Disney Dining – Off the Beaten Snack

The tried and true, wildly popular, well-known Disney snacks are great!  Essential contributors to Disney vacation happiness, those Mickey Premium Ice Cream Bars, churros, Mickey-shaped pretzels, and Dole Whips are must-haves for masses of fans.  But there are so many more options!  What about those?  Let’s talk about the lesser known but just-as-delicious Disney World snacks. (My apologies, turkey leg fans, I just can’t include you’re precious poultry treat here today…or ever.)

Disney Dining – Off the Beaten Snack

I consider the iconic snacks – you know, the ones mentioned above that are made into souvenir magnets and such – to be “tier one” Disney snacks.  Those would be followed by the slightly less popular “tier two” selections.  Those include Magic Kingdom popcorn (I’ve never had it, but I hear it’s the best in the World), Mickey krispie treats, and funnel cakes.  Also in this category are cupcakes like Butterfinger, Red Velvet, and the ones decorated like Disney characters, the Studios’ Carrot Cake Cookie, and those amazingly fancy candy/caramel apples.  I suppose my beloved Citrus Swirl would also fall into the tier two category (being slightly less popular that that frozen pineapple concoction). Starring Rolls / Red Velvet Cupcake

Finally, there are the snacks that fall out of the mainstream and into “tier three”.  These include some of the tastiest and best snacks in Disney World that are not available in every park.  Thus, they’re less well-known.

Think about the offerings in World Showcase like School Bread in Norway (Kringla Bakeri og Kafe), Macarons in France (Les Halles Boulangerie Patisserie), caramel popcorn in Germany (Karamell-Küche), and the Churros with Caramel Sauce in Mexico (La Cantina de San Angel).  That caramel popcorn got me through Hurricane Matthew!  The School Bread, macarons, and churros are still on my to-try list.  Disney Dining - Off the Beaten SnackAlso in Epcot there’s the Croissant Donut from the Refreshment Port (YUM!) and let’s not forget that kiosk over in Italy where that Espresso Gelato “Affogato” is sold – so incredibly delicious!  I’ve mentioned the cinnamon glazed almonds and pecans before.  I’m not sure where else they can be purchased, but I always enjoy them during a visit to Animal Kingdom.  Finally, I’ve got to add the Cheeseburger Spring Rolls from the Adventureland egg roll wagon.  Yet another thing I haven’t tried, but I keep hearing how good they are.

The point of all this?  So many snacks, too little time!  I’m training like crazy for the Dark Side Challenge with just two weeks to go.  All that running makes me hungry and has me daydreaming about what snacks I’m going to have while I’m at Disney World.  Seriously, if running 19.3 miles in two days doesn’t justify a few extra snack calories, I don’t know what does.  This is a short trip and if I had more than four days to snack, I wouldn’t have to pick and choose.  Decisions, decisions…

Do you have a favorite Disney snack that I haven’t mentioned?  Please, tell me what it is and where to find it!

 

The Time We Almost Ate at Spice Road Table

Spice Road Table TableA few weeks ago, Raymond and I found ourselves in Epcot, in need of a snack, and with a bit of time on our hands.  Circumstances like these always make me want to try something new!

The Time We Almost Ate at Spice Road Table

We were enjoying a leisurely stroll through World Showcase.  We’d just left our friend Nick (yes, the Disney Musings and Disney Exchange Nick) as he headed off to meet friends in the Mexico Pavilion.  I realized I was hungry and we had quite a bit of time before our Il Mulino (in the Swan) reservation.  We needed something light – I immediately thought about the small plates at Spice Road Table and how we’d never eaten there.  We could sit and relax for a while enjoying this Morocco pavilion eatery’s prime location on the World Showcase Lagoon.  We’d heard mixed reviews (many negative), but we were willing to be open-minded.  We are pretty easy to please and were only after a snack.Spice Road Table Dining Area

