Oh Disney, how I miss you! I gotta say, I think Disney World was more fun for me as a 20 year old than it was when I was 10 – the ten year gap between trips made me forget EVERYTHING, so Disney World was practically new to me! Almost every day was jam-packed with activity, so much so that I was dead by 9:00 each night. Bleh. I guess walking for 7-9 hours a day will do that to ya!
I was constantly thinking of how I would address the trip on the blog – there’s so much to write about and I have SO MANY pictures! I’ll probably have to spread it across three posts! I think today, since this is (mostly) a food blog, I’ll post my top 5 favorite eats from the trip. Inside the parks are TONS of cool, different places to try out, especially in Epcot (helloooo, World Showcases). In Epcot I had food from Norway, Germany, Japan, and Morocco! My only regret is not having something from Great Britain…I mean, I know they have a reputation for bland food, but everything on the menu sounded kind of cool to me. I also had some great Cuban food at Gloria Estefan’s restaurant, Bongos. Disney’s restaurants can be pretty expensive like any theme park, but unlike parks such as Six Flags, Disney really gives you a bang for your buck! The food was all really tasty and there was tons of variety, not just hot dogs and cheese fries (I have nothing against cheese fries – they speak to me in ways no other artery clogging food can, but variety is good). I was REALLY surprised to see stands selling apples, cut veggies and fruit bowls in Magic Kingdom – if only all the parks did that!
I would have loved to eat some Disney breakfasts, but since our hotel had free breakfasts, I never got the chance to eat Mickey waffles. A BIG selling point in a hotel for my mom is free continental breakfasts – I can’t remember the last time I stayed in a hotel that didn’t offer breakfast. We stayed at a Quality Suites hotel, which at first glance looked really crappy. I’m not going to lie, I was kind of wary about the insides when we first pulled in the parking lot.
1. It was behind a tacky tourist gift shop that was painted to match the sky and had a HUGE bald eagle on the front.
2. There was a HUGE mardi gras joker statue in the front of the hotel parking lot.
Yeah, I was scared. I’m sort of a snob about hotels…they all kind of gross me out.
Thankfully, the inside of the hotel and our suite was MUCH better than the outside…guess you can’t judge a book by its cover. HAR HAR!
Uh, but yeah, our hotel room was super nice, and the hotel had a super cool breakfast room and patio decorated to look like a an old-fashioned New Orleans restaurant (or something). The breakfast stuff included: fruit, yogurt, cereal, eggs, sausage/bacon, waffles, danishes/pecan wheels, English muffins/toast, and oatmeal/grits.
Let’s just say I was never bored.
ANYWAYS, I’ve rambled on enough about food. Here are my favorite eats from the trip!
5. Bratwurst (Germany in Epcot)
Yeah, it’s pretty common, but it was my first time eating a Bratwurst…and it came with REALLY good sauerkraut. I love sauerkraut, so crunchy and delicious. I will never go back to regular hot dogs again after this – it was filled with so many spices and it had so much more oomph than a plain hotdog. The bun that came with it was meh (I ended up not eating it), but overall it was a delicious lunch. The fact that I was starving probably added to its deliciousness, but whatever.
4. Fish Tacos (Margaritaville, Universal Studios)
It wasn’t in Disney, but these fish tacos were awesome. So awesome that I forgot to take a picture of them. The tacos came with black beans (SO GOOD! They were definitely seasoned with cumin (my favorite spice) and slow cooked for a long time) and rice (cooked with cilantro, I think). The tacos themselves were topped with a sour cream sauce type thing with black beans, corn and cilantro. The fish was grilled perfectly and the salsa that I topped the tacos with made them perfect!
Also, I could totally see the tips of Hogwarts from our table. That alone made Margaritaville awesome.
3. Cuban Sandwich (Bongos, Downtown Disney)
The Estefans know their food – this restaurant was totally awesome! An awesome restaurant has to have a super awesome atmosphere and Bongos did not disappoint. In fact, a huge mosaic made up of tiny tiles covered the walls. I gotta say, I would throw my head through a wall if I had to do a mosaic like that. Kudos to the artist. Anyways, there were lots of cool things on the menu, but I stuck with a basic Cuban Sandwich. It was really good, but not the best Cuban I’ve ever had, mostly because the bread was too soft! I like crunchy, toasted, flattened bread with Cubans and this bread was pretty soft. The best part about Cuban sandwiches, in my opinion, is the mustard and crunchy pickles – I love the zip they both provide! This sandwich had plenty of zip, which made up for the lack of crunchy bread.
