2012 Epcot Food and Wine Festival Debuts A Vegan Marketplace

Great news for those visiting the 2012 Epcot Food and Wine Festival with a special diet!

As part of the World Showcase Marketplaces serving tapas-sized portions of International foods, the Festival is introducing a completely vegan kiosk this year! We’re hoping that means that special diets will be catered to more than ever before at this year’s event.

Vegan Marketplace at Epcot Food and Wine Festival

The Epcot International Food & Wine Festival this year will introduce the first ever vegan-only “TERRA” marketplace, which will include dishes like this Trick’n Chick’n Curry with Basmati Rice Curry with Basmati Rice.

Trick’n Chick’n Curry with Basmati Rice at the 2012 Epcot Food and Wine Festival

Stay tuned for more details about this exciting development. Here’s hoping nothing changes!

As always, Disney Food Blog is YOUR SOURCE for the most detailed information about the Epcot Food and Wine Festival. Check out our 2012 Epcot Food and Wine Festival Page for [Read more…]

Review: Bongos Cuban Cafe

At long last, we finally made it to the Downtown Disney hotspot that is Bongos Cuban Cafe!

I’ll admit, I’d been putting off my visit to this restaurant. I hadn’t heard great reviews, and I wasn’t sure I’d like the food. But I’m SUCH a giant loser — what have I been waiting for?!?

I had a great time, I had awesome food…and it’s finally time to peek inside and find out what the Big Pineapple has to offer!

Atmosphere

With architecture billed as “Old Havana” in style, this breezy, open restaurant certainly puts you in the mood for a tropical drink and a conga line. ;-) When we visited just before St. Patrick’s Day, Downtown Disney was alive with the excitement of a young, vibrant crowd, ready to get their dance on! The traditional Cuban dance music pouring out from the restaurant beckons you to come take a closer look and listen, and was perfect for a warm, breezy Florida evening.

Bongos Sign

Originally, our Advanced Dining Reservation was scheduled for much later than our 7:30 meet up time. When we checked in at the podium, though, we had no trouble getting a seat immediately. As a newcomer to Cuban food, I wasn’t sure what to expect, but the fun setting hinted of some adventurous eating ahead!

One of THE most amazing features of Bongos is the wide open feel of the place. Seating is available both inside and outside, giving the restaurant an authentic Cuban or Miami vibe. After all, these are places where people “live outside,” and restaurants in these locations really reflect that.

To help with the heat, both inside and out, we noticed high ceilings and lots of ceiling fans. It really lends to the impression of cool, airy spaces.

Outdoor Atmosphere

The upstairs veranda also provides a pleasant view of surrounding hotels, the Characters in Flight balloon, and the lake beyond. VERY cool view, eh??

Upstairs Outdoor Seating

While the walls inside are painted to give an old world, weathered feel (and the stone no doubt lends to a sense of coolness on a sweltering Florida summer day), there are plenty of [Read more…]

Review: D23’s “Off the Map” Event with Dinner at Club 33

When I heard about D23’s Off the Map event, I made sure to be home when tickets went on sale. A visit to the Disneyland Dream Suite, touring Walt’s Apartment, a ride on the Lilly Belle, and a super surprise dinner at one of the resort’s most unique restaurants (hmmmm, wonder where that could be)? Sign. Me. Up. 

I sat down at my computer at about 9:50am, tickets would be available starting at 10:00am. I literally sat and refreshed for 10 minutes straight. Yes, I’m that nerdy.  It paid off, because at exactly 10:01 (according to my computer’s clock) I had two tickets in my shopping cart and was checking out, credit card in hand.  By the time I finished checking out, the event had sold out. I was surprised that they went so fast, but I then realized that it must be a very small and obviously sought after event.

NOTE: This review is long and has lots of pictures of awesome things. There’s a whole meal and a snack in the write-up (of course, this is the Disney Food Blog), but we couldn’t help including pics of the rest of the tour as well! I hope you enjoy!

Checking In

We checked in at 9:00am on a Tuesday morning and were put into groups. We soon met with our uber fabulous D23 guide, Jeffrey (you may know him as the Disney Geek)!

Guess Who???

This is where we learned that there were only 72 tickets sold for the event and that it sold out in 30 seconds. Wow, so lucky to have scored two!  The crowd was very mixed, the age range spanned from teen to senior and some people traveled from across the country to be here.  We had 11 people in our group; most were southern California Disneyland locals, others were from Las Vegas, and there was one all the way from Georgia (Hi Andy!).

