Planning a Disney Wedding: The Menu Tasting

Planning a Disney Wedding: The Menu Tasting

Previously I shared my experience at a Disney Wedding Planning Session. In that post, I mentioned that couples can also request a meeting with chefs that will be preparing your reception meal. This can be scheduled the same day as your planning session, or at another time. We chose to have our planning session in the morning and our menu tasting in the afternoon on the same day.

In the months leading up to the planning session, your Disney wedding planner will send a menu tasting checklist where you can request the dishes that you wish to try. There are eight slots available and you are allowed up to three proteins (entrées). Your planner will also provide sample menus from Disney Catering. For the tasting, you can choose any of the items from these menus or you can even ask to try the chef’s interpretation of your favorite dishes at Disney restaurants. Tip for future bride and grooms: don’t waste a tasting spot on a dish that you know how it tastes.  For example, Mickey waffles taste the same everywhere. We want to have them at our brunch reception, but we didn’t need to try them at our tasting.

Since our reception will be held at the Boardwalk Resort, that is where we had our tasting. We were scheduled to meet back up with our planner at 2:15 at the Boardwalk Convention Center.

Convention Center Disney Wedding
Convention Center

We got there a little early and wandered around a bit before our server, Manny, saw us and showed us to our room. Yes, we had our own server for the tasting! He was awesome and got us sodas and water while we waited.

The tasting itself actually took place in a sectioned off portion of a ballroom. There was a table set up that was decorated and had several napkin folds on display.

Disney Wedding Table

At the far end of the room, the buffet was set up. This was mind-blowing to me, that they set up a buffet like to would be for our actual reception.

Buffet Disney Wedding
Buffet set up

Once our planner arrived, the first order of business was to choose a napkin fold.

Our napkin fold Disney Wedding
Our napkin fold

Then Chef Redgie arrived. He introduced himself and told us about how he started as an intern three years ago and did so well that he was offered a permanent position. He told us that the BoardWalk Catering Department is the smallest of all the resorts with six chefs. He brought us over the the buffet stations and described each of the dishes the had asked to try. He held off on preparing the pasta dishes so that we could see those prepared on stage. He told us we could customize as we go. As we tried each thing, we talked about what we liked or didn’t like and Chef Redgie took notes. He told us that they love to customize the menu and work with couples to make sure everything is exactly they way they want them. They will even prepare your favorite family dishes if you provide them with a recipe. I thought that was a pretty cool option.

Here are the dishes that we tried, minus the pasta dishes that I didn’t get a picture of:

Chicken Disney Wedding  Salmon Disney Wedding  Pork Disney Wedding  Cinnamon Disney Wedding  Lobster Disney Wedding

 

From left to right: parmesan-crusted chicken with creamy tomato sauce, seared salmon with pancetta marmalade and dill cream, maple ginger pork loin with fig compote, cinnamon bread pudding (picture taken before the warm vanilla icing was added), truffle-scented macaroni and cheese with lobster meat. Not pictured are penne pasta with cognac cheese sauce and artichokes; and genelli pasta with asiago cream sauce, roasted tomatoes and spinach.

Everything was delicious and it was really difficult to decide on our final menu. In the end we cut the pork, lobster macaroni and cheese, and the penne pasta dish. We were also given a couple of parting gifts which was so nice and really made us feel special.

Parting gifts : whisk and heart cookie cutters Disney Wedding
Parting gifts : whisk and heart cookie cutters

This was such a cool experience and I am so excited for our brunch reception. Huge thanks for Chef Redgie and Manny for being so amazing!

Chef Disney Wedding

 

And with that, the majority of our wedding planning is complete. We just need to get a few last minute details together in the next four months and then it’s wedding time!

Follow us for more updates: Facebooktwittergoogle_plusyoutubetumblrinstagram

Thanksgiving Dining at Walt Disney World

Mickey and the gang celebrating Thanksgiving
Thanksgiving image copyright Disney

If you are like me, and you are finding yourself at Walt Disney World over Thanksgiving and don’t have set plans yet, don’t fret. There are great dining options across property in both the parks and resorts. Some are even still available for dinner reservations at this point in time (11pm Wednesday, 11/14) (subject to change of course). Even if you don’t want to make a reservation for some of the restaurants for a Thanksgiving lunch or dinner, there are counter service locations that can still fill your craving for a traditional Thanksgiving meal.

