Tips From the DFB Guide: Secret, Must-Have Orders That Aren’t On Any Menu…

OK, here’s where it gets good.

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I love showing you guys pictures of what you can get at Disney restaurants. It’s the best way for you to judge for yourself whether or not you think a restaurant is right for you.

But sometimes I just gotta share a few secrets that I’ve discovered. Things that aren’t actually ON the menu, exactly, but that are truly worth getting and trying.

And today, I’m sharing another great tip from the DFB Guide to Walt Disney World DiningOrdering “Off the Menu” Items in Walt Disney World Restaurants.

And if you like what you see here, there are a lot more where these came from! To see our whole list of must-have “off the menu” items for 2015, pick up your copy of the Guide today for $4 off using code 2015 right here!

Spicy Tomato Butter at Mama Melrose’s Ristorante Italiano

Recently, we’ve been enjoying some truly incredible meals at Mama Melrose’s Ristorante Italiano. This quirky eatery in Disney’s Hollywood Studios has plenty of traditional Italian fare on offer, but they can also surprise with a creative twist or two.

Strip Steak

Mama Melrose Makes an Incredible Steak and Mac and Cheese Combo!

During my last couple of visits, I’ve had the opportunity to enjoy their Spicy Tomato Butter! You’ll find this amazing sauce on their Oak-Fired Mussels, but if you’re not interested in ordering said Mussels, consider requesting some of the Spicy Tomato Butter with your bread.

Bread with Butters and Olive Oil

Bread with Spicy Tomato Butter and Other Accompaniments

And I’m so glad I asked the server for this “off the menu” request, because that butter is incredible! Spicy, savory, and rich, it’s delicious served with bread.

In fact, on one recent visit, the server actually brought it to me slightly melted, like a dipping sauce! Heaven.

Cranberry Sauce at Liberty Tree Tavern

Have you had the pleasure of enjoying dinner at Liberty Tree Tavern in Magic Kingdom? If not, what are you waiting for?? ;-)

Liberty Tree Tavern in Magic Kingdom

Liberty Tree Tavern in Magic Kingdom

And if so, then you know that part of what makes it so awesome is that it looks a lot like America’s favorite meal — a Thanksgiving Day Feast!

Roast Pork, Turkey, and Beef with Cornbread Stuffing and Chutney at Liberty Tree Tavern

Roast Pork, Turkey, and Beef with Cornbread Stuffing and Chutney at Liberty Tree Tavern

But there is one key ingredient missing when they bring the family-style dishes to your table; the meal doesn’t automatically include Cranberry Sauce. And I don’t know about you, but it just isn’t Turkey Day without that little gem on the table.

Cranberry Sauce at Liberty Tree Tavern

Cranberry Sauce at Liberty Tree Tavern

But never fear — they have Cranberry Sauce — and it’s pretty fantastic! You just have to request it. It seems that not all guests love it as much as you and I, so it ended up being thrown out quite a lot of the time.

So order it with abandon if you like a little Cranberry Sauce on the side of your meal — they’re happy to bring it to you, included in the cost of the meal!

Fried Mozzarella at Via Napoli

Speaking of Liberty Tree Tavern, they used to have a wonderful Tavern Fried Cheese Appetizer that included Deep Fried Cheese Curds. They were out of this world.

Sadly, you can’t get them in the Colonial American-themed spot — but I DID find something similar at [Read more…]

Tips from the DFB Guide: The Best Spots for Coffee and Tea in Walt Disney World

Just a couple of years back, if you wanted to get a decent cup of coffee or tea somewhere inside the Big Purple Gates, you were out of luck.

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With Nescafe on standby in most spots, the coffee outlook was dismal. And while Twinings teabags are available all over the place, there still wasn’t anything special about them.

But in the last few years, Disney has really stepped up their game in both the java and cuppa departments!

Today, we’re sharing one of our favorite tips from the DFB Guide to Walt Disney World DiningWhere to Find Good Coffee and Tea in Walt Disney World. Pick up yours today for $4 off using code 2015 right here!

Starbucks

By far, the biggest beverage news to hit Disney in the last few years has been its partnership with coffee giant Starbucks. Love them or hate them, you can’t dispute — they’re super popular.

Hollywood Studios Starbucks Trolley Car Cafe-21

The Most Recent Starbucks to Open at Disney — Trolley Car Cafe in Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Seriously…there’s a reason for the queue ropes inside! Have you seen a Disney Starbucks on a busy morning? Madness!

