Epcot Food and Wine Festival Review: Sweet Sundays with Celebrity Chef Carla Hall

DFB reporter James Armstrong recently attended Sweet Sundays with celebrity chef Carla Hall (co-host of The Chew and Top Chef Alum) during the 2013 Epcot Food and Wine Festival! Let’s check out his review!

The two hour event was divided up into two parts: the first hour consisted of the Sunday Brunch and the second was the celebrity chef demonstration. Upon arrival at 9:30am, we lined up for our table assignments. Doors opened promptly at 10am.

Table assignments

Each assigned table sat approximately six guests with seats on a first come first serve basis. The tables were set with pre-made yogurt parfaits and orange juice.

Once most of the guests had arrived, waiters began escorting each table to the buffet in an orderly “one table at a time” fashion.

Buffet overview

Buffet

Sweet Sundays Brunch

The brunch portion of the event started with some standard buffet items — croissants and strawberry cheese danish. They were good but there was nothing exceptional about them. The croissant was flaky and buttery.

Overview of buffet

There was also fresh raspberries and blueberries [provided by Driscoll’s one of the Festival sponsors]. They were very sweet and at the height of their ripeness.

Raspberries and blueberries

A favorite part of the buffet was the [Read more…]

News! Flying Fish Cafe Luncheon and Interactive Cooking Demonstration

Flying Fish Cafe at Disney’s BoardWalk Inn has just announced a NEW 2013 Epcot International Food & Wine Festival Event. And it looks like they’ve saved the best for last!

Join the Flying Fish Cafe for an exciting afternoon of gastronomical wonders while you explore the art of food and wine pairing. This event features an Interactive Cooking Demonstration & Luncheon hosted by Chef de Cuisine Tim Keating;  Flying Fish Café Maitre d ‘Table/Cellar Master, Stig Jacobsen; and Max Macalman (Author, The Cheese Monger, and aficionado of all things Fromage).

Look for Chef Tim in the front of the Flying Fish’s Dining Room where he will present the afternoon’s Creations in Cooking School-Style. Guests will be free to mingle, observe, and ask questions during the demonstration. Stig Jacobsen will be providing Wine Pairing Notes, David Abdy will be talking all things Heritage Pork from Florida, plus Max Macalman will be talking through: Cheese as Dessert.

Max McCalman, Maître Fromager and the Presenter for The Tasting

When: Saturday, November 9th, 2013 from 1-4PM
Where: Front Dining Room of Flying Fish Café at Disney’s BoardWalk Resort
Cost: $135/per person (includes gratuity) plus tax
Reservations: Contact Joanne Berube; 407-939-5102 (Tuesday-Saturday 8:30am-4:30pm ET) or the Flying Fish Cafe’s Special Events Line at 407-939-2398.

Seating is limited to just 36 guests! As it is the last weekend of the festival AND Wine & Dine Half-Marathon Weekend, we suggest reserving your space now!

Chef Tim’s Wine & Food Pairing Demonstration Menu

“Bubbles”
Amuse Bouches – Small Bites best-suited with the Crisp Flavor Profiles of Champagne & Sparkling Wines

“Crisp and Curious White”
Unveiling the Secrets of the Flying Fish Café Signature Crab Cake…and a TK Crab Cake with a Twist!

Crab Cake

“Making Red Wine & Fish Work”
Yet another unveiling of the Flying Fish Café Signature [Read more…]

Review: Halloween Desserts and New Dinner Menu Items at Be Our Guest Restaurant

Please welcome back DFB author Wendy with a review of Halloween at Be Our Guest Restaurant!

It’s time to dine once again with the Beast in his Castle for dinner at Be Our Guest Restaurant in New Fantasyland in Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom!

Even though Be Our Guest will celebrate its first birthday next month, it’s still fun to take in the sight of the Ballroom (especially for that hard-to-snag Advance Dining Reservation!).

Be Our Guest Restaurant Ballroom Dining Room

Chandelier in Ballroom

No matter where you’re seated, you should definitely take a minute to stroll a bit and take in all of the amazing detail. Now it is, of course, October -– the month of ghouls, goblins, and all things foreboding — so it seemed somehow fitting when our party was placed in the West Wing, the only room that was off-limits to Belle in Beauty and the Beast.

West Wing Dining Area

This room is darker than the others, with dark tapestries and ornate seating.

West Wing Table

Fans of the movie will remember that this is where the Beast’s Enchanted Rose resides. Guests can watch the rose slowly losing its petals throughout their meal!

Enchanted rose

I love some of the touches unique to dinner at Be Our Guest, from the [Read more…]

New! Caramel Apple Stuffed French Toast at Cinderella’s Royal Table

A coveted reservation at Cinderella’s Royal Table just got tastier!

Many guests opt for a breakfast inside the Castle, and now there’s a new menu item to enjoy — Caramel Apple Stuffed French Toast.

As if a walk down Main Street U.S.A. in the early morning isn’t exciting enough, actually getting to dine inside the iconic castle at the Magic Kingdom is seriously memorable.

