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Perfect Dish for Fall Weather from Chef Scott Hunnel at Victoria & Albert’s at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa

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


Victoria & Albert’s at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa is the crème de la crème of Disney restaurants – the only AAA Five-Diamond restaurant in Central Florida, and home to Chef Scott Hunnel, a James Beard Award-nominated pro who runs the small kitchen with his finely tuned team.

With only 53 coveted seats in the dining room, plus the opulent (and even smaller) Queen Victoria’s Room and private Chef’s Table in the kitchen, we can’t all get a reservation, but Chef Hunnel kindly shares this pan-seared sablefish that you can make at home. It’s the sort of dish that tastes simple but takes some care to prepare.

At Victoria & Albert’s, this dish is served with beautifully sculpted baby vegetables and garnished with delicate fried carrot curls. Sablefish is also known as black cod and butterfish. If you can’t find sablefish, a good substitution is Chilean sea bass. And if you can’t find Zellwood sweet corn, any fresh corn will work.

Pan-Seared Sablefish with Fingerling Potatoes and Zellwood Corn
Serves 4

Corn Relish

  • 2 ears Zellwood sweet corn
  • Olive oil, for roasting corn and sautéing vegetables
  • 1/2 sweet red pepper
  • 1/2 red onion, diced small
  • 1 teaspoon toasted cumin
  • Coarse salt, freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil

Zellwood Corn Sauce

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 1/2 leek, white part only, diced
  • 1 stalk celery
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 8 ears Zellwood corn, kernels removed
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 1 quart corn stock or chicken stock
  • 1 bouquet garni (thyme, parsley, bay leaves, and peppercorns tied together with string)
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • Coarse salt, freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 6 tablespoons butter

Fingerling Potatoes

  • 1 pound fingerling potatoes
  • Olive oil, for sautéing
  • Coarse salt, freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh chives

Sablefish

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 4 (5-ounce) portions sablefish
  • Fresh white pepper, Maldon sea salt, to taste

For corn relish:

  • Husk corn and lightly brush with olive oil. Heat a saute pan or grill over medium-high heat.
  • Place corn in pan and rotate every few minutes using tongs. Baste with a little olive oil, as needed. Cook 7 to 10 minutes, or until corn is charred and tender. (If charring too fast, lower heat slightly.) Cool and slice kernels from the cob. Set aside.
  • Preheat oven to 425°F. Halve pepper lengthwise; remove stems, seeds, and membranes. Place cut side down on foil-lined baking sheet.
  • Roast 20 to 25 minutes, or until skins are blistered. Carefully bring foil up and around the pepper halves to enclose. Let stand 15 minutes, or until cool enough to handle.
  • Loosen edges of skins from pepper halves with a sharp knife. Slowly pull off skin and discard. Dice one-half into 1/2-inch pieces. Set aside.
  • Heat 1 teaspoon olive oil in a small saute pan. Saute corn, pepper, and onion until soft. Stir in cumin and season to taste. Remove from heat and toss with extra virgin olive oil. Set aside until ready to serve.

For Zellwood corn sauce:

  1. Heat saute pan over medium heat. Saute onion, leeks, and celery for 1 minute.
  2. Add garlic and corn, and cook for 10 minutes. Stir in white wine, scraping bits from bottom of pan. Add stock and bouquet garni; reduce heat and simmer 35 to 40 minutes. Stir in heavy cream and season to taste.
  3. Remove from heat, purée with immersion blender, and strain through a chinois or china cap. Stir in butter. Keep warm until ready to serve.

For fingerling potatoes:

  1. Wash and quarter fingerling potatoes. Place in saucepan and cover with water over high heat. Cook 4 to 5 minutes, or until tender, depending on size of potatoes. Remove from heat and cool under running water.
  2. Heat olive oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add potatoes and cook until golden and crispy, turn and cooking about 5 minutes.
  3. Season with salt and pepper and garnish with chives. Keep warm until ready to serve.

