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…]

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…]

Top 5 Must-Try NEW Restaurants in Walt Disney World for 2014

Happy New Year to all of our wonderful Disney Food Blog Readers out there!

Chocolate-Macaron-ice-cream-sandwich-600x471

Whether you’re busy getting started with those resolutions, or recuperating from the big party last night, we thought we’d take a few minutes and discuss some fun new options that you’ve just gotta try in 2014!

True, there wasn’t nearly as much expansion in Disney Parks in 2013. It’s hard to measure up to New Fantasyland and Cars Land, after all! But there are still some fun new spots to check out.

So if you haven’t had the pleasure, allow me to introduce our picks for the Top 5 Must-Try New Walt Disney World Dining Spots for 2014!

L’Artisan des Glaces

Who knew that you could make Ice Cream even better? We were a little sad to hear that one of our favorite destinations for ice cream, Fountain View Cafe (hand made ice cream sandwiches!!!) would be converting to a Starbucks. But our blues faded away the very first time we stepped foot into L’Artisan des Glaces.

L'Artisan des Glaces Moved into the Former Boulangerie Patisserie Space

L’Artisan des Glaces Moved into the Former Boulangerie Patisserie Space

The tiny sorbet and ice cream parlour has tons of Old World charm — quite a feat since it opened, brand-new, in 2013! Occupying the space that was previously home to Boulangerie Patisserie in Epcot’s France Pavilion, the shop gave us lots of reasons to venture off the beaten path in search of a refreshing treat. (Bakery fans, not to worry. The très popular bakery and pastry shop was rechristened Les Halles, and expanded to the back of the France Pavilion.)

Inside L'Artisan des Glaces

Inside L’Artisan des Glaces

On any given day, the scoop shop plays host to 16 varying flavors of ice cream and sorbet, made from scratch right here in the France Pavilion.

A scoop of the good stuff

A scoop of the good stuff

And the flavors aren’t your garden variety vanilla. They’re European-inspired flavors, with exotic names like Caramel Fleur de Sel, Coco-White Chocolate, and Profiterole. Okay and yes — there’s Vanilla, too. :-) They’re all made in house (I’ve actually seen the ice cream machines in the back!!), and the flavors absolutely pop.

L'Artisan des Glaces Ice Creams and Sorbets in Epcot's France

L’Artisan des Glaces Ice Creams and Sorbets in Epcot’s France

But that’s only part of the story. Because if you’re looking for something a little more interesting than just another scoop of ice cream (really, really incredible ice cream, mind you), then L’Artisan des Glaces is for you. They’re pushing the envelope with not one but THREE fun ice cream snacks that ensure I pop into the shop nearly every trip.

In the category of frosty drink treats with a grown-up twist, we have this gorgeous [Read more…]

News! Royal Court Royal Tea on Disney Cruise Line’s Fantasy

We have news about a very special new experience that you can book with Disney Cruise Line!

Disney’s newest ship, the Fantasy, is now offering the Royal Court Royal Tea, an interactive experience featuring some of Disney’s most popular characters — the Disney Princesses.

Cinderella Greets Guests During the Royal Court Royal Tea

Hosted by Lady Chamomile and Chef Brule — two new characters created to bring the event to life — guests are invited to interact with several princesses while they dine on traditional teatime fare.

Lady Chamomile Brings the Royal Court Royal Tea to Life

Young guests also receive gifts. Girls are presented with tiaras and boys receive swords as they are announced to the assembly.

Belle at Tea with a Young Guest

But that’s not all. Boys will also receive a Duffy Bear in cruise finery, pins, and shields. Girls will be surprised by a [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…]

Review: Blue Bayou in Disneyland

Today, we are headed back to one of the most interesting dining experiences in all of Disneyland — Blue Bayou!

Entrance Sign

This historic spot has been wooing Disneyland guests with its odd mixture of mysterious New Orleans charm and marauding pirate adventure ever since it first opened in 1967. Where does the fusion come from? Well, it’s a little strange. The restaurant is in New Orleans Square, but it’s situated at the beginning of the Pirates of the Caribbean ride path…so it’s kind of a mash-up. ;-)

We took in dinner at the Bayou a while back, and I was much more interested in the atmosphere than the food. In fact, the meals sort of reminded me of conference food (if you’ve ever been to a catered conference for hundreds of people, you know what I mean).

