Fireworks at Disneyland Park

Sushi Takes Center Stage at Kona Cafe at Disney’s Polynesian Resort

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


Sushi is on a roll at Kona Cafe at Disney’s Polynesian Resort – for dinner, the little Kona Island sushi bar in the upstairs lobby is now an extension of the restaurant, and the sushi is crafted in the dining room in the former dessert show kitchen, giving chefs plenty of room to create specialties from sashimi and simple rolls to more elaborate combos such as the Caterpillar Roll (inside-out tuna roll, shrimp salad, tempura crunch and avocado) or the Lava Roll (togarashi-spiced tempura shrimp, bay scallops, spicy mayo and chives).

Sushi Takes Center Stage at Kona Cafe at Disney’s Polynesian Resort Sushi Takes Center Stage at Kona Cafe at Disney’s Polynesian Resort

If you enjoyed the Kona Island sushi bar before, you can still grab a seat there, no reservations required, and the entire restaurant menu is also available. (We’re partial to the sticky wings and Pan-Asian noodles with shrimp.) But now you can start with a little sake and more than a dozen choices on the sushi menu.

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And java fans will be happy to know that Kona Island is still the spot to grab a delicious cup of coffee and pastry in the mornings – it’s right next to the resort’s monorail station.

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Disneyland Resort Restaurants Win Big at Southern California Restaurant Writers Awards

posted on April 14th, 2014 by Pam Brandon, Disney Parks Food Writer


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Sometimes we all want a little advice when we’re making a dinner reservation, and often it’s food writers and critics that send us to the best restaurants. That’s why we enjoy seeing the annual awards from the Southern California Restaurant Writers Inc., a group formed nearly 40 years ago to keep a finger on the pulse of the region’s dining. This year the group awarded Disneyland Resort a dozen awards to eight restaurants – two in Disneyland park, two in Disney California Adventure park and three in Disneyland Resort hotels.

Here are the awards:

Golden Bacchus Wine Award (the highest wine award):
Carthay Circle Restaurant and Lounge (Disney California Adventure park)
Napa Rose (Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa)
Steakhouse 55 (Disneyland Hotel)

5 Stars (the highest award):
Carthay Circle Restaurant and Lounge
Napa Rose
Steakhouse 55

4 Stars:
Ariel’s Grotto (Disney California Adventure park)
Blue Bayou Restaurant (Disneyland park)
Café Orleans (Disneyland park)
Storytellers Cafe (Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa)

3 Stars:
Goofy’s Kitchen (Disneyland Hotel)

Manager of the Year:
Jose Barragan – Barragan has been with Walt Disney Parks and Resorts for 17 years and manages Carthay Circle Restaurant and Lounge at Disney California Adventure park.

To make reservations at any of the Disneyland Resort restaurants, visit www.disneyland.com/dine or call 714-781-DINE (3463).

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A New Way to End Your Walt Disney World Resort Day: ‘Epcot After-Hours Wind Down’

posted on April 11th, 2014 by Pam Brandon, Disney Parks Food Writer


Just imagine, after IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth fireworks show at Epcot, instead of heading to your car or back to the resort, you could head to one of four spots in World Showcase for end-of-day relaxation with appetizers and beverages.

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You can do just that beginning April 17 through September 15. Choose either La Cava del Tequila at the Mexico Pavilion; Spice Road Table in the Morocco Pavilion; Tutto Gusto in the Italy Pavilion, or Rose & Crown Pub in the United Kingdom Pavilion. Each location will have small bites paired with a beverage flight (additional beverages can be purchased) from 9:20 – 11 p.m. It’s a magical time as the park quiets down.

Cost is $35, plus tax and gratuity. To make a reservation, go to www.disneyworld.com/spring, call 407-WDW-DINE, or check in with Epcot Guest Relations to see if space is available.

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Taste of Disney: Herb Panko-Crusted Rack of Lamb from Blue Bayou Restaurant in Disneyland Park

posted on April 2nd, 2014 by Pam Brandon, Disney Parks Food Writer


Next in our Taste of Disney series: a delectable lamb dish from Blue Bayou Restaurant at Disneyland park. Chef Jesse Tiscareno shows us the steps, starting with a rich rosemary jus made with red wine, then a hearty white-bean stove-top cassoulet, the perfect pairing with the rich lamb.

For springtime, the panko-crusted lamb goes with just about any seasonal vegetables, and you could even add some baby carrots or fresh peas to the cassoulet.

But this is the way they serve the classic at Blue Bayou Restaurant, an oasis in New Orleans Square where diners can relax and enjoy the French influences of Louisiana (with Cajun and Creole flavors too). Re-creating this dish takes time, so start early – or make the rosemary au jus and cassoulet a day head.