For sablefish:

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Heat olive oil in sauté pan over high heat.
  2. Season sablefish with salt and pepper. Place skin side down in pan and sauté for 1 minute or until golden brown. Turn and sauté for 1 minute.
  3. Roast in oven for about 2 minutes, or until desired doneness.

To serve:

  1. Place roasted fingerling potatoes in center of plate and top with fish.
  2. Drizzle Zellwood corn sauce around fish and potatoes; top fish with corn relish.
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Delicious and Seasonal: Harvest Apple Salad from Carthay Circle Restaurant at Disney California Adventure Park

posted on September 30th, 2014 by Pam Brandon, Disney Parks Food Writer


Fall is here – the season for California apples – and elegant Carthay Circle Restaurant at Disney California Adventure park is taking advantage of the bounty with this beautiful Harvest Apple Salad, which also includes the richness of duck confit to match the tart, sweet apples.

Confit (pronounced con-fee) may sound daunting, but it’s basically a French term for slowly roasting the duck while it’s submerged in liquid – in this recipe it’s duck fat and olive oil. This is one of those recipes that takes time, but the reward is a rich, bright salad that’s perfect for a dinner party.

In case you can’t get to the beautiful Carthay Circle Restaurant, inside the detailed re-creation of the iconic Carthay Circle Theatre at Disney California Adventure park, Chef Francisco Origel shows us how it’s done. This seasonal recipe is just one of the many California-inspired dishes on the menu.

Harvest Apple Salad with Crispy Duck Confit
Serves 8

Duck Confit

  • 4 skin-on, bone-in duck legs
  • Coarse salt freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme, 3 dried bay leaves
  • Olive oil for covering duck in roasting pan

Cider Vinaigrette

  • 1/3 cup fresh apple cider
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup honey mustard or Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
  • Coarse salt, freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Salad

  • 4 gala apples, peeled, cored, and cut into 6 wedges per apple
  • 4 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 4 granny smith apples, peeled, cored, and cut into 1/4-inch-wide sticks
  • 6 cups thinly sliced kale
  • 6 cups thinly sliced frisée lettuce
  • 10 breakfast radishes, thinly sliced

For duck confit:

  1. Generously salt and pepper duck legs and set aside at room temperature for 1 hour.
    Prick skin of duck legs all over with a needle or a small, sharp knife, being careful not to pierce the meat. Preheat oven to 300°F.
  2. Heat skillet over medium-high heat and sear duck legs until golden on both sides. Place in a baking dish just large enough to fit all 6 legs and cover with rendered duck fat from skillet. Add thyme, bay leaves, and enough olive oil to submerge duck.
  3. Place in oven, uncovered, and bake 2 hours. Remove from oven and allow to cool in fat to room temperature.
  4. Remove duck legs from fat; remove meat from bones, discarding bones; pull meat into shreds.
  5. Place shredded meat in a medium skillet over medium-high heat; cook just until duck is crispy. Set aside.

For vinaigrette:

  1. Place apple cider and vinegar in a small saucepan over high heat. Bring to a boil and reduce by half, about 8 to 10 minutes. Set aside to cool completely.
  2. Combine reduced apple cider-vinegar and mustard in blender; blend until combined. With blender on medium speed, slowly stream in olive oil.
  3. Removed from blender and place in bowl; stir in thyme and parsley. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

For salad:

  1. Smear cold butter in bottom of large skillet. Sprinkle with brown sugar. Add apples slices and turn on heat to medium-high. As butter begins to melt and sugar caramelizes, turn apples to brown both sides. Add more butter if necessary; cook apples until tender, about 8 to 10 minutes, turning often. Remove from heat and set aside.
  2. Combine kale, frisée, radishes, and gala apple sticks in a large bowl, tossing to combine. Add shredded duck.
  3. Add just enough dressing to coat, tossing to combine. Serve immediately with caramelized apple slices.
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Seasonal Delights for Thanksgiving at Disneyland Resort

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


CORRECTION: Thanksgiving reservations will be taken beginning Sunday, Sept. 28, and reservations for Disneyland Hotel dinner available beginning October 8. We apologize for any inconvenience.

