2018 Epcot Food and Wine Festival Round One

So we couldn’t resist the Food and Wine Festival now that the Labor Day weekend and early vlogger crush was over. And we did it in such an awesome way.

We arrived a bit after 9 am and headed straight for the Festival Center for our AP Chef Mickey magnets. We also got the ornament/keychain (whichever works for you) and a gift card, which makes snack purchasing a snap.

Then we made our way to France for our usual beignet and champagne except that there were no beignets so Rich got us some yummy chocolate croissants instead.

We finished our bubbly outside in the shade but at around 10:30, we walked back to Ireland to see if they were opening early and they did. We were first in line and the only downside was that the chocolate shavings for the Guinness Baileys Shake hadn’t arrived yet. But the chocolate cake provided the chocolate after all. And, oh yeah, the Irish Sausage with colcannon  potatoes and onion gravy made for an awesome savory breakfast after the sweets in France.

This totally lived up to the rave reviews we’d heard about and hope to return for seconds and thirds on future visits.

After all of this deliciousness, we headed back to France for the official rope drop at 11 am and stopped in Spain for some chicken and sausage paella and wine flight.

After that it was China for my very favorite Shrimp and Garlic Noodles! Yum!! Rich can’t eat shrimp so he got some kind of Chinese Pancake. We shared everything else.

By this time we were pretty full so our next and final stop for this tasting was in Mexico for the Mariachinand Aye Carrimba Margaritas. Both were interesting but not my favorites by a long shot.

It was very hot, we walked 4.5 miles and were exhausted the next day, although no other aches and pains. The heat really wears you out. We hope to make it back 2 or 3 more times because we barely got starte, but we’ll see. Along about now, a martini at Territory Lounge at Wilderness Lodge sounds a bit more relaxing/refreshing. 🙂

Review: Terralina Crafted Italian, Disney Springs

Like last year, we thought about going to Epcot Food & Wine Festival but because it was Labor Day weekend and the very first weekend (since they started the festival a month early beginning with last year), we decided against it. With so many alternatives, we soon found another choice. In fact, Disney Springs has such a plethora of choices.

Since Terralina Crafted Italian opened on June 28 at Disney Springs, we have had it on our list of places to try. This past weekend, we finally got the chance.

We parked in the Lime Garage but were early so we made our way to DisneyStyle over by the Orange Garage not far from the Chicken Guy – another place to make time for. We looked at the stuff in the store but didn’t find anything we had to have. But we did have fun sitting in the tea cup.

Then we walked back over to World of Disney and found a few items we had to have for our kitchen. 🙂

We arrived a few minutes early for our 11:30 AM reservation at opening. We were soon seated at a cozy table by the window overlooking the water. The dining room is pleasant with a casual Italian feel. There are booths and tables. I’m sure it can be quite noisy when the restaurant is full, but we were there with the early lunch crowd, so it wasn’t too bad.

Menu

Drinks
Kathy:
Cozy Terrace
Cathead vodka, Cappelletti, fresh watermelon, lemon, and cucumber

Rich:
Negroni
Malfy gin, Cappelletti, Cocchi vermouth di Torino, and orange

Entrees
Kathy:
Capellini with Crab
Toasted Garlic, Olive Oil, Serrano Chili Pepper

Rich:
Bucatini with Clams
White Wine, Garlic, Olive Oil, Parsley, Lemon Butter, ‘Nduja

We had considered having wine with our meal, but it was a hot, sweaty day, so we opted for some refreshing cocktails instead. And the cocktails didn’t disappoint. Kathy’s Cozy Terrace was refreshing and bright, and my Negroni was a fabulous discovery. I think I have a new favorite cocktail.

The entrees were even more exciting. Kathy’s capellini pasta was wonderfully thin and flavorful, with chunks of light crab meat. She took half home for dinner.

I had the amazing bucatini with clams. I love this pasta, and it was made even better with the ‘nduja paste that flavored the pasta along with the clams. I ate every bite and had to resist the desire to order another plateful to go.

James Beard award-winning chef Tony Mantuano and Executive Chef Justin Plank have created a delightful restaurant inspired by Italy’s Lake District. The food, service, and atmosphere were outstanding, and the whole experience was an enjoyable way to be transported to Italy if only for a lunchtime.

Welcome Home to Florida

We caught an early flight out of Las Vegas yesterday morning and as the plane circled over our former home, heading out into the open desert, I said something like, “What a pile of dirt!” – lol!

It had been an emotional roller coaster revisiting the place we’d called home for 9 years. I was reminded not only of the excitement we’d had flying in from San Francisco and staying in different hotel properties, but also living there. I was also reminded of why we felt compelled to leave.

