We had a case of wanderlust this week, and instead of getting out the passport and packing, we just hopped over to spend the day in Epcot. Our journey started with some time spent in Future World, followed by a trip around the World Showcase. And boy, did we find a lot new eats and buys for you on this “trip”!
We’re coming to you today from The Market at Ale & Compass!
The Market at Ale & Compass
Now, you may be thinking to yourself, “Great! But where’s Ale & Compass?” The Market at Ale & Compass is located in Disney’s Yacht Club Resort. You may already be familiar with Ale & Compass Lounge, which sits near the Captain’s Grille (which is currently closed for refurbishment — guests can enjoy Captain’s Grille dishes at its temporary location in Ariel’s).
The Market at Ale & Compass, however, is located right by the Fittings & Fairings gift shop (which is… umm, also closed for refurbishment 😉 , with a reopening planned for July. Change is the name of the game ‘round these parts!).
With the exception of the Yacht & Beach Club’s pool bar, Hurricane Hanna’s, the Yacht Club has been without a Counter Service option, with guests relying on nearby choices at the neighboring BoardWalk Inn and Beach Club.
The Market at Ale & Compass is here to change that… and it’s been a long time coming. Step inside!
The Market at Ale & Compass has been established in half of what was the Fittings & Fairings gift shop (the other portion of the space will once again operate as a merchandise spot once it reopens in July). [Read more…]
We are stopping into Amorette’s Patisserie today to see what’s new!
The high-end pastry shop has showcased classy pastries from the beginning. Combining classic flavors with new and creating some of the most beautiful sugary confections we’ve ever seen, Amorette’s has been an interesting addition to Disney Springs.
Why “interesting?” Well, the DFB team is split on whether or not we love this place. Some of us think it’s great; others aren’t impressed. While the eats are extraordinarily beautiful, I, personally, am not necessarily sure that they’re worth the extraordinarily high price tag.
But on a recent visit we simply had to try out the brand new — and gorgeous — Mickey mousse, introduced in honor of Mickey Mouse’s birthday, and the holiday Snowball.
Mickey Mousse and a Snowball
When Mickey Mouse celebrated his most recent birthday, some pretty awesome treats debuted in Disneyland and Walt Disney World.
But this Petit Mickey Domed Cake at Amorette’s was a showstopper. Originally the cake was reported to feature Chocolate Chiffon Cake, Milk Chocolate Mousse, and Orange Blossom Pâte de Fruit.
I was a bit afraid that the sweet little treat would disappear soon, since it was a special offering for Mickey’s special day. But the cast members told us that the cake is here to stay!
The Disneyland Resort has gone all out for Disneyland’s Diamond Celebration. Special decor, special merchandise, and most importantly, special food!
On a recent visit to Plaza Inn, I noticed an intriguing dessert that I had to try, Diamond Celebration Chocolate Cake. Honestly, I bought this out of curiosity because it sounded like a bizarre mix of flavors to me.
The description alone seemed crazy: Chocolate Cake layered with Passion Fruit, Mango & Banana Mousse, Apricot Compote and smothered with a Milk Chocolate Caramel Ganache and Crunchy Chocolate Pearls. Since I’m not a huge chocolate fan, what actually sold me were all of the tropical fruits involved. [Read more…]
We’re already back at Les Halles Boulangerie Patisserie!
Les Halles Boulangerie Patisserie
And why not? With the huge assortment of classic pastries, desserts, soups, sandwiches… let me think, did I miss anything? Oh, right… quiche, salads, baguettes, macarons…. well, you’re gonna need more than a few trips to hit it all! Should you be a wee bit overwhelmed with your choices here (and who could blame you?), we’re here to help.
It’s more of the sweet stuff today, and we’re focusing on a classic as well as a dessert with a little twist.
The Mousse au Chocolat is our classic.
I don’t know if it’s my bias towards all things Les Halles, but the Chocolate Mousse here — both in appearance and flavor — strike me as a bit darker and richer than other mousse desserts I’ve tried.
As expected, it’s light and creamy, and you can definitely call it “airy,” though it still has a bit of substance to it.
