STK Orlando Announces Executive Chef James O’Donnell
STK Orlando, a world-class dining-retail-entertainment experience, is set to open this Spring at Walt Disney World’s Disney Springs, and The ONE Group Hospitality, Inc has announced that culinary veteran James O’Donnell will be their Executive Chef.
Executive Chef James O’Donnell will be overseeing day-to-day kitchen operations at the two-level, 15,000-square-foot steakhouse – one of the largest STK restaurants in the world – O’Donnell brings impressive credentials to his new role.
From successfully apprenticing at dining venues in Las Vegas, O’Donnell was courted by the House of Blues restaurant in LA and became executive chef in 1997. Other stops included executive chef of Michael Jordan’s Steakhouse in the Mohegan Sun Casino in Connecticut, where he managed three eastern U.S. locations; director of culinary operations for Cornerstone Management and Consulting, overseeing eight restaurants in the U.S and Mexico; and partner and executive chef at The Capital Grille in Jacksonville, Fla. In 2011, O’Donnell returned to Cornerstone to direct culinary operations, including developing menus for ENO Wine Bars.
“STK’s entrance into the Orlando market, and specifically into the newly reimagined Disney Springs, affords us a unique opportunity and we are very happy to have brought James onboard to oversee our culinary operations at the property,” said Jonathan Segal, CEO of The ONE Group.
O’Donnell brings international culinary experience honed over two decades to his new role at STK, as well as a passion for creating the ultimate dining scene. At STK Orlando, he will oversee two kitchens and approximately 70 employees.
A native of San Diego, California, O’Donnell spends time with his family cooking outdoors over an open fire, enjoying new cuisines in various restaurants and hotels, and his hobbies include both hiking and kayaking.
I am really excited to try STK Orlando, and if you aren’t familiar with STK concept you definitely will want to be!
STK is a unique concept that artfully blends the modern steakhouse and chic lounge into one, offering a dynamic, fine dining experience with the superior quality of a traditional steakhouse. STK distinguishes itself by focusing on the social experience with a sleek, contemporary design and an in-house DJ who creates an infectious, high-energy vibe.
The menu features reimagined classic American cuisine with signature dishes like bite-sized Lil’ BRGs made with Wagyu beef, Lobster Mac & Cheese, and, of course, the highest quality steak. STK defines the modern fine dining experience with incredible food, world-class service and the perfect atmosphere. STK has locations in New York City, Washington DC, Miami, Chicago, Atlanta, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, London, and Milan with additional locations coming soon to Dallas, Toronto, and Orlando.
For more information about STK, you can visit their website at www.stkhouse.com.
Fulton’s Crab House Hosts ‘The Best of Fulton’s’ Wine Dinner on March 4, 2016
Dinner to feature the most notable dishes from the last 20 years as a bon voyage as renovations begin in April
Fulton’s Crab House will celebrate favorite dishes from 20 years of service at the “Best of Fulton’s” wine dinner on March 4 from 6:30-9:30 p.m.Fulton’s will close for renovation on April 4, reopening in fall 2016.
Guests will taste some of Fulton’s Crab House most memorable meals over a 5-course menu paired with wines from around the world. Chef Mark Boor will kick off the evening with a reception starring Garlic Crab Fingers, Oysters Rockefeller and Florida Stone Crab Claws paired with a vintage Le Mesnil Grand Cru champagne. Guests will savor surf-centric courses including Lobster Savannah, an oven roasted Maine lobster stuffed with shrimp, scallops, and béchamel as well as herb marinated and wood-grilled Ahi Tuna with jasmine rice, lemongrass sauce, and bok choy. The entire menu includes:
Oysters Rockefeller (1999)
Portobello Fries (1999)
Fulton’s mustard sauce
Florida Stone Crab Claws (2011)
Key lime cilantro sauce
Garlic Crab Fingers (2000)
Grilled semolina bread
Le Mesnil Grand Cru Champagne Brut 2007 Vintage
New Bedford Scallop (2007)
Wild mushrooms, spinach, red pepper coulis, balsamic glaze
Pazo Senorans Albarino Rias Baixas
Lobster Savannah (2006)
Oven roasted Maine lobster stuffed with shrimp & scallops, béchamel
Verget Saint Veran Chataigniers 2007
Fulton’s version of the San Francisco classic
King crab, shrimp, mussels, clams, white fish, tomato-herb broth, linguini
Muga ‘Prado’ Gran Reserva Rioja 2006
Ahi Tuna (1999)
Herb marinated, wood grilled, jasmine rice, lemongrass sauce, bok choy
Chatueax Musar Red 1999
Chocolate Crème Brulee (2001)
Classic milk chocolate custard, dusted with sugar and caramelized,
topped with seasonal berries
Ferreira Port Tawny 20 Year
As a nod to Fulton’s Crab House opening in 1996, tickets for the wine dinner are $96.00 per person, plus tax and gratuity. Reservations can be made by calling 407.828.8996.
