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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.

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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.

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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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Celebrate National Chocolate Day Oct. 28 With This Recipe From the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival

posted on October 28th, 2015 by Pam Brandon, Disney Parks Food Writer


In case you haven’t heard, October 28 is National Chocolate Day, so there’s every excuse to indulge. We have plenty of favorites, but we’re going with the Warm Chocolate Lava Cake with Ganache served at the Ireland Marketplace at the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival – where you can still enjoy this sweet ending through November 15 when the 2015 festival closes.

If you can’t make it to the festival, here’s the recipe. The rich cake with a gooey warm center debuted at the festival in 2005 with an Irish Whiskey Sauce, but the sauce has changed over the years, including this version with Kerrygold Irish Cream.

Be careful not to overbake so that the center remains molten. With a scoop of good vanilla ice cream, it’s worth every calorie.

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Warm Chocolate Pudding with Kerrygold® Irish Cream Liqueur Custard
Epcot® International Food and Wine Festival

Serves 6

Kerrygold® Custard Sauce

  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup sugar, divided
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup Kerrygold® Irish cream liqueur

Warm Chocolate Pudding

  • 8 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 4 eggs
  • 3/4 cups sugar
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour, sifted

For Kerrygold® custard sauce:

  1. Whisk together the egg yolks, cornstarch, and half of the sugar in a medium sized bowl. Set aside.
  2. Combine the milk and the remaining sugar. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly.
  3. Slowly pour the hot milk and sugar into the egg yolks, whisking the egg yolks constantly to temper.
  4. Pour back into saucepan.
  5. Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, for 2 minutes, until custard thickens.
  6. Once thickened, pour custard into a medium bowl set in an ice bath.
  7. Whisk in Irish cream liqueur and cool while warm chocolate pudding is baking.

For warm chocolate pudding:

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  2. Lightly butter the bottom and sides of 6 (6 ounce) ramekins. Lightly dust with sugar, shaking out any extra sugar.
  3. Melt the chocolate and butter in a double boiler or heat proof bowl on top of a saucepan of simmering water, stirring until smooth. Remove from heat and cool for 10 minutes.
  4. Beat egg yolks and whole eggs together in a large bowl. Add sugar and whisk for 2 minutes, until sugar is fully incorporated.
  5. Fold in melted chocolate.
  6. Fold in sifted flour, mixing until smooth.
  7. Evenly divide among prepared ramekins.
  8. Place ramekins on a baking sheet and bake 23-25 minutes, until the sides of the cake are set and the middle is still soft. Do not overbake.
  9. Cut around the sides of the cake with a knife to loosen from the ramekins. Invert onto a plate.
  10. Pour 2-3 tablespoons of custard sauce on top of warm pudding before serving.
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Victoria & Albert’s at Walt Disney World Resort Again Voted One of Top Restaurants in U.S.

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


Victoria & Albert’s at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa was once again honored as one of the top restaurants in the United States in TripAdvisor’s 2015 Travelers’ Choice awards.

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No. 6 out of 25, the Walt Disney World Resort restaurant remains is the only Florida restaurant on the illustrious list. “A truly 5 Star evening” and “as promised, a delightful experience” reads the TripAdvisor website.

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Victoria & Albert’s also is a AAA Five-Diamond Award winner, under the helm of Chef Scott Hunnel, maître d hotel Israel Perez and Pastry Chef Erich Herbitschek. The award-winning dining room recently added a new Chef’s Degustation Menu, a series of 10 small courses featuring some of Hunnel’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 we love the exclusive Chef’s Table in the kitchen.

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TripAdvisor branded sites make up the largest travel community in the world, according to the website, with more than 250 million reviews and opinions covering accommodations, restaurants and attractions.

The awards honor top travel spots worldwide based on millions of reviews and opinions from TripAdvisor travelers. Award winners were determined using an algorithm that took into account the quantity and quality of reviews for restaurants worldwide, gathered over a 12-month period.

Congrats to the entire Victoria & Albert’s team! The restaurant is open daily for dinner. For reservations, visit DisneyWorld.com/dine or call 407-939-3862.

