Monday, April 9, 2012

Walt Disney World/Orlando: Treats, Eats, and Recipes!

I haven't posted in 2 weeks... but for good reason; we were on vacation!

Our 7 night vacation unexpectedly stretched into 9 days thanks to the awful storms and tornados in DFW while we were gone. Thankfully, our home, cars, workplaces, and family were all safe but I know many were devastated.

Since this is a cooking blog, I won't bore you with the lowdown on our entire vacation but instead focus on the treats and eats we enjoyed while in Orlando. However, since WDW is one of my favorite vacation destinations, feel free to ask any questions you might have about our trip.

Disclaimer: we did dine at a few chain spots during our trip, including Bahama Breeze, Macaroni Grill, Steak and Shake, Perkins, etc and I didn't bother documenting those.

Disney Hollywood Studios (formerly MGM, which I still call it)
(that's my favorite ride - Hollywood Tower of Terror)

We hit the park after a day on the golf course just to ride our favorites.

Magic Kingdom

I must admit I don't have much to say, or any pics to share, of food or drink.

We stopped at Pecos Bill for a quick lunch. Columbia Harbour House is my favorite but this was fine (and actually way better than our last trip, which included us all tossing our burgers a few bites in and eating someplace else later). I will say that the kid's meal is a great deal and plenty of food.

We took an afternoon break and dined offsite for dinner. But I don't remember where.

In my opinion, Magic Kingdom is seriously lacking in good eats.

Epcot

Epcot is my favorite park by FAR. It's less crowded, has so much to see, and great dining/drink options.

We grabbed our Soarin' fastpasses and then stopped for a light breakfast at Sunshine Seasons in The Land. No pics... but I know Jason and I both got breakfast panini's. I brought my own coffee from Starbucks because Nescafe is icky.

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For dinner, we stopped at my favorite counter service restaurant, Tangierine Cafe, in Morocco and opted to split two platters between the three of us: a chicken schwarma platter (also includes hummus, tabouleh and a tangierine couscous salad with fresh Moroccan bread) and a vegetarian platter (Falafel, tangierine couscous salad, hummus, tabouleh, lentil salad and marinated olives).

We ate about half before I realized I never got a picture. Trust me, it's darn good eatin'

Tangierine Couscous Salad from Tangierine Cafe
Serving: 4
Olive oil
1/2 of a red onion
1 teaspoon chopped garlic
1/2 of a sweet red bell pepper
1/2 of a sweet green bell pepper
1/2 of a chopped zucchini
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Nutmeg to taste
Cinnamon to taste
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 cup chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
1 cup orange juice
12 ounces cooked plain couscous
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1/2 cup tangerine segments or mandarin orange segments
Mint sprig for garnish

In a large nonstick skillet, sauté onion, garlic, sweet bell peppers and zucchini in olive oil. Season with salt, pepper, nutmeg and cinnamon. Add 1/2 cup olive oil to vegetables along with raisins, chickpeas and orange juice. Toss vegetable mixture with couscous and pan juices. Add parsley and gently fold in citrus segments. Mound mixture onto a serving platter and garnish with mint.

Lentil Salad from Tangierine Cafe
Serving: 4
12 ounces lentils
3 ounces mayonnaise
1 ounce chopped green bell pepper
1 ounce chopped red bell pepper
1 ounce chopped red onions
1 teaspoon lemon juice
Salt
Pepper

Boil lentils (do not over cook), wash, drain and let cool. Add all ingredients and mix well. Serve chilled.

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New since our last trip, the store in Germany that previously sold Hummels is now a Werther's store/bakery. Yep, those Werther's. For our snacking pleasure during IllumiNations, I stood in line to grab us some goodies.

The whole store smells wonderful because not only are they making the treats fresh behind the counter, but they are also making small batches of fresh caramel corn. Popcorn + sugar = YUM! I don't even like caramel corn and I had to buy some (and must admit the fresh stuff is pretty darn tasty):


Jason's caramel drizzled rice crispy treat

My choice? A dark chocolate covered caramel with sea salt.

Mom got a chocolate covered pretzel rod.

Beyond the Parks ~ Raglan Road, 'Ohana, Latin Quarter, Cafe Tu Tu Tango, and more!


Raglan Road Irish Pub is one of our favorites. The food is good, though we don't really go for the food... we go for the music, Irish dancing, and drinks! This trip, we did go for a meal and weren't disappointed at all.

They start you off with brown bread, which is hearty and delicious!

