Disney Parks Blog Celebrates the 20th Anniversary of Tower of Terror at Disney's Hollywood Studios

New Epcot Cookbook to Feature All Three Festivals

posted on July 21st, 2014 by Pam Brandon, Disney Parks Food Writer


You can’t buy a copy until September, but we wanted to give blog readers a sneak peek at the new Epcot cookbook that debuts just in time for the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival (September 19-November 10). Instead of an annual cookbook just for that festival, the new book – even the title is still in the working stages – will feature, for the first time ever, recipes from Epcot International Food & Wine Festival, winter’s Holidays Around the World and the springtime Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival.

Here’s a picture of Disney photographer Matt Stroshane and stylist Laurel Ainley as they shot the new food photos for the book. Long days and lots of prep create pretty dishes we hope will make you hungry.

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Meanwhile, here’s a few photos from the book and one of our favorite recipes from this year’s Epcot International Food & Wine Festival to get you started.

Grilled Verlasso Salmon with Quinoa Salad and Arugula Chimichurri
Serves 6

Salmon
1 teaspoon garlic salt
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup olive oil
6 (5- to 6-ounce) Verlasso salmon fillets, skin removed

Chimichurri Sauce
1/2 bunch fresh cilantro, including stems, coarsely chopped (about 1 cup)
2 cups coarsely chopped fresh arugula
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup packed fresh mint leaves
3 tablespoons lime juice
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
Coarse salt, freshly ground pepper, to taste

Quinoa Salad Dressing
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup lime juice
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
1/4 teaspoon cumin
Coarse salt, freshly ground pepper, to taste

Quinoa Salad
3/4 cup uncooked quinoa, cooked per instructions (makes approximately 3 cups cooked), cooled
1/2 red pepper, diced
1/2 green pepper, diced
1/2 red onion, diced
1 small tomato, diced
1/4 cup corn kernels
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
Coarse salt, freshly ground pepper, to taste

For salmon:

  1. Combine garlic salt, lemon juice, and olive oil in small bowl. Place salmon in large zip-top bag and add liquid, turning fillets to evenly coat.
  2. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. Remove salmon from refrigerator at least 10 minutes before cooking.
  3. Preheat oven to 400˚ F. Cover 15 x 10-inch baking sheet with aluminum foil and lightly spray with non-stick cooking spray. Place salmon on baking sheet in a single layer, evenly spaced.
  4. Bake 15 minutes or until the salmon easily can be flaked apart with a fork.

For chimichurri sauce:

  1. Place all ingredients in blender or food processor. Blend for about 10 seconds on medium speed or until ingredients are evenly blended. Season with salt and pepper. Store in a sealed container and refrigerate until ready to use.

For quinoa salad dressing:

  1. Whisk all ingredients together in a small bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

For quinoa salad:

  1. Mix all ingredients together in large bowl and toss with Quinoa Salad Dressing.

To serve:

  1. Equally divide Quinoa Salad between serving plates, top with salmon fillet and drizzle with Chimichurri Sauce.

Cook’s note: Verlasso salmon is sustainable and farm-raised; you can use any fresh, high-quality salmon in this recipe.

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Eight Delectable Disney Parks Treats for National Ice Cream Day

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


Why do we love ice cream so much? Sunday, July 20, is National Ice Cream Day, declared by President Ronald Reagan in 1984, and we’re happy for the pure joy of a dripping ice cream cone on a hot summer day.

Disney Parks fans know the gooey Kitchen Sink Sundae, the irresistible Dole Whip and ice-cold Mickey Mouse bar. And we’ve all picked a favorite flavor for a double scoop from Gibson Girl Ice Cream Parlor at Disneyland park or Plaza Ice Cream Parlor at Magic Kingdom Park at Walt Disney World Resort. But for National Ice Cream Day, we’re stepping out with some ice cream creations you may not have tried.

