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Snack Series: The Macarons Collection from Les Halles Boulangerie Patisserie in Epcot’s France

We’re headed back for more macarons! Ready?

We’re on our way to that lovely spot where you can get house-made ice cream, mimosas at 9AM, frangipane, and more – Les Halles Boulangerie Patisserie in the France Pavilion of Disney World’s Epcot.

This spot underwent an enormous expansion a while back. And while there are things that we miss about the old bakery, on the whole it’s been a terrific success!

Not only do we have the amazing new L’Artisan des Glaces to tempt us, but the expanded bakery and pastry outlet means that you can enjoy a full meal.

Or you can continue to stop by for a treat between meals. :-)

Box -- Up Close

Box of Deliciousness

And that’s what we’re doing today as I finally get to sample a treat that’s part pastry and part art.

The Macarons Collection

On my recent visit to Walt Disney World, I knew I had to carve out some time to visit Les Halles for one reason: I had to try The Macarons Collection for myself.

They come packaged in this awesome little box — perfect for taking and enjoying one or two while strolling around World Showcase, and saving the rest for later. The packaging also makes for a great take home treat for you or a loved one — if you can stay out of them on the plane ride/car trip home. (Good luck with that.)

Box of Macarons from Les Halles Boulangerie Patisserie

The Macarons Collection from Les Halles Boulangerie Patisserie

Open the lid, and you see the assortment of beautiful colors that make up your gift box of goodies.

Under the Lid

Under the Lid

And I’m not kidding about these sweet little treats being as much fine art as culinary art. Just look at them!

Now, here’s where we need to talk. Because some of you out there may be tempted to dismiss macarons as frivolous, tasteless, silly little things.

All the Pretty Flavors!

All the Pretty Flavors!

That would be a mistake. Yes, several of them are beautifully dyed to suggest the flavors that hide inside. But they’re still delicious.

Let’s take a closer look at the Continue reading →

Spotted! Venomade at Disneyland’s Bengal Barbecue

Let’s say you’re stopping by Disneyland’s Bengal Barbecue to tame your craving for a Jungle Skewer, or maybe even a Tiger Tail.

Bengal BBQ Sign

Bengal BBQ Sign

You’ll need something to wash it down, right? Well, how about a little Venomade to take care of that for you?

I know what you’re thinking: “Whaaa …Huh?” Continue reading →

What’s New Around Disney World: August 12, 2014

It’s time to take another trip around the World, from Downtown Disney to EPCOT… and we’ll be visiting all sorts of Disney Resorts along the way! Strap in, folks, because there’s always something to find when you’re searching for What’s New at Disney World with the DFB!

DOWNTOWN DISNEY

Construction

The name of the game all over Downtown Disney these days continues to be, of course, construction for the transformation into Disney Springs. Here are a few recent shots of what will be The Boathouse restaurant, which seems to be coming along nicely.

The Boathouse construction

The Boathouse construction

The Boathouse construction

The Boathouse construction

The Smokehouse

On the West Side, The Smokehouse has introduced a new item: Smokehouse Nachos!

The Smokehouse

The Smokehouse

The Smokehouse Menu

The Smokehouse Menu

The Nachos can be customized with Continue reading →

News! Enjoy Disney Family of Wines and a New Menu at Alfresco Tasting Terrace in Disney California Adventure

Wine lovers have something new to try at Disneyland Resort!

Wine Country Trattoria at Disney California Adventure in Disneyland

Wine Country Trattoria at Disney California Adventure in Disneyland

We’ve long enjoyed the Alfresco Tasting Terrace at Disney California Adventure for a place to enjoy small plates and California wines. You’ll find the secluded spot on the second floor of the Park’s Wine Country Trattoria.

Alfresco Tasting Terrace Seating

Alfresco Tasting Terrace Seating

But now, we have even more reason to visit, as the rustic venue has introduced a revamped menu to complement their brand new line up of wines.

A Selection of Options from the Disney Family of Wines

A Selection of Options from the Disney Family of Wines

Alfresco has introduced the “Disney Family of Wines”, a collection of California wines all bearing some connection with the Disney brand. While some of the wines are featured at other Disney restaurants, Alfresco is the only spot where you can sample selections from all eight of the wineries featured in the collection. They include: Continue reading →

Review: Lunch at Crystal Palace in Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom

Welp, boys and girls — it’s time to head into Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom and take in lunch at Crystal Palace! This is a beloved character spot for many Disney fans, and a must-do character experience for lots of you.

