A Food and Wine DR 2016 - 3x Update and Complete 1/8/17

Discussion in 'Disney Dining Reviews' started by pepperandchips, Oct 4, 2016.

  1. pepperandchips

    pepperandchips [melinda]

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    Hey gang! Me again (Melinda). :wave2: Welcome to my 2016 Food and Wine Festival dining report!

    I am back from my last trip on this year's annual pass and mourning my return to reality. We were down at WDW from September 21-26. As luck would have it my annual food and wine pilgrimage was planned and paid for, and my reality was met with a big change: my department at work would be departing the larger company to start our own firm effective October 3. So this trip was a welcome respite from work stress and planned just in the nick of time before the real chaos set in. This week we're all set up in our new office space but unfortunately our system network isn't up and running yet so I am twiddling my thumbs a good deal this week and I'm going to try to knock out what I can of my trip report while I have the down time!

    In case you are new to my dining reports, the cast of characters is a gaggle of repeat visitors, all bidding farewell to WDW for 2016 before our APs expired:

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    Me (in the dress in the picture above), an Atlanta native and diehard disneyphile, my partner R who has been shown the ways of the World via my enthusiasm, and my mom and sister who have become full-fledged Disney nuts as well.

    In good news for us, R recently got a great new job, but unfortunately the transition to his new position meant he could only join the trip for Friday night through Sunday night, while the rest of us would be arriving Wednesday night and departing Monday night. We've come to love the accommodations at the Wyndham Vacation Ownership (timeshare resort) at Bonnet Creek - we are able to book a 2 bedroom condo with full living room and kitchen for $129 per night, inclusive of tax and fees. There's no parking charge and some pretty great amenities, and I love the location just next to Disney's Caribbean Beach resort.

    The main reason for our visit was to experience Epcot International Food and Wine Festival 2016, so a good deal of our eating and drinking was done there. However, in addition to the F&W Booths we also dined at the Sanaa lounge, Les Halles Boulangerie, the Rusty Spoon in downtown Orlando, Starring Rolls at DHS, Morimoto Asia's Forbidden Lounge, Wolfgang Puck Express, and Pecos Bill's Tall Tale Inn.

    Without further ado, let's get started!
     
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  2. pepperandchips

    pepperandchips [melinda]

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    I am going to try to drop the majority of my food and wine booth reviews into the first couple of posts because 1.) I am not going to remember which booths I visited on which day and 2.) many things that I ate more than once I photographed only the first time. Also, I hope my report will be useful for some of you planning trips later in the festival! As a bit of added information, I purchased the 16-item sampler lanyard when I first arrived at the festival. Prior to coming to Florida, I worked out that the math made each sampler tab "worth" about $7.25 since the pin is really of no value to me. I used the sampler tabs only for beverages, since those were the highest price items. So here we go:

    Photos and Mini Reviews from Epcot F&W Booths:

    Craft beers:
    We spent the most time here of all of the booths because it was HOT hot hot while we were at food and wine. Located within the Odyssey pavilion, the craft beers booth and environs provides air conditioning, a few seats, many standing tables, and easy access to the booths outside like Mexico, Australia, and New Zealand. On Saturday of our trip the line for the food and beverages was out the door of the building on both sides. Literally my mom and sister must have waited in the line for at least 30 minutes, if not more. On Sunday and during the weekdays it looked more like this:

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    We spent a lot of time in what was the premium package areas from prior years (up the ramp there is banquette seating) so we'd send a runner from our family to gather food and bring it back to the table. Water fountains are available inside the pavilion as another bonus.

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    Pimento Cheese with Pretzel "Crisps" - $3.50. This was good but nothing fancy, and was a good portion compared to some of the other food sample sizes. The pimento cheese spread was good and little spicy, the pretzel crisps were like croutons made from day old pretzel rolls (I suspect these may be recycled from the Canada booth unsold leftovers, in fact). I wish this was served with carrots or something as well. We had this multiple times as it was a large portion size and an excellent pair for the beer here.

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    Here it is as served, with a lid on. Makes for easier carrying. The beer you see partially pictured is the Florida Beer Company Passport (Belgian Tripel), my favorite of the offerings here.

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    Poor quality shot of the very excellent Piggy Wings - $4.25 and extremely good. Fall off the bone tender ribs with a yummy Asian-style sauce. We had this multiple times as well.

    I didn't get a picture of the beer flights, but we sampled both. I liked everything in the Pilsner/IPA/milk stout sampler, especially the milk stout. Of the other offerings, the Weiss was good but I despised the Blueberry Vanilla ale. It tasted like chemicals to me, but my mom and sister liked it. As I mentioned, the Tripel (Passport) was my favorite of the offerings. Be advised that one person is only permitted to carry two of the six oz pours or two flights, so all hands on deck in this line is advised.

    France:

    My favorite use of the Sampler entitlements - the Passion Slush. Normally $10.75, used several of my sampler coupon tabs for this.

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    I did not have anything else from this booth as it was just too dang hot for French comfort food while we were there.

    New Zealand:

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    Lamb meatball with spicy tomato chutney $5.25. This was okay. I did not need another one but I liked this one just fine. The bread did not hold up well to the meatball's sauce, though the lamb itself was very tasty.

