Review: New! “Macaroon” Cupcake at Art of Animation Resort Food Court

There’s a new cupcake being offered at the newly-opened Art of Animation resort! Thanks to our Disney Food for Families columnist, Erin Foster, we have all the delicious details.

These cupcakes in the new Art of Animation Resort Food court are gorgeous, and a variety of colors are available.

Cupcake Display

While it’s called a “macaroon cupcake,” the cookies resemble half of what’s being called in bakeries these days a macaron (see the difference between macaroons and macarons here). But how do they taste?

Erin tells us:
They have a classic “macaron-y” almond taste, but the texture is slightly off. Because the cookies are sitting on a big pile of icing, they can get damp. When I tried to pull a cookie off, just a shell-like layer came away at first. Not that this stopped me from eating it. It still had good flavor.

Cupcake Close Up

The cupcake itself was quite good, too. It was just regular yellow cake, but moister than [Read more…]

Disney Food for Families: Great Disney World Restaurants for Boys

Much fuss is made about the ballyhooed princess dining experiences at Disney World. So much fuss, that parents of young boys sometimes find themselves wondering, “What does Disney have that’s special for me?”

The down and dirty dino loving boy will be right at home at the T-Rex Cafe.

Well, never fear sports fans; I’m here to tell you that while, yes, the girly girls are pretty visible in the parks (it’s hard to miss the Florida sun glinting off a tiara), there are plenty of Disney dining experiences where the men in your family will feel right at home.

Let’s break it down …

Character Meals

There are 10 different character dining venues at Walt Disney World proper. Of these, only three and a half of them have princess themeing. The rest are totally gender-neutral.

Boys are certainly welcome at any of the princess meals, and many boys love them just as much as the other character meals (PLUS they’re given a neato plastic sword at the Royal Table); but honestly, they do skew more heavily toward girl interests.

All of the other character dining restaurants appeal equally to boys and girls. Your best options for boys in the character dining department are the following (characters are always subject to change): [Read more…]

Disney Food for Families: Ideas for Successful Table Time with Kids

Let’s face it. When you’re in Disney World or Disneyland, eating out for nearly every meal, eventually there’s going to be some waiting around — waiting for your table, waiting for your food, waiting for the check.

The hobby horse parade at the Whispering Canyon Cafe is a great way for kids to blow off some steam.

In an ideal world, you’d pass the time by making polite conversation with your family. But in reality, that may be a tall order after several days of togetherness, forced sibling cooperation, and minding of manners. And for a younger child, patience and conversation making are simply developmental milestones that have not yet been reached.

Given all these challenges, how do you get through a Disney meal with happy, content, occupied kids? And how do you make sure of the following?

  1. Everyone (children and adults) gets to eat at a comfortable pace,
  2. Everyone sits at the table when they’re supposed to,
  3. No whining or complaints, and
  4. No one bothers guests at other tables.

It’s possible! First, we’ve got some things to consider when making your Disney Dining Reservations.

Then scroll down for ideas of how to keep the kids occupied and entertained at the table!

The First Step: Choose the Right Restaurants

Before making your dining reservations, take an honest look at your family. If your children are patently incapable of sitting still for a meal at your local diner, then you may want to save extended signature dining for another visit.

If your kids are generally OK at restaurants at home, but sometimes get a little squirmy, you may want to focus your dining on restaurants where noise and movement are the norm. These include buffets, character meals, and meals with entertainment.

The parade at 'Ohana also allows kids to get their groove on.

No one will notice if Junior needs to get up and stretch if everyone else in the restaurant is jumping up to [Read more…]

Disney Food For Families: Teachable Moments at Disney Restaurants

Learn from the Chefs at Victoria & Albert's Chef's Table

My 15-year-old daughter was recently invited by a classmate’s family to a super swanky dinner event at a super-duper swanky restaurant in New York City.

When she was telling me about it the next day there was a lot of “who wore what” and “what was on the menu” discussion. And then she said this to me, “Thanks for taking us to Victoria & Albert’s. I knew what to expect at the dinner last night because we had been to V&A’s.”

After I got over the shock of such an overt expression of gratitude and politesse from a teenager, I allowed myself a brief moment of parental pride. My plan to use Disney restaurants as a manners training ground had worked!

Using Disney Restaurants as Manners Boot Camp

I understand that using Victoria & Albert’s as etiquette boot camp is a bit over-the-top, but the concept could be applied to any signature restaurant at Walt Disney World. Before I get going, let me say that while of course you can (and should) teach manners at restaurants in your home town and at your own dinner table, the Disney signature restaurants are an ideal learning environment for adult behavior.