Me? I hadn’t been to Crystal Palace in foreva…not since an ill-fated late-night visit a couple of years ago when the food was AW-FUL! Yep, it was the end-of-the-night dregs of the buffet and we were pretty much just grossed out. (Have you ever seen a buffet about 15 minutes before a restaurant is about to close? Not pretty.) We ate very little and left as soon as we could. Sad, since we do love dining with Pooh and friends.

But it was time to revisit the 100 Hundred Acre Wood — after all, we’d had lots of great meals here previously — and I made reservations with some friends for lunch.

We have tons of shots to show you, so let’s get started!

Atmosphere

You’ll find Crystal Palace to the left of Main Street USA’s end, just as you approach Cinderella Castle. The beautiful glass building, inspired by ornate conservatories of the late Victorian Age, is a slice of Disney history as well. The restaurant has been around since opening day in 1971.

Entrance to Restaurant

Entrance to Restaurant

And here’s a tip if you’re looking for an extra-special experience during your Disney vacation: try and book Crystal Palace for an early breakfast. You’ll be one of the first guests into the Park when you do this, and visiting a nearly empty Magic Kingdom is an event to remember.

Once you step inside, you’ll see whitewashed walls that carry the bright, light decor throughout. Artwork depicting inspiration for the architecture as well as photos of lush palms cover the walls.

Artwork and Framed Photos

Artwork and Framed Photos

The soaring atrium above is gorgeous — especially on a sunny day!

Crystal Palace Atrium

Crystal Palace Atrium

After you check in, you’ll wait for your table outside on the shaded veranda. But once you step in, pause a moment to take it all in.

Dining Rooms

Dining Rooms

Tons of windows and glass domes allow for plenty of natural light in the two dining areas.

Dining Room from Another Angle

Dining Room from Another Angle

And really — look up. Because the windows are really stunning. I love the beautiful stained glass detail.

Stained Glass Windows

Stained Glass Windows

The decor puts you in mind of a Victorian conservatory, with its outside-but-inside feel. Lush flowers and what reminds me of patio furniture finish the area.

Evening Light

Afternoon Light

Crystal Palace is, of course, a character dining experience, and you’ve stumbled onto a party!

Center Atrium -- Up Close

Center Atrium — Up Close

In fact, visit here, and you’ll take part in a Friendship Day Celebration with Winnie the Pooh and his friends.

Banner -- Up Close

It’s Friendship Day!

Just check out these gorgeous flower topiaries of the whole gang!

Pooh and His Hunny Pot

Pooh and His Hunny Pot

Eeyore Topiary

Eeyore Topiary

The sweet little figures appear to be made of dried roses, and foreshadow the characters you’ll meet while you dine.

Piglet Topiary

Piglet Topiary

Bouncing Tigger Topiary

Bouncing Tigger Topiary

And beautiful hanging arrangements of tropical flowers complete the classic conservatory feel.

Fresh Flowers

Fresh Flowers

Seating is standard and fairly comfortable. Heavy, padded chairs share the space with booths, but some tables are situated a bit too closely for our comfort.

Seating for Two

Seating for Two

Seating along windows gives you a glimpse of guests waiting to be seated! But beyond them, you’ll also see a beautiful view of Continue reading →

Disney Food Post Round-Up: August 10, 2014

If you’re headed to Disneyland, grab one of the new treats now available at Jolly Holiday Bakery. Love the Raspberry Rose Mickey Macaron!

Raspberry Rose Mickey Macaroon at Jolly Holiday

Raspberry Rose Mickey Macaroon

Fans of Sanaa’s Bread Service at the Animal Kingdom Lodge should check out the Namaste Cafe Food Truck in Downtown Disney Orlando. Yum!

Click below for all the details on this week’s Disney Food News!

Disney Food News

Check out all the latest Disney Food News — even the stuff we don’t mention in posts on the blog! — on our Disney Food News Pin Board, including restaurant closures, Kona Island Sushi/Coffee Bar Closure at the Polynesian Resort, Limited Edition Sketch for Disneyland Annual Passholders, and more!

