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International Treats at Holidays Around the World at Epcot at Walt Disney World Resort

posted on November 24th, 2015 by Pam Brandon, Disney Parks Food Writer

‘Tis the season of sweets at Epcot, with World Showcase countries showing off their sugary best starting November 30 for Holidays Around the World. While each country celebrates through special music, storytelling and dance, you’ll also find extraordinary holiday treats—most sweet, but a few savories. These goodies only last through the holidays!

Find Peppermint Bark on the Promenade at American Adventure Enjoy Traditional Rice Cream in Norway Try Some Stollen in Germany at Epcot

Clockwise around World Showcase:

  • Mexico – Sweet tamales.
  • Norway – Frozen Peppermint Trifle; Traditional Rice Cream.
  • China – Kaikouxiao (Happy Face Fried Cake).
  • Germany – Stollen, the classic holiday fruit bread; Glühwein, a hot spiced wine; Werther’s Original specialty drinks and treats, and a German artisanal cheese plate.
  • Italy – Prosecco sparkling wine and Panettone (Italian Christmas bread).
  • American Adventure – Start with a peek at the edible United States Capitol Building and Washington Monument (starting December 1) made out of 50 pounds of gingerbread.
  • On the promenade at American Adventure, The Sugar and Spice shop (open November 27) is the place for treats for the Candlelight Processional. You’ll find peppermint bark, gingerbread cookies, chocolate chunk cookies, holiday tree sugar cookies, hot chocolate, eggnog, hot chocolate with peppermint Schnapps, and eggnog with Buffalo Trace Kentucky Bourbon.
  • Japan – A savory grilled Kurobuto pork sausage with pineapple and onions and Hitachino Ginger Beer.
  • Morocco – honey chocolate baklava.
  • France – A classic Buche de Noel au Chocolat (chocolate Christmas log) and a special glace à la cannelle et noix de pecan caramélisées (cinnamon ice cream and caramelized pecans).
  • United Kingdom – Hot applejack cider.
  • Canada – Pecan maple bark.
  • Promenade Refreshments – A little savory, a little sweet: a warm turkey sandwich on cranberry bread with mashed potatoes and gravy; peppermint sundae, chocolate grasshopper, hot chocolate, hot chocolate with Godiva Coffee Liqueur and Red Hook Winterhook Ale.
  • Fountainview in Future World — Mickey Santa Hat Cupcake.
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New Hours, New Tastes on Menu for Fall, Winter at Steakhouse 55 at Disneyland Hotel

posted on November 24th, 2015 by Pam Brandon, Disney Parks Food Writer

Ah, the subtle change of seasons in California means some delicious new dishes on the dinner menu at Steakhouse 55 at the Disneyland Hotel. And a new opening time for dinner: 5 p.m. daily.

Sea & Land Tartare Featuring Spiced Ahi Tuna, Charred Filet Mignon, Truffle Aioli and a Rye Crouton at Steakhouse 55 at Disneyland Hotel Fried Mushroom Ravioli with Grilled Portobello Mushroom, Tomato Concassé and a Slow-Poached Egg at Steakhouse 55 at Disneyland Hotel

Look for new starters including Sea & Land Tartare featuring spiced ahi tuna, charred filet mignon, truffle aioli and a rye crouton; Fried Mushroom Ravioli with grilled Portobello mushroom, tomato concassé and a slow-poached egg; and Short Rib Shepherd’s Pie with sweet potato, roasted root vegetables and a mushroom ragout.


A hearty maple-glazed Kurobuta pork chop is added to the entrées, and a pumpkin cheesecake for dessert.

Breakfast hours stay the same, and now you can get start your day with a Mickey-shaped waffles – with a fancy topping of warm Bananas Foster or warm berries (plus bacon or sausage).

For reservations, visit or call 714-781-DINE.

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One-of-a-Kind Ganachery at Disney Springs to Open Dec. 15, Celebrating Chocolate, ‘the Most Beautiful Product in the World’

posted on November 23rd, 2015 by Pam Brandon, Disney Parks Food Writer

A whole new experience for Walt Disney World Resort guests debuts December 15 at Disney Springs – the Ganachery, showcasing hand-crafted chocolate, “the most beautiful product in the world,” says Disney Pastry Chef Stefan Riemer.