Executive Chef for Morimoto Asia at Disney Springs
A culinary relationship 17 years in the making comes full circle in Orlando
Chef Masaharu Morimoto and Patina Restaurant Group announced the appointment of Yuhi Fujinaga as Executive Chef of Morimoto Asia at Disney Springs at Walt Disney World Resort. Beginning immediately, Chef Yuhi will be overseeing the day-to-day culinary operations at The Iron Chef’s first-ever pan-Asian restaurant.
“I met Chef Morimoto as a young chef in Hawaii, where I grew up. We bonded quickly over our love of fresh fish, big flavors and new cooking techniques,” said Chef Yuhi. “Through working alongside him at a variety of events throughout the country, I have been inspired by him and his approach to cooking and am thrilled that it’s come full circle.”
Previously, Chef Yuhi was Executive Chef at Patina Restaurant Group’s New York City-based, Sea Grill. A protégé of Chef Ed Brown, who established the restaurant as one of the top seafood destinations in the city, Chef Yuhi has also worked at New York’s Bar Basque. He lived and worked in Spain at the esteemed Echaurren with Chef Francis Paniego, at Casa Solla with Chef Pepe Solla, and at Gaminiz with Chef Aitor Elizegi. He held posts at the Michelin-starred restaurants Eighty-One and Alain Ducasse at the Essex House.
Known for his modern cooking style, Chef Yuhi draws inspiration from his Japanese heritage and upbringing in Hawaii, where he learned to cook from his grandmother. From her, he learned that the quality of the ingredients is as important as the technique in which used to prepare them. Over the years, he has developed techniques that keep the food simple, yet full of flavor.
“Being a great chef comes from within and I know Chef Yuhi is dedicated and passionate to creating inspirational, world-class dishes,” said Chef Masuharu Morimoto. “I am confident that he will continue to showcase his talent and vision to our guests at Morimoto Asia.”
Morimoto Asia is Chef Morimoto’s newest and first Pan-Asian style restaurant. The menu is an eclectic take on some of Chef Morimoto’s favorite Asian flavors including L.A. BBQ kalbi ribs, pad Thai, Peking duck, Chinese-inspired sticky ribs, sweet-and-sour whole fried fish and Singapore laska noodles. Chinese dim sum includes items such as dumplings, shumai, shrimp har-gao and grilled chicken bao.
The restaurant also includes an intimate 14-seat sushi bar offering unique ocean seasonal specialties from Japan and around the world. A variety of specialty sushi rolls, sushi platters and seafood towers featuring highlights from the raw bar are also offered to guests not seated at the sushi bar.
Morimoto Asia is open Sunday11:30 a.m. to 1 a.m.; Monday through Thursday11:30 a.m. to 12 a.m.; Friday and Saturday 11:30 a.m. to 1 a.m. The restaurant’s second floor Forbidden Lounge late-night menu is served daily from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. For more information on Morimoto Asia visit www.morimotoasia.com or call (407) 939-MOTO.
There are three options for brunch at Plancha: a three-course menu with buffet appetisers, choice of one entrée and dessert, plus soft drinks/juices and one alcoholic beverage, for $68 per person; buffet only (excluding choice of a la carte entrée) for $45 per person; and a la carte only. Bottomless beverages, including Mimosas and Marys, will be available for an additional $18.
“I’m very excited to begin serving brunch at Plancha,” says Pedro Sanchez, Plancha Chef. “The location is perfect for a leisurely brunch, and we’ve prepared a delicious menu with a lot of flavour to ensure there’s something for everyone.”
The buffet will include assorted salads, fruits, smoked salmon and bagels, artisan meats and cheeses, black bean hummus and vegetables, assorted breakfast pastries and much more.
Entrees and a la carte items include a roasted prime rib, vegan spaghetti zucchini, cured salmon, American beef slider, Tampa Bay shrimp omelet with jalapenos and cilantro, a twisted benedict with truffle hollandaise and grilled asparagus, a “very berry” French toast, oatmeal pancakes, and fried chicken and white cheddar waffles.
The dessert buffet will include a selection of seven signature desserts, including Plancha’s flan, tres leches, and guava roll.
A children’s buffet will be available for $20 per child, including chicken tenders, grilled salmon, mac & cheese, mini burgers, or pancakes.
Brunch will be available every Sunday from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm. Plancha offers complimentary valet parking and complimentary self-parking. For reservations, call 407 313 6161.
The Jungle Navigation Co. Ltd. Skipper Canteen is the newest restaurant in the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World. This new table service eatery is themed around Adventureland, and more specifically, the Jungle Cruise attraction. For the theming of this location, the Imagineers went above and beyond in some of the details that may be easily missed by guests. The books in the library of the Skipper Canteen are chock full of inside jokes, nods to Imagineers, and attraction mentions.
Some of the books in the library pay homage to the Society of Explorers and Adventurers, which was based on the now defunct Adventurers Club in Pleasure Island at Disney World. The SEA was first incorporated into a park at Tokyo DisneySea, and one of the first times in their Tower of Terror attraction. Next, and most prominently, Hong King Disneyland introduced their Mystic Manor, which after SEA member Henry Mystic. More recently, stateside in the Magic Kingdom, Imagineers introduced member Barnabas T. Bullion as the owner of the Big Thunder Mining Company. He also is pictured in the queue of Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, and bears a striking resemblance to former Imagineer Tony Baxter. Albert the Monkey, who is the pet of Henry Mystic even has a book on the shelf along with books written by Mystic, and M.A. Pleasure (founder of Pleasure Island).