Topped off with a sprinkling of crunchy garnish, the mousse scratches that itch for [Read more…]
Join us in welcoming back Victoria Kabakian! She’s treating us to a review of the ultra-posh Remy — a Disney Cruise Line fine-dining restaurant.
The crème de la crème of Disney Cruise Line dining is without a doubt Remy, the Ratatouille inspired restaurant on the Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy. On a recent cruise on the Disney Fantasy, I finally got to check out the “other” adults-only dining option from Disney Cruise Line.
The classic ships (Disney Magic and Disney Wonder) only feature Palo, a wonderful Italian restaurant inspired by Venice, but the two newer ships have also added this French culinary experience deriving half its menu from Chef Scott Hunnel from Walt Disney World’s Victoria & Albert’s and half from Chef Arnaud Lallement from L’Assiette Champenoise, a Michelin three-star restaurant in Tinqueux, France, to create a gastronomic collaboration that is worth every penny (and calorie).
Located on deck 12 aft (that’s the ship’s rear end for you land-lubbers), Remy is the ultimate tribute to the most perfect “little chef” there ever was. Even before entering the main dining room, two of the wines that are featured in the film Ratatouille are displayed in the wine case: a 1961 Château Latour (featured in the scene where Chef Skinner and Linguini are drinking in the office) and a 1947 Cheval Blanc (featured in the restaurant review scene with Anton Ego). And by the way, you can actually purchase these wines at Remy from their wine vault if you’d like. They cost $13,000 and $25,000 respectively.
Past the wine display is the intimate and elegant dining room, with windows stretching from end to end. This is truly the perfect setting for enjoying a view of the sunset during your meal. In fact we did, and trust me, it was stunning.
Details featuring Remy and his brother Emile can be found throughout the main dining room. Remy is found hidden in glass atop one of the vibrant chandeliers. He is carved in wood on the backs of chairs. Remy and Emile are stitched into the fabric of the booths and their figures frame every mirror in the space.
Upon further exploration, there are two additional dining rooms: a small wine room and of course the beloved Gusteau room, which is a replica of Gusteau’s restaurant in Ratatouille and even features a painting depicting the kitchen at Gusteau’s. A hand-woven carpet (one of three on the ship — the others are found in the atrium and the bridge where the ship is navigated). We’re told it took several months to create.
Although Remy also offers a Champagne brunch (at a $50 surcharge) on sea days, on this recent cruise we decided to splurge on dinner (a $75 surcharge plus $99 more if you add the wine experience, which we did not). First and foremost, the meal begins with a very special Champagne cocktail inspired by a very special character in the film, Colette.
The Colette is prepared tableside and includes a bit of strawberry, a mint leaf, some Absolut Pears, and Taittinger Champagne. By mixing the Champagne with a spirit, the bubbles dissipate, but by adding a small bit of dried apricot at the end, it creates an effervescent effect that mimics the natural bubbles in Champagne. It’s like a fun magic trick that you get to drink. Cheers.
Even before menus are presented, another taste of apparent magic hits your plates. The amuse bouche is a small sphere of deep-fried tomato soup. How is it made, you ask? Well after guessing that it’s prepared similarly to the way Chinese soup dumplings are made (using gelatinized broth in the filling, which then essentially melts when its heated), our amazing server Guiseppe confirmed that my suspicions were on the right track. How does it taste? Like deep-fried tomato soup, and oh so good.
A selection of fresh breads including tiny baguettes, multi-grain, and caramelized onion brioche are offered up next along with creamy butter from Vermont and sea salt from Bordeaux in France. The baguettes feature the perfect sound that Colette describes in the film as being a sign of great French bread. It has that crackle and that perfect taste and texture. The brioche is delicate and rich, another classic French creation. The multi-grain is the only bread I didn’t try.
The menu is divided in half with two tasting menus (with a la carte options as well so you can easily mix and match). The Saveur menu (meaning “flavor” in French) is created by Lallement, while the Goût menu (meaning “taste”) is created by Hunnel. Both are exquisite options, and while my sister opted to stick to the Goût side of the menu, I tried a little bit of each.
