Tips from the DFB Guide: Fun, Free Holiday Activities in Walt Disney World

It’s here — we are officially 181 days out from Christmas!! Woohoo! Have you started your shopping yet?

180 Days Sale

Ha — me neither. But I do know that if I have any hope of scoring advance dining reservations for the uber busy holiday season at Walt Disney World, I need to be ready to book as soon as those lines open up tomorrow.

But how do I fit everything in that I want to do? By planning ahead, of course. And we want to help you do the same.

And that’s why we write the DFB Guide to the Walt Disney World Holidays. Because I want your holiday visit to the ‘World to be nothing less than spectacular.

And when you pre-order the 2015 DFB Guide to the Walt Disney World Holidays right now, you’ll receive the 2014 edition immediately, for free.

Don’t forget — you have three ways to save on the DFB Guide to the Walt Disney World Holidays Guide. Check our our 180 Days ‘Til Christmas Sale to learn more!

But hurry — our sale on this popular guide ends tomorrow at midnight!

Today, let’s explore

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First Look and Review: The New Vivoli Gelateria in Disney World’s Disney Springs

Welcome to your newest cold snack stop in The Landing at Downtown Disney… Vivoli Gelateria (also known as Vivoli Il Gelato)!

Vivoli Gelateria outside 3

Of course, calling it a “cold snack stop” hardly does it justice. For a brand new place on the Disney dining scene, it’s rich with a history that began in Florence, Italy, in 1932, when Raphael Vivoli became one of the founders of the business.

Vivoli Sign

Vivoli Sign

Plus, that little “cold snack” we’re referring to is gelato crafted using many ingredients such as cocoa powder, pistachio, and hazelnut directly from Italy.

Just a few flavors in store

Just a few flavors in store

I can’t wait anymore! Let’s [Read more…]

Raglan Road (In Ireland!): Master Chef Contest Winners Share Their Experiences

If you were following along during our #RaglanRoadTrip coverage, then you know that I recently returned from spending four days in Ireland with the winners of the Raglan Road Master Chef Contest as well as Chef Kevin Dundon.

Winners and Writers at Dunbrody House in Ireland (photo by Raglan Road photographer Ivan Cummins)

Winners and Writers at Dunbrody House in Ireland (photo by Raglan Road photographer Ivan Cummins)

The winners will all contribute a dish to the Raglan Road 10th Anniversary Celebration October! I wanted to get to know our winners a little better, so I asked each of them three simple questions:

What gave you a desire to work with Raglan Road?
What was your first experience with Raglan Road like?
As a home cook, what’s your biggest cooking takeaway from this experience?

Here’s what they had to share with me.

Aaron

Aaron Von Swearingen had long been a fan of cooking — and Raglan Road. It’s been a favorite spot of his for nearly as long as it’s been around, and he and his family often choose to go there for special occasions.

Aaron Chats with John, Owner of Danescastle Fruit Farm

Aaron Chats with John Mernagh, Owner of Danescastle Fruit Farm

But recently, his passion had taken a different turn: recipe development. So when Aaron heard about the Master Chef contest, he thought the challenge to come up with a three-course meal would be a terrific way to test his new found interest.

And clearly, he rose to the occasion. Following his successful bid to become a Master Chef finalist, Aaron headed to — where else? — Raglan Road to celebrate!

Aaron Getting Tips from John Cook on Filleting Fish

Aaron Getting Tips from John Cook on Filleting Fish

His time in Ireland was, as with other members of the group, transformative. Aaron says that, more than anything, he’s leaving with a clear vision that a simple approach is the best one; focus on simple, great, pure ingredients, and be creative and thoughtful in your presentation. “To know those things, going home, is very freeing,” he summed up.

Colleen

Like Aaron, Colleen Kerney has a young family and lives in Central Florida. But her motivation for entering the contest was a little different.

Colleen Receives Some Helpful Hints from Chef Julian

Colleen Receives Some Helpful Hints from Chef Julien

Colleen had been in the process of planning a family trip to Ireland, and had even considered leaving at the same time as the contest was planned for. But budgetary constraints led her to reconsider the timing, and she and her family began to earnestly save for a trip some time in the future.

One day recently, she was flipping through a local Central Florida publication when she came across this headline: “Kevin Dundon wants to send YOU to Ireland.” Well. That sounded pretty good to her. And we can say that the rest is history.

Interestingly enough, Colleen hadn’t ever actually dined at Raglan Road, although she was familiar with Chef Kevin because of his cooking show, which airs on PBS. However, she and her extended family celebrated her winning the contest by booking brunch at the Irish Pub.

Oyster Soup, Colleen's Dish

Oyster Soup, Colleen’s Dish

While she enjoyed her time in Ireland immensely and definitely plans to return for that promised family visit in the near future, she also had some fun takeaways from the experience. First and foremost? “Butter makes [Read more…]

Disney Springs News! Details About The Edison and the Opening of Vivoli Gelateria

More and more information continues to “spring” forth (hee hee!) regarding the future dining venues for Disney Springs.

However, “dining” might be too limited a word for it, when you consider the newly-released details specifically regarding The Edison.

