Food Post Weekly Round-Up: September 27th, 2009

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So much has happened this week! To start (and in case you missed them), check out my Kouzzina dinner review and photos post.

Then head over to the Epcot Food and Wine Festival Page to see:

Once you’re up to date on Food and Wine, check out these other fantastic posts from this week (and a couple that were carried over from last week):

Everything WDW reviews Hoop Dee Doo Revue at Fort Wilderness

Scott Joseph Orlando breaks the news that Disney World is no longer serving all-beef hot dogs

BelleLovesTheBeast on SRSounds reviews Ralph Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen in Disneyland

etckt has created an Epcot Food and Wine Festival iphone application to help you make choices as you wind around the World Showcase

Orlando Sentinel’s The Dish posts a video of Cat Cora cooking in her new Boardwalk kitchen

Palm Beach Post Pulse takes a look at how Disney World has risen to Dining Destination status

OC Register posts a video of Disney employees learning in the Disney Culinary Academy

Samland has a photo pictoral and essay about the Napa Rose Patio at Disneyland’s Grand Californian

Kouzzina Dinner Review

After reading about and looking at photos of everyone’s meals at Kouzzina by Cat Cora, I’m thrilled to say that I finally had the chance to dine there myself!

Kouzzina

We arrived a few minutes late for our 7:30 reservation and were seated immediately. The Boardwalk was pretty deserted, except for a small crowd watching a magician do a few fun tricks. The lobby of Kouzzina was even more deserted; my guess is that folks haven’t yet heard about this place, so they’re not storming it at the moment.

But that meant that I got to take some really interesting photos of the lobby, including Chef Cat Cora’s family pictures on the wall and her shelves of cookbooks and wine.

Lobby shelves

Lobby shelves

Cat Cora's Pappa at age 8

Cat Cora's Pappa at age 8

More of the Cora Family

More of the Cora Family

Wall Map

Wall Map

The staff at the restaurant were wonderful — extremely welcoming and attentive. We were quickly led to our table through the large, open dining room. It’s still reminiscent of the Spoodles “farmhouse” feel, with the light wood plank floor and big, hardy dark wood tables and chairs. But Cora’s added softness with the use of delicate, mismatched chandeliers and effusive ironwork curly cues as accents.

Dining Room

Dining Room

There is some booth seating around the perimeter

There is some booth seating around the perimeter

Cora has written on and signed some of the artwork

Cora has written on and signed some of the artwork

We passed the open show kitchen, in which I found some very kind and patient chefs (I took a LOT of photos later in the evening!), and the big, farmhouse tables set for what must be very extended families!

A proud Chef watches over his fires

A proud Chef watches over his fires

Show Kitchen

Show Kitchen

The kitchen staff yells Opa! when the saganaki flame goes up

The kitchen staff yells Opa! when the flame goes up

Staff and Chef Dee Foundoukis are eager to show off the restaurant

Staff and Chef Dee Foundoukis are eager to show off the restaurant

We went very light on lunch today so that we could order and taste lots tonight, which we certainly did! Once presented with the menu, I quickly ordered my Ouzo-tini and two appetizers: Spanakopita and Saganaki.

The Ouzo-tini, “Cat’s personal recipe features Absolut Vodka, Metaxa Ouzo, Pineapple Juice, fresh Lime Juice, and Pomegranate served in a Sugar-rimmed Martini Glass Shaken and served table side. I loved all of the flavors, and the licorice-like taste of the Ouzo was very present. My first thought? “This tastes like a Good -n- Plenty!”

Ouzo-tini

Ouzo-tini

The Spanakopita — Traditional Phyllo Pie of Spinach, Feta, Leeks, and Dill — was…fine. Maybe we were having an off night, but the heavy spinach taste wasn’t much to our liking (and my companion usually LOVES spinach). It’s hard to say that, as I know this is a traditional item on the menu. I can give very high marks to the phyllo pastry… .