Our next treat from the chef before starting our official first course is langoustine with lobster bisque and lettuce reduction. The bite of langoustine is perfectly tender and succulent atop the super flavorful mound of bisque. The flavor of the sea really shines through here, creating a lovely start to this very special meal.
For our first course, we both selected the Wagyu carpaccio with ratatouille, basil coulis, 8 year aged Modena balsamic, and Parmesan crisps. The cold ratatouille is actually hidden underneath paper-thin layers of one of the world’s most famous beefs. The soft textures of the beef and ratatouille are offset by the Parmesan crisps, while the basil coulis and aged balsamic each provide contrasting nuances of herbaceous freshness and sweetness.
For our second course we tried the scallop crusted with masago (Japanese pearl rice) and served with a curried coconut broth, shiitake mushrooms, and bok choy. The scallop itself is the largest scallop I’ve ever seen in my life. It is perfectly cooked, still soft and slightly under in the center, with a lovely crisp texture on the exterior from the masago. The curried broth is so full of flavor, I wanted to tip the edge of the bowl directly into my mouth and slurp. Don’t worry, I didn’t. Anton Ego wouldn’t approve of that behavior!
Our third course is a polenta and chicken egg yolk stuffed ravioli served over a mixture of corn, black barley and poulet rouge topped with a sweet corn emulsion. This course truly encompasses the chicken AND the egg. I love the sweetness in this dish from the three different uses of corn (polenta in the filling, and corn in the base and in the emulsion). The chewiness from the black barley adds a great textural element, and of course the oozing yolk is the highlight of the dish.
My sister’s entrée from the Goût side of the menu is onion ash and black Hawaiian salt dusted lamb medallions, asparagus, marble potatoes, and pickled onions. The meat is succulent with a very unique flavor from that onion ash dusting. My sister only spared me one bite (but it was a wonderful bite) and she couldn’t stop swooning about her choice. It really is a lovely dish.
My entrée from the Saveur side of the menu is cold smoked and pan-roasted Wagyu beef with carrot puree, baby carrots, an orb (thanks, molecular gastronomy) filled with more carrot puree and braised short rib, spinach coulis, and served with a tableside drizzle of Bourguignon sauce. The beef is cooked perfectly and is so utterly tender. The bit of carrot puree and braised short rib that is encapsulated on the dish (not too visible in the picture, unfortunately) is a really neat surprise. It almost bursts in your mouth with sweet carrot puree and then that delicious meatiness that is short ribs. Oh yes. No regrets.
At this point because we were here for my birthday (belated, but still worth celebrating!) the chef actually came out and took a photo with us and then signed personalized menus for us. What a great treat!
Next it’s time for the famous Remy cheese [Read more…]
Ready to dine around Epcot? Yep, me too! Join me in welcoming guest author Anita Theiss with her review of some great Epcot eats!
My husband and I recently spent a day at Epcot celebrating our anniversary. While there, we decided to taste a little something from each of the nations represented in the World Showcase. An “Eat Around the World” challenge, so to speak. It was a lot of fun, and we really enjoyed discussing which foods we liked best and which we liked the least. We followed a few simple rules for our self-assigned challenge.
Eat Around the World Rules
Rule One, choose one country-specific food item (no generic cookies or fries) to order from each nation and share it. (We had a slight breech of etiquette on this rule when we got to France, but more on that later.) Sharing meant that we could discuss what we thought of the item, and it kept us from eating too much.
Rule Two, go to counter service restaurants, kiosks, or food stands only. It just didn’t seem right to take up a reservation spot for just one item.
Rule Three, rate each food item on a scale of one to ten, with one being not quite so palate pleasing, and ten being the best thing to ever grace your taste buds.
Nachos in Mexico
Our digestive expedition started in Mexico at La Cantina de San Angel with an order of nachos. The nachos come with ground beef, beans, cheese, tomatoes, jalapeños, and sour cream. We ordered them with the tomatoes and jalapeños on the side -— my husband loves them, but I am not a fan.