DFB Reader Finds

If you find a fun new food — or other edible awesomeness — in or from Disney, share a photo with us on facebook or twitter so we can add it to our DFB Reader Finds each Sunday!

We’re always amazed by the creations that our readers send in. Let’s take a look at two fabulous homemade cakes. First up, fantastic treats from Facebook Friend Lori. She shared: “Here’s the dessert table from my daughters 2nd birthday party this weekend. It was Mickey Mouse Clubhouse theme, and I made everything. The whole cake is edible. I made the Mickey rice crispy treats using homemade marshmallow, homemade cake pops from the cake crumbs after carving the cake, and egg free mickey cupcakes for a little boy with egg allergies!”

Mickey Mouse Clubhouse Cake

Mickey Mouse Clubhouse Cake

And here is a Wall-E Masterpiece from Facebook Friend Shonnel. Wow!

Wall-E Cake

Wall-E Cake

Thanks for sharing your birthday celebrations!

DFB Guide to the 2014 Epcot International Food & Wine Festival

Last week, we announced the grand launch of the DFB Guide to the 2014 Epcot International Food & Wine Festival e-Book! With over 220 pages and multiple bonus items, it’s pretty substantial!

2014 Food and Wine Guide 3D

As we continue our celebration, we have a discount option for DFB readers. You can get the new mini-guide for $3 off the regular price for a limited time — just use code MENUS at the check-out!

The DFB Guide to the 2014 Epcot Food & Wine Festival e-Book

The DFB Guide to the 2014 Epcot Food & Wine Festival e-Book features all the info you need to know before you attend the Food and Wine Festival this year, from what’s NEW this year to touring strategies — and a new section with top tips on how to use MyMagic+ at the Epcot Food and Wine Festival!

And with the Epcot Food & Wine festival rapidly approaching, the time is now! Booking for festival events opened July 31st, and our exclusive daily schedule of events is the most efficient way to plan your festival strategy. (Did you purchase a pre-order of the DFB Guide to the 2014 Epcot Food and Wine Festival and not receive your book? Let us know at Support@DFBGuide.com!)

With a detailed schedule of seminars and events for every single day of the festival, it’s a quick, easy way to decide what activities and events you want to book! Don’t waste time flipping between web pages, PDFs, and websites — just find the date you need and we’ve got it all right there in front of you. Just like that!

Find Everything That’s Going On During Your Visit in our FULL Daily Schedule of Events!

As always, we’ve made this guide instantly downloadable for your convenience, and easily installed on your mobile devices. It’s a PDF guide with Continue reading →

Epcot Food and Wine Festival Review: Japan Food and Beverage Pairing

We are ramping up for another fantastic Epcot Food and Wine Festival! Today, we’re reviewing a fun Special Event from the 2013 Epcot Food and Wine Festival.

We are heading over to Tokyo Dining in the Japan Pavilion for the Food and Beverage Pairing experience. The light meals feature beverages paired with tasting-sized portions of the restaurant’s cuisine.

I’ve enjoyed dinner at Tokyo Dining as well as lots of fun meals at Teppan Edo, so I was pretty sure I was in for a treat! While we’d done the Morocco food and beverage pairing event, we’d not yet experienced the Japan version. Here we go!

Atmosphere

When I arrived for the Food and Beverage Pairing, I checked in at the stand that serves both Teppan Edo and Tokyo Dining. The cool, sleek waiting area features simple, modern decor and comfortable low lighting.

Waiting Area Serves Both Tokyo Dining and Teppan Edo

This area is also shared by the two restaurants.

Tokyo Dining and Teppan Edo Waiting Area from Another Angle

Step into the Tokyo Dining seating area, and the same modern Japanese vibe is prevalent throughout. A sushi show kitchen takes up space along one wall.

Tokyo Dining Seating and Open Sushi Kitchen

The other side of the restaurant is dominated by Continue reading →

News! Frozen Summer Fun Extended at Disney’s Hollywood Studios! New Premium Package Dates Available.

Do you want to hear something cool (pun totally intended ;) )?

Frozen Summer Fun has been extended at Disney’s Hollywood Studios!!

Frozen at DHSThis immensely popular event based on the beloved hit film, Frozen, was originally scheduled to run through September 1st. However, guests can now join in the celebration through September 28, 2014!

