Sunset Over the Tree of Life at Disney's Animal Kingdom

Palo’s New Tasting Menu: Exquisite Wines, Sublime Tastes with Disney Cruise Line

posted on June 17th, 2014 by Pam Brandon, Disney Parks Food Writer


For the ultimate dining experience, we love nothing more than a savvy sommelier who can pair just the right wine with delectable food. Food and wine pairing is an art, and the new “Esperienza del Vino” at Palo on the Disney Cruise Line is a masterpiece.

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Be forewarned, the six-course dinner should be savored slowly – and though you may want to finish each bite of the lobster and mascarpone ravioli, remember that a buttery branzino, then a rich osso bucco soon will follow. So sit back, relax and let the evening unfold. All of your delicious decisions are already made.

The dinner starts lightly with paper-thin tuna carpaccio with lemon oil dressing served with a crisp, bubbly Ferrari brut ‘11. Next up, grilled Portobello mushroom and polenta, paired with Summus Castello Banfi ’07, a velvety, full-bodied wine with the taste of blackberries and cherries.

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Our favorite course is the lobster and mascarpone ravioli with a glass of Cervaro della Sala Antinori ’09, a cool, flowery white. Perfect branzino al cartoccio (Mediterranean sea bass in parchment) follows, with intense, golden Planeta Chardonnay ’08.

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Just two more courses, and the evening moves at a leisurely pace. The final savory dish is tender osso buco (veal shank) served with a rich, meaty Luce Marchesi Dé Frescobaldi ’09, a robust Super Tuscan that was our favorite of the evening.

You may be tempted, but don’t pass up dessert, Palo’s riff on a classic tartufo – their version made with dark chocolate, hazelnuts and house-made vanilla ice cream. Sip the sweet, full-flavored Passito Di Pantelleria Pellegrino ‘08 and watch the world float by.

There is an additional charge of $59 for the wine tasting menu.

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10 Healthful Choices at Magic Kingdom Park at Walt Disney World Resort

posted on June 16th, 2014 by Pam Brandon, Disney Parks Food Writer


Even though vacation is a time for indulgence, one of the most-asked questions is “where can I find healthful choices”? Walt Disney World Resort chefs love the challenge of creating healthful bites that taste as good (or better) than we might imagine.

In no specific order, here are 10 of our favorite spots for eating healthfully at Magic Kingdom Park:

  • The fresh roasted corn at Liberty Square Market. And it’s a bargain at $3.79, grilled before your eyes all day long. (We’re told they sell more than 700 ears on a busy day.) And when local Zellwood sweet corn is in season, that’s what they grill in the husk. You can add all sorts of seasonings, but it’s best with just a little salt and pepper.

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  • Columbia Harbor House is a favorite for quick service – a little off the beaten path, and we often find a quiet corner upstairs. Best bets are the Lighthouse Sandwich with hummus, tomato and broccoli slaw on toasted multigrain bread; the broccoli peppercorn salad with greens, veggies, chicken and Parmesan cheese, and, on cool days, the vegetarian chili.
  • In Tomorrowland, Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe has lots of healthful choices, like the veggie burger, veggie sandwich and a hearty Greek salad. For something sweet the no-sugar-added mango gelato hits the spot.
  • Southwest chicken salad at Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn & Cafe is a filling lunch. Or the veggie burger.
  • In Fantasyland, Pinocchio Village Haus is a quick stop for the Mediterranean Salad with greens, red onion, black olives, roasted red peppers, mozzarella and chicken. (They also serve the delish no-sugar-added mango gelato.)
  • For lunch, Liberty Tree Tavern is a table-service favorite. We usually order the Colony Salad with greens, Ocean Spray Craisins, apples, sweet pecans, applewood-smoked Cheddar cheese and grilled chicken with a honey-shallot vinaigrette. And the tavern’s vegan burger is pretty good, made with potatoes and quinoa and topped with a vegan tofu-tzatziki sauce. (Seriously, try it.)
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  • The ever-popular Cinderella’s Royal Table serves a healthful fish of the day, or go with the veggie pick: rice with roasted eggplants, mushrooms, onions and squash tossed with arugula pesto and a splash of aged balsamic vinegar.
  • Plaza Restaurant still serves the Chicken Strawberry Salad, which has been on the menu as long as we can remember, is still just as delicious with greens, cucumbers, strawberries and grilled chicken tossed with a white zinfandel vinaigrette.
  • Last, but not least, Be Our Guest Restaurant has some light bites for lunch, like the tuna Niçoise salad with warm seared tuna, or quinoa salad. For dinner, go vegan with the layered ratatouille: baked zucchini, eggplant, mushrooms, tomatoes and caramelized onions layered on quinoa with a bell pepper sauce. Again, splurge with a happy ending: the no-sugar-added option for dessert, a lemon-raspberry cream puff.

