Category Archives: Food
Get ready for World Cup! ESPN Club at Disney’s BoardWalk and ESPN Wide World of Sports Grill will be open for all of the games beginning June 11. ESPN Club at Disney’s BoardWalk will start serving at 10:30 a.m. for all early soccer game days June 11-29 and July 2 and 3. ESPN Wide World of Sports Grill will be offering a limited breakfast menu for the 7 a.m. game and lunch for the 10 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. games. Then, from June 26-July 10, ESPN Wide World of Sports Grill will offer a buffet with guaranteed seating to view the game. And on July 11, they’ll create a special viewing area. For reservations, call WDW-DINE beginning May 27.
Have you tried the Chackalaka? With the flavor of dark fruits, we’re told that this delicious South African wine is only served in two restaurant outside of South Africa: Sanaa and Jiko – The Cooking Place, both at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge. Sanaa has three other exclusives on its menu: The First Lady, a cabernet sauvignon from South Africa; Maude Pinot Gris from New Zealand, and Rudera Robusto, a chenin blanc from South Africa. Cheers!
Speaking of Jiko, there’s a new chef in the kitchen. Chef Dennis Thompson makes the move from California Grill to the kitchens at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge. Thompson has been with Disney for nine years, and describes his culinary style as “American with classical European influences.” He’ll stretch his creativity with Jiko’s cuisine and wine that celebrate the flavors of Africa. But we hope he keeps the Swahili curry shrimp with artichokes and coconut rice on the menu.
No more PB&J pizza at Chef Mickey’s – guest peanut allergies necessitated the demise. But they’ll still make you one if you ask! New on the buffet are kid-friendly, healthful Baked Potato Puffs, crispy on the outside with a drizzle of olive oil, but soft in the center. Other new tastes include turkey hash and a veggie quiche in puff pastry. Early feedback is thumbs up for both.
Following in the footsteps of illustrious Disney chefs, Brian Piasecki took the helm in the kitchen at California Grill in January 2009. We asked him what’s ahead for the 15th anniversary of the award-winning restaurant (and also what he keeps in his own fridge and his favorite Disney attraction).
As a chef, what do you love most about the California Grill?
The passion, creativity and ability to stay updated with fresh, seasonal and inspiring ingredients throughout the year. It is an amazing place filled with energy and an electricity of people and families coming together for a wonderful experience. I know their expectations are high when they walk in the door, so that really keeps me motivated and driven.
How have you tweaked the menu?
Over the last year the menu has gone through many transformations. I have been focused on using local products when possible; sustainability in the produce and seafood I select, and using alternative lean, red meats that are low in fat and high in protein such as ostrich and bison. I have also been very focused on a return to the basics in the kitchen direction, ensuring that all products are handled and prepared with the upmost care and attention to detail. We have been focused on expanding the sushi selections and introducing new and different product such as Hiramsa fish and fresh wasabi root.
What will never leave the menu?
There are several extremely popular menu items that have become staples such as the goat cheese ravioli with sun-dried tomato nectar and the grilled pork tenderloin with zinfandel glaze, button mushrooms and goat cheese polenta. And there are the menu categories that will never go away such as the flatbreads and sushi.
Any ideas for 2010 you can share?
I continue to work with our seafood suppliers to introduce a new sushi menu that will incorporate all 100 percent sustainable fish selections. I am also working on the possibility of starting very specific themed menus for popular foods when they come in season, like heirloom tomatoes. Wouldn’t it be great to come to dinner at the California Grill in the middle of tomato season and be presented with a five-course menu that has tomatoes as the main ingredient in each course? Then think about the possibilities: fresh Florida-grown Zellwood corn, wild mushrooms, heirloom squash . . . there are some very exciting possibilities! \
Describe your culinary inspirations.
For me, inspiration comes in many forms – it may be a twist on an old favorite, or using a product new to the market, or using something that is local, organic or sustainable. Sometimes fun twists on classic flavors or familiar foods combined with the freshest and “just in season” items drive my plate combinations and profiles. I strive to bring familiar foods to the table in a simple, yet natural way so that the flavors shine – if it’s salmon, it has to be an amazing piece of wild, fresh, rich salmon – the best we can source and make that the true star on the plate.
What was your most memorable meal anywhere in the world?
