An Anniversary and a Weekend at Walt Disney World (part one)

My blog isn’t quite a year old yet, so this isn’t THAT kind of anniversary…it is an even bigger, better one, to me at least. On this date five years ago, I married my very best friend. We had an amazing small ceremony on the Disney Wonder and were able to spend four days cruising the Bahamas with 30 of our closest friends and family members. As a couple, we’ve been through an amazing number of changes in just five short years, including living in England, moving back to the States, buying pets, a house, a car, and even a motorcycle. We’ve done green card applications and both ended up in jobs that we never saw ourselves in. Plus the normal ups and downs that every married couple experiences. At the end of the day, I am so happy to have had him by my side for the entire time.

We had originally planned to celebrate five years of marriage aboard Disney’s newest ship, the Disney Dream, but we are getting an even better gift this year (baby boy! Eep!) so we canceled it and went to Walt Disney World for the weekend instead. Not a bad trade, for sure. We spent two nights staying at Disney’s Pop Century Resort and because we were able to get a great deal on the Disney Dining Plan we ate some great meals(and some just okay ones). We also took advantage of the monthly payment plan option for Florida residents and purchased annual passes to the parks! I’m so excited to be able to go back as often as we want for the next year.

C had to work on Friday morning, so we arrived at the resort mid-afternoon and spent the rest of the afternoon relaxing and checking out the resort. After a short nap (I’d worked the night before), we headed off to the Yacht Club Resort for dinner at The Captain’s Grille. We had eaten here once before about a year ago, but enjoyed it so much we decided to return. We even ordered the exact same entrees this time around! The Yacht and Beach Club Resorts also hold a bit of a special place for us because we stayed there on our honeymoon after the cruise five years ago.

The Captain’s Grille, fitting with its setting inside the Yacht Club, is a fairly casual full-service restaurant decorated in a nautical style. The walls are adorned with various ship accessories, the tabletops are wood with nautical flags painted on them, and there are model ships scattered throughout the dining room. It is a themed restaurant without being too hokey, in my opinion. I love it.

As part of our dining plan we were both able to order a non-alcoholic beverage, an entrée, and a dessert. On previous trips we normally order an appetizer to share and just pay for it, but this time we decided to forgo it to make sure we could finish the rest of our meals. I do know, though,that in the past I loved the Green Goddess Salad at Captain’s Grille, and it took a lot for me to resist it this time around! Instead, we asked for some bread to tide us over until the entrees arrived. We were given a basket of warm brown bread and a dish of butter with sea salt sprinkled over it. It was simple yet oh so good, and I had to push it to the other side of the table so that I didn’t fill up on it.

C ordered a Sam Adams for his beverage (befitting a New England style restaurant, of course) and I had a Minute Maid Light Pomegranate Lemonade. I have never seen this flavor of Minute Maid Light anywhere else, but it is deliciously tart and sweet all at the same time.

For entrees, C had the Mustard-Rubbed New York Strip (ordered medium rare) and I had the Snow Crab Legs. Heaven on a freakin’ plate for both of us, let me tell you. C’s steak was cooked slightly unevenly, but even with that error he loved every bite and couldn’t say enough good things about the fingerling potatoes and cipollini onions that came alongside it. He is a guy who likes his steak well-seasoned but otherwise plain so that he can taste the meat, so I was shocked when I saw him repeatedly dipping into the spiced veal jus. Until I tried a bit myself…super good!

My snow crab legs were, as always, delicious and messy. I ate every last morsel, leaving the corn and most of the boiled potatoes on my plate. Who needs corn and potatoes when you have crab legs dipped in drawn butter? I mean…come on.

We were a little disappointed when the desserts had changed since our last visit, but I know that after mine arrived, at least, I was no longer disappointed. In the past we’d enjoyed the key lime tart and the apple tarte tatin, but this time we ordered the Hazelnut Gianduja Chocolate and the Blueberry Cherry Pie. C wolfed down his dessert (of course, he will gobble up anything that is made of chocolate!), and I just could not stop eating my pie. It was full of delicious, juicy berries, the bottom crust was nice and thin, and the crumble topping was generous and in perfect proportion to the fruit. The sorbet that came on the side was a nice temperature contrast, but I barely touched it, frankly, in favor of devouring more of the pie itself.

Our server was super sweet, and gave us the take home package of mini lemon poppyseed cakes (so so so so good, by the way) with a Happy Anniversary balloon attached to it! Overall, our meal at Captain’s Grille was fabulous, and was a perfect start to our mini anniversary getaway. We also ate at Tony’s Town Square Restaurant and spent the day at Magic Kingdom, but that’ll have to wait until my next post. :)

What is your favorite restaurant on Walt Disney World property? Is there one that you have to eat at every time you visit?

