Dining

Daisy’s Best Week Ever, September 15, 2016: Disney on Ice (and off ice)!

by on September 15, 2016

Hello, lovebugs! I hope you’ve had an amazing last few weeks! This week we’re visiting Disney on Ice, taking a quick trip to Epcot, and finishing up with some nighttime fun at Animal Kingdom.

Now, I’m not sure if you guys will appreciate Disney on Ice. I know it wasn’t very popular when I posted it on Instagram. (Did you know TouringPlans has an Instagram?? Come play with us there!) But I absolutely loved the show. We were fortunate enough to have seats right on the ice and I was ready with my camera. While I agree Frozen has been overplayed,  I was just enchanted with the characters in this format. Just take a look at how pretty Elsa was in her element!

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There’s lots more to see this week. Click to read more.

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1900 Park Fare Holiday Brunch Returns to Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort

by on September 13, 2016

1900 Park Fare

©Rikki Niblett

If you are looking for a great way to enjoy the holiday season, consider booking a reservation for the seasonal holiday brunch at 1900 Park Fare at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort.

Guests will have the opportunity to indulge in an all-you-care-to-eat brunch buffet that includes items such as custom-made omelets, carved meat stations, Mickey waffles and more.

In addition, Guests will be able to meet some of their favorite English-inspired Disney characters, such as characters from Winnie the Pooh and Alice in Wonderland.

This meal will cost $37 for adults and $22 for children (ages 3-9). In addition, the Disney Dining Plan will be accepted.

This seasonal event will be a character dining experience available on select dates from Thanksgiving through Christmas. Reservations can be made for the the following dates:

  • November 20-26; 12:45-2:10pm
  • December 18, 2016-January 1, 2017; 12:45-2:10pm

Guests can make their brunch reservation from 12:45 p.m. until 2:10 p.m. and reservations can be booked by calling (407) WDW-DINE.

 

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Quick Picks for the 2016 Epcot Food and Wine Festival

by on September 13, 2016

It’s almost Christmas… well, *my* Christmas. Epcot International Food and Wine Festival opening day is quickly approaching, and it’s time to start strategizing how to tackle all of the great eats during your trip around the World (Showcase). To do that, I’ve made “quick pick” lists full of my favorites from past years in a few categories: classics (great for festival first-timers), dishes that are great for families with kids or picky eaters, dishes for adventurous eaters, vegetarian picks (that even carnivores will love), and of course, a few drinks. I’ve included new picks in some of the categories that I’m looking forward to, and also some tips and tricks for making the most of your time (and finding the shortest lines!) at the festival booths.

Classics for first-time Food & Wine Festival visitors

  • Kalua pork slider (Photo by Julia Mascardo)

    Kalua pork slider (Photo by Julia Mascardo)

    Hawai’i: Kalua pork slider with sweet and sour pineapple chutney and spicy mayo

This booth’s menu rarely changes because it’s always consistently good. Definitely stop here early in the day, as it is one of the first booths in World Showcase and lines grow quickly.

  • Australia: grilled lamb chop with mint pesto and potato crunchies

Great walk-around finger food to enjoy while strolling Epcot. Only a few bites, but the potato chip crunchies make this a fun take on a classic dish.

  • Hops & Barley: New England lobster roll

A consistent favorite, usually heavy on the lobster and served on a heavenly butter-grilled bun

  • Farm Fresh: Loaded Mac & Cheese with pepper bacon, cheddar cheese, and peppers

Who doesn’t like mac & cheese, especially when it has bacon and other toppings? This can be a lighter portion, but one that nearly everyone will enjoy

  • Belgium: beer-braised beef with smoked gouda mashed potatoes

The beer-braised beef returns this year with a new presentation (no more potato leek waffle). This booth can be a little slow, depending on how many are ordering sweet waffles (made to order), but it’s worth the wait for this dish.

  • Liquid Nitrogen Chocolate Almond Truffle (Photo by Julia Mascardo)

    Liquid Nitrogen Chocolate Almond Truffle (Photo by Julia Mascardo)

    Mexico: Mexican chocolate flan

Mexico is always a must-stop for desserts for me – every year they make something slightly different, but always tasty, and this flan is sure to fit that pattern. A great stop for the very end of the night, when this always-busy booth’s line tends to be shorter.

  • Chocolate Studio: liquid nitrogen chocolate almond truffle with warm whiskey caramel

This dish debuted last year and became an instant classic for pretty much everyone. It’s usually rich enough to share, and it’s always a blast to watch them freeze the truffles to order.

Perfect bites for families with kids or “picky eaters”

  • Germany: Schinkennudeln (baked mac and cheese with ham)

Again, who doesn’t like mac & cheese? This rich dish is a variation of the baked mac and cheese found inside Biergarten, and it is just ridiculously heavenly. A good stop if you are worried Farm Fresh’s version is too veggie-heavy, and usually a pretty quick line.

  • Brazil: Crispy pork belly with black beans and tomato

Most kids love bacon, and this is exactly that, just with the addition of a nice stew of black bean and tomato. Full of savory flavor, this dish will be a winner for many, and bonus – there’s a really cool seating area at this booth, too!