Concept Art for The Edison at Disney Springs ©Disney

Concept Art for The Edison at Disney Springs ©Disney

While this “Industrial Gothic” style restaurant and bar isn’t slated to open until 2016, it seems entertainment will play a HUGE role alongside the American food and craft cocktails. Early informational releases informed us the venue would feature cabaret and live music. But a fuller picture is emerging as we are now learning that contortionists, palm readers, and DJs are all anticipated be part of the scene.

According to Disney, the theme of the upcoming Disney Springs location will revolve around an electric company in the 1920s and will reflect the original Los Angeles location’s dedication “to a resurgence of old-world style, sophistication and romance.”

Additionally, underneath The Edison’s 35-foot ceilings the restaurant will be divided into themed areas such as “The Tesla Lounge,” “The Patent Office,” and “The Radio Room.” (Does that final name make anyone else harken back to the Radio Broadcast hosted in the Library of the Adventurer’s Club?) The divisions follow in line with the building footprint of The Edison’s Los Angeles location.

Layout of the original The Edison location in LA. Copyright The Edison

Layout of the original The Edison location in LA. Copyright The Edison

The Edison will operate under [Read more…]

News! Vivoli Gelateria Coming Soon to The Landing in Downtown Disney

Things got pretty exciting a few weeks ago when Disney announced more future Disney Springs dining spots.

Concept Art for Disney Springs' Town Center

Concept Art for Disney Springs’ Town Center

After all, some of the names on the list were already familiar to plenty of DFB readers, based in many cases on their location in the country. Some folks may be lucky enough to live near a Blaze Fast-Fire’d Pizza, and The Edison in Los Angeles already has quite a name for itself. Sprinkles Cupcakes? Yeah, I know that place! There’s one not too far from me, and it’s pretty rad.

However, there was a name on the list that didn’t ring quite as familiar… and there’s a pretty cool reason why. Vivoli Gelateria is a family-run business that only has one other location — and that’s in Florence, Italy.

Silvana Vivoli of Vivoli Gelateria ©Disney

Silvana Vivoli of Vivoli Gelateria ©Disney

Disney has announced that its second-ever storefront will be opening soon at The Landing of Disney Springs (the same area that The Boathouse and Erin McKenna’s Bakery NYC now call home).

In fact, during a walkthrough of Downtown Disney the other night, we happened to spot the signage for ourself, right across from where Jock Lindsey’s Hangar Bar will be located. Here are a few shots of the brightly lit sign and the list of flavors posted outside the door. (Apologies for the not-great shots. :-) )

Vivoli Gelato Sign at Night

Vivoli Gelato Sign at Night

Vivoli Gelato Menu -- Click to Enlarge

Vivoli Gelato Menu — Click to Enlarge

The new location will use the same recipes from its original location (the business itself was founded in 1932). And it will also [Read more…]

News! The NBA Experience (and Restaurant!) Announced for Disney World’s Disney Springs

Attention sports fans!

More and more news continues to roll in regarding the future of Disney Springs, and today we’re adding one more item to the list: The NBA Experience at Walt Disney World Resort will be one of the additions to the area.

©NBA

©NBA

So what exactly does this have to do with the Disney FOOD Blog? Well, The NBA Experience will include a basketball-themed restaurant, so that’s always big news to us! But that’s not all. Interactive experiences will allow guests — adults and kids alike — to feel like they’re “right in the middle of NBA game action,” according to Disney.

No timeline or exact location to share at this point, other than [Read more…]

Raglan Road (In Ireland!): How Recipes are Born

We are a couple days back from the Raglan Road Master Chef Class in Ireland! And after recovering a bit from the go-go-go pace and jet lag, I’d like to share with you a few more glimpses into my time there.

The Cooking School at Dunbrody House Hotel

The Cooking School at Dunbrody House Hotel

Today, we step into the kitchen to get behind-the-scenes insight into how Chef Kevin Dundon and his team create the recipes that we enjoy on Raglan Road’s menu and during special functions.

Creating the Recipes

If you followed along during our coverage of the #RaglanRoadTrip, then you know that Master Chef contest entrants were tasked with creating a three-course menu that would be featured at Raglan Road’s upcoming tenth anniversary celebration this October.

Sancerre and Irish Butter -- How Could We Go Wrong?

Sancerre and Irish Butter — How Could We Go Wrong?

As it turns out, this exercise set the stage for the curriculum in cooking school this week!

Chef Dundon took each of the finalists’ menus, chose one dish, and refined it. The resulting collaboration turned in five dishes that were at once original and recognizable — but also over-the-top delicious.

Chef Dundon Creates and Heather Takes Notes

Chef Dundon Creates and Heather Takes Notes

Watching the process was interesting in that it gave each of us the chance to see how recipe development for Raglan Road takes place.

Starting with the seed of the finalists’ recipes, Chef Dundon and the finalists experimented with the dishes and tweaked until they were just right. He cooked as the finalists took notes. And at the end of the day, each person tested how well they paid attention by cooking the dish all over again. (They all did great, by the way.)

