Sweet, salty, hot, cold … what are you craving? Follow the arrows to your perfect indulgence.
posted on June 4th, 2014 by Pam Brandon, Disney Parks Food Writer
Epcot Executive Chef Jens Dahlmann often sends a note when he’s trying something new for Epcot guests, so here are two we tried and love for beating the summer heat – and you won’t find them anywhere at Walt Disney World Resort except Africa Refreshment Cool Post in World Showcase.
Coconut or pineapple frozen yogurt … or swirl them together ($3.99 and on the Disney Dining Plan) is a delectable cup of cool – we only wished for a little rum to make it a piña colada. Instead, we also tried the African Rum Mango Smoothie ($9.50) that does, indeed, include that splash of rum. So take your pick and grab one or the other to keep you cool as you stroll around the lagoon. You might even mix the two.
New Tastes Worth a Stop at Jolly Holiday Bakery Café in Disneyland Park – Plus Cheesy Enchilada Soup Recipe
posted on June 3rd, 2014 by Pam Brandon, Disney Parks Food Writer
One of our favorite stops for a bite at Disneyland park is Jolly Holiday Bakery Cafe on Main Street, U.S.A. Here, there’s a little something for everyone, from a nearly endless array of sweets to savories like a hearty pastrami Reuben on rye or a grilled veggie and whole-grain salad. The Mary Poppins theme just makes us smile, and it’s the only spot you’ll find the Practically Perfect Punch and Cherry Tree Lane Lemonade – which may have you humming “Superfcalifragilisticexpialidocious!”
The menu changes often, and we found two new muffins worth a stop: blueberry sour cream with cinnamon crumbles and powdered sugar, and a chocolate chocolate-chip muffin that’s full of chocolate chips (a chocoaholic’s delight). Either pairs perfectly with a latté or hot tea.
The Jolly Holiday menu includes some special tastes you won’t find anywhere else at the Disneyland Resort, such as the toasted cheese and tomato-basil soup combo, and the seasonal quiche with house salad. We’re fans of the Jolly Holiday salad, with lettuce, spiced pecans, feta cheese, red and yellow tomatoes and Craisins dried cranberries. The sweet-tart raspberry vinaigrette takes it over the top. Seasonal soups, too, are always a treat – right now it’s the hearty cheesy enchilada soup. Here is the recipe for this guest favorite.
Cheesy Enchilada Soup
Serves 6 to 8
- 5 yellow corn tortillas, cut into thin strips
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil, plus 2 tablespoons, divided
- 1 yellow onion, chopped
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic
- 1 red bell pepper, chopped
- 1/2 cup corn
- 5 cups chicken stock
- 15-ounce can tomato puree
- 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
- 1 1/4 teaspoons chili powder
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 1/4 teaspoons sugar
- 3/4 teaspoon Tapatio hot sauce
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- 4 teaspoons flour
- 1/2 cup water
- 2 1/2 cups shredded cooked chicken
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1/4 cup sour cream
- 1 cup shredded mild cheddar cheese
- 1/2 cup black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro, for garnish
- Heat 1/4 cup vegetable oil in a 10-inch skillet. When oil is hot, add tortilla strips and stir until golden and crisp, 2 to 3 minutes. Drain on paper towels and set aside.
- Cook onion in remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat until translucent. Add garlic, bell pepper and corn; cook for about 2 minutes.
- Stir in chicken stock, tomato puree, salt, chili powder, pepper, sugar, hot sauce, and Worcestershire sauce; bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer for 15 minutes.
- Whisk flour and water in a small bowl and stir into soup. Bring to a boil, then simmer 4 minutes.
- Add chicken and bring back to a simmer. Stir in cream, sour cream, shredded cheese, and black beans.
- To serve, garnish with fried tortilla strips and cilantro.
posted on June 3rd, 2014 by Pam Brandon, Disney Parks Food Writer
So exciting to be back on the Disney Magic – we took a three-night family girls’ cruise with four generations: my mom, three sisters, my daughter and her sweet almost-2-year-old daughter. We’re all foodies, so mealtime was lots of fun as we swapped plates and compared notes on favorite dishes.
One of our nicest surprises was the choice of vegetarian in all the restaurants. Our first evening at Animator’s Palate, I ordered the potato, celeriac and onion gratin with buttered collard greens, a warm, delicious stack of veggies with cream and a touch of nutmeg, and the fresh greens beneath. (Plentiful vegetarian choices included a tomato tart with goat cheese, butternut squash soup, a salad of roasted red peppers, zucchini and red onions and black bean chipotle cakes.) We tried the snapper and grilled sirloin too, both delicious.