The Disney signature restaurants have all the elements of posh and polite, PLUS all the elements of easy-going and family-friendly. The restaurants put you in a position to succeed, with no fear or threat of derision or embarrassment if you don’t. The Disney signature venues are the perfect stepping stone on the path to civilized behavior.

Here are some things your children can learn and practice at a signature venue: [Read more…]

Disney Food for Families: Tips for Disney Dining with Young Children

In my mind, a vacation isn’t a vacation if you’re doing the same old chores you do at home, but at a different locale. I spend enough time packing lunches and cooking dinners all year long; I want a break from this when travel. That means I want to eat in restaurants when I’m on the road.

Tigger Meets a New Friend at Crystal Palace

This mindset was one of the factors that made Walt Disney World such a wonderful destination for my family when my daughters were small. There are dozens upon dozens of restaurants to choose from and they’re ALL kid friendly (with the one tiny exception of Victoria & Albert’s).

When I figured out that I could have gourmet food and wine while my toddlers were gleefully welcomed with high chairs, plain pasta, and coloring pages, I was hooked.

But while there are abundant dining options at Disney World, there are some types venues that work slightly better than others for families with babies, toddlers, and preschoolers. There are also some tips and tricks that can make dining with small fries even happier in this happiest of places.

Preparation Is Everything

Before you arrive at Walt Disney World, there are several steps you can take to make your on-site dining run more smoothly: [Read more…]

Disney Dining Plan FAQs: Kids and the Disney Dining Plan

With the Free Disney Dining Plan for August and September 2012 being announced earlier this week, I figured now was a good time to start up our Walt Disney World Disney Dining Plan FAQ Series!!

Dining With The Characters is a Great Dining Plan Option.

Our illustrious Disney Food for Families columnist, Erin Foster, has worked day and night (night and day) putting together a list of 81 Disney Dining Plan FAQs with thorough answers! (For those new to the Disney Dining Plan, see the specs here.)

You and I get to reap the benefit of her hard work as we post the first installment of our Disney Dining Plan FAQ Series — Kids and the Disney Dining Plan.

The Disney Dining Plan With Kids Under 3 Years Old

A few FAQs for those visiting with a toddler under 3 years old (Disney’s “children” classification begins at age 3 and goes through age 9).

Why can’t my under-three-year-old child can’t be on the dining plan.
That’s just the way it is. You may have a 2-year-old with a voracious appetite who you want to put on the dining plan. I don’t recommend it.

While theoretically you could fudge his age and say he was three, but then you’d be required to purchase theme park tickets for him. (Park entrance free for the under-threes.) It will be MUCH cheaper to just buy your two-year-old his own food at the restaurants.

How do I feed my 2-year-old at a traditional table service restaurant?
At regular table service restaurants, children under the age of three can [Read more…]

Disney Food for Families: Fun Without Characters

When first-time families think of dining at Walt Disney World, the main thing that comes to mind for fun is character meals. After that, they’re at a loss about ideas for amusing places to eat. What to do?

No worries; even if character experiences aren’t on your agenda, there’s still plenty of fun to be had dining at Disney. These spots are particularly good if you have children of different ages in your party. The younger kids will be having a great time, even if their older siblings are “too cool” for characters.

Here’s the primer on getting the fun…without the fur ;-)! We have focused on restaurants that have entertainment and shows, spots that have entertaining waitstaff and themes, and places that have great kid-friendly (and interesting!) “views.”

Restaurants with Entertainment

These spots have a live show, movie, or something else that will hold your kids’ attention while they eat. Most of them are interestingly themed as well.

Dinner at the Dine-In

Sci-Fi Dine-In, Disney’s Hollywood Studios
Sit in a car-shaped table, facing a movie screen, just like you’re at an old-time Drive-In movie. The movies playing are campy clips from 1950s and 60s science fiction gems like Plan 9 From Outer Space and Attack of the 50 Foot Woman.

Along with film snippets, you see drive-in promo pieces such as a dancing hot dog advertising the refreshment stand. The movie reel is totally silly, and for many kids, this is the only way they’ll get to experience this classic slice of Americana.

The best part? Your kids can order the Picnic Burger — a hamburger AND hot dog in one! See a recent Disney Food Blog Sci-Fi Dine-In review here.

Raglan Road, Downtown Disney Orlando
Visit in the evenings and be treated to Irish bands and step dancers on the center stage.

