Dining Details: Wall Murals at Via Napoli in Epcot’s Italy Pavilion

It just goes to show… you can visit Disney World a million and one times (and I’ve got to be coming up close to that number ;) ), and still notice something new every time.

I’m a fan of Via Napoli in Epcot’s Italy Pavilion. Not only does it serve the best pizza in Disney World; it’s become a tradition for us.

So how is it, then, that I only noticed this incredibly cool detail on my most recent visit? OK, at least I THINK it’s a cool detail. I might be totally making it up, but I could super see Disney Imagineers doing this on purpose.

Look at this orange tree as seen through one of the restaurant’s windows.

Orange Tree outside the window

Orange Tree outside the window

And now check out the fresco painting on the wall right next to it.

Wall mural next to the window

Wall mural next to the window

Hmmmm…. Looks similar, right?

I think this may be a continuation, bringing the [Read more…]

Snack Series: Caramel Brownie and Caramel Toffee at Epcot’s Karamell-Küche

We are taking another lap around World Showcase today and stopping into Karamell-Küche for a couple of treats!

Who can resist all of that buttery caramel? Super not me.

It’s true. We rarely make it all the way Around the World without stopping for a sweet treat here. Stepping inside is like finally realizing your best candy store dream ever. You don’t have candy store dreams, you say? Well you will after you’ve been here. There are so many outrageously good things to try, and we always finds something new!

Recently, I told you about two other treats we tried here — the Caramel Bacon Square and Caramel S’more.

Today, we’re back with two oldies but goodies to share!

Caramel Brownie

The first treat I want to show you is the Caramel Brownie. I was excited to finally try this one. I have no idea why I hadn’t indulged before. It’s drizzled heavily with that golden Werther’s Caramel, and that turned out to be the best part.

Caramel Brownie from Karamell-Küche in Epcot's Germany Pavilion

Caramel Brownie from Karamell-Küche in Epcot’s Germany Pavilion

The brownie itself was more cakey than fudgy, and it really didn’t have the moistness I was looking for. It was a little dry and crumbly in fact. This alone kind of ruined the treat for me, but that may have just been a bad batch.

Look a little more closely, and you can see that, in addition to the drizzle, there’s caramel baked right into the top of the brownie! It’s like a double shot of golden, buttery sugar.

Caramel Brownie -- Inside

Caramel Brownie — Inside

If you like chocolate and caramel in more of a cake-like form, grab a glass of milk. This one’s for you.

Caramel Toffee

But I also had to try something for the candy lovers out there! And this time out, I chose the Caramel Toffee. The marbleized detail on the top of the square really made it stand out from the [Read more…]

News! Festive Treats Returning to Epcot’s Holidays Around the World

Every year we look forward to the return of Holidays Around the World in Epcot! Beginning November 28th and running through December 30th, this yearly celebration features special events like the Candlelight Processional, a special ending to the IllumiNations spectacular, and unique opportunities to listen to storytellers share holiday traditions from around the globe in each Pavilion.

Holidays Around the World Passport

Holidays Around the World Passport

We’re happy to share that a more recent “tradition” will be returning this year as well… Holidays Around the World will once again feature tastes of holiday cuisine from the countries represented in World Showcase! If you’d like to get even more of a start on your holiday snack planning, check out our review of several of these treats from last year’s celebration! (Please note: prices on signage in the pictures below may differ this year from last.)

The Sugar and Spice Holiday Bakery in the American Adventure Pavilion will once again be THE place to grab a gingerbread, chocolate chip, or sugar cookie while waiting in line to meet Santa and Mrs. Claus! This will also the place to grab some peppermint bark or warm up with some hot cocoa.

Sugar and Spice Holiday Bakery

Sugar and Spice Holiday Bakery

Cookies at the Sugar and Spice Bakery

Cookies at the Sugar and Spice Bakery

Epcot American Adventure Peppermint Bark

Epcot American Adventure Peppermint Bark

Also among the treats that will be returning this year is the beautiful Bûche de Noël au Chocolate (Chocolate Christmas Log) to Les Halles Boulangerie Patisserie in France.

