Disney World Dining – I Love Appetizers!

Given the choice between appetizer and dessert, I’m choosing the appetizer every time.  That may be hard to imagine for those of you will a sweet tooth, but I’m all about the starter!  Be it soup, salad, cheese plate, or something more exotic, the way I kick off a Disney table service dinner makes all the difference to my meal enjoyment.

Disney World Dining – I Love Appetizers!

It doesn’t much matter where we go.  My eyes are drawn to the top of the menu and the appetizer section.  I tend to avoid heavy-sounding, fried items and favor more unusual choices.  I want to kick off a good meal while not completely ruining my appetite.  Sometimes Raymond and I order and appetizer or salad (or both) to share.  In cooler months, I’m a sucker for a soup or bisque.  The perfect appetizer takes the edge off my hunger while leaving me wanting more (and I’ll have room for my entrée!).

Here are some of my favorites…

The Wave (Disney’s Contemporary Resort) – Seasonal Soup.  When I last had the soup, it was a heavenly sausage, gnocchi, and spinach concoction with a cheese crust on top.  I reproduced it at home and have enjoyed it many times since.  My friend Gaylin recently told me about another Wave appetizer called “Bacon and Eggs” (“Maple-lacquered Pork Belly with Perfect Egg and Tillamook Smoked Cheddar Grits“) and now it’s on the top of my must-try list.  I hope it stays on the menu long enough for me to get there!

Shula’s Steak House (Walt Disney World Dolphin Resort) – Sure, everyone goes to Shula’s for the beef, but before I slice into that perfectly cooked filet, I’m opting for the “Barbequed Shrimp Stuffed with Basil” (“Stuffed with Basil, wrapped in Applewood Smoked Bacon tossed in a Tangy BBQ Sauce“).  Disney World Dining - I Love AppetizersIt’s the perfect combination of flavors and the sauce is fantastic.  Share it with a friend so you have room for that steak.  Check out the full menu here.

Jiko (Animal Kingdom Lodge) – Everything’s been delicious, but the soup is my favorite.  It’s currently “Curried Butternut Squash Bisque” with Duck Confit and Quince Marmalade and I know it’s 500-degress outside right now, but you should run try it before the menu changes.  It’s SO good!!!  And the presentation is fancy too.

So much to eat, so little time…

Kona Café (Polynesian Village Resort) – There are a couple of things we really like to kick off dinner at Kona.  The Sticky Wings and the Pot Stickers.  Both are tasty options, good for sharing, and not too filling.  If you love sushi, the menu offers a nice variety.  We generally enjoy sushi as a meal versus appetizer and I’m guessing that’s why we rarely order it at Kona.

Sanaa (Kidani Village) – The famous Indian-Style Bread Service!  It’s several different flavors of naan bread served with a variety of dipping sauces that range from savory to sweet to spicy.  Fresh, exotic, and delicious.  Disney World Dining - I Love Appetizers!I can totally see why lots of folks make a reservation just to enjoy the bread service as a snack or light meal all by itself.

Il Mulino (Walt Disney World Swan Resort) – My favorite restaurant for pre-runDisney event carbs!  Starters on the menu come in a huge variety from cheeses and meats to salads, clams and heavier fare.  The most delicious item to me is the Arancini, which is “Italian Rice Balls over Spicy Marinara Sauce”.  I never order it for myself because it’s a lot for an appetizer.  Those delicious servings of rice are fried and very filling.  However, if someone at my table is kind enough to share a bite or two with me, whoa momma!  Deeeelish!

Raglan Road (Disney Springs) – Considered by many to be overrated, Raglan Road has been the source of many a delicious family meal for us throughout the years.  Their menu has a ton of appetizer options.  I’ve tried several appetizers including the dicey-sounding Crock o’ Pate (cold chicken liver spread), which wasn’t bad, actually.  The best thing (to me) by far is the “Rack of Heaven” – “Slow roasted Guinness glazed full rack of baby back ribs.” (Plenty to share.)      THOSE babies are fantastic.  Even if I’m just in Raglan Road for a drink at the amazing bar, I’ll order those ribs.  They make me happy.