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Chef Rick Bayless to Open Frontera Fresco Restaurant at Disney Springs at Walt Disney World Resort

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


Chef Rick Bayless, a six-time James Beard Foundation award winner, is the latest chef to sign on to open a new restaurant at Disney Springs at Walt Disney World Resort. Known for his authentic Mexican cuisine, Bayless is opening Frontera Fresco, featuring specialties such as hand-crafted tortas, tacos, salads, fresh-made guacamole and classic Mexican braised meat entrees, all crafted with his time-honored recipes. And, of course, margaritas (plus cocktails, beers and wine).

“I’m thrilled to bring Frontera Fresco to Disney Springs and share my passion for Mexican cuisine with the families who visit Orlando every year,” Bayless said.

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Bayless is probably best known for winning the title of Bravo TV’s “Top Chef Masters,” and his highly rated National Public Television Series, “Mexico–One Plate at a Time,” is in its 10th season. His popular Chicago restaurants include Frontera Grill (which received a Beard Award for Outstanding Restaurant in 2007); Topolobampo; Xoco, and several locations for Frontera Fresco.

Those six James Beard Foundation Awards, by the way, are for two cookbooks; Midwest Chef of the Year; National Chef of the Year; Humanitarian of the Year, and Who’s Who of Food and Beverage in America. Welcome to Disney, Chef Bayless.

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11 Insider Tips for Disney Cruise Line Dining

posted on October 15th, 2015 by Pam Brandon, Disney Parks Food Writer


We had a recent cruise on the delightful Disney Dream and returned with a new appreciation for the talented Disney Cruise Line chefs – and some of our own tips worth a share for making the most of culinary opportunities on board.

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  1. Petites Assiettes de Remy. Petites Assiettes means “small plates,” and this little gem is offered during the early evening hours of the first day of each cruise on the Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy. Sign up as you board for a taste of the haute cuisine and a peek at the stylish Remy dining room. Six dishes in all, each perfectly paired with wine. $50 per person. What an elegant way to start your vacation!
  2. Brunch at Palo or Remy. This is fine dining with exquisite service for a nominal charge. Take your pick: Remy offers an elegant Champagne brunch on sea days and select port days with a six-course, French-inspired repast. In Palo, a gorgeous spread of small bites, from caviar to croissants, starts the meal, followed by made-to-order dishes (freshly made pasta, anyone?).

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  1. Speaking of Palo, order the chocolate soufflé for dinner Enough said.
  2. We forget that you can skip the dining rooms and nosh in Pub 687 on Deck 4 on the Disney Dream. Watch the game and indulge in Wagyu beef sliders, tempura shrimp, bangers and mash for a nominal charge.
  3. Dine and Play. Parents, you can check the kids in for evening youth activities without leaving the dinner table. Families can enjoy dinner together, then counselors show up to whisk the kids away while adults finish dinner, take a post-prandial stroll on the deck or dance the night away. Offered for ages three to 12 during the second seating in all main dining rooms.

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  1. Pompidou’s Patisseries Dessert Experience. On both the Disney Fantasy and the Disney Dream, this is an indulgent, fun way to wile away an afternoon at Remy. The chefs greet you with stories and a tasting of six to-die-for desserts. $50 and includes a wine, Champagne or cocktail. Calories don’t count on vacation.
  2. We are in awe of the seemingly endless food stations at Cabanas on the Disney Dream. Take a few minutes to walk the entire buffet, and you’ll find all sorts of wonderful tastes not to be overlooked. For instance, for breakfast we discovered build-your-own granola and a surprisingly delicious seaweed and tofu soup. Be adventurous!

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  1. The best classic gin martini on board, hands down, at Meridian on Deck 12 on the Disney Dream. A fabulous escape with an outdoor terrace.
  2. More fun with spirits: sign up for a tequila, rum, cognac or Champagne tasting – whatever is being offered. Disney Cruise Line has some serious experts who will teach you how to navigate the world of craft cocktails. We promise you’ll learn something you didn’t already know.
  3. If you’re feeling lazy, order room service. It’s free! And the bacon-lettuce-tomato sandwich is a good bet.
  4. Walk or run the deck! It’s a pleasant way to burn some calories — three laps equals one mile. You could head to the fitness center, but ocean air is a bonus.
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Flying Fish Café at Disney’s BoardWalk to Be Reimagined in 2016 at Walt Disney World Resort

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


January 31 is the last day to dine at Flying Fish Café on Disney’s BoardWalk, as the signature restaurant will close for several months as both Walt Disney Imagineering and the culinary team reimagine one of the most popular places for dinner at Walt Disney World Resort.