Chocolate Christmas Log

Chocolate Christmas Log

And Gingerbread Ice Cream will [Read more…]

Review: MUST-EAT New Dishes at the 2014 Epcot Food and Wine Festival

It’s finally here! We are reporting to you LIVE from the 2014 Epcot Food and Wine Festival!

We’ve been busy for the last couple of days gathering information and pricing for you for every one of the Marketplace Booths at this year’s festival.

Epcot Food and Wine Festival

We’ve also had the pleasure of Eating and Drinking Our Way Around the World! For pictures of every dish at this year’s festival, be sure to click over to our Marketplace Booth Page. Click through the links to see all of the pictures of your favorite dishes, plus plenty of new items to try!

It’s shaping up to be one of the most delicious Epcot Food and Wine Festivals ever! But after a day of tasting (and tasting, and tasting), we’ve definitely come up with some favorites. Let’s take a look at our top dishes from around the World Showcase this year…

Nueske’s® Pepper Bacon Hash with Sweet Corn, Potatoes, Hollandaise and Pickled Jalapeño At Farm Fresh

As soon as you get anywhere near the Farm Fresh booth, you can smell it. Nueske’s® Pepper Bacon Hash with Sweet Corn, Potatoes, Hollandaise and Pickled Jalapeño – a strong, smokey smell of bacon laced with the sweet-spicy onions and jalapeños.

We’ve been hearing about this fun take on “breakfast for dinner” for a while now, but we were blown away by the execution of it. The dish has everything — super flavorful Bacon, Potatoes cooked perfectly (soft and fluffy in the middle and crispy on the edges), and velvety Hollandaise that stands in for the Egg in the dish, not to mention the sweet corn and spicy peppers.

Bacon Hash

Bacon Hash

Just so you know, I have to eat so much during the festival that I never fully finish any of the dishes. This one? This one I finished completely and wished it made sense for me to order MORE!

If you only try one dish this year, I think this should be the one.

Fresh Baked Carrot Cake with Craisins® and Cream Cheese Icing at Hops & Barley

We hadn’t been wowed by the Fresh Baked Carrot Cake with Craisins® and Cream Cheese Icing when we’ve tried it at recent preview events. It was good and all, but nothing to write home about.

But the version of the dish that we tried today at the Hops & Barley Booth was a show-stopper. And no, I’m not even exaggerating a teeny bit.

The Cake itself is [Read more…]

2014 Food and Wine Festival Booth Preview: Hops & Barley and Ireland Marketplaces

This week, all! The 2014 Epcot Food and Wine Festival kicks off THIS WEEK!

food and wine festival logo

It seems like we’ve been counting down, bringing you previews, and talking about it forever, so it will be so fun to hit the ground and begin trying all of the new dishes and returning favorites!

And this year, the festival has been extended to a record 53 days. That’s more than seven weeks to experience this great event.

We love showing you what you can expect from the Marketplace Booths that surround World Showcase. (For all of the Marketplace Booth Menus, be sure to visit our Main Booth Page.)

Today, let’s take a closer look at a couple favorites…

Hops & Barley Marketplace Booth

Originally introduced in 2005, the Hops & Barley Booth serves as the upscale taste of American food for the Epcot Food and Wine Festival. You’ll find the extra large kiosk situated in the courtyard of the America Pavilion.

Hops & Barley Booth

Hops & Barley Booth

While the marketplace began as a celebration of New England food and Samuel Adams beer, they’ve widened the scope a bit with food and beverages from all across the country.

And, as the name implies, there are a few different beers to sample here. But while the booth has been all about Sam Adams beer in the past, now you can sample other craft brews as well as wine.

2014 Hop & Barley Marketplace Booth Menu

  • Artisan Cheese Plate featuring Cabot Cloth Wrapped Cheddar, Purple Haze Chèvre Goat Cheese and Cave Man Blue Cheese
  • Baked Lobster Alfredo
  • Florida Grass Fed Beef Slider with Pimento Cheese
  • Fresh Baked Carrot Cake with Craisins® and Cream Cheese Icing
  • Samuel Adams® Octoberfest
  • New Belgium Brewing Company Snapshot
  • Samuel Adams Cherry Wheat®
  • Leinenkugel’s Seasonal Shandy
  • La Crema Sonoma Coast Chardonnay
  • Julia’s Vineyard Pinot Noir, Cambria Estate Winery
  • Beer flight (featuring 4 4-ounce servings): Samuel Adams Octoberfest, New Belgium Snapshot, Samuel Adams Cherry Wheat and Leinenkugel’s Seasonal Shandy

While the Cheese Booth will be on hiatus in 2014, we’re happy to see one of its offerings pop up here at Hops & Barley — the Artisan Cheese Plate!