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    Steamed mussels with breadcrumbs and butter $4.00. These were not good at all. This was the only thing that did not get finished because we didn't like it (the only other things we tossed before finishing were due to portion size, not flavor). These have been good in previous years (I think it must be if you luck out and get a fresh batch). Sadly that was not the case this year as I think they had been sitting a while and were rubbery.

    The Chew Collective:


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    Peanut butter and white chocolate mousse with caramel drizzle $3.25. Tiny portion but extremely delicious. This was one of my top picks from the food and wine TIW preview event (which was held indoors) but this doesn't fare well in Florida heat. It became peanut butter soup so I only had this once but it would be great in November!

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    Ricotta and zucchini ravioli with rustic tomato sauce $4.75. This was way better than I expected - very fresh and light tasting despite the heat. This was also a bigger portion than it looks but not a great value by any stretch.

    I also had the beef skewer but didn't photograph it. It was absolutely delicious and one of my favorite things at the festival and one of the better values in my opinion since you get the beef and a little salad for $5.00.

    Greenhouse Guru:


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    Chilled Tomato Gazpacho with Lump Crab Meat – $4.50. This was much better than I expected and had a very round flavor with lots of crab throughout. It was very refreshing in the heat.

    We also had the duck with polenta here and it was a real standout. I somehow didn't get a photo of it either but we really enjoyed the rich duck alongside a hearty polenta with good seasoning on both.

    Patagonia:

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    Beef empanada $4.75. I had this because I loved it in the past but it was just okay this time. It was more bland than I remembered from prior years but this is a pretty good portion for the price.

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    China:

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    Beijing roasted duck in a steamed bun with Hoisin sauce $6.50. This was good but not exceptional. The flavor was a little one note and needed something to balance the sweet Hoisin sauce. The area near the China booth is in full sun and there is really no place to get away from the heat. We took ours inside the China quick service as it was an "off-time" for a meal and there were plenty of open tables in there.


    More to come in separate posts!
     
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  3. nco91590

    nco91590 DIS Veteran

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    Joining in! I really enjoy all your reviews!
     
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  5. pepperandchips

    pepperandchips [melinda]

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    More Epcot F&W Booth Mini Reviews and Pics:

    Sorry these are in a random order. We kind of hit everything in a random order though!

    Morocco:
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    Spicy Hummus Fries served with Cucumber and Tomato and "Tzatziki". I put that in quotes because this sauce wasn't anything like tzatziki. Anyway, these were definitely in my top two dishes of the festival! I love that these were a new offering this year, and they've inspired me to want to try Spice Road Table now that I've sampled this offering. They were hearty and perfectly spiced. We had these at least 3 different times and while the fries were better if you lucked into a freshly fried batch, they were still good even if they had been sitting in the warmer. Big plus was the nice portion size on this. A good option if you need to soak up some booze! :thumbsup2

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    Kefta Pocket: Seasoned Ground Beef in a Pita Pocket – $5.00. This was dry and bland. We ordered it for my sister who has some dietary restrictions and is trying to stay away from anything too spicy but none of us really enjoyed this. Perhaps we got a bad batch. Sorry for the picture with the bite already taken! Somebody was hungry...

    Brazil:

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    Pão de Queijo: Brazilian cheese bread – $3.75. These were fresh and warm and ooey gooey with yummy cheese inside. I enjoyed these just as much this year as I have in years past.

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    Crispy pork belly with black beans and tomato – $5.50. This was my other favorite dish of the festival, returning this year even better than I remembered it before. The beans are rich and flavorful, the perfect complement to the well-seasoned and crispy pork belly. These are both great on their own, but topped with the tomato pico de gallo, they are an absolute hit. I think this is a fairly good portion for the price and had it several times.

    Belgium:

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    Belgian Waffle with Warm Chocolate Ganache and Whipped Cream – $3.75. This was more "homemade eggo topped with Hershey's syrup" than it was "warm chocolate ganache", but it was light and warm and hit the spot when we were looking for something sweet. We had no problem finishing this and I can see it being a hit in the cooler weekends. This was a one and done for me.

    Islands of the Caribbean:

    I really liked this booth, but I am always a bit partial to whichever booth nabs this spot, as it's perfectly situated between World Showcase and FutureWorld and tends to have a few more tables than most. This year was no different, and we liked the music and ambiance at this booth.

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    Jamaican Beef Patty – $4.75 - these were a fairly small portion but they were tasty. I liked the light curry flavor and find these a preferable alternative to the empanada offered nearby.

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    Frozen Mojito – $9.50. Meh. Mine wasn't frozen but I was warned ahead of time and tried it anyway. Would not get again.

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    Quesito: Puff Pastry with Sweetened Cream Cheese and Guava Sauce – $3.75. What's that? Can you hear the angels singing? Yes? This is the best $3.75 you can spend at Food and Wine. We had several of these. It was the front runner for me after experiencing the Tables in Wonderland preview event and the booth's version was nearly identical. I hope this returns next year!

    We also tried the mojo pork at the TIW food and wine preview event back in June and I absolutely loved it. I never had a chance to sample it from the booth, but if the preview event is any indication I would recommend this dish.

    Hawaii:

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    Mai Tai featuring Sammy’s Beach Bar Rum – $8.50. We used a few of our sampler coupons on these and really enjoyed the flavor. This drink was actually boozy in both flavor and aftereffect. My sister in particular enjoyed this one and I think it's a fair use of the sampler tab.