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Dine or Dash? Epcot’s Food and Wine Booths (Part 3)

by on September 12, 2016

Some say that bad things happen in threes, but I’m a mojito-glass-half-full kind of person. When it comes to booths at Epcot’s International Food and Wine Festival, a review in three parts is far better than one. So it is with great irony that I start off with the booth that has the one food I will absolutely positively not be eating at Food and Wine. (Oh, and if you missed part 1 or part 2, feel free to catch up before diving into this one.)

*Indicates item returning from last year.

Japan

  • Grilled Spicy Edamame tossed with Sesame Oil, Soy Sauce, and Chili Powder
  • Spicy Sushi Roll: Tuna and Salmon with Kazan Volcano Sauce
  • Marinated Shrimp sautéed with Garlic and Butter, Served Over Rice

I’m very fortunate that I have outgrown many of the food allergies I had as a child, but one still causes me an anaphylaxis reaction–concentrated amounts of soy, like those found in tofu or in edamame. As a result, because I value my life, I’ll be skipping the Grilled Spicy Edamame. I know my husband will be more than willing to take one for the team and try it, as this sounds like a great snack option. I’ll likely skip the sushi roll–if I want sushi, there’s so many good options at Walt Disney World to have a seat for a full sushi meal. On the other hand, I’m excited about the shrimp dish. My only hope is that the shrimp will have the tails already removed, so I can chow down without having to juggle a knife and fork.

Mexico

Mexico_Shrimp_Taco

  • Barbacoa Enchilada: Corn Tortilla filled with Beef Barbacoa, covered with Oaxaca Mole
  • Taco de Camaron: Battered Shrimp served over a Flour Tortilla with Crispy Purple Cabbage and Chipotle Mayonnaise (Pictured, but slightly changed this year)
  • Flan de Chocolate Abuelita

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Dine or Dash? Epcot’s Food and Wine Booths (Part 2)

by on September 9, 2016

Time for the next column of this culinary cabaret of cuisines. In part 2, some old favorites are back, but some new booths are making their debut. Let’s get right into the action. (And if you haven’t read part 1, you can find it here.)

*Indicates item returning from last year.

Farm Fresh

Farm_Fresh_Loaded_MacnCheese

  • *Loaded Mac ‘n’ Cheese with Nueske’s Pepper Bacon, Cheddar Cheese, Peppers, and Green Onions (Pictured)
  • Chicken & Dumplings: Stewed Chicken with Mushrooms and Spinach
  • Pickled Beet Salad with Herbed Goat Cheese, Minus 8 Vinaigrette and Toasted Walnuts

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Dine or Dash? Epcot’s Food and Wine Booths (Part 1)

by on September 7, 2016

Epcot’s International Food and Wine Festival is right around the corner. What else is right around the corner? Lines for the food booths on the first Saturday afternoon of the festival. With so many booths to choose from, but lines being almost guaranteed at most, how do you know what is worth waiting for and what can be skipped during peak times? Here’s my views from sampling all the foods last year and eagerly anticipating the new ones.

If you’re just looking for the highlights, you might want to check out my Top Ten Returning Items.

*Indicates item returning from last year.

Africa

Africa_Beef_with_Pap

  • *Berbere-style Beef Tenderloin Tips with Onions, Jalapenos, Tomato and Pap (Pictured)
  • *Buttered Chicken with Micro Cilantro and Naan Bread

Perhaps it is its location near the back of the park, or maybe it is because people either don’t feel “adventurous” enough to try African food (or those who do already have an ADR for Boma, Jiko, Sanaa. or Tusker House), but lines rarely seem to be too long for this booth. It’s a shame more people don’t give it a try, because the Buttered Chicken is one of my favorite meals. For a little more of a kick, the Beef Tenderloin Tips are good, but not as good as the chicken, in my opinion.

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Washington DC: Fast Casual Restaurants

by on September 6, 2016

The concept of “fast casual” dining is certainly not new–basically fast food, but theoretically higher quality. However, I had not been aware of fast casual restaurants until recently. I think the combination of the catchy name for the concept and the growth of these types of places has combined to make them so hot right now.

On my last research trip to Washington, D.C. I decided to try a few of the many fast casual restaurants in the city. The idea is perfect for the touring family: fast meals, good quality, lower cost. Here are the four that we sampled:

I will add a caveat here that I am not a food critic, nor did I take nearly enough photos of these places. Therefore, I am only doing a brief overview of each establishment. In the very near future we will begin running more in-depth dining reviews–let us know if you have any requests.

20160701_181913District Taco

District Taco is a small, local chain that specializes in…wait for it…you’ll be shocked…tacos! They have locations in Washington at Dupont Circle, Eastern Market, and Metro Center and in Virginia at N. Arlington, Alexandria, Dunn Lorig, and Rosslyn. We visited the one in Rosslyn, the section of Arlington, VA nearest D.C., because that is where our hotel was. District Taco reminds me of a cross between a southern California taco shop and Chipotle; it’s basic tacos, but customizable. You can select your type of shell, meat, and toppings.

