Spotlight: DisMarks.com

DisMarks.com Logo

DisMarks.com Logo

Wondering what that little castle button is at the bottom of the blogs? Lemme tell you all about it! I’m taking a break from the food writing today to mention a great new website that’s been beneficial to me both as a blogger and a Disney fan.

DisMarks.com functions as a social media network for Disney information–in other words, it’s Digg for Disney stuff.

Its creators were excited about the rapid increase in Disney blogs, websites, and news outlets popping up throughout the web and wanted to build a clearinghouse that would give an opportunity for webmasters to present their work, and for Disney fans to bring attention to and vote for their favorite sites, blog posts, news items, etc.

In social media and marketing terms, DisMarks offers webmasters a chance to expose their work to a brand new audience, meet and get to know other webmasters, link build, and check out some of the other great Disney media out there.

For Disney fans, DisMarks offers the chance to submit and vote for your favorite websites, media stories, blog posts, and podcasts–and to learn about lots of new Disney sites you might not have seen. And you know you’re seeing the best stuff, because Disney fans just like you have voted certain stories up to the top!

So, if you like any of my food blogs, feel free to click that little castle button at the bottom of the page and vote for the story!

Animal Kingdom Lodge Restaurant Tours: Boma, Jiko, and Sanaa

One of the great hidden treasures of the Animal Kingdom Lodge is the (free) opportunity to gain insight into the award winning restaurants at the resort: Boma, Jiko, and Sanaa. This review will focus on the Jiko and Boma tours.

Soup Sampling at Boma

Soup Sampling at Boma

A short tour begins every evening at 4:00pm at the Boma podium. As I said, it’s free, and open to all Disney guests as far as I can tell (we weren’t asked for our room keys, and I happened to be staying at the Yacht Club at the time).

The “tour” isn’t really a tour; you don’t get to go backstage, and you don’t get a thorough education on the cooking techniques or menu development. But just the opportunity to be guided through the restaurants, discuss the symbolism of the decor, and sample a few items is well worth the half hour of time you’ll spend.

We begin at Boma, which means “enclosure” or “wall” in Swahili, where our cultural guide explained the items that were on the menu that evening as she walked the group through the buffet line. Boma and Jiko were not yet open at this time, so the tour was quiet and free of the hustle and bustle of the typical buffet restaurant. Once we got to the soups, the guide ladeled a sample bowl (you get to choose!) for each member of the group. The favorites were the Corn and Chicken soup and the Butternut Squash soup. Unfortunately, they did not have the Mulligatawny out that night! We also had the chance to sample the famous Zebra Domes at the end of the buffet line.

Jiko Decor

Jiko Decor

From Boma, we headed into Jiko (Swahili for “The Cooking Place”). This section of the tour was much more interesting in my opinion. Our (new) guide discussed the decor of the restaurant first, and despite my having dined at Jiko many times before, I learned so much! Designed by Jeffrey Beers to mimic the colors and scenes from Disney’s The Lion King, here are just a few of the interesting decor points:

1. The rings around the columns represent the neck rings worn by the women of the Ndebele tribe of South Africa. You can see that each column has a varying number of rings, just like the women they represent.

Bread and Dip Tasting at Jiko

Bread and Dip Tasting at Jiko

2. The entire restaurant is watched over by the beautiful, stylized birds, which get smaller toward the back of the ceiling giving an interesting depth perspective. What I didn’t know was that the lighter designs in the wooden floor represent haystacks, and that these birds flying over the haystacks on your African farm represent good luck!

3. The back wall of the restaurant, representing the African sunset, slowly transforms from yellow to orange to deep red through your meal. Another truly interactive and interesting experience in Disney dining.

After our design discussion, we moved over to the onstage kitchen where salads and appetizers are prepared for guests. We were greeted with a serving of the restaurant’s most popular appetizer–the African breads and dips sampler–which was wonderful, of course (and oddly salty).

Jiko Bread Appetizer

Jiko Bread Appetizer

Our guide discussed the restaurant’s name: The Cooking Place, and indicated that we were seated at the cooking place at that moment. She also pointed out the domed bread ovens and the beautiful wine room (Jiko has the largest collection of South African wines the USA).

My tour companions were a great group of folks who had some good experience with the restaurant. We all discussed our favorite dishes–top of the list being the spiced ostrich filet appetizer, barbeque beef short ribs entree, and numerous desserts, including the pistachio creme brulee and, my favorite, the house-made lemon curd.

Jiko Trio of Dips

Jiko Trio of Dips

The tour was well worth the time, and I thoroughly enjoyed getting a few tastes of these restaurants (especially when I knew I wouldn’t be dining at them for a while). For anyone who’s a fan of Animal Kingdom Lodge or its restaurants, definitely stop by the next time you’re in the World for the culinary tour.

2009 Food and Wine Festival update

2009 Food and Wine Festival

2009 Food and Wine Festival

Click the link for the full details and information about the 14th Annual Epcot International Food and Wine Festival.