Of course, the food at Animator’s Palate almost (almost) takes a back seat to the restaurant’s fantastic new “Drawn to Magic” show, the next generation of the original, starring both new and iconic Disney characters in a colorful, emotional finale with an appearance by Sorcerer Mickey. It was pure magic for every generation as we watched the stories from “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” to the new hit, “Frozen.” Magical!
Night No. 2 was Cariocas, the new Brazilian-inspired restaurant named after the parrot José Carioca in “The Three Caballeros” animated film. For a starter, the favorite vegetarian dish was the Cuban Salad with watercress, avocado, pineapple, toasted Cuban bread and a vinegar dressing. Our vegetarian main course was small corn tortillas with refried beans, green tomatillo chile and a shredded white cabbage slaw made with white wine vinegar. Pile it all on the warm tortillas for a real treat. Other vegetarian options include yellow, blue and white potatoes with cucumber and olive-tomato salsa with a spicy cream sauce; tomato soup with a hint of jalapeño; Havana-style black bean soup with olive oil, and fried plaintain and malanga pancakes with crème fraiche.
Of course, meat lovers also enjoy the menu here, with a garlic-rubbed slab of prime rib and a skewer with Brazilian sausage, lamb, beef tenderloin and shrimp. We all voted the prime rib as the winner.
Our final night we opted for Palo, where I tried the new wine pairing which I’ll share in an upcoming post.
posted on May 31st, 2014 by Pam Brandon, Disney Parks Food Writer
Harambe Nights kicks off in just about a week on June 7, and we got a taste of the amazing celebration that stretches Disney entertainment and dining to new heights.
Early in the evening, the new Harambe Theatre and “The Lion King – Concert in the Wild” is the center of attention, with emotional music performed by a live choir and 25-piece orchestra, the back-up for such talented performers – we were mesmerized as we watched scenes from the blockbuster film come to life in a whole new way.
The Walt Disney World Resort chefs are hard at work too – after the performance, Harambe Village lights up with a lively street party where the food takes center stage. The menu took weeks of planning by Chefs Robert Gilbert and Leonard Thompson, working in symphony with Chef David Njoroge at Sanaa restaurant at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, a native of Kenya who embraces true African-style cooking.
Before the show gets started, you get a little taste of the African and Indian cuisine with small bites such as Moroccan beef kefta with tamarind glaze and a mini-cheeseburger with tomato curry aioli. And just for fun, as you watch the show, there’s a cute little container of “Lion Chow,” a mix of pretzel chips benne (sesame) crumbles, cardamom candied pecans, raisins, cherries and ginger.
The evening is a culinary journey with aromatic spices – you’ll smell the lamb cooking, and get a taste of warm naan bread hot off the griddle. The aromatic spice of Africa create a mélange of amazing tastes – so be adventurous if you haven’t tried something like eggplant tikka masala or crispy pappadum crackers. But you’ll find plenty of familiar flavors too, as the cuisine of America’s South borrows plenty of tastes from Africa, such as barbecued pork (served with a delicious polenta) or simple roast chicken.
With all those diverse bites, naan, an Indian flatbread, is the perfect accompaniment. We can almost guarantee you’ll wish for another taste once you are home, so we’re sharing the recipe without the traditional tandoor oven – just use a pizza stone in the oven or your grill. Harambe Nights takes place every Saturday from June 7 through August 9. The welcome reception begins at 7 p.m., showtime is 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $119 for adults, $79 for ages 3-9, plus tax. Capacity is limited. For tickets, call 407-939-1319 or visit Disneyworld.com/HarambeNights.
Makes 5 (8-inch) breads
3 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon coarse salt
1/2 tablespoon baking soda
1/2 cup milk
2/3 cup warm water
1 tablespoon canola oil
4 tablespoons butter, melted
- Combine flour, sugar, salt, and baking soda in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment; stir to combine.
- Combine milk, water, and oil in a medium bowl; whisk to combine.
- With the mixer running, pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients. As soon as the mixture comes together, switch attachment to a dough hook, and mix until dough is smooth and no longer sticky. Do not over-mix.
- Cover bowl with plastic wrap, and set aside at room temperature for 1 hour.
- Place a pizza stone on a top rack of the oven, positioned approximately 6 inches below the broiler. Preheat oven to 500° for at least 30 minutes.
- Divide dough evenly into 5 pieces. On a lightly floured surface, roll each piece into an 8-inch circle.