Jungle Cruise mainstay Trader Sam is referenced numerous times in various books as the author T. Sam. Titles of his include: Friends for Dinner, Top Hats and Umbrellas, The Missing Mask, and more. Other books from the Jungle Cruise are authored by Dr. Albert Falls. His offerings vary from A Small Village With A Large Heart to Rockefeller, Hippo, Pet, Family.
Other attractions in books that get mentions are the Animal Kingdom’s Kilimanjaro Safaris with The Harambe Chronicles by author Wilson. The Eyes of Mara by Jones might be referring to a certain archaeologist we all know and love with an attraction at Disneyland called Indiana Jones Adventure focusing on the Temple of the Forbidden Eye (of Mara).
In addition to the attractions, several Imagineers past and present get nods in the books of the library. J. Lasseter has a book called Great Characters of World Literature. Sklar has written a book called Meeting Royalty. Prof. Boag has penned Songs of the Tiki Bird. I’m sure John Lasseter, Marty Sklar, and Wally Boag would be honored. My favorite may be True Life Adventures by W.E.D. (Walter Elias Disney).
Then there are just the fun titles paired with authors that fit right in with the Jungle Cruise kind of humor in some of the library books. Native Orange Birds of the Southeastern United States by Dr. Sid Truss (citrus, get it?). Other titles without visible authors are Crooning Flowers, Bathing Elephants, The Congo Queen, In the Jaws of a Butterfly, and Two Bees or Not Two Bees (the Hamlet lover in me adores that one). Rock or Stonez by Col. Pebble, Is This Deadly? by Mort, Al, The Overwhelming Dodo Population by Dr. Francis X. Tinct, Spotted Tigers by G. Rowl, R.E. Venge wrote the series called Getting Even, Shades of Khaki by B. Land, Fleas Navidad and other Winter Insects by Hart, 101 Ways to Split a Banana by Peale, Swimming in the Amazon by Doug E. Paddle, and the Ten Minute Voyage by S.H. Tick. Also included for good measure is Rudyard Kipling’s the Jungle Book.
I’m sure there are many more fantastic jokes hidden in the books of the library of the Skipper Canteen and I cannot wait to go back and explore more. I hope you enjoyed this peek at some of the fun titles and let me know if I’ve missed any of your favorites you’ve discovered.
The Willis Clan Performs Nightly at Raglan Road Irish Pub & Restaurant
in Disney Springs Until January 22
The Willis Clan will be performing at Raglan Road Irish Pub & Restaurant in Disney Springs has The Willis Clan performing on the patio stage nightly from 8:30 p.m.-12:30 a.m. on January 20, and from 9 p.m.-1 a.m. January 21 and 22, 2016. There is no cover charge at the pub, which will feature popular dinner and bar menu items, seasonal local dishes and an extensive menu of specialty cocktails throughout the performances.
The Willis Clan band members are: Jessica, 23, on fiddle and lead vocals; Jeremiah, 22, on acoustic and electric guitars, cello and uilleann pipes; Jennifer, 20, on accordion and mandolin; Jeanette, 19, on whistle and dobro; Jackson, 17, on drums and banjo; Jedidiah, 16, on bass; Jasmine, 14, on keys; Julie, 12, on harp; Jamie, 10, percussion; and JoyAnna, 8, on synth. The youngest two kids, Jaeger, 6, and Jada, 5, also add to the show with periodic dance appearances and their first musical efforts on electric guitar and tambourine respectively. Mom Brenda joins during live performances on guitar; dad Toby runs their live sound at gigs and produces in the studio.
The Willis Clan, one of the country’s most musically gifted families, and they have been featured in People magazine, on NBC’s Today Show, and on “America’s Got Talent.” Their reality TV series, TLC’s “The Willis Family,” has been rated top cable show in its time slot; the show’s second season is scheduled to air Spring 2016. The Willis Clan has played the legendary Grand Ol’ Oprey more than 65 times and is on tour in the U.S., Ireland and other countries in 2016.
We were treated to an intimate performance and opportunity to meet The Willis Clan, and they are an amazingly talented and lovely family.
“The Willis Clan is thrilled to be coming back to Raglan Road, one of our favorite pubs in the world. The atmosphere is so authentic you would think you were in Ireland!” said Brenda Willis.
The Clan has played sold-out crowds in Ireland multiple times and has opened for Brad Paisley and The Band Perry in Dublin. Their 2016 international tour will begin in June after a multi-state tour. Also, the family’s newest studio album, “Heaven,” has reached #6 on the iTunes pop charts, and the band already is working on its next album. As band members write and record their own music, they stay true to their Irish tradition while infusing originality from multiple influences.
You can find out more information about The Willis Clan, by visitingwww.thewillisclan.com, but you will definitely want to head down to Raglan Road Irish Pub & Restaurant to catch them while they are in town!
