Disney Food Pics of the Week: Sushi!

We are back with another fun series of food photos, courtesy of Disney Food Blog Readers! That’s right, we love to show off the talents of folks who post their gorgeous photos on Disney Food Blog Photo Extravaganza, our Flickr group!

As you know, Sushi continues to be popular at Disney and everywhere else! Let’s take a look at some of the beautiful and fresh options for this Japanese delicacy that you’ve captured on film around Walt Disney World.

Spicy Kazan at California Grill

Fans of sushi who are also lovers of Disney dining know that one of the most awesome places to get sushi in Walt Disney World is California Grill. This uber popular fine dining spot, located high atop Disney’s Contemporary Resort, is known for fresh, seasonal ingredients, Pan-Asian influences, and breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape. And don’t forget to stay for the fireworks!

But when it comes to eats, this Spicy Kazan Roll looks pretty awesome. And if you’re a sushi-nonconformist like me, be sure to try the Pork Nigiri!

Photographer: Natasha Joyan

Spicy Kazan Roll from California Grill

Spicy Kazan Roll from California Grill

Tuna at Flying Fish Cafe

The Flying Fish Cafe remains one of my top choices for dining when I’m in Walt Disney World. I never pass up a chance to eat at this stellar restaurant. With food that’s always something special and a whimsical, carnival-like atmosphere, it always rates highly in my book.

One of the most popular appetizers that you can get here is the Yellowfin Tuna Tartare and Crispy Tempura Tuna-Vegetable Sushi Roll. We’ve tried it and it’s awesome!

Photographer: Stan4dSteph

Tuna at Flying Fish Cafe

Tuna at Flying Fish Cafe

Sushi at Wolfgang Puck Cafe

Another great spot for California cuisine is Wolfgang Puck Cafe and Dining Room at Walt Disney World’s Downtown Disney WestSide. And along with other house specialties like their [Read more…]

What’s New Around the World!

What’s new in your favorite Disney World “chomping grounds”? What’s changed? Read on to find out what we’ve checked out recently!

Downtown Disney

The biggest change over the past week has been the addition of The Smokehouse to Downtown Disney’s West Side. This stop for all-things-barbeque features a lovely outdoor seating area and the chance to enjoy live music.

The Smokehouse

The Smokehouse

Smoked Beef Brisket Sandwich with House-made Cole Slaw

Smoked Beef Brisket Sandwich with House-made Cole Slaw

Live music!

Live music!

Signs of bigger changes to come can be spotted all over Downtown Disney as the area delves into its transformation to Disney Springs … and when I say “signs,” I mean actual signs.

We’ll be sharing more in a future post, but the artwork all over Downtown Disney give us an idea of what guests can look forward to in the future.

Artwork depicting the future Disney Springs

Artwork depicting the future Disney Springs

Artwork depicting the future Disney Springs

Artwork depicting the future Disney Springs

Artwork reflecting the West Side Starbucks, opening Spring 2014

Artwork reflecting the West Side Starbucks, opening Spring 2014

A smaller change – yet nearly as significant for fans of “Earl’s” ;) – is that Earl of Sandwich has added [Read more…]

NEW Create Your Own Sundaes and Specialty Drinks at Contemporary Grounds

Contemporary Grounds — your Contemporary Resort’s one-stop Joffrey’s kiosk for on-the-go beverages and snacks now offers specialty drinks and make your own sundaes to Walt Disney World visitors.

contemporary grounds

Possibly unique to this location (let us know if you spot them elsewhere!!), this Dippin Dots version of the Create Your Own Sundaes are especially fun!

With the combination of ice cream choices, personally selected toppings, and a variety of portion options, these dishes really deliver on personalization!

Go ahead and customize your own refreshing treat.

Create Your Own Sundae

Create Your Own Sundae

These sundaes are made with a selection of Dippin’ Dots flavors! (Read: Tiny spheres of ice cream.)

Dippin' Dots

Dippin’ Dots

You know how we love our treats; we suggest ordering the LOL (lots of layers). And send us a picture when you do!

Various sundae sizes

Various sundae sizes

Of course, there’s [Read more…]

Review: Frost “Frozen” Cupcake at Disney’s Contempo Cafe

We’re huge fans of the Contempo Cafe at Disney’s Contemporary Resort.

After all, their bakery case features some truly unique gourmet cupcakes (Dulce de Leche, for one!).

My good friend, Elantrice — many of you know her as Diz Thru Brown Eyes — recently discovered the Frost Cupcake; clearly inspired by Disney’s award-winning “Frozen”.