Trio of Artisan Cheeses

Trio of Artisan Cheeses

The trio includes some familiar faces from cheese plates around Walt Disney World, including Purple Haze Chèvre Goat Cheese and Cave Man Blue Cheese.

Purple Haze

Purple Haze Chèvre Goat Cheese

Caveman Blue Cheese

Caveman Blue Cheese

Also migrating from another marketplace is the Florida Grass Fed Beef Slider. The burger was previously featured at the Florida Local Booth. But for 2014, Florida Local has morphed into Farm Fresh.

The Mini Burger gets new life with a fun new topping — Pimento Cheese! Creamy and spicy, this is a great addition to the lineup here!

Florida Grass Fed Beef Slider with Pimento Cheese

Florida Grass Fed Beef Slider with Pimento Cheese

We’ve looked forward to Lobster dishes at Hops & Barley in the past. This year, we’re happy to say that it returns once more! Find it in the [Read more…]

Review: La Cava del Tequila in Epcot’s Mexico Pavilion

Aaaahhh, La Cava del Tequila… what’s a trip around World Showcase without walking inside your doors?

Well, we’re back, and we’re here to celebrate a very special birthday…La Cava del Tequila just turned five years old! For a place that’s still relatively new (in Disney World terms, anyway), it sure has earned its place on the absolute MUST list ever since opening its doors in August 2009.

We’re celebrating this special occasion with a few of my favorite things (cue the song!) and branching out with a few sips I’d never tried before.

As the saying goes, it may be “5 o’clock somewhere,” but we’re just happy when it’s 12 o’clock at La Cava del Tequila!

La Cava del Tequila Sign

La Cava del Tequila Sign

"We Open at Noon"

“We Open at Noon”

Is it noon yet ;) ? Then let’s step in!

Atmosphere

Small and cozy (and often crowded due to its well-deserved reputation), there’s still plenty for the eye to take in. Obviously, the tequila gets the spotlight – both figuratively and literally!

La Cava Tequilas

La Cava Tequilas

When you first walk in, [Read more…]

Review: Lunch at Nine Dragons in Epcot’s China

Welcome back to Nine Dragons Restaurant in Epcot’s lovely China Pavilion! We’re visiting this Table Service restaurant for lunch.

It’s been a while since we’ve visited Nine Dragons. While we truly enjoy the beauty of this spot (and will provide a few more glimpses for you today), the food has never really elevated it to a “Must Go” spot. In fact, for some it has been a “Must Skip!” So, it’s time for another visit to see how things are faring, and what — if anything — has changed.

You’ll spot Nine Dragons immediately upon approaching the China Pavilion from Norway. I find nearly everything to be eye-catching in the China Pavilion. The outdoor colors of Nine Dragons echo those in the Pavilion’s entrance gate and the replica of the Temple of Heaven.

Nine Dragons Restaurant

Nine Dragons Restaurant

Nine Dragons Sign

Nine Dragons Sign

But we’re more interested by what’s inside, so let’s have a look.

Atmosphere

There is a definite change in the color palette upon entering the space. Dark and ornately carved woods are dominant in the décor, but the restaurant is peppered with fun and colorful lanterns that keep things from feeling too heavy or overwhelming.

Nine Dragons Seating

Nine Dragons Seating

Lanterns

Lanterns

Lanterns

Lanterns

The large windows also provide natural light along with some great views of World Showcase.

Seating near windows

Seating near windows

Even if you aren’t seated near a window, some of the glass in the walls serve to let in some of that light, while also separating dining areas.

