Port Canaveral: Cruising from Central Florida

Looking back at our most recent time living in Central Florida, we feel immense gratitude for yet another Florida adventure, this time living closer to the beach than Disney World, enjoying beach bars and hanging out at Port Canaveral.

We even celebrated Rich’s birthday cruising to the Bahamas on the Carnival Liberty. So I put together a little video celebrating that time.

Port Canaveral is expanding so whether you’re a local, cruising solely, or combining your cruise with a trip to Disney World, I hope you enjoy it. If so, please like and subscribe to this blog and on youtube.

Thank you!

#Mexico #cruising #Princess #Carnival #Liberty #Bahamas #cruising #Carnival #Cruises #CentralFlorida #DisneyWorld #Florida #fiction

 

 

Father’s Day Brunch at Wine Bar George

From our Inbox:

WineBarGeorge

DadStack

Seven Layers of Awesome

Behold…The Dad Stack. Join us on Father’s Day for seven layers of French Toast, French Fries, Bacon, Sausage Gravy, Chicken Sausage, Skirt Steak and Sunny Side Up Eggs. See you June 16 for brunch?

Ah, Wine Bar George – no, we won’t be there for Father’s Day (although, we have other fun plans), but oh how we miss you! Just this time last year we were enjoying the “Rosé Tasting with Master Sommellier” event with you, George. So much fun – we hung out with you often. We were your first customers on your first full opening day. And you were the last place we went before our move back West. Thanks for the memories!

Our compensation is making reservations for special dining events for Rich’s birthday this summer at Disneyland! Woo hoo!

 

Farewell Thanksgiving at Wine Bar George and the Chicken Guy

When we got the email about Thanksgiving at Wine Bar George, we knew we had to do it for our good-bye to Florida. This would be our third time at Wine Bar George and one of the places we will miss when we’re back West.

It was a beautiful day – we arrived at Disney Springs at around 10:30 a.m. for our 11:30 reservation. The lime garage was already full but we’ve grown to appreciate the orange garage so that was no problem. We strolled around the springs, enjoying the atmosphere and Christmas decorations and our first stop was the Ganachery – another place we will totally miss. We got some chocolate toffee bark to take home and a milk chocolate Mickey and a vanilla with dark chocolate, shared them, while we strolled the Springs and made our way to World of Disney to get our first peek at the remodel.

We browsed and ended up getting Minnie Mickey coffee mugs. By this time it was getting close to 11:30 so we headed back to Wine Bar George and were seated on the balcony across from another couple, who were just being served a huge plate of Thanksgiving turkey. We exchanged appreciative glances and comments and ordered the same. The dinner was a traditional turkey with stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, cranberry sauce, and haricot vert. We paired it with Argyle Pinot Noir. It was quite tasty, but I asked for a box to take half of it home for my evening meal.

We skipped dessert but made a point of stopping at the Chicken Guy. I’m not a fan of chicken tenders, but this was our last chance to try them. We were especially interested in the Nashville hot honey sauce – we were wowed by Nashville’s hot chicken when we evacuated there last year. I’m not usually a fan of hot chicken as in Buffalo Chicken Wings but Nashville chicken is amazing!

Anyway, we picked up an order of 3 tenders and the Nashville sauce for Rich’s evening snack since he managed to finish his turkey dinner. And then we headed home. It may seem to silly to complain about an hour and fifteen minute drive but it does get old. But that’s probably because we’re so ready to move back west. Our Florida vacation this time around is so over.

The toffee was incredible, my leftovers were even tastier heated up later, and the bite of chicken tender I had was the best chicken tenders I’ve ever had, although Rich remembers Cane’s in Las Vegas as being just as good if not better. We’ll have to make that one of our first stops when we get back so we can double check that memory. 🙂

 

Rosé Tasting with Master Sommellier at Wine Bar George and a Walk Down Memory Lane

Oh my, my, where to begin? Well, when I saw the special event posted on Instagram, well, I had to forward it to Rich and he immediately bought our tickets for Saturday afternoon from 3:30 to 5:00 p.m. It soon sold out and we noticed that in addition to the Friday afternoon event at the same time, a new event was created for 1:00 p.m. before our tasting. Nice to see the popularity of such an event. As you will recall, we ate lunch at Wine Bar George on the first full opening day a couple of weeks ago. We were so impressed, we knew we’d be back, but not so soon and at a special event.

