Posts Tagged ‘vegan’

Eating Vegetarian at the 2013 Epcot Food & Wine Festival

by on October 3, 2013

The 2013 Epcot International Food & Wine Festival (see all the menus) is in full swing and continues to pack in the crowds. Some guests like to attempt to “Drink Around The World” and sample all the various drinks, while others like to try exotic food items from countries not regularly found in World Showcase. While eating vegetarian at Disney and Universal can be challenging (especially if you want more than the ubiquitous garden salad or veggie burger), this year’s Food & Wine has many unique options. Below is a list with every vegetarian option at this year’s festival, along with my review of the items I personally tried. (Click on any picture to see a much larger version)

FandW_ChileColorado

Chili Colorado with House-made Chips and Cashew Cheese (Terra)

We’re going to go through the booths in alphabetical order except to start off, as that spot is going to Terra. Why Terra? Because everything in Terra is vegetarian. That earns it a special spot on the list.

*Trick’n Chick’n Curry with Basmati Rice ($3.75) – A returning favorite from 2012, Trick’n Chick’n is made from Gardein brand chick’n breast with a great spicy curry served over basmati rice. I enjoyed the curry because it had a kick to it, but overall was mild and not overwhelming.

*Chili Colorado with House-made Chips and Cashew Cheese ($3.75) – The chili is made with Gardein brand beefless tips and cashew cheese.  I’m pretty tough on vegan cheeses, as I feel they generally come nowhere close to real cheese (as compared to the incredible advancements in the  meatless meats over the past few years), but this was great. I loved scooping up the chili onto a chip and eating it that way.

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Vegan Options at California Grill

by on September 15, 2013

I understand there are a lot of mixed feelings out there about reviewing a restaurant on opening night. Let’s, then, consider this a “set of paragraphs with some helpful recommendations” written by the designated vegan, shall we?

After years of waiting, I finally had the opportunity to dine at California Grill on the night of its grand re-opening. I was stoked. Having absolutely no point of reference for comparison, I was blown away by the atmosphere, the view, and the awesome window shades that automatically raised as the sun was setting in the distance. Before even having a taste of my pineapple juice, I made up my mind that I was going to love everything about the evening that followed.

Bread!

Bread!

My dietary preferences had been noted in the reservation ahead of time, and confirmed again with the host a few hours prior to our reservation. Upon being seated, our server confirmed to me that both types of bread – a lavender focaccia and whole wheat sourdough rolls – were both vegan. I was very surprised by this, since many restaurants in Walt Disney World use bread that contains eggs. I even asked twice, but was assured that both types of bread were vegan. Both options were delicious, I could have eaten the whole basket on my own.

After quickly perusing the menu, I noticed there were no options that were vegan by default, but gave an extra glance to the Roasted Squash Ravioli, since it sounded delicious (Root spinach and parsnips? Don’t mind if I do, but I didn’t.). I was also really interested in the Carrot and Cilantro Soup, but unfortunately it was cream-based and contains halibut. Two strikes, soup! Our server, Abdou, coached me through the Soup, Salads, and Appetizers section of the menu. He recommended the “Romaine Salad,” to which I agreed. When it arrived, it was tomatoes atop leaves of Romaine lettuce seasoned with oil, a bit too much salt, and pepper. There wasn’t much to the dish, as you can see, I was underwhelmed yet hopeful for what was to come next.

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This Is A French Restaurant…

by on January 15, 2013

“This is a French restaurant.” That is what my server felt necessary to point out when I asked what the vegan options are at Monsieur Paul. A French restaurant? Really? I had no idea! The fact that it’s a) called “Monsieur Paul b) located in the France Pavillion at Epcot and c) a mere few feet away from a giant replica of La Tour Eiffel did not tip me off.

I realize that traditional French fare is not typically plant-centric. Being in a theme park and not traipsing around the 5th arrondissement, however, I figured I would be met with the typical Disney restaurant procedure: ask if anything is vegan, explain what “vegan” means, then usually talk with a chef about things that can be created, or menu items that can be modified. Instead, at Monsieur Paul, I was told that there was nothing available to meet my requests, but the server guessed they could make me a salad (a French salad, I hoped!).

Unfortunately, there was no vegan option for an appetizer, or an amuse bouche so I settled on sparkling water, until my entree arrived. The entree was good, and may deserve an extra bunch of kale on top of the rating given, but the journey to said entree was disappointing.

So, what did I eat? I was served hash brown potatoes, over grilled potatoes, over asparagus and carrots, over leeks, with a side of potato beignets. Yes, lots of potato. The presentation was pretty, and I must say the triple potato whammy was the best part. Though everything was a bit overly greasy and salty, in the end, I appreciated the effort and managed to eat every bite. 

 

For dessert, I was served raspberry sorbet, strawberry sorbet with raspberries.  This is a fairly standard vegan dessert option at just about every Walt Disney World restaurant, and is always a delightful end to any meal.

Now, I get it. I understand menus are written to please the general public, and not always with special diets in mind. I also am well aware that the vegan diet is not always the easiest to accommodate on the fly. I would have like to feel that someone was trying to give me a good dining experience, though. I’ve had good meals and bad meals while dining in Walt Disney World, but I was extra surprised at the lack of feigned effort at this restaurant. Best part of my meal? The swanky fizzy water.

Unfortunately, I wouldn’t recommend this restaurant for vegans or vegetarians based upon this experience. Maybe we would have better luck in real France.

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Terra, Everyone’s Favorite Vegan Marketplace

by on October 4, 2012

The Epcot International Food & Wine Festival is many things. A drinker’s paradise, an adventurous eater’s heaven, and a vegan’s worst nightmare. I know, it’s blasphemy to not be completely head-over-heels in love with the yearly foodfest that draws so many visitors to The World Showcase Promenade, so hate me if you must. I have to admit that up until this year, the Food & Wine Festival was probably my least favorite time of the year at Walt Disney World. Why, you ask? It boiled down to pure jealousy. Hearing everyone rave about all of the options they were exploring from different countries, spooning edible culture into their mouths as I sat chomping on a plain pretzel just seemed unfair. That is, of course, until this year.

Now, I can’t claim to have singlehandedly strong-armed Epcot into having vegan options at the International Food & Wine Festival. However, I also can’t deny sending numerous e-mails, and making a few (ok, a lot of) “suggestions” regarding the lack of vegan options available around the ‘Showcase. And as Disney magic would have it, the fine folks at F&W dreamed up Terra, a brand new marketplace for 2012 in which all of the food options, yes, I said all of the food options, are vegan!

The marketplace itself is presented by Gardein, a brand of mock meats with which I am quite well acquainted. Gardein is a favorite among vegans for meat alternatives, and offers meatless meatballs, chick’n strips, and barbecue riblets just to name a few. The Terra menu features two items: Trick’n Chick’n Curry and Chili Colorado, each priced at $3.75. Each item is paired with a wine option, but please be forewarned: neither of the wines offered, the Paul Dolan Sauvignon Blanc nor the Paul Dolan Pinot Noir is vegan. The Honest Kids Super Fruit Punch and Silk brand Berry Smoothie, however, are totally vegan so you can get your G-rated drink on!

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