Stepping inside this jewel-box shop is reminiscent of an apothecary of another era, as a chocolatier is similar to a scientist, says Chef Stefan. (Look up at the elegant chandelier made with copper saucepans, a classic tool of the trade.) The lovely little space elevates sweets to an experience akin to a wine tasting.


Chef Stefan has spent the last couple of years on an international quest for the world’s best chocolate for this stylish new boutique. “It has nothing to do with ‘candy,’” he explains. This isn’t about sugar and sweets, but pure and simple chocolate. The star of the show is a custom-made ganache, a luxurious, proprietary mixture of melted chocolate and cream.


The trend in the United States is dark chocolate, and the Ganachery uses a bold, 65 percent dark chocolate made with a touch of vanilla for “a beautiful balance of fruitiness and acidity,” explains Chef Stefan. The shop offers both milk and dark so that there is something for everyone.


A well-trained chocolatier will greet guests as they enter The Ganachery, where an expert will be on stage mixing, decorating and enrobing each delicate bite. For Chef Stefan, this quality of chocolate is like a fine wine, to be appreciated – but the experience won’t be intimidating as the chocolatier encourages guests to try one of the 16 different ganaches made in house.


“Textures, tastes, colors – this is about relaxing and enjoying a bite-size indulgence,” says Chef Stefan. He mentions flavors such a dark chocolate with a touch of shaved Egyptian salt, or a simple milk chocolate with a dash of dark chocolate and a pinch of Sri Lankan cinnamon. The signature flavor is dark chocolate with a note of Florida orange. All of the flavors fall into four categories: Spices, such a chipotle; Classic, such as orange, vanilla and caramel; Trendy, such as matcha yuzu chocolate; and Fruit, such as passion fruit and calamansi. There’s nothing ordinary about these tastes.

Even the boxes are a work of art – big flavors wrapped in tiny, beautiful boxes are a lovely souvenir.

To add an element of delicious whimsy, nine varieties of custom-made chocolate bars (not made in house) celebrate Disney’s iconic destinations and the “Fab Five” (Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Goofy, Pluto and Donald Duck). The Aulani bar, for instance, is white chocolate with pineapple and coconut; the Disneyland Paris bar is dark chocolate with liquid caramel and fleur de sel; the Disneyland Resort bar is milk chocolate with raisins and almonds (an ode to California’s top crops); the Minnie bar is milk chocolate with dried strawberries.

So it’s all about the world’s finest artisan chocolates – with one exception for the winter holidays. Chef Stefan has created a baked mini-stollen, the classic German fruit bread, this one covered with marzipan, then enrobed in a dark chocolate blend. This is one treat we guarantee you won’t find anywhere else.

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Tiffins Signature Restaurant Coming to Disney’s Animal Kingdom in 2016

posted on November 20th, 2015 by Pam Brandon, Disney Parks Food Writer

As we previously announced, new experiences like the “Rivers of Light” and Kilimanjaro Safaris are planned to debut at Disney’s Animal Kingdom in 2016. Today, we’re thrilled to share a first look at another new addition to the park that is sure to please guests – Tiffins restaurant.


Tiffins will celebrate the art of traveling, featuring a diverse menu drawing from places that inspired the creation of Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Open for both lunch and dinner, Tiffins will also include waterfront views from comfortable indoor and outdoor seating areas. And if you’re wondering about the story behind the name, “tiffin” is an Indian English word for a midday meal or a type of container used to carry food while traveling.

So, what do you think? Will you add Tiffins to your must-do list for 2016?

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Congratulations, Victoria & Albert’s! 16 Years in a Row for Coveted AAA Five-Diamond Award

posted on November 11th, 2015 by Pam Brandon, Disney Parks Food Writer

Victoria & Albert’s at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa once again is a AAA Five-Diamond winner – that’s 16 years in a row, putting the jewel-box restaurant in an exclusive tier of dining experiences. Each year AAA reviews nearly 30,000 restaurants, but just 0.2 percent make the AAA Five Diamond.