We approached the podium inside the entrance and I asked how long the wait would be.  I couldn’t see much of the dining area, but there appeared to be open tables.  The host said there would be no wait and we where promptly shown to a table near the water.  We opened our menus and began discussing what we would order to share.  The weather was great and we loved our table’s location.Spice Road Table ViewNormally, at this point, we’d expect a server to stop by and ask about beverages.  If they’re busy, they’d stop by to let us know that they’ll be right back.  There were hardly any other diners around us.  We talked over our options and decided on the  Hummus and Imported Olives with Cornichons and Zaatar Pita Bread ($10) and the Brie Fondue – Baked Brie with Rosemary Croutons ($10), we’d also planned to order cocktails.  We were ready!  We were hungry!Spice Road Table Menu2 Spice Road Table Menu1Spice Road Table Menu

At one point during this time, we noticed a group of several women we believed to be servers congregated near the entrance to this patio dining area engaged in quiet discussion.  Certain they were deciding which tables needed attention and by whom each party would be assisted, we felt certain our order would be taken in short order.

Here’s where being married for almost 27 years comes into play.  We made small talk.  I took a few pictures.  Then Raymond gave me a look that spoke volumes…This look clearly asked, “How long are we going to wait for a server?”  I, of course, was already prepared with my answer, “We’ve been here 7 minutes, let’s give them 3 more.”  Seriously, on the nearly empty dining patio, guests shouldn’t have to wait more than 10 minutes to be greeted by a server.

We sat in companionable silence – Raymond with an amused look on his face as he watched me try to surreptitiously check my watch a time or two.  Finally, I burst out laughing and we got up and left.  We weren’t mad, just surprised and a little disappointed (we wanted something to EAT!).  No one spoke to us or even seemed to notice our departure.  We ended up in the Japan pavilion’s Katsura Grill where we shared sushi and drank sake and enjoyed being together at Walt Disney World. Katsura Grill - Sushi and Sake

As for Spice Road Table?  There are too many other places to eat for us to try that one again anytime soon.

Have you eaten at Spice Road Table?  How did your experience compare to ours?

 

Mitsukoshi in Epcot – Sake Tasting

Mitsukoshi-EntranceOur love for World Showcase is indescribable – The whole being so much greater than the sum of its parts.  One of the very best of those individual parts is and always has been the Japan pavilion’s Mitsukoshi Department Store.  More than a shop – it’s a destination on its own – worth making time for or planning in advance.  Spend some time in this fantastic building and tell me if you don’t agree – what cool merchandise!  Amazing sights, sounds, tastes!  Fabulous service – excellent Cast Members!  And sake tasting.  Did I mention the sake tasting?Japan-Epcot

Sake is an adult beverage.  Referred to as rice wine, sake is actually brewed more like beer, but has a unique flavor unlike anything else.  We like sake with sushi and other Asian dishes, but until recently knew only basic sake info and had no idea it came in so many different kinds.  We learned all about Sake in Mitsukoshi at the Sake Bar.Mitsukoshi-Sake-Bar-Cast-Member

Way in the back of the store is the coolest room devoted to Japanese food, snacks, candy, and beverages – including Sake.  I highly recommend a stop into this very impressive corner…in fact, here are five reasons you should give it a try…

Mitsukoshi in Epcot – Sake Tasting

Enjoy Delicious Sake – There are choices aplenty.  Raymond chose something dry.  I chose my sake strictly on the fact that it contained gold flakes.  It just seemed so exotic and decadent!  I couldn’t pass it up.

Learn Something New – We picked up quite a bit of information just listening to the couple next to us ask questions.  The patient and knowledgeable Japanese Cast Member knew her sake!  Basically, she explained this, but with gracious loveliness and flair.Mitsukoshi-Sake-Menu3

It’s Economical – Unlike most pubs or lounges, this walk-up counter does not accept gratuities.  The price you see is what you pay and for less than $10 per serving, the entire experience is worth the price.Mitsukoshi-Sake-Menu

It’s Fun and Relaxing – This is actually not the place to take a load off since you stand at the counter, but stopping for a few minutes to be adventurous felt very relaxing.  We meandered through Mitsukoshi making our way to the sake bar and back out to World Showcase again.  We spent about 30 minutes there and loved every minute.  What a welcome break from the crazy World Showcase crowds!Mitsukoshi-Sake-Selection

Shop!  Mitsukoshi has a staggering array of goods.  From the pick-a-pearl counter to the knives and swords, the clothing, jewelry, home goods, bonsai trees, tea sets, chop sticks…and so much more.  Want to know more?  Read all about it here.

