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Rum and Amari Tastings on a Disney Cruise

posted on May 8th, 2015 by Salah Chetbi, Dining and Beverage Standards and Consistency Manager, Disney Cruise Line


Next up in my series about the beverage seminars available for adults on a Disney cruise, I’ll tell you about two more of our fun liquor tastings – rum and amari.

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Rum Tasting

Rum was first distilled on sugarcane plantations in the Caribbean. A good amount of the world’s rum production still takes place on the islands we visit, making it a beverage of choice for cruisers on our tropical voyages.

As with our other liquor seminars, in our Rum Tasting you’ll learn about the history and production method of this spirit, along with different types such as dark, light, gold, flavored and spiced rum. In addition to tasting three rums straight, you’ll also learn how to make (and of course taste!) two delicious cocktails – Cuba Libre & Caipirinha.

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Amari Tasting

Amari, or in singular form amaro, are herbal liqueurs distilled in Italy known for their digestive qualities. As such, amaro is commonly enjoyed after dinner, served neat, although amari cocktails are becoming more and more popular.

In this tasting, you’ll learn about the production, origins, styles and flavorings of this Italian liqueur. You’ll taste five different types such as Ramazzoti, Limoncello, Strega, Cynar and Fernet. It’s the perfect introduction for those of you who have not yet indulged in this flavorful spirit.



To learn about other beverage tastings you can join on a Disney cruise, look back at my recent posts:

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Top 10 Disney Salads, Coast to Coast

posted on May 6th, 2015 by Pam Brandon, Disney Parks Food Writer


May is National Salad Month (who knew?). One of our favorite ways to eat is with a big bowl of deliciousness that doesn’t always involve romaine.

Here are 10 of our favorite salads from the Disneyland Resort and Walt Disney World Resort. Salad bars don’t count – we love the ways the chefs create a taste sensation with a little bit of this and that.

The Caesar Salad at Rancho del Zocalo Restaurante at Disneyland Park 'Smiling Tiger Salad' at Napa Rose at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa

At Disneyland Resort:

  1. “Smiling Tiger Salad” at Napa Rose at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa. What’s not to love about Chef Andrew Sutton’s tempura fried lobster, spicy beef, Asian greens and a drizzle of coconut-lime vinaigrette?
  2. Relax over lunch with the Roasted Chicken and Strawberry Salad at Carthay Circle Restaurant in Disney California Adventure park, a mélange of warm asparagus, avocado, arugula, toasted ancient grains and roasted chicken breast filled with strawberry butter.
  3. Also at Disney California Adventure park, we discovered the Greek Salad at Paradise Garden Grill – grab a seat in the shade and dig in to this generous bowl of greens, tomatoes, cucumbers, red onions, pepperoncinis, marinated olive and feta flavored with a lemon-oregano dressing and pita bread for scooping. You might want to share.
  4. Over at Disneyland park, a longtime favorite is the Caesar at Rancho del Zocalo Restaurante. This is the real deal, as the Caesar was invented in Mexico City – though a staple in Italian restaurants, the Caesar generally is attributed to Caesar Cardini, an Italian who created the salad at his restaurant in Tijuana, Mexico, where it became a hit with Hollywood stars. Rancho serves the Hacienda Caesar, romaine tossed, sweet peppers and cotija cheese in housemade dressing with pepitas seeds, radishes and crisp tortilla chips. Top it with grilled chicken or carne asada.
The Power Salad at Sunshine Seasons at Epcot The Cobb Salad at The Hollywood Brown Derby at Disney's Hollywood Studios

At Walt Disney World Resort:

