Epcot Food and Wine Festival Recipe: Clam Chowder from the Hops & Barley Marketplace Booth

We have another delicious dish for you today from the 2013 Epcot Food and Wine Festival! It’s time for some CHOWDAH!!!

One of our favorite creamy soups is featured at the Hops & Barley Marketplace Booth in Epcot’s America Pavilion. Traditional New England Clam Chowder, with its creamy, potato-based goodness, is the perfect meal for sweater weather.

Hops & Barley Booth

And since sweaters probably aren’t what you’ll be wearing if you have this dish at Walt Disney World, we’re giving you the recipe today so you can make it once you get home!

New England Clam Chowder

And don’t forget — today’s the LAST DAY to enter our Epcot Food and Wine Festival Cook Book Package contest! All you have to do is subscribe to the DFB Newsletter and you’re entered to win a 2012 and 2013 Epcot International Food and Wine Festival Cook Book package! Click here to enter!

New England Clam Chowder

Makes Approximately 8 Cups

Ingredients: [Read more…]

Review: Lunch at Kona Cafe in Disney’s Polynesian Resort

Most of us know that Kona Cafe at Disney’s Polynesian Resort is one of the best-kept dining secrets in all of Walt Disney World.

But these days, it’s becoming less a secret, and more of an established must-eat! If your list of advance dining reservations doesn’t include at least one meal here, then you’re sorta missing out.

By a long stretch, breakfast is the hottest meal ticket at Kona Cafe (Tonga Toast!!), followed by a loyal fan base at dinner time.

What about lunch, though? Well, I’m so glad you asked…


I’ve said it before, and to date, nothing has changed: the atmosphere at Kona Cafe is boring. This is one spot at Disney World that you aren’t frequenting for the epic design choices.

Kona Cafe Sign

The vibe is “modernized hotel lobby kind of Hawaiian chic.” And by “modernized,” I do mean last decade. That’s not to say that it’s unpleasant. You just (probably) won’t be squealing with delight as you take in every element.

Dining Area

Seating is functional and comfortable. I prefer these round tables to the other options however, since I feel a little less constricted here.


There are some interesting decor elements we should point out, though, especially if you look up or down. To begin, you have the seriously awesome natural light that comes from the skylights above. This is a great touch, since there are few combinations more wonderful to dine in than natural light and air conditioning.

These frosted glass “leaves” break up the monotony of the ceiling nicely and also soften the light a bit.

Lighting and Ceiling Decor

The fans here are one of the elements that brings “Polynesia” to this restaurant, and they keep the air circulating to make for a more comfortable space. Patterns on the amber light shades are reminiscent of Polynesian art as well.

Ceiling and Lighting

Carpeting includes vibrant colors that remind you of a tropical setting. Be sure to look closely at those flowers — you just might discover a little surprise!

Be Sure to Pay Attention -- A Hidden Mickey in the Carpet

If you’re looking for a [Read more…]

Review: 1900 Park Fare Dinner at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa

Today, we’re back at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa to take in dinner at 1900 Park Fare!

You  may remember that the last time we were here, we were…nonplussed…unimpressed…frustrated…should I go on? Basically, we really didn’t have a great experience. But, as I always say, the only consistent thing about Disney restaurants is that they’re inconsistent. And some guests think this restaurant is fantastic — a great alternative to hard-to-get advance dining reservations like Cinderella’s Royal Table.

So we’re back at this character buffet for another try… . While breakfast at 1900 Park Fare left us flat, this time around we’re checking out the dinner spread and hoping for the best!


You’ll find 1900 Park Fare off of the ground floor lobby of the Grand Floridian Resort. As you walk in the hotel’s front doors, the restaurant is located to your left, just past the Concierge desk.

1900 Park Fare Sign

The antique carousel decor flows with the Victorian feel that you encounter throughout the resort. While you can’t see the individual items on this menu board that’s displayed out front of the restaurant, you can definitely see the attention to detail when it comes to theme.

Menu Board Outside of 1900 Park Fare

When you first arrive and check in for your reservation (you DID make a reservation, right?), you’ll be given a pager and told to wait in the Grand Floridian lobby to be called when your table is ready. Note: this often takes A. LONG. TIME. In my experience, I’ve never been seated at this restaurant within 10 minutes of my reservation time. I’m always waiting quite a while to be called to the table. So if you’ve got little ones who are starving, bring some snacks to tide them over just in case.