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‘Trucks on the Town at Downtown Disney West Side’ June 21 at Walt Disney World Resort

posted on June 12th, 2014 by Pam Brandon, Disney Parks Food Writer


Get ready to tweet, here’s a brand-new event to share with all your foodie friends: the first-ever food truck festival at Downtown Disney, a mini-theme park for food lovers from 5-10 p.m. June 21. Your biggest challenge will be what to order when you get to the window, as we’ll have 14 trucks dishing out sandwiches, empanadas, pupusas, barbecue, gator bites, seafood, tacos, cupcakes and more.

Presenting the First-Ever Food Truck Bazaar at Downtown Disney

Collaborating with The Daily City.com Food Truck Bazaar, local trucks sharing their delicious tastes at Disney for the first time include:

  • TJ’s Seafood Shack
  • Magic 4 Ur Palate
  • Yum Yum Cupcake Truck
  • Ellie Lou’s Brews & BBQ
  • La Empanada
  • Philly’s Best Cheesesteaks
  • El Cactus Azul
  • Mayan Grill
  • Med Fresh Taverna

Of course the four Downtown Disney food trucks, along with the ESPN food truck, will be there – Namaste Café with favorites plus some new flavors from Disney’s Animal Kingdom – think butter chicken and tandoor shrimp; Superstar Catering with favorites from Disney’s Hollywood Studios like Margherita flat bread; Fantasy Fare with Magic Kingdom Park goodies like the corn dog and sticky chicken n’ waffles; and World Showcase of Flavors with Epcot tastes from pierogies to grass-fed beef sliders.

A live DJ will create a convivial atmosphere that’s fun for all ages at the event that will be at Downtown Disney West Side on the event lawn near House of Blues and Cirque du Soleil. Best parking is lots O, P and Q behind Cirque due Soleil, via entrance 5. And, sorry, no pets allowed.

Downtown Disney plans to open a permanent food truck park later this summer between Bongos Cuban Café and the new Starbucks at Downtown Disney West Side. Details soon!

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A Look at Disney Cruise Line’s Taste of Alaska Menu

posted on June 12th, 2014 by Stephen Walker, Fleet Culinary Standards and Consistency Chef, Disney Cruise Line


One of my favorite parts of traveling is experiencing locally sourced food in the destinations I visit. We know our guests appreciate the same, so we’re always looking for ways to give them a sense of where we are in the world through our dining offerings.

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A really special way we do this in Alaska is a cookout while we sail through Tracy Arm Fjord to visit the glacier. We chargrill local items like venison sausages, fresh sockeye salmon, fresh line-caught halibut and elk tenderloin. It’s the perfect way to experience the flavors of Alaska while enjoying the breathtaking scenery!

A Look at Disney Cruise Line’s Taste of Alaska Menu: Elk Tenderloin A Look at Disney Cruise Line’s Taste of Alaska Menu: Honey Mustard Salmon

Our Taste of Alaska menu is another chance we give you to savor food fresh from the region. The guest favorite is the honey mustard-marinated Alaskan salmon with sauteed spinach, fingerling potatoes and an Aquavit sour cream sauce. Another flavorful option is the juniper-spiced elk tenderloin with brussels sprouts and baby carrots on spaetzle with a black currant sauce.