  1. Heading to the East Coast, The Plaza Restaurant in Magic Kingdom Park at Walt Disney World Resort has an entrée salad that’s never left the menu – the chicken strawberry salad with greens, grilled chicken breast, cucumbers, fresh strawberries and gorgonzola tossed in a lightly sweet white zinfandel vinaigrette. A classic.
  2. Over at Sunshine Seasons at Epcot, try the trendy Power Salad – a bowlful of protein with quinoa, oak-fired chicken, almonds and honey vinaigrette. You’ll have plenty of energy to power walk World Showcase Promenade.
  3. Quinoa is the star of another favorite at ABC Commissary at Disney’s Hollywood Studios – the Couscous Quinoa & Arugula Salad, tossed to order. We top it with grilled salmon for extra protein and Omega 3s.
  4. Also at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, who doesn’t love the Cobb Salad at The Hollywood Brown Derby? Chopped delightfully small and tossed tableside, it’s a classic with ham, bacon, turkey breast, egg, tomatoes, blue cheese, avocado and chives, all mixed with dressing still made from the original recipe when the salad was invented in Hollywood in the 1930s.
  5. Delightfully different is the Jiko Salad at Jiko—The Cooking Place at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge. A lovely plate of poached pears, heirloom spinach, kabocha squash in a pear vinaigrette topped with a brittle of pumpkin seeds and black lentils. Instagram worthy.
  6. And finally, another longtime favorite we always have to order: the Crispy Rock Shrimp Salad at California Grill at Disney’s Contemporary Resort. This one stays on the menu, though Chef Brian Piasecki may mix up the ingredients. Right now it’s crispy rock shrimp (a Florida delicacy) with spicy baby greens, Subarashii pear, red onions, soy reduction and addictive wasabi cream. You won’t want to share this one.
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Rebel Hangar: A Star Wars Lounge Experience Coming to Star Wars Weekends

posted on May 5th, 2015 by Rachel Brent, Food & Beverage Marketing Communications Coordinator


Guests attending Star Wars Weekends will be able to find shelter and sustenance in the Rebel Hangar: A Star Wars Lounge Experience. Reports have been made that this location was once a known hangout of Rebel pilots, aliens and smugglers; with the immersive environment and stellar bites—I understand why!

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Look for a menu full of Star Wars-themed food and beverage offerings that are out of this world:

  • Pilot’s Pomme Frites – these are tossed with parmesan cheese, garlic and parsley with a garlic aioli for dipping
  • Ensalada Naboo – seared chicken breast, bibb lettuce, grape tomatoes, watermelon radish, almond frica, and a parmesan-peppercorn ranch dressing
  • Lightsaber Bites – hand-dipped corn-battered knockwurst sausages with house-made chips and mustard dipping sauce
  • The Dark Fried – Chicken and Darth Vader waffles served with maple syrup and sweet barbecue sauce
  • Trio of Thermal Detonators – spicy pork wings topped with spicy piquillo-pepper sauce and slaw
  • Slider Sampler featuring “The Sith” barbecue-braised brisket with cole slaw and “The Jedi” with barbecued pulled chicken with arugula
  • Fruit and Cheese “Sabers” featuring Tillamook cheddar, Brie, goat cheese, pickled vegetables, crostini, cheddar crackers, blueberries, raspberries, honeydew melon, strawberry, olives and gherkins
  • Chips & Sith – hummus with red pepper coulis, black sesame dust, and corn tortilla chips
  • Yoda Key Lime Cake
  • Trio of Star Wars mini cupcakes, including Mini Darth Vader (chocolate-peanut butter), Mini Yoda (chocolate-hazelnut), and Mini Jabba the Hutt (salted caramel latte) served in the Han Solo Carbonite Souvenir Box

A new drink menu will also be available:

  • Imperial Blue – Maker’s Mark Whisky, Cointreau, Blue Curacao, sweet and sour, topped with Sprite
  • Tatooine Sunset – Stoli vanilla, Parrot Bay Coconut Rum, pineapple juice with grenadine
  • Rebel Red – Grey Goose vodka, Chambord, sour mix and a splash of grenadine
  • Dagobah Swamp Juice – Midori, Tito’s Handmade Vodka, sweet and sour, topped with lemon-lime foam
  • The Dark Side – Stoli vanilla vodka, Bailey’s liqueur, crème de cocoa and brownie garnish
  • Alderaan Ale

The Jabba the Hutt and Yoda cupcakes will also be available at Tusken Fridge Raiders, Trolley Car Café, Starring Rolls Cafe, and Backlot Express. The Darth Vader cupcake will be available at all quick-service locations, including Starring Rolls Cafe, and Trolley Car Cafe and Tusken Fridge Raiders at Darth’s Mall.