One of the Dishes -- Flash Fried Oyster Butter Soup with Honey Foam

One of the Winning Dishes — Flash Fried Oyster Butter Soup with Honey Foam

I think the biggest takeaway for all of us was the concept of [Read more…]

News: Cooking Classes and Demos for Kids and Adults Coming to Downtown Disney

Is your kiddo a future Disney Chef in the making? If so, you may want to sign him or her up for the Annual Kid’s Cooking Class, returning to Wolfgang Puck Grand Cafe in Downtown Disney Orlando on Saturday, June 20th at 11 am!

Wolfgang Puck Grand Cafe

Wolfgang Puck Grand Cafe

What’s on the docket for any junior chefs in attendance? Not only will they learn kitchen essentials from master chefs, but they’ll also take part in creating a few Downtown Disney dishes (in kid-friendly versions, of course)! The menu includes Rice Balls from Portbello, Kid’s Pizza with assorted toppings from Wolfgang Puck Grand Cafe, and will end with a Banana Split from Fulton’s Crab House.

© Wolgang Puck Cafe Orlando

© Wolgang Puck Cafe Orlando

The cost to attend is $40 per child. Included in the ticket are [Read more…]

News (From Ireland)! Grass-Fed Irish Beef Coming Soon to Raglan Road

In the next couple of days, I’ll be bringing you more highlights from Disney Food Blog’s visit to Ireland with Chef Kevin Dundon from Raglan Road Irish Pub. Today, we’re taking a closer look at one of the food suppliers we’ve visited, which will very soon be supplying to Raglan Road in Orlando directly from Ireland!

Grass Fed Beef at Raglan Road

I was very interested in our stop at Paddy Murphy’s to learn more about how grass fed cattle are raised for beef in Ireland. And while there, we were treated to some exciting news — grass fed Irish beef is coming to Raglan Road in the very near future!

Paddy Murphy and Chef Kevin Dundon Discuss Grass Fed Beef with the Group

Paddy Murphy and Chef Kevin Dundon Discuss Grass Fed Beef with the Group

Since grass fed beef is highly regarded as a more humane treatment for the animals, and is much healthier for beef consumers, this is pretty exciting news.

But why now, you may ask? Well, up until very recently, there has been a ban on Irish beef coming into the United States. But when the ban was lifted earlier this year, it paved the way for Chef Dundon to do something he’s wanted to do for quite a while — showcase Irish beef at Raglan Road in Disney Springs.

Raglan Road is Bringing Irish Grass Fed Beef to Its Menu (Photo © Raglan Road)

Raglan Road is Bringing Irish Grass Fed Beef to Its Menu (Photo © Raglan Road)

In recent years, there has been a huge movement by many people to leave behind the more popular grain fed beef for grass fed varieties. The reasons for this are fairly simple: grass fed beef is higher in nutrients than grain fed beef. Cows have historically grazed for their diet, which consisted of grass and grass-like plants as well as shrubs. Introducing grain into a cow’s diet does quite a lot to fatten the animal and promote nicely marbled meat, but it wreaks havoc on the nutritional profile, since animals are what they eat.

Currently, Irish raised grass fed beef is running as [Read more…]

Update: Raglan Road Master Chef Competition

It’s a big week for us here at Disney Food Blog! While AJ has been busy reporting to you LIVE from the kickoff of Disneyland’s 60th Anniversary Celebration, I’m in Ireland with Raglan Road Irish Pub and Restaurant!

Cod Cornucopia at Raglan Road Irish Pub in Disney Springs

Cod Cornucopia at Raglan Road Irish Pub in Disney Springs

But what does that have to do with Disney, Brooke?

Haha — Excellent question!

As we previously reported, Raglan Road Irish Pub and Restaurant will celebrate its Tenth Anniversary this Fall, and they’re doing it up BIG! To mark the occasion, they sponsored a Raglan Road Master Chef Contest. Read more about it here.

Welp — the five finalists have traveled to Ireland to spend time soaking up the atmosphere, fine tuning their culinary skills, and honing their attention to detail with Master Chef Kevin Dundon!

Raglan Road tries to bring a slice of authentic, contemporary Ireland straight to Walt Disney World. We see it in the decor of the pub and their menu. We’ve had the opportunity to dine at some of Chef Kevin Dundon’s favorite spots that provide inspiration for the menus at Raglan Road, including brunch at Herb Street in the heart of Dublin.

Herb Street in the Heart of Dublin

Herb Street in the Heart of Dublin

But I couldn’t leave Dublin without a stroll on Raglan Road, the street that inspired the poem…that inspired the song…that inspired the Pub that we all know and love.

Raglan Road. Like, the Real Place.

Raglan Road. Like, the Real Place.

Today, we leave Dublin and head for County Wexford, where we’ll spend time watching the Raglan Road master chef finalists hone their skills at Chef Kevin Dundon’s Dunbrody Country House Hotel. Hopefully we’ll get to know what makes Raglan Road tick.

Thanks for following along!

I’m traveling to Ireland on behalf of Disney Food Blog, courtesy of Raglan Road Irish Pub and Restaurant, but my opinions and viewpoints are my own. Please see our disclosure policy for more information.