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Category: Quick Bites (page 1 of 2)

Quick Bites: Red Velvet Cupcake from Starring Rolls.


You can debate the dubious merits of red velvet cake all day long: I mean, is it even a flavor?  Probably not. At its best, it’s a moist, vaguely-chocolate cake colored a rich red and topped–and this is the where it starts getting good– with a thick slab of cream cheese frosting.  Even if your grandmother didn’t make red velvet cake for you, even if you only just discovered it while watching Steel Magnolias late one night on television, there’s a certain undeniably nostalgic quality to red velvet cake that makes it appealing, recalling shiny diners with display cases full of baked goods you’re really not supposed to eat now that you’re a proper grownup.

You’ll find the best red velvet anywhere on property in Hollywood Studios, right inside the Starring Rolls Bakery. Conveniently, it’s in cupcake form, so it travels well, or you could just go ahead and take a seat at one of the many outdoor tables you’ll find outside.  Big enough to share, it’s a bargain at $5 or one snack credit. In addition to a delicious cream cheese frosting that avoids that bland taste that so many commercial cream cheese frostings have, it’s got a thick cheesecake center. It’s also topped with nuts and little bits of chocolate.


Go ahead: Indulge your retro side.  Just make sure you do it by around 2:00 o’clock. These beauties, and everything else in Starring Rolls, tend to sell out by early afternoon.

Quick Bites: The Pork Shank at Gaston’s Tavern.

By now you’ve probably seen the pictures of Gaston’s Tavern in the Magic Kingdom, part of the new Fantasyland expansion, but have you seen the pork shank?  Gaston’s Tavern, decorated with comically masculine touches like antlers and pictures of the man himself, has only one real entree, the pork shank. And while it’s tempting to compare it to that other theme park staple, the smoked turkey leg, it’s so much more than that.

My mission to try the pork shank was a covert one:  My husband had the kids and I was “on my way” to Tom Sawyer Island to meet up with them when I noticed that the Fantasyland expansion was open.  Knowing that the expansion was only open sporadically at the time and that I might not get a chance later, I did what any curious blogger would do and detoured into Gaston’s and ordered a pork shank. 

I mean look at this. Can you blame me?

To give you an idea of how large it is, there’s more meat here than on a turkey leg, making it a great deal at $7.99 if you’re looking for a substantial snack. But then again, you’d expect a manly snack at Gaston’s right? The question is, does it taste good? In a word, yes. But you’d better like pork, because this is a lot of porky goodness and, considering it doesn’t come with any sides or even a sauce to dip it in, nothing else. 
The pork shank is heavily seasoned with a salt, pepper and garlic-based rub and then slow roasted in a way that keeps it moist and tender.  I caught hints of smoke flavoring as well, but it wasn’t as strong as it is with the turkey legs you’ll find elsewhere in the parks.  People who complain that the small bones and gristle keeps them from eating turkey legs will be happy to hear that this is mostly just meat (plus a little fat) and one large bone. Coming from North Carolina where we’ve perfected pulled pork, I thought this meat was somewhat similar in taste, although the texture was very different.
Of course, it’s not the healthiest treat, but look at it this way: It’s low carb, deliciously greasy, and quite filling. No question, it’s high in fat, but you could do a lot worse.  I only wish they offered some sides to go with it.
In the end, my mission to try the pork shank wasn’t all that covert after all since I dropped part of it on my shorts, leaving a predictably greasy stain. In my defense, it’s really messy and difficult to eat with a plastic fork.  I ended up confessing my mission to my husband, who told me it served me right sneaking off and getting one without him, and I spent the rest of the day with the pork stain of shame on my pants. Next time, I plan on sharing a pork shank with him. Probably.

Quick Bites: Sally’s Cozy Cone Motel in Cars Land.

It must be said:  Quick-service food at Disneyland is a step above all other theme park food. Sorry, Disney World. One fun addition to Disneyland’s quick-servie arsenel is Sally’s Cozy Cone Mote, where you can find ice cream, pop corn, churros, and easily carried breakfast and lunchtime snacks all served in a series of five big orange cones, just like in the movie Cars.