Before we dig in — check out the icy blue frosting and snowy sprinkles!

This cupcake features Sven!

This cupcake features Sven!

“It was wonderful. Cake was moist and I loved the caramel inside,” she said! (I love the reminder that the plastic ring is non-edible!)

Frost Cupcake

Frost Cupcake

Caramel!

Caramel!

Choose from a selection of [Read more…]

Review: Top of the World Lounge at Disney World’s Bay Lake Tower

Join us as we visit one of the most exclusive spots in all of Walt Disney World, Top of the World!

This classy lounge is located high atop (natch) Bay Lake Tower, the Disney Vacation Club property that’s adjacent to Disney’s Contemporary Resort. Because of its great vantage point, Top of the World boasts incredible views of its surroundings; and it’s a muy popular viewing area for Magic Kingdom’s fireworks displays.

Menu Cover

With an extensive bar and some signature light snacks and desserts, Top of the World makes for a great place to relax and grab a bite and a drink in the evening. I recently had the opportunity to visit the exclusive spot with a friend who is a DVC member (that’s right; you can’t get in unless you’re a DVC member). We thought you’d enjoy tagging along for the fun.

Atmosphere

Yup — top of the World Lounge is an exclusive perk, available only to Disney Vacation Club members. When it first opened, only DVC Members who were staying at Bay Lake Tower could access the lounge. But later, DVC members staying anywhere at Walt Disney World were invited to enjoy the lounge. For the last few years, access to Top of the World has been determined on a year-by-year basis.

Gaining access is a snap (provided that you qualify to enter, that is). Simply show your room key to the check in desk in the Bay Lake Tower lobby, and you’re escorted to an express elevator that will whisk you to the top floor.

Once there, step into the splendor that is Top of the World.

Comfortable Seating Area

Much like Disney’s Contemporary Resort, the decor reminds you of something modern and retro all at once. You get the feeling that you’re envisioning the future from forty years ago.

And check out this completely fabulous chandelier! Far out! I swear, it’s like the Jetsons are going to walk in any minute. (Speaking of the Jetsons, don’t you wish you had one of those conveyor belt taking-a-shower-and-getting-dressed-all-at-once things? No? Just me?)

Chandelier

The lounge is intimate — there’s seating for only 77 people. There’s all of this sorta mixed, comfy-couch seating in the middle, and tables with chairs around the outside.

Seating Area from Another Angle

In true luxurious, super-exclusive fashion, there’s even this sweet little [Read more…]

The Year in Review: Top 10 Disney Food News Items of 2013!

If you’re a Disney Food Fan, then 2013 has been an exciting year!

Disney food news stories of 2013

We’ve had lots of  change, new announcements, and brand new experiences.

So today, we thought we’d take a look back at this year, and review the Top 10 Disney Food News Items of 2013!

From new coffee to new restaurants, new technology to new ice cream, we have a ton to cover!

Let’s get started!

1. COFFEE!

When Starbucks and Disney announced in 2012 that the coffee giant would be coming to Disney Parks, the news was huge! And when the first Walt Disney World locations began opening in 2013, the story once again topped the list of Disney food headlines.

Starbucks at Main Street Bakery is Right in the Middle of the Magic

The first location to open was Main Street Bakery on Magic Kingdom’s Main Street USA. While some loyal fans of the historic spot decried the chain store intrusion, many coffee lovers were thrilled that they could now enjoy their favorite brew in the shadow of Cinderella’s Castle.

And with the Main Street cinnamon rolls available at Gaston’s Tavern (at least they claim they’re the same…you can see our cinnamon roll throw down here!), well — at least not all of our favorite goodies are lost.

A Busy Morning at Main Street Bakery

The reopening of Fountain View Cafe in Epcot as the second WDW Starbucks location seemed to ruffle fewer feathers, since the themeing for the futuristic ice cream parlor wasn’t as beloved as Main Street Bakery. Still, patrons were irked with the lack of seating, even if the many, many bays for ordering mean that your java arrives fresh and fast.

Have Your Starbucks in Epcot with a View of Spaceship Earth

But Starbucks wasn’t the only coffee news we debated in 2013. Disney also announced that Joffrey’s Coffee and Tea Company, headquartered in Tampa, would become the official specialty coffee provider for Walt Disney World, Disneyland, and Disney Vacation Club resorts.