“We are so fortunate to have this great distinction once again,” said Chef Scott Hunnel. “It’s a direct reflection of the dedication, passion and overall consistency that our team delivers day in and day out.”

We again congratulate Chef Scott, Master Pastry Chef Erich Herbitschek, Maître d’Hôtel Israel Perez and their team for earning the coveted award for the Walt Disney World restaurant. Chef Scott is in his 21st year with Victoria & Albert’s, Chef Eric has been there for 20 years, and Israel is starting his 11th. And the rest of the team gets kudos, too: Chef Aimee Rivera, Chef Thomas Hill, Chef Christine Farmer, Chef William Clark, Chef Mathew Sowers and Guest Service Manager Vivian Altesor.

The award-winning dining room recently added a new Chef’s Degustation Menu, a series of 10 small courses featuring some of Chef Scott’s favorite dishes inspired by the seasons and by his world travels. The seven-course Chef’s Tasting Menu remains, and the adjacent Queen Victoria Room offers a 10-course menu paired with exclusive wines from the restaurant’s impressive cellar. And the exclusive Chef’s Table in the kitchen is an extra-special way to experience the service and cuisine.

“We continue to make sure that our teams are fully invested,” said Perez. “The restaurant success is our legacy, and what we do today is never good enough for tomorrow – we strive to continue raising the bar every day.”

The seven-course menu is $185 ($250 with wine pairings); the 10-course menu is $235 ($340 with wine pairings). Dinner in the Queen Victoria Room is $340, and includes 10 courses paired with wine. The Chef’s Table in the kitchen is $250. The restaurant is open daily for dinner. For reservations, 407-939-3862.

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Last Weekend to Enjoy 2015 Epcot International Food & Wine Festival at Walt Disney World Resort

posted on November 11th, 2015 by Pam Brandon, Disney Parks Food Writer


Temperatures are cooling a bit for the final six days of the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival – so we’ll have great weather for one final lap around World Showcase with a side trip to the new marketplaces in Future World (where the Liquid Nitro Chocolate Almond Truffle with Warm Whiskey Caramel in the Chew Lab is getting raves).

On that final lap, enjoy your favorites one last time and then hope the chefs will decide to bring them back for 2016. Ours include Pescado con Coco (seared grouper, pigeon peas with rice and coconut sauce) at the Dominican Republic marketplace, Loaded Pepper Bacon Mac ‘N Cheese at Farm Fresh, vegan moussaka in Greece, escargot croissant with garlic and parsley in France, chilaquiles de pollo in Mexico, cheese puffs in Brazil, beef sliders with pimento cheese at Hops & Barley, a grilled lamb chop with mint pesto and potato chip “crunchies” in Australia . . . the list goes on and on, with perfectly paired wine, beer and cocktails.

One of our favorite chefs, Alex Guarnaschelli (of “Chopped” fame), will be around this weekend, hosting the What’s Cookin’ With… Sunday brunch at 10 a.m., and a cooking demo at 3 p.m. Sunday – both at the Festival Center. She connects with her audience and has lots of stories to share.

Also in the Festival Center, take a moment to watch “The Making of the Food & Wine Festival,” a fascinating, short film that takes you behind the scenes to really appreciate what goes into making the 53-day festival.

If you need a little pick-me-up, end your evenings at the three final Eat to the Beat concerts at 5:30, 6:45 and 8 p.m. daily at America Gardens Theatre: Hanson (“I Will Come to You”) performs tonight and tomorrow; Maxi Priest (“Close to You”) Nov. 13-14, and Chaka Khan (“I Feel for You”) Nov. 15-16. They’ll have you on your feet.

As you bid the festival farewell, you can always take home a festival cookbook to re-create a memory, or grab a bottle or two of the wines made just for the 20th celebration of the festival – the Napa Valley Festival Chardonnay and the Paso Robles Festival Cabernet Sauvignon are both for sale in the Festival Center (and by the pour at the Chew Lab marketplace).

Hope to see you this weekend at the festival. What’s been your favorite dish or drink this year?