Disney Springs News: Fulton’s Crab House Launches Brunch Menu
Guests can now select brunch dishes in addition to the main menu on Sundays
Seafood-centric restaurant Fulton’s Crab House (1670 Buena Vista Drive), in Disney Springs debuts an all-new brunch menu available Sundays from 11:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.which officially launches this Sunday, January 17, 2016.
Fulton’s Crab House Chef Mark Boor whips up delectable brunch dishes such as the Crab and Asparagus Benedict ($22) with Lake Meadow Farms eggs, jumbo lump crab, asparagus, and a grilled Neuske bacon slab served on toasted challah and topped with lobster infused hollandaise, and the New Orleans BBQ Shrimp ($20) with a crispy 5-minute egg, buttermilk biscuits and a spicy black pepper butter sauce. Brunch classics such as Corned Beef Hash ($16) and the Monte Cristo Sandwich ($16) make the menu, in addition to a Kobe Breakfast Burger ($19) with a fried egg, hash browns, cheddar cheese and sweet onion jam.
A selection of brunch beverages are also available including the refreshing Acai Sparkler with Veev, pomegranate and Juve y Camps Cava as well as the ultimate indulgence with The Bloody Mary which comes complete with king crab, jumbo shrimp and candied Neuske bacon.
Located in Downtown Disney, Fulton’s Crab House serves exceptional seafood and shellfish ranging from Alaskan king crab, snow crab, blue crab and more. The restaurant space boasts a nautical dining room with an eclectic mix of folk art and seafaring history as well as three outdoor decks for guests to enjoy. Since opening on March 8, 1996, Fulton’s Crab House has been awarded an eleven-time winner of the Wine Spectator Award of Excellence. Fulton’s Crab House is open for lunch daily from 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and for dinner from 4:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. Reservations are accepted and can be made by calling 407.934.2628.
Triple Chocolate Doughnuts Are Back At Krispy Kreme
Triple Chocolate Doughnut and Caramel Mocha Latte Available Through January 24at Krispy Kreme® Doughnut Shops in Orlando
Three decadent chocolates, one delicious doughnut! Krispy Kreme Doughnuts, Inc., (NSYE:KKD), has combined scrumptious layers of chocolate to create the perfect sweet treat. The #TripleChocolate Doughnut and Caramel Mocha Latte are available for a limited time through January 24 at the following Central Florida locations:
Krispy Kreme Winter Park – Drive thru Open 24 hours, 1031 S. Orlando Avenue (17-92), Winter Park, FL 32789
Open 5:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. (Sunday–Thursday) and 5:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. (Friday and Saturday)
Krispy Kreme Kissimmee – Open 24 hours, 5310 W. Irlo Bronson Memorial Highway, (192 / Mile Marker 11.5), Kissimmee, FL 34746
“The Triple Chocolate Doughnut was first introduced last year and the response was overwhelming,” said Tony Thompson, president and CEO of Krispy Kreme Doughnuts.
Inside the Triple Chocolate Doughnut, there is a decadent dark chocolate filling, topped off with milk chocolate icing, mini chocolate chips and a delectable drizzle of white chocolate ganache.
Krispy Kreme Doughnuts’ Caramel Mocha Latte, exclusively available at Krispy Kreme Millenia, is a high-quality espresso blended with caramel and chocolate. It is topped off with whipped cream and caramel drizzle. Fans can enjoy this treat hot, iced or frozen.
About Krispy Kreme Doughnuts, Inc.
Krispy Kreme Doughnuts, Inc., is a global retailer of premium-quality sweet treats, including its signature Original Glazed® doughnut. Headquartered in Winston-Salem, N.C., the Company has offered the highest-quality doughnuts and great-tasting coffee since it was founded in 1937.
Krispy Kreme Doughnuts is proud of its Fundraising program, which for decades has helped non-profit organizations raise millions of dollars in needed funds. The Company has more than 1,000 retail shops in 25 countries. Connect with Krispy Kreme Doughnuts at www.KrispyKreme.com, or on one its many social media channels, includingwww.Facebook.com/KrispyKreme, and www.Twitter.com/KrispyKreme.
Ten Fun Facts Celebrate Raglan Road Irish Pub & Restaurant’s 10th Anniversary at Walt Disney World Resort
When it opened 10 years ago at Downtown Disney in Walt Disney World Resort, Raglan Road Irish Pub & Restaurant was the new kid on the block with a culinary reputation to build. Ten years later, the iconic Irish pub thrives in its original but renamed Disney Springs location at Walt Disney World Resort with a loyal following among locals and travelers from around the world.
Here’s what pub regulars know and first-timers learn: Celebrity Master Chef Kevin Dundon stars in his own popular PBS cooking series; the award-winning Raglan Road Irish Dancers perform daily to the tunes of top Irish bands; much of the restaurant’s interior was built from furnishings shipped directly from Ireland; and you can’t visit the pub without having a rollicking good time.
To celebrate its 10th anniversary, Raglan Road shares 10 fun facts that even its most loyal guests may not know:
Raglan Road Master Chef Kevin Dundon won Irish Dish of the Year for his Glazed Loin of Bacon with Colcannon Mash, a Raglan Road staple.He has published six cookbooks and has cooked for luminaries like Queen Elizabeth II, President George Bush and Bono.