Loving wine, vineyards, wineries, and anything related to wine, having grown up in a family’s Central Valley vineyard, living near Napa/Sonoma/Livermore and even a few years living near the Willamette Valley vineyards, well, let’s just say neither of us can resist such an event.

George is amazing, so friendly, knowledgeable, sef-effacing, and a great storyteller. We’re not that into Rosé but he made it an awesome event. And we came away with a new respect for Rosé.

We were divided into groups of six at five tables. We managed to sit next to the woman who won the little contest identifying all six wines by region – she identified all six correctly, a feat nobody had managed at the two previous events. She’s quite the Rosé drinker. 🙂

Each table also had a charcuterie/cheese/bread board – amazing! What’s not to love – food, wine, good company, and Disney?

So stoked after the event, we decided this was the time to walk over to Saratoga Springs for the first time since we’ve been back in Central Florida. We used to do this walk often when we lived in Windermere. In fact, this was my “go-to” place to celebrate (i.e., let off steam) the release of my books.

We noticed the new boat dock and shortcut to the walkway leading to Saratoga Springs, which was a great improvement. We stopped in at our favorite pool bar and Rich asked about bartender Rich to see if he was still there. He was, much to our surprise, but he wasn’t working that day. Well have to go back and say hi.

In the wine mood and a bit hungry after just a few snacks during the tasting, I found a table and Rich ordered two glasses of Cab and a cheeseburger flatbread. It was a bit warm sitting here, so we found our way to some shadier chairs on the other side of the pool near the Agapanthas, a flowering bush found all over California, including the Disneyland resort. After our meal, we stopped in at Artist Palette and the gift shop for old times’ sake.

 

We walked back and made our way to the Orange garage, and ended up walking 4.5 miles again. But this time, unlike at Epcot, whenever my hip started hurting after about 3-3.5 miles, we sat down and took a break so I was able to make it back to the car without any problems.

We stopped off to listen to some music reminiscent of what we used to hear at Downtown Disney near the Grand Californian. Disney Springs has so upped their vibe, Disneyland is going to have to work hard to keep up. 🙂

 

 

First Guests at Wine Bar George

Yes, that was us – the first guests on the first full opening day, Sunday. 11 am. George himself greeted us both coming and going.

The atmosphere was way cool, the food incredible and the wine perfectly paired.

We shared the Skirt Steak (with fingerling potatoes and asparagus) family platter meant to be shared. We ate about half and brought the rest home. Heated up for dinner, it was even more awesome – the flavors all married together.  So tender… we’ll be back for more.

As for wine, I had a glass of Argentinian Malbec and Rich had a California Merlot that reminded me of more of a Cab. I don’t recall the names but I took photos of the bottles, which I will post.

We also shared the Olive Oil Cake. I’d wanted to try that for a long time and it was also amazing!

Our server Jason was simply the best!

We were well-rewarded for the long drive through a deluge of epic rain. This was the kind of Disney magic that dreams are made of and we renewed our Annual Pass.

Margarita Sunday at Frontera Cocina, Disney Springs

We’re still settling into the beach house but we took some time this weekend to enjoy the beach on Saturday. It’s so wonderful to be living near the beach again. We really love the pinks/blues we see in the sky.

As fun as that was, I’m feeling a bit unsettled living in a new place. We moved across the country, back to Florida for the third time, but we’re living in a place we haven’t lived before. We’ve only been here 2 months – it’s still so new to me. I was really craving a feeling of the familiar. So we went to our favorite church in Orlando, drove through Dr. Phillips and Windermere remembering when we  lived there, and pointed the Challenger towards Disney Springs.

We’d had reservations at Frontera on Valentine’s Day but after participating in FAWM (February Album Writing Month – write 14 songs in 28 days), I got sick 7 songs in, so we had to cancel. We were making this weekend our Valentine’s celebration.

It was a holiday weekend and after twelve p.m., so our usual Lime Garage was full. This was our first time in the Orange Garage and we were a bit confused on how to get to Frontera and ended up taking the long way around. The good news is, on the way back we figured it out, which will help us immensely should we have to park in that garage again.

