Category: things we eat

Disney World Thoughts – The Food We Ate

Oh hello strawberry shortcake! Yum. The photo above is from one of our very favourite places to eat in Disney World. The Garden Grill, Epcot.

I thought I’d pop in with a few food thoughts from our recent trip. I wrote a huge post back in 2017 about this and all of this still stands true although I am no expert on this subject. While I was planning this years trip I discovered a couple of great You Tube channels (All Ears and The Disney Food Blog) and they both have an amazing amount of information about all things Disney including lots of food related details. I picked up several tips from them.

This time around we again had upgraded our ‘free’ dining plan to the one where you get one quick serve, one table serve and two snacks each day. I also made our table service reservations 180 days in advance. Yep 180 days before you go, if you are staying on Disney property, you can book your table service meals. I said it back in 2017 and it’s worth repeating, having a framework of meals to work your days around is a great way to plan these trips. Knowing you have food all sorted helps smooth any other wrinkles that are bound to pop up with this type of holiday.

Not the best photo but I don’t care about that. All I’m thinking about is how delicious that ‘bread pudding’ was. And of course Mickey waffles have to be on chosen too.

We ate at four character breakfast buffets. Breakfast buffets are the star in the dining plan crown. You meet characters and have a huge array of great food to choose from. And the value for money is good. I just happened to notice the cost of Chef Mickeys.for breakfast…. $50! For breakfast! They are not all as expensive as this one and you meet the big five guys/gal here so I get why it’s expensive but $50….. It isn’t the best food but a great way to eat and meet but only if you are on the dining plan or rich!

As well as Chef Mickeys we also did Cape May Cafe at the Beach Club Resort (Minnie, Pluto Donald and Daisy), 1900 Park Fare at the Grand Floridian (Winnie the Pooh, Tigger, Mary Poppins, Alice and the Mad Hatter) and The Crystal Palace in Magic Kingdom (Winnie, Tigger, Piglet and Eyeore).

At Cape May it was upscale food. Very well presented food in a lovely setting. They had a cooked to order omelette station and build your own breakfast burrito as well as all the other delicious breakfast goodness.

1900 Park Fare had the signature strawberry soup which was like a strawberry smoothie but more liquid. It was delish but oh so sweet. They also had a made to order omelette station. Definitely Gav’s favourite thing.

The Crystal Palace had a good range too and an ice cream self serve station. Oh yes I ate chocolate soft serve for breakfast.

Gav was interested to find as many non alcoholic speciality beverages as possible and had done his own research online before we arrived. The first we found was Le Frou’s Brew at Gastons Tavern in Magic Kingdom.

It’s frozen apple juice with a foam ‘head’ of passion fruit and mango. Oh my gosh. It was sooooo sweet. Way too sweet for us. And that’s saying something.

We also found the strawberry dole whip float (there was a photo of that a week or two back in a photo a day post) and our very, very favourite was the frozen mint julep lemonade from Casey’s corner. No photos of that one but truly it was very good and we are trying to recreate it here at home.

Above is the Cheshire cat tail from the Cheshire Cafe in Magic Kingdom. Basically a chocolate french pastry like a croissant but with that colourful icing to resemble the Cheshire Cat! It was very good and a great use of a snack credit.

Something we did not plan to do at all was eat at the International Food and Wine Festival. This goes on in Epcot from September to late November. After wandering around Epcot one afternoon and seeing all the amazing food choices we decided to alter our plans and make eating ‘around the world’ one of our evening meals. We used a combination of snack and quick serve credits (you need to check that they are willing to do this) to sample around ten different cuisines. Such an unexpected treat.

Here is a warm Irish stout dip with brown bread from Ireland.

A trio of dips with naan bread and a mango lassi from India.

A black pepper boursin souffle from the Cheese Studio. This was really delish!

A trio of artisan cheese and butternut squash ravioli from the Wine and Dine Studio.

And perhaps out favourite was from Earth Eats.

The Impossible Burger and Impossible Cottage pie. Really tasty and all plant based!

I would definitely include this festival in any plans. It was such good food, beautifully laid out with large planters full of vegetables, herbs and flowers. My only grumble would be all the disposable single use plates etc. Many were recyclable and they had separate places to dispose of them but most folks were dumping all their used plates in the same bins.

On to another delicious burger at De Luxe Burger in Disney Springs. This was a fav last time we came and is still one of our top choices. We even used the mobile ordering on the Disney App! I impressed myself with that one.

I went all gourmet and had cornflake encrusted French toast at the Wolfgang Pucks quick serve venue, also in Disney Springs.

And of course we had to try the Mickey shaped Biegnets from our neighbour hotel Port Orleans, French Quarter. These were A-MAZ-ING!

And finally because this post is going on and on! We shared a classic dole whip on our last morning. So. so good.