Once you’re called, you’ll be told to get in line to have your picture taken with this mural. No…you’re not getting your photo taken with a character. Just with the mural. This can be a fun memory for families, but you might want to skip the pic and head straight in for your meal. Be persistent and make sure they know you don’t want to take the photo. They’re pretty serious about getting you into that line.

Trompe l'Oeil Mural Outside of 1900 Park Fare

Once you head into the massive dining room, you’re greeted with more Victorian charm in pastel shades. Even without windows, the sheer size of the dining room makes it feel airy.

There is a main area with high ceilings in front of the buffet, and some smaller dining rooms surrounding it with lower ceilings. I prefer these areas for seating, since they tend to be slightly quieter.

Dining Area

Seating itself is fairly standard, with cushioned chairs and nondescript tables.


The main dining room makes the best use of the carousel theme. There are several large statues of fantasy carousel animals situated atop half walls and surrounded by plants. You should take a moment to look at these, because they’re really beautiful.

Calliope in the Background and Carousel Horse Statue

The wall overtop the entrance to the restaurant plays host to an enormous calliope, reminiscent of the intricate musical instruments that you find on antique carousels. This [Read more…]

Review: Cinderella’s Royal Table Dinner in the Magic Kingdom

Gather, Subjects of the Royal Kingdom! It’s time to head to the castle for the dinner feast at Cinderella’s Royal Table!

Eating INSIDE Cinderella Castle is a quintessential experience for guests who visit Walt Disney World. After all, the castle has served as the icon for Disney itself in the past, and is the symbol for Disney World’s flagship park, Magic Kingdom.

Any guest visiting Magic Kingdom, whether they are 4 or 94, has dreamed of seeing inside the majestic building. Dining at Cinderella’s Royal Table gives you the best taste of the royal residence itself. Plus,  you get an audience with Cinderella herself as well as her Princess friends.

This is the type of experience that Disney dreams are made of. As such, an advance dining reservation here continues to be a tough one to score. While it may be a little easier to get now that Be Our Guest Restaurant is open and pulling lots of guests in, you should still plan to call 180 days out if you hope to secure a table.

We thoroughly enjoyed breakfast at Cinderella’s Royal Table a while back. Time to see if dinner still measures up to that experience (I hadn’t been here for dinner in ages)! But first, let’s take a look around.


Inspired by some of Europe’s most beautiful castles (plus the fortress from a certain animated feature film we all love), the interior of Cinderella Castle is every bit as grandiose as the outside.

The Grand Hall

The Grand Hall and waiting area lends a great deal of happy anticipation to the experience. Only guests with advance dining reservations — apologies, but no prying eyes permitted — are allowed beyond the heavy double wooden doors that lead into the Grand Hall.

And once you’re there, you’ll have an opportunity to visit with Cinderella for a bit as she welcomes you into her home.

We were really fortunate to capture some great shots of the hall while it was empty. Here, you can see the weaponry and shields that adorn the stone walls. Heavy chandeliers and Gothic arches punctuate the scene. Seating in the hall is available while you await your visit with Cinderella and your admittance into the dining room.The low benches are plush and comfortable.

Entry Hall Seating and the Elevator to the Dining Room

Here’s your chance to [Read more…]

Review: Dinner at Boma in Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge

Boma…Flavors of Africa is a tried-and-true Disney fan destination.

Many guests number it among their must-have advance dining reservations for it’s fun atmosphere, unique menu, and cult favorite dishes.

On a recent visit to Walt Disney World, we had the pleasure of eating at Boma not once — but twice…in the SAME DAY! Yep — we had breakfast and Boma AND dinner at Boma!

While I’ll be sharing the details of our Boma breakfast in a later post, today we’re taking a look at the rockin’ spread available for dinner.


Located at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, Boma is just one of three incredible restaurants at this resort — it’s a true food-lovers haven here.

Boma Sign

You’ll find Boma on the ground floor beneath the lobby level, adjacent to both The Mara and Jiko. (Sanaa is located in nearby Kidani Village.) And while The Mara is the resort’s counter service location, Jiko is a signature restaurant, and Sanaa features a table service fusion of flavors, Boma serves as the resort’s buffet offering.

But while many Disney buffets are more about character interaction than cuisine, a trip to Boma is all about the food. A sign in Animal Kingdom’s lobby provides a little background on the meaning of the restaurant’s name — and encourages you to make your ADR for Boma well in advance!