Turkey, turkey and more turkey! For just one day – Thursday, Nov. 27 – restaurants at the Disneyland Resort are showcasing the big bird along with other seasonal sides, from cranberry relish to pumpkin pie and maple bacon funnel cake. Do we dare forego cooking and just head to Disneyland Resort? Thinking so.

Let’s start on Main Street, U.S.A., at Disneyland park, with Carnation Café’s slow-roasted turkey with turkey Bourbon gravy, mashed sweet potatoes, apple-cranberry stuffing, cranberry-orange relish, veggies and a classic dinner roll. Of course there’s pumpkin pie.

Keeping with traditions, Plaza Inn is cooking slow-roasted turkey with gravy and sage dressing, mashed potatoes, veggies and a roll. Blue Bayou Restaurant kicks it up with turkey roulade, truffle-infused chicken giblet stuffing, roasted garlic Boursin mashed potatoes and veggies. French Market Restaurant is doing Andouille sausage stuffing with the turkey, and River Belle Terrace adds cornbread and roasted garlic-thyme mashed potatoes to their turkey breast with stuffing.

For something a little different, Café Orleans is making crepes with turkey, butternut squash, cipollini onions and peas with giblet stuffing, cranberry coulis and orange oil. And for just a quick bite, there’s turkey tortilla soup at Harbour Galley, holiday tamales at Rancho del Zocalo Restaurante. For a sweet tooth, try the maple bacon funnel cake at Stage Door Café, and there’s plenty of pumpkin pie (at Carnation Café, Village Haus Restaurant, River Belle Terrace and Café Orleans).

Heading over to Disney California Adventure park, Ariel’s Grotto is going traditional with slow-roasted turkey breast and gravy, apple stuffing, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes and veggies. Flo’s V-8 Café is cooking herb-roasted turkey with mashed potatoes and stuffing, veggies and cranberry relish. And Wine Country Trattoria adds Italian flair with focaccia stuffing with herb-roasted turkey and garlic mashed potatoes, served with haricot vert and orange-cranberry relish.

Take home a loaf of turkey-shaped bread from Boudin Bakery, available at Pacific Wharf Café, Mortimer’s Market and Boardwalk Pizza & Pasta. Or eat dessert first with pumpkin pie at Wine Country Trattoria, Flo’s V-8 Café and Boardwalk Pizza & Pasta.

Heading to the Disneyland Resort hotels, Steakhouse 55 at the Disneyland Hotel is offering a three-course menu with starters such a butternut squash soup, crispy shredded skirt steak and maple clabbered cream; the entrée is roasted turkey Wellington with pecan stuffing, cranberry relish, Swiss chard and wild mushroom gravy, and dessert is a choice of sweet potato pot de crème, cinnamon gelato, marshmallow meringue and apple crisp.

Also at Disneyland Hotel, Goofy’s Kitchen adds holiday tastes to the brunch and dinner buffet: turkey, orange-cranberry sauce, Yukon Gold mashed potatoes, vanilla-scented roasted sweet potatoes with brown sugar and marshmallows, herb stuffing, butternut squash soup, pumpkin pie and cranberry cobbler.

At Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa, Chef Andrew Sutton offers his fabulous four-course Country Wine Feast for the holiday at Napa Rose. Next door at Storyteller’s Café, the loaded buffet adds turkey, gravy and cranberry sauce, beef with Cognac au jus and creamed horseradish, brioche bread stuffing with sweet Italian sausage, roasted golden beets with Feta and holiday sweets, including lots of pies.

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Another generous buffet is at Disney’s PCH Grill at Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel, featuring Thanksgiving tastes such as turkey, gravy and stuffing, cranberry relish and roasted veggies, along with salads soups, beef, salmon and more.

Of course, you can head directly to the Disneyland Hotel ballroom for the annual fall Thanksgiving dinner – a bounty of turkey, prime rib, stuffing, sweet potato soufflé, cranberry-orange relish, poached shrimp, king crab legs and all the trimmings. Pumpkin and pecan pies, tarts, cookies, freshly made crepes and a chocolate fountain are the sweetest ending for a day of thanks.