Lara’s dish came with fried plantains, which were…interesting. I didn’t LOVE them, but every once in awhile they would be really good! They had a great texture – a firm bite, but soft and gooey on the inside – and were very sweet. They tasted like a soft, yet really underripe banana, which worked since they were fried and sweetened with some kind of syrup.
2. Mediterranean Salad Sampler and bits of a Royal Feast (Morocco, Epcot)
That picture doesn’t do the food justice, but the lighting was low and I have a crappy camera, so use your imagination to make it look appealing.
I wanted to try as many Moroccan eats as I could, so I got a sampler. It consisted of tabbouleh, sun dried tomato hummus, pureed eggplant and falafel. The pureed eggplant was easily the best part, but I loved the falafel, too! Oh man guys, the eggplant was so creamy and was definitely souped up with garlic, so all of you (crazy/weird/freaky) garlic haters out there would have passed on this dip. The falafel is hard to explain…it was kind of like a beef nugget (Did any of you guys have those at school lunches? Geeze, they were so gross in high school), but way better because there were tons of flavorful spices. (Edit: I’ve been told that falafel traditionally doesn’t contain meat…I based the meat part on a recipe I looked at in the restaurant’s cook book, but it wasn’t listed under falafel. I assumed it was the same thing since the description of the texture and taste sounded the same, but now I’m not so sure…chickpeas would certainly explain the interesting texture, but then again I’ve never had deep fried minced meat so there’s still a possibility that there was meat…? A mystery..) The tabbouleh was kind of weird…most recipes I see have grains mixed with cucumber, tomato, etc. but this tabbouleh was made up of parsley and chickpeas. It was good, but not what I was expecting. The hummus was okay, but I’ve had better. My dad also gave me some of his lamb to try. I felt kind of weird eating lamb, but it was so tender and delicious! I don’t know what part of the lamb they used because it was kind of fatty, but the meat part was really good. There was also couscous, which is nothing new. The meal ended with bastilla, which was a lot like baklava – a crispy pastry filled with ground almonds and sugar. I really liked it, but it’s definitely different than your typical American dessert.
1. Cobb Salad and “Loch Daurt Salmon Glazed with Scotch Whisky over Arugula, Watercress, Local Peaches, Bleu Affiné, Walnuts, and a Fig and Orange Blossom Honey Dressing” (The Brown Derby, Disney Hollywood Studios)
I don’t have a picture of the Cobb Salad, but it was definitely one of the weirdest salads I’ve ever eaten. Apparently it was first made for a guy that couldn’t chew well, so the chef finely chopped greens, turkey, avocado, hard boiled eggs, bacon, tomatoes, blue cheese, and chives to make the salad easy to eat. It basically looked like the inside of a lawn mower bag, but it was SO GOOD! Sadly, I forgot a picture. The salmon dish was amazing, not so much because of the salmon, but because of the salad under it! The dressing was slightly syrupy and sweet – so delicious! It contrasted perfectly with the tangy blue cheese and the walnuts added an awesome crunch. The warm peaches were also a perfect addition. Plus, look at the presentation!!! I felt very fancy eating it, what with the drizzle of syrup and the strategic salad placement.
I’m salivating just thinking about it.
Aaand lastly, here are some miscellaneous food things…
1. Ice cream serving sizes at Disney are much larger and (surprisingly) much cheaper than Bruster’s. Take note, Bruster’s people!
This cup was somewhere between a double and a triple scoop cup at Bruster’s, but only cost $2.70!! When I worked at Bruster’s last summer, a 3 oz. single scoop cup was 3 bucks. Unfortunately, I’m still on ice cream over load from 2 years at Bruster’s, even a year later, so I could only manage half of the cup. Oh well.
2. I had a deep fried sandwich. It was weird.
I had a Monte Cristo sandwich at some restaurant called Bennigans on a rare night that we finished up at Disney before dinner. Apparently Bennigan’s is big in Florida because they were all over the place…I’ve never seen them in Georgia. Anyways, I was under the impression that Monte Cristos were like french toast sandwiches, but now that I think about it, I may be confusing them with Croque Monsieur …
Anyways, it was good, but the three bread slices really hid the inside of the sandwich, which was scanty to begin with, so I ended up peeling off the fried part and just dipping the inside, non-fried sandwich into the raspberry jam. The concept of a ham and cheese sandwich with jam was the real reason I ordered the sandwich – for some reason, I just love the combo of salty meat and cheese with sweet berry jam.
Whew! Sorry for the novel post! Tomorrow = ride highlights plus pictures!