Boma Background Information

The term boma loosely refers to a fence fashioned of sticks, and you’ll see this motif throughout the restaurant’s interior. A wrought-iron version of a boma borders either side of the wide, winding path into the restaurant.

Walkway into Boma

Here, the fence borders a low wall separating the seating area from the [Read more…]

Review: Bread Bowls and Cinnamon Rolls at Pacific Wharf Cafe

Today, we’re heading over for a light lunch and a treat at one of my favorite stops in Disneyland, Pacific Wharf Cafe at Disney California Adventure in Disneyland Resort!

Bread, bread bowls, soup, and baked goodies are the name of the game here, so bring your carb-loving gene! Let’s head in to to see what tempting options we can find.

Pacific Wharf Cafe -- Outside


Taking its theme from the famed Cannery Row in Monterrey, CA, Pacific Wharf Cafe is owned and operated by San Francisco’s Boudin Bakery. Imagineers have done a great job creating a space with the look and feel of the unique area.

The Boudin Bakery is San Francisco’s oldest company — it’s been in business without interruption since 1849. They still use many of the original old world techniques, and their bread bowls are legendary. They’ve decorated the cafe with some fun bread creations — you can even get a bread Mickey!

Fun Bread Displays

Serving counter service breakfast, lunch, and dinner, this is a great go-to spot if you haven’t made plans in advance for eating and you find yourself in need of a meal or snack.

Head inside the open and airy space to order. You’ll only find the counter and queue area once inside; all the seating is outside of the cafe.

Ordering Queue

Check out some of the incredible baked goods as you place your order, and when you pick up your food, [Read more…]

Review: The Mara at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge

The Mara is absolutely a “go-to” spot for me at Walt Disney World. It’s a great place to get away from it all and just take a breather in the middle of one of my favorite Disney resorts.

Located at Animal Kingdom Lodge’s Jambo House, The Mara counter-service restaurant offers exotic eats inspired by the diverse flavors of the African continent, while also providing more traditional American fare for the less adventurous eaters in your crew.

And don’t even get me started on all of the special Disney food cult favorites that we’ll make a trip here just to snag!

But I just realized that for all of my visits to Mara, I didn’t actually have my own review of the spot up on the blog! Time to remedy that right away.


Located on the ground floor, The Mara is just a stone’s throw away from Animal Kingdom Lodge’s Uzima Springs Pool. It’s accessible through an outside entrance near the doors to Jambo House’s other restaurants, Boma and Jiko.

Outside Menu and Information Stand

The Mara is named for the Masai Mara National Reserve in North Tanzania, a game conservation area established in 1948.

The reserve serves as home to dozens of native animals and over 470 species of birds, making it an excellent place to observe the big game with which Africa is associated.

The Mara Story

The indoor seating area takes its themeing from the wetlands and grasslands of the Reserve, with colorful murals painted on the back walls, and a canopy of trees overhead. With the predominant background color of blue, the setting is soothing with plenty of natural light flooding in, which gives you the impression of a cool space.

Indoor Seating

There is also ample outdoor seating at tables that are shaded by umbrellas and plenty of foliage and trees.

Outdoor Seating

On your way over to the ordering area, you’ll find last minute pool gear and an assortment of bagged candy available for purchase. This is a great option near the pool since the gift shop, Zawadi Marketplace, is relatively far away if you forget your pool noodle or need some extra sunscreen!

Gifts and Gear

On the day we visited, we found the restaurant to be fairly uncrowded and quiet as we headed to the food area to make our selections. This is often the case with the Mara for me, but perhaps I’m just visiting during “off-hours.”


You’ll find The Mara open from 7 a.m. until 11:30 p.m. daily, serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Mara Menu and Info -- Click to Enlarge

The menu features many [Read more…]

New Menu Options at Earl of Sandwich! (And Holiday Sandwich Year-Round!!)

Update: Disneyland Annual Passholders get a 20% discount (that’s twice the Passholder dining discount!) on Mondays and Tuesdays in March 2013 at Earl Of Sandwich in Downtown Disney Anaheim.

We’ve got some seriously rad news for all of you fellow Earl-lovers today!!!

In Disney World, Disneyland, and Disneyland Paris, Earl of Sandwich specializes in delicious counter-service eats. (Read an Earl of Sandwich Review in Disney World here and an Earl of Sandwich Review in Disneyland here to find out what all the fuss is about!)

And here’s the latest — new menu items are being added the first week of March, including hand-tossed salads, handcrafted wraps, and Artisan soups…and the HOLIDAY SANDWICH will now be offered year round!!