Have you visited the Mitsukoshi Department Store in Epcot?  What’s your favorite section? Did you know about the sake bar?  Is it something you’d try?

Epcot’s World Showcase – Holiday Storytellers

Epcot’s World Showcase – Holiday Storytellers

by Nick

I love Santa Claus. Always have, I am, after all, named after the Saint himself.

I also enjoy hearing and reading about the various gift givers that different cultures have.
One of my very favorite things about the Holiday Around the World at Epcot is the storytellers that several of the countries have.

My wife, friends, and I caught as many of the offerings as possible on our recent trip, and I’ve shared a brief look in my trip reports, but I thought it appropriate to share a more in depth look at them on this Christmas Day.

Heading around to the right of World Showcase, we’ll start with Father Christmas, who can be found in the United Kingdom.

Each pavilion’s storyteller has a scroll describing customs and traditions from that country, and you can find appearance times in park guides.

Father Christmas shares a few of the traditions that started in the UK, such as the sending of Christmas Cards in 1843, and the hanging of mistletoe which dates back to the Druidic ceremonies of the Winter Solstice.

Many storytellers also pose for photos with guests.

 
Left to right: Barbie, Nick, Father Christmas, Jill, Nicole, and Josh

Moving on to France, we find Père Noël, who delivers gifts to children on Christmas Eve.

He tells of the importance of the Creche, or Nativity Scene. Traditionally, candles are lit around the Creche, or a special Yule Log is burned on the fire.
He continues telling us of le reveillon, a feast after Midnight Mass, and how children set our shoes around the Christmas tree in anticipation of a visit from le Père Noël.

Continuing on to Japan, we learn about O-Shogatsu, the Japanese New Year. lasting from January 1st through the 3rd. An important symbol of the New Year is the Daruma Doll. There are no pupils in the Darumas eyes. The tradition is to make a wish, and paint a pupil in the left eye. If the wish comes true, you paint in the right pupil.

We’ll come back to The American Adventure later. Our next stop for now will be Italy.
To me, the most heart wrenching tale of a gift bringer is that of the kind-hearted witch La Befana who arrives on the eve of the Epiphany, January 5th, to grant gifts to good children.

As her story goes, the Three Wise Men visited Befana at her home and asked if she knew where to find the baby Jesus. She did not, but offered them shelter for the night. The magi invited her to join them on the journey to find the baby Jesus, but she declined. Later, La Befana had a change of heart, and tried to search out the astrologers and Jesus. That night she was not able to find them, so to this day, La Befana is searching for the little baby. -sniff- This story gets me every time I hear it.

In Germany, we meet Helga, who teaches us how to say Merry Christmas in German. She explains how many Christmas traditions such as the advent calender and Christmas trees began in Germany. She also tells us of her first nutcracker.

Norway has, in my opinion, one of the most entertaining gift givers, Julenissen, the Christmas Gnome.

But before we meet him, we meet Sigrid, who cannot see Julenissen, only we, the audience can at first.

While we learn of the traditions of Christmas in farm communities in Norway, Julenissen gets up to mischief, and plays tricks on poor Sigrid, with the help of the audience, until, in the end, he reveals himself to her.

Back to The American Adventure, where Hanukkah and Kwanzaa are represented, both of which we never did get to see this trip.

Here, you won’t hear a story from Santa, but instead, get to sit on his knee, and tell him what you’d like for Christmas. He is joined by Mrs. Claus.

Did we get our photos with Santa and Mrs. Claus? Of course!
In fact, Barbie made the dress she is wearing for just this occasion!

Regardless of how you celebrate, we wish you a happy and safe holiday season!

Don’t miss a moment of Nick and Barbie’s Disney adventures!  Follow along at the Disney Musings Blog, on Twitter, on Facebook, on Instagram, and on Pinterest. You can listen to Nick, our friend Dave and me on The Disney Exchange Podcast where we talk about…well, you can probably guess.

Headed to Walt Disney World in 2016? The Disney Exchange Podcast will be having a meet-up in February during the Princess Half Marathon Weekend! Details will be available on The Disney Exchange’s Facebook Page and also on Twitter. We’d love to see you there!!!