shuttersdidsomebodysaygoofyWe went out for a surprise (although not for the birthday boy) birthday dinner last weekend.  Our friend set up his own party and invited us out to dinner but didn’t say where we were going.  He got some good joy out of making me stew and making the surprise be on us.  Knowing how I google menus and pre-think restaurants he would randomly dangle the carrot throughout the week,  asking if I was nerved up not knowing where we were going.  I lived through it, barely.  As it turned out we ate a a table service restaurant at the Disney Caribbean Beach Resort called Shutters.  They said that it was island style food but we didn’t get that too much.  There were a few nods to that culture-boat drinks (mine had a magical light up ice cube that gave me endless joy) and shrimp with plantains and some meat pie style empanadas.  But oddly, no jerk and not much in the way of spices.  Although there were some kicken spicy sweet chicken wings.  I had some mahi tacos with mango salsa, all of which I enjoyed.  The salsa didn’t have heat but a tasty sweetness and there was crunchy cabbage slaw.  Z had steak with chimichurri with some type of boniato puree-more South American than island-inspired but it was flavorful and similar to tacos he really likes during Food & Wine.  Our party was loud and full of laughter.   We had fun hanging out with friends and meeting and getting to know some new folks. After our dinner they brought out a big goofy-cookie and Disneyfied cake for the table.    Fun times!


so, in a further attempt at Christmas cheer Z took me to ride the Jingle (formerly Jungle) Cruise.  It was ok but Disney, this was a miss in the world of could have been.  I had visions of Santa hats on the natives, lights in the jungle and a dance party in the temple.  A miss.  But the castle lights for the evening?  A charming and magical win. (if you read this blog in a reader please go to my site today for a bit of winter cheer! Thanks Z for the technical support.)frozen

festival favorites

we have been to the Food & Wine Festival a couple of times this year and I would like to try to make it back one more time-in the evening-to really round up how I feel about it.  Both times have been during the day and I really think I’d like it better in the cool of a fall evening.  But so far we have two favorite dishes.  His is from Argentina-a beef skewer with chimichurri served on boniato puree.  Mine from China-a Mongolian Beef Steamed Bun.  I am in love with the texture of steamed buns and this one has some sort of neutral shaved beef and a spicy creamy sauce with crunchy noodles.  I’m hoping for one more before the end of the 2013 festival season which ends November 11.festivalfavorites


dinner #23

today was quite the day.  And really, if i just posted what I ended up eating for dinner it wouldn’t tell the whole story.  At 8:30 this morning we left for Epcot and “kitchen memories’ event featuring brother chefs Michael and Bryan Voltaggio.  The event started later than the advertised 10am because as we heard while waiting to be let in to our tables there were three pours of wine to get out before we were seated  So, at 10:30 we sat down to three glasses of expectation.  After a bit of storytelling from the winemaker owners of Schweiger Vineyards as they explained the first glass of Schweiger Vineyards chardonnay.  They don’t oak for that buttery thing that chardonnay usually has and it was definitely higher on my list of chardonnays.  Then the Voltaggios came out and Michael proceeded to talk about his memory of grilled cheese and tomato soup but served it to us in a very atypical way.  It was a super fun dish of cuttlefish and sea beans with gazpacho and ink gruyere gougeres with tomato pates de fruits.  The cuttlefish was chewy like noodles and the sea beans were definitely a salty taste  They served these on top of seaweed and shells because they like to garnishes to make sense with the dish.  The shells and seawood were a bit lost under the blue (reading as water) glass plates but all the tastes together were really interesting and definitely did elevate the grilled cheese tomato soup experience. firstsecondThe second course was done by Bryan and was roast chicken.  As they prepped and discussed this course Michael worked as hard as he could to push his brothers buttons.  Messing around putting the obviously not ‘just cooked’ chicken on his face – they discussed poking a lemon up the butt (their words) of the chicken so that it doesn’t dry out and is full of more aromatics.  He showed how to make a pumpernickel topped creamed spinach and gave a brief lesson on smoking guns as he discussed the grits (smoky cheesy) under the chicken.  He talked a little about pan gravy from the juices and generally gave tips about his course and how the smokey Cabernet Franc wine would be a good match for it.doubledessertThe final (and gigantic) course was dessert and was served alongside Schweiger Vineyards Port X.  First came out a little tray of peanut butter ice cream and dark chocolate pops to hold us over (as though we needed it???) with our port as they discussed halloween candy and caramel apples.  The final plate was a deconstructed candy apple.  Little drops of applesauce (not sweet), smunched cookie crumbs and the most delicious caramelized lady apple.  I could eat a dish of those apples every day!  Then, as if it wasn’t enough they sent us home with a goodie box of chocolates-two fun swirly pops, fruit bark, truffles and some caramelly looking things dipped in chocolate!  So, three glasses of wine before noon-can i call that dinner? We walked out of that fun meal happy to have paid the price and it having given us some new things to think about.  We took a stroll through Food & Wine and made our way out of the park.  It was far – FAR beyond the funny little dinner I made myself.  Z is a bit sick and lying in bed – something that kind of developed this afternoon.  So, I pulled a frozen crust out of the freezer and made a quick cheese pizza and ate a few truffles out of my box.  I’ve probably had more than my share of fun

fiesta hoy!

fietahoywe went and adventure ate at the Mexican temple to food at Epcot for my birthday.  A few times over the last year or so, we tried to just pit stop in Epcot for dinner and have largely been denied.  For most of the table service restaurants (as in anything over $8.99) you really do need a reservation.  So, for my birthday I booked a table at the San Angel Inn.  It sits inside the pyramid ziggurat temple in Mexico. As you come in from the humidity you are greeted with the perpetual twilight that I romantically (?) associate with both the inside of pyramids (?) and a mid summers eve.  We arrived a few minutes early so rode through the Gran Fiesta Tour with the three caballeros (reads as the tunnel of love while you look for Donald Duck with the drunks who are drinking their way around the Epcot World Showcase.)  Then we jumped into the queue with 100 of our closest friends to announce our arrival.  We were actually seated fairly quickly although not as close to the water as I wished and packed in pretty tight.  Our neighbor kindly offered to snap our photo in the twilight of our pierced tin table lamp.  I ran through the drink menu and chose a blood orange margarita.   Sweet citrus that packed a boozy punch.  They brought our chips and two salsas for snacking.  Our food arrived fairly quickly – a pork tenderloin for him with way too much cilantro for his taste but for me – the most delicious chile relleno stuffed with braised pork and pine nuts.  I don’t know if it was the booze or what but that thing was awesome-far exceeding my expectations.   The sauce was tangy and had a bit of heat and the pine nuts cut through it all with a creamyness that I am really coming to love.  We passed on dessert in favor of a bit of a walk around the world showcase.  By the time we got to France I was feeling like I could handle some dessert so we stopped in to the newly expanded boulangerie et patisserie for some dessert.  A creamy whipped chocolate mousse for me and home to sleep it off!