All in all the food in Disney is good. There is a vast range of choices to suit all tastes and you can find healthier food too. We just didn’t. Ha, ha, ha!

A Breakfast Love Affair – Leek and Potato Hash

Do you still use cookbooks? I pose this question because a few weeks ago Gav and I got back from the supermarket shopping and I found that he’d bought a new cookbook. (I help my Mum with her shop while he does our hence the fact I hadn’t seen the book in our trolley!).

I’ve seen a decline in my cookbook use over the last few years and often have the laptop sat there on the kitchen counter instead. I love the technology but nothing beats leafing through a brand new cookbook and getting inspired to make something.

The book he’d bought was Veggie Lean in 15  It’s a quick, the 15 refers to a cooking time of 15 minutes, healthy meal one. Both of us  are trying to get a grip of our bad eating habits. I’d heard of this guy before and he seems to have a sensible approach to food. The only thing I disagree with in the book is the need for exercise. Lol!

Anyway all that to say I tried a recipe out from the book at the weekend. A breakfast recipe of course because we all know breakfasts are my favourite.

And you know the most amazing thing about making this meal? I said to Gav “I need a leek” and five minutes later a leek appeared in the kitchen. Yep he went outside and harvested a fresh and delicious homegrown leek.

As you can see the recipe had chick peas as well as the potatoes and leeks with a lightly fried egg. I don’t think I squashed the potatoes enough as it was all quite separate on the plate but it was delicious and it felt mildly healthy with the green veg and chick peas.

So all in all it was win, win, win. I got to browse a new cookery book, make a new breakfast recipe and pat Gav on the back for growing our own!

A Breakfast Love Affair – Breakfast Burrito

What an untidy pair of burritos! Our wrapping game is not strong……… Something we must work on. Ever since we wandered into Chipotle in NYC ten years ago we’ve struggled to get this wrap thing right. Lucky for us the imperfection on the outside doesn’t interfere with the delights on the inside.

I tried a modified version of this recipe from Cookie and Kate.

The basis of these burritos are hash browns and scrambled eggs. Kate mixes pinto beans into her eggs before scrambling. I used red kidney beans. I made the hash browns as per her instructions and they were delicious.

When making again I wouldn’t put the beans in with the eggs because I found that the egg mixture didn’t cook evenly around the bean, if that makes sense. I’d probably warm them through separately. I’m not a runny scrambled egg lover…..

I didn’t have any of the spicy sauce or the salsa she recommends and I think they were lacking a little kick of flavour for those been missing. But it’s a learning curve for me!

And I know these two weren’t bothered by the lack of spice………

The Gelato

Ice-cream is one of my very favourite things. And gelato is even better. So when we went to Italy we ate all the gelato we could.

I know what you’re thinking….. isn’t gelato just Italian for ice-cream? Simple answer no. The main difference is that gelato has more milk than cream so freezes at a lower temperature and is denser in consistency. It does taste smoother somehow too. I don’t know if I could pick gelato out from ice-cream in a taste test but for research purposes I’m happy to give it a whirl……

Before we went on our holiday I did some research and had about five gelateria’s in mind for us to visit during our stay.

In Lucca we went to Piniko and Grom. I had such delights as mango, coffee and nocciola (hazelnut).

In Venice we wandered to find Fantasy Gelato and I tried pistachio, stracciatella and peach.

In the little town on the coast, Lido di Camaiore, we visited Modo and at Viareggio,  Kremmy. Gav liked Kremmy best as they were very friendly and helpful. Translating the flavours for us and letting us try before we bought.

I loved our first visit to Modo not only because we’d walked and walked to get there so it was a perfect reward but also that just ahead of us into the shop went a large Italian family.  Each member of the family stepped up to the counter, chose their gelato and headed to the seating area on the promenade to tuck into the yummy dessert. And the best bit of that scene was that the Grandad paid for all the family. It was a lovely sight to witness.

I had more pistachio and I tried out chocolate and fig. And at Kremmy more hazelnut strawberry and nutella.

Finally in Florence we went to Grom again and Vivoli. Not sure which flavours I had but they were very good.

If you’ve ever watched the movie City Slickers then you’ll recall the scene where Billy Crystals character is testing another characters knowledge of what ice cream goes with different foods. Pretty sure those ice-cream making pair in the movie were supposed to be Ben and Jerry! Anyway, I felt a bit like that stood in front of all that gelato. I wanted to get a good combination of flavours in my cup. I can honestly admit that I didn’t achieve that goal. But they were all delicious in their own right so I’m not complaining and I think my favourite was the hazelnut.

Now to hunt up so gelato and keep practicing!

The Breakfast Love Affair – Eggs Florentine

I began writing this post by looking back to see when I last waxed lyrical about breakfast. A year ago, in fact over a year ago! Let me allay your fears and say that we have indeed been eating breakfast but clearly I’ve felt they were to boring too write about!