Table for Two

Table for Two

While we’re on the subject of seating, I know many people have found this restaurant doesn’t offer much in the way of elbow room in regards to space between tables. We arrived at a rather off-time for lunch (2:00 pm), when much of the noon-time crowds had dispersed. So, feeling overcrowded was not my experience, but the potential for it is something you’ll want to consider when choosing a time.

So, what about the dragons? They’re incorporated into several spots around the restaurant! You’ll find artistic dragons throughout the restaurant, from the beautiful green-glass wall at the check-in

Glass etching in entrance

Glass etching in entrance

… to the ceiling in the same area.

Look up!

Look up!

And they can be spotted in the dark wood entrance and exit of the dining area.

Check-in area

Check-in area

Woodwork

Beautiful woodwork

You’ll also want to check out the wall nearest to the kitchen in the central dining area. Because seating in Nine Dragons is divided up into separate sections, you may miss it, so be sure to take a stroll at some point during your visit.

This wall is where you’ll find… what else? Nine Dragons :) .

Display of Nine Glass Dragons

Display of Nine Glass Dragons

All nine of these glass sculpture dragons are truly beautiful; but out of respect for your time, I’ll just give you a glimpse of my top three dragons!

Glass Dragon

Glass Dragon

Glass Dragon

Glass Dragon

Glass Dragon

Glass Dragon

Okay, top four… because they are pretty cool!

Dragon Number Four!

Dragon Number Four!

All right, enough with the dragon-spotting… It’s time to eat, so grab a cool place mat and join us!

Nine Dragons Placemat

Nine Dragons Place mat

Eats

My friend and I went with the Appetizer Trio for starters (meant to serve two).

Appetizer portion of menu -- click to enlarge

Appetizer and sides portion of menu — click to enlarge

This allowed us to try [Read more…]

News! 2014 Epcot Flower and Garden Festival FULL Food Menus!

We have big news from Epcot today!

With just a few weeks to go before the opening of the 2014 Flower and Garden Festival, and thanks to a heads up from DFB reader Linda, we have the full list of menus for the super popular Outdoor Kitchens! Mark your calendars — the Festival lasts from March 5 through May 18.

Disney Food Blog Epcot Flower and Garden Festival

These kiosks, which are reminiscent of the Marketplace Booths that dominate the Epcot Food and Wine Festival, feature delicious small plates that allow you to taste fresh flavors from the garden.

We Loved This Violet Lemonade at the 2013 Flower and Garden Festival!

We Loved This Violet Lemonade at the 2013 Flower and Garden Festival!

There are lots and lots of new things to try. One new booth will debut — Urban Farm Eats — while we say Auf Wiedersehen to the German-inspired Bauernmarkt for 2014. (Let’s hope it’s back next year!)

Without further ado, let’s get to it!

NEW!: Urban Farm Eats

This year, a brand new booth, Urban Farm Eats, debuts with Land-grown produce and the best of farm-raised fish.

Land-grown Eggplant “Scallop” with Romesco Sauce and Spaghetti Squash from the Urban  Farm Eats Outdoor Kitchen

Land-grown Eggplant “Scallop” with Romesco Sauce and Spaghetti Squash from the Urban Farm Eats Outdoor Kitchen

2014 Menu

  • Pickled beet salad with goat cheese cream, mizuna and pistachios
  • Land-grown eggplant “scallop” with romesco sauce and spaghetti squash (TRYit!)
  • Ghost pepper-dusted tilapia with crisp winter melon slaw and mint oil featuring The Original Sauce Man’s Kick It Up Rub
  • Cucumber lemon spa water, finished with a sprig of fresh mint
  • The Vegan Vine Chardonnay
  • The Vegan Vine Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Redbridge Gluten-Free Sorghum Beer, Anheuser-Busch (St. Louis, Missouri)

Intermissions Cafe

Visit Intermissions Cafe at Festival Center for a jump start on fresh flavors before heading out to visit the Outdoor Kitchens!

Last Year's Beet Lollipop - Push Up. Can't Wait to Try the New Caprese Version!

Last Year’s Beet Lollipop – Push Up. Can’t Wait to Try the New Caprese Version!