My most memorable meal was at a very small restaurant in South Africa, Rust en Vrede. I was able to go into the kitchen and cook for the first part of the dinner with Executive Chef David Higgs, who also had an amazing passion for fresh and local ingredients and a strong focus on detail and flavors. It is the restaurant at the Rust en Vrede winery, so we dined with the winemaker and experienced every aspect of the estate. Dinner was seven courses, all local items from the market, house-cured bacon – with great conversation about food, trends, diners and what’s next for the world of food.
Name 3 things that are always in your fridge at home.
Half and half, eggs and Tony Packos sweet hots pickles and peppers
What is your favorite dish to make at home?
I don’t cook at home as much as I would like since I am in the restaurant most nights, but I do love being in the kitchen with my kids [ages 11, 13 and 15]. They love to cook and they love to watch me cook, so any time we get to be together to make a big Sunday breakfast, a batch of brownies or a roast pork dinner is very special for me.
What food would you never give up?
What’s your favorite Disney attraction?
It’s a toss-up between Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster and Twilight Zone Tower of Terror. I am a huge coaster fan and adrenaline junkie.
This drink was created especially for the 15th anniversary of California Grill at Walt Disney World Resort. The award-winning restaurant at the top of Disney’s Contemporary Resort opened to rave reviews on May 15, 1995.
1 1/4 ounces Remy Martin VSOP Cognac
3/4 ounce Amaretto Disaronno
1/2 ounce cranberry juice
Orange slice, for garnishShake ingredients with ice and strain into a martini glass.
Squeeze the slice or orange into the drink.
For more info on the 15th anniversary of California Grill click here.
What is it? Ripe banana, three scoops or ice cream (vanilla, chocolate, strawberry), pineapple, strawberry and marshmallow topping, finished off with hot fudge, butterscotch, toasted almonds, whipped cream and a cherry.
Where to find it: Beaches and Cream Soda Shop, Disney’s Beach Club Resort at Walt Disney World
Why you want it: 3 Scoops of Delicious Ice Cream smothered with all the fixins..YUM!
Photo credit: dolcedanielle via flickr
If you have a Disney Food Confession email email@example.com. He is accepting Food ideas or Photos if you have them!
Disney World Table Service locations offer more than just burgers and fries. Here are my personal top five, which is definitely light on the burgers and fries:
5. Casey’s Corner in the Magic Kingdom. I’m not a huge hot dog fan anywhere else, but there’s something about a hotdog from Casey’s, especially on your way out of the Magic Kingdom or while you’re watching the fireworks. Check out our article for more Disney World Firework Viewing Locations.
4. Mara in Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge. It’s a bit out of the way, so if you’re not staying there you may never get a chance to try it, but if you’re doing some resort hopping, it’s definitely worth having lunch at Mara. Good sandwiches, flat breads, and friendly service. The turkey sandwich on ciabatta bread with kalamata olive spread is literally one of the best sandwiches I’ve had anywhere.
3. Sunshine Seasons, Epcot. Something for everyone, good quality, and fresh taste. Some of the best counter service options in any Disney park. It’s also one of the few counter service places in Epcot that serves breakfast. Many times it is not that busy too!
2. Sommerfest, located in the Germany Pavilion at Epcot. It’s a bit out of the way, located next to the queue area for Biergarten, so you might just miss it. There’s not a lot of variety, but you can satisfy your craving for German food with a bratwurst and a slice of Black Forest cake. They also serve beer, wine, pastries and pretzels. The seating area is small, but if you can get a table it’s very cool and shady. You’ll feel like you’re in a little town square in Germany.
1. Wolfgang Puck Express, Downtown Disney. Hands down, the best value for your counter service dining plan credits. It’s also just plain good food. Disney pizza tends to have a bad reputation, but WPE serves pizza that I would eat anywhere, not just because I’m at Disney World and the kids really want pizza. The service is friendly, it’s in an open and airy space, and it’s rarely crowded like the Earl of Sandwich, which is nearby. Love the aforementioned pizzas, sandwiches, pastas and salads. The entrees here are as good as you’ll find in a casual sit-down restaurant; some of them are even better. There’s no skimping on the quality ingredients. Don’t forget to try the crème brulee.
With Top Eats, Chip and I want to share our favorite food experiences with you. We’d love to hear about your favorite counter service restaurants as well in the comments section.
- Around The ‘Disney’ World – Epcot’s Morocco Pavilion (chipandco.com)
- Disney Food for Families: Counter Service Dining with the Adventurous Child (disneyfoodblog.com)