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New Chef, New Menu Items for Artist Point at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge

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


Disney’s Wilderness Lodge takes guests on a journey to the beautiful Pacific Northwest, with design inspired by turn-of-the-century National Park lodges. And Artist Point carries that theme into the dining room with dramatic murals, timbered columns and pretty views of Bay Lake and Silver Creek Falls.

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So, of course, the cuisine helps tell the story, and Chef Michael Gonsalves, new at the helm in the Artist Point kitchen, is having fun with a menu that is focused on the America’s Pacific Northwest. “We are looking to convey the wonders of nature through food,” says Chef Michael.

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Regional dishes such as Dungeness crab cakes, steamed mussels, Cedar plank salmon and wild-caught prawns and halibut are on the menu, but Chef Michael is having fun with new tastes, too. A dashi-braised short rib starter is served with kombu turnip pickles, daikon and wild greens. Charred field asparagus with Berkshire prosciutto, mustard vinaigrette, and foraged greens also graces the menu. And he showcases produce from the “Land” at Epcot as well with offerings such as the “Land” Greens Salad featuring Masumoto Peaches, and Seed Granola.

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Favorites such as the smokey portobello bisque with crispy shiitakes stays on the menu, as well as the buffalo strip steak from North Fork Canada. For summer, Chef Michael is adding a new cheese and house-made charcuterie boards.

“We’ll be offering Pacific Northwest cheeses with house-made seed lavosh and crostini,” says Chef Michael. “And the house-made charcuterie will be ‘nose-to-tail,’ using the whole hog.” The restaurant’s beef, bison, halibut and salmon all are sourced from the Pacific Northwest too.

Most popular dish? The Cedar plank salmon, says Chef Michael, with his new rendition with local potatoes, baby fennel, Florida citrus and ver jus.

Every dish on the menu gets a wine pairing from sommelier Alvin Burrill, with each selection from Washington or Oregon. But Alvin also might recommend a Pacific Northwest ale if you ask, like the handcrafted Rogue Ales made in partnership with Voodoo Donuts (strange but true).

Looking ahead, Chef Michael says they are working on a terrace dining experience with a communal chef’s table – stay tuned for details!

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Filed: Disney Dining, Epcot, Hotels & Resorts, Walt Disney World Resort

Don’t Miss This Sweet Tribute to the Disneyland Resort Diamond Celebration at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa

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


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Step in the lobby of Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa and the sweet smell of vanilla will lead you directly to the new Disneyland Resort Diamond Celebration centerpiece – this elegant cake, standing more than 3 feet tall, is a delightful rendition of Sleeping Beauty Castle that took a team of 10 talented bakers, artists and engineers more than 140 hours to create. (This is the same team that brings you the Haunted Mansion Holiday gingerbread extravaganza.)

Don't Miss This Sweet Tribute to the Disneyland Hotel Diamond Celebration at Disney's Grand Californian Resort & Spa Don't Miss This Sweet Tribute to the Disneyland Resort Diamond Celebration at Disney's Grand Californian Hotel & Spa

Just for fun, we asked: there are 18 pounds of marshmallows, 54 pounds of rice cereal, 30 pounds of white chocolate, 40 pounds of gum paste, 15 pounds of fondant and 6 hidden Mickeys. We won’t get to eat this cake, but it sure makes a distinctive photo backdrop. Happy 60th, Disneyland Resort!

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Luck O’ Irish for These Five Cooks, With a Little Help From Raglan Road Chef Kevin Dundon

posted on June 4th, 2015 by Pam Brandon, Disney Parks Food Writer


We got a sneak peek of Raglan Road’s 10th birthday celebration, thanks to a clever contest that the Downtown Disney restaurant sponsored asking amateur cooks to come up with their perfect three-course Irish meal, via a two-minute video, to celebrate 10 years.

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Chef Kevin Dundon (of American Public Television’s “Kevin Dundon’s Back to Basics” series) selected the top five and invited them to travel, all expenses paid, to his own Dunbrody Country House Hotel and Cookery School in beautiful Wexford County, Ireland. (We got to join the winners for this spectacular trip of a lifetime.) Take a look at these photos by Raglan Road photographer Ivan Cummins that give a taste of the incredible experience.