One dish you won’t find at Raglan Road is corned beef and cabbage.Contrary to what many people believe, it’s a New York dish, not an Irish one!
The three founders and owners of Raglan Road – Paul Nolan, John Cooke and Kevin Dundon – have commuted a combined total of nearly 2 million miles to and from Ireland to Orlando in the past 10 years.That’s equal to about 78 circumnavigations of Earth at its equator. Or eight trips to the moon.
Nolan, Cooke and Dundon each engage in secret (until now) pastimes: Nolan is the pub “tweeter” (@RaglanRoadPub), Cooke is a bass guitar geek, and Dundon might be spotted at the Kentucky Fried Chicken drive-through when he thinks no one is watching.
Raglan Road sells more Guinness than any other pub in the United States.Nine Fine Irishmen in Las Vegas, the previous pub owned by Raglan Road’s founders, sells the second greatest amount of Guinness.
It takes 250 staff members to keep Raglan Road running daily operations.The pub, with 500 seats inside and on the patio, serves the equivalent of half the number of Americans who travel to Ireland each year.
Raglan Road coincidentally opened its doors 10 years ago on the birthday of Patrick Kavanagh, the Irish poet who wrote “On Raglan Road.” The poem became a song by Luke Kelly of The Dubliners and since has been sung by the likes of Sinead O’Conner, Van Morrison and U2.
The celebrated Raglan Road Irish Dancers perform on stage daily and also on a platform that is an old Irish church pulpit located in the center of the Grand Dining Room.Cabinet displays in the pub’s Music Room include century-old items from Ireland including a period phonograph and a fiddle.
There is a Hidden Mickey that has never, to our knowledge, been discovered.Try finding it in a “grand” location. And don’t miss the signed portraits of Bono and other celebrities on the pub’s walls.
The official Raglan Road cookbook is “I’d Ate the Back Door Buttered, Ma!” which translates to “I’m so hungry I’d eat the back door if it were buttered, Ma!”The book features Dundon’s Raglan Road recipes but also the story behind Raglan Road: “There is a “road” to Raglan Road that crosses several continents and centuries – a journey involving brewers, publicans, singers, statues, gold rushes, a chef, a poet, yeast, several fishermen and an ex-priest. In short, our story is part of the larger Irish story of misfortune, emigration, hard work, ingenuity and eventual success outside mother Ireland.”
Raglan Road features inventive cuisine by Irish celebrity chef Kevin Dundon, host of the TASTE Award-winning PBS and Create TV cooking show, “Kevin Dundon’s Modern Irish Food.” The show also won a Silver World Media for “best culinary program” in the 2015 New York Festivals Best TV & Film awards. The second season of Dundon’s TV series, “Kevin Dundon’s Back to Basics,” premiered nationally March 13 on public television’s Create TV.
Owned and operated by Irish partners Paul Nolan, John Cooke and celebrity chef Kevin Dundon – famous for his five-star hotel and cookery school in Ireland and his award-winning PBS and Create TV cooking series – Raglan Road features traditional Irish dishes and new creations with a Celtic twist. The restaurant’s warm interior of aged walnut and mahogany woods from old Irish bars and churches was built in Ireland and shipped to Orlando. Guests can enjoy live Irish bands and performances by The Raglan Road Dancers nightly and during the Rollicking Raglan Weekend Brunch. Live music is also scheduled nightly on the pub patio. Lunch is served 11 a.m.-3 p.m.; Dinner 3-11 p.m.; Bar menu 11 p.m.-late; Weekend Brunch 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Raglan Road Irish Pub & Restaurant is located at Downtown Disney in the Walt Disney World Resort, 1640 E. Buena Vista Dr., Lake Buena Vista, Fla. Visit www.raglanroad.com or call 407/938-0300.
This week marks a shift from Halloween to Christmas in the Disney parks, but let’s not forget about Thanksgiving in between. Although the decorations may be overlooked, or at least overshadowed by Christmas, Thanksgiving still has a presence at Walt Disney World.
In the parks and at several of the resorts, Disney has a wide variety of restaurants that are offering Thanksgiving meals for lunch and/or dinner. Here are the restaurants that are offering meals on Thanksgiving that vary from their regular menus:
Akershus Royal Banquet Hall
Rose & Crown
50’s Prime Time Cafe
Hollywood & Vine
Fulton’s Crab House
Portobello Country Italian Trattoria
Raglan Road Irish Pub and Restaurant
The Dining Room at Wolfgang Puck Grand Cafe
Boatwright’s Dining Hall
Cape May Cafe
End Zone Food Court
Flying Fish Cafe
Fresh Mediterranean Market
Grand Floridian Cafe
Mickey’s Backyard BBQ
Shutters at Old Port Royale
The Turf Club
Trattoria al Forno
Victoria & Albert’s
Whispering Canyon Cafe
Most of these restaurants are offering both lunch and dinner meals special for Thanksgiving. As always, things are subject to change and it is best to contact Disney Dining directly with any questions or to make reservations at 407-939-3463.
A few of the resorts will also be having special recreation activities for Thanksgiving if you are staying there as a guest on November 26th.