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Morimoto Asia’s Hoisin Sticky Spare Ribs Recipe For ‘Cook Something Bold Day’ Nov. 8

posted on November 7th, 2015 by Pam Brandon, Disney Parks Food Writer

There are more food holidays than we can count, but this one – Cook Something Bold Day – is the perfect opportunity to share one of our favorite new recipes from Morimoto Asia at Disney Springs at Walt Disney World Resort.

A day designed to encourage us to cook something bold and daring, this recipe takes a little time, but you’ll be rewarded with these messy, savory ribs. Once we tossed in the sauce, we ended with a quick broil for an extra-crispy finish.

Morimoto Asia Hoisin Chili Sticky Spare Ribs

Pork Rib Braise
Full rack spare ribs, about 16 ribs
White onion, roughly chopped 
1/2 cup freshly chopped ginger
1/4 cup freshly chopped garlic
1/4 cup cooking wine
2 tablespoons canola oil 
1 cup tamarind paste

Hoisin Chili Sauce
1/2 cup hoisin
1 1/2 cups sweet chili sauce
1/4 cup rice Vinegar
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons fish sauce
2 tablespoons soy sauce

Frying and Garnish
Oil for frying
2 cups of cornstarch
2 tablespoons freshly chopped cilantro

For ribs:             

  1. Preheat oven to 250°F. Place ribs in baking pan and add onion, ginger, garlic, cooking wine and oil. Cover with water, then gently stir in tamarind paste.
  2. Cover with foil and bake 3 ½ hours or until meat easily pulls away from the bone.
  3. Remove from oven and cool in braising liquid until cool enough to handle. Slice into individual ribs.

For sauce:

Whisk together ingredients in a mixing bowl. Refrigerate until ready to use.

To fry:

  1. Heat oil to 350°F.
  2. Lightly coat each rib in cornstarch and fry until golden brown and crispy, about 2 to 3 minutes.
  3. Place on a wire rack to drain and cool slightly. 

To serve:

Toss with hoisin chili sauce, topped with cilantro and serve immediately. (We put them back under the broiler for a few minutes to get extra crisp.)

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Yummy Treats for Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party in Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World Resort

posted on November 6th, 2015 by Pam Brandon, Disney Parks Food Writer

We all look forward to the fanciful decorations, Disney characters in holiday finery, the music, the spectacular fireworks and oh-so-jolly holiday parade at Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party in Magic Kingdom Park – it’s just days until the festivities begin on November 8 to kick off the winter season!

Holiday Bear Cupcake from Main Street Bakery Peppermint Cupcake from Main Street Bakery

Holiday sweets are part of the fun, and the Disney chefs have come up with some goodies exclusively for the party. Our first stop will be the Main Street Bakery for the almost-too-cute-to-eat Holiday Bear Cupcake with vanilla cake with peanut butter chips and chocolate frosting ($5.19) or the peppermint cupcake with buttercream frosting and peppermint sprinkles ($5.19). And there’s the requisite sugar cookie with holiday sprinkles, too ($2.59). All are on the Disney Dining Plan.


At the Plaza Ice Cream Parlor on Main Street, U.S.A., there’s a holiday cookie ice-cream sandwich ($5.29 and on the Disney Dining Plan), as well as a Peppermint Fudge Sundae. At Gaston’s Tavern in New Fantasyland, an adorable Holiday Tree Cupcake is made with spiced cake—infused with orange zest, cinnamon, clove and star anise—topped with sprinkles, buttercream icing and an edible star ($5.19 and on the Disney Dining Plan). The pumpkin spice waffle has also returned to Sleepy Hollow in Liberty Square, this year it is topped with rich hand-scooped ice cream and holiday sprinkles.

Pumpkin Spice Waffle from Sleepy Hollow in Liberty Square Holiday Tree Cupcake from Gaston’s Tavern in New Fantasyland

If you love souvenirs, check out the premium popcorn buckets of the holiday popcorn bucket ($6), or the souvenir holiday mug ($5.25). The adorable Elf Mickey Stein will also be available throughout the park, but our favorite is as a sundae from Plaza Restaurant.

See you at the party! Dates are November 8-December 18.