From a pint of Guinness in Dublin to gorgeous Dunbrody House on Ireland’s dramatic Hook Peninsula, the winners got an inside look at Raglan Road’s roots, from the farms where Dundon sources his food for his restaurant at Dunbrody House (and perhaps Downtown Disney in the near future) to the rollicking deck of a fishing boat on the Atlantic Ocean. Everyone got a chance to improve culinary skills under Dundon’s oft-humorous tutelage in the estate’s Cookery School.

All five winners – Janice Epaillard of Mount Dora, Fla.; Aaron Van Swearingen of Winter Park, Fla.; Colleen Kerney of Orlando; Heather McBroom Walker of Scottsdale, Ariz.; and Linda Rohr of Darien, Conn. – will be back in the kitchen at Raglan Road in October to work with the culinary team to create a dish for a special 10th birthday dinner.

Seeing the real deal on the Emerald Isle makes Raglan Road all the more special, with its dining rooms of aged walnut and mahogany wood furnishings from old Irish bars and churches that were shipped to Orlando to build the restaurant almost a decade ago. And Dundon’s Irish cuisine translates beautifully in his Walt Disney World Resort restaurant, where he spends several weeks each year working with the chefs to perfect classic dishes such as Irish Mist-glazed loin of bacon, fish and chips, Guinness and bangers and Granny Dundon’s Famous Steamed Orange Pudding.

After the whirlwind visit, we appreciate even more the live Irish bands and The Raglan Road Dancers every night of the week (and during weekend brunch) that bring the spirit of the Emerald Isle across the ocean.

Stay tuned for more details for the 10th birthday celebration!

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Filed: Disney Dining, Downtown Disney, Walt Disney World Resort

A Disney Recipe to Celebrate National Fresh Fruit & Veggie Month

posted on June 3rd, 2015 by Pam Brandon, Disney Parks Food Writer


June is officially National Fruit & Vegetable Month (June 17 is “Eat All Your Veggies Day”), so we’re sharing this super-easy recipe that uses one of summer’s best vegetables.

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Cucumbers are best gussied up with a little sweet, a little hot, and this recipe from Nine Dragons Restaurant at the China Pavilion at Epcot has been a favorite for years. The Sichuan peppers add heat to this side salad that goes well with just about anything.

If you’re in the Disney parks, it’s easy to eat your fruits and veggies with plenty of “good for you” kiosks offering whole and cut fruits, fresh veggies and dip, baked potatoes, smoothies, no-sugar-added strawberry bars. Quick-service locations at Disney resorts have also been beefing up their “grab-n-go” sections, making fruit and veggies an easy snack on your way to the parks. We’re satisfied to know that we can spend a day in any of the parks at the Disneyland Resort or Walt Disney World Resort and fresh, whole food is never more than a few steps away.

Diao Yu Tai Cucumber Salad
Serves 2

  • 2 Kirby cucumbers, about 4 to 5 inches long
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 4 dried red Sichuan peppers
  • 1 cup of white vinegar
  • 1 cup of sugar
  1. Thoroughly wash unpeeled cucumbers and slice into 1/2-inch pieces. Remove seeds if desired.
  2. Toss cucumbers with salt in a colander. Place colander over bowl and let stand 20 minutes. Drain cucumbers and pat dry with paper towels.
  3. Heat oil in wok over medium-low heat. Add peppers and stir-fry until pepper darkens to deeper red, 3 to 4 minutes.
  4. Add vinegar and sugar; bring to a simmer, stirring until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature.
  5. Pour mixture over drained cucumbers in a medium glass bowl; cover and refrigerate for at least 24 hours.
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First Look at 20th Epcot International Food & Wine Festival

posted on June 3rd, 2015 by Pam Brandon, Disney Parks Food Writer


Get ready for an exciting 53 days for the 20th Epcot International Food & Wine Festival, celebrating two delicious decades from September 25 – November 16.