Here are eight favorites that are a little more creative than a double dip of vanilla or chocolate:

  1. If you’re lucky enough to find yourself dining at California Grill at Disney’s Contemporary Resort on National Ice Cream Day, order the Sundae Sampler, a mini-trio with Frangelico toffee mousse, a float with root-beer flavored ice cream and homemade vanilla soda and a “banana split” (mousse, fresh roasted pineapple, fresh strawberries, whipped cream, candied peanuts, chocolate sauce and a cherry). You won’t want to share.

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  1. Run, don’t walk, to try the chocolate macaron sandwich at L’Artisan des Glaces at the France pavilion at Epcot. A crunchy chocolate cookie sandwich with dark chocolate ice cream made right there, it’s simply divine. There are 16 flavors, but, seriously, that chocolate-chocolate sensation is a must. Another favorite? The hand-pressed brioche ice cream sandwich.
  2. Try something different at the new Morocco Juice Bar at Epcot World Showcase, where the chef is making bold ice cream flavors like chocolate and cinnamon, green tea, pistachio with orange blossom water (our favorite), strawberry and red bean, and toasted almond with rosewater.
  3. For a Magic Kingdom pick-me-up, grab the latte iced coffee float at Auntie Gravity’s Galactic Goodies in Tomorrowland. (The kids can get a caramel or hot fudge sundae.)

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  1. At Disneyland Resort, we always make a stop at Clarabelle’s at Disney California Adventure park for the hand-dipped ice-cream bar. Choose vanilla, chocolate or mixed berry sorbet, ask for it dipped in milk or dark chocolate, then add a flourish of toppings like chocolate chips or rainbow sprinkles. Made on the spot while you watch.
  2. Get fancy at Napa Rose at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa with a single, double or triple scoop of artisanal ice creams: Scharffen Berger chocolate chunk, Tahitian vanilla bean or creamy California strawberry. The Napa Rose pastry chefs churn it out fresh.

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  1. If you’re strolling Downtown Disney District at Disneyland Resort, stop at Uva Bar for a homemade ice-cream milkshake. We recommend the s’mores flavor. Or if a root beer float is more to your liking, they make theirs with Tahitian vanilla bean ice cream and craft root beer.

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  1. We’ve got a soft spot for cobbler a la mode, and some of the best is at Big Thunder Ranch Barbecue – fresh fruit (whatever’s in season) baked in a skillet with a crunchy topping and vanilla ice cream. Grab at least two spoons and share.
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Ready, Set, Dial! Epcot International Food & Wine Festival Premium Event Reservations Open July 31

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


First, go to epcotfoodfestival.com on July 24 when the new premium events will be posted and take a few minutes to plan ahead – because at 7 a.m. July 31 you can call 407/WDW-FEST (939-3378) to book your spot at some of the most coveted events for this year’s Epcot International Food & Wine Festival. Dates are September 19 – November 10, and while there’s plenty of fun included with park admission, you won’t want to miss some of the top-tier experiences that require a separate ticket.

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Here’s what’s new this year:

  • Dining Through the Decades, A Tribute to Walt Disney (October 24) $99 pp or $119 pp
  • Experience Puerto Rico – The All Star Island (September 20) $99 pp
  • Epcot International Food & Wine Festival — Boot Camp Series interactive epicurean adventure (September 21, October 5, 12, 19, Nov. 2) $119 pp
  • Food for Thought (Fridays, plus Saturday October 11) $169 pp
  • Mediterranean Food & Wine Pairing (Wednesdays) $55 pp
  • Italian White Truffle & Wine Pairing Dinner (October 2, 9, 16, 23, 30) $295 pp

And here are some of the most popular events making a comeback:

  • Parisian Breakfast (Saturdays) $39 pp
  • “3D” Disney’s Dessert Discovery (October 3, 10 and 17) $59 or $99 pp – this also can be booked at epcotfoodfestival.com
  • Culinary Adventures in Signature Dining 
(more than 20 dinners throughout the festival; prices vary)
  • Shake and Indulge Like the French Featuring Grand Marnier (Saturdays beginning September 27) $55 pp
  • Cheese Seminars (Saturdays) $79 pp
  • Party for the Senses (October 4, 11, 18 and November 1) $149, $189 or $299 pp – this also can be booked at epcotfoodfestival.com
  • Party for the Senses Featuring Disney Chefs from Around the World (October 25) $149, $189 or $299 pp
  • Food & Wine Pairings (Tuesdays and Thursdays) $55 pp
  • Sunday Mornings With … (Sundays) $99 pp

There’s more, like Italian and French pairings and lunches, a Japan “Hibachi Experience” and a Mexican tequila lunch. You can also book the popular Culinary Demonstrations ($15), Mixology Seminars ($15) and Wine Seminars ($15).

See you soon at Epcot!

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First Peek at Trattoria al Forno, New Restaurant for Disney’s BoardWalk

posted on July 15th, 2014 by Pam Brandon, Disney Parks Food Writer


With opening planned for December, we’re sharing the first details for Trattoria al Forno, the new restaurant for Disney’s BoardWalk.
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A “trattoria” is an Italian restaurant serving simple food, and “al forno” is Italian for “food baked in an oven,” and this new spot will showcase Old World techniques, including handcrafted mozzarella made daily, cavatelli (small dumpling-shaped pasta) and a variety of Neopolitan-style pizzas baked in wood-burning ovens. Neopolitan pizzas, by the way, are pizzas in the classic style of Naples, Italy, with simple tomato sauce and fresh mozzarella.

A beautiful Italian flywheel slicer slices paper-thin Italian meats, served with a variety of olives and caponata. Satisfying pastas, velvety seasonal risottos and fresh seafood and vegetables will celebrate the delectable diversity of Italian cuisine with authentic ingredients and recipes from Italy’s various regions.

Italy is just half the size of Texas but has wonderfully diverse cuisine, and Trattoria al Forno will showcase dishes from Italy’s various regions – for instance, braised beef Bolognese with house-made cavatelli from Bologna, semolina tagliatelli carbonara from Latium (more specifically Rome), pork chop alla Milanese named after the city of Milano. And you’ll find classic Italian favorites: chicken breast alla Parmagiana with tagliatelle pasta; shrimp with garlic, capers and anchovy butter with polenta; whole roasted fish with roasted vegetables; baked lasagna; grilled steak; slow-cooked lamb shank with polenta; and eggplant rollatini.

A seasonal risotto will always be on the menu, and vegetarians will appreciate the ruffled campanelle pasta with green beans, roasted potatoes and Genovese pesto.

Add a classic Italian dessert with an after-dinner cappuccino for a perfect ending. Look for tiramisù, lemon panna cotta with almond crunch and berries, gelatos, and the signature bomboloni (Italian donut holes) with dark chocolate and vanilla gelato.

Wines will be 100 percent Italian from historic wine regions including Tuscany, Veneto and Piedmont, with over 60 offerings by the bottle and more than 25 wines by the glass – Chiantis, Super Tuscans and fine Italian white wines such as Prosecco, Pinot Grigio and Moscato. Signature cocktails and Italian beers and sodas round out the drink menu, with a signature-blend Italian coffee roasted just for Trattoria al forno.

We can’t wait to share more information and photos, stay tuned. Reservations will be accepted in several weeks – we’ll be sure to let you know the date.

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‘Frozen’ Summer Fun Includes Treats for Cooling Down at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

posted on July 8th, 2014 by Pam Brandon, Disney Parks Food Writer


With a nod to the blockbuster animated film “Frozen” but also some icy cold beverages just for grown-ups, “Frozen” Summer Fun at Disney’s Hollywood Studios has a little something delicious for everyone.