For Blue Bayou Restaurant reservations (or any Disneyland Resort restaurant), visit www.disneyland.com/dine or call 714-781-DINE (3463).


Herb Panko-Crusted Rack of Lamb

Serves 4

Rosemary Au Jus

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1/4 cup diced shallots
  • 1/4 cup fresh rosemary, stems removed, loosely packed
  • 1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cup cabernet sauvignon
  • 1 cup beef stock
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • Coarse salt, freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Bread Crumbs

  • 3/4 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh rosemary
  • 3 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced

Cannellini Beans for Cassoulet

  • 3 cups dried cannellini or great northern beans
  • Ham hocks, about 1 pound
  • 1 leek, trimmed
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 6 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 4 whole black peppercorns
  • 5 cups water
  • 1/2 large yellow onion, quartered
  • 3 garlic cloves

Cannellini Bean Stove-Top Cassoulet

  • 1/4 cup olive oil or butter
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 1 1/2 stalks celery, diced
  • 1 small white onion, diced
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • 1 yellow pepper, diced
  • 3 cups prepared cannellini beans (from above recipe)
  • 6 slices bacon, diced
  • Cooked ham hock meat (about 1/2 cup)
  • 4 cups beef stock
  • 1 herb bouquet (3 stems fresh rosemary and 5 sprigs fresh thyme tied together with kitchen string)
  • Coarse salt, freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Lamb

  • 2 racks of lamb, (16 ribs total)
  • Coarse salt, freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 8 tablespoons prepared bread crumbs (recipe above)
  • 8 tablespoons crumbled feta cheese
  • 1 cup micro-greens rainbow mix, optional
  • Rosemary jus (recipe above), for serving

For rosemary au jus:

  1. Heat oil in small saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic, shallots, rosemary, peppercorns, bay leaf, and wine.
  2. Cook until reduced by half, about 15 to 20 minutes. Add beef stock and continue to simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and strain through fine sieve. Discard solids.
  3. Return liquid to pan. Add butter 1 tablespoon at a time over low heat, whisking well. Season to taste.
  4. Allow to cool completely then place in an air-tight container and refrigerate several hours.
  5. About 30 minutes before serving, reheat over low heat.

For bread crumbs:

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Cover baking sheet with foil.
  2. Mix all ingredients in small bowl. Transfer crumbs to sheet and bake until golden brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Watch carefully to prevent burning.
  3. Remove from oven and cool. Place in air-tight container until ready to serve.

For cannellini beans:

  1. Rinse beans, place in large bowl, cover with water and soak for several hours or overnight.
  2. When ready to cook, preheat oven to 400°F. Place ham hocks on sheet tray or pan. Roast until tender and caramelized, about 25 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool. Slice meat off bone and finely chop for later use in cassoulet. Reserve bones.
  3. Wrap leek (white and green parts), bay leaf, thyme, and peppercorns in cheesecloth.
  4. Place drained beans, water, onions, garlic, leek sachet, and ham hock bones in large pot. Add more water if necessary to cover all ingredients.
  5. Bring to boil then reduce heat to simmer. Cook until beans are tender, about 25 minutes.
  6. Strain beans through sieve and set aside, reserving broth. Discard bones and cheesecloth with ingredients.

For stove-top cassoulet:

  1. Heat oil in medium stockpot over medium heat. Add garlic, carrot, celery, onion, red and yellow peppers, and beans, stirring frequently. Cook until vegetables are lightly browned.
  2. Add bacon and ham hock meat and cook for 5 minutes.
  3. Add beef stock and herb bouquet and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and cook about 45 minutes.
  4. Season with salt and pepper. Keep warm until ready to serve.

For lamb:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Season lamb with salt and pepper. Cut each rack in half.
  2. Pour olive oil into large oven-proof sauté pan over medium-high heat. Place lamb fat-side down in sauté pan and sear all sides, about 5 to 7 minutes.
  3. Transfer lamb to oven and cook until desired temperature, 145°F for well done, about 115°F to 120°F for medium rare. (Notes: If lamb cooked to a medium rare preference, this item may contain raw or undercooked ingredients. Consuming raw or undercooked meats, seafood, shellfish or eggs may increase your risk of foodborne illness.)
  4. Remove lamb from oven, cover immediately with foil, and allow to rest for 7 to 10 minutes.
  5. Slice each half rack into 2, 2-rib pieces. To serve, spoon 1/2 cup beans in bottom of each serving bowl. Drizzle rosemary au jus around beans. Brush mustard on fat side of lamb, press into bread crumbs and place 2 pieces of lamb on top of each serving of beans, one slightly crossing over the other. Repeat with remaining bowls.
  6. Sprinkle feta cheese on lamb and top with pinch of micro greens, if desired. Serve immediately.
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It’s National Sourdough Bread Day – Head to Disney California Adventure Park for the Real Deal