The Line at a Disney Starbucks Can Get CRAZY Long

The Line at a Disney Starbucks Can Get CRAZY Long

The first two Starbucks to open in Walt Disney World replaced established eateries — Main Street Bakery in Magic Kingdom and Fountain View in Epcot. Now you can stroll right up to Cinderella Castle with your Vanilla Latte in hand, or enjoy your Frappuccino in the shade of Spaceship Earth.

Fountain View Starbucks in Epcot

Fountain View Starbucks in Epcot

Two additional stores are located in Downtown Disney — one walk-up window nestled between entrances to World of Disney, and a larger store in West Side, which boasts a Starbucks Reserve Counter.

Coffee on fire!

Enjoying a Cup of Coffee on the Patio of Starbucks West Side

Trolley Car Cafe, the Disney’s Hollywood Studios Starbucks outlet opened just a couple of weeks ago.

Trolley Car Cafe is now open!

Trolley Car Cafe is now open!

And later this year, the final Walt Disney World store will open in Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

Aren’t a fan of Starbucks? Joffrey’s is considered the “official” coffee of Disney World and still operates a number of kiosks throughout the Parks, where you can grab a cup of coffee or a selection of espresso drinks.

Great Spots for Tea

If you prefer tea to coffee, there are also some great spots for you to enjoy a cup. And we aren’t just talking about your grandmother’s cup of tea. :-)

One of my favorite spots for tea is the [Read more…]

Review: Flavored Popcorn in Epcot

So, I’ve got some serious Disney Popcorn for you today. And I. Mean. Serious. Like, so serious that if you don’t have any room left on your Disney World snack list for your next trip, you have to bump something else.

We’ve heard for years about all of the awesome Flavored Popcorns that guests enjoy at the Parks of Tokyo Disneyland. (Dining in Disneyland columnist Heather Sievers got to try many and shared them with us in this recent post.) And of course, we’ve seen a little dabbling in the Flavored Popcorn genre in Disneyland, with the intro of fun flavors at Sally’s Cozy Cone Motel.

Gourmet Flavored Popcorn Options

Gourmet Flavored Popcorn Options at Epcot!

But at Walt Disney World, we’ve been kind of stuck with the Butter Flavored or Caramel. There are pre-packaged flavors and some fun movie popcorn options. But as for fresh, flavored popcorn? Pretty much nada.

But not anymore!

Gourmet Flavored Popcorn at Epcot

There it is! Looks like just another Disney Popcorn cart, right? This one is right outside Journey into Imagination in Epcot. And it’s the ONLY one that we know of that furnishes these beautiful little snacks.

Gourmet Popcorn Cart in Epcot

Gourmet Popcorn Cart in Epcot

And there’s that fresh Disney Popcorn

Popcorn Cart From the Side

Popcorn Cart From the Side

But then, you spy this — flavors!!!!! (And colors too!)

Epcot Flavored Popcorn Cart

Epcot Flavored Popcorn Cart

The menu tells all — you have your choice of popcorn here. You can go with the Gourmet Flavors, or you can stick with the plain Disney Popcorn. Both options are also available in a Souvenir Bucket too, of course.

Gourmet Popcorn Cart Menu -- Click to Enlarge

Gourmet Popcorn Cart Menu — Click to Enlarge

This was too good to pass up — so of course, I had to try all three! The savory flavor choices include [Read more…]

Sneak Peek! Ice Pop Frozen Cocktail Coming to the Epcot Flower and Garden Festival

It is less than one month until Epcot officially welcomes Spring with the 2015 Flower & Garden Festival beginning on March 4, 2015!

Disney Food Blog Epcot Flower and Garden Festival (2)

Even among all the gorgeous topiaries and fun Garden Rocks Concert Series, what we at the DFB look forward to most is the Outdoor Kitchens. They’re similar to the Marketplace Booths at the Epcot Food & Wine Festival, offering plates and sips in appetizer portions allowing you to sample a wide variety of flavors throughout your World Showcase stroll.

And today, thanks to the twitter feed of L’artisan des Glaces, we’ve got a glimpse of a new offering coming to the Outdoor Kitchen in France: the Ice Pop Frozen Cocktail!

Ice Pop Frozen Cocktail © L'artisan des Glaces

Ice Pop Frozen Cocktail © L’artisan des Glaces

It’s Grand Marnier Raspberry Peach, vodka, and iced tea. While [Read more…]

Guest Review and DFB Challenge: Eat Around the World at Disney’s Epcot

Ready to dine around Epcot? Yep, me too! Join me in welcoming guest author Anita Theiss with her review of some great Epcot eats!