Bay Lake Tower at the Contemporary is hosting an Autumn Festival from 3:30 – 8:30pm. They will have “fun games, crafts, giveaways and more” according to the recreation calendar.
Disney’s Old Key West Resort will have activities starting at 12:30pm with Football Fun. This is followed by a pool party, “Gobble ’til you Wobble,” design your own turkey themed cupcake, s’mores, and then Pocahontas will be the Movie Under the Stars at 7:00pm.
Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa is following the same schedule as Old Key West at the High Rock Spring Pool. At the Paddock Pool starting at 12:30pm also will be Make Your Own Turkey Hat. After that will be the pool party, Football Fun, Pine Cone Turkeys, and then the Disney Junior pool party.
If you happen to be at Walt Disney World this Thanksgiving, check out some of these great offerings!
Disclosure: I was given a Ghost Pull-Apart Cake for review purposes, however all opinions are my own.
Now while I absolutely pride myself on my baking skills, sometimes you have to give it up for the professionals and when we need to get cupcakes favorite place to go is Gigi’s Cupcakes.
Daily Gigi’s Cupcakes offers several types of delicious, gourmet cupcakes in two sizes, but during Halloween they make some truly wonderful cupcake creations!
For my gathering, I tried the Ghost Pull-Apart Cake and it was awesome! The cake was made of 24 cupcakes, and I got to choose three cupcake flavors (I chose white, strawberry, and pumpkin) and an icing (I chose my favorite frosting…Cream Cheese).
What I enjoyed most about the Ghost Pull-Apart Cake was that it was really convenient for my littlest guests to grab a cupcake, and I didn’t have to have an extra serving utensil to clean at the end of the party.
If you want to grab a super quick Halloween treat for your family or as a hostess gift for a party, you can pick up a Halloween Boo Box with a dozen mini Gigi’s Cupcakes that feature your favorite Gigi’s Cupcake specially decorated for Halloween.
Gigi’s Cupcakes definitely has the right cupcake for you, so what are you waiting for?
Make sure you keep up with Gigi’s Cupcakes on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest as they are always sharing their latest news, ideas, and offers!
Shelley and I went to the grand opening of the Indiana Jones movie themed Jock Lindsey’s Hangar Bar a few weeks ago. You can check out her post on it here. Today I’d like to focus on a few of my favorite details that tie in to the Indiana Jones movies. I will focus primarily on the original trilogy of movies. If you aren’t familiar, Jock was Indy’s pilot in the first movie in the series, Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark. Jock helped rescue Indy in the opening sequence from the South American tribe that was chasing him when he finds the idol. When the adventurous Dr. Jones jumps into Jock’s plane, we first learn of Indy’s fear of snakes, when he is introduced to Jock’s pet snake, Reggie.
Reggie is one of the more prominent characters, or evidence of the snake is rather. You can see this is the slightly pryed open cage that Reggie once resided in, as well as the potent looking libation glowing in a container on the bar labeled “Reggie’s Revenge.”
Much of the menu itself is inside jokes taken straight from the Indiana Jones movies. In addition to some of the more overt things like the menu items themselves, there are a bunch of hidden gems in Jock’s notes on the edges of the menu pages, and a few others I’ll point out.
This post card might raise some red flags for anyone who can read Spanish and who has seen the opening of the Raiders of the Lost Ark. In the movie, Indy is betrayed when he is looking for the idol and the Hovito tribe is loyal to the Frenchman Belloq, who is a longtime rival of Dr. Jones. I wonder if Jock got this in time and that’s why he was there to rescue Indy with his plane?
Good Dates refer to the bad ones eaten by the Nazi monkey in Cairo in Raiders. Air Pirates refers to the shirt in Jock’s plane in Raiders when he rescues Indy. Rolling Boulder Sliders refer to the opening of Raiders when Indy escapes the rolling boulder while trying to procure the idol. Snack of Ra refers to the Staff of Ra used the help find the Lost Ark. Tanis is the lost city where the Holy Grail is located in Last Crusade. Dr. Elsa Schneider is the Nazi who seduces Dr. Jones Jr. and Sr. in Last Crusade. Brody’s Brats refer to Marcus Brody who appears in both Raiders and Last Crusade. Lao Che’s Revenge is in reference to the owner of the Obi-Wan Night Club in Temple of Doom. Squid! Why’d it have to be Squid?! is a play on Indy’s same line replacing snakes with squid (probably at Reggie’s request).
Above the bar you can see Jock’s beloved New York Yankees hat hanging from a shelf. On another shelf you’ll see the voodoo dolls of Indy, Willie and Short Round from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. Just below that is the lighter that Indy used in the Last Crusade movie where he was tied up with his dad in the castle with the Nazis.
The map behind the bar shows stamps and trails and Jock’s expeditions around the globe with and without Indy. For instance, you can see a depiction of the Shankara stones from the Temple of Doom movie seen near Nepal on the map.