I enjoyed the nachos, but we both found them to be a little heavy on the cheese (if food can be too heavy with ‘plastic cheese’) and not heavy enough on the meat and beans. They had just the right amount of spice, and the chips were crisp. The portion was perfect for a meal, but these nachos are a great shareable snack as well. My husband gave them a 4, and I gave them a 6.
Troll Horn in Norway
We moved on to Norway and stopped at the Kringla Bakeri Og Kafé. There were several items on the counter that looked good, and I could not decide between the Troll Horn and the Viking Mousse. I asked the cast member behind the counter which of the two she recommended, and she suggested the Troll Horn, which is filled which cloudberry cream.
The cloudberry cream was smooth and sweet, but not too sweet, and the pastry was tender but a little bland. The sugar crystals sprinkled on top added a nice sweetness and crunch, but overall the Troll Horn was just meh (how do you like that technical culinary term?). We both gave it a 4 on our grading scale — not horrible, but we won’t be rushing back to Norway to get one during our next trip.
Egg Roll in China
After a ride on Maelstrom (RIP), we headed to China. We stopped at Joy of Tea to place an egg roll order. An order of egg rolls actually includes two nice-sized pork and veggie egg rolls, which was a pleasant surprise considering how very delicious they were. (My husband had already snagged his and started munching when I took the picture which is why there is only one pictured.)
The egg roll wrapper was both tender and crunchy, and the filling was flavorful with seasoned pork and crisp veggies. There were packets of soy sauce (and other condiments) which just added another layer of fabulous flavor. We both gave the egg rolls an 8.5; we would definitely get them again and feel that they would be an excellent use of a snack credit if you are on the Disney Dining Plan since they are easily shared.
Bratwurst in Germany
We moved on from China to Germany for a stop at Sommerfest. To be honest, I had my heart set on wrapping my lips around a Nudel Gratin for days, but I was starting to get full and knew that such a dish would be both rich and heavy. So, I passed on the Nudel Gratin (which I now regret — I really should have persevered) while my husband ordered a bratwurst. He loves a brat, and this one did not disappoint.
The bratwurst comes on a very large crusty bun topped with loads of sauerkraut. He said the sauerkraut was alright and the bratwurst itself was delicious, but he felt that there was just too much bread. The bun was quite large and had a pretty tough and crusty consistency. He still enjoyed it and gave it a score of 6.
Gelato in Italy
After a quick shopping break in Germany, we headed to Italy, which had me a little worried because there is no counter service restaurant. But as we were walking into Italy, I spotted Gelati — a nice little gelato stand, so I stopped for a cup of chocolate gelato.
It was smooth, thick, creamy, quite tasty, and reminded me of a cold version of hot chocolate. It would definitely hit the spot on a hot summer day in Florida. My husband had a taste or two of it, but he is not much of a chocolate fan and didn’t like it as much as regular ice cream. I, on the other hand, much prefer the thicker consistency of gelato to its thinner American counterpart and gave it a 7.
Sweet Cream Cheese Pretzel in American Adventure
After Italy, it was time for a return to our homeland of America. Now during our last trip to Disney a few months ago, I fell in love with the [Read more…]
UPDATE: The Mushroom Filet is back at Le Cellier as a seasonal dish. (A photo is provided in the text below.)
We finally got to head over and try the new menu at Le Cellier Steakhouse!
Le Cellier Steakhouse
Yep, you heard me right. A new menu. And while the menu changes up regularly here now that it’s a Signature-restaurant-all-the-time-forever-always, we weren’t expecting the news that the beloved filet with mushroom risotto and truffle butter sauce was getting a makeover.
As soon as we found that out, we had to make an ADR. And, yep — we ordered the replacement. Along with a lot of other goodies.
Let’s go see how it all turned out!
Please note: in addition to the “update” notice above, we’re also posting this menu shot confirming the current presence of the Mushroom Filet. Due to its status as a signature restaurant, menu options change here more frequently than most Table Service restaurants, but we’re happy to see this one back on the menu for the time being!