Frozen Fun!

Frozen Fun!

That’s one more month to enjoy Frozen Funland, Anna and Elsa’s Welcome Processional, and For the First Time in Forever: A Frozen Sing-Along Celebration! And let’s not forget all the specialty treats!

Elsa and Anna Letting It Go!

Elsa and Anna Letting It Go!

Take-Along Olaf with Olaf Carrot Cake Cupcake

Take-Along Olaf with Olaf Carrot Cake Cupcake

But wait, there’s more! The Frozen Premium Package has been extended, too (for select dates)! This add-on package sold out entirely for the original dates.

Now guests have the opportunity to book the Premium Package for the following dates: Continue reading →

Guest Review: Dinner at Be Our Guest Restaurant in Disney’s Magic Kingdom

The uber-popular restaurant, Be Our Guest, serves a quick service lunch and table service dinner at Disney’s Magic Kingdom. Sharing her dinner experience, guest author Rebecca Elliott takes us inside the Beast’s Castle!

Atmosphere

My family and I have always been big Beauty & the Beast fans. Which made it such a surprise that, prior to the grand opening of the new Fantasyland in 2012, Disney World didn’t have a whole lot of Beauty & the Beast attractions.

All that changed with the opening of Be Our Guest, a spectacularly themed restaurant set in the Beast’s castle. It’s almost as if Disney is trying to make up for its previous lack of Beauty & the Beast material by creating this over-the-top, lavish dining experience.

A View of the Castle from Across the Bridge

A View of the Castle from Across the Bridge

As you can imagine, dinner reservations are hard to come by. Guests staying on site are able to make advance dining reservations (ADR) 180 days in advance. Since our plans came together rather spur of the moment, we attempted to make a reservation about 60 days out. Of course, none were available. However, we kept trying several times over the next week and, unbelievably, someone must have cancelled and we got our reservation for 6:30pm.

Gargoyle Outside the Castle

Gargoyle Outside the Castle

Atmosphere

Hats off to the designers and Imagineers that brought the Beast’s castle to life. Every nook and cranny of this restaurant makes you feel like you’re in the movie. We checked in at the desk at the foot of the bridge outside of the restaurant, then crossed over and waited outside the castle until our buzzer went off.

It was fun to take in the details even the exterior of the building had to offer. Giant lion statues flanked heavy wooden doors with a tile mosaic above the threshold featuring the famous enchanted rose. (Roses became almost like Hidden Mickeys; they are featured consistently throughout the décor. It was fun to find them everywhere, from the napkins, to the chairs, to the sculptures and more).

The Entrance of Heavy Wooden Doors with Rose Tile Work

The Entrance of Heavy Wooden Doors with Rose Tile Work

Even the Napkins Carry Out the Rose Theme

Even the Napkins Carry Out the Rose Theme

Entering the castle is truly like entering the movie. Theming in Disney restaurants has always been ambitious, but Be Our Guest is their best interpretation of a film in real form. Don’t rush to the restaurant – you’ll want to take a closer look at the gargoyles holding up the archway. Even more, you don’t want to miss the tile mosaic of Belle and the Beast dancing, which is a re-creation of the very last scene in the movie.

This Guy’s Got a Tough Gig – Holding Up the Castle

This Guy’s Got a Tough Gig – Holding Up the Castle

Belle and the Beast Tile Mosaic in the Entry

Belle and the Beast Tile Mosaic in the Entry

We were greeted by a cast member at the inside host desk who informed us we would be eating in the West Wing. I nearly fainted. I had no idea where our reservation would be, and I certainly didn’t think it would be in the West Wing. We were very, very excited!

It is perpetually evening in the castle, no matter what time of day you go. To get to the West Wing, the cast member guided us through the Ballroom. Holy smokes! Stepping in there was like stepping into the scene of Belle and the Beast dancing, with Mrs. Potts singing, “Beauty & the Beast” in the background. The ceiling is painted with cherubs and clouds, the crystal chandeliers let off a soft, warm glow, and when we looked out the windows overlooking the terrace, it was snowing! We had read about this, but until we saw it, we didn’t realize what a truly magical effect it was.

The Dramatic Ballroom

The Dramatic Ballroom

The Hand Painted Ceiling in the Ballroom Takes Your Breath Away!