2014 Menu

  • Grapes
  • Fruit & Cheese Plate
  • Vegan Trio
  • Southwest Chicken Wrap
  • Tuna Salad with Pita
  • Side Salad
  • Asian Tuna Salad with Noodles
  • Caprese Push-Pop — Tomato, Mozzarella, and Balsamic (TRYit! Selection)
  • Hurricane Class 5 White Sangria, Florida Orange Groves (St. Petersburg, Florida)
  • Garda Italian Wine Blend, Quantum Leap Winery (Orlando, Florida)
  • Rogue Valley Pinot Noir, Quantum Leap Winery (Orlando, Florida)
  • Martini Prosecco
  • Strongbow Cider, Bulmers Cider Company (White Plains, New York)
  • SweetWater Blue, SweetWater Brewing Company (Atlanta, Georgia)

Pineapple Promenade

Back for a second year, this is your chance to enjoy Dole Whip in lots of different ways — including toppers of Myer’s Dark Rum or Parrot Bay Coconut Rum! I can’t wait for this one!

Dole Whip with Spiced Rum at the 2013 Epcot Flower and Garden Festival

Dole Whip with Spiced Rum at the 2013 Epcot Flower and Garden Festival

And don’t miss the Violet Lemonade!

2014 Menu [Read more…]

Disney Recipe: Mousse au Chocolat from Boulangerie Patisserie Les Halles

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.

Mousse au Chocolat from Boulangerie Patisserie Les Halles

Mousse au Chocolat from Boulangerie Patisserie Les Halles

(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

Boulangerie Patisserie Les Halles, Epcot

Yield: Approximately 3 cups

Ingredients: [Read more…]

Epcot Debuts Sweet and Savory Waffles for the Holidays!

Epcot’s Holidays Around the World celebration features holiday customs and flavors from across the globe. Each country’s Pavilion in World Showcase offers a treat reflecting a bit of traditional holiday cuisine in the represented culture.

Last week we took you around to see most of the yummy additions, but…we had to give these awesome holiday waffles their own post!

Let’s head to Promenade Refreshments!

Promenade Refreshments

Even if you are familiar with Epcot, you may be less so with Promenade Refreshments. Located at the entrance to World Showcase from Future World (it’s closer to Canada than Mexico), it may be best known as the Desserts & Champagne Booth during the Food and Wine Festival, or the spot that doled out Spiced Rum Dole Whips (see what I did there? ;) ) during the Flower and Garden Festival.

Promenade Refreshments

Promenade Refreshments has received another festive menu makeover. Take a look!

Promenade Refreshments Holiday Menu

Okay, so there are a few traditional treats on the menu… hot cocoa, apple cider, and mint tea, to name a few. Even with those, however, there is an option to add a twist. We’ll get back to that in a little bit.

For now, let’s focus on a couple of traditional holiday flavors presented in a very non-traditional way: the Savory Seasonal Waffle and the Sweet Potato Casserole Waffle! Then, we’ll head over to the bevvies!

Promenade Refreshments Menu

Sweet Potato Casserole Waffle

Um…kudos to the chefs who think these things up! Let’s chat about — the Sweet Potato Casserole Waffle! YUM! Look at that thing!

Sweet Potato Casserole Waffle

The difference here lies in the batter: it’s made of sweet potato. The flavor combo of the batter along with the more-than-ample toppings of marshmallow, pecan, and caramel sauce was absolutely terrific.

And I thought it still looked great even after I “opened up” the waffle!

Inside of the Sweet Potato Waffle

I’d anticipated something way more gooey (I think I was expecting more of a marshmallow “fluff” topping), but this was much easier to handle. I wasn’t expecting to enjoy it as much as I did. While I liked both waffles, the Sweet Potato Casserole Waffle was the winner.

Just a note: be prepared to wait a few minutes (maybe four or five) for your waffle, because they are made per order. I didn’t mind the wait, because it meant each waffle came to me fresh and hot.

But if savory is more your thing…

Savory Seasonal Waffle

The Savory Seasonal Waffle brings together elements of a traditional American holiday feast: turkey, gravy, and cranberry, all together on a waffle made of…wait for it…stuffing batter!

Savory Seasonal Waffle

Stuffing! Batter! This is not [Read more…]