    Poland:

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    Possibly my favorite drink/dessert of the festival, Frozen Szarlotka Apple Pie featuring Zubrowka Bison Grass Vodka – $9.50. This was delightful and I really enjoyed the apple at the bottom of the serving as well as the crumble on top. I wish I'd had more of these! And a great use of the sampler tabs.

    Hops and Barley:

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    Possibly my least favorite drink of the festival, Frozen Orange-spiked Tea featuring Florida Cane “Orlando Orange” Vodka – $9.50. This tasted like the bottom of an icee frozen beverage after you've slurped all the flavored syrup from it. I do not recommend this at all, which is a bummer. At the TIW preview event our "welcome beverage" was a cocktail made with tea and orange vodka so I had high hopes for this drink since I'd liked the version from the preview event. This failed to meet my expectations in every way.

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    Smoked Beef Brisket and Pimento Cheese Served on Griddled Garlic Toast – $5.25. I wanted to like this so much that I tried it at the preview event in June as well as twice at this year's festival. It was just okay for me - the individual parts of the dish just did not come together for me to make an outstanding whole item. I really enjoy brisket, pimento cheese, and Texas toast separately, but I did not like the presentation and found the dish rather bland despite being a bit too salty. BRING BACK THE POTATO HASH!


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    China, again:

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    Black Pepper Shrimp with Garlic Noodles – $5.50. We had this at the same time as the duck bun but I forgot to review it above. This was much better than the bun in my opinion and a fairly good value at the booths since the portion was quite large. Tasty.

    Mexico:

    Mexico, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways... First, the wonderful CMs manning this booth were so gracious and friendly.

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    Second: Barbacoa Enchilada: Corn Tortilla filled with Beef Barbacoa and covered with Oaxaca Mole – $5.50. Mole? Check. Barbacoa? Check. Corn tortilla? Check. FRIED ONIONS?! Check check check. I loved this dish and found the flavor more adventurous than I was expecting.

    Third, proximity to the Odyssey pavilion for that blessed air conditioning.

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    Fourth and fifth, Mezcal Pineapple Margarita on the Rocks – $9.75 (left) and Jalapeño Margarita on the Rocks – $9.00 (right). Definitely both a little on the sweet side, but delicious and refreshing nonetheless. The jalapeño option was not too spicy, so don't be afraid to try it! Portions were mediocre, but using the tabs from the sampler made these about half the price of the margaritas from la cava, so I had a few of these. :)

    Australia:

    Another overall great booth, also in short distance from the air conditioned heaven inside the Odyssey.

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    Grilled Lamb Chop with Mint Pesto and Potato Crunchies – $7.25. Small but solid, another returning favorite that did not disappoint. Cooked medium and good even cold (not that it was served cold, we just let it languish a little before eating it).

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    Lamington: Yellow Cake Dipped in Chocolate and Shredded Coconut – $3.00. Very good and reasonably priced. We really like this but even at the small portion size, one was plenty to split between the two of us as this is really sweet. MUCH better tasting than it looks!

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    Coopers Brewery Extra Strong Vintage Ale – $4.00. Admittedly, I don't really know what an Extra Strong Vintage Ale is supposed to taste like, but this surprised me with how much I liked it. It had a bit of a cider flavor to it and was a surprise hit for me.

    Just a few more items in the next F&W Booth installment! Thanks for sticking with me on these :thumbsup2
     
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  6. fallonkendra

    fallonkendra DIS Veteran

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    Joining in! I always love your reviews!
     
  7. TeresaNJ

    TeresaNJ Full time stay at home crafter!

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    Great reviews! We will be arriving in about 3 1/2 weeks, so looking forward to trying some of your recommendations!
     
  8. DaisyNY

    DaisyNY DIS Veteran

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    Sounds so yummy! Looking forward to that Pork Belly when we visit the end of the month!
     
  9. pepperandchips

    pepperandchips [melinda]

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    Thank you!!! So glad to have you here :mickeybar

    Yay! I love yours too. So glad you are following along with me!

    I'm so jealous! Looking at all these dishes again makes me want to go back so bad! My wallet, however, says NO. haha!

    Good call! It is delicious. I don't know if I just got lucky this year but I had it several times and it seems leaner this year than it had been in past years. I know that doesn't sound logical as pork belly isn't meant to be lean, but I hate it when you just get a glob of fat and no delicious crispiness.
     
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  10. pepperandchips

    pepperandchips [melinda]

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    I'm coming to the end of the food and wine booths reviews, honest.

    Chocolate Studio:

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    Ghirardelli Chocolate Raspberry Torte – $4.00. Oh man, was this ever good. The portion was actually pretty good as well considering how rich and dense this dessert is. I would compare the texture to the Chocolate Pudding Cake from California Grill. Very dark chocolate meets rich raspberry flavor adding a tiny touch of tart fruit to the deep cocoa. The smooth chocolate was absolutely decadent and delicious. I wish I had gotten another one of these.

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    Liquid Nitro Chocolate Almond Truffle with Warm Whiskey Caramel – $4.50. This was returning from last year and was also a hit with us at the preview event in June. We really enjoyed this at the festival as well since it was served cold and was decadent but provided some relief from the heat.