For reservations, call 714-781-DINE.

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Seasonal Delights at Jolly Holiday Bakery Cafe in Disneyland Park

posted on September 24th, 2014 by Pam Brandon, Disney Parks Food Writer


We look forward to the change of seasons – along with milder weather, we anticipate new tastes on the menu at Jolly Holiday Bakery Café on Main Street, U.S.A., in Disneyland park.

The sweets are such a treat, but the seasonal sandwiches are also on the top of our lunch list – start with the hearty pastrami Reuben on rye with Swiss cheese, sauerkraut and classic sauce. Or try the cold roast beef on a baguette topped with arugula, pickled onion and tomato with a slather of mustard aioli. The chicken Waldorf comes on buttery brioche, a mix of chicken breast, green apple, celery, Craisins and mango chutney. Salad fans will appreciate the Mediterranean Chicken Salad, a bowl of greens, cucumbers, Kalamata olives, tomato, sweet red peppers, pepperoncini and feta with balsamic vinaigrette.

Raspberry Macaron at Jolly Holiday Bakery Cafe in Disneyland Park S'Mores Bar at Jolly Holiday Bakery Cafe in Disneyland Park Chocolate Brownie at Jolly Holiday Bakery Cafe in Disneyland Park

Save room for dessert, because there are 11 new sweets to sample. Chocolate is the center of four: classic chocolate brownies; rich red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting and strawberry-chocolate shavings; decadent chocolate-peanut butter whoopie pies, and s’mores bars that start with chocolate tarts filled with caramel-chocolate ganache, finished with a topping of graham crackers and toasted marshmallow fluff. Pumpkin is the star in both the cheesecake with spiced whipped topping and muffins with cream cheese filling. Add French caramel éclairs, maple crème brûlèe in tart shells and spiced bundt cake with cream cheese glaze and a flourish of candied orange rind. Last, but certainly not least, a seasonal selection of dainty French macarons – raspberry and chocolate hazelnut. Oh my!

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New Quick Bites at Two Epcot Restaurants

posted on September 24th, 2014 by Pam Brandon, Disney Parks Food Writer


When you’re on the run, it’s fun to find creative quick-service eats – and two Epcot restaurants are upping their games with diverse new menu items.

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In World Showcase, American Adventure’s Liberty Inn has four new dishes. The Red, White and Blue Salad features field greens, Ocean Spray craisins, pecans, apples and blue cheese with a sherry vinaigrette ($7.99). The burger gets an inspired makeover with “Surf and Turf” flavors: 1/3-pound Angus burger stacked with a house-made crab cake and spicy tartar sauce ($11.49). Or keep it simple with the Maryland Crab Cakes with a side of Old Bay fries ($10.99). Louisiana-style Shrimp is served in a creamy Cajun tomato broth with roasted green peppers and onions and served over hot rice ($9.99).

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In Future World, the popular Electric Umbrella adds a French Dip Burger – a hefty 1/3-pound Angus burger topped with beef brisket, crispy onions and Muenster cheese ($10.99). The Sausage and Pepper Sandwich is another generous meal with slowly-stewed Italian sausage, peppers, onions, tomatoes and Provolone cheese ($9.49). The lighter Veggie Naan Wich features broccoli slaw and edamame with a drizzle of tofu wasabi dressing on warm naan bread ($9.49). And for chocolate fans, there’s a new chocolate cupcake, just simple and sweet.

Have you tried any of these new quick bites?

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New Menu for Victoria Falls at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge

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


Just a flight of steps down from the beautiful lobby of Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, Victoria Falls Lounge is a fun spot for cocktails or a great glass of South African wine. A new menu adds flavors of Africa and India from the resort’s various restaurants – substantial bites to pair with beverages.

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The lounge’s name, by the way, comes from Africa’s breath-taking Victoria Falls, sighted in 1855 by David Livingstone, the Scottish missionary and explorer who named the magnificent falls in honor of Queen Victoria. (For a little trivia, the indigenous name is Mosi-oa-Tunya, or “the smoke that thunders.”)