It’s the best of all possible pub experiences, with great food and a gargantuan [Read more…]

Disney Food for Families: Foodie Farewell to 2011 — Crema Catalana Recipe

Erin Foster is the Disney Food for Families columnist and a behind-the-scenes guru here at Disney Food Blog! Check out more of her posts here.

2011 was a pretty great Disney year for my family. We all made multiple trips to Walt Disney World, traveling as a whole family, in several smaller groups, and with friends. We also took an incredible combination Adventures by Disney and Disney Cruise Line trip to Europe over the summer. And I made a special trip to Epcot’s Food and Wine Festival with just my daughter Josie. This was her first F&W experience and our first mommy/daughter solo trip.

When looking for a way to commemorate and wrap up this year of awesome Disney experiences, of course our minds turned to food. We came up with the idea to find and make the Disney recipe that best represented 2011 for us. My girls flipped through our stash of Disney recipes and found a perfect choice: Crema Catalana!

One of the Creme Catalan dishes we ate in Barcelona.

Crema Catalana is sort of like the Spanish version of creme brulee, and the recipe we chose came from the 2009 official Food & Wine festival cookbook. This dish scored on two fronts, first because of the Food and Wine Festival connection, and second because the longest portion of our summer Adventures by Disney trip took place in Barcelona, Spain, the birthplace of the dish. While we were in Barcelona, we had four different versions of this local signature dish. We were eager to see if we could replicate it at home.

2009 Epcot Food & Wine Festival Cookbook

Let’s start with the ingredients:

2 tablespoons cornstarch
1.5 cups whole milk, divided
2 egg yolks
1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
1 teaspoon grated orange peel
7 tablespoons granulated sugar, divided.

Assembled ingredients.

And on to the instructions:

1. Whisk together the cornstarch and two tablespoons of milk in small bowl until [Read more…]

Disney Food for Families: Disney Food Songs

Because I like to annoy my daughters as much possible, I often sing in the car while chauffeuring them to their many activities. (Hey, when they’re driving me, then they can choose the entertainment.) On one recent trip, I belted out “Be Our Guest” from Beauty and the Beast, then segued into “Les Poissons” from The Little Mermaid, and finished with “Rumbly In My Tumbly” from The Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. Can you tell I was hungry?

Classic lyrics: Les Poissons: Here's something for tempting the palate, prepared in the classic technique. First you pound the skin flat with a mallet. Then you slash through the skin, give the belly a slice. Then you rub some salt in, 'cause that makes it taste nice.

My impromptu medley of food-focused songs from Disney films got us wondering if there were other eating-related Disney songs we should add to the repertoire. The girls and I did some brainstorming and a bit of online research. We came up with the following list of Disney food songs:

Be Our Guest – Beauty and the Beast
Les Poissons – Little Mermaid
Rumbly in my Tumbly – Winne the Pooh
Spoonful of Sugar – Mary Poppins
Feed the Birds – Mary Poppins (birds get hungry)
Chow Down – Lion King on Broadway
Fish are Friends Not Food – Finding Nemo the Musical
Kanine Krunchies – 101 Dalmatians (dogs get hungry too)
Mad Tea Party Medley – Alice in Wonderland (the animated version)
Ice Cream Freeze – Hannah Montana
Hot Dog! – Mickey Mouse Clubhouse
Soup or Salad, Biscuits or Fries – House of Mouse (sung to the tune of Supercalifragalisticexpialidocious)

Classic Lyrics: Be Our Guest: Soup du jour, hot hors d'oeuves. Why we only live to serve.

Of course there are some excellent snippets of food lyrics in non-food-centric songs. Among my favorites is [Read more…]

Snow White and the Seven Cookies

I took a detour into Williams Sonoma this morning during what I sincerely hope was my last pilgrimage into a mall in 2011. Boy am I glad I did.

You see, my daughters have been in serious Snow White worship mode for a while now. To spare my husband’s dignity, I am not posting the photos from this Halloween where the neighbor girls (including my daughter Josie) were the dwarves, my daughter Louisa was Snow herself, and hubby Jeff was, you guessed it, the evil queen. But I digress …

So you can imagine how thrilled I was to see that Williams Sonoma is carrying a line of Snow White themed bakeware.

In-store display

The line includes a cupcake decorating kit, cookie cutters (unfortunately only 4 of the characters are represented here), a cakelet baking pan (with all dwarves accounted for), a spatula with the flipper part as Snow’s face, a pink child-sized apron with an embroidered Snow White as well as generic pink princess apron.

Cakelet pan (like cupcakes, only shaped)

Cookie cutters

Cupcake decorating kit

The merchandise was very sturdy and well-made. This product line reminds me of [Read more…]