    South Korea:
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    Korean-style BBQ Beef with Steamed Rice and Cucumber Kimchi – $5.25. This was very good and a decent sized portion. It was great to share and the flavors in this dish really work together. This is a great booth to hit if you are hungry as the offerings here are pretty filling.

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    Roasted Pork Lettuce Wrap and Kimchi – $4.00. This dish joins the Brazil Pork Belly and the Morocco Hummus Fries to round out my top 3 of the festival, so this is a great dish in my perspective! Light but filling, the flavors in the lettuce wrap offer a little adventure but are still common enough that I think these will appeal to most palates. The cucumber "kimchi" (which is really just lightly pickled) adds a great zip to the brown umami flavors in the pork. This is also a good portion but is hard to share since it's really meant to be handheld.

    Greenhouse Guru:
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    A photo I forgot from my previous review of this booth - wine served with a bad attitude! Acrobat Pinot Noir, Oregon – $4.50. Can you see how incredibly tiny this pour is? It was the only wine I tried at the festival for that reason. I can't see paying that kind of money for two sips of wine. I think I liked this wine but I was in such a bad mood after the attitude of the CM and the heat that day, I would recommend a PASS!

    Scotland:
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    Traditional Scottish Lamb Stew with Neeps and Tatties – $4.75. I had this at night (obviously) alongside a Citrus Thistle featuring Hendrick’s Gin – $9.50. Both were very good and I can see these being popular later in the festival when it's a bit cooler out. The stew was delicious - very rich with lots of good lamb flavour throughout the sauce and the neeps and tatties were filling. This was a great portion for the price as it was almost a meal in itself. I also really enjoyed the citrus thistle - the flavors are light and herbal, and I found this drink very refreshing if a bit sweet. I wish they would leave out any fresh flora and fauna from these drinks though - I despise picking out stems of things from my beverage.

    And that, ladies and gentlemen, is all she wrote about the booths!

    Next, on to the actual reporting of my trip in the order it happened...
     
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  11. pepperandchips

    pepperandchips [melinda]

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    Let's get this thing rolling with a real account of my FOOD SMORGASBORD PANTS BUSTING DINING EXTRAVAGANZA!!!! :drinking1

    Wednesday, September 21: Dinner at Sanaa Lounge

    For better or for worse, I ended up with a crazy surprise workday on my departure day which meant I had to leave the office to handle an emergency, but also meant I could get on the road much earlier than planned. I was able to arrive through the purple Disney signs around 8:20, and caught the last few minutes of the Galactic Spectacular from my car. I was very interested to see that the DHS fireworks are launched basically across from Western Way (my preferred route into the magic). I almost had a wreck because the sight of the fireworks and finally arriving at my happy place made me so emotional! It was a perfect welcome.

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    I checked in at Wyndham Bonnet Creek quickly with only a couple folks ahead of me in line. I dodged the "parking pass" desk and dropped my bags off in the unit - our less than stellar view was the backside of the pool cabanas, and we were in Tower 4. I didn't really care, but we have definitely had much better views in the past. As it was after 9:00 by this point and I had only had a small lunch, it was time to look for something to eat. I knew there was only one place in the Walt Disney World area that would satiate my late-night dining need... the Sanaa lounge!

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    I wanted to be able to enjoy a beverage after my many hours on the road, so I elected to take an Uber to Kidani ($8.84 using UberX). There were just a few folks in the lounge when I arrived and most were seated at the bar. I found a spot and ordered up an African Starr Mojito (Starr African Rum, Van der Hum Tangerine Liqueur from South Africa, fresh Mint, and Lime) and settled in to complete some work on my laptop. The excellent bartender, Bee, made sure I had what I needed and I also ordered the Salad Sampler (Chickpeas with Cucumber and Tomato; Watermelon, Cucumber and Fennel; Nigerian Root Vegetable [beets] and Citrus) as well as the Samosas (Potato and Pea Samosa with Tamarind and Mango Chutney). Having finished my work and my mojito, I wanted to try a glass of wine with my dinner since I know Animal Kingdom Lodge stocks many African wines that are more difficult for me to find at home.

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    Bee was great and provided me with some recommendations and even poured me samples of a few of her suggestions. It was very sweet of her to offer since they were decent quality wines and it was almost like I got a mini-flight with the tasting pours.

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    I ended up going with the Luddite Shiraz - this was a bolder red that stood up well to the spice of the appetizers I would be enjoying for dinner. My only direction had been that I typically enjoy "jammy" red wines and while this one wasn't as fruit forward as some of the lower-end red blends I usually drink, the spice and roundness made a great accompaniment to my meal. This was definitely the smoothest of the choices she poured for me to taste.

    For those not in the know, Sanaa lounge serves food long after the restaurant stops seating, and the limited bar menu is available until nearly closing time. (The full menu is also available in the lounge during the restaurant's open hours). As the lounge small plates are my favorite of Sanaa's offerings anyway, I was happy to choose from the limited selection at that hour.

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    The Samosas are hearty and filling, with a rich spice in the potato mixture that reminds you why Sanaa is so unique. I love the crunchy pastry and the sweet chutney. Definitely one of my favorite Disney treats!