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


We don’t really need an excuse, but National Sourdough Bread Day is a good reason to head to The Bakery Tour, hosted by Boudin Bakery at Disney California Adventure park, where just the aroma of freshly baked sourdough makes us happy – 10,000 to 15,000 loaves are baked here every day.
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Guests at Disney California Adventure park get an inside look at how bakers take the ingredients from dough to delicious on The Bakery Tour hosted by Boudin Bakery. (It’s self-guided, and you get a sample of the bread that started more than 160 years ago in San Francisco.)
Soup Bread Bowl

Then head across to Pacific Wharf Café and order a freshly baked bread bowl filled with all sorts of delicious ideas – if it’s early, order the egg-and-bacon boule served with fresh fruit. For lunch or dinner, clam chowder, tomato bisque, broccoli and cheese or a seasonal soup go in the scooped-out bread bowl. Or go the green route with a Chinese chicken salad or a Sonoma chicken and apple salad.

“Our ‘mother dough’ base comes from the original dough first nurtured by Isadore Boudin in 1849 in San Francisco,” says Disney Chef Juan Mendoza. The Boudin family found that the wild yeasts in the San Francisco air imparted a tang to their traditional French bread, creating the unique “San Francisco sourdough.” And the Boudin Bakery at Disney California Adventure park receives new “mother dough” directly from San Francisco every three to four weeks.

“We use about 1.5 million pounds of flour a year,” says Chef Juan. “And it’s a combination of ingredients: well-balanced flour, water at the right PH, temperature, moisture, mixing and fermenting for 16 to 20 hours — plus a touch of passion to make every loaf perfect.”

Actually, any time you get a taste of the tangy, chewy sourdough at Disneyland Resort, you can bet the loaf came from the Pacific Wharf bakery, says Chef Juan. Restaurants in both Disney California Adventure park and Disneyland park, and in all three hotels place orders daily with Mendoza’s team. And you can always pick up a loaf ($4.99-$7.19) to carry home.

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Chef Marcel St. Pierre New at Helm of Steakhouse 55 in Disneyland Hotel

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


It’s a homecoming of sorts for Chef Marcel St. Pierre at Steakhouse 55 at the Disneyland Hotel at Disneyland Resort. When he started his Disney career in 2000, he was a young chef at Granville’s Steakhouse, now Steakhouse 55. “It’s full circle, but this time I’m leading the entire team at the Disneyland Hotel,” he says with a smile.

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Making the transition from Club 33 to Steakhouse 55 has been fun, says Marcel. “I thrive on keeping the wheels in motion,” he says. “My team and I always are thinking of new dishes – for nightly specials, weekly or seasonal.”

Filet at Steakhouse 55 in Disneyland Hotel Lobster Tail at Steakhouse 55 in Disneyland Hotel

But of course the signature dishes will always be there. The perfectly cooked steaks remain the centerpiece – from a buttery filet to the bone-in ribeye with the restaurant’s signature rub. Lamb, pork and chicken are on the menu, along with lobster tail, salmon and sustainable fish. And Chef Marcel agrees that the decadent potato stack au gratin is the perfect side (plus fresh broccoli or sauteed spinach if you want something green).

Chef Marcel can’t imagine himself anywhere but the kitchen. “I enjoy the creativity, and meeting new guests as well as catching up with regulars,” he says. “And I love the flow of the kitchen – and even the occasional chaos.”

And when he’s not in the kitchen, you might find him with a fishing pole – next to spending time with his family, fishing is his favorite pastime. “Growing up, my Uncle Charlie fished for smelt every Thursday morning, and in the evening the whole family would get together to enjoy them freshly pan fried.” For Chef Marcel, a day on the water is the perfect balance to the bustle of the kitchen.

“Most of all, I enjoy putting my feet up at the end of a long night and feeling a sense of accomplishment,” he says. “Knowing my team and I worked hard to make it a success.”

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Exquisite Easter Eggs on Display April 4-22 at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa

posted on March 26th, 2014 by Pam Brandon, Disney Parks Food Writer


The life-size Christmas gingerbread house is legendary at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, but we can’t wait for the 3rd annual Easter egg display in the spacious lobby with springtime edible works of art, this year April 4 – 22.

Exquisite Easter Eggs on Display April 4-22 at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Sp

Under the guidance of Master pastry Chef Erich Herbitschek, the pastry team at the Grand hand-paints the enormous eggs (16 to 20 inches tall) with tinted cocoa butter to amazing themes – the “Frozen” egg is sure to be a big hit this year. Look for eggs telling the stories of “The Little Mermaid,” “Cinderella,” “Pocahontas,” “Lady and the Tramp,” all created with modeling chocolate, fondant, sculpted sugar and royal icing.