“Earl of Sandwich is known for the World’s Greatest Hot Sandwich. We now have great wraps, salads, and soups to match”, says Steve Heeley, President & CEO of Orlando based Earl of Sandwich.

Wrapped Earl of Sandwich...sandwich!

The Full Montague is a fan favorite at Earl of Sandwich

Yep — there’ll be a lot more to choose from the next time you head over to Earl!

New Earl of Sandwich Menu Options

Healthful options for on-the-go dining is just one reason that Earl of Sandwich is so popular! Let’s check out the new items!

  • 8 Great new “Greens” Hand–Tossed Salads, including Berry, Almond & Chicken Salad, BBQ Chicken, and Thai Salads.
  • 7 Great new “Hand Crafted” Wraps, including Buffalo Chicken (YES, PLEASE!!!!); Baja Chicken; and Chicken, Bacon & Avocado Wraps.
  • A new line of high quality Artisan Soups, including chicken noodle, black bean, chicken tortilla, butternut squash, and other great new flavors. Yes, the signature tomato soup will still be available!
  • New, lighter breakfast offerings, including oatmeal with fruit, nut, and brown sugar toppings. Also look for New York style bagels and cream cheese.
  • Two great sandwiches join the permanent line-up — the cult favorite Holiday Turkey Sandwich, and the [Read more…]

Disney Recipe: Raglan Road’s Wild Forest Mushroom Chowder

A great (and sometimes under the radar) place to dine — or just grab a drink with friends — is Raglan Road in Walt Disney World’s Downtown Disney.

We shared lots of delicious details from our first experience with Raglan Road’s brand new Rollicking Raglan Sunday Brunch in our recent review. But I found a recipe for another fantastic Raglan menu item and I couldn’t wait to share it with you, too.

Let’s take a stroll over to the pub and check out what I know you’re going to be making for dinner this weekend! After all, you can cheat on your diet a little bit on the weekends, right?? ;-)

Raglan Road in Downtown Disney

On a recent visit to Raglan Road, I ordered Master Chef Kevin Dundon‘s Wild Forest Mushroom Chowder.

Usually, the soups here are delicious, but this one was out of this world. With the richness of the soup, the mushroom flavor here is more of an essence and isn’t overpowering — definitely my favorite kind of mushroom soup. ;-)

But it IS rich — the butter and cream make sure of that, so this is an ideal winter soup for those nights when all you want to do is curl up on the couch with a warm bowl of something awesome.

Wild Forest Mushroom Chowder

And as a bonus, [Read more…]

Review: Tutto Italia in Epcot’s Italy Pavilion

Anytime that I have an opportunity to dine in Epcot’s World Showcase, I grab it!

There are so many wonderful restaurants here, and I’m always lamenting the fact that I haven’t been to one or another in a long time.

When I was in town recently for the New Fantasyland media event, I had some free time and decided that it was the perfect night to pop in to Italy to see how Tutto Italia was faring after its most recent renovation.

So after arranging my Advanced Dining Reservation for 8pm, I headed over to meet my friend for a late dinner amid the beautiful holiday decorations in World Showcase.

Tutto Italia in Epcot's Italy Pavilion


Tutto Italia and the newly opened Tutto Gusto Wine Bar are situated in the back left corner of the Italy Pavilion (if you’re facing into the pavilion). The restaurant reopened after a renovation in early Summer and now features updated seating and the brand new wine bar next door.

Tutto Italia

Tutto Gusto is a new stop on your Drinking Around the World odyssey, and is definitely worth your time and dollars. You can see my initial impressions of Tutto Gusto in my review.

But on this night, we were headed into Tutto Italia. When the restaurant first reopened I was glad to see that not much had changed. The grand and formal space really feels like it could have been transported from Rome. The gorgeous murals made the cut (though I heard that they almost didn’t stay!).

Italia kept the murals!

And the crystal chandeliers continue to add elegance to the restaurant. Sometimes it’s a bit jarring to see people dressed in Mickey t-shirts amid all this finery, but I’m so glad that Disney has preserved some of the original vision of the World Showcase restaurants.

Italia Chandelier

Seating includes some tiny two tops (is it just me, or do you always kind of feel like you’re eating with the people next to you when you’re sitting at tables this close together?) as well as seating for larger groups and families.

Guests can also dine in a Sunroom or on the new outdoor patio!

Italia Table Seating and the Sunroom beyond

Here’s one of the biggest tables…this one’s for [Read more…]