Beside the bar in the locked up lost and found cage are a few more nods to the movies. The headpiece from the Staff of Ra from Raiders of the Lost Ark is sitting near the bottom left. There are a slew of keys labeled for characters like Marcus Brody, Willie, etc. on the half empty key rack. I’d also like to think that one of the umbrellas in the stand is one that Henry Jones Sr. used to scare away the birds into the propellers of the Nazis trying to attack him and Indy in Last Crusade.
There are three posters in the bar representing the original trilogy of movies and some of their locations with one for Cairo in the loft above the main entry doors. There’s another one for Pankot Province around the corner to the left after you enter. The third is at the end of a bookcase marking the end of the fuselage of the plane on the left that has a poster of Iskenderun.
In addition to the Indiana Jones movies, there are a couple of other movies that get nods in Jock Lindsey’s Hangar Bar. One is the Iron Man on the loft above the bar. The other is a mention of R2-D2 from Star Wars and Captain Rex from Star Tours 1.0. Supposedly there’s another Star Wars reference that I missed, but I’ll have to go back again and search for that.
I’m sure there are many more movie tie ins, but I don’t want to spoil them all for you. It is fun to discover some on your own, plus the cast members are usually all too willing to share if they know some hidden secrets that the Imagineers have snuck in the decor. There are even things that reference the Jungle Cruise, Hall of Presidents, and the Adventurer’s Club, but I will let you find those yourself. Definitely make a trip for yourself to Jock Lindsey’s Hangar Bar in Disney Springs to check out this fantastically themed new addition.
New this year to Epcot’s International Food and Wine Festival is the French Family Meal Traditions Special Event. This lunch is hosted by Eric Weistroffer, manager of the French Pavilion at Epcot, and takes place in the restaurant Monsieur Paul. This premium event is a nice leisurely lunch that lasts from about noon until 3:30pm. The five course meal is accompanied by Eric describing how the meal correlates to the French Family Meal Traditions. I had the opportunity to experience this incredible French meal on the day it started and I highly recommend that you book this special event if you can.
The meal started with an aperitif cocktail and cheese sticks. We were also presented with fresh baked bread and butter which helped to cleanse the palate between courses. The cheese sticks were twists of cheese baked over bread and were crispy on the outside, but nice and soft on the inside. The cocktail we began with was called Cocktail La Presse and was made from Grand Marnier Titanium, lemon juice, simple syrup, raspberries and sparkling wine. It was a light and refreshing drink to start the meal with and just had hints of the orange, lemon and raspberry together.
For the traditional French Hors d’Oeurve we sampled a Traditional Quiche Lorraine and a side salad. The quiche was so light and flaky on the outside and inside the eggs, cheese and ham were so perfectly cooked. I am not usually a fan of quiche, but this was simply delightful. The salad was a nice complement to the quiche with a nice vinaigrette dressing. This course was paired with a French Vouvray wine, which was clean and crisp and matched the food amazingly.
The main course, or Plat de resistance, was a phenomenal white veal ragout served with rice, carrots, mushrooms and baby onions. I do not care for veal, but I tried it for the sake of being adventurous. This course was my favorite and I was pleasantly surprised. The white wine in the ragout was a nice balance to the vegetables. I especially enjoyed dipping my bread in the sauce along with the mushrooms and rice. What would appear to be a very heavy course was beautifully balanced. With this course, they served a red Chinon wine, which I found a little Earthy for my taste, but paired well with the entree.
One of the things I enjoyed most about this meal, aside from the food of course, was that it was a nice slow pace. We had time to talk with the other guests at our table and it felt much like you were sitting around a family table sharing a meal. At one point, Eric even slowed down the servers because he felt that we needed a bit more time in between courses to enjoy the conversation and to digest. This was perfect because I never felt over satiated during the meal, just sated. It was a fantastic to embrace the French way of enjoying a meal and to slow down and appreciate the surroundings.
The cheese course was next, with a nice Brie, walnuts, grapes, and more freshly baked bread. The Bordeaux that was paired with this course was very nice and a bit more fruity and full bodied than what I traditionally expect from most Bordeaux.
Dessert was a presentation to be seen and tasted just a fabulous as it looked. The light almond macaron, with bitter chocolate mousse, vanilla and chocolate sauces, and hazelnut ice cream was awesome! The sparkling white wine served with it was a JCB 21, and was a slightly dry wine, which I really liked. The dessert macaron was flaky and soft, not the more dense and hard macaron that I am used to, but it was very good. It was a bit rich, but the flavors melded together so well.
All in all this was a fantastic French meal between the fantastic setting with the view of World Showcase Lagoon below, to the impeccable service, wonderful food with wine pairings, and the great conversations with new friends. The lunch is still available for booking over the next few weeks of the Food and Wine Festival at Epcot. The French Family Meal Traditions special event takes place on Friday and Sunday afternoons from now until November 15th, 2015. The cost is $95 plus tax per person including alcohol for those 21 and up. I will say when I first saw the price I was a bit skeptical, but having been now, I would have easily paid almost double that at many restaurants. The alcohol cost alone makes up more than half to two thirds of the cost if you were purchasing the drinks separately. For a five course meal with drinks included, this is really a good value for all that you are getting.