 

Disney Series #2: Kouzzina by Cat Cora

Originally posted on Blogger on May 26, 2011

C and I stayed at Disney for our anniversary back in January and took advantage of the Disney Dining Plan as part of our mini-vacation. I know this post is way late but hey…I didn’t have a blog back in January! On the first night of our stay we decided to try out Kouzzina by Cat Cora (here’s a link to the full menu, a new-ish restaurant (it opened in August of 2009) that took the place of Spoodles at Disney’s Boardwalk Resort. I had made reservations a few days prior, and boy was I happy that I had!

Photo taken from WDW Info

I have been a fan of Cat Cora’s since her show Kitchen Accomplished aired on the Food Network, and love watching her on Iron Chef America, so when I saw that she was opening a restaurant nearby, I was psyched. Mediterranean food is a particular favorite of mine and C enjoys it as well, so it was a good choice for us for our anniversary trip. The anticipation was high enough as it was, but when we got to the restaurant and checked in for our reservation and saw a sign stating that Cat was actually at the restaurant that night and meeting the patrons, I got a little bit star-struck. Movie stars and famous singers do nothing for me. They might as well just be really rich (and often very attractive) random people. For the most part, anyway. Chefs and writers that I admire, though? As much as I say “oh they are just normal people, why would I get all worked up over meeting so-and-so”…I am 100% full of crap. When I saw Cat Cora walking around her restaurant and greeting people, I got positively giddy. Please forgive the horrible quality of these photos; they were taken with my old and incredibly crappy cell phone.

Me looking ridiculous and giddy and Cat Cora….not looking at the camera. Oops!

Continue reading

Disney Series #1 – Paradiso 37, Sassagoula Floatworks & Food Factory, and Riverside Mill Foodcourt

Originally posted on Blogger on May 14, 2011
I am a self-professed Disney freak and have been so for pretty much my entire life. I spent my childhood visiting WDW every spring break, and then when my family moved to Celebration in my teens, I didn’t even wait a week after my sixteenth birthday before walking into the Disney Casting Center and getting my first job. I left the company (much to my dismay – that job was the best I’ve ever had but just couldn’t pay my bills) a few years ago but have continued to visit the parks time and time again, whether it be for day trips or for weekend getaways.
Even after working for “the mouse” for eight years and visiting as often as I have, I have barely scratched the surface of the amazing and varied dining experiences that Walt Disney World has to offer. Due to that, I bring to you the first of my Disney Series of restaurant blog posts. Ideally, I’d like to eventually visit, photograph, and write-up each of the full-service (and some of the counter-service) restaurants on property.
We stayed at the Port Orleans Resort – French Quarter this past weekend for a short break from reality. We had originally planned to spend one of the days in the parks but opted to just hang out at the resort for the most part instead. I had stayed there for a week when I was nine (back when it was just Port Orleans Resort), and my memory of the resort was fairly accurate, although it was clear the rooms had been renovated in the past 18 years at some point. The rooms were gorgeous, and the property equally so; the huge trees and cobbled walkways make it a great place to walk around, Sassagoula River runs the length of the property, and a boat dock is right by the pool area with a ferry to and from Downtown Disney running every ten to twenty minutes throughout the day. Speaking of the pool area, there were plenty of comfortable lounge chairs scattered about the twisty pool, and the dragon’s body that weaves its way around said pool is adorable. Port Orleans French Quarter was the very first Disney resort to get its own water slide, so I should have taken that to mind when I was recalling the slide for C. I described it somewhat as “this AWESOME AMAZING DRAGON HEAD where you slide down his INSANELY LONG TONGUE.” Needless to say, my adult brain was remembering it as it had seemed to my nine-year-old self. The slide was still pretty cool, and it IS a dragon’s tongue, but it is very short and very tame. Still fun, though.
Anyway, while at the resort for the weekend we mainly noshed at the local food courts, with a trip to Downtown Disney for a mid-afternoon sit-down lunch/dinner (linner? Dunch?) at Paradiso 37, a restaurant I’d wanted to try since it first opened (after they tore down my beloved Pleasure Island sobsob). For dinner the first night we ate at Sassagoula Floatworks & Food Factory, the French Quarter’s food court and pizza shop. It was standard Disney quick-service fare: expensive with above average flavors. C had an angus bacon cheeseburger with French fries and I had cheese steak sandwich with pasta salad. Both of the sandwiches were made to order, and the cheese steak was very tasty, even if the ratio of meat to bread was a little low. The French fries were well-seasoned but my pasta salad was pretty terrible, frankly. It was elbow macaroni, chopped celery, and chick peas with seemingly no dressing at all. No seasoning, even. It was extremely bland, and I didn’t eat more than two bites.  That night after dinner we went to the Scat Cat’s Lounge, which boasted live jazz and delicious libations. How could we turn that down? Our new friend Elliott did entertain for a few hours, although his music was not limited to just jazz. The man is talented, playing the saxophone, the clarinet, and the steel drums as well as singing during his set, and almost all of the songs were great, even if they weren’t all the jazz we’d been hoping for. Once he broke out Kool & the Gang, though, I was sort of ready to go. My Pina Colava (pina colada mixed with raspberry puree. So. Good. Especially when made with vodka instead of rum) couldn’t even get me through that one. Continue reading