Review: Maelstrom and Tamarind Margaritas at La Cava del Tequila in Epcot’s Mexico Pavilion

I know, I know… we’re officially well into the second full week of 2015 already(!).

And that probably means it’s time for me to stop wishing everyone a “Happy New Year.” But when I think of places I like to toast big occasions such as the arrival of a brand new year (or, you know… a Tuesday), it should come as no surprise that La Cava del Tequila in Epcot’s Mexico Pavilion is at the very top of my list.

So I’d like to take one last opportunity to toast 2015 with you here on the blog with a couple of margaritas from The House of Tequila… the Tamarind Margarita and the Maelstrom Margarita!

La Cava del Tequila Sign

La Cava del Tequila Sign

La Cava del Tequila entrance inside the Mexico Pavilion

La Cava del Tequila entrance inside the Mexico Pavilion

But first, we’ve got to take care of what might be the second most difficult thing to do at this popular tequila haven… and that’s find a seat.

Seating in La Cava

Seating in La Cava

Backs of chairs

Backs of chairs

No matter where you sit, all signs point to the star of the show… tequila! From the mural on the wall depicting the tequila-making process, to the huge array of bottles of tequila spotlighted at the bar.

La Cava Wall Mural

La Cava Wall Mural

La Cava Wall Mural

La Cava Wall Mural

La Cava Wall Mural

La Cava Wall Mural

La Cava del Tequila Bar

La Cava del Tequila Bar

So, what’s the MOST difficult thing to do at La Cava? Naming your poison. You’ve got your choice of over twelve specialty margaritas, and that doesn’t even begin to touch on the selection of straight tequilas.

Now, you know I love the Avocado Margarita.

Avocado Margarita

Avocado Margarita

Other frontrunners for me include the Horchata and the Wild Passion Fruit. But on my most recent visit I just had to start by raising a toast to a much loved (and now extinct) EPCOT Center attraction with the Maelstrom Margarita.

You may recall (of COURSE, you recall ;) ) last October, when the Maelstrom attraction [Read more…]

Guest Review: ‘Ohana at Disney’s Polynesian Resort

Join us in welcoming back Guest Reviewer Katie Roth with a review of ‘Ohana at Disney’s Polynesian Resort. Note that this review was written before the most recent round of ‘Ohana Menu Changes. Currently the Chicken Skewer is not being served at the restaurant. Aloha!

I have been staying at the Polynesian for years, but I had never eaten at ‘Ohana until last year! I know, I know…utter blasphemy! I was psyched that my husband and I decided to take an impromptu trip to Disney World AND were able to score a dinner reservation at ‘Ohana.

I admit that it was I that brought my husband into the light of Disney, and I just love getting to share my favorite experiences and eats with him whenever we visit Walt Disney World. Knowing how much he loves grilled meat, I absolutely could not wait to eat here with him!

To help control our excitement, we went to Tambu Lounge to temper those jitters. My husband went all out and ordered the Lapu Lapu while I went with a pineapple mojito (regular mojito with fresh pineapple chunks added). We loved our drinks and were primed for dinner ;)

Lapu Lapu!

In my opinion, ‘Ohana’s location lends itself to be one of those ‘would have missed it if I didn’t know it was there’ restaurants. The location of the restaurant is on the upper terrace of the Great Ceremonial House lobby tucked away behind the Tambu Lounge. If you are in front of Kona Café then you have gone too far!

As I’ve seen in the past couple of years, the easiest way to spot ‘Ohana is by the long line of people checking in for their Advance Dining Reservation (ADR) or those hopeful souls asking about a walk-in reservation. When it comes to Disney food (particularly at ‘Ohana), never leave fate to chance.

Lately, I have been eating a lot less meat and more fish for health reasons. I informed the host at the check-in station that I would like a vegetarian/pescetarian meal to which he replied would be no problem. I have heard great things about the vegetarian offerings at ‘Ohana and couldn’t wait to try them out! Just remember, if you are going to make a special request like this, check in early and let them know.

Once you are checked in, you will be given a buzzer and told to wait by the Tambu Lounge for your “cousin” (server) to take you to your table. If this is your first time to the restaurant, they will take you on a [Read more…]

News! Festive Treats Returning to Epcot’s Holidays Around the World

Every year we look forward to the return of Holidays Around the World in Epcot! Beginning November 28th and running through December 30th, this yearly celebration features special events like the Candlelight Processional, a special ending to the IllumiNations spectacular, and unique opportunities to listen to storytellers share holiday traditions from around the globe in each Pavilion.