The first cone you come to is the churro cone. At first I was hesitant to try Disneyland’s churros because I was so disappointed in what Disney World was calling a churro, but I’m guessing that Disneyland, with it’s large Latino community, knows that they can’t get away with selling soggy, tasteless churros: These were excellent. Dipped in cinnamon and sugar, they were crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. The spicy chocolate dipping sauce on the side was a bit disappointment, but it’s a minor thing. I would order these again.

After that, you’ll come to a cone selling ice cream cones. Choose from vanilla and vanilla dippled in chocolate.  If you’re not happy with either of those choices, go to the next cone, where you can always get some popcorn.

Coca-cola and alcoholic beverages round out the menu.

You’ll also find more substantial fare for lunch, such as chilli cone queso and chicken verdi.

There’s lots of cute theming that makes you feel like you’re right in the middle of the movie.

As with all of Cars Land, there’s a lot of cute word play that references all things automotive and the movie that insprired the Land.

Disneyland is a park with a lot of fun and delicious food, so Sally’s Cozy Cone fits in just fine. Can’t wait to get back and try it all again!
Thanks to Bob and Donna Angelo for these photos. You can see more of our trip to Cars Land And Disneyland here.

Quick Bites: Art of Animation’s Buffalo-Style Turkey Sandwich.

Last week I was fortunate to try the Buffalo Turkey Sandwich with house-made chips at Art of Animation’s Landscape of Flavors, the resort’s quick-service location. Designed like a mall food court with various counters serving everything from the usual chicken tenders and burgers to vegetarian tandoori options, Landscape of Flavors is a step above what you’ll find at most resort quick-service locations with healthy, innovative options. It’s bound to be a favorite among guests and sure to bring visitors from the Pop Century over the bridge for a nice meal.

The Buffalo-style Turkey Sandwich comes with real slices of turkey, blue cheese, arugula, and a very spicy buffalo sauce-mayonnaise.  It’s served on two slices of nutty, multigrain bread.  I loved this bread and while kids probably won’t care for it, adults will appreciate the departure from the usual “white bread colored to look like whole grain” that seems to be the norm in most sandwich places.  Nice effort here to deliver something different, both with the bread and the sandwich itself.  This is a delicious sandwich with fresh ingredients, a real departure from a bland, quick-service burger and fries. The only downside is that it’s so big you may need to use a fork to eat it.

I’m not a fan of potato chips in the least, but I ate every one of these fresh, still-warm chips and would have happily eaten more.  I hope that Landscape of  Flavors continues to offer them, because they’re a delightful change from the usual bagged chips. Next time I might ask for something to dip them in so I can enjoy them even more.

Art of Animation itself is a resort where Disney’s Imagineers have outdone themselves. Bravo to them for creating an experience that delivers in terms of both value and enjoyment. If my first visit to Landscape of Flavors is any indication, that trend continues right down to the quick-service offerings at the resort.

Quick Bites: Churros from La Cantina de San Angel.

Want to save yourself some time (reading this article) and money?  The churros from La Cantina de San Angel in Epcot’s Mexico pavilion are bad. It’s that simple. You really don’t need to continue. Still there? Okay.  My goal on my last trip was to try snacks I’d skipped in the past. Some were hits, some were misses. This one?  Soggy, limp, lifeless circles of dough that had been fried and left to sit. I doubt they ever had any crispness or texture to speak of, but sitting around under a heat lamp certainly didn’t help matters. A definite miss.

Perhaps if they’d had an interesting taste the texture would have been forgivable, but sadly, there was little there to offer as well. The dipping sauce, a thin dulce de leche, was boring and insipid, almost without flavor and so runny that it barely stuck to the churro. Even though calories don’t count in Disney World (this is a verifiable fact), these still aren’t worth the energy it takes to chew them.

At around $4 per serving and with so many great options in the World Showcase, you’d do well to keep walking at least until Norway. Or, you could just throw your money into the World Showcase Lagoon. Your stomach will thank you.

Quick Bites: Strawberry Chicken Salad at The Plaza.

