Sunday, February 21, 2016

A New Disney Tea Time Experience, Beach Club Solarium


For those who enjoy a quiet break during a busy Disney Vacation, a new tea service dining experience is now available in a test program on select dates until September. The Crescent Solarium at Disney's Beach Club now offers tea time. (The Garden Room Tea at Disney's Grand Floridian Resort is still available and you can read about it HERE.)
To hear us discuss further details and for my review of the NEW Crescent Solarium Tea Time please tune in to Disney Dream Girls Podcast Episode 94 HERE!
Current scheduled dates for this tea time are limited. They include: Feb.11-14, Feb. 18-21, March 24-29, May 5-8, June 16-19, Sept. 1-5.  More dates may become available if this test run is successful. Call (407) WDW-DINE, for reservations.

For those familiar with the Grand Floridian Garden Room Tea, this is a different experience. The food and teas are all different. The Garden Room Tea can be a replacement for a meal. Whereas the Solarium tea is small bites, yet very elegant, with more high end ingredients and very detailed plating with multiple components to each bite. They are different but both lovely. 


The Menu
Sea Side Park Tea ($45.00) First Course: Selection of Artisan Cheeses and Seasonal Accompaniments, Second Course: Petit Sandwiches and Canapes on House-made breads, Third Course: Scones served with Clotted Cream, Lemon Curd, and Seasonal Jam, Finale: House-made Pastries and Tea Cookies. Accompanied by your choice of Tea. 

Prince Cove Tea ($40.00) First Course: House-made Charcuterie and Cheese plate, Second Course: Scones Served with Clotted Cream, Lemon Curd and Seasonal Jam, Finale House-made Pastries and Tea Cookies. Accompanied by your choice of Tea. 

Sandy Cove Tea ($30.00) Same as the Sea Side Park Tea minus the First Course Cheese Plate.

Valentine's Tea ($35.00) Similar to the Sandy Cove Tea with the addition of a two-piece box of truffles.
 

Teas
White Teas include: White Blossom, Organic Jasmine Pearl.
Green Teas include: Organic Health and Well-Being Green.
Herbal Teas include: Harmony (mint and allspice), Tangerine, and Organic Vanilla Rooibos.
Oolong Teas include: Omanthus Oolong.
Black Teas include: Flowery Earl Grey, Cassis (black currant), Imperial English Breakfast, and Thunderbolt Darjeeling. 
Specialty Teas may be added. For Valentine's Day, a Shanghai Rose Tea was available.


Afternoon Delights
Bubbles include: Blanc de Bleu Brut, California ($10.00), Banfi, Cuvee Aurora Rose, Piedmont ($15.00), Banfi Rosa Regale, Piedmont ($12.00, highly recommend).
Pints include: Lagunitas IPA ($7.75), Left Handed Milk Stout ($7.75).
Spirits include: Buffalo Trace Bourbon ($4.00), Rye Manhattan ($11.00).

We ordered the Sea Side Park Tea ($45.00) and the special Valentine's Tea ($35.00).

I was told that once this becomes a permanent dining experience that the current furniture will be upgraded. During my visit, some of the tables show considerable wear.







The china was a simple design, yet elegant. I was informed that a new, beautiful pattern is on order and should arrive soon. Also, no tea cozies were available yet.  Our server made a point to make us several pots of tea as requested at no additional charge to compensate for the small size of the pot as well as the quick cooling.


Sea Side Park Cheese selection: Blue with a jelly, Brie-type with candied nuts, third cheese I don't recall with honeycomb and thin-sliced apples. Plus, bread toasts.

Sea Side Park Tea: Chicken Curry, Cucumber Watercress, Salmon (if I recall), and Crab.
Valentine's Tea: Lobster and Truffle, Smoked Salmon, Poached Pear, Duck Two ways (confit and prosciutto).
Served with both teas: Raspberry Jam (seasonal), Clotted Cream, Lemon Curd.
Served with both teas: Scones and Pastries. They are served together and not separately as listed on the menu.
Served with both Teas: Scones, Current and Cranberry. Heart-shaped for the Valentine's Tea.
Served with both Teas: Lemon Poppyseed cookie, Raspberry Cookie, Chocolate cake with Ganache and Gold Leaf, Madelaine.
Valentine's Tea: Truffle box.
Valentine's Tea Truffles: Champagne and Strawberry Cheesecake.


The Crescent Solarium is to the left of the front entrance of the Beach Club Resort. Access to the room is currently only through the outdoor entrance, not through the lobby.