One thing’s for sure … on your Alaska cruise with us this summer, the beautiful frontier isn’t the only spectacular item on the menu for you!

We’re also serving up some pretty amazing culinary specialties in the Mediterranean, which I’ll tell you more about next week.

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National Lobster Day June 15 – So Many Tastes at Disneyland Resort, Walt Disney World Resort

posted on June 11th, 2014 by Pam Brandon, Disney Parks Food Writer


Delectable lobster is at the top of our list of seafood favorites, and with National Lobster Day coming up on Sunday, it’s the perfect excuse to order anything from a lobster omelet (our favorite) at Captain’s Grille at Disney’s Yacht Club Resort at Walt Disney World Resort to an indulgent lobster tail at Steakhouse 55 at the Disneyland Hotel at the Disneyland Resort. And there’s everything in between.

Nothing better than the sublime lobster bisque topped with a lobster fritter and jalepeño oil at The Hollywood Brown Derby at Disney’s Hollywood Studios … well, maybe the lobster Pad Thai roll at Carthay Circle Lounge at Disney California Adventure park. Here’s a pretty comprehensive list, do you have a favorite?

Walt Disney World Resort:

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1900 Park Fare at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa

  • Lobster Benedict at breakfast

Ale and Compass Lounge at Disney’s Yacht Club Resort

  • Lobster sliders on Parker House Rolls

The Artist’s Palette at Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa

  • Lobster club sandwich with lobster salad, smoked bacon, lettuce, tomato and lemon mayo

BoardWalk Bakery at Disney’s BoardWalk

  • Maine lobster with buttered chive mayo on a split-top roll

Captain’s Grille at Disney’s Yacht Club Resort

  • Lobster omelet with butter-poached lobster, asparagus, chive cream at breakfast; for lunch, New England-style lobster roll on a butter-toasted Parker House Roll

Chefs de France at France Pavilion, Epcot

  • Lobster bisque

Cinderella’s Royal Table at Magic Kingdom Park

  • Warm lobster and crab crêpes with cheese, spinach, sautéed lobster and blue crab – a poached egg on top, drizzled with hollandaise sauce

Columbia Harbor House at Magic Kingdom Park

  • Classic lobster roll

Contempo Café at Disney’s Contemporary Resort

  • Classic lobster roll

Coral Reef Restaurant at The Seas With Nemo & Friends Pavilion, Epcot

  • Creamy lobster soup tarragon and brandy, or lobster and shrimp orecchiette pasta with white cheddar and asparagus

Crew’s Cup Lounge at Disney’s Yacht Club Resort

  • New England-style lobster sliders on butter-toasted rolls

Fulton’s Crab House at Downtown Disney

  • Lobster corn dogs with salsa verde and sweet chili aioli
  • Lobster bisque with blue crab garnish
  • Lobster ravioli with asparagus, cherry tomato and garlic
  • Maine lobster and Florida rock shrimp roll with celery, red onion and mayo on a toasted roll
  • Lobster Boil

Grand Floridian Café at the Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa

  • For breakfast, lobster Eggs Benedict with two poached eggs, lobster hash, asparagus and hollandaise sauce

Hollywood & Vine at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

  • Lobster and shrimp mac n’ cheese

The Hollywood Brown Derby at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

  • Portsmouth lobster bisque with lobster fritter and jalepeño oil

Hurricane Hanna’s Waterside Bar & Grill at Disney’s Beach Club Resort

  • Lobster, shrimp and scallop roll on Parker House bread with citrus mayo

Le Cellier Steakhouse at Canada Pavilion at Epcot

  • Le Cellier Lobster Chopped Salad with mixed greens, haricot verts, avocado, tomatoes and Lake Meadow Naturals egg
  • New Brunswick lobster “poutine” with butter-poached lobster and Meyer Lemon crème fraîche