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A sumptuous plate of artisanal cheeses features Valdeon blue cheese, Petit Agour sheep’s milk cheese & Cabot Clothbound Cheddar with Marcona almonds, honeycomb, Egyptian flowers & wild strawberry gastrique. Messy-but-delicious tandoori-spiced chicken wings are flavored with garam masala, garlic, ginger, lemon, cloves, cinnamon and served with kicky sambal sour cream. Ditto the pork “wings,” served with tamarind barbecue sauce, crispy onions and cilantro.

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Peri Peri Scallops features four pan-fried scallops with mealie pap (we Southerners call this grits), bacon lardons, coriander and chile butter. Another hot tapas is crispy chickpea bites, bite-sized fritters served with sag dahl, Tunisian olive oil, lemon balm, roasted eggplant salad and sautéed feta cheese.

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Perfect for sharing, the African-inspired tapas is a generous assortment of dates, cumin green olives, sambal Calamata olives, Bresaola, sea salt pistachios, preserved lemon artichoke hearts, with dried banana and pumpkin seed crisps.

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One of our favorites is the breads & spreads: oak-grilled pappadam, South African sea salt crisps, wheat pita and house-made lavosh served with hummus, mango chutney, lentil spinach and citrus spread.

It’s easy, no reservations, just stop by and grab a seat at the bar or a table.

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Our Top 10 New Tastes for 2014 Epcot International Food & Wine Festival

posted on September 18th, 2014 by Pam Brandon, Disney Parks Food Writer


All sorts of special events, cooking demos and parties make the 19th annual Epcot International Food & Wine Festival worth the trip, but for us, it’s the simple pleasure of noshing and sipping our way around World Showcase that is one of the most memorable parts of the 53-day festival (the longest ever) that debuts Friday, September 19, and runs through November 10.

Epcot International Food & Wine Festival: Brazil Marketplace

This is the seventh year that Epcot Executive Chef Jens Dahlmann has been at the helm, and every year he gets a little more authentic, a little more creative. Thirty-five new food offerings debut this year, requiring multiple visits to truly savor each taste.

And while it may be nearly impossible to appreciate every single dish paired with tasting-sized servings of wine, beer (and non-alcoholic beverages) at the 25+ Marketplaces, we’ve done a little homework and are suggesting the Top 10 new, “don’t-miss” dishes for 2014.

Here, in no certain order, are 10 of the new dishes worth a taste, even if you have to share to make it all the way around:

  1. Lobster Alfredo at the Hops & Barley Marketplace, a bowl with warm macaroni noodles, generous bits of lobster and a crunch topping. Add a 6-ounce pour of crisp Samuel Adams Cherry Wheat.
  2. Eat dessert first: you don’t want to miss the rich, velvety caramel crème brûlée with fleur de sel at the France Marketplace. Pair it with a flute of Sparkling Pomegranate Kir.
  3. A hearty, healthful dish is Patagonia’s Verlasso salmon, served with quinoa salad and a flourish of garlicky arugula chimichurri. Add a pour of the fruity Cono Sur Bicicleta Viognier.
  4. At the Farm Fresh Marketplace, there’s the perfect taste of Southern comfort food: griddled “Yard Bird” (chicken thigh) with collards and a dollop of the house-made habanero sauce. Just for fun, add a Florida wine (yes, Florida), the Key Limen-Key Lime Wine from Florida Orange Groves.
  5. Also at Farm Fresh, the Florida grass-fed beef slider with a scoop of kicky pimento cheese melting over the warm burger was another don’t-miss. We added the Beer Flight (four 4-ounce servings): I-4 IPA, Ba Ba Black Lager, Duke’s Cold Nose Brown Ale and Florida Cracker Belgian Style White Ale.
  6. Even if the idea of snails is not for you, give it a try. They’ve jazzed up the escargot in France, now served with three tender snails in pastry with lots of garlic, spinach, bacon and Parmesan. Be elegant and pair with a cool Chardonnay, Macon-Villages, La Côte Blanche.
  7. The Greece marketplace has added hearty Vegetarian Moussaka, made with eggplant and potatoes and a rich béchamel sauce. Try it with Domaine Skouras Moscofilero, a white wine with rich flavors of citrus and tropical fruits. (We also loved sipping the Tzatziki martini featuring Crop Organic Cucumber Vodka and BOLS Natural Yoghurt Liqueur.)
  8. For a taste of the tropics, it’s the Ensalada de Carrucho, Caribbean conch salad with onion, tomato and cilantro at the new Puerto Rico Marketplace along the Rose Walk leading to World Showcase Plaza. Pair it with Medalla light beer.
  9. Canada’s Seared Rainbow Trout with Bacon, Frisee and Maple Minus 8 Vinaigrette deserves a pour of the Canada Mission Hill Family Estate Syrah.
  10. Desserts & Champagne Marketplace is always our final stop, and we can recommend this year’s trio: Passion Fruit Coconut Creamsicle, Blueberry Lime Cheesecake Roll and Chocolate Espresso Opera Cake. Best of all, they’re now serving Dom Pérignon Champagne. Life is good.