The waiting area has a small covered area outside with a few seats. They were behind by 20 minutes when we arrived. So, most had to stand outside the covered area. At this time, no exact plan was in place for rainy or cold days. Likewise, many baggage carts for the DVC building passed through the waiting area. I suggested that these carts be redirected through the lobby and interior hallways during the tea time hours. The team leaders were receptive to the suggestion.


Decor





A little hand-written note from our charming server.
I attended the Crescent Solarium Tea on the first week that it opened. As expected in the pilot stage of operation, a few tweaks are needed. Several team leaders were there and very receptive to feedback about improving the experience. Below are a few suggestions that I made to them in addition to those comments listed above. I plan to return with Michelle from the Disney Dream Girls Podcast in September. I am very curious to see the evolution and improvements between the first week and final week of this test-run!  
Menu details were not listed nor described prior to service. This may have been an oversight, but if you are not open to trying all items presented, request menu details prior to ordering for modifications. 
Currently, a temporary kitchen is set up for service. I spoke to a team leader who said that if this becomes a permanent dining experience that a kitchen will be set up. We did receive some stale bread, browning apples, and soggy bread for a few items. I'm sure that having a better kitchen set up will improve the quality considerably. 
Also, due to the location of the temporary kitchen and use of a screened off temporary wall, there is no access to the Beach Club lobby bathroom from the Solarium. For a bathroom, Guests must exit the room AND the building and walk outside on an uncovered path to the Disney Vacation Club rooms section of the resort and use the bathroom in that lobby. This is slightly inconvenient but would be more so when raining. Hopefully, access to the main building lobby will be available to avoid this in the future. 
A final note of this tea was that including the 20+ minute delay from our reservation time, we were there over 3 hours. We had a very knowledgeable and kind server, but we were on our third pot of tea by the time we received scones. Several other Guests also complained about the slow (even for tea time) service.  I believe this will also be worked out in time. Some other tables seemed to move a a slightly faster pace.

*Crescent Solarium Tea is handicapped accessible.
*Follow Jeanie on Twitter @PrincessPapers, Facebook @ThePrincesspapers and on the Disney Dream Girls Podcast @DisDreamGirls on Twitter.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Pecos Bill's, The Best Food This Side Of The Rio Grande!

I know there has been a lot of controversy about the menu changes that happened at Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn & Cafe (and from what I hear, there are a few more comin' reallll soon!) Yes, the old toppings bar and neon plastic cheese sauce (R.I.P.) will be missed, BUT THE NEW FOOD IS AWESOME!


The menu is pretty simple now. Tortillas, beans, rice, meat in various configurations. But, the toppings bar is wonderful. There's a fantastic array of sauces, salsas, fresh veggies, and more.  And on a hot Florida day, those fresh fixin's really hit the spot to cool ya down, partner! Ok, sorry, the food!

Fajita Platter with Chicken ($13.49) served with Cilantro Rice, Beans, and Tortillas. 
 
The tortillas come wrapped in foil so that they stay warm and soft while you get your toppings. This was a huge portion and more than enough for two people once toppings are added. It's a very hearty and healthy meal with lots of protein, fiber, and veggies! The meat was tender and I wouldn't hesitate to order this again.

Burrito with Chicken ($11.99) includes Cilantro Rice and Beans. 

The difference between this and the fajita platter is that everything is inside one large tortilla. We preferred the easy of the smaller tortillas and the freedom to assemble ourselves. The fajita platter also seemed to have more meat. That may account for the higher price tag?


 


Toppings include a wide variety of very fresh tasting salsas, guacamole, sour cream, fresh cheese, and peppers. I was surprised that there was no shredded lettuce but the rest of the toppings make up for it. The corn salsa is YUM!


One other cool item at Pecos Bill's is the Country Bear Collectible Jug. Available with or without a beverage. Of course I had to take one home! 

I highly recommend a trip to Pecos Bill's for the new menu. And if you eat all your vegetables, keep in mind they have churros with chocolate sauce for dessert!

*Pecos Bill's is handicapped accessible. Cast members are also available to assist with the toppings bar if needed. 
*Follow Jeanie on Twitter @PrincessPapers, on Facebook @ThePrincessPapers, and Guest appearances on The Disney Dream Girls Podcast on Twitter @DisDreamGirls.