- Turn oven to broil. Carefully slide one circle of dough onto the preheated pizza stone, and broil until bread is bubbled and golden brown, about 2 to 3 minutes. Watch carefully, as the bread can burn very quickly. Repeat with remaining dough rounds. Brush the warm bread with melted butter, and serve immediately.
posted on May 30th, 2014 by Pam Brandon, Disney Parks Food Writer
Has it really been 25 years since Mount Mayday rose out of the sandy soil at Walt Disney World Resort, creating all-new ways to cool off in the Florida sun, from a lazy river to a reef full of tropical fishes and the crazy Humunga Kowabunga water slide?
Believe it or not, we’re celebrating on June 1 with a party all day – a DJ on the Clock Tower, a free cupcake (vanilla with blue icing) with the purchase of an adult entrée at Typhoon Tilly’s or Leaning Palms, and the Baybreeze, a specialty beverage with cranberry juice, pineapple juice and vodka just for grown-ups ($3.50). Let’s Go Slurpin’ bar also will feature its own anniversary cocktail, the Blue Hawaiian, only available on June 1.
Forget dogs and burgers and try the new chicken and waffle sandwich, made with a crispy fried chicken breast topped with peppery arugula, mild Asiago cheese and honey aioli. If you prefer your waffles sweet, try the chocolate chip waffle with fresh fruit sprinkled with cinnamon sugar. Both waffles will be available at Lowtide Lou’s and are only on the menu ‘til Aug. 1.
Also new are two salads getting great reviews from guests. The Shrimp Wrecked Salad at the Snack Shack location features mixed greens, feta cheese, and dried cranberries, cherries and blueberries tossed in a raspberry vinaigrette and topped with strawberries and shrimp. Tropical Chicken Salad at Leaning Palms has mixed greens, Parmesan cheese, cherry tomatoes, dried cranberries, cucumbers, mandarin oranges and grilled chicken with raspberry vinaigrette.
Throw on your swimsuit and head out for a day of fun!
posted on May 28th, 2014 by Pam Brandon, Disney Parks Food Writer
Starting with breakfast, they’ve added the Loco Moco, a burger served over rice with brown gravy and a fried egg with a side of island fruit. Aloha! This reminds us of breakfast at Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa. Get healthy with a bowl of apple cinnamon-spiced steel-cut oatmeal served with coconut whipped cream and island fruit. Or opt for Mickey-shaped waffles with fruit and bacon or Portuguese sausage.
The all-day menu starts at 11 a.m. (through closing at 10 p.m.) and new on the menu are shrimp tacos with sautéed shrimp, cabbage and lime tartar sauce all wrapped up in warm corn tortillas and a side of tropical slaw. Also, a slow-roasted kalua-style pork sandwich is on a sweet Hawaiian roll topped with tropical slaw. Or teriyaki chicken breast that comes with fresh caramelized pineapple, Havarti cheese, bacon, lettuce and tomato on a multi-grain bun. Side options include tropical slaw, sweet potato fries, french fries or island fruit.
Tangaroa Terrace Salad adds more tropical flair with lettuces, cabbage, black kale, caramelized pineapple, grape tomatoes and crispy marinated tofu, all tossed in a sweet vinaigrette and topped with toasted macadamia nuts. (Substitute sautéed shrimp for the tofu for a little extra.) And the Big Island Flatbread is topped with marinara sauce, ham, caramelized pineapple, red onion, cilantro and mozzarella.
Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar fans will love three new cocktails. Start with the Murky Mojito made with rum, fresh lime juice, mint and organic agave nectar topped with a splash of Angostura bitters. Or the Passionate Python with dark and aged rums, red passion fruit and tropical juices, garnished with an orange peel “python.” If you’re foregoing alcohol, try the Polynesian Punch, a mix of Sam’s Gorilla Grog with hibiscus grenadine. Sit back, sip and let the fun begin.
posted on May 27th, 2014 by Pam Brandon, Disney Parks Food Writer
Ahhhh, what a peaceful retreat after a boisterous day of kayaking, snorkeling, and a long bike ride on beautiful Castaway Cay: softly lit Keys piano bar on the Disney Magic. The talented pianist entertained us with Disney tunes (by request) on a beautiful baby grand piano as we settled back in an armchair to peruse a remarkable menu of after-dinner cocktails. Reserved after 9 p.m. for guests 18 and older, the Deck 3 lounge was bliss.
And no ordinary cocktails on this menu, but the classics combined with trendy new drinks designed by the Disney mixologists, from the bartender’s version of a Manhattan made with Jack Daniel’s “Sinatra Select,” Antica Formula Carpano Vermouth and Cointreau to a Diamonds Martini with Three Olives Strawberry Vodka and Aviation (gin) and Cocci Vermouth di Torrino. This isn’t your dad’s after-dinner cocktail.