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Start with the adorable Olaf, Elsa and Anna cupcakes ($5.19) – almost too cute to eat, but they’re delicious too. Olaf’s is carrot cake (of course) with cream cheese icing and a white chocolate Olaf. The Elsa and Anna cupcakes, vanilla for Elsa and chocolate for Anna, are topped with a cascade of buttercream frosting to create the girls’ dresses, and a white chocolate topper.

You’ll find the cupcakes at Studios Catering Co., Pizza Planet, ABC Commissary, Rosie’s All American Cafe, Fairfax Fare (Anna and Elsa are there only on July 5), Oaken’s Trading Post & Frozen Funland, Starring Rolls Cafe and the coffee cart.

If you prefer a keepable souvenir, the cute Olaf sipper cup comes filled with all sorts of icy concoctions, from a blue raspberry milkshake at Min & Bills’ Dockside Diner ($9.29) to strawberry lemonade at Backlot Express ($9.49) or frozen blue raspberry slush or strawberry lemonade slush at Oaken’s Frozen Funland ($10.25).

More “Frozen” goodies can be found at Oaken’s Trading Post & Frozen Funland – the new place to keep cool this summer located inside the Soundstage One building toward the rear of the park with a frozen pond for ice skating, open daily from park opening to 8 p.m. Along with the cupcakes and slushie drinks, you’ll also find an Anna & Elsa cookie ($5.25), plus hot cocoa, churros and Mickey pretzels.

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Just outside the Premiere Theater, where the popular “Frozen” sing-along happens daily, you’ll find more “Frozen”-themed goodies, including the Anna & Elsa cookies, Anna & Elsa or Olaf crisped rice treat ($4.25).

At Hollywood Scoops on Sunset Boulevard, ice-cream fans will appreciate the blue sugar cookie ice cream sandwich with your choice of hand-dipped ice cream ($4.19).

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Three fun “Frozen” summer cocktails are available at the Animation Bar and Idol Bar daily from 4-10 p.m. The Let It Glow ($6.49) is non-alcoholic, with pineapple juice, grenadine, ginger ale and a glow cube. There’s also a Summer Berry Margarita ($11.75) and the Blue Dream with citrus vodka, blue curacao, peach schnapps, sweet-and-sour mix, pineapple juice and a glow cube ($11.75).

All the “Frozen” goodies are available through September 1. Most of the sweet treats (excluding alcoholic beverages) are on the Disney Dining Plan.

For more information about “Frozen” fun this summer, see the posts below:

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New Summer Dinner Menu at Carthay Circle Restaurant at Disney California Adventure Park

posted on July 3rd, 2014 by Pam Brandon, Disney Parks Food Writer


Such a treat, elegant Carthay Circle Restaurant at Disney California Adventure park, where you’re whisked upstairs for lunch or dinner in the beautiful dining room, inspired by Hollywood’s Golden Age, or on the two open-air terraces. Sipping a craft cocktail, it’s hard to imagine you’re in the middle of a bustling theme park.

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To take advantage of the amazing summertime produce, Chef Andrew Sutton has added creative seasonal dishes to the dinner menu, with two new starters: an heirloom tomato and avocado salad with baby arugula, fresh basil and yellow tomato vinaigrette, and roasted chicken broth with basil and fava beans, fresh peas, carrots, ham and grilled chicken. Pair that with the signature fried biscuits stuffed with White Cheddar, bacon and jalapeño, and you’ve got a meal.

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There are four new summer entrees: a generous lamb porterhouse with Parmesan gnocchi, lamb shoulder, asparagus and preserved lemon; chicken and spinach ravioli in summer corn broth with crimini mushrooms and Applewood bacon; summer garden risotto with peas, Portobello mushrooms, braised radish and spinach; and sustainable fish of the day with braised fennel, artichoke hearts and Sun Gold tomato essence. (We’re happy to report that the delectable Skuna Bay salmon stays on the summer menu, with a sesame soy glaze and red Thai curry.) A summer side dish addition is succotash, that combo of fresh corn and lima beans that reminds everyone of home.