Now noted as one of America’s top food festivals by the Travel Channel, the 20th rendition promises plenty of celebrity chefs and new marketplaces, but also traditions that guests look forward to each year.

First Look at 20th Epcot International Food & Wine Festival

Look for favorite chefs such as Cat Cora, Jamie Deen, John Ash, Robert Irvine and Buddy Valastro onstage for demos and premium events (John Ash was at the very first Epcot fest back in 1996, and returns for 2015.) In all, more than 270 Disney chefs and culinary stars from across the U.S. will be showcased.

And for those who can’t wait to take a trip around the world at the 25-plus Marketplace kiosks, look for both new dishes (pepper bacon mac ‘n cheese at Farm Fresh Marketplace, seared venison loin in New Zealand) and returning classics (yes, the pierogies are still there in Poland, as well as Belgian waffles and kalua pork sliders in Hawaii). Wines, beers, Champagne, cocktails and mocktails are paired with good eats at each stop.

Eat to the Beat concerts are already lined up (see Charles Stovall’s blog post last week) with favorites such as Tiffany, Chaka Khan, Boyz II Men and Big Bad Voodoo Daddy. And the favorite Party for the Senses grand tasting events are back every Saturday night in October featuring more than 50 wines and beers with tempting bites from eminent chefs.

Other fun stuff: the Ocean Spray cranberry bog is back. And Chase cardholders can chill out, grab a complimentary soft drink and try some interactive fun at the Chase Lounge in American Adventure. For kids of all ages, Remy’s Ratatouille Hide & Squeak takes you on a scavenger hunt for little Remy statuettes (maps, stickers and prizes are involved). New premium events includes “French Family Meal Traditions” lunches on Fridays and Saturdays, a “Rockin’ Burger Block Party” on select dates, and new beverage events including “Exploring Wines from 1996 to Now.”

Happy 20 years, Epcot International Food & Wine Festival! We can’t wait to celebrate. More details to follow. When a reservation booking date is announced this summer, you can call 407-WDW-FEST (939-3378) and get details at epcotfoodfestival.com.

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Filed: Disney Dining, Epcot, Special Events, Walt Disney World Resort

Six Scrumptious Desserts Debut for Disneyland Resort Diamond Celebration

posted on June 1st, 2015 by Pam Brandon, Disney Parks Food Writer


It’s a party, so you’re allowed to eat dessert first. For the Disneyland Resort Diamond Celebration, here are six new sweets for 60 years, and they’ll stay on the menu throughout the celebration.

Disneyland Park Diamond Lemon Cupcake at Jolly Holiday Bakery Café – This lemony cupcake has white chocolate crunchy pearls, strawberry filling and is topped with white chocolate Champagne mousse, blue buttercream decoration, blue chocolate curls, silver coated white chocolate pearls and a chocolate “D.” Almost too pretty to eat!

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Disney California Adventure Park Diamond Orange Cupcake at Fiddler, Fifer & Practical Café – If you prefer orange, try this cupcake with chocolate crunchy pearls, mixed berry filling and a topping of cream cheese Bavarian mousse. The decoration is pretty silver dust pearls, blue buttercream trim and a chocolate diamond. Yum!

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Diamond Tiramisù at Wine Country Trattoria, Disney California Adventure Park – This is a fancy sweet ending: layers of tiramisù made from sweetened Italian mascarpone, Marsala wine and espresso-soaked ladyfingers topped with cocoa powder and finished with chocolate curls and espresso sauce.

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Meyer Lemon Crème Brûlée Tart at Blue Bayou Restaurant, Disneyland Park – Tangy and creamy Meyer lemon crème brûlée in a crunchy sweet tart shell topped with blueberry compote and a sparkly silver chocolate diamond – eat it or Instagram?

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White Chocolate Bavarian Diamond Strawberry-Rhubarb Shortcake at Carnation Cafe, Disneyland Park – A little old-fashioned, a little upscale, this is smooth and creamy white chocolate Bavarian mousse shaped like a diamond resting on vanilla cake finished in a plate with a rich fresh strawberry-rhubarb sauce.

