Turning 29 Again at Disneyland Resort, Day 1, Part 2 with Catal Review

Rich: After the requisite rest in our Disneyland Hotel room, we headed out to Downtown Disney. First stop was World of Disney to browse and shop. We found an adorable Lion King stuffed toy and a 16-month Disneyland calendar.

We strolled around Downtown Disney some more, and then headed to Catal for our 8 PM dinner reservation.

Kathy: We chose to have the birthday dinner Saturday night, because for Rich’s actual birthday, we would be in the parks and didn’t want to spend park time at a lengthy sit down meal.

Rich: Since we had a reservation, we headed to the second floor via elevator and checked in at the hostess desk. We were soon led to a cute, round tower room and seated at a 4-top by the window. We had a great view of Downtown Disney that only became better as the sun set.

MENU

APPETIZER (Shared)
Bacon Wrapped Dates
Chicory Lettuce, Blue Cheese and Peppered Sherry Vinegar

ENTREES
Kathy:
Traditional Paella
Mussels, Shrimp, Clams, Roasted Chicken, Chorizo de Bilbao, Saffron Bomba Rice, and Peas

Rich:
Chicken Paella
Roasted Chicken, Chorizo de Bilbao, Saffron Bomba Rice, Peas, and Saffron Aïoli

WINE
Ercavio Tempranillo Red Blend, Spain 2015
Expressive aromas of dark fruit: black cherry, plum and blueberry mixed with a pleasant minerality, hints of cedar, vanilla, licorice, spice and espresso. Medium bodied, yet dense, this wine offers ripe tannins under a complex blanket of black fruit. The acidity is well balanced and the finish is long and velvety.

The service started out nicely with our server showing up quickly to review the menu and the wine list. He took our food order and suggested a nice red blend wine for us. Unfortunately, after that, we hardly ever saw him again.

Kathy: The wine turned out to be a really good choice — the best thing our server did to add to our meal.

Rich: We were served the appetizer, but the wine had not been served. We waited for a while until I finally got the attention of another server and asked him to find our server and have him serve our wine. Before long, our server sheepishly showed up with the wine, making some excuse about how he forgot about it.

Kathy: I had been waiting for the wine to present a birthday card to Rich.

Rich: But to the food, wine, and atmosphere — these were all lovely. The room we were in had a limited number of tables, plenty of windows, and a soft undertone of enjoyable music. And the food and wine were superb.

Kathy: The music, view, and overall atmosphere was special.

Rich: The bacon wrapped dates appetizer was a wonderful combination of sweet and smoky, and the blue cheese created a nice balance to the other flavors. Kathy gave me a beautiful (and truthful) “Happy 29th Again” birthday card that graced the table for the rest of the meal.

It is rare to find paellas on a menu (we’ve seen them at Jose Andres’ Jaleo here in Las Vegas too), so had to order them. Kathy had the traditional with fabulous seafood. I had the chicken (would have had the traditional, but I’m allergic to shrimp). Both were amazing. They were served in hot cast iron pans right out of the oven. The rice was perfectly cooked with a light glaze of tomato/saffron sauce.

The flavors were so well crafted. The chicken was nicely cooked, served in two large pieces that had to be cut. I would have preferred already-cut chicken, but it was delicious. For Kathy, everything was tasty, although the shrimp were a little bland.

The wine was a perfect pairing for the appetizer and the entrees. Overall, the food and wine were excellent. It’s too bad that the service was a bit lacking.

Kathy: We were a bit disappointed in the service – not the usual “Happy Birthday from Disney” and inattentive, but it was a busy Saturday night. We were too full to finish the Paella and this was when we were missing staying at our usual Residence Inn where we could have taken the leftovers and heated them up the next day. Oh well, we’ll have to return to Catal when we can take the leftovers.

Rich: We finally got to see our server again when he threw a dessert menu on our table. When we told him we were too full for dessert, he grunted, returning with the check which he once again threw on the table.

Kathy: I was oblivious to this – too busy enjoying the view out the window.

Rich: The tip was small, but the dinner was otherwise incredible. The location was romantic and quiet with a great view of Downtown Disney. We will return when the time is right.