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You can expect a whole new look, and the team will be working on a new menu (but no worries, the potato-wrapped snapper remains and seasonal approach stay the same).

The reimagined dining room will still have an onstage kitchen and an airier design, with more room for the popular Chef’s Counter and wine dinners.

Stay tuned for more details as the work gets under way.

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No Tricks, Just Halloween Treats at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Disney’s Animal Kingdom and Epcot

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


We’ve talked about all the Halloween treats in Magic Kingdom Park at Walt Disney World Resort, so here’s the rundown of all the seasonal goodies you’ll find in the other three theme parks.

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At Epcot, head to Kringla Bakeri og Kafe in the Norway pavilion for a Spooky Olaf – a brownie shaped like a ghost covered with white fondant and Olaf’s face. Over in Future World at Fountain View, you’ll find a chocolate owl cupcake filled with chocolate marshmallow and sandwich cookie eyes, and at Sunshine Seasons, a candy corn push pop that’s orange, lemon or mango with layers of vanilla mousse. You’ll find all of these tasty treats the week of Halloween.

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From October 4-November 1 at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, you’ll find a carrot cake with a pumpkin Mickey topper at The Trolley Car Café, ABC Commissary, Pizza Planet, Backlot Express and Starring Rolls Café. From November 2-November 30 in the same locations, there’s a Holiday Harvest Pumpkin Cupcake with a Mickey topper. Both count as a snack on the Disney Dining Plan.

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At Disney’s Animal Kingdom, on October 31 you can enjoy at Bat Cupcake at Kusafiri Bakery and Isle of Java. Then on November 26, a fall cupcake debuts at the same locations. Both count as a snack on the Disney Dining Plan. And Tusker House Restaurant will showcase mini-pumpkin muffins and pumpkin cheesecake on the buffet.

Indulge a little, ‘tis the season!

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Shows Air This Week for ABC’s ‘The Chew’ at Epcot International Food & Wine Festival

posted on October 12th, 2015 by Pam Brandon, Disney Parks Food Writer


For the first time ever, ABC’s “The Chew” left their studios last week in New York City and took their daily “party in the kitchen” to the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival at Walt Disney World Resort to tape five shows airing this week (October 12-16) on ABC.

Hundreds of enthusiastic fans cheered on Clinton Kelly, Carla Hall, Mario Batali and Michael Symon on the custom-built set with the backdrop of Spaceship Earth under Florida’s sunny skies. We had a special performance from the cast of Disney’s “Festival of the Lion King” from Disney’s Animal Kingdom. They opened one of the shows (airing this Thursday) with a powerful dance – just one of the many “only-at-Disney-World” moments the foursome experienced during their weeklong stay.

Wonder what each of the hosts did just after arriving? Carla said she headed straight for Disney’s Animal Kingdom and Kilimanjaro Safaris. Clinton racked up a big score on Toy Story Mania!, while Mario took the plunge on the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, both at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. And Michael took a leisurely boat ride through the hydroponic growing area at The Land pavilion in Epcot Future World.

As the Emmy-winning hosts created delicious treats on stage and showcased festival marketplace dishes, they also cooked up some fun with Mickey Mouse and Goofy for today’s show. On other episodes, they treated audiences to guest appearances by Iron Chef Morimoto, who just opened Morimoto Asia at Disney Springs; Alfonso Ribeiro (ABC’s “America’s Funniest Home Videos”) and Bellamy Young (ABC’s “Scandal”). They even stopped by for a nosh at the festival’s Rockin’ Burger Block Party, one of the 20th festival’s new premium dining events. Here’s a fun behind-the-scenes look at the production:

Tune in this week to ABC, Monday through Friday (1 p.m. Eastern, noon Central and Pacific) for lots of Walt Disney World fun!

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