But, as we all know, one of Blue Bayou’s biggest claims to fame is that outrageous Monte Cristo Sandwich, which is only available for lunch. And so, that’s the meal that we made our advance dining reservation for this time.

Let’s head in!

Atmosphere

As I mentioned, you’ll enter Blue Bayou from New Orleans Square. You’ll be glad for the break from the busy activity of the narrow streets you’ve left behind.

Blue Bayou Sign

If you’ve done any research at all before your trip to Disneyland, then you already know that, among other must haves, the Monte Cristo Sandwich here rates high on the food requirement list when you visit the Park That Started It All.

Outside Menu -- Click to Enlarge

After checking in at the window in the front of the restaurant, you’ll wait for your buzzer to buzz in a tiny lobby. Once your name is called, you’re headed…right back outside it seems! But this time, you’ve been transported to a Louisiana bayou, and night has fallen. Give your eyes a little time to adjust from that bright California sunshine, and then have a look around.

Behind you, you’ll see a two-story building built in the finest tradition of The Big Easy.

Looking Across the Patio

You’ll be seated on the patio of this building, beneath paper lanterns and a thick canopy of live oaks dripping with Spanish moss.

Seating Under the Live Oaks and Lanterns

And while there are wonderful details all around that immerse you in the bayou theme, here’s where I make my seating TIP: [Read more…]

Disney Food Pics of the Week: Mini Desserts!

We are back with another installment of Disney Food Pics of the Week. We love to showcase the ah-mazing food photos that our readers share on Disney Food Blog Photo Extravaganza, our Flickr group!

One trend that we lurve at Disney are all the mini-desserts and dessert trios that we see on menus. They’re so much fun, and they add some great variety to your plate. After all, who wants to be saddled with just one flavor for an entire dessert, right?

Let’s take a look at some of our favorites that readers have captured! Onward…

California Grill’s Sundae Sampler

One of the most beloved spots to dine in all of Walt Disney World, California Grill, recently reopened after a lengthy refurbishment. While the interior was given brand new life, there were also several updates to the menu.

One of the most fun new dishes to debut is this super cute Sundae Sampler! (Read more about our thoughts on it here.)

Photographer: Imsoscared

Sundae Sampler from California Grill

2013 Epcot Food and Wine Festival Dessert Trio

We’ve just wrapped up the fabulous 2013 Epcot Food and Wine Festival! And while we’re sorry to see it go, it’s always fun to look back at the food pics and see what we liked the best. Because really — is it ever too early to start planning for next year??

One of our favorite stops was the [Read more…]

2013 Epcot Food and Wine Festival Review: Grand Marnier Tasting — Taste, Shake, and Indulge Like the French

Today, we are heading back to the France Pavilion for another fun 2013 Epcot Food and Wine Festival review!

One of the things that I love the most about the festival, year after year, is the inclusion of hot trends. Often, these reach far beyond just food and wine.

In the last few years, mixology has continued to gain popularity as people look to perfect their cocktail-making skills. And we’ve really enjoyed seeing the trend play out at the festival with the introduction of mixology demonstrations and special events.

During my recent visit for opening week at the festival, I had the opportunity to attend the Grand Marnier Tasting. This special event — officially named Taste, Shake, and Indulge Like the French — takes place on Saturdays during the festival, from 2:30-4PM, at Monsieur Paul.

Monsieur Paul Restauarant in Epcot's France Pavilion

Note that many folks have had Disney reservations agents tell them that the tastings are full, or non-existant, when actually there are still seats available. This may be due to guests asking for the Grand Marnier event instead of referring to its actual title — Taste, Shake, and Indulge. Definitely an understandable mishap, but just an FYI.

Atmosphere

Finding Monsieur Paul is a bit tricky. You enter the posh restaurant through this unassuming little door toward the back of the France Pavilion. (If you’d like to see a bit about Monsieur Paul, read my dinner review here.)

Monsieur Paul Entrance

Enter through the small door, and your eye is immediately directed upward via a winding staircase. And that’s good, because that’s where you’re going! (There’s also an elevator if you prefer.)

Monsieur Paul Entrance and Staircase

Once upstairs, you’ll notice a relaxed yet refined vibe that tells you you’re in an upscale restaurant — but your comfort and enjoyment are what is most important.