Boma (Animal Kingdom Lodge) – Don’t laugh, but there’s one simple salad on Boma’s extensive buffet that stays on my mind long after I’ve eaten there.  It’s the Watermelon Rind Salad.  Sounds potentially boring and awful, doesn’t it?  It’s bright, sweet and tangy, and absolutely perfect to start off a meal full of unusual flavors.  Fear not if you or anyone in your travel party is a picky eater, Boma has plenty of dishes to satisfy everyone.

Are YOU an appetizer or a dessert fan?  Both?  Neither?  What’s your favorite part of Disney dining?  What’s your favorite dish?



Disney at Home – Duplicating Recipes

The Wave EntrancePart of (I should really say much of) our Disney vacation happiness is about the food.  Favorite restaurants, favorite dishes, trying new places – oh, boy, do we love to eat at Walt Disney World!  What’s best about all this dining is when a particular dish really surprises us.

Disney at Home – Duplicating Recipes

Last December when Raymond and I were on our post-Christmas R&R, I booked dinner at The Wave (Contemporary Resort) for our last night.  I knew we’d be tired and want to be close to our room at Bay Lake Tower.  We’d never eaten in The Wave before, but had enjoyed snacks and cocktails in the lounge more than once.  We knew the food would be good and were looking forward to the relaxing atmosphere.The Wave Menu

As expected, we were exhausted, but had been having a fantastic trip.  We arrived for our last dinner practically sleeping on our feet.  If you’ve never been to The Wave before, it’s a lot like being in a cellar – no windows, cozy if a bit dark.  The service is absolutely top notch.  We ordered soup for an appetizer and, if I remember correctly, we both ordered fish for our entrees.  I’m positive we ordered a bottle of wine from the cocktail menu.The Wave Menu Cover

The soup was a most pleasant surprise and made the entire meal for us.  In fact, it was one of the most delicious soups we’d ever had.  The ultimate comfort food – creamy soup full of sausage, gnocchi, and spinach.  As we were exchanging Mmmmmm’s, I made the offhanded comment that I could probably recreate this amazing deliciousness at home.  We enjoyed the rest of our dinner, made the short walk back to Bay Lake Tower and crashed.  The next morning we headed for home.

Fast forward about at week and Raymond says, “Hey!  Weren’t you going to try to make that soup?”.  Yes!  I had planned on that and I made my grocery list right then and there.  I’ve cooked Disney dishes at home before, but always found a recipe online to use.  This time I didn’t even search for a recipe, I made it up as I went.  How hard could it be?The Wave Soup Recreation in Progress

Turns out not really hard at all.  I stared by browning spicy Italian sausage which I drained and set aside.  While the sausage was browning (I added red pepper flakes to make it spicier), I defrosted, squeezed dry, and food-processed a package of frozen spinach (the food processing part was a total waste of time).  After that I whipped up a simple roux of butter and flour.  Then I stirred in a healthy amount of both chicken broth and real live honest to goodness cream.The Wave Soup Recreation Begins

I added the spinach and sausage and one store-bought package of gnocchi to the pot and let it all cook together for about half an hour.  This gave the gnocchi time to become soft and all the flavors to blend together.  While all that was going on, I toasted up some garlic bread as an accompaniment.  The original version from The Wave had a crunchy toasted cheese topping which I’ll try to recreate in the future.The Wave Soup IngredientsThe Wave Soup Recreated

While the soups didn’t look exactly the same, the flavors were nearly identical.  I was very proud of my soup!  I will most definitely be making it again as soon as the weather starts to cool off a little in the fall.

Have you made a Disney dish at home?  What’s your favorite Disney recipe?

Disney Land and Sea – Trip Recap (Part 2)

DCL-Bus (2)When I left off in Part One, I’d finished the Glass Slipper Challenge and enjoyed Sunday afternoon at Disney Springs.  Raymond and I had decided weeks earlier that it would be best to have a quiet dinner near our Bay Lake Tower studio and make an early evening of it on Sunday.  We could sleep in, pack up, and be ready to board our Disney Cruise Line bus by 11:30 am.