Holidays Around the World Passport

Holidays Around the World Passport

We’re happy to share that a more recent “tradition” will be returning this year as well… Holidays Around the World will once again feature tastes of holiday cuisine from the countries represented in World Showcase! If you’d like to get even more of a start on your holiday snack planning, check out our review of several of these treats from last year’s celebration! (Please note: prices on signage in the pictures below may differ this year from last.)

The Sugar and Spice Holiday Bakery in the American Adventure Pavilion will once again be THE place to grab a gingerbread, chocolate chip, or sugar cookie while waiting in line to meet Santa and Mrs. Claus! This will also the place to grab some peppermint bark or warm up with some hot cocoa.

Sugar and Spice Holiday Bakery

Sugar and Spice Holiday Bakery

Cookies at the Sugar and Spice Bakery

Cookies at the Sugar and Spice Bakery

Epcot American Adventure Peppermint Bark

Epcot American Adventure Peppermint Bark

Also among the treats that will be returning this year is the beautiful Bûche de Noël au Chocolate (Chocolate Christmas Log) to Les Halles Boulangerie Patisserie in France.

Chocolate Christmas Log

Chocolate Christmas Log

And Gingerbread Ice Cream will [Read more…]

News: Updates to Disney’s Standard Bar and Lounge Menu

’Tis the season… and we’re not talking about Fall or the Holidays (though they are soon upon us here at Disney World). Nope, it’s about that time of year when Disney World bars and lounges receive a menu makeover.

Classic Margarita with a View

Classic Margarita with a View

If you’d like to explore all the options including beer and wine, we’ve got the updated Disney Bar and Lounge Menu for you here. And today we’re going page-by-page through the Specialty Cocktails to explore the new offerings, and see which of the favorites have stuck around. Allrighty, then… here we go!

Pimm’s Punch and the Rye Manhattan are both returnees that are included in the updated menu.

Pimm's Punch and Rye Manhattan

Pimm’s Punch and Rye Manhattan

Pimm's Punch as served

Pimm’s Punch as served

But the Moscow Mule, Blue Mule, and the Sidecar Noir (nominee for favorite name!) are all [Read more…]

2014 Epcot Food and Wine Festival: Festival Center Tour

Whew! The 2014 Epcot Food and Wine Festival is half over, and it feels like it just began!

There’s been a ton to do and see, but we couldn’t let another day slip by without showing you around one of the must-visit spots — Festival Center.

Festival Center

Festival Center

Located in the old Wonders of Life Pavilion in Future World East, the venue comes alive each year for the Food and Wine Festival. This is your spot to attend low-cost seminars and demonstrations and other special events. You’ll find Festival information, Intermissions Cafe, and some great shopping here as well.

Festival Center Sign

Festival Center Sign

We recently toured the spot to bring you pictures of every corner. There’s a LOT to cover, so let’s get started!

2014 Epcot Food and Wine Festival — Festival Center

Festival Center is THE place to begin your Food and Wine Festival Adventure. Helpful Cast Members provide you with information regarding all aspects of the Festival — from Marketplaces to Special Events.

Check out this map [Read more…]

What NOT to Eat at the 2014 Epcot Food and Wine Festival

Can you believe it? We are nearing the halfway point of the 2014 Epcot Food and Wine Festival already!

Welcome to the Epcot Food and Wine Festival!

Welcome to the Epcot Food and Wine Festival!

So far, we’ve shown you delicious dishes — both brand new options and returning favorites — that are featured at the International Marketplaces located around World Showcase. But I’m thinking that leaves another question:

What are some of the items that we would definitely cross off the list?

Of course, in a perfect world, where there would be unlimited time, money, and stomach space, I know you’d gladly try everything on offer. But here in reality, those dollars (and Disney Dining Plan snack credits) must be spent wisely.

So while we’ve told you several dishes and beverages that we don’t think you should miss at this year’s Festival, today, I thought we’d run down the list of items that we plan to cross off. Because, well, something’s gotta give. :-) I’ll also give you some suggestions for what we’d get in place of these items.

Ghirardelli Sundae at Fife & Drum

In the past, Fife & Drum Tavern in the America Pavilion has had Festival success with extra menu additions like the Frozen Red Stag Lemonade. (That one proved to be so popular, it was added to the menu permanently.)

But while the Ice Cream Sundae with Ghirardelli Chocolate Sauce on the menu this year is good, it’s not “skip another awesome menu item” good.

The sundae is Vanilla Soft Serve with a few pumps of Ghirardelli Chocolate Sauce. There are way more tempting options all over World Showcase.