Off the Map Check In

Our group was scheduled to go to Walt’s Apartment at 10:30, so we had a bit of time to kill. Disneyland had just opened at 10:00, so it was fun to watch the park “wake up” as the horse drawn carriages emerged, characters came running from backstage, and the Disneyland Band marched right in front of us.  We met our apartment tour guide outside of the Disneyland Fire Department promptly at 10:30.

Disneyland Fire Department

Touring Walt’s Apartment in Disneyland

After given some history of Walt’s Apartment, we walked backstage and headed up the stairs (holding the handrail like we were asked) and entered the Victorian style apartment. Immediately I noticed the musty smell and got goosebumps knowing that I was in a room that Walt Disney spent many a night in, entertaining friends, playing with his grandchildren, and looking out the window [Read more…]

Review: Waldorf Orlando Bull and Bear Lounge New Menu

It’s no secret that I LURVE the Bull and Bear Steakhouse at the Waldorf Astoria Orlando. This place is phenomenal, and with a location in the middle of Walt Disney World property, it’s well worth trying if you haven’t been there yet.

Entryway

Now, perhaps you don’t have time for a full, multi-course meal, but you’d still like to pamper yourself and your taste buds? I now have the perfect solution thanks to the Bull and Bear’s new lounge menu!!

Bull and Bear Bar and Lounge area

Have you ever wanted to pretend you’re Marilyn Monroe or Clark Gable, out for an evening in a luxurious Hollywood lounge? That’s exactly how you’ll feel surrounded by plush seats (pillows!!), sparkling white tablecloths, dark wood, and a fabulous staff of servers. The best part? You’re in a lounge, which means you get all of the Bull and Bear flavor with a lower check total!

Eats

The new menu debuted at the Bull and Bear a couple of months ago, and we got the chance to go in and sample some of the new dishes!

Menu - click image for larger version

Don’t be fooled; the prices reflect the quality of the food, but trust me — it’s well worth it! We started out by sampling the new-and-improved bar snacks in the lounge.

Wanting to appeal to different tastes and all of your taste buds, Chef David Sears decided on a trio of accompaniments you wouldn’t expect!

Bar Snacks

Next up on our tasting menu: the Shrimp and Grits with Tasso Ham and Tomatillo Chutney. Now, how cool is this presentation? Chef Sears wanted to include a smoked flavor, but didn’t want it to be too strong. His solution? Add a touch of smokiness by serving the plate under a dome of flavor!

Shrimp and Grits Presentation

How do they do it? Trade secret… ;-)

Shrimp and Grits Presentation

The shrimp and grits did have a mildly smokey flavor, and the touch of tasso ham gave it the [Read more…]

Guest Review: Walt’s, An American Restaurant, at Disneyland Paris

Thanks to Beth Chaney of the blog 990 Square for this fun visit to Walt’s, An American Restaurant on Main Street USA in Disneyland Paris! Take it away, Beth!

Outside Walt's Disneyland Paris

Before we left for France, I had one dream in my head for our visit to Disneyland Paris — to eat at Walt’s on Main Street and enjoy a glass of French wine!

I was worried that this wouldn’t work out because I had a really hard time figuring out the Disneyland Paris dining reservation system (it seemed to be it was only available to onsite guests), but apparently someone sent a little pixie dust my way and we were lucky enough to score a late lunch walk up seating!

Atmosphere

Walt’s is located right on Main Street USA, halfway between the park entrance and the castle. The entryway to the restaurant is located right off Main Street USA and is themed in the classic Victorian Main Street USA style, with references to Walt’s life.

Walt's Lobby

There is an old fashioned piano, a fancy elevator, and and entrance to a shop called Lillian’s in honor of Walt’s wife.

Walt's Stairway

As you head to the dining room on the second floor, you go up a staircase that documents historic moments in Walt’s life and in the building of the Walt Disney Company and Disneyland. I really enjoyed stopping to look at each of these pictures showing how the company was created.

Walt's Memories

At the top of the stairs you’ll find the main Walt’s dining rooms. I say rooms because Walt’s is split up into [Read more…]

Guest Review: Disney World’s Pollo Campero

Thanks to Leigh Caldwell for putting together this great review of Pollo Campero, Disney World’s newest quick service restaurant, which opened in Downtown Disney this weekend. Leigh writes about Walt Disney World and theme parks in general on her site, ThemeParkMom.com, and for AOL’s travel blog, Gadling.com.

My daughter and I made a visit to the Festival of the Masters at Downtown Disney this weekend, and we had to stop in to try the new Pollo Campero restaurant for lunch.