Spanakopita, Bread, and Butter

Spanakopita, Bread, and Butter

Spanakopita

Spanakopita

The Saganaki — Seared Haloumi Cheese with Lemon and Oregano — was my favorite of the two appetizers. It’s basically the Greek version of fried cheese, so why wouldn’t we like it? The cheese is firm — almost rubbery in texture. It’s quite salty, and the tang of the lemon adds an interesting layer. Although the cheese is a decent taste alone, it’s much better when eaten, as presented, with the soft, crusty oil-and-herb brushed bread. One more tidbit — originally, the saganaki was to be flambeed table-side. Due to dangerous conditions (not the least of which are kids + fire), the flames stayed in the kitchen; but the whole kitchen staff yells, “Opa!” every time the fire jumps feet into the air.

Saganaki

Saganaki

From there, we moved on to our entrees. I had been fantasizing about the Pastitsio since the Kouzzina menu was released way back when, so I ordered that. We also ordered the Flank Steak and a side order of herbed Orzo.

The Pastitsio — Greek-style Lasagna with Bucatini Pasta, Cinnamon-stewed Meat Sauce, and Bechamel — looks gorgeous. With a brown, crusted top and layers of rich bechamel sauce; thick, spaghetti-like bucatini; and spicy (as in cinnamon-spice) meat sauce, it looked heavenly. But the taste was…I hate to say it…a bit bland. I looked around for salt. There was none on the table, which was according to Cat Cora’s instructions, said my waiter. He brought me the salt and the Pastitsio got better, but it’s not something I would order again. My companion (a more adventurous eater than I) felt the same.

Pastitsio

Pastitsio

Pastitsio Inside

Pastitsio Inside

On the other hand, the Wood-grilled Flank Steak with fresh Herb Saltsa and Kouzzina Potatoes was rockin’! Grilled perfectly and settled on those beautiful little smooshed garlic potatoes, it was the hit of the evening.

Flank steak and crushed garlic potatoes

Flank steak and crushed garlic potatoes

We also sampled the Herbed Orzo side dish with Greek Olive Oil and Kasseri Cheese. This was light, fluffy, and had a stunning flavor — salty again, with that slight zing of lemon. The cheese in no way weighed this down. We enjoyed it.

Herbed Orzo with Cheese

Herbed Orzo with Cheese

For dessert, I knew we had to try the Loukoumades — Greek doughnuts drizzled with warm honey. I was also in a chocolate-y mood, and although I’m not usually that impressed with Disney World’s standard chocolate desserts, I ordered the Chocolate Budino Cake with a warm molten center and whipped sweet cream.

The Loukoumades came highly recommended by a food blog reader, and we’re big ol’ doughnut fans, anyway. They looked puffy and yummy and fried, and you can’t beat that. Better yet, they were delicious. The honey drizzle feels and tastes like a glaze, and after a quick crunch as you bite, the Loukoumades melt in your mouth. Add the tangy berry dipping sauce and you’ve got a jelly doughnut right there at your table. A truly clever, “interactive” dessert that the whole family can enjoy together.

Loukoumades

Loukoumades

The Chocolate Budino Cake looked innocent enough, and I almost discounted it as being another of the bland, (seemingly) mass-produced Disney World chocolate desserts. But I would have been wrong. The aroma when I cut into the cake was the precise one I smell when my Dad adds the butter to a bubbling pot of dark chocolate fudge at Christmastime. Every bite of this dessert was delicious.

Chocolate Budino Cake

Chocolate Budino Cake

And the inside...

And the inside...

I didn’t get the chance to try Cat Cora’s Greek Cookies, but I did get to take a photo for you!

Kouzzina Cookies

Kouzzina Cookies

Overall, I enjoyed the feel and service of this restaurant. And while the dishes (except the steak and dessert) weren’t spot on for my palate, I really do look forward to returning and trying some of the other items on the menu.

As with several of Disney’s newer restaurants, this menu has some adventurous dishes, such as the traditional whole fish entree. But it is actually more populated with more familiar items — such as the burger, steaks, fried cheese, and lasagne — that have been given Greek and Mediterranean twists. Overall, you (and your kids) are probably going to find something you like here, even if you’re picky eaters, but check out the menu to be sure you’re comfortable. It’s well worth the visit to the Boardwalk, and can offer a delicious and interesting evening out for the family or a romantic evening for date night.

Try it and let me know what you think via facebook, twitter, or email!