Ice Cream Sundae

Ice Cream Sundae Made with Ghirardelli Chocolate Sauce

Instead, why not go for a frozen treat with international flair? Skip the soft serve, and go for some Kaki Gori at the permanent Japan stand, Kabuki Cafe.

Guylian Seashell Truffles at the Desserts & Champagne Marketplace

So, here’s where we make a bit of a confession. If there were one booth I’d outright skip at the Festival it would probably be Desserts & Champagne.

It’s not that there’s anything wrong with it. It’s just that I find so many more compelling options circling World Showcase Lagoon. Case in point: one of the menu items here is Guylian Seashell Truffles. This is not a dish. This is something that the Cast Member takes out of the box and hands to me.

Guylian Belgian Chocolate Seashell Truffles

Guylian Belgian Chocolate Seashell Truffles

Sure, they’re only $1.75. But they can be bought at the grocery store…and when we are Food and Wine Festival-ing, we are definitely passing on this in lieu of more exotic fare.

If you’re looking for a truly satisfying chocolate dish, head to the Ireland Marketplace and try the amazing Warm Chocolate Pudding with Kerrygold Irish Cream Liqueur Custard, which is more than worth the price difference.

Dole Squish’Ems at Refreshment Port

If you want to stop at the Refreshment Port for a Croissant Doughnut, we are totally on board with that.

But one featured Festival food we will not be making time or money for is the Dole Squish’Em. The prepackaged, applesauce-based snack may be a big hit with the preschool crowd.

Dole Fruit Squish Ems

Dole Fruit Squish’Ems

But unless you’re under 3 (or you really, really like flavored applesauce), we wouldn’t worry about checking this box off your passport. If you’re looking for a fruit fix, the [Read more…]

Friday Happy Hour: Winter Berry Margarita at Wandering Oaken’s Trading Post

UPDATE: Please note that Wandering Oaken’s Trading Post — intended as a temporary location — is now closed. 

Even though Frozen Summer Fun has officially come to an end at Hollywood Studios, that doesn’t mean the fun has ended altogether!

A few elements of the special event that ran throughout the summer remain, including For the First Time in Forever: A Frozen Sing-Along Celebration, and a new home for Wandering Oaken’s Trading Post and Frozen Snowground.

Sign to Wandering Oaken's Trading Post

Sign to Wandering Oaken’s Trading Post

Since there is Frozen food to be had there, we couldn’t resist stopping by its new spot across the street from Studio Catering Co.

Wandering Oaken's Trading Post

Wandering Oaken’s Trading Post

Entrance into the Snowground

Entrance into the Snowground

Food isn’t the only thing you’ll find at Wandering Oaken’s Trading Post. It still remains THE place to build your own snowman in Central Florida.

"Do You Wanna Build a Snowman?"

“Do You Wanna Build a Snowman?”

Snowman!

Snowman!

And there may be… oh, a little bit of Frozen merchandise available for purchase ;) .

Frozen Merchandise

Frozen Merchandise

Elsa and Anna dolls

Young Elsa and Anna dolls

Olaf plush

Olaf plush

But we’re here to check out the Sweet Treat Bar, tucked in the corner next to the Snowground. It maintains the same cozy, lodge feel that it did over the summer. They even brought out the snowflake decorated trash cans in honor of the wintry occasion.

Sweet Treat Bar

Sweet Treat Bar

And the menu, for the most part, remains the same as well — with a few [Read more…]

News! “Maelstrom Margarita” at Epcot’s La Cava del Tequila

It appears that Norway’s next door neighbor (well, in World Showcase, that is!) is offering a tribute to Maelstrom, which carried riders on a “High Seas Norwegian Adventure” for the last time earlier this week (the attraction was closed to make way for a Frozen-inspired refurb).

The Mexico Pavilion’s La Cava del Tequila is serving Maelstrom Margaritas to honor the beloved attraction.

Maelstrom

Maelstrom

The Maelstrom Margarita features “Premium Ambhar Tequila blanco, mango puree, orange liquor, and agave nectar served with blueberries, habanero peppers, basil and Tajin chili powder on the rim.”

©cavadeltequila

©cavadeltequila

The drink debuted on October 6th for La Cava’s “Margarita Monday,” and while we assume this drink will only be available for a very limited time, according to La Cava’s Twitter feed: “Maelstrom Margarita will be available until you stop buying it, so it all depends on you. Made in honor of the ride.”