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    I knew what was ahead for me in my next 5 days of dining, which was not a lot of veggies, so I opted for the salad sampler in order to fill an imaginary vegetable quota in my head. While I wanted to intentionally have something a little lighter given the late hour and my ability to predict a weekend of binge-eating everything at F&W, this dish is definitely worth ordering even if you are not trying to be health conscious! I am one of those people that likes to try lots of different flavors and this one dish comes with three small salad portions, so that's perfect for my "taste all the things" mentality.

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    Left to right you have the watermelon/cucumber, the tomato/cucumber/chickpea, and the beets with radish and crunchy noodles. I am not a big fan of beets at all (they taste like dirt to me) but this beet salad was actually good. I ate all of all three salads! They complement each other so well and all of the ingredients are ripe and fresh. Highly recommend.

    Having finished my meal, I talked to Bee for quite a while. The place was deserted with the exception of yours truly and I was finishing my very good wine. It had almost pained me not to order the bread service, but shortly the bar was no longer deserted - I befriended a couple who had arrived at Sanaa slightly worse for the wear after their afternoon/evening at Food and Wine. They were feeling no pain, to put it politely. The husband of the couple definitely overordered and then foisted his leftover bread service on me... I politely declined, but only once, and he was persistent... so I had leftover bread service I took back to the Wyndham to enjoy later that week! Thanks guys! They were hilarious and it was fun having someone to talk to. My Disney trip was definitely off to an interesting start.

    I closed out with Bee, ubered back to the Wyndham ($8.60) and called it a night. My mom and sister would be arriving overnight and I was ready to hit Epcot with force the next day!
     
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  12. Mickey2378

    Mickey2378 Earning My Ears

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    Looks yummy I can't wait to do Food and Wine again.
     
  13. ThreeBoyMama

    ThreeBoyMama Mouseketeer

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    Awesome, super helpful F&W reviews! I definitely plan on hitting up many of the same places when we are there in two weeks :D
     
  14. ariane37

    ariane37 Dis veteran

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    Hi there Melinda :wave2: I'm so jealous you went to F&W! I was going to comment on a couple of the booths you sampled, but then a couple turned into a few, a few to almost all of them lol, so I'm just going to say so much of what you tried looks awesome :goodvibes And even though not all of it was great and it's not cheap, the good thing about the smaller portions is that if you and nobody in your party doesn't like something, you're not tossing a huge amount of food.

    We LOVE Sanaa but have never eaten in the lounge. The samosas sound good! Have to make a point to try them next time.
     
  15. vettegirl

    vettegirl Dole Whip Queen Moderator

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    Your DR is making me want to jump on a plan to go back to Epcot and try all that I missed :) Thank you for sharing.
     
  16. pepperandchips

    pepperandchips [melinda]

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    As you might have surmised, here in real time things are more normal at work once again so my reporting has slacked off. Still, here is the next installment! Featuring lots of Epcot pictures and a breakfast review.

    Thursday, September 22:

    I woke up fairly early, as my body was on work mode and not on vacation mode. My mom and sister hadn't arrived until very late in the night and were still fast asleep, so I dressed and decided to head to Epcot. I didn't really have plans but I figured I could find something to do for a couple of hours while I waited on my mom and sister to start their day. I drove to Epcot and headed in. I figured I would find coffee and breakfast and take some pictures. I stopped in the Fountain View Starbucks but found a massive line and decided there was likely something more interesting to be had than Starbucks anyway.

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    I headed to World Showcase so I could confirm with my own eyes the splendour of Food and Wine Festival (and get a bit of an idea about the layout changes of the kiosks). I remembered reading a review of quick service breakfast offered in Mexico so I headed that way. Well, they were not serving breakfast at the Mexico pavilion so I opted to follow the masses over to Norway. The line for Kringla was way out the door and nothing on their menu really appealed to me at that time. I did catch some streetmosphere I'd never seen before, though - Vikings really hamming it up about the local troll population. If it had not been so early in the morning I would have honestly questioned whether these were CMs or just overserved guests... haha. They were pretty rowdy so I only had the courage to snap a far away picture.

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    By this point it was 10:00 and the temperature was already mounting. I was starving and starting to get a little grumpy, so I decided my best breakfast option was my tried-and-true favorite: Les Halles. Plus, I had the added benefit of a relatively serene stroll through World Showcase back to the France pavilion.

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    I'm not exactly sure what got into me when I was perusing the menu choices at Les Halles that day, but I wanted to eat something light as I was expecting my mom and sister to show up within a few hours. Instead of my beloved poulet au pistou, I tried something new and ordered the bacon roll. (Roulé Lard and Fromage - Bacon and Cheese Roll - $3.95) This was a great choice - chewy and hearty with buttery flavor and it was filling but not gut-busting.

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    I was also in the mood to try something I'd always eyeballed but never ordered - the chocolate dipped chocolate chip meringue ($2.95).

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    First, this thing is HUGE! I wasn't sure how to eat it since I'd taken my breakfast out to the patio courtyard and I did not grab any utensils. When I tried to just bite off a piece of this, I noticed the rather unappetizing aroma of wet dog. I am not sure if meringue always smells this way, as I have had meringue in various forms plenty of times - I just don't normally have an ENORMOUS meringue that touches your nose when you try to take a bite. Finally I went back in and got a plastic knife, but attempting to cut the meringue basically just created meringue shrapnel of various sizes, and eating said shrapnel cut the inside of my mouth. I think the meringue was badly overcooked. The worst part was it was pretty flavorless - even when I got a bite with chocolate chips or that had been chocolate dipped, there was no flavor to speak of. I will not be giving this treat another try. 75% went in the trash can.