Liberty Tree Tavern at Magic Kingdom Park

  • For lunch, crab and lobster dip

Monsieur Paul at France Pavilion at Epcot

  • Maine lobster with sautéed mushrooms, mollet quail egg, creamy black truffle bouillon

Narcoossee’s at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa

  • Maine lobster bisque with butter-poached lobster, coral, sherry cream and chervil
  • Two-pound steamed Main lobster with fallen corn soufflé

Yachtsman Steakhouse at Disney’s Yacht Club Resort

  • Lobster bisque with Maine lobster, crème fraîche, preserved lemon, fines herbes

Disneyland Resort:

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Ariel’s Grotto at Disney California Adventure park

  • For lunch, grilled lobster tail salad with greens, hickory-smoked bacon, avocado, tomato and quail egg with Point Reyes Blue Cheese dressing or vinaigrette

Carthay Circle Lounge at Disney California Adventure park

  • Lobster Pad Thai Imperial Roll with cashew tamarind sauce

Cove Bar at Disney California Adventure park

  • Lobster nachos with lobster, black beans, pico de gallo, serrano peppers, cilantro, chipotle crema and jack and cheddar cheeses on tortilla chips

Harbour Galley at Disneyland park

  • Lobster roll on buttered brioche with Old Bay-seasoned home-style chips

Steakhouse 55 at Disneyland Hotel

  • cold water lobster tail

Storytellers Café at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa

  • For dinner, Lobster Cobb Salad with chilled lobster, avocado, bacon, tomato, blue cheese and egg with a low-fat citrus-chive vinaigrette
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Meal in a Bowl From Jolly Holiday Bakery Café at Disneyland Park

posted on June 10th, 2014 by Pam Brandon, Disney Parks Food Writer


It’s “just a salad” on the menu, but the Roasted Vegetable and Whole-Grain Salad at Jolly Holiday Bakery Café at Disneyland park is really a complete meal: deliciously sweet roasted veggies, protein-packed spelt and barley, fresh greens and a drizzle of basil vinaigrette make this a hearty lunch or supper.

Chef Craig Orrell shows how it’s done – give yourself plenty of time to chop and roast the zucchini, yellow squash, onion and red peppers. And throw in some cloves of garlic to roast for the vinaigrette. It’s the sort of prep you can do on a Sunday night and enjoy this salad more than once throughout a busy week.

Roasted Vegetable and Whole-Grain Salad – Jolly Holiday Bakery Cafe at Disneyland Park
Serves 8

Basil Vinaigrette

  • 2 cups fresh basil, packed
  • 2 tablespoons roasted garlic
  • 1 tablespoon Champagne vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1/4 cup olive oil

Whole Grain

  • 1 cup barley
  • 1 cup spelt
  • 6 cups vegetable stock

Vegetables

  • 1 large zucchini
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 large yellow squash
  • 1 red onion
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • Coarse salt, freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 small heart of romaine, chopped
  • 1/2 small head iceberg, cored and chopped
  • 14-ounce bag spring lettuce mix

For basil vinaigrette:

  1. Place basil, garlic, vinegar, and salt in a food processor. Pulse until finely chopped.
  2. With processor running, slowly stream in oil, stopping occasionally to scrape down sides. Process until well combined. Remove from blender and set aside.

For whole grains:

  1. Bring vegetable stock to a boil in a large pot. Stir in barley and spelt; reduce heat to low, cover and cook 1 hour, or until grains are tender, stirring occasionally.
  2. Remove from heat and drain in colander. Toss with half of vinaigrette in a large bowl. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

For vegetables:

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. Cut zucchini, bell pepper, squash, and onion into 2-inch pieces. Toss with oil, salt, and pepper in a large bowl. Spread on baking sheets and roast 10 to 15 minutes, or until tender. Remove from oven and cool.
  3. To serve, toss lettuces with remaining vinaigrette. Top with grains and roasted vegetables.

