to-go cups for this one). And if you’re looking for sparkling wine to ring in the New Year at Disney California Adventure park, you’ll find it at Wine Country Trattoria, Mendocino Terrace and Alfresco Tasting Terrace.

If you forego the theme parks and are looking for hotel dining, Storytellers Cafe has a hefty rib-eye with garlic roasted potatoes and fresh veggies on their New Year’s Eve menu. End with their chocolate crème brûlée – who says you can’t ring in 2015 with chocolate?

For reservations, visit disneyland.com/dine or call 714-781-3463.

Happy New Year!

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In True Disney Fashion, the Story of Trattoria al Forno at Disney’s BoardWalk

posted on December 9th, 2014 by Pam Brandon, Disney Parks Food Writer


Opening Dec. 18, Trattoria al Forno is the newest Disney dining experience, and together Walt Disney Imagineering and Disney Parks Food & Beverage Concept Development have crafted a backstory that builds upon the Disney legacy of storytelling and originality. Trattoria al Forno has been a creative collaboration bringing story elements such as authentic food and ingredients, a wine list featuring 100% Italian wines, and décor together to create an exciting new dining experience for Walt Disney World Resort guests.

“The Trattoria al Forno story was inspired by the authentic Italian menu and the rich storytelling of the turn-of-the-century boardwalk setting, says Missy Renard, Walt Disney Imagineering resorts art director. “Working closely with the Food & Beverage Concept Development team throughout the project was critical to the seamless merging of the story, menu and design – it was a shared vision.”

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The story begins with an Italian family that ran a modest tavern and boarding house on the boardwalk, which expanded over the years into a popular restaurant. The menu’s mix of authentic and innovative dishes supports the story of the restaurant being handed down, with each generation adding their own touches to the meals and the restaurant’s design. The color palette throughout is inspired by the fresh ingredients used to make the flavorful dishes.

The new restaurant is arranged as a series of separate rooms, starting with the original Entrata, or entrance, where the story begins. An arched brick wall with an aged keystone medallion anchors the room and introduces the traditional building materials used throughout the restaurant. Along the back wall, a custom wine cabinet displays authentic regional wines offered on the menu. Vintage family photos line the walls and introduce the generational story.

“As the restaurant was growing, boardinghouse rooms were converted into additional dining spaces,” explains Renard. “There are four distinct dining rooms, with furnishings, finishes and lighting relating to the character of each original boarding house room.” The first room, the Cucina, is designed as the eat-in kitchen for the boarding house guests. The forno, or oven, with its rustic wood mantle and copper hood, is the centerpiece. Next is the Sala da Pranzo, the formal dining room, which showcases the family’s fine silver, glassware and eclectic china in a grand hutch, with two crystal chandeliers above in the vaulted ceiling. “The finishes are more opulent – carpet, draperies, settee-style seating and a communal table in front of the show kitchen,” says Renard.

The Sala da Pranzo leads into Salotto, or living room, of the old boarding house, now a dining area with tufted circular booths and upholstered chairs, and photos of vintage Italian market scenes decorating the walls. Finally, the Taverna is a secluded dining area located in the structure’s original tavern, where the mirrored back bar still hangs in front of exposed brick walls.

“The three main dining rooms are open to the show kitchen and to each other, but the styling differences in each create individual dining experiences,” says Renard. “The result is combination of intimate and lively dining spaces with a tailored progression of storytelling.”

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