This won’t come as a surprise to anyone reading here: Salads, as a general rule, are not exciting. Still, sometimes you just want a light, healthy meal that doesn’t make you feel stuffed, one that gives you a nice mix of veggies and protein.  If you’re at a Disney quick-service location, your choices can be somewhat limited and often uninspiring, but if you happen to be in the Magic Kingdom, check out The Plaza restaurant.

At the Plaza, $14.99 gets you a big bowl of garden greens, grilled chicken breast, fresh strawberries, cucumbers, and Gorgonzola cheese, all tossed in a white zinfandel vinaigrette dressing. It’s a healthy alternative to burgers and fries that will leave you feeling so virtuous that when you order one of The Plaza’s delicious shakes, you won’t feel guilty at all.  After all, everyone knows ordering a salad cancels out your dessert.

As always, we don’t recommend using a dining credit at this location unless you’re on the deluxe dining plan and you have credits to burn.  Pay out of pocket and save your credits for a more expensive meal.  The Plaza is located at the end of Main Street, to your right as your looking at the castle.

Quick Bites: The American at the Grand Floridian Cafe

During a recent trip, I had the opportunity to experience the Grand Floridian Cafe for breakfast. A few friends have always talked about the Cafe as one of Walt Disney World’s better kept secrets and now I know why. On a Friday morning during the crowded Spring Break time period, our group was able to get a walk-up reservation. As we walked through the eatery, I noticed that it was no more than a third full.

It only took me a few minutes to decide on my choice. The American is two eggs served with bacon, sausage, biscuits, breakfast potatoes and a choice of juice for $13.49. It has all of my favorite breakfast foods! I added a pot of coffee and waited for my meal.

I had the eggs sunny side up. The yolk wasn’t runny and mixed well with the egg whites, which were solid without being fluffy. The bacon was standard, if bacon can ever be called standard, but it seemed a little dry. The breakfast sausage was really a surprise. I am used to a very spicy (and smaller) sausage with breakfast. This sausage had a bit of spice but went well with the eggs and the biscuits.

By far, the standout of the meal was the breakfast potatoes. I am used to greasy hash browns and the breakfast potatoes were nothing like that. They were thick, buttery and delicious! The potatoes are served in a wedge shape, like corn bread, which misled me into thinking it would be dry and crumbly. Next time, I am going to order extra breakfast potatoes. And no, I do not have a carb problem, thank you!

The Grand Floridian Cafe is a great choice for breakfast even if you aren’t staying at the hotel. It is a quick jaunt on the monorail to the Magic Kingdom, so if you want a solid breakfast without any characters, then you will enjoy the Grand Floridian Cafe.

And save me an order of the breakfast potatoes!

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Quick Bites: Kakigori Shaved Ice

Rainbow flavored Kakigori

For months now, I’ve been hearing people rave about the Kakigori flavored shaved ice that you can get at the Kabuki Cafe while visiting the Japan pavilion inside Epcot. “Isn’t it just a snow cone?” I’d ask people. “Oh, no, they assured me. This is so much better, you have to try it.” When we mentioned it on the Mouse Chat podcast, listeners wrote in to say how good it was. It even made the list of “100 Disney Foods to Eat Before You Die” over at Chip and Company.

Thus, I thought after fourteen years of living in Florida, and hundreds of trips to Epcot, it was finally time to try this icy treat, and this weekend, I did. The verdict: It’s a snow cone. Yes, the ice has a very nice consistency, and the flavored syrup (I chose cherry) was delicious, sweet, with just a hint of tartness at the end, and you certainly get a generous helping. But I can’t really say I was wowed by it, and I still don’t understand all the hype. Maybe I had the wrong flavor – looking at the people sitting around me enjoying their Kakigori, the favorite seems to be rainbow. Still, it did cool me off on what turned out to be a very warm day in the parks, and I’m glad to say that I’ve tried it.  I certainly don’t hate it, and I would eat it again. But I’m not going to be making a mad dash to get it, either.

Available in strawberry, cherry, tangerine, melon or rainbow (a combination of all) flavors, this refreshing treat sells for $3.50, and you can add a topping of sweet milk, sweet strawberry or sweet cherry for just a dollar more.