Disney Land and Sea – Trip Recap (Part 2)


We chose The Wave in the Contemporary Resort for its proximity to our room and the fact that while we’d enjoyed wine and lunch in The Wave’s lounge, we’d never eaten in the dining room proper.  Our dinner was very nice and the service was notably excellent.  I felt so drowsy by the end of the meal, I ordered coffee and determined to stay awake long enough to watch at least a little of The Wonderful World of Disney: Disneyland 60 that was airing on ABC that evening.  I managed to stay awake for about 3 minutes.

Monday morning felt glorious!  No early alarm!  No running!  We’d gotten nine hours of sleep and felt like new people.  Plus, we still had the entire second half of our vacation ahead – four nights on the Disney Dream!  We packed in record time and decided to hit Kona Café for breakfast before shopping the resort loop boutiques.  Polynesian's-Bou-tikiWe ended up back at the Contemporary when I realized that I’d forgotten to pack any stateroom door decorations.  I couldn’t stand the thought of a plain white door, so Raymond helped me find some magnets, a magnetic clip and Minnie and Mickey postcards we could use to set our door apart from our neighbors’.  Total rookie mistake, but I think our door turned out alright in the end.Disney-Dream-Door-Decor

We knew we were going to miss our kids like crazy on this trip.  This would be our seventh Disney cruise, but the first one without Megan and Joseph.  We’d had such a spectacular time on the Disney Magic on the Norwegian Fjords cruise in 2015, it was hard to imagine what it would be like for Raymond and I to be all alone.  We decided to do things on this cruise much differently than we had on any cruise in the past with the hope that it would make sailing without them easier.  And it did…a little tiny bit…maybe.Disney-Dream-Sail-Away

First of all this cruise was short!  In 2010 we sailed on a Castaway Cay 5-night double dip and the next three cruises after that were all 7-nights.  We couldn’t believe how fast the trip went by even though we packed in a lot of activities while still making time to relax.  The ship was new (to us) and much larger than we were used to, so everything was different and a little bit foreign (but absolutely beautiful!).Disney-Dream-Royal-Seating

We’d booked dinner and brunch at Remy as well as a dinner at Palo.  This meant we planned to eat in our regular, rotational dining restaurants only twice and we wouldn’t be getting off the ship at all in Nassau.

Mostly our plan worked well.  Very uncharacteristically, we skipped all the evening shows on this cruise in favor of either special dining experiences, exploring the ship, or relaxing.  If you’ve never been on a Disney cruise before, I DO NOT recommend missing the shows!  They’re excellent, spectacular, amazing (and many other glowing adjectives as well)!Disney-Dream-Sail-Away-Selfie

After we attended the lifeboat drill and Sail Away Party, we ate the first night at Animator’s Palate with our assigned tablemates – a couple from Pennsylvania celebrating their 25th anniversary.  DCL-Server-OldairOur servers, Oldair (from Colombia) and Merrick (from Jamaica) were excellent and, except for the butternut squash soup I ordered (after Oldair told me not to), our food was good.  The special effects in Animator’s were completely different from what we were used to on the Magic and the Wonder, but still fun.  That meal ended up being the only time we saw our tablemates, Oldair, or Merrick (except on the last night when we stopped by to leave tips).