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    It's pretty though, right?

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    After finishing breakfast, I went back the way I came and grabbed an iced Joffrey's cold brew (sorry no pic). This was great iced coffee and I much preferred it to starbucks. I warmed a bench on the bridge betwen Future World and World Showcase while I people watched and drank my coffee. Afterward, I picked up the 16-item sampler lanyard for $116.09 ($109 plus tax) at the bridge shop and they did have the pin in stock at that time. I tried to get in touch with my family, but they were still asleep apparently so I decided to try something else new to me.

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    I had never experienced this attraction and I was glad I took the chance to see Ellen in all her glory in case the Universe of Energy really does end up on the chopping block. I wouldn't ride this again necessarily unless I was looking for an air conditioned seat for 40 minutes, but it gave me something to do by myself and I liked the dinosaurs.

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    Next, I headed over to the festival center to check out this year's merchandise and further enjoy air conditioned comfort. It had passed noon while I was learning about energy, and the heat index had reached 97 degrees. I thought about sampling some of the wines on offer in the festival shops, but ultimately decided wine + heat = bad idea. Instead, I entertained myself by getting a mai tai and an empanada and enjoying it outside one of the international gateway shops in a small sliver of shade. The photos and reviews of those treats are above in my booth reviews.

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    The sleepyheads were still abed (turns out they hadn't been able to sleep until 5:00 am since they arrived so late and so excited), and the temperatures continued to mount. I decided to seek shelter in the Odyssey building, which was playing host to the Craft Beers booth again this year. I knew my family would want to enjoy the Craft Beers booth as well, so I grabbed treats from the Mexico booth and headed inside. This was a really welcome place to relax in the air conditioning and wait on my family, who finally appeared in the afternoon hours. We hit a few food & wine kiosks, but I had dinner plans with a friend who lives in Orlando, so around 4:00 I took my leave and headed back to the Wyndham.

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    I took this opportunity to catch up with a different old friend (really, isn't that a must do in and of itself?)

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    (HIIII STACY!!!) and have a glass of vino. You can't really tell how poor our room location was from this photo but let's just say this is the best photo I could stage.

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    Up next: Dinner in downtown Orlando (offsite! I know!!)
     
    ariane37 likes this.
  17. pepperandchips

    pepperandchips [melinda]

    Joined:
    Mar 16, 2014
    Messages:
    925
    September 22, Continued:

    As I mentioned, I had planned in advance to meet a friend for dinner. We've been friends since 2009 and I was excited for her new opportunity but sad to see her move to Orlando in late August. She has a lovely condo in downtown Orlando and suggested we find a place downtown to eat.

    I'd heard wonderful things about the Rusty Spoon and suggested it for dinner - she'd also just tried and loved it, so we bandied about a few other options but Rusty Spoon won for being within walking distance of my friend's condo.

    Spoiler: I LOVED this restaurant. We were greeted warmly on arrival and seated with no wait. Our server, Chris, was one of the highlights of our meal and I've meant to get in touch with the restaurant management to express how happy we were with the service and meal. One reason why I love my friend so much is that she is a food sharer :)

    We started with the Shiittinonion Soup - 5 Onions, Roasted Double Chicken Stock, topped with Croutons & Melted Gruyere (tell me the name of this dish doesn't make you laugh) as well as "The House" salad - Red Lettuces, Seasonal Garnish & Our Own Aged Red Wine Vinagrette.

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    My friend had selected the soup and she ate it but didn't rave about it. I tasted it and thought it was good but I would not go out of my way to order it again.

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    This was the salad after we'd already mixed it - and maybe eaten some? The picture is deceiving as this was an extremely large portion - we both ate our fill and still managed to send some back uneaten for disposal. I liked this more than the soup but would still try something different next time.

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    For entrees, two dishes caught our eye and we elected to share those as well. The Slow Braised Lamb Sandwich (Sweet Onion & Golden Raisin Jam, House Made Ricotta Salata on Toasted Moroccan Bread) was one of the least expensive entrees and was a showstopper in the flavor arena. I would absolutely order this again and loved it. It was a shredded lamb rather than sliced lamb and had incredible flavor with a pot-roast type texture. The truffle fries were divine on the side!

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    We also enjoyed the Handcut Fat Noodles - Rich Tenderloin, Ribeye & Pork Ragu with Wilted Escarole, Blistered Tomatoes & Shaved Pecorino. I forgot to take a picture before we dug in but this was much prettier when it came out. The homemade noodles had a hearty texture that stood up well to the rich sauce. I liked this dish a lot as well.

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    I had a bourbon cocktail which might have been The Kentucky Red - Bulleitt Bourbon, Ginger Syrup, Averna, Orange Bitters & Fresh Lemon. Honestly this doesn't sound quite right but it's been a while since we had dinner and the menu changes a lot. The Kentucky Red is definitely something I would order, and whatever I had, I liked it enough to get two! My friend had vodka martinis which looked like... martinis.