You can find other posts on Kouzzina here:
Kouzzina Grand Opening
More Kouzzina food photos, including the Whole Fish entree.
Kouzzina menus

Kouzzina Grand Opening at Disney World’s Boardwalk

Mickey and Cat

Mickey and Cat

Kouzzina (Greek for “Kitchen”) was opened this morning by Chef Cat Cora and her staff, to a huge cheer of “Opah!” Believe it or not, this is Cora’s FIRST signature restaurant — I’m so excited it’s at Disney World!

Celebrity chef Cat Cora prepares dishes prior to the grand opening of her first signature restaurant

Celebrity chef Cat Cora prepares dishes prior to the grand opening of her first signature restaurant

Kouzzina Exhibition Kitchen

Kouzzina Exhibition Kitchen

Open for breakfast and dinner, the Kouzzina’s menu includes “time-honored recipes passed down from my ancestors, as well as my favorite Greek and Mediterranean dishes that my family loves,” Cora told Disney PR. For breakfast, try steel-cut cinnamon oatmeal, blueberry orange granola pancakes, or the stacked Kouzzina breakfast with two poached eggs, kalamata olive toast, artichoke spread, sweet potato hash and bacon or chicken sausage.

Prior to dinner, sample “Cat’s Ouzo-tini,” Mediterranean sangria, and her own wine label, Coranation, featuring California wines. For an appetizer: calamari, goat cheese-stuffed grape leaves, spinach pie, and Spiro’s (Cat’s Dad!) Greek Salad. Entrées include cinnamon stewed chicken, traditional whole fish, and Pastitisio — a Greek “lasagna.” (See full Kouzzina menus here.)

Kouzzina Ouzo-tini featuring Absolut vodka, Metaxa ouzo, pineapple juice, fresh lime juice and pomegranate served in a sugar-rimmed martini glass shaken and served tableside

Kouzzina Ouzo-tini featuring Absolut vodka, Metaxa ouzo, pineapple juice, fresh lime juice and pomegranate served in a sugar-rimmed martini glass shaken and served tableside

Kouzzina Spiro's Salad: tomatoes, cucumbers, red onions, kalamata olives and feta

Kouzzina Spiro's Salad: tomatoes, cucumbers, red onions, kalamata olives and feta

Kouzzina Spanakopita

Kouzzina Spanakopita

Kouzzina Cinnamon-stewed chicken, with tomatoes, herbed orzo and Mizithra cheese

Kouzzina Cinnamon-stewed chicken, with tomatoes, herbed orzo and Mizithra cheese

Kouzzina Whole Fish

Kouzzina Whole Fish

Kouzzina lamb burger, dressed with olives and feta, with a side of sweet potato fries

Kouzzina lamb burger, dressed with olives and feta, with a side of sweet potato fries

Kouzzina Pastitisio, with bucatini pasta, cinnamon-stewed meat sauce, and béchamel sauce

Kouzzina Pastitisio, with bucatini pasta, cinnamon-stewed meat sauce, and béchamel sauce

Kouzzina Baklava with Pistachio Gelato

Kouzzina Baklava with Pistachio Gelato

The restaurant replaces another Mediterranean spot on the Boardwalk, Spoodles, recently closed to make way for Cora’s new spot. The kitchen will be presided over by Chef Dee Foundoukis.

Kouzzina Chef Dee Foundoukis

Kouzzina Chef Dee Foundoukis

According to Disney’s press release, Cora began working with Disney in 2008 by creating a Disney Video on Demand series to showcase ways to help families develop more healthy eating habits. Cora has been a featured chef at the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival and at Disney’s California Food & Wine Festival at Disneyland Resort.

Be sure to check out other Kouzzina Food Photos from the restaurant’s soft opening in August!

All images copyright Disney.

Kouzzina Food Photos!