And we still have to make room for a few returning favorites: the grilled lamb chop with mint pesto and crunch potato chips in Australia; crispy pork belly with black beans, tomato and cilantro in Brazil; Kālua pork slider with sweet and sour Dole pineapple chutney and spicy mayonnaise in Hawaii, and the kimchi dog with spicy mustard sauce in South Korea.

Also, here’s a link to all the menus. Get out there and share your favorite Marketplace dishes with us!


For more about this year’s Epcot International Food & Wine Festival presented by Chase, visit the posts below:

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New Tastes on Flo’s V8 Café Menu at Disney California Adventure Park

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


When you head for Cars Land at Disney California Adventure park, make a pit stop at Flo’s V8 Café to fill ‘er up. We’ve always been big fans of the Veggie-Tater Bake and any of Flo’s pies, but now there are new favorites vying for top spot on the menu.

Barbecued Pork Ribs at Flo's V8 Cafe at Disney California Adventure Park Roast Beef and Cheddar Sandwich at Flo's V8 Cafe at Disney California Adventure Park Turkey Dip at Flo's V8 Cafe at Disney California Adventure Park

Fall-off-the-bone barbecued pork ribs, with house-made Coca-Cola barbecue sauce replace the pork loin, served with creamy mashed potatoes and a side of crisp slaw. Also new is a hearty sandwich with shaved roast beef and cheddar on a garlic-chive bun topped with sweet, caramelized onions and kicky horseradish aioli, slaw on the side. The turkey dip also debuts on a potato grinder roll, with provolone cheese and turkey au jus for dipping and a side of pasta salad.

Ah, another pie joins the sweet line-up: coconut cream, making it tough to decide how to end the meal – maybe share that and the chocolate mud pie (or maybe the strawberry-rhubarb) with a friend.

Flo’s also adds Grand Am Beer on tap, joining the Racer 5 Pale Ale IPA.

Citrus Turkey Salad at Flo's V8 Cafe at Disney California Adventure Park Veggie-Tater Bake at Flo's V8 Cafe at Disney California Adventure Park

Staying on the menu are the crowd-pleasing rotisserie chicken with mashed potatoes and veggies, ditto for the Citrus Turkey Salad, but with a twist: it’s now lettuce, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers and Craisins (those delightful dried cranberries) and a kicky citrus-tarragon dressing. And our favorite Veggie-Tater Bake is still there, a riff on shepherd’s pie made with bulgur wheat, roasted veggies, mashed potatoes and Cheddar cheese.

Do you have a favorite dish at Flo’s?