Downtown Disney Magician Jumps in for Photo Op


View of Catal Bar in Downtown Disney from our Upstairs Window Seating as sun sets and lights turn on

Rich Peruses the Menu

Kathy Smiles but Secretly Waiting Impatiently for the Wine

The Bacon-Wrapped Dates

The Wine Arrives

Time for the Birthday Card

Kathy’s Classic Paella

Rich’s Chicken Paella

Turning 29 Again at Disneyland Resort, Day 1, Part 1

If you’d like to peek ahead, check out the Rich’s Birthday at Galaxy’s Edge, Disneyland playlist on YouTube.

We’d had many plans for Rich’s birthday – when we were living in Florida we’d even booked a Med cruise, but, alas, with the move back west, we had to scale down those plans. But celebrating at Disney is always fun, right?

Staying onsite these days is reserved for special events, and this was pretty special, so we booked the Disneyland Hotel. Unsure about our future travel plans and with the AP we were interested in blocked still, we did not purchase an AP, but got a one-day park hopper to focus on catching up with what’s new, such as Galaxy’s Edge.

While Rich got in the check-in line, Kathy waited in the tea cup in the lobby, and after dropping off our bags in our pool view room, we changed into our swimsuits with a stop at Tangaroa Terrace for some lunch. We snagged a table outside, Rich ordered a Mai Tai and Kathy a Margarita, shared some Pulled Pork Nachos, and an order of Asian Chicken Wings. Tasty and refreshing. It was a hot afternoon and the whole pool area (Tangaroa Terrace) was packed.

After our lunch snack, we headed for the pool, but no chairs were available so like many others, we stacked our stuff on a cement wall and jumped in the pool for a refreshing dip. When we returned to our stuff, this big guy was sitting on our stuff but when I said, “You’re sitting on our stuff,” he got up and just stood there while we got dressed. Really strange, if not rude.

After the pool, we rested until time to get ready for Rich’s birthday dinner at Catal (and Kathy snuck in some birthday room decorations while Rich was out of the room).

 

 

 

Catching Up With Tasty Treats at Disney and the Beach, Day 1

We left Las Vegas at around 9:00 but since we’re 30 minutes north of where we used to live, we basically left at our usual 9:30 departure time, arriving around 1:30/2:00 pm with our usual lunch stop at Tommy’s in Barstow.

TamaleTommy’s Tamale – Yum!!

This was our first trip from LV to SoCal in our Black Challenger, although the one we rented at LAX last summer was exactly the same – lol!

Btw, Las Vegas is booming again and has grown quite a bit since we left in May of 2017, and this is felt on the Vegas freeways and on I-15 from LV to SoCal. We also noticed the change in Inspection station, which is now much closer to the Cal/Neva border than it was before. Fridays used to be pretty smooth sailing, but now it feels more like a Saturday.

Also, instead of staying near Disneyland, we chose to stay in Huntington Beach so we had another half hour on the other end of the drive. But we were more in the mood to relax at the beach than spend most of our time at Disneyland since we weren’t planning on entering the parks this trip.

After settling into our room, we took a nap and instead of going out for dinner, we opted to make something in our villa. Pizza, as I recall, with some wine we’d brought from home. It felt so good to be here again!

The two-story villa (instead of high rise) is nice for a change

Studio with King Bed

Convenient to have a kitchen – our version of DVC

Happy Mother’s Day and A Year of Firsts…

This seems to be a year of firsts… the first trip back to Disneyland… the first Mother’s Day since… Speaking of the first Mother’s Day since… it’s not only the first Mother’s Day since we lost Skipper, but it’s the first Mother’s Day since my father died. And it’s the first Mother’s Day since Rich’s dad died.

So what do our fathers have to do with Mother’s Day? Well, it was the first Mother’s Day after my father’s mother died that prompted him to respond to my letter to him. And Rich’s dad played a part in this.

There we were on the last day of our Alaska cruise waiting to disembark, on Mother’s Day, and the four of us sitting in our cabin (Rich’s parents, Rich, and me) and Rich’s dad was talking about something providential. Something about what he said stuck in my mind, and I held onto that hope.

And when we returned home and turned on the computer, I saw my father’s email called “Knowledge.” I’d been waiting for two months to hear from him, wondering if I would or not. I’d found my dad’s brother and had written to him and he forwarded my contact information to my father. And I waited and waited and waited. Finally, on Mother’s Day my father felt prompted to reach out to me because it was his first Mother’s Day since his mother had passed. From what I’ve heard, she was pretty special.

Yes, this is a tough year for us. But once we get past the first… since the last… it should get easier.

Happy Mother’s Day! Never underestimate the power of a loving mother.

My Paternal Grandmother and 5 Sons (my dad is the oldest)