Thanks to @GoofyBeast, here are a few great photos — including food shots! — of Kouzzina on Disney’s Boardwalk:

Kouzzina Lobby

Kouzzina Lobby

Kouzzina Dining Room

Kouzzina Dining Room

Kouzzina Sampler: Prawns and Chicken on Skewers, Olives, Spiced Cashews, Dolmades, Tzatziki, Hummus and Pita

Kouzzina Sampler: Prawns and Chicken on Skewers, Olives, Spiced Cashews, Dolmades, Tzatziki, Hummus and Pita

Spanakopita

Spanakopita

Fisherman's Stew

Fisherman's Stew

Red Snapper

Red Snapper

Sneak Peek at Kouzzina Menu

Cat Cora and Mickey

Cat Cora and Mickey

*Update August 17, 2009*: Disney World has posted menus for Kouzzina!
Kouzzina Menu: Dinner
Kouzzina Menu: Breakfast
Kouzzina Menu: Dessert

You can see some photos of some new Kouzzina menu items here!

The restaurant had a “soft” opening on August 15th. Grand opening is still scheduled for September 17th.
________________________________________
Also, thanks to DisBoards poster, StepDisney, here’s another sneak peek at what might be on Kouzzina’s menu!

Appetizer:
Saganaki
Spinach Salad
Spanakopita
Goat Cheese Stuffed Grape Leafs
Vongole (clams, Sausage, Wine Broth & Garlic Croutons
Calamari & Lemons
Brick Oven Bread
Kouzzina Spread
Kouzzina Sampler

Dinner Entree:
Oak Fired Pork T-Bone
Wood Grilled Flank Steak
Fisherman’s stew
Cinnamon Stewed Chicken
Char grilled Lamb Burgers
Traditional Whole Fish
Spiced Briami (Oven roasted Veggies, Oregano & Mazithra Cheese with Orzo)
Greek Spinach Pie
Tastitsio ( Greek Lasagna)
Slow cooked lamb shank

Dessert:
Baklava
Chocolate Budino Cake
Galaktoboureko – Custard in Baked Phyllo Dough & Vanilla Praline Ice Cream
Loukamathes – Freshly made greek donut dipped in warm honey
Yogurt Sorbet with fruit & mint syrup
Greek Cookies

Thanks to @jlovely for the tip!

Disney Food Post Weekly Round-Up: July 26

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There has been SO much Disney food news this week! Free Dining Offer extensions, 2009 Epcot Food and Wine Festival details announced, and an opening date for Cat Cora’s new Kouzzina restaurant (book your ADRs now), among other items! You can always catch up by visiting our Disney Food News section (you can get there by clicking on the little newspaper icon in the right sidebar).

In the meantime, there have also been some great Disney food posts on the web! Here we gooo!

SoloFriendly reviews Downtown Disney’s Wolfgang Puck Cafe: Another balanced review from SoloFriendly about her recent WDW trip. Great detail…and a scrumptious photo of some cobbler a la mode!

The OC Weekly highlights Disneyland’s Club 33: Few of us know the real deal on this membership-only club in Disneyland; this blog takes a look at the length of the waiting list and the cost to be a member…if that’s even an option anymore!

TheDisneyChick shares the recipe and photos of her foray into making Boma’s Melktart: Anyone who’s tasted this yummy dessert at Animal Kingdom Lodge’s Boma restaurant knows that it’s yummy and likely none-too-easy to make! TheDisneyChick is always kind enough to provide photos of the process for anyone brave enough to tackle the recipe. (And, yes, it’s technically from July 15th, but it’s awesome, so it’s here.)

The TouringPlans.com Blog reviews Epcot’s Biergarten: Kristen shares insights into the decor, food options, and entertainment at Epcot’s Germany Pavilion table-service restaurant — and a photo of her companion’s liter of beer! (FYI. That’s a lotta beer.)

MissKim highlights here some Disneyland dining reviews from her recent family vacation: This is part three of her reviews section, so be sure to scroll back through the posts to catch parts one and two!

ScottJosephOrlando is polling for the best pizza in Orlando!: Okay, not really “Disney,” but for any of us who have tried to find a good slice in the World, you KNOW we need this information! Head on over and check the stats!

Have a great week all! I hope to see you over on our DisneyFoodBlog Facebook Page!

Kouzzina by Cat Cora Opening Sept. 17th; Book Your ADR From July 24th

Cat and Mouse

Cat and Mouse

According to @DisneyParks on twitter, Cat Cora’s “Kouzzina” restaurant — the replacement for Spoodles — will be opening on September 17th.

You can book reservations at 407-WDW-DINE or online starting July 24th.