When we were in London recently Gav had Eggs Florentine, as I recall on the two consecutive mornings. Last weekend he returned from the shop with a bag of spinach, a pack of muffins (the English kind) and a new jar of hollandaise and asked me to make it for breakfast the next day. How could I refuse?

In case you are unfamiliar with this version of breakfast/brunch it is a lightly toasted muffin topped with wilted spinach a poached egg and a dollop of hollandaise. Mmm….. And since I’ve got my poaching sorted, what with all the practicing I did for the asparagus,  I managed to pull of a lovely morning meal. Definitely one that we will be trying again and with all that spinach it must be good for you too.

Click Tick List – Make Profiteroles

We were going to my sisters for dinner last Saturday. We have an agreement about the provision of the desert, whoever is the visitor brings the pudding. My wonderful sis always makes the puds from scratch and I usually buy them but last Saturday I decided to make them.

And since the Click Tick List had been on my mind I thought what better desert to make than profiteroles!

Making choux pastry is a strange affair but I got on with it.

I think my mixture was a little runny. The recipe I used did say you might not need to add all the egg but I threw it in anyway. If I were ever to have another go at choux pastry (doubtful….) I wouldn’t add all the egg. Lesson one.

I piped the mixture onto the baking tray but ended up having lots leftover and realised I’d made my buns a little small so I popped a bit more dough on top of each mound to use up the rest of the mixture.

If I’d have left them as they had been piped I think they would have looked much neater. Lesson two.

After the buns cooled I found that a few were not cooked all the way through. If I’d have left them in the oven another two minutes I think they would have been perfect. Lesson three.

I piped whipped cream into the centre of each bun and served them up. Oh yes and my chocolate sauce went wrong too. You can see the theme here right?

But my lovely family ate them all up and were almost complimentary! And of course I can cross it off the list.

Eating at Disney World – Our Experience of the Dining Plan for Vegetarians

Before we dive into this topic I’d like to add a disclaimer…… I love food! There I said it….

We booked our Disney part of the holiday way back in June 2016 because there were some great deals to be had if you booked so far in advance. One of the deals was the inclusion of a dining plan package. We did a bit of research at the time but in the end just went for it.

There are several different dining plans but the one that was included in our price was the ‘quick serve’ plan. This includes two self-serve meals and two snacks. We decided to upgrade and paid about £200 to get a table service meal and a quick serve meal instead of the two quick serve ones.

The research I had done back in 2016 about eating at Disney basically said don’t bother with the dining plan if you were a vegetarian. However, as we were only paying £20 a day for both of us I felt it was well worth it.

When you look into the information that is out there on the web about these plans they focus on value for money. The reason those sites say don’t do the dining plan if you are a vegetarian is based on the fact that most veggie options in the parks and hotel restaurants are so much cheaper than meaty ones, therefore if you have paid for the dining plan you may end up out of pocket. I just did a check and for 2018 the quick serve plan is $52 a day and the regular dining plan is $75 a day. Based on those figures you would be out of pocket if you paid full price for the plan and ate vegetarian food.

But for us, because it came as part of the holiday package and we only paid for the upgrade it was absolutely worth it.

When you book the dining plan with table service meals you are able to book those meals 180 days in advance! Crazy. But even though it seemed crazy I decided that when the 180 day mark came around I was going to book most of the table serve meals and I’m so glad I did.

Here are a few points to remember.

  1. Research. Gav and I are seasoned researchers. I always tell the story of us living on croissants and water during a trip in France twenty years ago as the seed that started off our planning in relation to food. To be honest France is not geared up to Vegetarian foods, it’s not in their culture and I have to say that many, many parts the America are the same. So the answer is to plan and research. The way I did my Disney planning was to look at each restaurant’s menu to determine that they were part of the plan scheme and to check there were vegetarian options. I made a note of all the ones I liked the look of ready for when I could book them.
  2. Ask the waiter/waitress if they have other vegetarian options available when arrive at the restaurant. We ate at eight different table service restaurants during our ten day stay. All but one gave us an extra choice of vegetarian main course when we asked. Also check out the childrens menu as there may be a simple pasta option on it that can be made up into an adult meal.
  3. As I mentioned above I booked the table serve meals 180 days (more or less) in advance of our trip. Having those meals plans sorted means that yes, you have to be at a certain location at a certain time but also that you don’t have to worry about finding somewhere to eat in a busy and, usually, very hot theme park. It also gives you a framework to plan other aspects of your trip around which I found helpful. There is so much to do it can be overwhelming therefore having a basic plan set down is good.
  4. Expect to be very full up! I didn’t believe this would happen but oh my it did. Really even now I don’t want to think of another Brownie Fudge Sundae……
  5. Use your snacks wisely. One of the reasons we got rather full was because we picked a larger sized snack (so our own fault that we gained weight!) For example you could have a piece of fruit which counts as a snack or a great big Brownie Fudge Sundae… I also recommend finding the Dole Whip locations. If you’ve not had one and like pineapple they are worth seeking out.
  6. We were able to swap a quick serve meal for three snacks. This came in very handy when we discovered that Starbucks, located in all the parks allows the redemption of you dining plan credits. Good job we didn’t find that out until our final three days.
  7. Take away pizza is available for two table serve credits at some hotels. As you know we love pizza so having that option was a bouns for us and I would stay at a hotel with the delivery service again. We stayed at Caribbean Beach.
  8. Don’t limit yourself to eating only at your hotel. We of course had the car but even on the Disney transport it’s worth seeking out other restaurants. We ate at the Contemporary hotel twice. Both for breakfast buffets and they were very good value. Chef Mickeys has character dining too so perfect for a photo op with Mickey et al. Other favourites at the parks include Tony’s Town Square Restaurant at Magic Kingdom, Mama Melrose Italian Diner at Hollywood Studios, Chip and Dales Harvest Lunch at the Garden at Grill Epcot and the quick serve Deluxe Burger at Disney Springs.