Pollo Campero is a counter service restaurant, which shares space with two other eateries – Fresh A-Peel and Babycakes NYC. It’s part of a chain of chicken restaurants that serve up Latin flavors.

The new restaurants opened Nov. 12 at Downtown Disney, in the building formerly occupied by McDonald’s, in between T-Rex Cafe and the Lego store.

Atmosphere
At Pollo Campero and Fresh A-Peel guests order at the counter, get their food and proceed to a central bank of cash registers to pay, much like the Sunshine Seasons set-up. There was a long line when [Read more…]

Disneyland’s Blue Bayou

Ye come seekin’ adventure with salty ol’ pirates, eh? Sure you’ve come to the proper place. But keep a weather eye open mates, and hold on tight. With both hands, if you please.

Ah, yes. We’re headed to the Blue Bayou. All jazzy New Orleans Square on the outside and dreaded pirates on the inside, these are some of the most coveted tables in Disneyland.

Atmosphere

Coming in from the busy New Orleans Square Royal Street outside (those little winding alleyways make it seriously congested in NOS!), Blue Bayou is like a hushed hive of activity. From the lobby, you can only catch a glimpse of shadows scurrying everywhere underneath the Chinese lanterns of the restaurant. The rest looks like sheer blackness — pitch dark.

From the Lobby Into the Restaurant

After giving your name to the reservations CM (hopefully you made an ADR — Blue Bayou is one of the only Disneyland restaurants for which a reservation is practically a necessity), take some time to peek around the lobby. Take in the incredible detailing of the walls, windows, and ceiling. Every inch of Disneyland is packed with [Read more…]

Lunch at Bengal Barbecue

When I was planning my recent Disneyland trip, there were two counter service restaurants I knew we couldn’t miss — French Market and Bengal Barbecue. Bengal is a tiny counter-service spot — no bigger than a booth or a kiosk really — tucked into all the action of Adventureland. Located across the way from Jungle Cruise and Indiana Jones, you get the idea that you’re supposed to sense a little danger around here…

Atmosphere
Pretty menacing tiger, eh? Once you get past the fear, just head under the little thatched roof and get in line. Speaking of lines, I can almost assure you there will be one. Bengal Barbecue is one of the most popular counter service spots in Disneyland, both for its [Read more…]

Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe Review

Today, we’re heading to one of my favorite quick-service spots in Disney World – Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe. Tucked in between Tomorrowland, Fantasyland, and Cinderella Castle, Cosmic Ray’s has one of the biggest, most diverse menus of all Disney World quick-service locations.

Atmosphere
Cosmic Ray’s is a giant, bright, semi-circular room situated around three food ordering “bays.” With each bay selling different types of food, be sure to check out the menus for all three before choosing your bay!

Bays at Cosmic Ray's

The theme is vintage space-age Tomorrowland, with lots of aquas and purples, trapezoids, and triangular furniture. There’s brushed chrome everywhere and signage in the same types of fonts you’d expect to find in early Space Mountain queue lines. Overall, if you loved the Jetsons and find the metal palm trees in Tomorrowland to be just about the coolest foliage ever — Cosmic Ray’s general decor will be ideal for you (and me).

Outdoor Seating

Pragmatically, what you need to know is [Read more…]

Sharing is Caring: Three Great Appetizers That’ll Feed A Crowd

I loooooooove appetizer platters. Give me a way to sample everything on the menu at once and I’m there. (I know. You’re so surprised to discover that about me, right?) Seriously, though, appetizer platters are a good way to give food-loving families a little taste of everything, and to give picky eaters a better shot of finding something they’ll enjoy as well. They bring peace and harmony wherever they go, and this is why we always have to order them when available.

So, going through my photos the other day, I realized that I’ve had three such delights in the past few months! This sampling covers three distinct food themes — Irish at Raglan Road, California Cuisine at Napa Rose, and Italian at Portobello — so I thought it’d be especially interesting…

Appetiser D’Lirrah for Two: Raglan Road Pub, Downtown Disney, Disney World

Raglan Road

At Raglan Road, amidst the stained glass, live Irish music and dancing, and imported bars (yep — they imported the actual wooden bars themselves from Ireland), you’ve got some incredible, authentic Irish food with a modern twist designed by Celebrity Master Chef Kevin Dundon).

Located in the Downtown Disney district of Walt Disney World, Raglan Road offers a great spot to while away an evening on some imported beer, keen cocktails, or incredible food — including this piece of foodie decadence called [Read more…]