 

Character Thanksgiving Meals

Some of the character meals across the parks and resorts are getting special treatment just for Thanksgiving. They offer holiday menus with many having traditional meals, with others focusing more on their own twist on the holiday fare. At the Contemporary Resort, Chef Mickey’s buffet is offering a Thanksgiving dinner. Across Bay Lake at Fort Wilderness, Mickey’s Backyard BBQ becomes Mickey’s Backyard Thanksgiving feast featuring turkey, ham, mashed potatoes and many of your favorites. In the parks, Tusker House, at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, is having Donald’s Dining Safari Thanksgiving Lunch and then a non-character Thanksgiving meal for dinner. Walt Disney World Swan’s Garden Grove is having a character buffet dinner as well.

 

Table Service Thanksgiving Meals

Many of the restaurants in the parks are also providing meal options for the holiday. In the Magic Kingdom, Liberty Tree Tavern has both family style lunch and dinners. Also, the Diamond Horseshoe is hosting a table service dinner. At Epcot, the Biergarten in Germany has both Thanksgiving lunch and dinner options. Hollywood Studios has their buffet open for lunch and dinner as well as the Fantasmic dinner package. And, as already mentioned, in the Animal Kingdom, Tusker House is offering their dinner buffet.

At the resorts is where you will find most of the special holiday menus being offered. Artist Point at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge has a special prix fixe menu. Cape May Cafe at the Beach Club has a dinner buffet and the Captain’s Grille at the Yacht Club is serving both lunch and dinner buffets. At the Grand Floridian, Citrico’s has a prix fixe dinner menu. Also with a prix fixe menu is Flying Fish Cafe at the Boardwalk. For some a la carte menu options you could try lunch or dinner at the Grand Floridian Cafe. Still at that resort for dinner you can have a Thanksgiving dinner at Narcoossee’s. Trail’s End at Fort Wilderness is having a lunch and dinner buffet. At the Polynesian you have lunch or dinner at Kona Cafe, Olivia’s at Old Key West is also serving both meals, as are Sanaa at Kidani Village, the Wave at the Contemporary and the Turf Club at Saratoga Springs. For more family style meals, check out either Whispering Canyon Cafe at the Wilderness Lodge for lunch or dinner, or dinner at the Yachtsman Steakhouse at the Yacht Club.

Are you staying at the Walt Disney World Swan or Dolphin? If so, don’t worry, they have great options too! Fresh Mediterranean Market at the Dolphin is having a lunch buffet. The Swan’s Il Mulino is serving Thanksgiving dinner a la carte as is the Dolphin’s Todd English’s bluezoo. Downtown Disney even has some options for you at the House of Blues for dinner and Planet Hollywood for both lunch and dinner.

 

Counter Service Thanksgiving Meals

So, what if you, like me, have waited til the last minute and maybe there aren’t reservations available for your party of five? Don’t worry, Disney has that covered too. In Epcot, Sunshine Seasons, one of my favorite counter service options already, is supposed to be offering a special holiday menu too. Don’t want to go to a park, there’s a resort that has your name written all over it. At Disney’s All-Star Sports Resort, the End Zone Food Court is even getting into the holiday meal spirit with a Thanksgiving dinner from noon until 10pm with turkey, mashed potatoes, candied yams, vegetables, cranberry sauce, rolls and your choice of either apple or pumpkin pie for only $10.99 for guests 10 and up and $5.99 for children 3 to 9 (prices, times and menu items subject to change without notice).

 

All in all, it looks like Walt Disney World has some pretty great options of many varieties of cuisine and location for just about any appetite. Many of these options are on the Disney Dining Plan and as I mentioned, a few are even still available at this time. If you find yourself at WDW over the holiday, have a Happy Thanksgiving and happy eating!

Follow us for more updates: Facebooktwittergoogle_plusyoutubetumblrinstagram

My Favorite Restaurants At Walt Disney World

We haven’t really focused much on food specifically and thought it was about time we explored this huge part of most guest’s Walt Disney World vacations. Dining in the parks and at the resorts ranges from Uncrustables to hot dogs, sandwiches and other typical park fare like burgers and fries to some of the finest dining in the world. Today I wanted to share with you some of my favorite signature restaurants at WDW. If you have a Tables in Wonderland membership you are able to save 20% (with an automatic 18% gratuity added back in) at these restaurants. The other great feature of the TiW card is that it allows you complimentary valet parking at the Disney resorts with validation showing you used your Tables card on your dinner receipt.

5. Todd English’s Bluezoo (Walt Disney World Dolphin) The restaurant sits on the lower level of the Dolphin at the bottom of the escalator. The decor reminds me of an upscale club or bar, but more subdued with subtle lighting and lots of blue accents. I’ve only been here once back in November of 2009, but the food was fabulous. My mom and my brother treated me to dinner for my 30th birthday, and it was amazing. The seafood seemed so fresh and the service was great. We started the night off with the zooberry (a twist on the blueberry martini). They were so fresh the perfect way to begin our meal. We shared the beet salad and the classico flatbread for appetizers. For an entree I had the teppan seared jumbo sea scallops, which were magnificent and perfectly cooked. The dessert was a lemon meringue pavlova and was complimentary for my birthday, which made it taste even better.