Next time, you’re headed to dine with Disney royalty, check out this new breakfast menu item, which recently replaced the Cream Cheese Stuffed French Toast.

Breakfast Menu - click image for larger version.

Reader Kristin fills us in on the details:
It was unbelievable! My daughter and I do this as a trip tradition, but I have always just passed off that we pay more for the location/characters. This meal made the price worth it! I had the french toast version back in 2008 and I couldn’t finish it. But this new version was [Read more…]

Full Review: The NEW California Grill at Disney’s Contemporary Resort

Update: Scroll to the end of the Eats section (yep, waaayyy down there!) for a mini-review of opening night, courtesy of one of our favorite DFB guest writers, Julie B!

We are headed back to the fifteenth floor of Disney’s Contemporary Resort today, as we take a closer look at the brand new California Grill!

The outpouring of Disney food fan love has just been astounding throughout the last eight months as we’ve continued to watch the newly re-imagined California Grill take shape. Folks who love the restaurant and its amazing menu have been anxious for news. Would it retain its panache? Would beloved dishes from the old menu make the cut? How would we survive with no Yoshie??

We are happy to report that, if possible, California Grill is even more spectacular than before. We were happy to show you a first look at all that was new after last Thursday’s media event. Today, we’re unveiling more details. If you haven’t already, get ready to make those advance dining reservations. I think you’re going to like what you see.

Menus

Settle in. This is going to be a long one!

Atmosphere

Immediately, as you step out of the elevator onto the fifteenth floor, you are enveloped by the cool vibe of California Grill. You know at once that you’re in for a special experience.

If you weren’t aware of it already, now you know: wine matters in this restaurant. A lot. Wine coolers aren’t dressed up to be anything else; they’re unapologetically part of the decor here. This makes sense, as the restaurant now boasts 1,600 bottles of wine in the state-of-the-art wine display.

You’ll find around 250 wines on the list, with 80 available by the glass. And with more than 20 sommeliers on staff, you are literally enveloped in a wealth of wine knowledge.

Wine, Anyone?

Straight ahead, you’ll find the trademark view of Seven Seas Lagoon. With any luck there will be a spectacular sunset over the Grand Floridian Resort and Spa during your visit like there was for ours.

This area continues to serve as the lounge for the restaurant. You can still score a table here with no advance dining reservation, and the full restaurant menu is available for ordering.

Entrance and Bank of Wine Fridges

The bar area continues to be highlighted by the ceiling’s circular cutout. While the shape is the same, the whole bar has been overhauled with new finishes. Comfortable seating beckons you to relax and have a cocktail or two.

Bar

To quote one of my Disney friends, nothing here is the same as it was! The lights are wonderfully whimsical. While modern, there’s still a retro feel here. In fact, the lights remind me a lot of old pictures I’ve seen of the Contemporary from the 1970s.

Seating Area is Ready for Guests

Tables are set for service. I was glad to see that the [Read more…]

First Look! The NEW California Grill at Disney’s Contemporary Resort

Oh my goodness, you guys! We got a chance to check out the newly revamped California Grill last night and IT. IS. AMAZING!

The popular restaurant, which sits high atop Disney’s Contemporary Resort, is the one that started it all. It was Disney World’s first foray into sleek, signature dining.

But even the most contemporary California vibe can become outdated. And so it was time for a little freshening.

Last night, we got a first look at the brand new re-imagined California Grill.

We’ll have even more pics for you later today — and a longer review for you next week! But I couldn’t wait to share these initial pics of the transformation! Come with us and take a look!

New California Grill Atmosphere

The facelift is evident before you ever set foot on the fifteenth floor. The check in desk, located on the second floor, has also received an updated look.

Second Floor Check In Desk for California Grill

A new font and background replace the signature cursive. Colorful stripes in warm colors replace the painted tile background.

After a quick trip up in the elevator reserved for California Grill guests, we stepped out into the entrance. A right turn, and we were greeted by a gorgeous, post-storm sunset.

California Grill view

Sweeping vistas have always been a hallmark of California Grill, but they’ve been made even more stunning with the introduction of floor to ceiling windows, which allow for plenty of natural light and incredible, 360-degree views.

California Grill New Dining Room

California Grill New Dining Room

Previously, the space was dominated by bright, bold geometric patterns. In re-imagining the space, Imagineers decided to look to the Contemporary’s mid-century roots for inspiration.

Taking elements from the work of iconic Disney artist Mary Blair, the entire space was [Read more…]

News! Changes to Disney World Tables in Wonderland Dining Discounts for 2014

We’ve got some news about one of Disney World’s popular dining discounts!

Tables in Wonderland, Walt Disney World’s fee-based dining discount program offered to Florida residents, Annual Passholders, and Disney Vacation Club members, is a great way to save money if you are a frequent diner at Walt Disney World.

The program offers 20% savings on food and beverages, including alcoholic beverages, at more than 100 Walt Disney World restaurants.

Today, we’re getting news of an update to restaurants that will either stop offering the Tables in Wonderland discount in the near future, or will be subject to more blackout dates when using the card.