I feel like this post is never ending…. There are lots of things to consider and I’ve only scratched the surface, but I was glad I planned it out.

Just for fun here are two actual days worth of food for me….. (don’t judge we were on our holidays!)

Day 1

  • Breakfast – Cereal with milk, cinnamon roll, banana (swapped quick serve meal for three snacks) Available from the hotel ‘markets’
  • Late lunch – Tony’s Town Square restaurant (table serve meal)

Day 2

  • Breakfast – Chef Mickeys – buffet style (table service meal)
  • Snack – Hot Fudge Brownie Sundae (snack)
  • Early Dinner – Veggie Burger at Deluxe Burger (Quick serve meal), Fries (snack)

You can get the picture that I loved planning and then eating my way through all our dining plan credits I would consider doing this again even as a vegetarian.

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Two Bean and Avocado Pasta Salad

The weather here today is cool and cloudy, I had a jumper and a coat on when I walked Bud earlier. It’s pretty miserable so I thought I’d cheer myself up by remembering this delicious pasta salad I made recently.

I looooooove pasta salad and don’t know why we only eat it occasionally. Must change that. Anyway I started with black beans and chick peas. Protein for us vegetarians and pulses are just so good for ya!

Then I threw in some chopped tomatoes.

Add the cooked pasta. Any shape will do but I like these fat dumpy tubes officially called Rigatoni. The ridges are there to hold sauce onto the pasta but we don’t have much sauce here. But no matter. Basically I’m saying any shape will do here.

I added parsley. Gav had started to prepare a big bunch of parsley (home grown of course) at the start of the week. He washes it and uses the salad spinner to dry it off then keeps it in an airtight container in the fridge. I know it’s only growing right outside the patio door so going through this process seems overkill but if you need to chop the parsley for a recipe you can’t do that just after washing it very easily so having it washed and ready makes that process easier.

I also added chopped black olives and a little onion.

The avocado went on top just before serving and I put the pasta salad on a bed of lettuce leaves. We had a simple oil and vinegar dressing.

Yum. And good for you.

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The Breakfast Love Affair Continues – Apple Pie Pancakes

When my niece stays over we always have a special breakfast. And by special I mean either American pancakes or French toast. Hey, we are international breakfast eaters over here!

Over the years we have made several different pancakes but these are my absolute favourite ones so far. I found the recipe on Pinterest but this is the link to the recipe on her website.

I didn’t add any cloves but did add the other spices which of course work so well with apple.

As a UK girl and used to making crepes (these are what everyone in the UK thinks of if you say pancake to them) I have to stop myself adding more liquid that it says in the recipe.American pancakes are a stiffer batter and this is why you can get a great big chunky stack of them on your plate……..

H and I added chopped banana to ours too for that very fruity hit. I would like to try them with just the syrup or maybe even some lightly cooked apple chunks to get every ounce out of the apple flavour.

Ten out of ten for these.

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The Breakfast Love Affair Continues – Quorn Sausage and Spinach Omelette

I’m back to the no bread thing again! Not only that but a need to use up some frozen spinach that’s been hanging around a while too long. What better way to eat the spinach than in a breakfast omelette.

I grilled the Quorn sausages first while I was softening a sliced red pepper and a couple of left over asparagus spears. I then added the defrosted spinach and the diced sausage to the pan.

Four beaten and well seasoned eggs went in next with a final flourish of some grated parmesan.

I must admit that is was more veg than egg but I don’t think that’s too much of a problem and it was really tasty and felt like it was doing us good. Win, win.