And here’s Disney’s Official Press Release on the 2009 Food and Wine Festival:

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – Epcot kitchens turn up the heat for a global tasting experience worthy of every palate Sept. 25-Nov. 8 at the 14th annual Epcot International Food &Wine Festival at Walt Disney World Resort. During the six-week, entertainment-packed event, park guests can taste fine cuisine and wines from the top “foodie” cities of the world.

Whether sampling bites of Camarões com Palmito (shrimp with palms) from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, or sipping the trendiest wine from Buenos Aires, Argentina, festival guests can enjoy the flavors of more than 25 international marketplaces dotting the World Showcase promenade. The festival will spotlight tastes from cities on six continents, including Bologna, Italy; Bangkok, Thailand; Wellington, New Zealand; Santiago, Chile; Marrakesh, Morocco; Shanghai, China; and, from the United States – New Orleans.

Tapas-sized portions of regional specialties run $2-to-$7 each, and recommended wines and beers make perfect pairings at each kiosk. Puglia, Italy, returns as a sponsor this year, presenting culinary demonstrations with regional chefs and showcasing “Adventures of Pasta and Olive Oils.” Live regional entertainment is scheduled throughout each day along the promenade.

Daily wine and beer tastings serve up sips from around the world, and culinary demonstrations dish up featured taste treats. A series of special culinary programs features a lineup of renowned winemakers, guest chefs and speakers participating in elegant dinners, luncheons, seminars and wine schools.

Live music kicks the festival up several notches each evening during the Eat to the Beat! concert series featuring acts from many musical genres including classic rock, jazz, R&B, funk and soul. Concerts are performed three times each evening at America Gardens Theatre along the World Showcase lagoon. Scheduled to appear for the first time on the Eat to the Beat! stage are: Richard Marx, Better than Ezra, Vanessa Carlton, John Waite and Billy Ocean. Returning acts scheduled are Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, Starship, En Vogue, Sister Hazel, Kool & The Gang, Spyro Gyra, Jon Secada, Sister Sledge, Taylor Dayne, Boyz II Men, Night Ranger and Los Lobos.

Each fall, the festival attracts a diverse audience of more than one million guests ranging from wine connoisseurs and epicures to neophytes wishing to boost their wine IQs. Beer aficionados can raise their steins at several tasting locations, including Germany’s Biergarten, which specialize in brews from light to dark.

Festival highlights include:
The Festival Welcome Center, with a Champagne and Wine Bar, educational wine seminars, celebrity chef book signings, and festival keepsakes including exclusive festival pins and an official festival cookbook.

Some 250 chefs including Disney chefs and guest chefs from across the country conducting culinary demonstrations and hosting elegant dinners and tasting events. Guest chefs who appeared last year included Tory McPhail of Commander’s Palace, Rock Harper of “Hell’s Kitchen,” Robert Irvine from Food Network’s “Dinner Impossible,” plus Jeff Henderson, Todd English, Warren Brown, Mary Meyers, Jamie Deen, Iron Chef Cat Cora and many other culinary stars. This year’s lineup currently is being booked.

New culinary programs to feature Celebration Dinners, Culinary Adventure Signature Dining and Celebrating Family and Friends in the Kitchen. Popular returning events include French Regional Lunches at Bistro de Paris in the France pavilion, Epcot Wine Schools, Food and Wine Pairings and Sweet Sundays. The weekly Party for the Senses grand tasting event with tempting bites from eminent chefs, more than 50 wines and beers and live entertainment.

Festival guests can enjoy free admission on their birthdays as well as fresh Epcot experiences including the re-launched Spaceship Earth attraction in Future World and the high-tech, ultra-interactive Disney’s Kim Possible World Showcase Adventure. Also in World Showcase, several new and updated restaurants welcome guests: at the Italy pavilion, Tutto Italia, with cuisine from different regions of Italy; at the Japan pavilion, Tokyo Dining and Teppan Edo restaurants; and at the China showcase, the redesigned Nine Dragons with a new menu.

Included with Epcot Admission:
Samuel Adams beer seminars, Authentic Taste seminars and Authors without Borders programs with special book signings at the Festival Center, Eat to the Beat! concerts, culinary and cultural adventures, and all attractions and park entertainment are included with regular Epcot admission.

Special Programming by Reservation:
The Party for the Senses grand tasting events, Food and Wine Pairings at select Epcot restaurants, Signature Dining, Epcot Wine Schools, Sweet Sundays, and other special wine and culinary programs require reservations and separate event admission.

Guests can call 407/WDW-FEST (939-3378) for information and to make reservations for special events and programs. Festival details will be available by late July at www.disneyworld.com/foodandwine, and guests can book special events and programs beginning Aug. 11.

Rosie’s Victory Garden

Rosie's Victory Garden

Rosie's Victory Garden

One of the fun little “surprises” in Disney World is Rosie’s Victory Garden, tucked back by Rock n Roller Coaster and Tower of Terror, within the row of Sunset Ranch Market counter service restaurants. You can find the Victory Garden next to Catalina Eddie’s and not far from its “owner’s” restaurant, Rosie’s American Cafe.