For Reservations, visit DisneyWorld.com/dine or call 407-WDW-DINE.

May the food be with you!

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This Week in Disney Parks Photos: Experience Harambe Market at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

posted on May 2nd, 2015 by Jennifer Fickley-Baker, Social Media Manager


This week on the Disney Parks Blog we shared the first photos of the new Harambe Market, which will debut to guests at Disney’s Animal Kingdom in late May.

New Harambe Market at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

This area, which was themed around a Colonial-era train depot design recreates a bustling marketplace where guests visit from around the world. Here, guests can choose to taste food from a variety of different “vendors,” including Kitamu Grill for skewered chicken and a kabob flatbread sandwiches, Famous Sausages for corn dogs inspired by a South African sausage, and Chef Mwanga’s, which serves a spice-rubbed karubi rib with green papaya-carrot slaw. Check out Pam’s post for more information on the other menu items you’ll be able to find at Harambe Market.

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Come Celebrate Cinco de Mayo at the Downtown Disney District at Disneyland Resort

posted on May 1st, 2015 by John McClintock, Disney Public Relations


Downtown Disney District at the Disneyland Resort

Special Cinco de Mayo menus will celebrate Mexican-American heritage at Tortilla Jo’s and House of Blues this week in the Downtown Disney District at Disneyland Resort. From Friday, May 1, through Tuesday, May 5, Crossroads at House of Blues will feature its “Menu Especial,” with your choice of street tacos – blackened chicken or fish – or a chorizo burger topped with shredded lettuce, avocado and a fried egg. Dessert is strawberry empanadas with cinnamon cream and powdered sugar and, of course, there will be margaritas, including a Don Julio Margarita for the celebration.

At Tortilla Jo’s – Tuesday, May 5, only – the special menu starts with Ensalada Bandera with baby iceberg lettuce wedges, diced tomato, green onion, crispy bacon, hardboiled egg whites and ranch dressing, or Camarones Agua Chile: shrimp cooked in fresh lime juice and served with a mix of red onion, cilantro, red peppers and avocado slice. Entrees include Tricolor Dorado Filete – pan-seared Mahi-Mahi cooked with white onions, capers, olives, fresh oregano and white wine broth served on a bed of red and green bell peppers – or Pollo Adobado – grilled chicken thigh meat marinated in dried chiles, oregano and vinegar served with Mexican red rice and frijoles churros. Dessert is Gelatina de Tres Leche – Mexican-style custard featuring the colors of the Mexican flag – and the drink menu will include three special Margaritas: Blanco Traditional made with Don Weber Blanco tequila and lime juice, Margarita de Raspberry Rojo made with Patron Reposado tequila, lime juice, raspberries and a float of Cointreau, and Green Melon Margarita made with Cuervo Tradicional Blanco tequila, fresh lime juice and a float of Melon Liqueur.

Enjoy, and have a happy Cinco de Mayo with your friends and family.

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Avengers Assemble at Redd Rockett’s Pizza Port in Disneyland Park

posted on May 1st, 2015 by Rachel Brent, Food & Beverage Marketing Communications Coordinator


To celebrate the release of “Avengers: Age of Ultron” today, Redd Rockett’s Pizza Port in Disneyland park will be adding a few “super” items to their menu.

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Look for a trio of treats inspired by your favorite Avengers characters—like the Black Widow Parfait, with layers of chocolate syrup, chocolate cake, white and dark chocolate mousse, strawberry filling, and topped with dark chocolate crunchy candies and Black Widow’s emblem. Take a bite out of crime with a Captain America shield cookie. Or perhaps your “super” sweet tooth is craving a Mark V Dessert Waffle—a red velvet waffle shaped like Iron Man’s mask, topped with edible glitter.

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Since I love collecting souvenir Food and Beverage items, I’m most excited about the new Iron Man mug, available with soft drinks.