Friday, February 5, 2016

2016 Swan and Dolphin Food & Wine Classic Details Announced, BOOK NOW!

For My Review of the 2015 Swan and Dolphin Food & Wine click HERE.
To Book your trip, contact Katherine at Imaginations Vacations by Katherine and let her know the Princess sent you!
 
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – Feb. 5, 2016 – The Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Food & Wine Classic will return for its seventh year Friday, October 28, and Saturday, October 29, with exciting new dishes debuting alongside returning festival favorites. Fans can now visit www.SwanDolphinFoodandWineClassic.com to view the 2016 food menu as well as book overnight packages and purchase tickets.

Highlights of the 2016 menu include: an American wagyu beef slider with avocado-bacon aioli and Applewood smoked bacon on a toasted brioche from the Fountain; a salt-roasted prime New York strip loin served with mashed potatoes and sauce bordelaise from Shula’s Steak House and seared striped bass with fall artichokes, Nicoise olives in a Spanish caper emulsion from Garden Grove. Returning dishes include the popular shrimp cocktail steamroller from Todd English’s bluezoo and dragon sushi roll from Kimonos. Original dessert offerings will once again be served by world champion pastry chef Laurent Branlard. For a full list of current menu offerings, please visit http://www.swandolphinfoodandwineclassic.com/eat/menu/all.html.

The Swan and Dolphin Food & Wine Classic offers guests unlimited tastings at more than 40 stations featuring culinary selections from the hotel’s award-winning restaurants and wine from more than 30 wineries amidst a festive backdrop of live entertainment on the hotel’s scenic causeway. Upgraded ticket options allow guests to enjoy access to a beer garden featuring a wide selection of craft beers and Oktoberfest-inspired cuisine. The event also includes hands-on seminars with the hotel’s chefs and certified beverage experts.

Overnight and multiple-night package options are available for the seventh-annual Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Food & Wine Classic and can be booked by phone at 1-888-828-8850:

·         One-night packages start at $392, and include room accommodations and two tickets to the outdoor festival (seminar tickets and beer garden tickets may be added for an additional fee)
·         Two-night packages start at $750, and include room accommodations and two tickets to the outdoor festival for both nights (seminar tickets and beer garden tickets may be added for an additional fee)

Individual ticket options are also available for the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Food & Wine Classic and can be purchased at www.SwanDolphinFoodandWineClassic.com (pricing is inclusive of tax and service fees):

·         Advance-purchase, event-only tickets to enjoy unlimited tastings on the causeway are $105 per person
·         Upgraded tickets, including unlimited tastings on the causeway and access to the beer garden, are $130 per person

With 17 restaurants and lounges, and a distinguished culinary and beverage team, the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Hotel continually earns national recognition for its food and beverage program. The hotel features more than 70 certified wine sommeliers and 1,400 wine selections.

For the latest information about the event, guests can visit www.SwanDolphinFoodandWineClassic.com, like www.facebook.com/swananddolphin or call 1-800-227-1500.

About the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Hotel
In the heart of the Walt Disney World Resort, the award-winning Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Hotel resides amongst the greatest theme parks and attractions in Central Florida. The hotel is located between Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and nearby Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park and Magic Kingdom Park. Guests can discover 17 world-class restaurants and lounges, sophisticated guest rooms with Westin Heavenly Beds and the luxurious Mandara Spa. The hotel features five pools, two health clubs, tennis, nearby golf, complimentary transportation throughout the Walt Disney World Resort, the extended park hours benefit, where each day, one of the four Walt Disney World Theme Parks is open extra time for guests to enjoy select attractions (Valid Theme Park admission and Resort ID required) and Disney FastPass+ service, where guests can reserve up to 3 select theme park experiences up to 60 days in advance of their visit.

*The Food & Wine Classic is handicapped accessible, however carrying items may be difficult without assistance. Also, be mindful of electrical wires that may extend into walkways that have been added to power the booths. They are covered but can create a large bump to get over with a wheelchair or ECV. 
*Follow Jeanie on Twitter @PrincessPapers and Facebook @ThePrincessPapers. Also find her on The Disney Dream Girls Podcast @DisDreamGirls on Twitter.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Adventure is Out There! Magic Kingdom's NEW Skipper Canteen, Dining Review

 
Are you ready for an ADVENTURE??! The new Skipper Canteen in Adventureland at the Magic Kingdom is now sailing to parts unknown, but delicious!
Much like the inspired theming of the new Jock's Hangar Bar in Disney Springs, the Skipper Canteen provides an endless supply of those special details that only a Disney restaurant can do. Not only was the food a welcome change from the more standard theme park fare, but the Cast Members are a delight. I left with a full belly, a smile on my face, and a very happy heart. Although the menu may be "adventurous" to some, please go if only for an appetizer or dessert!