When we arrived, we only had to wait for a bit before we were shown to our table. The very slight delay gave us a chance to check out once more the addition of several paintings by The Group of Seven, which were recently installed to honor this important Canadian school of painters.
The seating in this tiny waiting area is of the outdoor bench type, which makes it not all that comfortable. But, honestly, most of the waiting area seating is usually taken up whenever I get there.
Nameplates beneath each painting give you more information. If you have a few moments, be sure to check them out. They really are beautiful.
As you’re shown to your table, you’ll wave goodbye to sunlight for a little while. Le Cellier really is, well, in a cellar.
And you get a sense of that as soon as you turn the corner into the restaurant. The feeling is at once warm and cozy, yet elegant.
The rich detail lends itself to the feeling that you’ve stepped into the wine cellar of a grand chateau. Beamed ceilings and stone arches fit right in!
The room seems to be lit primarily by candles. These are electric, of course. But they lend a soft light to your surroundings. Bad for reading your menu and photographing your food, but good for setting the right tone. 🙂
En route to your table, you’ll also see
When I’m in the mood for a “wild” lunch, I love to head to Restaurantosaurus at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Seriously — it’s one of my favorite counter service spots in all of Disney World!
This enormous restaurant, located in DinoLand USA, is super-themed…but you really have to look hard to see some of the great sight gags and imagineering details.
I recently met a friend for lunch here. It’s always fun to stroll around — I find something new every time I visit. But Restaurantosaurus usually boasts some interesting choices on its menu. I love their Chicken Nuggets, but who knows?…I may surprise you today!
Time to check in and see what’s new!
While visiting Disney’s Animal Kingdom, you may be tempted to write off Restaurantosaurus as just another fast food joint. That would be a mistake. There’s more to this place than just food. The quirky themeing transforms the eatery into an attraction.
But for now, here’s the short version: Restaurantosaurus began life as the cafeteria for college students participating in a dig nearby. To subsidize their grant income, the students opened the Restaurant (isn’t that a great name?) to the public.
And where did the additional “osaurus” in the name come from? It seems that this is a running gag perpetrated by those zany college kids. Look around, and see if you can find just how many instances in which “osaurus” has been added to words. But the granddaddy of them all is, of course, adding it to the name of the restaurant.
The dormitory and restaurant grew over time, with residents adding whatever sound structures they could to expand the space. And just when you thought there was no use for that old Airstream…
Step inside, and you find the main hall, which houses the kitchen and ordering area. You can see it gets pretty busy during peak times. This picture was taken when the restaurant first opened for the day!
But before we settle down to consider our selections, let’s take a look around. Be sure to check out the lights. They’re one of the few design elements that feel like they’re here on purpose, rather than being scavenged. With the little dinosaur cut outs, they’re intricate and interesting.
Carve out some time just to meander while you’re here. There’s just so much to take in.
Homey kitchen items are stored close by, ready to be put to good use.
Check out the pictures and other mementos that the students have displayed.
As with other Disney restaurants, Restaurantosaurus is most likely much larger than you realize at first. There are several seating areas, all themed as different rooms. The feel is that the building was expanded over time.
My favorite spot remains the area affectionately known as “The Hip Joint”. Ha ha!!
This student hangout houses a half-court gym and lots of recreational equipment. And to expand seating, here’s where you’ll find that [Read more…]
Now, see? I write ONE little post about my favorite Disney Park restaurants, and suddenly I’m craving all of my favorites from Walt Disney World!
After answering the question “What is your favorite restaurant in each park?“, suddenly I’m dreaming of allllll the other places I’d eat today in Walt Disney World if I could!
And since I can’t, it’s time to drag out the recipes! Today we have something fairly easy, but with a big WOW factor — Mousse au Chocolat from Boulangerie Patisserie Les Halles in Epcot’s France Pavilion.
(The recipe we are sharing is from the former Patisserie Boulangerie, but it’s simple and divine. The presentation is different, but it still tastes delish.) 🙂
Mousse au Chocolat
Yield: Approximately 3 cups
Ingredients: [Read more…]