The flight on Southwest was pretty good going back – the service was quite attentive – and before we knew it, we were landing in Orlando via over Tampa to avoid some storms. What a sight for sore eyes! I mean, literally! All the greenery and water! What a contrast from the Las Vegas desert.

And I began to feel a renewal of my original love for Florida as we drove the hour back home. So pretty. So peaceful. Sunny but not too sunny. Hot but not too too hot – even the humidity is a welcome relief from the oven-like temps of Vegas. Maybe that was the point of the trip for me. For Rich, well, he had a very productive week at work. Everybody so excited to see him. They’d love to have him back at headquarters but I don’t think I could live there again.

We’re definitely looking forward to getting back to Disney, and especially for the Food & Wine Festival. Rich’s brother will be here for that – looking forward to reconnecting like we did on our trip in 2010. What a year that was – doing the F&W Festival with our Disney friends and family. Looking forward to seeing who we can meet and connect with this year.

We stopped at our little downtown deli and Rich got us some sandwiches to take home because neither of us wanted to prepare food. We noticed a musician set up outside the market/deli area and we stopped for a listen and offered a tip. I took some video and captured a pic of that. What a fabulous welcome home!

A Day in the Neighborhood

Last night I had the strongest martini I’d ever had – wow! I could barely get out of bed this morning. I don’t think it had anything to do with how amazed I was that the view of the Las Vegas Strip from my bed was lit up all night long – lol! You don’t see that in Florida. How soon we forget what a place is like.

Rich brought us some coffee and breakfast from Starbucks in the lobby and then I rode with him to work to have the rental car. So today I drove through the old neighborhood just to see it. Not much has changed in the almost 16 months since we moved away. The new emergency room was finished and open and I hear it’s pretty awesome.

i couldn’t get inside our gated community (although it looks like they’re still having problems with the gate), so I just did a drive by and then drove to our favorite park and walked a bit of the trail. I was overcome by the feeling of being home. Of course, to my psyche, Skipper and Lovey are waiting for me in the house – not on the Rainbow Bridge. I could have stayed for hours but I had to get back to the hotel to get ready for lunch with Rich and our friend John.

So nice to see a familiar face – lunch at Lola’s was awesome! Rich then dropped John off at work and me back at the hotel.

I remember how difficult it is to live here – the heat is so intense as is the sun blinding. The best part about Vegas is staying in a hotel casino in a separate world than the harsh reality of the desert. Still, there are so many memories here, so many things that feel like home.

 

 

Rich’s Birthday Cruise to the Bahamas, Day Four, Wrap-Up

Who: Rich and Kathy
Where: Port Canaveral/Nassau 3-night cruise
What: Carnival Liberty
When: August 9-12, 2018
Why: Rich’s Birthday Celebration

I didn’t sleep much at all – either the big dinner or the chocolate cake at tea – but I was definitely ready to get off the ship. I couldn’t get to Port Canaveral soon enough. Maybe I was cruised out or maybe it was the oddness of the cruise or just too many short Carnival cruises. We do feel like we’re slumming it a bit when we’re sailing on Carnival – lol!

There are also highlights that are some of the best at sea, namely, the Alchemy Bar, the Steakhouse, and like we did on my birthday cruise, the Chef’s Table. You don’t even know you’re on Carnival then – no wonder they are our highlights. We’re already missing those – especially the Alchemy Bar. And the excellent service we had on our last cruise when we sailed in a suite. So even Carnival can come through for up-charge items and bookings.

But Carnival is always there to give us a quick fun affordable cruise fix when other ships aren’t available or too long or too expensive to do often. So I can’t say we’ll never cruise them again. But we’re both definitely missing a longer cruise on Princess and our mini-suite. 🙂

Our “Faster to the Fun” group met in the “any time” dining room where they offered tea, coffee, and pastries. We arrived at about 6:30 and were off the ship by about 6:45? Rich probably remembers better than I do.

The garage was right there, so easy to pick up our car, and drive the hour home, the fastest/closest cruise port we’ve ever traveled to.

Chocolate cake (amazing!) and Fruit Tart at Afternoon Tea

The Birthday Boy

Good-night!

 

Rich’s Birthday Cruise to the Bahamas: Day Three, Part Three: Dinner

Who: Rich and Kathy
Where: Port Canaveral/Nassau 3-night cruise
What: Carnival Liberty
When: August 9-12, 2018
Why: Rich’s Birthday Celebration

Just before our 7:00 PM reservation time, we made our way around the pool area on deck 10 and found the entrance to the Diamonds Steakhouse. The room is quite lovely, divided into two areas overlooking the forward sides of the ship.