World Showcase Snacks

My husband and I recently spent a day at Epcot celebrating our anniversary. While there, we decided to taste a little something from each of the nations represented in the World Showcase. An “Eat Around the World” challenge, so to speak. It was a lot of fun, and we really enjoyed discussing which foods we liked best and which we liked the least. We followed a few simple rules for our self-assigned challenge.

Eat Around the World Rules

Rule One, choose one country-specific food item (no generic cookies or fries) to order from each nation and share it. (We had a slight breech of etiquette on this rule when we got to France, but more on that later.) Sharing meant that we could discuss what we thought of the item, and it kept us from eating too much.

Rule Two, go to counter service restaurants, kiosks, or food stands only. It just didn’t seem right to take up a reservation spot for just one item.

Rule Three, rate each food item on a scale of one to ten, with one being not quite so palate pleasing, and ten being the best thing to ever grace your taste buds.

Nachos in Mexico

Our digestive expedition started in Mexico at La Cantina de San Angel with an order of nachos. The nachos come with ground beef, beans, cheese, tomatoes, jalapeños, and sour cream. We ordered them with the tomatoes and jalapeños on the side -— my husband loves them, but I am not a fan.

Nachos

Nachos

I enjoyed the nachos, but we both found them to be a little heavy on the cheese (if food can be too heavy with ‘plastic cheese’) and not heavy enough on the meat and beans. They had just the right amount of spice, and the chips were crisp. The portion was perfect for a meal, but these nachos are a great shareable snack as well. My husband gave them a 4, and I gave them a 6.

Troll Horn in Norway

We moved on to Norway and stopped at the Kringla Bakeri Og Kafé. There were several items on the counter that looked good, and I could not decide between the Troll Horn and the Viking Mousse. I asked the cast member behind the counter which of the two she recommended, and she suggested the Troll Horn, which is filled which cloudberry cream.

Troll Horn

Troll Horn

The cloudberry cream was smooth and sweet, but not too sweet, and the pastry was tender but a little bland. The sugar crystals sprinkled on top added a nice sweetness and crunch, but overall the Troll Horn was just meh (how do you like that technical culinary term?). We both gave it a 4 on our grading scale — not horrible, but we won’t be rushing back to Norway to get one during our next trip.

Egg Roll in China

After a ride on Maelstrom (RIP), we headed to China. We stopped at Joy of Tea to place an egg roll order. An order of egg rolls actually includes two nice-sized pork and veggie egg rolls, which was a pleasant surprise considering how very delicious they were. (My husband had already snagged his and started munching when I took the picture which is why there is only one pictured.)

Egg Roll

Egg Roll

The egg roll wrapper was both tender and crunchy, and the filling was flavorful with seasoned pork and crisp veggies. There were packets of soy sauce (and other condiments) which just added another layer of fabulous flavor. We both gave the egg rolls an 8.5; we would definitely get them again and feel that they would be an excellent use of a snack credit if you are on the Disney Dining Plan since they are easily shared.

Bratwurst in Germany

We moved on from China to Germany for a stop at Sommerfest. To be honest, I had my heart set on wrapping my lips around a Nudel Gratin for days, but I was starting to get full and knew that such a dish would be both rich and heavy. So, I passed on the Nudel Gratin (which I now regret — I really should have persevered) while my husband ordered a bratwurst. He loves a brat, and this one did not disappoint.

Bratwurst

Bratwurst

Bratwurst Cross Section with Mustard

Bratwurst Cross Section with Mustard

The bratwurst comes on a very large crusty bun topped with loads of sauerkraut. He said the sauerkraut was alright and the bratwurst itself was delicious, but he felt that there was just too much bread. The bun was quite large and had a pretty tough and crusty consistency. He still enjoyed it and gave it a score of 6.

Gelato in Italy

After a quick shopping break in Germany, we headed to Italy, which had me a little worried because there is no counter service restaurant. But as we were walking into Italy, I spotted Gelati — a nice little gelato stand, so I stopped for a cup of chocolate gelato.

Gelato

Gelato

It was smooth, thick, creamy, quite tasty, and reminded me of a cold version of hot chocolate. It would definitely hit the spot on a hot summer day in Florida. My husband had a taste or two of it, but he is not much of a chocolate fan and didn’t like it as much as regular ice cream. I, on the other hand, much prefer the thicker consistency of gelato to its thinner American counterpart and gave it a 7.