Monsieur Paul Seating

Banquettes and cushioned chairs are comfortable places to spend the afternoon. Seating is assigned, so you will most likely be making some new friends during the event!

A Very Comfortable Seating Arrangement

Eats

“Eats” is a bit of a misnomer here. We will be eating. But the star of this show is Grand Marnier in all its glory.

When I arrived, I was greeted with a [Read more…]

2013 Epcot Food and Wine Festival Review: The Chocolate Dinner!

How many times have you said to yourself, “I wish I could eat CHOCOLATE for dinner!!!!” I know. TONS, right? Well the dream has finally come true! And it happened at the 2013 Epcot Food and Wine Festival!

This year, a brand new signature dining experience kicked off the festival during opening weekend. The Chocolate Dinner, hosted by Ghirardelli Chocolate, promised to be a sumptuous experience for the discriminating chocolate lover.

The dinner consisted of a reception, followed by six plated courses, presented by the Disney chefs who created them.

Let’s head over to Epcot’s World Showplace Event Pavilion for a look at this decadent event!

Reception

Ever wonder what’s behind those enormous brown doors between the Canada and UK Pavilions within Epcot’s World Showcase? You might, if you’ve never attended an event at the World Showplace Pavilion. But if you look closely at your Epcot map, you’ll see it there.

That was the setting for the evening’s event, and the sign above the beautiful awning announced it in style.

Chocolate Dinner Sign

Pan back a bit, and you can see the main entrance to the building. A reception preceding the plated dinner took place in the World Showplace courtyard, to the left of the main entrance.

World Showplace Entrance to the Chocolate Dinner

As we entered through the massive brown wooden doors, a team of servers greeted us with beverages. Guests could choose from Young’s Double Chocolate Stout, Chocolate Martinis, or Sparkling Wine. The drinks disappeared quickly every time the staff came out with another tray of them!

Young's Double Chocolate Stout

Chocolate Martini

While guests sipped on their cocktails, beer, and wine, teams of cast members passed trays of [Read more…]

Review and Preview: The Causeway at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Food and Wine Classic

In just a few short days, we will be headed to the The Fourth Annual Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Food and Wine Classic!

This event, which coincides with the 2013 Epcot Food and Wine Festival, is a food and wine lover’s dream.

This year’s Food and Wine Classic will take place on Friday, October 18 and Saturday, October 19. The two-day event consists of food and wine tasting booths set up on the resort’s beautiful causeway each evening.

Guests can also take part in a number of special food and beverage seminars for an additional fee. Seminars take place at 4:30PM both days, and the Causeway booths are open from 5:30 until 9:00PM on Friday and Saturday.

In addition, guests can enjoy a complimentary Cocktail 101 seminar three times during each evening on the Causeway as well as live musical entertainment.

Tasting Plate from Shula's Steakhouse

We’ve had the opportunity to attend the event for the last three years, and we’re looking forward to what 2013 holds! To give you an idea of what lies in store for guests of the Food and Wine Classic, let’s take a look at the 2012 event!

Atmosphere

When you first arrive, you’ll most likely need to pick up your tickets at the Check-In Table.

Check In for the Causeway

Here, staff will check for your reservation, and you’ll receive either your tickets or a wristband, as well as a palate plate and a wine glass.

We had wristbands for the event, which meant that we were free to enjoy unlimited trips to each of the tasting stations. If you prefer a ticketed approach, however, you can purchase books of 25 tickets (most of the booth items require between 2 and 6 tickets).

Food and Wine Classic Wristbands and My Seminar Ticket

For this event, tents are lined up the length of the walkway between the Swan and Dolphin Resorts as well as along the walkway behind the Swan. The resorts are located within walking distance of Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

The Causeway Setup

Tables of all sizes are covered with brightly colored tablecloths, and offer guests a place to sit and relax while enjoying their food and drink.

Tables and Booths Ready for Guests

In addition to tables with chairs, guests can also take advantage of high tops if they prefer to stand.

Individual Tables

It wasn’t too long before the crowd began to swell as guests looked forward to tasting a myriad of dishes.

Causeway is Getting Busy

On Crescent Terrace, guests could also take advantage of [Read more…]