Joffrey’s is Named the Official Coffee Brand of Disney Parks

We’ve been enjoying Joffrey’s products for ages at the kiosks throughout the parks, so this was welcome news to many. So far, we are hearing that you seem pleased with the switch from Nescafe to Joffrey’s.

2. RESTAURANT FASTPASS TESTING — AND MORE TECH UPDATES!

Waaaaayyyyy back in January of this year, we first wrote about how we thought My Magic+ would affect Disney Dining.

mymagic+

And before the year was out, we had the opportunity to see just how some of the new technology would work.

One of the most intriguing uses of MyMagic+ technology was the Touch to Pay System. We had an opportunity to put our Magic Bands to work with the new system, and Erin, our Disney Food For Families columnist, documented the process so our readers could be in the know!

Erin Paying with Her Magic Band at Artist Point!

Erin Paying with Her Magic Band at Artist Point!

And while we love the Magic Band concept, even cooler is all the Disney food bling that you can get to individualize your bracelet! I’m a sucker for the cupcake!

Magic Band Food Bling

Magic Band Food Bling

 

Another rumor that came to fruition was that [Read more…]

Food Challenge: The 2013 DFB Holiday Cupcake Crawl

I suppose it’s no secret that we love our cupcakes here at Disney Food Blog!

And every year the holiday cupcake creations that crop up all over Disney World remind us exactly why we adore them so much. Last year we started a new tradition with our 2012 DFB Holiday Cupcake Crawl Challenge!

This year we found even more awesome holiday cupcakes, so we’ve decided to bring back the special Holiday Event from last year! Check out some of these unique and gorgeous holiday cupcakes around the Disney World resorts in 2013!

Welcome to the…

2013 DFB Holiday Cupcake Crawl!

Like last year, most of these cupcakes are available as snack credits on the Disney Dining Plan, so stock up those credits, and get ready to roll!

The Beach Club Resort: Cupcakes Required = 1

Starting just outside Epcot’s International Gateway, The Beach Club’s Marketplace is home to a wonderfully sparkling Gingerbread Cupcake that’s guaranteed to put you in the holiday spirit!

Gingerbread Cupcake

The first thing to draw your attention is the large sugar crystals that serve as edible glitter among the red and green sprinkles of mini Christmas trees and candy canes. They sit atop a cream cheese frosting that is surprisingly dense. It’s almost like eating a sweetened cream cheese straight out of the container… and you will never hear me complain about that ;)!

The Beach Club's Gingerbread Cupcake

The cake base is more reminiscent of a mild spice cake than a stronger dark gingerbread flavor. I think it is a good balance to the sweetness of all the sugar on top (including the pretty sugar snowflake), but it’s a good thing to know if you’re expecting something different.

Inside the Gingerbread Cupcake

Not in the mood for gingerbread? You can grab this Vanilla Cupcake with red and green Minnie and Mickey Toppers for your crawl credit!

Vanilla Cupcake

BoardWalk Inn: Cupcakes Required = 1

We’re staying within the Epcot Resorts for our next stop. [Read more…]

Five Legged Goat Krispy Treat (!!!) and other Festive Snacks make Holiday Debut at the Contemporary!

This must be Contemporary Resort week at DFB, ’cause we’re back at the chic-meets-retro hotel again today! The holiday season is upon us at Walt Disney World! And, as you may know from an earlier post, one of the ways the season makes its presence known throughout Disney World is through some amazing gingerbread creations!

Contemporary Resort Gingerbread Tree

At Disney’s Contemporary Resort, the fabulous smell of spiced gingerbread wafts from this 17-foot tall, 6-foot wide Gingerbread Tree.

Gingerbread Tree Ingredient List

The good news is that you can enjoy more than just the fragrance… the Contemporary Resort’s gingerbread display offers plenty of festive snacks available for purchase as well.

Snacks available for purchase

Holiday Treats at Disney’s Contemporary Resort

It seems to me these treats change at least a bit every year, and part of the fun is seeing what’s new. This year’s selection didn’t disappoint!

Let’s start with the most fun (and unique) addition to the line-up. This year’s assortment of snacks includes a Five Legged Goat Krispy Treat!

Five Legged Goat Krispy Treat

Perhaps you are unfamiliar with our five-legged friend… if so, don’t worry. You haven’t spent your life missing out on a yuletide tale of yore featuring a five legged goat ;). No, this fellow is [Read more…]

Review: California Grill at Disney’s Contemporary Resort

On a recent trip to Walt Disney World, I met a group of friends at the Contemporary Resort’s California Grill for what promised to be a memorable dinner.