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There will also be an “Avengers: Age of Ultron” keepsake comic book style print, which was designed exclusively for Disneyland Park Food and Beverage. This print is available for $10, after spending $20 (before tax, after discount) at Redd Rockett’s Pizza Port. Quantities are limited.

Avengers lovers, assemble at Redd Rockett’s Pizza Port before these limited-time offerings are gone!

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Fun New Tastes at Harambe Market at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

posted on April 30th, 2015 by Pam Brandon, Disney Parks Food Writer


The much-anticipated Harambe Market opens late May at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, where food plays a starring role with African-inspired street food at four walk-up windows and plenty of shaded seating – 200+ seats.

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Built around a Colonial-era train depot design complete with a 1960s water tower, the marketplace re-creates a bustling center of commerce where guests are welcomed from around the world who have come to visit the little seaside town and venture out to the reserve to observe Africa’s animals.

Chef Lenny DeGeorge led the Food and Beverage concept development team, and tells us it’s the sort of food you’d find in a street market in Africa. “The menus reflect the unique personalities of the establishments’ owners,” says Chef Lenny.

New Harambe Market at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

“Kitamu Grill” offers skewered chicken and a kabob flatbread sandwich. “Famous Sausages” features a corn dog, inspired by a South African sausage called a boerewors, dipped in curry-infused corn batter. “Chef Mwanga’s” serves a spice-rubbed karubi rib with green papaya-carrot slaw.

“With three meaty ribs, the karubi rib is our version of the giant turkey legs served in the Disney theme parks,” says DeGeorge. We give two thumbs up to the curry corn dog, made with a special spiced sausage inspired by the traditional boerewors.

A fourth window, called Wanjohi Refreshments (“wanjohi” means “brewer” in Swahili) offers beverages including six South African wines by the glass; Safari Amber Lager and Orlando Brewing I-4 IPA on draft; red sangria with Van der Hum tangerine liqueur from South Africa; The Starr of Harambe, a frozen drink with Starr African rum with mango puree in a souvenir mug; non-alcoholic tangerine lemonade, and fountain beverages including Sparberry from Zimbabwe and Bibo from South Africa.

With shaded tables and merchandise shops, the new market, together with the recently opened Harambe Theatre (home to “Festival of the Lion King”) doubles the size of the original Harambe Village.

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Tequila and Margarita Tasting on a Disney Cruise

posted on April 30th, 2015 by Salah Chetbi, Dining and Beverage Standards and Consistency Manager, Disney Cruise Line


Salt or sugar? Blended or on the rocks? Many of you have go-to answers to these questions when it comes to drinking margaritas. And if you don’t, our Tequila and Margarita seminar is the perfect opportunity to taste test your preference.

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First, you’ll discuss the history and production methods of tequila, sipping brands such as Patron and Casamigos. You’ll also hear about types of tequila, including blanco (white), reposado (rested) and añejo (aged), learning and sampling the differences between each. Next up, you’ll taste both a classic and a modern margarita, deciding for both whether you want it prepared on the rocks, frozen or straight up.

I hope you’re enjoying my series on beverage seminars and making note of which ones you want to join on your next Disney cruise. If you missed any of my posts, take a look back at them:

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Copper River Salmon is Back on Menus at Artist Point, Flying Fish Cafe and California Grill at Walt Disney World Resort

posted on April 29th, 2015 by Pam Brandon, Disney Parks Food Writer


One of our favorite times of year – Copper River Salmon has made its way back to menus at three Walt Disney World Resort restaurants: Artist Point at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge, California Grill at Disney’s Contemporary Resort and Flying Fish Café at Disney’s Boardwalk area.

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It’s so special because this prized salmon is available for a very short window of time – mid-May to mid-June. Every year those beauties travel up the Copper River in South Central Alaska, covering a distance of about 3,200 miles to their spawning ground. All that hard work means fish that is flavorful and full of goodness. The Alaskans call them Chinook or Tyees, and the largest on record is a whopping 126 pounds.