Before I discuss the unique food, I must thank the wonderful Cast Members*. I heard that the Skipper Canteen Cast all sing the beloved theme song of the old Pleasure Island Adventurers Club (R.I.P) upon opening. So, when I arrived, I "demanded" a sing-a-long. I think some of them were too young to remember the club, but they happily obliged with the exception of one who feared a backlash from the house monkeys...acceptable excuse, THIS TIME! Not only did we all sing it as I entered, TWICE. But, a lovely Cast Member who put in NINE years of service at the Adventurers Club (R.I.P) introduced herself and we had a few moments to reminisce. As I left, another Cast Member gave me a personal tour (see photos of the decor below) and yet another joined in, once again, on an enthusiastic chorus of the song. The food was delicious but the Cast Members make the Skipper Canteen into a dining EVENT!



The Food
The food at the Skipper Canteen may not appeal to the burgers & fries crowd, but for those who enjoy dining around the world at Epcot, this is your opportunity for a similar "exotic" experience in the Magic Kingdom. I found all of the food to be delicious and a welcome break from my usual rotisserie chicken.



Ambasha "Celebration" Bread, African inspired with honey dipping sauce (complimentary).

Both the bread and the dip have a unique earthly spice (not hot) blend. It's very flavorful and I enjoyed it very much. It is a great predictor of the flavors of the food that you are about to enjoy.

S.E.A. Shu Mai ($10.00). Legendary blend of pork, shrimp, mung beans, and spices wrapped in gyoza skin then, steamed. Served with a soy sauce based sauce.
 
 
These were large, stuffed full, and had a delightful sesame flavor with just enough spice to give a light lip-tingle sensation that I love. (They would go very well with a beverage like a Kungaloosh...*cough*.) I think that I even enjoyed these better than the shu mai that I recently tried at Morimoto Asia in Disney Springs. On a warm day, this appetizer would serve as a nice lunch at a wonderful value. I believe it is usually served with chopsticks but I did not receive them. Make sure to request them if you would like them. They are available (as you will see later).


Curried Vegetable Crew Stew ($17.00). Served with roasted acorn squash, lentils, and sauteed collard greens.
This was a hearty, flavorful dish with the same earthy flavors of the bread. I love lentils and roasted squash. The lentils could have used a few more minutes of cooking time for my personal taste, but the squash was AMAZING! The roasted acorn squash was so sweet and delicious that I wished it were a bigger piece. That and the cauliflower were my favorites in this dish. The collards had a touch too much vinegar for me. A scoop of rice on the plate (it's provided on many of the other entrees) would have worked nicely to balance out this dish. It was very satisfying and filling. The meat was not missed at all. I highly recommend it even for the carnivores.

Volcano! ($4.50, kids' menu). Gooey chocolate cake with caramel lava and exploding chocolate rocks will make you shout "UH OA!"
 

Holy fudgy goodness! This cake is luscious... and that red lava is yummy caramel sauce. Plus, red sugar art erupting lava??!!! On the KIDS' dessert! I was totally impressed!

Monkey Bites ($4.50, kids' menu). With candied chocolate-sunflower seeds and chocolate-dipped banana bites. Hey, chopsticks!
In addition to the chocolate covered banana pieces and pretty-colored candy-coated chocolate sunflower seeds, this dessert also has pieces of light green "mossy" cake, little crisp
meringue kisses, and a big dollop of fresh whipped cream hidden under it all. There are so many components to this dessert and each one is lovely. Again, thoroughly impressed by the creativity, whimsy, and flavor!

The Decor
I encourage you to look around and "explore."  Also, be aware that there's an elephant in every room...but we don't talk about it! Shhhhh!

























At least the key is locked away for safe keeping!...Umm?



*Thank you to Cast Members Heather and fellow Skippers for the songs, Marianne for the chat and her Adventurers Club (R.I.P.) service, Sarah for the wonderful tour...the "long route," and my server, Zita, who was most gracious and a delight. You all are what makes Disney so magical!

You can follow Jeanie on Twitter @PrincessPapers, Facebook @ThePrincessPapers, and on The Disney Dream Girls Podcast, Twitter @DisDreamGirls.

The Skipper Canteen is handicapped accessible.