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Save room for the new Valrhona caramel-chocolate turnover with house-made marshmallow and Carthay Theater popcorn ice cream. We may just eat dessert first.

We put Carthay Circle Restaurant at the top of the “must-do” Disneyland experience – beyond Chef Sutton’s amazing cuisine, it’s a slice of Disney history, with the décor inspired by the original Carthay Circle Theatre, built in 1926, that played a significant role in the life of Walt Disney. His first feature-length film, “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,” premiered there in 1937, and the restaurant features cels from the film. Check out the great vintage photos lining the hallway into the restaurant, and look up – the vaulted ceiling is painted with enchanting pastoral scenes from the movie.

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Happy July 4 Week! Our Top 10 All-American Eats at Walt Disney World Resort

posted on July 1st, 2014 by Pam Brandon, Disney Parks Food Writer


July 4 is all about celebrating the red, white and blue. If you’re spending July 4 at Walt Disney World Resort, here are our Top 10 All-American eats:

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  1. We’re starting with a cocktail, as it’s only available on July 4 – “red, white and blue” mojitos (red berry, classic and blueberry-lemon). You’ll find them at bars throughout Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

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  1. Also at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, you can order the Famous All-American Picnic Burger at Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater. It’s an Angus burger topped with a grilled hotdog, sautéed onions, sauerkraut and a pickle. Yum!
  2. Head to Casey’s Corner in Magic Kingdom Park for a hit list of American baseball favorites: hot dogs, nachos, corn dog nuggets, French fries, cotton candy and Cracker Jacks. Grab a seat outside and listen to the all-American ragtime piano player.
  3. Step back to the days of Colonial Williamsburg at Liberty Tree Tavern in Magic Kingdom Park. For lunch, try the Liberty Boys BLT with slow-roasted pork, fresh greens and tomatoes on house-made bread with caramelized shallots and a mushroom-mayo spread.
  4. Sip a Liberty Swirl Slush (Fanta Strawberry and Blue Raspberry) at Sleepy Hollow in Liberty Square, or maybe an All-American Sundae at Plaza Ice Cream Parlor – vanilla and chocolate ice cream with hot fudge, peanut butter drizzle, whipped cream and a cherry on top.

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  1. At Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park, what’s more all-American than a half slab of St. Louis ribs from Flame Tree Barbecue, served with baked beans and cole slaw – picnic tables and lots of napkins make it easy to be messy.
  2. The New England-style lobster roll at Captain’s Grille at Disney’s Yacht Club Resort (and check out the new red, white and blue costumes the servers will be wearing, just in time for the holiday). On a butter-toasted Parker House roll, it’s a classic New England recipe.
  3. Narcoossee’s at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa is our go-to for fancy, super-fresh all-American seafood. Tuck into a 2-pound steamed Maine lobster, crispy Rhode Island calamari, pan-seared George’s Bank day boat scallops, and/or Alaskan wild-caught halibut.
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  1. For a taste of the South, it’s Olivia’s Café at Disney’s Old Key West Resort: shrimp and grits or a shrimp po boy are our favorites.
  2. And just one more burger – the All-American Bacon Cheeseburger at ESPN Wide World of Sports Grill. Nothing fancy, just Cheddar cheese and bacon on an Angus burger. Add a draft beer, and you’ve got the quintessential July 4 meal.
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New ‘Disney Family of Wines,’ New Menu at Alfresco Tasting Terrace at Disney California Adventure Park

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


Just in time for summer, the pretty Alfresco Tasting Terrace on the second floor of Golden Vine Winery at Disney California Adventure park is debuting a new menu and a very cool wine list. There are just 40 seats and you don’t need reservations, so it’s perfect for a small Mediterranean-inspired plate and a delicious sip of wine on the open-air veranda.