Sweet Cream Cheese Pretzel in American Adventure

After Italy, it was time for a return to our homeland of America. Now during our last trip to Disney a few months ago, I fell in love with the [Read more…]

Tips from the DFB Guide: Best Spots for Dining with a Toddler

Many of us have been there. We’re all set to go to Walt Disney World for the trip of a lifetime, and we can’t wait to share this experience with our kiddos!

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But even though Disney is the Happiest Place on Earth, navigating its vastness with a toddler can be challenging at best, and a nightmare at worst.

And few parts of the trip are more challenging than meal times.

While we all agree that certain spots are inappropriate for small children — Victoria and Albert’s restricts patrons to the over 10 crowd — there are some choices that are better than others.

And you may be surprised to know…it doesn’t all come down to characters.

Below, we offer you a few choices from our picks for Best Spots to Eat with a Toddler – a brand new section in our just-released DFB Guide to Walt Disney World® Dining 2015. Pick up yours today for $4 off using code 2015 right here!

Chef Mickey

We Love Him — But There’s More to Eating at Disney with Kiddos Than Just This Guy!

Sanaa at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge

One of my favorite spots to dine no matter who’s with me is Sanaa. Located in Kidani Village at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, the restaurant is known for its exotic menu of African and Indian Fusion. And when I dine here, you know you’re gonna spy some incredible Butter Chicken on the table!

Tandoori trio -- chose butter chicken, spicy chicken, rice Sanaa

Tandoori Trio with Butter Chicken and Spicy Chicken

While the menu makes it a must-visit spot for guests who enjoy out of the ordinary cuisine, the restaurant is also quiet and rarely crowded — great features for guests who have a small fry in tow.

But the real attraction for toddlers is the view! Forget animatronics on the Jungle Cruise — look out the windows at Sanaa’s sweeping vistas and you’ll see the real deal!

View from Sanaa

View from Sanaa

Sanaa overlooks Sunset Savanna and spying a zebra, giraffe, or other exotic animal is practically guaranteed!

You Just Might View Some Animals While You Take in Lunch at Sanaa

You Just Might View Some Animals While You Take in Lunch at Sanaa

Here’s another TIP: Keep in mind when you make your advance dining reservation that the animals tend to retire early, and it may get dark on the savanna earlier than you think. Planning lunch or an early dinner at Sanaa during daylight hours is your best bet for seeing the wild side of the restaurant.

Play ‘n Dine at Hollywood and Vine Restaurant at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Although there are puh-lenty of Character Dining options at Disney, some are better than others when it comes to entertaining babies and toddlers. We’ve chosen two in the DFB Guide to Walt Disney World® Dining 2015, and Play ‘n Dine at Hollywood and Vine Restaurant is one of them.

So, what sets Hollywood and Vine’s Play ‘n Dine apart? The characters! While practically all other Character Dining options at Disney involve either some subset of the Fab Five or Disney Princesses, Hollywood and Vine’s Play ‘n Dine features the original characters from the Disney Junior lineup! That means that your kiddo will come face to face with friends like Pirate Jake, Doc McStuffins, and Princess Sophia!

Jake the Pirate

Jake the Pirate Just May Try to Join You for Lunch!

Seeing these beloved characters up close and larger than life is [Read more…]

Fun Find: More Collectible Teapots at The Tea Caddy in Epcot’s UK Pavilion

It had been a while since I’d stopped by The Tea Caddy in Epcot’s UK Pavilion. I’m not much of a tea drinker — although, that might be my own fault. I haven’t ever invested much time in learning about or developing a taste for tea, mostly relying on the occasional box of whatever is on my supermarket shelf when I have a cold. (Although the Mad Hatter Tea available for Afternoon Tea at the Grand Floridian’s Garden View Tea Room almost made me change my ways. But I digress…)

Display at The Tea Caddy

Display at The Tea Caddy

So, I don’t often make it a point to check out this shop dedicated to all things tea, but I had some extra time before meeting up with some friends for an Advance Dining Reservation at the Rose & Crown, so I popped in. And I’m glad I did. I was struck by these little works-of-art-in-a-teapot immediately upon entering the shop.

Since I’ve been living under a rock when it comes to tea, I have no idea how long these beautiful James Sadler Teapots have been available at The Tea Caddy. But I enjoyed looking at them so much that I thought I’d share them here.

The first one that caught my eye was right in the front of the shop, paying tribute to London.