The Victory Garden was common during World War II, when feeding the troops overseas meant rationing food back home. Victory Gardens, where civilians grew their own produce, became a sign of patriotism and national support. Rosie’s, of course, is named for

Butterfly in the Pepper Plants

Butterfly in the Pepper Plants

Rosie the Riveter–an icon created to represent the women who headed to work, replacing the men joining the armed forces. And this icon fits perfectly into a park themed after Hollywood’s golden age–the 30’s and 40’s. It brings yet another piece of cultural history to Disney’s Hollywood Studios!

The Victory Garden, however, isn’t an exhibition of plastic plants. It’s a real, live garden, growing peppers (all kinds), pineapples (though I’m not sure how historically accurate that is!), beans, and several other types of produce that weren’t far enough along for me to identify yet. Adding to the theme, Rosie’s garden tools are hanging on the side wall of Catalina Eddie’s, there are a couple of watering cans and a hose on the garden wall, and a couple of interesting garden additions–including a gas-masked scarecrow–offer eye-catching decor.

Patriotic Scarecrows

Patriotic Scarecrows

The next time you’re in the Studios, stop over by the Victory Garden to see how the bell peppers are coming along! Truly an interesting addition to a counter service dining experience.

Kungaloosh Recipe!

It’s been almost nine months since the last “curtain” on the Adventurer’s Club in Disney World’s Downtown Disney, and I figured some of us might be in withdrawal.

Radio-a-thon at Adventurer's Club in Disney World

Radio-a-thon at Adventurer’s Club in Disney World

Kungalooshes are few and far between these days (they pop up from time to time in Disney World, and you can get them at Trader Sam’s in Disneyland), but when it’s late…and you’re lonely…you can always mix up a pitcher at home.

Well, it doesn’t HAVE to be late…and you don’t HAVE to be lonely…:

Kungaloosh Recipe (Frozen)

1 cup Daily’s Strawberry Daiquiri Mix
1/4 cup orange juice
1/4 cup Captain Morgan’s Spiced Rum
1/4 cup blackberry brandy

Toss it in a blender with enough ice to make it slushy, or serve over ice.

Kungaloosh

Kungaloosh

Kungaloosh Recipe (On the Rocks)

1 1/4 ounce vodka
1 1/4 ounce Malibu Rum
3/4 ounce Midori (melon liqueur)
2 tablespoons pineapple juice
1 splash cranberry juice

Mix well.

Kungaloosh Old Style from Trader Sam’s in Disneyland

These recipes are from All Ears Net. The Frozen version is the recipe used from about the year 2000 forward. (It’s certainly the one I remember.) And the on-the-rocks version is the recipe used in the 90s.

Kungaloosh!

What are your favorite Adventurer’s Club memories??

Contempo Cafe

Contempo Cafe

Contempo Cafe

The Contemporary Resort went through a re-model not too long ago, which included the destruction of the Concourse Steakhouse and the creation of the Contempo Cafe in its place.

Contempo Cafe isn’t significantly impressive at first look–it’s a standard counter-service place that happens to be in the middle of the Grand Canyon Concourse. What I love about it, though, is the ordering system that’s in place. The “TV Touchscreen Ordering” is, quite simply, a picky eater’s dream come true.

Instructions

Instructions

If you’ve ever seen Meg Ryan order food in When Harry Met Sally, you’ll know exactly what my dining companions must endure! I substitute this for that, I order most things without one or two of their essential ingredients, I need my sauces on the side…you get the idea. So what I love about the ordering system at Contempo Cafe (reminiscent of my beloved Sheetz Gas Station Made-To-Order service), is that you can make all the little specifications you want! It’s the ultimate “have it your way.”

So, if you’re a picky eater like me–or just like to try out touch-screen technology–

Ordering Screen

Ordering Screen

head over to the 4th floor of the Contemporary for a yummy flatbread (loaded or naked), a deli sandwich (build it as weird as you want it), or an omelet (with or withOUT those pesky veggies…).

Snack series: Turkey Legs

Turkey Leg

Turkey Leg

At over 1000 calories and 50 grams of fat (according to this MSN article), this “snack” could serve as two meals for most folks. So, as a result, everyone’s “down” on the turkey leg. All of the articles I see about these giant drumsticks profess shock that anyone could ever eat such a thing.

But I always thought that vacation was a little bit about letting loose, relaxing, maybe eating and/or drinking a bit more than you would normally… . Who doesn’t gain a few pounds on vacation?

Would love your thoughts–Do you stick to your diet at Disney? Email me at webmaster@disneyfoodblog.com!

Disney World Online Dining Reservation Info

Disney Online Dining Reservations System

Disney Online Dining Reservations System

Keith at MouseMisers has posted his experience with the new Disney Dining Reservations system, currently available only to Travel Agents:

Walt Disney World launched the long awaited online reservation system for dining reservations. Originally due in 2008, it was launched late last night, currently for Travel Agents only. No indication was given when the tool will be made available to the general public, but my guess is 2 weeks of testing should do. Currently, only reservations May 26, 2009 and after are available in the system, so the logical launch date would be May 26, 2009. I guess we will have to wait and see.

Read more of his experience–and see screen shots of the system–on his blog.
mousemisers-logo1