Trendy ingredients are mixed tableside, like the Coco Royale with 1800 Coconut Tequila, Moët Ice Champagne and coconut flakes – a divine concoction that we all agreed was our favorite. The Moji-Do is Keys’ take on a mojito, this version with Kraken Black Spiced Rum, yuzu juice, slice orange, corn shoots and fresh mint leaves, again beautifully mixed tableside. And you wouldn’t recognize the Bloody Mi-Re, a trendy take on a Bloody Mary with Belvedere Bloody Mary, yellow tomato juice, fresh lime juice and Whiskey Worcestershire Sauce.
Wine is decanted and serve tableside is exquisite Riedel “Black Tie” glassware – gorgeous mouth-blown stemware from Austria, all accented with a beautiful black stem. There’s also a selection of beer, Scotch, Single Malt Tequila, Cognac, Port, Madeira and specialty coffees.
If you feel like dancing post-cocktails, Fathoms is next door, or settle in for a quiet game of backgammon or checkers at O’Gills Pub – all part of the ships’ new After Hours section that caters to grown-ups after dark.
posted on May 26th, 2014 by Pam Brandon, Disney Parks Food Writer
You have a while, but it’s never too early to start planning for Disney’s finest culinary extravaganza, the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival, which kicks of September 19 and runs a record 53 days this year, through November 10.
Longtime fans will want to know what’s new, but for neophtyes, here are the basics: food fans love the stroll around World Showcase to nosh and sip from more than 25 ethnic and specialty marketplaces (get your free festival “passport” stamped along the way). But there’s so much more: three nightly Eat to the Beat concerts, the fantastic Party for the Senses on select Saturday nights, signature dinners, the remarkable Ocean Spray Cranberry Bog, a new “Back to Basics” Festival Center series and a new Friday morning celebrity chefs cookbook event called “Food for Thought.” All in all, you can taste the creations of more than 270 chefs and culinary pros from Disney and across the U.S.
We’re excited to see our favorite Saturday morning Parisian Breakfast back this year, and a new Sunday morning event called “Sunday Mornings With …” that will be a plated brunch with a noted pastry chef or baker crafting three fabulous desserts for guests.
What else is new for 2014?
- Patagonia Marketplace will merge the flavors of Argentina and Chile in dishes like sustainable roasted Verlasso salmon with quinoa salad drizzled with a kicky arugula chimichurri. You can pair that with a couple of great Chilean wines: Cono Sur Bicicleta Viognier or Cono Sur Bicicleta Pinot Noir Rosé.
- Farm Fresh Market replaces last year’s Florida Local Marketplace, with a perfect “brinner” (breakfast for dinner) dish: “Bacon and Eggs,” with applewood-smoked, pepper-coated bacon, sweet corn, potatoes, Hollandaise and pickled jalapeños. Or try the griddled “yard bird” (chicken) with braised greens. Happy to see Orlando Brewing Company’s I-4IPA on the menu, as well as trendy Ba Ba Black Lager from Salt Lake City’s Uinta Brewing Company.
- Brazil Marketplace is back with that wildly popular crispy pork belly with black beans, onions, avocado and cilantro, but chefs also are adding mocequa de pescado (tilapia with coconut lime sauce and steamed rice), pao de queijo (Brazilian cheese bread) and cocadas (Brazilian coconut candy).
- The Poland Marketplace switches up the popular pierogi with a new sauerkraut pierogi and pork goulash.
That’s just a little taste of what’s to come; stay tuned for more details as the weeks sail by.
Free with Epcot admission: Back to Basics series, special book signings, Eat to the Beat concerts, cultural adventures, Marketplace Discovery Passport and all attractions and park entertainment. Festival hours extend to 10 p.m. each weekend.
You’ll need reservations/additional fee: Party for the Senses grand tasting events, signature dinners and other special wine and culinary programs. When a reservation booking date is announced this summer, guests can call 407/WDW-FEST (939-3378). Information and reservations for select programs will be at epcotfoodfestival.com.
posted on May 24th, 2014 by Pam Brandon, Disney Parks Food Writer
2:00 a.m. EDT / 11:00 p.m. PDT
What a party! How many tastes have you tried? Our unexpected favorites were the Olaf carrot cupcake and the breakfast flatbread pizza at Pinocchio Village Haus. And we saw lots of little girls digging in to the “Frozen” cupcake – vanilla cake with ice blue buttercream and pearl sugar topped with an edible snowflake and a keepsake “Frozen” ring. While most of the treats are just there for 24 hours, a couple will stay on menus: the Olaf souvenir cup at The Lunching Pad and The Friar’s Nook, and Mickey’s Kitchen Sink Sundae at Plaza Ice Cream Parlor and Plaza Restaurant. But we’re hoping the Poisoned Apple Waffle Sundae might find a spot on the menu at Sleepy Hollow.