Guinness Brown Bread from Raglan Road 
½ cups Guinness
¾ pound Whole meal flour (whole wheat)
4 pounds All Purpose Flour
1 Tablespoon Salt
1 Tablespoon Baking soda
4 cups Oats, rolled
4 ounces Molasses
2 quarts Buttermilk

Preheat oven to 350. Place all dry ingredients in a large bowl and add in the buttermilk in three batches as you mix and fold by hand lightly; the mixture should be quite sticky. Portion in to greased or buttered muffin pans. Bake in the oven until golden brown and it makes a hollow sound when tapped on the bottom. Enjoy with Kerrygold butter.

We wanted to eat light, since we knew the bread pudding dessert was a must-do, so Jason and I split the appetizer sampler.


Appetiser D'Lirrah for Two includes the Dalkey Duo, Scallop Forest, Heaven on Earth, and Nom Nom Wings. In other words,  Dalkey-battered cocktail sausages with a Dalkey mustard dipping sauce, George Bank scallops in a golden batter served with a citrus lime dipping sauce and sweet chili jam, baby back ribs in a Guinness and honey glaze, and sweet ‘n spicy wings tossed in a honey, chili flake, soy and ginger sauce.

Except they were out of wings so we got extra ribs.

The ribs were, by far, my favorite item. The glaze caramelized so the ribs were like eating candy. I need to find the recipe...

Mom ordered the Citrus Salmon Salad, which is a grilled salmon fillet with mixed greens, carrots, orange segments and toasted almonds with a citrus herb vinaigrette.


She just about licked the plate so I'm guessing it was good.

Our favorite part of Raglan Road is the bread and butter pudding.

It does have golden raisins but they are fairly easy to pick out.

The atmosphere is loud and fun with live music and Irish dancing in the evenings.


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The next evening, we had dinner at 'Ohana, which we hadn't been to in a few years (back when they served the scalloped potatoes, skewered turkey, and pineapple for dessert!).


'Ohana is a scaled down Brazilian Steakhouse. It's not as fancy, or extensive, as Texas de Brazil but it's the same concept. There isn't the huge salad bar to feast on but they do bring family size items to the table to enjoy before bringing the grilled meats.

First, you get pineapple-coconut bread and a mixed greens salad with honey-lime dressing. Which I didn't get a picture of... the salad dressing is really tasty and the bread is slightly sweet.

Honey-Lime Dressing from 'Ohana
1/2 C honey
1 tsp dry mustard
1 tsp salt
1/2 C cider vinegar
1/4 C lime juice
1/4 C diced onion
1 C canola oil

Place all ingredients except oil in food processor and blend until smooth. Slowly add oil until it is well incorporated into the dressing. Makes 2 cups.

Next, they bring a platter of honey-coriander chicken wings and pork fried dumplings.


The wings are sticky sweet and the dumplings are crispy and delicious.

Honey-Coriander Wing Sauce from 'Ohana
1/8 cup chili powder
1/4 cup ground ginger
2 ea lime zest
1/4 cup coriander
1 cup soy sauce
1 3/4 cup honey

Place all ingredients in a sauce pan. Heat until hot. Remove from heat and let cool. Toss with chicken wings.

They also bring a bowl of stir-fried noodles and stir-fried vegetables.


Stir-Fried Noodles from 'Ohana
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 teaspoon each, puréed: garlic and ginger
1/4 cup each, julienned: red pepper and pineapple
2 cups cooked udon noodles
Salt and pepper to taste
1 teaspoon chopped roasted peanuts

Peanut sauce
2 cloves garlic, peeled
2-inch piece ginger, peeled
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup each: soy sauce, sugar and water
1/8 cup diced Spanish onion
1 tablespoon chopped peanuts

For sauce, put ingredients in pan. Bring to boil, stirring. Turn heat to simmer, stirring occasionally. Simmer 10 minutes. Remove from heat, pour in blender. Pulse until smooth.

For noodles, heat canola oil in wok. Add garlic, ginger, red pepper and pineapple. Stir-fry until red peppers are tender but still firm. Season with salt and pepper. Add noodles. Stir-fry until noodles are heated. Add 1/2 cup peanut sauce to glaze ingredients. Garnish with nuts.


After you're stuffed with all the cheap stuff they serve you first (hey, I know they planned it that way!), your waiter brings skewers of grilled meat - hot off the grill. Oak grilled chicken, Asian barbequed pork loin, marinated sirloin steak, and spicy grilled peel and eat shrimp. The steak was the favorite at our table - very tender and flavorful! The shrimp were huge and good but I'm not a big fan of peeling my own shrimp at the table...

Then comes the good stuff - bread pudding with banana foster sauce!