The Hand Painted Ceiling in the Ballroom Takes Your Breath Away!

Snow Falls Outside the Windows, Setting the Scene for an Enchanted Night in the Castle

Snow Falls Outside the Windows, Setting the Scene for an Enchanted Night in the Castle

We made our way to the West Wing, which was equally dramatic. The setting is a dark and stormy evening. Thunder and lightening can be heard and seen in the background. There is the painting of the Beast as a young man, complete with claw marks, just like in the movie. (Tip: Keep an eye on the portrait; it changes into the Beast himself with a flash of lightening!)

The Beast’s Portrait in the West Wing, Appropriately Scarred

The Beast’s Portrait in the West Wing, Appropriately Scarred

The most dramatic element of the West Wing is the enchanted rose. It floats beneath a glass dome, its petals falling. I have no idea how they created this effect (hologram?), but again, it is just like the movie.

The Enchanted Rose in the West Wing Was Truly a Sight to See

The Enchanted Rose in the West Wing Was Truly a Sight to See

My daughter and I decided to take in the Rose Gallery. Here is where things got a little confusing. The Rose Gallery is huge – not as big as the Ballroom, but certainly bigger than the West Wing. And it was empty. There were a couple of tables with guests, but the rest of the dining room remained unseated. This was perplexing, because reservations were so hard to come by. It looked as if the few tables that were seated were overflow from the main dining room. The rest of the tables weren’t even set. I understand this room is typically full at lunch. Why not utilize it at dinner? (Editor’s Note: At dinner, the Rose Gallery is often used as a food preparation area instead of a seating area.)

Belle and Beast Take Center Stage in the Rose Gallery

Belle and Beast Take Center Stage in the Rose Gallery

Tapestries Depicting Scenes from the Movie Hang in the Rose Gallery

Tapestries Depicting Scenes from the Movie Hang in the Rose Gallery

More Tapestries

More Tapestries

I should mention here another feature of the dining room. About every 15 minutes or so, a clock chimes and you can hear the Beast being introduced. Because we were seated in the West Wing, we saw him make his entrance into the dining room. He walked out, waved to the diners, and made his way to the picture taking spot at the other end of the restaurant, greeting guests along the way.

We thought this was a fun touch. The picture area is the quick service ordering spot during lunch. On our way out, we had our picture taken with him. He was very kind and accommodating.

Beast Making His Way Through the Dining Room

Beast Making His Way Through the Dining Room

Guests exit the restaurant through a hallway lined with suits of armor. I was reminded of the scene in Beauty & the Beast when Cogsworth gives Belle a tour of the castle. They walk through a similar hallway. Make sure you listen closely – some of the suits of armor talk!

Suits of Armor Line the Exit Hallway

Suits of Armor Line the Exit Hallway

Some of the Suits of Armor Were a Little Chatty!

Some of the Suits of Armor Were a Little Chatty!

Eats

We were seated and promptly greeted by our server, who informed us that Be Our Guest offers beer and wine, the first restaurant ever to do so in the Magic Kingdom. We don’t drink, but noticed several guests were taking advantage of this new offering. Instead, all three of us ordered the all-natural lemonade sweetened with organic cane juice and topped with wildberry foam. It was delicious. (FYI, even though this drink is non-alcoholic and we didn’t order it in the commemorative chalice, there were no refills and it is not considered a fountain beverage.)

All Natural Lemonade with Wildberry Foam

All Natural Lemonade with Wildberry Foam

The menu at Be Our Guest is French themed, thought not authentic French. Still, it was one of the better meals we experienced on our trip. We were participating in the Disney Deluxe Dining plan, so each of us ordered an appetizer, an entrée, and a dessert.

To start, I selected the assorted cured meats and sausages. Please note, this dish serves two, but I made a pretty good dent in it all by myself! It is served with a whole loaf of bread, some delicious pate, cured meats (prosciutto, ham), sausages, mustard, cornichons, some tart jam, and cheese. I truly enjoyed this dish. A lot of Disney food tends to the mildly seasoned. This dish was bursting with savory flavors and a variety of textures. It was very satisfying, and could easily serve as an entrée.

Assorted Cured Meats and Sausages

Assorted Cured Meats and Sausages

My daughter tried the Continue reading →