What about you? Are there any Disney foods that you think are overrated? Share with us in the comments. 

Quick Bites: The Angus Burger from Rosie’s All American Cafe.

A good burger seems pretty easy:  Freshly ground beef meets grill, right?  Throw it on a fresh bun and add some toppings and you’re good to go. It’s something that a lot of big chains get right for millions of people every day.  Unfortunately, the likelihood that you’ll find a good burger on Disney property is low.  Save for a few gems here and there, most Disney burgers, while larger than your standard fast food burger, don’t actually taste like much of anything at all and the texture, heavy and a little dried out, leaves a lot to be desired.  Toppings bars in quick-service locations like Pecos Bills and Cosmic Rays can make them a little less blah, but when the best thing you can say about a burger is that you liked the free cooked onions it had on it, you’re not talking about a very satisfying hamburger.

Because of this, I rarely order hamburgers on Disney property, but when my good friends Bob and Donna suggested I try the burger at  Rosie’s All American Cafe in Hollywood Studios, I decided to give it a try.  You might miss Rosie’s if you’re not looking for it: It’s a small outdoor stand on the left, about halfway up Sunset Boulevard on your way to the Tower of Terror. I’ve actually walked past it many times thinking they only served drinks or pretzels, but was pleasantly surprised to see that they have a full menu.

The actual name of Rosie’s burger is the 1/3 Lb Angus Onion Straw Cheddar Cheeseburger, but you’ll know it as the only burger on the menu. Undoubtedly, this is the same 1/3 pound burger they serve all over property, but it tastes fresher here, possibly because they’re serving a smaller crowd rather than the masses you see in Cosmic Ray’s.  The bun was uninspiring and a little dry, but I’ve come to expect that from Disney hot dog and hamburger buns.  The crispy onion straws seem like a minor thing, but they gave the sandwich a nice texture and tasted delicious.  All of the toppings tasted fresh and I noticed that the pickles were not the same ones they have at the toppings bars elsewhere but a more higher-end pickle, like Vlasic. Again, it’s a little thing, but it made the burger so much better.  The sharp bite of real cheddar rather than processed American cheese was also a nice change.

I’ve often lamented the lack of good quick-service items in Hollywood Studios and one burger won’t change that, but I like knowing I have a go-to item for lunch from now on.  Seating at Rosie’s is in a large outdoor area, so you won’t get any relief from the heat, but most tables have umbrellas.  You can use the dining plan here and as usual, I recommend skipping the included dessert, none of which are very good, and asking for a bottle of water instead.

Quick Bites: Portobello Mushroom Soup from Artist Point.

One of my most memorable meals took place at Artist Point, a Disney signature restaurant located in the Wilderness Lodge.  Artist Point is the type of restaurant that doesn’t get a lot of attention, possibly due to its out of the way location but also due, at least in part, to the inconsistency of the kitchen, which turns out gems and duds in equal measure. This works to your advantage, because the kitchen isn’t overwhelmed with heavy crowds and you can almost always get a reservation. Stick to the basics–simply cooked steaks and salmon–and you’ll have a great meal. Salads are a fine way to start your meal and the chefs here are inventive in their approach to greens, but as an alternative, you might want to try the delicious Smoky Portobello Soup.

It’s hard for soup to compete on a restaurant menu as most places offer a dozen or so alluring starters, each one more tempting than the next.  Don’t make this mistake at Artist Point. This soup is incredible, made from mushrooms, broth, and a bit of cream pureed to a smooth consistency. On its own, this combination makes a hearty, satisfying soup, but add the meaty smoked mushrooms and a drizzle of creme fraiche and chive oil, and it manages to transport this soup from humble to otherworldly. You’ll remember it long after you’ve paid the check.

I had this meal with a friend of mine who’s a vegetarian and we had to ask our server if the meaty bits of mushroom were actually bacon, they were that salty-smokey.  They weren’t of course, but vegetarians take note: The soup does contain chicken broth.  We didn’t find that out until after our trip when I went searching for the recipe.  She felt bad for consuming chicken broth, but even knowing this, she still said “That soup was really, really good.”  Yes it is.

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