4. Flying Fish (Disney’s Boardwalk Inn) Situated on the Boardwalk, Flying Fish is decorated with whimsical fish flying through the air with parachutes. The resort’s atmosphere reflecting early 20th century seaside fun with rollercoasters and ferris wheels is carried through the restaurant as well. The first time I experienced the restaurant it was August of 2009, and more recently I returned in February of this year. So, the two times I’ve been here I ordered the same exact things for appetizer and entree and was so full that I didn’t get dessert. The cheese platter changes in the featured cheeses, but was great both times. I guess I really like the scallops in the Epcot Resort area because I have ordered the oak-grilled Maine diver scallops each time. Scallops aren’t even my favorite seafood, but I absolutely love them from here.

3. Citrico’s (Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa) Featuring a Mediterranean theme, Citrico’s is located on the second floor of the Grand Floridian between Mizner’s and Victoria & Albert’s. The decor and the menu reflect the influences of Italy and Greece and are both aesthetically and gastronomically pleasing. Of the restaurants on my top five list, this is the one I have been to the most, having been more than five times, and most recently in the beginning of March. Each time I have been the food has been absolutely fabulous. One of my favorite seasonal appetizers, which they didn’t have this last time, was the gateau of crab. This past time we had a nice cheese and cracker amuse bouche to start our palates on our dining adventure. I tried something new for my entree and was not the least bit disappointed. The Madeira-braised short ribs were so tender, they were falling apart. Wild mushroom ragout and trofie pasta accompany the short ribs along with a truffle creme fraiche. For dessert I did repeat one of my favorites in the seasonal berry gratin with a champagne – Grand Marnier sabayon. It was just as incredible as when I had first had it in November of 2010.

2. Jiko – The Cooking Place (Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge) This is the restaurant I have honestly been craving the most above all others on property. I love the atmosphere here with the gorgeous blue ceiling, setting sunset and beautiful (fake) birds flying overhead. It is an eclectic menu and I like to try different things each time I go. The first time I went was in July of 2008, when I first stayed at the Animal Kingdom Lodge. I remember having the ostrich filet as an appetizer and the Kenyan coffee barbecue braised short ribs (another favorite of mine apparently). They were both so tender and falling apart in my mouth as I took each bite. On subsequent visits I have had the Taste of Africa bread and dipping sauce service, kalamata olive flatbread, duck and stonefruit salad, oak grilled filet mignon with mac and cheese, and seared barbarie duck breast. I can say that each of the three times I’ve been, the last time being in November of 2010, the service and the quality of the food have been nothing short of fantastic.

1. Victoria & Albert’s (Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa) Ah, la creme de la creme. Victoria & Albert’s is a 13 time AAA Five Diamond award winning restaurant. I’ve only been here once, and would love to go back if someone else is paying. This is not to say that the price isn’t worth it (I want to say it was about $475 for two with the wine pairing and gratuity included AFTER my Tables in Wonderland discount), it is. I’d just prefer to have someone else pay, and I’d like to do chef’s table next time. But I digress. This meal is easily within my top five, if not top three meals I’ve ever eaten. The service was beyond impeccable. Situated on the second floor of the Grand Floridian, Victoria & Albert’s is hidden behind large wooden doors with frosted windows. The decor is a refined elegance not to be found elsewhere at a Disney restaurant. It is one of only a few Five Diamond restaurants in the state of Florida. I went with my mom for my 29th birthday present in 2008 and it was an incredible dining experience. There were amuse bouche, palate cleansers, about seven courses, coffee, dessert, and the aforementioned wine pairing to go with each course. This is most definitely a culinary experience, not simply a meal. You need every bit of the three plus hours they warn you about when you book. One of my favorite aspects of the pre-arrival communications with the restaurant is the conversation about your allergies, likes and dislikes. This is so the restaurant can customize your menu to you so you are not being served something for hundreds of dollars that you do not enjoy. I don’t recall the specific menu items, as there were so many, but there wasn’t one I didn’t like. I’ve included a picture of the general menu for the evening. Each guest also receives a personalized copy of their menu to take home, which I am unable to locate at the moment.

 

Have you been to any of these restaurants? If so, what were your thoughts? Do you have any favorites?

Follow us for more updates: Facebooktwittergoogle_plusyoutubetumblrinstagram