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The unique wine list is the only one at any Disney Resort to feature all eight wineries of the “Disney Family of Wines,” a diverse collection that has a personal connection to the Disney name: an artistic talent, a sense of what makes for good storytelling, quintessential family DNA . . . all of the wineries display qualities long identified with Walt Disney and The Walt Disney Company, carrying on the Disney legacy and typifying the passion, innovation and quality that the name Disney symbolizes.

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Only three of the wines have previously been offered at Golden Vine Winery: MacMurray Ranch, Silverado Vineyards and Lasseter Family Winery. The others are new to the restaurant. The family of eight includes:

  • Fess Parker Winery
  • MacMurray Ranch
  • Silverado Vineyards
  • Lasseter Family Winery
  • Gogi (owned by actor Kurt Russell)
  • Frank Family Vineyards
  • Chappellet Winery
  • Skywalker Vineyards
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Order red, white or rosé by the glass or bottle, or try a featured flight to go with one of these delectable small plates. Guest-pleasing Fritto Misto remains on the menu, a crisp stack of calamari, mussels, green beans, and artichokes with pepperoncini aïoli for dipping. But everything else is new. Try the Aged Cheddar-Risotto Bites with roasted garlic-herb aïoli and marinara. Or the Bruschetta classically topped with fresh tomatoes, basil, garlic and Parmesan. The Charcuterie and Cheese board is perfect for sharing and features Gorgonzola blue cheese, Fontina, Prosciutto Di Parma, Spanish-style chorizo, green olives, marinated mushrooms, walnuts, and dry-cured black Beldi olives. Grilled Shrimp gets a kick with Spanish chorizo. Additionally, there’s a filling trio of Beef Tenderloin Sliders with horseradish and caramelized onion aïoli, and an offering of fancy Roasted Duck Rillettes, similar to pâté, and served with crostini, orange marmalade and buttery Castelvetrano Olives.

Sit back, relax, savor and watch the world go by from your second-floor perch. It’s especially delightful after dark, with gorgeous vistas of Ornament Valley inside Cars Land.

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What’s on Your Disney Dining Bucket List?

posted on June 19th, 2014 by Pam Brandon, Disney Parks Food Writer


From dining with a favorite Disney character to a AAA Five-Diamond dining experience at Victoria & Albert’s at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, what’s on your bucket list? Here are some big ideas at Walt Disney World Resort.

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Palo’s New Tasting Menu: Exquisite Wines, Sublime Tastes with Disney Cruise Line

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


For the ultimate dining experience, we love nothing more than a savvy sommelier who can pair just the right wine with delectable food. Food and wine pairing is an art, and the new “Esperienza del Vino” at Palo on the Disney Cruise Line is a masterpiece.

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Be forewarned, the six-course dinner should be savored slowly – and though you may want to finish each bite of the lobster and mascarpone ravioli, remember that a buttery branzino, then a rich osso bucco soon will follow. So sit back, relax and let the evening unfold. All of your delicious decisions are already made.

The dinner starts lightly with paper-thin tuna carpaccio with lemon oil dressing served with a crisp, bubbly Ferrari brut ‘11. Next up, grilled Portobello mushroom and polenta, paired with Summus Castello Banfi ’07, a velvety, full-bodied wine with the taste of blackberries and cherries.

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Our favorite course is the lobster and mascarpone ravioli with a glass of Cervaro della Sala Antinori ’09, a cool, flowery white. Perfect branzino al cartoccio (Mediterranean sea bass in parchment) follows, with intense, golden Planeta Chardonnay ’08.

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Just two more courses, and the evening moves at a leisurely pace. The final savory dish is tender osso buco (veal shank) served with a rich, meaty Luce Marchesi Dé Frescobaldi ’09, a robust Super Tuscan that was our favorite of the evening.

You may be tempted, but don’t pass up dessert, Palo’s riff on a classic tartufo – their version made with dark chocolate, hazelnuts and house-made vanilla ice cream. Sip the sweet, full-flavored Passito Di Pantelleria Pellegrino ‘08 and watch the world float by.

There is an additional charge of $59 for the wine tasting menu.

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