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‘Mahaloween Luau’ Coming to Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar at Disneyland Hotel September 29

posted on September 9th, 2014 by Pam Brandon, Disney Parks Food Writer


It’s one day only, and guaranteed to put you in the spirit of Halloween TimeTrader Sam’s “Mahaloween Luau,” with seatings starting at 3 p.m., September 29.
Trader Sams

Just 100 guests per seating will have the pleasure of this kooky seasonal party that includes beverages and eats, live music and insider info with Imagineers and Disney cast members. Guests attending “Mahaloween Luau” will receive a special edition glass available only at the event. Collectors take note, the second edition of the Zombie souvenir glass will also be available for purchase at the event, before it is available to the public the next day.
Zombie Glass

“Mahalo” is a Hawaiian word meaning thanks, praise or regards, and this “Mahaloween Luau” gives fans of the Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar trademark humor an insider’s hour of fun at the legendary watering hole.

Choose your hour: 3-4 p.m., 4:30-5:30 p.m., 6-7 p.m. or 7:30-8:30 p.m. The fun starts on the patio with appetizers and two drink tickets (beer, wine, Zombie Drink or Polynesian Punch). Move inside for live entertainment and a Disney tiki presentation by Walt Disney Imagineering. You’ll also have a chance to meet some of Disney’s concept artists and other special guests.

When the party ends, you’ll get a Jungle River Cruise Expedition Bag that includes a Trader Sam panama hat, a boxed special-edition “Mahaloween Luau” glass (with a dated stamp), a Trader Sam print on canvas, and a coupon good for 20 percent off at the adjacent Tangaroa Terrace. Guests also can purchase up to two additional second-edition Zombie souvenir glasses.

Cost is $125 per person, including tax and tip. To reserve your spot, call 714-781-DINE – reservations open tomorrow!

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Re-Imagined California Grill at Disney’s Contemporary Resort Celebrates 1-Year Anniversary

posted on September 9th, 2014 by Pam Brandon, Disney Parks Food Writer


Time flies when you’re at the top of your game, and a year after re-opening with a classy new interior and new seasonal menu, California Grill Chef Brian Piasecki and his talented team are busy keeping guests happy seven nights a week.

“California Grill is a total experience – great food, interesting wines, craft cocktails, and an incomparable view,” says Chef Brian. He and general manager Michael Scheifler conduct a beautifully orchestrated evening with efficient, knowledgeable staff.

Pork two ways (wood fire tenderloin w goat chesse polenta_ braised lacquered belly and country applesauce

Any misses on the new menu, we asked Chef Brian? “We change the menu so fast with what’s fresh and available, so far it’s been a success,” he answers with a smile. The most-ordered dish is the Pork Two Ways with grilled pork tenderloin and lacquered pork belly served with warm goat cheese polenta, mushrooms and a touch of sweetness with house-made applesauce. For starters, the house-made charcuterie is another hit. And, of course, the buttery filet mignon with heirloom tomato risotto, baby vine tomatoes, basil and tomato butter is a top pick, too.

Chef Brian loves his new kitchen, with gadgets like a sous vide machine that seals ingredients in plastic for slowly cooking in a water bath for super tender, perfectly cooked dishes. “Most guests don’t want to know about the cooking techniques, they just love the results,” says Chef Brian.

The kitchen team reaches out to local farms, and with Florida crops just coming into high season, look for lots of local fruits and produce on the fall menu – as well as Florida seafood. A simple salad has never tasted better than the one made with local greens and topped with a poached Lake Meadow Naturals egg and Palmetto Honey vinaigrette.
Yuzu-marinated Sashimi (tuna salmon himachi snapper seaweed salad

The list of favorites must include the Cucumber Fizz cocktail, flatbreads (try the heirloom tomato BLT flatbread with lemon mayo) and the sushi (we’re fans of the yuzu-marinate sashimi). “And desserts are flying out of here,” says Chef Brian, thanks to the creativity of Pasty Chef Jeff Barnes – his hot banana fritters are the biggest hit.

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As for that stellar view, the new fireworks deck has given more guests a front-row spot for the nightly Magic Kingdom Park fireworks. While you can sit at your table with the fireworks sound track piped in, most guests love to walk out on the two decks for a bird’s-eye view of the Magic Kingdom Park from the 15th floor. Now that’s a one-of-a-kind ending to a your day.

For reservations, call 407-WDW-DINE.

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