Here’s how the rest of our cruise went…

Tuesday was Nassau day.  We started with breakfast in Cabanas before hitting the fitness center where we intended to spend about an hour, but actually spent two.  We ran on treadmills (with awesome views!), worked out with weights, I had a foot/posture consultation (yes, I did buy the shoe inserts they were selling) and then it was time for spin class, so we stayed around to participate.  Disney-Dream-Fitness-Center-Spin-ClassSophie was her name, I think, the spin class instructor, and she was a pretty young lady from Australia – very deceptive!  Sophie was a devil in disguise!  I thought I was going to die.  The only thing that kept me going was thinking about the calories I was burning and the food I would be eating later.  After all that, we found a couple of deck chairs and drank recovery beverages called beer.  Feeling much better, we decided to get cleaned up and see about some food.Disney-Dream-Royal-PalaceDisney-Dream-Key-Lime-Pie

We had a nice lunch in a gorgeous restaurant called the Royal Palace (delicious key lime pie!!!) and then decided to solve a mystery with the Midship Detective Agency (an interactive ship-wide adventure that deserves its own post later).  This was lots of fun (to me…not sure Raymond would agree).  After successfully executing our super-sleuth assignment, we reported to the Senses Spa for our 4:30 appointment – the massage for two.  Very relaxing and tranquil, but we had to hustle once the appointment was over to get ready for our dinner at Remy.  Disney-Dream-RemyAgain, this experience deserves its own article, so I’ll just say we enjoyed our meal very much.  After six courses ordered from the menu, a cheese course, and at least three “surprises” from the chef, we were done for the day.  So full and sleepy, we headed to bed looking forward to spending the next day on Disney’s private island, Castaway Cay.

Castaway Cay!  Raymond and I had registered for the Castaway Cay 5K, so we got up, ate at Cabanas, and met in the assigned location (Evolution lounge).  The Cast Member issuing race bibs and instructions was overwhelmed with the number of participants (over 300) and declared it to be the biggest turnout for the race EVER.  Raymond and I had a great time!  I even made a friend along the way.  Her name’s Julie and she’s from Cape Canaveral…Hi Julie!Castaway-Cay-5K-Finish

After the run, we headed for Serenity Bay (first time for us at the gown-ups-only beach!) and found it to be indeed quite serene (and a bit surreal with the complete absence of children).  The weather at the beginning of the day was very windy with occasional sprinkles.  When we arrived at the beach, the wind had calmed and the sun was shining.  We found lounge chairs and ordered fancy drinks before settling in for some serious relaxing…at least I tried to relax.Castaway-Cay-RelaxingI’m not good at sitting still, so I made friends with Tammy and Stan (sitting near us) and spend most of the time wading around in the water until lunchtime.  Tammy, Stan, Raymond and I hit the beach-side buffet before heading back to the bay for more wading and “relaxing”.  Castaway-Cay-BeachThat didn’t last long…I was getting sunburned and was ready to go back to the ship.  Raymond and I  stopped at the Conched Out Bar for a few minutes and enjoyed a Guinness to break up the walk back.  We were supposed to go to the Royal Palace for dinner that night but opted instead for room service and called it a day.

Last Day – Sea Day!  To start the day, we grabbed a quick bite at Cabanas before letting Sophie torture us again in spin class.  We then enjoyed a champagne brunch at Remy for which I will write a complete review, but let me say now that this was an especially excellent experience.  Disney-Dream-Sea-Treasures-ShopAfter brunch we browsed the ship’s gift shops and watched a cooking demonstration for lobster ravioli.  Disney-Dream-Cooking-DemoThen we attended a reception for gold and platinum Castaway Club members (Disney Cruise Line’s repeat guest rewards program).  Disney-Dream-Castaway-Club-ReceptionSomewhere during all that we also visited the future cruise desk to book a placeholder cruise (to keep the onboard booking discount without selecting a specific sail date) and we also bought the only pictures taken of us by a Disney photographer – our post-Castaway Cay 5K photos.  We ate dinner at Palo that night and were very pleased to find the restaurant exactly the way we wanted it to be.  Disney-Dream-Palo-Place-settingWe’d enjoyed Palo on both the Disney Magic and Wonder and hoped Palo on the Dream would be just as good – it was perfect.DCL-Goodbye-Sign

Watch for more reviews on the restaurants, the running events, activities, and the Disney Dream itself coming up in the near future.  If you have any questions about a Disney land and sea adventure, I’d be happy to help.

Have you sailed on the Disney Dream?  How was your experience?