It was my first trip to the hallowed culinary spot since the dramatic re-imagination of both the restaurant itself and the menu earlier this year. I’m a big fan of Chef de Cuisine Brian Piasecki, and I was anxious to see what he and his team had put together for the opening.

Having heard mostly good things about the new menu, and lots of raves about the decor refresh (see some breathtaking photos here!), I was really looking forward to this special night out. Would the restaurant deliver on expectations? Well, kind of…and kind of not. Let’s delve into the full story.

Atmosphere

If you’ve never been to California Grill, getting there is a bit of an odyssey. Although the restaurant sits high atop Disney’s Contemporary Resort, you’ll begin your journey on the hotel’s second floor, where the check-in desk is located.

Second Floor Check In Desk for California Grill

From there, you’ll be directed to an elevator where a cast member will escort you up to the restaurant. This way, the staff can practice a little crowd control, as the restaurant’s lobby and bar can get quite crowded at times.

You emerge from the elevator and are greeted by sleek design, accented by cool colors and rows and rows of wine fridges. Form follows function, as California Grill’s stellar selection of wines is well known.

Entrance and Wine Fridges

Time your visit just right, and another hallmark of the Grill’s atmosphere greets you —

Sunset

— A beautiful sunset through the picture windows directly ahead of you. I was lucky on this visit, as I got to see both the sunset AND the fireworks through those floor-to-ceiling windows!

Sunset

As I mentioned before, California Grill underwent an extensive renovation earlier in 2013. If you haven’t been to the restaurant since then, you will find that almost everything looks completely different from before.

We shared lots and lots of photos with you from the reno in that previous post, including pics of the private dining rooms. Be sure to pop over there if you’d like to see even more decor detail. For now, we’ll just give you a quick tour.

Step away from that glorious sunset, and you realize that you passed the beautiful bar area as you entered. It’s just to the left as you step off the elevators and head into the restaurant.

Directly in front of the bar, there’s also a limited lounge seating area. This means that you can, theoretically, score a table without an advance dining reservation, or meet here for appetizers and drinks on a whim. That said, the lounge is first come, first served, and you can imagine the scramble for seats during the fireworks. So look alive if that’s your plan!

Bar

Where the view is concerned, there are really no bad seats in all of California Grill! But the window seats on the Magic Kingdom side offer the best view if you’re going for fireworks. As part of the renovation, new windows were installed that block ultraviolet light, and electronically-controlled shades ensure that guests are never blinded by that bright Florida sunshine.

Views and Tables

A glance across the seating area gives you a good overview of the [Read more…]

2013 Holiday Gingerbread Houses and Pins at Walt Disney World Resorts

Once again, visions of gingerbread houses will become reality at select Walt Disney World resort hotels!

The holiday season is underway as Mickey and his elves (and some talented chefs!) get busy filling the resorts and parks with seasonal decor, merchandise, and treats. Plan to stop by the resorts to see the displays, purchase a pin, and/or meet one of the fabulous chefs!

Life-size!

To commemorate the inspiring gingerbread houses, NEW limited edition pins will be released. Starting November 14, 2013, gingerbread house pins will go on sale at the Contemporary, Beach Club, and Grand Floridian resorts. Disney’s BoardWalk pin will debut on November 29th.

Grand Floridian Gingerbread House

So which came first? The gingerbread or the pin? Well, Jeanne Lewis (Disney pins merchandiser) explained how the Disney pastry chefs studied the pins in order to select characters to incorporate into their designs!

2013 Disney World Gingerbread Houses and Pins!

The Grand Floridian’s pin celebrates the 15th anniversary of their unique gingerbread house. Meet executive chef Erich Herbitschek on November 16 from 1-2PM near the Grand Floridian gingerbread house.

Grand Floridian 2013 Gingerbread House Pin

And how cool is it that the Contemporary’s pin showcases the five-legged goat from Disney Legend Mary Blair’s mural. Five-legged goat,  you ask?! You’ll want to look for it on your next visit to the Grand Canyon Concourse at this Disney resort! On November 15, meet pastry chef Jeff Barnes at Disney’s Contemporary Resort from 5-7 PM.

Contemporary Resort Gingerbread Tree

Contemporary and Beach Club 2013 Gingerbread House Pins

Stop by the Beach Club on November 18 to meet pastry chef Deran Lanpher from 1-2:30PM and to see the creative gingerbread displays.

Beach Club Carousel from Above

Disney’s BoardWalk is unveiling a new [Read more…]