Exquisite Easter Eggs on Display April 4-22 at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa

There are 18 eggs in all this year, and each takes 18 to 20 hours to create, says Chef Erich. And, best of all, they’re completely edible.

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It’s National Corn Dog Day – Where to Get Your Fix at Disney Parks

posted on March 22nd, 2014 by Pam Brandon, Disney Parks Food Writer


Today is National Corn Dog Day, an absolutely good reason to indulge in one of the crunchy-on-the-outside-and sweet-on-the inside dogs on a stick.

Hand-dipped-Corn-Dogs

If you’re at Downtown Disney, look for the celebratory balloons at the bright red Fantasy Fare food truck to showcase the day. Fantasy Fare brings “Delightful Dishes from Disney’s Magic Kingdoms Around the World,” so, of course, the hand-dipped corn dog from Disneyland park is star of the show.

We still remember our first bite of a corn dog at the Little Red Wagon at the top of Main Street, U.S.A., in Disneyland park, slathered with mustard. It’s still the top spot, but you also can find corn dogs at Stage Door Café in front of Frontierland, and at Corn Dog Castle at Paradise Pier at Disney California Adventure park.

Back at Walt Disney World Resort, you also can find corn dogs at Herbie’s Drive-In near Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show at Disney’s Hollywood Studios; the Beastly kiosk in Discovery Island at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, and at Westward Ho Refreshments in Magic Kingdom Park.

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This One’s for ‘Cars’ Fans at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

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


How cute is this Lightning McQueen souvenir bucket we found at Disney’s Hollywood Studios – and best of all, you can get it filled with healthful Mickey Check goodies: Dannon Danimals Yogurt, apple wedges, carrot sticks, goldfish crackers, apple-cinnamon snack bar and choice of lowfat milk or water ($11.99). The Mickey Check means that the snacks in the bucket meets Disney Nutrition Guidelines that limit calories, saturated fat, sodium and sugar. Locations include Backlot Express, Studio Catering Co. and ABC Commissary.

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For a splurge, you can also get the bucket filled with caramel corn ($14) at the Herbie cart near Lights, Motor, Action! Extreme Stunt Show.

The Lightning McQueen souvenir bucket isn’t on the Disney Dining Plan.

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Easter Sunday, Mother’s Day Extended Hours for Breakfast at Boma – Flavors of Africa at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge

posted on March 14th, 2014 by Pam Brandon, Disney Parks Food Writer


Easter Sunday, Mother’s Day Extended Hours for Breakfast at Boma – Flavors of Africa at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge
Looking ahead, it’s not too early to book your breakfast/brunch reservations for one of the most popular restaurants at Walt Disney World ResortBoma – Flavors of Africa at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge.
Easter Sunday, Mother’s Day Extended Hours for Breakfast at Boma – Flavors of Africa at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge
The restaurant will be open 7:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. on both holidays (April 20 for Easter, May 11 for Mother’s Day). They reopen for dinner from 4:30-9:30 p.m. But you know how much mom loves a special start to her day, like a cup of Kenyan AA coffee, tropical juice and an expansive brunch buffet that includes fresh fruit, salads, carving stations, smoked salmon, charcuterie, omelets, pastries and all sort of South African-inspired dishes such as bobotie, a kind of South African quiche.

After breakfast, stroll outside for a look at the beautiful savannah, where giraffes, zebras and other African wildlife put on a show sure to make mom smile.
Easter Sunday, Mother’s Day Extended Hours for Breakfast at Boma – Flavors of Africa at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge
The generous Boma – Flavors of Africa buffet is one of our favorites, with a little something for everyone, like this easy, refreshing salad that’s a true taste of Florida.

Cost is $21.99, $11.99 ages 3 to 9. For reservations, visit www.disneyworld.com/dine or call 407-WDW-DINE.
Papaya_ Avocado_ Grapefruit Salad
Papaya, Avocado and Grapefruit Salad
Serves 4 to 6

1 small papaya
1 ripe but firm avocado
1 grapefruit
10 mint leaves, julienned
1/2 cup plain yogurt
2 tablespoons grapefruit juice
1 tablespoon honey

  1. Peel papaya, halve, and scoop out seeds. Dice into 1-inch cubes.
  2. Slice avocado lengthwise all the way around to pit. Gently twist sides in opposite directions to separate halves. Remove pit. Slip a large spoon in between the skin and the meat and scoop out flesh. Cut into 1-inch cubes.
  3. In a large bowl, peel and section the grapefruit, letting the pieces fall into a bowl. (Reserve juice for dressing.)
  4. Add papaya, avocado, and mint leaves; set aside.
  5. In a small bowl, stir together yogurt, grapefruit juice, and honey.
  6. Pour dressing over the fruit and toss gently.
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