So, if you find yourself in the Mexico Pavilion today while tasting your way around the World, stop by La Cava to raise a glass… and to remember [Read more…]

Epcot Food and Wine Festival Pictures and Review: Farm Fresh and Hops & Barley Marketplace Booths

The 2014 Epcot Food and Wine Festival is well underway, and we’re hearing from lots of you that you’re really enjoying this year’s offerings!

Welcome to the Epcot Food and Wine Festival!

Welcome to the Epcot Food and Wine Festival!

Today, we’re taking a closer look at those little outposts of deliciousness, the Marketplace Booths found throughout World Showcase. Up to this point, we’ve focused on international flair, but this time out, let’s visit two uniquely American spots — Farm Fresh and Hops & Barley.

These two spots include some of our most beloved festival offerings this year.

(Get the bacon hash. Get. It.)

The Farm Fresh Marketplace Booth

The Farm Fresh Marketplace Booth is sort of something old and something new at the same time. The marketplace actually debuted as Florida Local in 2012.

2014 Farm Fresh marketplace booth

Farm Fresh Marketplace Booth

This year, Festival chefs wanted to expand the scope of the food served here. Rather than source ingredients from Florida only, they looked to showcase regional flavors. But the emphasis is still farm-to-market-fresh.

2014 Farm Fresh Marketplace Booth Menu - Click for larger image

2014 Farm Fresh Marketplace Booth Menu

You get the sense that they’re taking a back-to-basics approach. Dishes are homespun, but are executed with attention to detail and bold flavors.

For example — the Nueske’s® Pepper Bacon Hash. This thing is just off the charts. I seriously ate it in, like, 30 seconds while I stood there like an idiot taking up space. It includes Nueske’s Bacon, plus lots of fresh ingredients like Sweet Corn, Potatoes, and Pickled Jalapeños. But the best part? The Hash is topped with creamy Hollandaise. Shazam.

Nueske’s® Pepper Bacon Hash with sweet corn, potatoes, hollandaise and pickled jalapeño

Nueske’s® Pepper Bacon Hash with Sweet Corn, Potatoes, Hollandaise and Pickled Jalapeño

The Griddled “Yard Bird” is another fun dish. It’s pretty straightforward, actually. Chicken Thighs are seasoned and then [Read more…]

Epcot Food and Wine Festival Pictures and Review: France and Mexico Marketplace Booths

We’re back today with another delicious look at the 2014 Epcot Food and Wine Festival!

Welcome to the Epcot Food and Wine Festival!

Welcome to the Epcot Food and Wine Festival!

It’s always exciting to see what new Marketplaces and other experiences pop up each year at the Festival, but I’m always eager to indulge in my tried and true favorites as well!

Today, let’s take a peek at some always-busy booths — France and Mexico — to take a closer look at both classics and brand new flavors.

The France Marketplace Booth

When you visit the France Marketplace, you’re participating in Food and Wine Festival Heritage! That’s right — it’s one of the original spots from the very first event, which was held in 1996.

And though the menu has changed a bit from year to year, it’s always a favorite stop for guests.

France Marketplace Booth

France Marketplace Booth

You’ll notice that the France booth has a very robust menu. With three different savory items, plus dessert, you could easily make a meal out of the offerings here. Add to that wines and cocktails, and you would definitely want to visit the Marketplace more than once to try everything.

2014 France Menu

2014 France Menu

The big news at the France booth this year was a change to the classic Escargot offering. In the past, guests have enjoyed Escargots en Persillade in the perfect stroll-and-eat version; the escargots were nestled in rounds of Brioche.

But in 2014, escargot became an ingredient in a savory tart. The Tartelette aux Escargots combined the Snails with Spinach, Garlic, Bacon, and Parmesan, presented in a deep, rectangular savory tart.

Tartelette aux Escargot

Tartelette aux Escargots

This one has probably been one of the biggest controversies of the festival this year! We’ve heard from guests who love it, and from guests who hate it.

Me? While I’m not a huge fan of spinach or snails on their own, the combo of flavors is an absolute win here. But really, is there a way to go wrong when Bacon and Garlic are involved??

Cross section of Tartlette aux Escargot

Cross section of Tartlette aux Escargots

Also joining the line up this year is Gratin de Crozets de Savoie. The savory combination of Gruyere and Mushrooms makes this rich vegetarian dish a hit.

Gratin de Crozet de Savoie

Gratin de Crozets de Savoie

The pasta used in the dish, Crozet, comes to us from Savoie. It’s a uniquely French version of pasta, customarily a whole wheat variety.

Gratin de Crozet de Savoie -- Inside

Gratin de Crozets de Savoie — Inside

Also on the menu is another popular option from years past:  [Read more…]