The tacos I tried were the chorizo (pictured, with cilantro, sour cream, and veggies), carne asada, and pollo asado. Each was good, but not great. The quality of the ingredients was high, but I could tell that the protiens were sitting around for a little bit. That said, I still enjoyed them.

The tacos cost $3 each, and there are a few ways to increase the price–$0.75 extra for carnitas or any premium topping including bacon and guacamole. My 3 tacos and a water brought the price to around $12 with tax. That is certainly an acceptable price for what was an acceptable meal. I can’t necessarily say that you absolutely have to try District Taco, but I’ll eat there again.

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SATURDAY SIX: Ranking The New Restaurants at DISNEY SPRINGS

by on September 3, 2016

This week’s SATURDAY SIX Ranks The New Restaurants at DISNEY SPRINGS. Walt Disney has a famous quote that goes, “It’s kind of fun to do the impossible.” With the former Downtown Disney being given new life as Disney Springs, a whole lot of impossible has happened along the way. What was once  – by far and away – the worst parking situation on Disney property is now the best, hands down. What was once a “shopping district” that had very little places to shop is now loaded with so many name brand stores that the area can compete with any mall in Orlando. However the biggest surprise of all is that the new restaurant lineup actually takes the throne away from EPCOT as The Best Place To Eat At WDW. With Via Napoli, Teppan Edo, Le Cellier and more, I would have never thought we would see the day where another area on property could compete with that murderer’s row of great dining. Turns out I was wrong, and I’ve never been happier to admit it. But which of the new restaurants at Disney Springs is the best? Today we are going to answer that very question. Keep in mind this is not just strictly the best food, it’s the combination of food and dining experience. So sit back, sip on a blueberry lemonade, and let’s begin our list with…

# 6 – Blaze Fast-Fire’d Pizza

The newest kid on the Disney Springs block is quickly becoming a guest favorite. The magical love child of a Chipotle and Universal’s Red Oven Pizza Bakery, Blaze Fast-Fire’d Pizza allows you to choose every aspect on your pizza creation (crust type, sauce, cheese, and toppings) all for one price. You walk with your pizza down the line, letting each station attendant know exactly how you want your pizza. Want half your pizza to have the white creamy garlic sauce and the other to have the spicy red sauce? You can do it. With 16 veggie types and 6 meats, customers haven’t had this much flexibility in choice since First CitiWide Change Bank. The pies then go into the oven, and three minutes later, BOOM, your pizza is ready. As many of you know, we are rather picky about our Disney pizza, but Blaze is already right up there with the best pies on property joining Via Napoli, Splitsville, and Wolfgang Puck.

BPexterior

Outdoor seating at Blaze pizza. (photo by Tessa Koten)

DS_Blaze4

Making a pizza. (photo by Brandon Glover)

BPveggies

Blaze veggies. (photo by Tessa Koten)

DS_Blaze1

Wait, the pizza is the same price whether I get 2 toppings or 20? LOAD ME UP. (photo by Brandon Glover)

blaze

Blaze pizza with high rise dough (thicker crust than standard pizza for small upcharge), spicy red sauce, mozzarella, pepperoni, onions, jalapeños, and spinach (photo by @bioreconstruct AKA the blogger who can move through time and space)

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Minnie’s Halloween Dine To Begin at Hollywood and Vine

by on September 2, 2016

Hollywood and Vine

©Rikki Niblett

Things are about to get spooky at Hollywood & Vine‘s dinner character meal beginning September 12. Each night throughout the fall at the Disney’s Hollywood Studios table service restaurant, Guests will be able to experience Minnie’s Halloween Dine. During this dining event, Minnie and her pals will gather for a frightfully festive Halloween feast.

While visiting the restaurant each night, Guests can pose for pics with some of their favorite Disney Characters and participate in fun table activities.

Minnie’s Halloween Dine will take place through November 6 and costs $46.99 per adult and $27.99 per child, plus tax and gratuity. Some dining plans are accepted.

Reservations for Minnie’s Halloween Dine are now open, and can be made by calling 407-WDW-DINE.

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Ten Best Returning Items at Food and Wine

by on September 2, 2016

Now in its 21st year, Epcot’s International Food and Wine Festival is one of our favorite events as locals. On the last day of Food and Wine, I actually took plastic containers and a cooler bag to Epcot and took a dozen favorite foods “to go” for dinner the next day, because I knew there were many foods I would be missing for at least a year. Even with the recipes for many of these foods, somehow they just taste better from Epcot. Maybe it’s a bit of Disney magic and a pinch of pixie dust. (The same thing happens with popcorn at Disney, too.)

Here’s ten foods that are scheduled to come back to Food and Wine that I’ll be near the front of the line to try once again. (In no particular order.)

1. Africa: Buttered Chicken with Micro Cilantro and Naan Bread

Africa_Buttered_Chicken

There’s something about comfort food in the fall. The Indian-inspired buttered chicken has a great flavor and just a bit of spicy heat. Even though I plan to get this early in the festival, I know I’ll be back to sample it again when the weather gets cooler.

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