Victoria and Albert’s to Discontinue Offering Tables in Wonderland Discount

According to the Tables in Wonderland website, Victoria and Albert’s at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa will continue to honor the Tables in Wonderland discount through July 14, 2014. However, as of August 1, 2014, the ultra-luxurious dining spot will no longer accept the Tables in Wonderland card.

Victoria and Albert's Main Dining Room

Currently, Tables in Wonderland members may still [Read more…]

Guest Review: Culinary Demos at the Epcot Food and Wine Festival

It’s time to start getting excited about the 2013 Epcot Food and Wine Festival! Today, we’re whetting your whistle as guest reviewer @MealTrip joins us with mini-reviews from four culinary demos presented at the 2012 Epcot Food and Wine Festival. Read on and learn what to expect this year at the Epcot Food and Wine Festival culinary demos.

The Culinary Demonstrations held at the Festival Welcome Center (the old Wonders of Life Pavilion), provide a great gateway for those looking into any of the extra “pay to attend” events at the Food and Wine Festival. At $12 to $15 per person, per seminar, they really are one of the best values at the festival.

Festival Center - Outside View

A representative from the winery, a chef, and an interviewer are present during the experience to talk about the wine you’re sampling, and actually prepare a version of the dish in an on-stage kitchen. In most cases, there’s also time to get a few questions from the audience answered. (Okay, again for the realists out there, there’s a much larger kitchen behind the kitchen on stage, where your food is being prepared at the same time.)

While it is recommended that you reserve a spot early (booking begins on August 13th for everyone; August 9th for Tables in Wonderland and DVC members, Golden Oak Residents, and Annual Passholders), you can also check in at the Festival Center when the park opens to see what’s still available for the day.

Demo and Seminar Check In

On to the fun stuff, a recap of a few events from the first week of the 2012 festival…

Celebrity Chef Cat Cora Culinary Demonstration

Details: Chef Cat Cora from Kouzzina – Disney’s BoardWalk Inn. Dish: Seared Shrimp with Spiced Hummus and Peppedew Relish. Wine: Brampton UnWooded Chardonnay.

We’ll start our little recap with the Iron Chef herself, Cat Cora.

Chef Cat Cora.

Chef Cora’s dish was [Read more…]

News! Wine Dinners at Flying Fish Cafe During the 2013 Epcot Food and Wine Festival

The Flying Fish Café Team at Disney’s Boardwalk Resort has announced Winery Series events that will take place during the 2013 Epcot Food and Wine Festival — including an event hosted by Mr. and Mrs. John Lasseter!

Wine Series Events — Epcot Food and Wine Festival

These Flying Fish Cafe wine dinners are extremely popular and offer an intimate meal with the chef and wine maker.

Adding one of these meals to your Epcot Food and Wine Festival itinerary will make for a memorable visit! This is one of our favorite restaurants on property — it’s consistently delicious and offers a really great relaxed atmosphere with truly excellent service.

Check out what dinners are available this Fall during your Food and Wine Festival trip!

Flying Fish Cafe Tables and Murals

“Riesling/Pinot German Wine Dinner” – Thursday, September 26, 2013

Johannes Selbach–Owner/Wine Maker
Weingut Selbach-Oster, Zeltingen-Mosel, Germany
6pm Reception – 6:15pm Dinner

“Gems of Italy” – Thursday, October 3, 2013

Pierluigi Gaeta, Marketing Director-Vias Imports Ltd., NY
Featuring extraordinary selections from Italy’s Top Wine Producing Regions
6pm Reception – 6:15pm Dinner

“Moet & Chandon” – Thursday, October 10, 2013

Mr. Josh Phillips of Moët & Chandon, Epernay-France
6pm Reception – 6:15pm Dinner
*Book this event through Epcot Food and Wine Festival at 407/WDW-FEST (939-3378).

“Lasseter” – Thursday, October 17, 2013

Mr. & Mrs. John Lasseter, Owner/Founder Lasseter Vineyards, Sonoma, [Read more…]

Guest Review: New Dish at Be Our Guest Restaurant in Disney World’s Magic Kingdom

Not only has Disney World’s Be Our Guest Restaurant just won a prestigious award, it’s also got a few new menu items!

Be Our Guest Restaurant Menu Changes Already in the Works...

Welcome Guest Author Daniel S. with his review of the new chicken dish at the Magic Kingdom’s Be Our Guest Restaurant! The new entree replaces the Rotisserie Cornish Hen.

See a review of the full Be Our Guest Restaurant dinner menu here!

Disney World’s Be Our Guest Restaurant recently changed up its dinner menu a bit, and I got the chance to try the new chicken dish. First of all, here’s something that’s interesting to note: the new Chicken Breast Provençal wasn’t yet on the printed menu when we visited. Our waitress said it was available to order, but the hen was still reflected on the current menu handed out.

She described it as basically Chicken Parmesan without the cheese. I would disagree. The sauce had a very distinct flavor. Do not expect an Italian essence. It was a mixture of white wine and green olive, with heavy emphasis on the olive. No hint of garlic in the sauce at all.

Chicken Breast Provencal.

The chicken was [Read more…]