Chef’s note: To make roasted garlic for vinaigrette, preheat oven to 400°F. Peel away outer layers of garlic skin, leaving cloves intact. Using a knife cut off 1/4- to 1/2-inch of top of cloves, exposing individual cloves of garlic. Rub head of garlic with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, wrap in foil and roast until garlic is soft, about 30 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool. Squeeze roasted garlic from skins.

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A Disney Cruise Line Cocktail You Only Can Savor at Palo

posted on June 10th, 2014 by Pam Brandon, Disney Parks Food Writer


What a pleasure to head to the top deck of the Disney Magic for dinner at elegant Palo, where Italian specialties are beautifully prepared in the onstage kitchen. From a plate of beautiful charcuterie served with warm bread from the pizza oven to a sweet finish of chocolate soufflé, Palo is a leisurely dining experience not to be missed (ages 18 and older).

We can easily recommend the house-made pastas (the lobster ravioli with mascarpone cream is divine), the grilled seas scallops, the garlic-roasted rack of lamb … Palo’s diverse menu has something for everyone, and the chef will happily accommodate vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free requests.

Here’s a new pre-dinner cocktail that we couldn’t resist. It’s one to sip slowly, with a sublime sweetness from the berries and a little tartness from the aged balsamic vinegar. Make sure you use aged balsamic for a more intense, complex flavor.

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Balsamic Grande Cocktail
Serves 1

  • 5 fresh strawberries, divided
  • 1 1/2 ounces agave nectar
  • 1/2 ounce balsamic vinegar (aged 8 years)
  • 5 ounces Grey Goose Vodka

Muddle strawberries with agave and balsamic vinegar in a mixing glass. Add vodka and ice; shake and strain into chilled martini glass.

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Dole Adds a Little Sweetness to Downtown Disney at Disneyland Resort

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


Mmmmm, mango chicken salad … pineapple shrimp ceviche … banana split dazzler … Dole makes the summer a little more fun with new dishes on the menus at the Downtown Disney District at Disneyland Resort restaurants through September 6. It’s all part of the annual Hawaiian Nights every Friday through mid-July (except July 4) – but these new tastes are there every single day.

These and more are on menus to showcase the chefs’ creativity:

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  • Mango Habanero Hot Wings
  • Pineapple Chipotle BBQ Wings
  • Pineapple Mojito

Rainforest Café

  • Green Python
  • Teriyaki Glazed Mahi Mahi

Tortilla Jo’s

  • Pineapple Shrimp Ceviche
  • Guajillo Chicken Salad
  • Achiote-Marinated Flat Iron Steak
  • Pineapple-Cilantro Margarita
  • Pineapple Mojito

House of Blues

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  • Caribbean Chicken Skillet

Naples

  • Dole Pineapple Pizza with Rosemary Roasted Ham
  • Arugula Salad with Dole Raspberry Dressing & Shrimp
  • Dole Sangria

La Brea Bakery

  • Mango Chicken Salad

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  • Early Summer Mango Salad with Raspberry Mojo Vinaigrette
  • Pisco-Sour Cloud

Ralph Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen

  • Grilled Salmon Strawberry Salad
  • Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

Wetzel’s Pretzels

  • Hawaiian Pretzel

Haagen-Dazs

  • Banana Split Dazzler

During Hawaiian Nights, guests will also find Hawaii-themed entertainment in the Paradise Plaza next to House of Blues and WonderGround Gallery, and cast members from Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa, on the island of Oahu sharing information about the Disney resort.

Click here for photos of food with recipes. For more information, be sure to follow the Downtown Disney District on Twitter, @DisneylandDTD.

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What Disney Parks Snack Do You Crave?

posted on June 6th, 2014 by Pam Brandon, Disney Parks Food Writer


Sweet, salty, hot, cold … what are you craving? Follow the arrows to your perfect indulgence.

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Two New Summer Treats You Won’t Find Anywhere But Epcot

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 and Pineapple Frozen Yogurts at Epcot

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.
Mango Slush at Epcot

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