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    For dessert we had their seasonal cobbler which was good and light, very fresh tasting with yummy ice cream.

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    After we finished our meal, we had a long chat with Chris and found out he is a Universal Team Member. I can't say I was surprised, given the level of service I have experienced at Universal. We loved meeting him and had an exceptionally good meal.

    My friend generously picked up the tab so I don't know the final total. I will say I thought based on the menu pricing that the restaurant was an excellent value (especially compared to WDW prices!) and I loved the well executed farm-to-table concept. If you are looking for a moderately upscale but laid back date night, I highly recommend the Rusty Spoon in downtown Orlando!
     
    Candycane83 and ariane37 like this.
  18. ariane37

    ariane37 Dis veteran

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2012
    Messages:
    3,976
    I want to break the name of that soup into 2 words here, but I'll get an infraction :rotfl2:Your meal at the Rusty Spoon looks really good though! Nice that you got to meet up with your friend.
    Besides Steve and I you're the 2nd person who's mentioned going on Ellen for the first time in the last couple months in anticipation of it closing. And all of us have felt the same; glad we did it once, don't need to do it again! I agree those dinosaurs are cool though.

    When I saw your picture of the chocolate dipped chocolate chip meringue I was like, "what is that?? I gotta get it!" Too bad it tastes like poo :crazy2:
     
  19. kastoney

    kastoney Disney foodie served with a side of sarcasm

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2010
    Messages:
    4,633
    I'm fashionably late, but here and suddenly hungry. I have no idea why :confused3

    Looks like a great trip so far. Loving all the F&W, so disappointed we are going to miss it this year. What is the snack thing you bought and how does it work?

    Congrats on getting offsite and enjoying a great meal. Everything looks delicious, though totally with @ariane37 on the Shiittinonion soup. So want to go there....
     
    ariane37 likes this.
  20. pepperandchips

    pepperandchips [melinda]

    Joined:
    Mar 16, 2014
    Messages:
    925
    Update and Real Life Update:

    So sorry for my extended absence from this report! As you may have surmised, I wasn't able to finish it before the big office move and the new job has been pretty demanding while we got all set up these last few months. I really want to get this report wrapped up as I am already ready to start a new one.

    In the time since my last update, I have mitigated my travel bug with a Thanksgiving trip to wine country out in California, attended a zillion weddings, and celebrated the holidays with a huge Disney trip. R is loving his new job and we are both gearing up for the new year with our new annual passes. But hey, let's get back to the good stuff!

    Friday, September 23:

    My mom, my sister, and I woke up early and went over to Hollywood Studios. My mom's bum foot was plagueing her again but this wasn't going to put the kibosh on our fun! We started the day on Toy Story Midway Mania, where I spanked my sister at the game and we all worked up our breakfast appetite.

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    We decided to check out the breakfast offerings at Starring Rolls, but we didn't find any traditional breakfast offerings that sounded appealing since I guess none of us were really in a pastry mood. Instead we went with these beauties:

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    One roast beef on a pretzel roll and one turkey giant sandwich slice. These each came with chips and the total was $22.88 for our breakfast.

    Neither my mom or sister likes Tower of Terror (I know, who are these people?!) but I convinced my sister to try it again. I think her face says it all... she does not like this ride or the feeling of weightlessness like I do...

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    (we are in the back on the right)

    We met up with my mom who'd been outside the Beauty and the Beast amphitheater where she spotted our favorite CM from last year's food and wine festival. Here I am being super creepy taking a lurker photo to send to R.

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    (hi Jeremy!!)

    We had a third FP+ for my mom's favorite ride in all of WDW: the Rock n Roller Coaster! This was just after the preshow had been edited (but we didn't notice Stephen Tyler being any more polite unfortunately, although we did get backstage passes! haha)

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    We waited for the front... can you guess whose idea that was? The launch of this ride always freaks me out, as you can see... There was supposed to be a single rider kid in with my mom but I guess he didn't understand that he was supposed to fill in with her, so she had the front to herself and took full advantage.

    That afternoon we sampled more from the food and wine fest for our lunch. I am reposting a couple of my favorites, sans review. This afternoon was when we enjoyed French passion slushes, the hummus fries, the kefta pocket, the orange tea cocktail slush (yuck), the beef pimento cheese toast, the frozen apple pie, korean beef, and the delicious lettuce wrap, before taking our afternoon break.

    I believe we indulged in some nail painting and I waited for R to confirm his flight info. Wellllll, he was flying out of Atlanta about the same time as his mom and between coordinating her pickup and the Friday afternoon traffic, he missed his flight. I was extremely bummed as this was the night we were supposed to go to California Grill together as a family. R managed to get on the next flight but my mom and sister went on to CG without me (can't lose that $10 per person, after all).

    By the time I got R from MCO and we decided what to do, it had gotten pretty late and our options were limited. But there was one place serving a great late night menu that I was longing to get back to and R had yet to try: Morimoto Asia!

    We arrived around 10:00 pm and went upstairs to the Forbidden Lounge. Ironically the only open table was the same one at which I'd previously dined with my mom. We had a great server and wasted no time ordering up beverages.

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    I had the Beijing Bourbon Tea ($14) and R branched out and ordered the Jinro Classic Soju. This was a serving akin to a bottle of Sake where it's really meant for more than one person, so he did not finish it ($20). Sorry about the quality of these photos - it's predictably dim in the lounge as a lounge should be, and I didn't have my camera with me after the airport shuffle.