Keep an eye on the menus, but the best way to serve Copper River Salmon is simply grilled. Artist Point used cedar planks, and California Grill is planning “a la plancha” style, or grilled on a metal plate. Chef Brian Piasecki at California Grill says he’s hoping that local Zellwood corn will accompany in some form or fashion. And we’ll wait to see what the chefs at Flying Fish Cafe create.

Make your reservations now – 407-WDW-DINE.

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Behind the Scenes: Inside the Bakery at Epcot’s France Pavilion

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


You smell it before you see it – that unmistakable aroma of freshly baked bread hot from the oven. As you enter Les Halles Boulangerie Patisserie in the France Pavilion at Epcot, all five senses are awakened when you smell the bread, see the beautiful pastries, hear the lilting sound of French, touch, then taste your favorite. Maybe a crisp baguette or buttery croissant. Or a Napoleon or macaron or éclair … maybe a jambon beurre sandwich or quiche Lorraine. So many choices, so little time.

Every single item in the bakery case is made by hand – in the on-stage bread ovens or in the bustling upstairs bakery where the crew arrives before daybreak to make buttery croissants, dense quiche Florentine and parfaits almost too pretty to eat. You’ll be hungry just looking at these delicious photos by Disney photographer Matt Stroshane.

We got a special behind-the-scenes peek at the expansive upstairs bakery that’s as big as Les Halles below, with cooks busy making crème brûlèe, slicing fresh Napoleon, piping éclairs and putting the finishing touches on chocolate mousse and strawberry tarts. A tray of freshly baguettes with ham and cheese with Dijon mustard butter, a classic Parisian sandwich, was readied for the first guests of the day. Freshly made macarons in jewel tones, light as a feather, were gently placed in little boxes.

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Les Halles Boulangerie Patisserie opens at 9 a.m., ahead of World Showcase, and is a wonderful little hideaway for breakfast. The pastry team of 30, under the direction of Pastry Chef Olivier Saintemarie, starts their day at 5 a.m. and rotates throughout the day until 11 p.m. to make sure guests have the freshest taste of France.

We headed back downstairs to chat with Chef Baker Matthieu Cabon from Brittany, France, who, with his team of six, turns out 700 to 800 baguettes every single day, along with specialty breads such as brioche and croissants. He started baking at age 15, and studied only bread making for four years – “I mastered bread the old-school way … no shortcuts,” he says. It was the aroma that determined his career, he says, as well as the quiet of early-morning hours when bakers do their best work.

“Bread is limitless, it just takes imagination,” says Matthieu.

And, really, it’s just four ingredients: flour, yeast, salt and water, but you must add “know how,” says the chef. Everything at Les Halles is made from scratch, and it takes two days, start to finish, to produce a perfect baguette. His bakers make all the breads for Les Halles Boulangerie Patisserie, Chefs de France, Monsieur Paul and brioche for the pavilion’s ice-cream shop.

“For baguettes, day one is slow fermentation, then the dough sits overnight in a cooler to coax out the flavor,” says Matthieu. “Day two we divide it, shape it and bake. That’s it.”

But it’s the artisan touch that makes a perfect baguette. “Bread is all about feeling, but the real boss is the dough, which can be temperamental with temperature, weather and humidity,” he says. “Dough follows nature, and a good baker knows just by touching whether it’s right.”

For a perfectly flaky croissant, the chef explains that the folding process is a science. “It takes six hours to shape, then it’s baked the next day,” he explains.

And for tartines, which Americans call “open-faced sandwiches,” the bakery makes a rustic loaf with blistered, rugged crust and tangy soft inside – Chef Matthieu knocks on the crust and knows by the sound if it’s perfect.

All told, they turn out eight different kinds of bread: baguettes, croissants, tartines, whole-grain loaves, pain de mie (a type of sliced bread), brioche, focaccia and walnut-raisin bread.

He and his team also make exquisite, smaller breads for Monsieur Paul: whole-grain loaves, rustic baguettes, poppy seed “epis” (a type of artisan French bread) and a mushroom, bacon and cheese bread that’s a guest favorite.

Matthieu deftly inserts a shovel-like peel into the hot oven and slides out a dozen or so crackly loaves. From the hint of a smile on his face, you know it’s a good morning.

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