After a brief wait, we were seated at a four-top table. We sat next to each other on the bench seat looking out over the starboard side of the ship.

The service was excellent with several servers working to make our experience special. This meal was my birthday dinner, and we wanted it to be memorable. It was that and so much more.

Our menu:

DRINKS

Classic Martini (Kathy & Rich)

BREAD SERVICE

Roll (Kathy)

Parmesan Crisp & Bread Stick (Rich)

AMUSE-BOUCHE

PARMESAN CHEESE QUENELLE (Kathy & Rich)

APPETIZERS

RISOTTO (Kathy)

Crab, Mushrooms, Brown Butter

SMOKE AND ICE FRESH OYSTERS (Rich)

Apple Mignonette

SALAD

CLASSIC CAESAR SALAD (Kathy & Rich)

Hearts of Romaine Lettuce, Anchovies, Traditionally Prepared

ENTREES

BROILED FILET MIGNON (9 oz.) (Kathy)

Red Wine Sauce

Black Lava Salt

Side: Sautéed Medley of Fresh Mushrooms

SPICE-RUBBED PRIME RIBEYE STEAK (18 oz.) (Rich)

Red Wine Sauce

Red Hawaiian Sea Salt

Side: Yukon Gold Mash with Wasabe Horseradish<

DESSERT

ART AT YOUR TABLE (Kathy & Rich)

Abstract in Presentation, Focused in Flavor

We started by ordering our classic martinis. They were prepared perfectly and were fabulous.

The amuse-bouche was a very creamy parmesan quenelle that was a pleasant start to the meal. Kathy spread the cheese on the fresh roll from the bread service. Quite lovely.

The appetizers were amazing. Kathy’s risotto was like an entree in itself, rich and delicious. I had the oysters that were served in a glass cloche that was lifted to release the smoke trapped inside and reveal the three oysters on the half shell. And it wasn’t just the show that was fabulous — the oysters were fresh and smoky with a splash of sweetness from the apple mignonette.

The Caesar salad was tasty, especially the anchovies that we love. We didn’t eat all of our salads because we knew we had much more to come.

When we ordered our steaks (both medium-rare), we were given the choice of salt for the steaks to be cooked with. Kathy chose the black lava, and I chose the Hawaiian. Since Kathy had a starch with her risotto, she ordered mushrooms as a side to her steak. I ordered the mashed potatoes and had them serve the wasabi on the side.

About halfway through our meal, we were treated to a glorious view of the sunset that made the atmosphere and the experience even sweeter.

The steaks arrived, and they were cooked to perfection. We both ordered the red wine sauce that was served on the side. Kathy’s filet was so tender, it could be pulled apart with a fork. These were excellent steaks, perfectly seasoned and delicious. Unfortunately, we couldn’t finish them, but we enjoyed every bite.<

For dessert, we tried the newly-available Art at Your Table. We had seen several other tables order this, so we were excited to try it. The ingredients were brought out, and then the pastry chef came out with a large palette where he created the art of the dessert, painting the palette with a variety of flavors and textures, culminating with a white chocolate ball he cracked open to reveal a tiramisu cake that he topped with two flavors of ice cream.

Then he took out his chocolate sauce bottle and wrote Happy Birthday on the palette for me. Very special.

This dessert is hard to explain, but it was fun and delicious. As we were finishing our dessert, we were presented with two glasses of champagne and a candle for my birthday. Kathy and the server sang to me. I loved it.

This was an incredible experience. The food, service, and atmosphere were impeccable. It was a birthday experience I will never forget.

Gin Martini

Dinner Roll

Parmesan Crisp

Oysters

Crab Risotto

Ribeye

Mashed Potatoes

Filet  Mignon

Pastry Artist

 

Birthday Dessert Art

Champagne Finale

 

 

Rich’s Birthday Cruise to the Bahamas, Day Three, Part Two

Who: Rich and Kathy
Where: Port Canaveral/Nassau 3-night cruise
What: Carnival Liberty
When: August 9-12, 2018
Why: Rich’s Birthday Celebration

We finished getting ready after packing and showering and headed for the Alchemy Bar. This time Rich had the Caribbean Old-Fashioned (Rum), and I had the Antioxidant. Our favorite server arrived with snacks – thank goodness because I was starving – lol!

Our view from the Alchemy Bar

Caribbean Old-Fashioned

The AntiOxidant

Mixed Nuts, Cheese, Kalamata Olives

We then headed to the Steakhouse for dinner. Rich’s report is next.