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Disneyland Resort Diamond Celebration Chocolate Cake – This crowd pleaser is found at Plaza Inn, Rancho del Zocalo Restaurante and French Market Restaurant in Disneyland park, Boardwalk Pizza and Pasta at Disney California Adventure park. Chocolate layer cake with caramel ganache, chocolate crunchy pearls, fleur de sel, apricot compote, Pabana mousse (banana, passion fruit, mango, lemon) and chocolate truffle mousse is topped with chocolate ganache and a sparkly silver chocolate diamond. Celebrate and share it with a friend!

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Filed: Disney California Adventure Park, Disney Dining, Disneyland Park, Disneyland Resort

Suggestions for Late-Night Snacks at Magic Kingdom Park

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


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We’re taking a late-night (or early-morning) snack break, and several locations are still open! The Plaza Restaurant is open till 3 a.m., offering their all-day menu. If you’re craving a sweet snack, Sleepy Hollow is still serving up the Nutella and Fresh Fruit Waffle Sandwich. If you’re in the mood for breakfast bites, try a Cinnamon Roll from Gaston’s Tavern or the Breakfast Platter at Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Café piled high with sizzling bacon, scrambled eggs and herb-crusted roasted red skin potatoes. Main Street Bakery, Plaza Ice Cream Parlor, Casey’s Corner and The Lunching Pad are all still open if you’re looking for a snack!

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Special Menu Items Available at The Lunching Pad at Magic Kingdom Park

posted on May 22nd, 2015 by Pam Brandon, Disney Parks Food Writer


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Are you having fun kicking off the Coolest Summer Ever at Magic Kingdom Park? Why not take a break to refuel at The Lunching Pad. What’s on the menu? A specialty hot dog topped with pulled pork and slaw, refreshing watermelon lemonade and a crisped rice treat adorably shaped like a flip-flop.

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Filed: Disney Dining, Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World Resort

Where to Find Special ‘Frozen’-Themed Treats at Magic Kingdom Park Today

posted on May 22nd, 2015 by Pam Brandon, Disney Parks Food Writer


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Some of our favorite food and beverage offerings have turned blue today – like the cotton candy and lemonade – to help us kick off the “Coolest Summer Ever.” Don’t forget to try the specialty cupcake, topped with blue buttercream and the 24-Hour Kickoff to Summer logo, available at Main Street Bakery and Gaston’s Tavern. Guests love the Olaf-shaped sipper, too!

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What treats are you looking forward to trying today?

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Favorite Recipe from New Harambe Market at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

posted on May 19th, 2015 by Pam Brandon, Disney Parks Food Writer


Harambe Market opens May 23 at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, and if you can’t be here for the debut, we’re sharing one of our favorite recipes from the new location.

This chickpea salad, which will be served with the Karubi Ribs from Harambe Market, features distinctive African flavors like tamarind paste and chaat masala. Give the dish plenty of time to marinate before serving.

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Chickpea Salad
Serves 8 as a side dish or appetizer

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
1/2 small jalapeno pepper, seeds removed, minced
1 teaspoon tamarind paste, dissolved in 3 tablespoons of water
1/4 teaspoon chaat masala, optional
1/2 medium yellow onion, diced
2 (14.5-ounce) cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 to 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice, divided
Coarse salt, freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 large tomato, seeds removed, diced
1/2 cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced
1/2 bunch cilantro, stems removed, minced

  1. Heat oil in a small sauté pan over medium heat. Add garlic, ginger and jalapeno; cook until garlic is lightly golden. Set aside until mixture is room temperature. Whisk in tamarind paste and chaat masala. Stir in onion. Refrigerate until cold.
  2. Add chilled spice mixture to chickpeas, tossing to coat. Add 2 tablespoons lime juice and stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
  3. Just before serving, add cucumber, tomato and cilantro. Add remaining 1 tablespoon lime juice, if desired. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

Cook’s notes: Tamarind paste has a distinctive, tart flavor. It can be purchased in Asian and Latin-American grocery stores or online. Chaat masala is a spice blend available in specialty food stores and some grocery stores or online.

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