In addition to the huge scoop of ice cream on top, they also bring a big dish of it. Of which my favorite part were the Mickey head sprinkles. I may or may not have scraped them all off and kept them for myself...

'Ohana Bread Pudding with Banana Foster Sauce from 'Ohanas
5 eggs
3 cups whole milk
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 1/2 cup sugar
8 cups french bread

In bowl mix eggs, milk , salt, sugar and nutmeg. Set aside.
   
Cut bread in medium pieces, place on cookie sheet pan put in 350 degree oven.
  
Bake bread until lightly toasted, about 15 minutes. Remove bread and place in egg and milk mixture.

Place mixture in a greased 10-inch cake pan and bake at 325 degree for 1 hour.

Let stand 5 minutes, serve hot with ice cream.

Banana Foster Sauce
4 oz sugar
4 oz brown sugar
4 oz corn syrup
4 oz unsalted butter
1 cup heavy cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup spiced rum
1 cup banana slices

Combine sugar, brown sugar, corn syrup, butter and half of heavy cream in a large pan. Bring to a boil and slowly add remaining heavy cream keeping mixture at a steady boil.

Add spiced rum and flambe.

Candy will brown slightly; cook 3 minutes until candy forms into a firm ball in cold water. Remove from heat and add vanilla. Add sliced bananas. Serve warm.

After we rolled ourselves out of there, we walked down to the Poly beach to see Wishes from afar.

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The next night, Jason and I went to Universal CityWalk for the evening. First, we hit their new minature golf course (awesome!) then had dinner at Latin Quarter.
We hadn't been there before but the menu looked good and there was no wait for a table. The inside is really pretty with a night sky above you and Latin music videos playing. I did not get any good pictures, though - it was pretty dark.

I got the roasted pork loin that was served over boniato mash, black beans, and mango puree. Jason ordered their Cuban sandwich. Both dishes were tasty and relatively inexpensive, given the locale.

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This was supposed to have been our last evening in Orlando but the very next morning, we were notified that our flight was canceled and we couldn't be rebooked on another flight until 2 full days later. I scrambled and got everything covered for an additional two day stay.

Which also meant two more days of drinks and eats!

While moving hotels, we stopped into the town of Celebration so I could pick up some treats for the dogs. Yep, I'm that person.

Woof Gang Bakery had an entire table of yummy treats - all of which looked good enough for us to snack on!


I ended up having to carry-on the dog treats to avoid being smooshed but it was totally worth it. Well, to me and the dogs. Jason rolled his eyes. :)

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We ended up back at Downtown Disney that night and grabbed a light dinner at Wolfgang Puck Express. Jason and I split the spaghetti and meatballs.


It was flavorful and a decent size - hit the spot.

Mom ordered a bowl of butternut squash soup.


Wolfgang Puck Express not only has good food (Jason also enjoyed their vanilla creme brulee!) but they also have flavored iced tea. Any restaurant with flavored iced tea is a winner in my book.

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On our new last day, I suggested we try a local restaurant that had been on the list of spots to try while in Orlando for several years - Cafe Tu Tu Tango. This strictly tapas restaurant also displays tons of local art (all for sale) plus live dancing/music most nights. This was the view from our table - notice the walls covered in great artwork?

To split between the three of us, we ordered:

Alforno roasted pears on pecan crisps drizzled in balsamic vinegar with arugula and blue cheese. This was, hand's down, the most delicious dish of the night. It just melted in your mouth. I must attempt to recreate it soon!

Mediterranean marinated olives and feta, also included artichoke hearts, capers, mushrooms, and sun dried tomatos. Salty and delish!

One of Jason's choices, these salmon sliders and warm potato salad were very tasty!

This Langostino mac and cheese was rich, creamy, and slightly sweet thanks to the lumps of lobster meat throughout. In addition to the lobster, it also had sweet corn, carmelized onions, pancetta, fontina, gouda, parmesan, and mozzarella. How can that not be amazing?!

These potstickers were part of a menu of special offerings being offered that night: they are crab and asparagus filled. Delicious, but yet unusual - I think due to the crunch of the asparagus.

How can you not visit Florida without dining on some gator bites? These were tender and crispy and delicious!

Mom was hankering for something sweet at the end, so she ordered a single chocolate dipped strawberry - with a beautiful presentation!

All in all, I'm so glad we finally ate there! There were three artists on hand, painting/sketching in person, along with a flamenco dancer. Such a fun atmosphere and not only beautiful, and unique, dishes but also affordable and delicious!



Sadly, that's the end of our trip :( But it was a great one! Thanks for reading!

Source for most recipes: All Ears

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