If you have a few hours available to enjoy this or one of several of the other premium special events during Epcot’s International Food and Wine Festival, I recommend that you book sooner rather than later as many of these events are filling up as word gets out as to how great they are. As of the time of writing this, there are still spots available for the French Family Meal Traditions as well as special events in Mexico, Italy, and Morocco. Please call 407-939-3378 for more information or availability and pricing.
We were in the first group to enter this tiki bar located in the Great Ceremonial House next to Captain Cook’s. For those of you familiar with Disneyland, this lounge is the counterpart to Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar.
The atmosphere at Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto draws inspiration from a great combination of Disney classic attractions like the Enchanted Tiki Room, Jungle Cruise, and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. Imagineers have hidden lots of great references to these rides as well as many other Disney characters and films. If you keep a keen eye open, you may find the Orange Bird, a nod to the Rocketeer, and even my favorite nefarious Toad, J. Thaddeus.
Also, be on the look out for fun audio animatronics like a tentacle swinging from above the bar with a tight grip on a bottle, Uh Oa, the tiki goddess of disaster on the opposite wall, and tons of fantastic blacklight effects.
Once you’ve marveled over the fabulous decor and theming inside Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto, it is time to decide which beverages and food you want to experience. Similar to the vibe of the lounge, the small plates and drinks offered have a South Seas flair, heavy on the seafood and rum. We sampled all of the appetizers between our group and found everything to be quite tasty.
I definitely had a favorite in the Headhunter Sushi Roll, which if I recall is a beet rice roll with tuna, salmon, cucumber with an awesome hibiscus sauce. This roll was so good we killed it within just a couple of minutes between a few of us. I highly recommend it as a great combination of flavors that is different from any other roll I’ve had before.
Other popular choices in our group were the Chicken Lettuce Cups that you assembled yourself, which were really nice with the kimchi, and the Kalua Pork Tacos.
As far as what I didn’t particular care for, or feel I will order again in the near future, I’d say skip the Corn-Battered Portuguese Sausages. To me, these tasted kind of like corn dogs with a ketchup infused with curry.
The other items that we felt left a bit to be desired were the Pan-Fried Dumplings with soy-sesame dipping sauce. These were pork and shrimp combined, but seemed a bit light on the filling as far proportionally to the dumpling dough. I’d say the Salmon Oshizushi, Chicken and Pork Bahn Mi, and the Hawaiian Poke fall in the middle. I’d get them again, but maybe not as frequently as the Headhunter Roll or Lettuce Cups.
I took one for the team and was pretty much the designated drinker, ordering the Hippopotomai-Tai since it came with a new souvenir glass specific to Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto. This was a really good Mai Tai, with the obligatory “two shots of rum” offering a special effect.
Another in our group tried the Polynesian Pearl, which is a signature drink new for the Grog Grotto. It comes in a plastic “pearl” with a fun presentation from the bartenders each time one is ordered. This drink, which I just tasted, came across like a creamy version of Cinnamon Toast Crunch in beverage form.
For the non-alcoholic folks out there, we also sampled the Schweitzer Fall, which mostly tasted like pineapple juice and sprite, and the Skipper Sipper, a bit more refreshing and slightly less sweet combo of tropical juice with mint and lime.
Several of the alcoholic beverages at Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto can be purchased in souvenir glasses, which you can pick up on your way out already wrapped up for you. This is really nice to not have to wait for your used glass to be cleaned out and brought back to you. Our server simply highlighted my receipt, then I showed it to the Cast Members at the door where the glasses are on display. The Polynesian Pearl is plastic, which they will rinse out for you to take if you’d like. The Hippopotomai-Tai souvenir and the Kona beer flight are glass, and the others offered are all ceramic.
As of this time, the only souvenir glass not available is for the Nautilus, which will run approximately $52, but is currently around $34 for just the alcoholic drink. According to the Food and Beverage Cast Member with whom I spoke, they said it may be months before those arrive. I also asked, and souvenir drink glasses are not for sale independently of the alcohol.
Here are a few quick things to keep in mind for your visit to Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto:
All prices, menu items, and drinks are subject to change as Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto is still in soft opening.
No discounts are available currently at Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto.
The lounge can hold about 50 inside, and the Trader Sam’s Tiki Terrace outside can seat an additional 80 guests.
If you are looking to sit inside the Grog Grotto, there is a pager system since seating is so limited. There are a limited amount a pagers available, and wait times did go up to 4-5 hours on the first day of soft openings. Also, your wait time will depend on the size of your party.
The full menu is available both inside and out, with a nice area for musicians and a dancer on the terrace. I really enjoyed this additional entertainment aspect and can see myself spending lots of time here in the future, especially in the warmer summer evenings here.
Hours for Trader Sam’s, once they officially open in late April, will be from 4pm until 12am, with the lounge being 21 and up only from 8pm.
Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto met and exceeded my expectations based on my experiences at the West Coast version of Trader Sam’s at Disneyland. The Imagineers have done very well to echo the feeling of the lounge in California, while still making it unique enough to make me want to visit both locations. Like Disneyland, I am sure over time I will be spending hours inspecting all the fun pictures and memorabilia adorning the walls, ceiling, and shelves. This lounge is a much needed addition to the nightlife at Walt Disney World.