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New Dishes on Menu at ESPN Club at Disney’s BoardWalk at Walt Disney World Resort

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

Regulars know you arrive early on game day at the ESPN Club on Disney’s BoardWalk – and they also have their favorites on the menu. Recently, under the helm of Chef Anthony Gregorek, the menu has undergone a major makeover featuring several new dishes, giving the new menu a gastropub feel—bar favorites with an upscale twist.

Bar Flats at ESPN Club at Disney’s BoardWalk

Those ESPN wings are still there, ditto the PB&J Burger and the chicken ‘n waffles, but today, we’re delivering a full listing of the delicious new dishes.

New starters:

  • Bar Flats (the ESPN version of a flatbread with caramelized onion, bacon and beer-cheese fondue; tuna tartare; traditional margarita (mozzarella, tomato and basil); Mediterranean, and the seasonal flat.
  • Club Fries – chunky steak fries topped with ESPN chili, Cheddar and ale fondue, crumbled blue cheese, marinated tomatoes, crispy pancetta and green onion. Plenty to share.
  • Pan-fried potato and cheese pierogi topped with herb-infused sour cream and caramelized onions.
  • Crispy fried Florida pink shrimp with Cajun remoulade, Sherry aioli and grilled lemon.
  • ESPN House Chili with diced onions, shredded Cheddar, smoked bacon, pico de gallo and griddle cornbread.
  • Clam chowder with chopped bacon, herb oil and seasoned oyster crackers.

New entrees:

  • Turkey Carver sandwich with roasted turkey breast, smoke Gouda, maple aioli, tomato and bitter greens.
  • Seafood mac & cheese made with seasonal seafood and citrus gremolata.
  • Sustainable catch with market vegetables.
  • Hand-breaded chicken breast sandwich with pepper jack cheese, tomato and lettuce on a toasted bun.
  • Petite top sirloin and grilled langostinos with house-made mac & cheese, Cabernet butter and market vegetables.
  • Craft beer battered fish and chips with Cajun tartar sauce and fries or cucumber salad.
  • Coffee-brined BBQ-spiced pork chop with fried potato hash and pickled vegetables.
  • Grilled Black Tiger Shrimp and andouille sausage “gumbo style” risotto, braised kale and grilled cornbread.
  • Bourbon-ale braised beef short rib with potato and roasted garlic gratin, watercress, pan gravy and market vegetables.
  • Pan-roasted chicken breast with Parmesan risotto, lemony chicken jus and market vegetables.
  • Sausage 3 Way: bratwurst, peppers and onions on pretzel roll; kielbasa and smoked bacon cabbage on a club roll; and Andouille with pickled vegetables on a poppy seed roll.
  • Vegetarian “Unplugged” with seasonal selections.

ESPN Club also has an impressive craft beer list—over 54 varieties available, including a seasonal menu that boasts beers exclusively from the sunshine state. It’s also the only restaurant at Walt Disney World Resort to pair each entrée with a craft beer, so the flavors of the brew perfectly accompany your main course.

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Reservations Open Today for All-New Club Villain at Disney’s Hollywood Studios at Walt Disney World Resort

posted on October 29th, 2015 by Pam Brandon, Disney Parks Food Writer

Get ready for a whole new way to enjoy Disney’s Hollywood Studios – Club Villain, a special ticketed event in Sunset Showcase adjacent to Rock ‘n Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith with fabulous performances, delicious food, bewitching cocktails and enchanting encounters with some of the greatest Disney villains.


The first Club Villain will take place Jan. 16, with reservations opening today, when the mysterious Dr. Facilier is your host for the evening, welcoming guests and his friends from the “other side” to his parlor of mystical mishaps, with musical numbers and a wicked mix from his house DJ. Also stopping by to socialize are those divas of evil, Maleficent, Queen of Hearts, Cruella De Vil and the Evil Queen.

Club Villain provides a spellbinding evening to enjoy fiendish concoctions from the Potions Bar, savor culinary delights from New Orleans and beyond, meet with the villains and dance the night away. Club Villain takes place select evenings for $99 per person, tax and gratuity included. Reservations are recommended and can be made up to 90 days in advance online or by calling 407-939-3463. A separate ticket for admission to Disney’s Hollywood Studios is required.

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