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    For dinner we opted to share several plates -

    The spicy tuna roll ($12) is pricy for a standard roll, but the quality is fantastic. There are flavors here I don't get in my neighborhood sushi place and I think the tuna is very high quality.

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    (we may have eaten a couple of these before I took the picture, I can't remember)

    We also ordered the award winning beef sliders ($14) that are made with fried burger patties rather than grilled burger patties. These were really good but I think our server may have talked these up a bit too much so while they were certainly good, they weren't mind blowing or life changing like I expected.

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    Our server also recommended the portobello mushroom fries ($12). Sometimes I have texture issues with mushrooms so I was very glad that these were perfectly light and crisp, and really tasty. I think I've lost half my audience with the mere mention of a mushroom but I do recommend these for a starter.

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    Finally, we had the Singapore Laksa Noodle ($16) which is rice noodles served in a creamy coconut spicy curry with chicken meatballs and boiled egg. I didn't expect to like these as I often don't like curries made with a lot of coconut milk. However, this was delicious and I definitely enjoyed it more than I expected. This was hearty and very comforting after the stress of the airport drama!

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    Somewhere along the line I ordered a second beverage and R did his best on the Soju. Full and happy and glad to have R in Orlando, we collected my car from the parking deck and made our way back to the Wyndham.
     
    Denamac likes this.
  21. pepperandchips

    pepperandchips [melinda]

    Joined:
    Mar 16, 2014
    Messages:
    925
    September 24th was Saturday and R's only full day on our trip, so we had to make it count! We made it to MK pretty much for rope drop, but as I think we had FP+ for most of the attractions we most wanted to do, we headed straight over to Adventureland and rope dropped Jungle Cruise. We had the whole boat to ourselves with one other party. It was pretty awesome.

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    After our trip through all those rivers, it was time for a nice morning snack. Of course I had to get my favorite Disney treat:

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    (Dole Whip Float!)

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    We took a ride around the world to visit some children in a spirit of peace and unity.

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    We took some photos through the park and decided the dole whip wasn't enough to hold us, so we'd need a few orders of my mom's favorite Disney food...

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    Corn dog nuggets!

    These were great but took kind of a long time at Casey's. We snagged an open table by walking in at the beginning of their service time but by the time we left the place was pandemonium. We took a cue from the madness and moved on to Epcot.

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    This was when we had some of the food and wine snacks I reviewed in earlier posts, so I'll move on. We rode Frozen Ever After with a FP+ and I am definitely on team Frozen. I love and miss Maelstrom but Frozen has truly brought new life to the Norway pavilion, which was just sort of sad and funny and... 80s before.

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    After we let it go, we continued snacking and eating before heading back to the WBC for a nice long rest.

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    For dinner R and I were somehow separated from my mom and sister (I really should've taken better notes so I would remember three plus months later). Anyway we planned to meet up with them at WPE at Disney Springs. Well little did I know that there are two express locations at Disney Springs! So they were texting us like "Where are you" and finally we figured out we were basically as far away from each other as possible as they were over on the Westside and we were at the Marketplace location.

    Neither group wanted to hoof it all the way across Disney Springs, so we ate separately. R and I started with some type of red blend wine - I love that they offer you a choice of pour sizes here, and of course I opted for the larger.

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    It was at the very tail end of dinner hours - my photo timestamp says 10:30 but I am not sure if that is accurate - and we were absolutely ravenous. We elected to order a salad to share and two pizzas (also to share).

    We started with the Greek salad "Butter Lettuce, Feta, Tomatoes, Cucumbers, Kalamata Olives, Peppers and Greek Dressing". Now I liked this salad just fine, but there was no butter lettuce to be found and it was a little too much iceberg and romaine for me to give it a ringing endorsement. There was more "stuff" hidden in the lettuce than you can tell - yummy olives and tomatoes. I would order it again but it's not a must-do.

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    For pizzas, we went with the Barbecued Chicken "Smoked Mozzarella, Cilantro and Caramelized Onions" and as you can see they clearly placed all the toppings on the pizza with care and love... :rolleyes1:rotfl:. Well after sorting out the toppings this was as delicious as other DISers have said, and at $14.50 I would definitely order this again.

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    Next up we tried The Four Cheese "Pesto, Roma Tomatoes and Sun-dried Tomatoes" and I remember this being good but not something I would go out of my way for like the Barbecued Chicken option.

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    As I had to satiate my inner dessert monster, we stopped for a treat from Sprinkles on the way home. This was in-freaking-credible. In fact, I am now thinking of a way to get one of these as soon as possible. I present to you a handmade ice cream sandwich made to order with two indescribably yummy salted oatmeal cornflake cookies and a very large portion of captain crunch ice cream.

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    R is usually the sweets person of the two of us and he definitely shared this, but I was absolutely in heaven. I am a grandma anyway and oatmeal is my favorite kind of cookie, but after the scrumptious ice cream softened the cookies and worked its way into all the crevices I was just on cloud nine. I may or may not recall licking my hands as we polished this off. YUM. Maybe the best thing I ate on that trip!

    Around midnight we were back at the resort and heading to bed.
     

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