London Teapot

London Teapot

London Teapot

Top of London Teapot

London Teapot spout

London Teapot spout

On that same display, but tucked on the opposite side, was the Village Store teapot.

Village Store Teapot

Village Store Teapot

Village Store closeup

Village Store closeup

The world famous Beefeaters are featured on [Read more…]

New Food I Want to Stuff My Face With at Disney World this Year

You’re planning your first trip to Walt Disney World. Or your 50th. Or your 100th. And you reeeeeeeally want to know what NEW dishes you MUST try? Weeeeeeelllllllllll, we’ve got a few suggestions for you!

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We’ve got about nine of our favorite you-HAVE-to-EAT-this dishes and snacks featured in our brand new DFB Guide to Walt Disney World Dining 2015 e-Book, which you can pick up today for $4 off using code 2015 right here!

But I wanted to take a second to share just a few of those must-eat treats here with you as well.

Must-Eat Walt Disney World Treats in 2015

Yep — here at DFB, we always like to kick off each new year with some of our favorite treats spotted during the last few months. But when I sat down to brainstorm this post…well, at first it seemed like 2014 didn’t offer a whole lot of new stuff.

That said, when I started scrolling back through everything we ate this past year, I realized there was a lot to be said for 2014 and its culinary prowess.

There is one really big difference between this year and previous years, however. Most of our crave-worthy dishes are savory this time around! I know! WUT?!??!?!?!?!? Don’t worry, though — I’ve got a few sweeties thrown in.

Here’s the New Food I Want to Stuff My Face with at Disney Parks in 2015!

Must Eat Disney World Treats 2015-002

Barbecue Pulled Pork Mac and Cheese

We thought that Mac and Cheese, that king of comfort foods, was enough. But little did we know what we had been missing, until Disney started putting additional delicious food on top of its cheesy goodness.

We first saw the dawn of Gourmet Mac and Cheese — we’re just gonna call it that if that’s all right with you — a while back. Friar’s Nook introduced the concept, and we were smitten with their Bacon Cheeseburger Mac and Cheese and Blue Cheese Mac right away.

BUT THEN — this happened.

[Read more…]

News! Disney Pulls Starbucks “Monorail Purple” Epcot Mug from Shelves

Remember when we told you about the uber collectible, brand new Disney Starbucks mugs last week?

Epcot "You Are Here" Mug

Epcot “You Are Here” Mug

Epcot "You Are Here" Mug

Epcot “You Are Here” Mug

Well…it seems as soon as the Epcot “You Are Here” mug debuted, it was gone.

The colorful collector’s item only arrived on shelves last week. Together with similar versions depicting other parks, the mugs quickly took the internet by storm. Lots of our readers commented that they couldn’t wait to add the mugs to their collections.

But if you’re in that group of eager buyers, you’ll have to wait a bit for the Epcot version, as Disney has pulled it from the shelves. The reason the mug has been yanked is the color scheme.

The mug features iconic images of Epcot, including Spaceship Earth, a couple of World Showcase landmarks, and a monorail whizzing by. All are depicted in shades of blue and purple…and herein lies the problem.

Epcot "You Are Here" Mug

Epcot “You Are Here” Mug Featuring a Purple Monorail

Monorail purple was one of the two trains that were involved in [Read more…]

Disney Holiday Recipe: Pecan Maple Bark from Epcot’s Canada Pavilion

Are you pining for the holidays, or are you ecstatic to have moved on from them? Well, either way, we have a fun surprise for you today!

Many of you chimed in when we wrote about the Pecan Maple Bark featured in the Canada Pavilion during Holidays Around the World. Hands down, it was our favorite snack during the holiday season!

Well, the tree may be down and the bows stored away for another year, but we had to share this recipe. It was so good, we can’t wait to make it at home.

Pecan Maple Bark -- Up Close

Pecan Maple Bark from the Canada Pavilion

Need a handmade gift for someone special? This candy, a cross between a bark and a toffee, would fit the bill perfectly!

Pecan Maple “Bark” Brittle

Canada Pavilion, Holidays Around the World
Makes a 15″ x 10″ Cookie Sheet

Ingredients:

Maple Brittle
2 cups butter (4 sticks)
1 1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cup maple sugar
1/3 cup water
2 teaspoons maple extract

Chocolate and Pecans
12 ounces, about 2 cups, high-quality semisweet chocolate, chopped, or chips, divided
1 cup chopped pecans, divided
2 teaspoons sea salt, divided

Instructions: [Read more…]