We bypassed the long line of those waiting for a table and headed for the bar – a trick we learned on our last visit to Frontera. We ordered our usual Blood Orange Jalapeno Margaritas, which were served to us right away, and our lunch entrees (Carne Asada Tacos for me and Short Rib Tacos for Rich), which took a bit longer. We were starving by the time they arrived but they were worth the wait.

We chatted with a nice couple sitting next to us – they’d had dinner there the night before and were back for Margaritas and then had an extra tequila shot before leaving.

After lunch, we headed for the Ganachery. While there we chatted with the CM and the guy in line behind us. The CM was going to Italy and he had been there when he lived in Paris. He mentioned Marseille and we mentioned we would be in Marseille on our future Med cruise. He said we would love it – great food and wine. He wished us a great trip! He was fabulous and why we love people we meet at Disney.

Alas, it was time to drive back to the beach, but were halfway thinking about making our favorite church in Orlando our regular church and combining church and Disney on a regular basis.

Aunt Catfish’s on the River ala Art Smith

We took some time out from packing up the resort to scout out some of the neighboring beach cities and when we spotted Aunt Catfish’s on the River in Port Orange, we knew we had to stop there for lunch.

We asked to be seated on the porch (inside they were serving a brunch buffet) but we were able to order off the regular menu. Looking for something reasonably healthy, I was dismayed to notice that everything cane with a hush puppy and their “famous” cinnamon roll.

I don’t usually eat cinnamon rolls unless they’ve come highly recommended and I had determined I would ignore it when it came with my sautéed shrimp and cucumber/tomato salad. But as soon as I saw it I knew I would have to taste it.

OMG (I also try to avoid that, too, but trust me – it was definitely OMG-worthy)!! The most amazing cinnamon roll ever!! We’ve since learned you can get boxes in different sizes to go and that spells T-R-O-U-B-L-E!

The hush puppy was special, too, with a crusty outside and soft flavorful with a hint of sweetness inside – they can sometimes be a bit bland. Best hush puppy ever and I go back to Biloxi, Mississippi in the 1980s for my first hush puppy.

Rich had the Catfish with grits lunch and we both had a Bloody Mary, creating our own brunch. We’ll definitely be back – perhaps after church? I’m already thinking about the Fried Green Tomato BLT.

This is the old Florida experience Chef Art Smith is going for at Homecomin’ at Disney Springs, which is a favorite of ours, but at about a third of the cost and a whole lot closer to home, we might just stick to the real deal.

Anniversary Celebration at Morimoto Asia

By Rich

After driving through a huge Florida rain storm to get to Disney Springs, we were pleased that the weather had cleared as we arrived for our anniversary dinner at Morimoto Asia. This restaurant has been on our list of must-dos since we first heard about it.

We checked in at the front desk at 7:10 for our 7:30 reservation. We were seated immediately at a table for two upstairs along the glass railing overlooking the downstairs dining room. This was a great location. It was less crowded than downstairs, and we had a great view of the whole restaurant.

Before arriving, we had reviewed the menu and selected what we wanted to eat and drink. However, when we looked at the menu, and then talked with our server, we found out that the drinks we were expecting to order (Singapore Sling for Kathy, a Morimotini for me) were no longer available. Instead, we both chose the Momo Mai Tai. It was a very tasty, and potent, choice. We did manage to order the four appetizers we had planned.

Menu

Drinks

Momo Mai Tai

Wicked Dolphin Dark Rum, Cruzan Light Rum, Passion Fruit, Blood Orange, orgeat, Pineapple

Appetizers

Rock Shrimp Tempura

Signature tempura rock shrimp, spicy gochujang aioli

Tuna Pizza

Crispy tortilla, tuna sashimi, tomato, jalapeño, anchovy aioli

Morimoto Spare Ribs

Pork ribs, cilantro, hoisin sweet chili glaze

Kakuni Pork Bao

Steamed buns, braised pork belly, lettuce, spicy mayo

Dessert

Cream Caramel

Yuzu caramel sauce, black sesame whipped cream, black sesame air cake

The architecture and atmosphere at Morimoto Asia is amazing. Well-conceived modern Asian design with interesting seating and decorations. It was fun just to look around at everything. The ambiance created a perfect setting for us to share our celebratory anniversary experience.

After we sorted out our drink order, we ordered the first three appetizers (minus the Pork Bao). Once the other appetizers arrived, we realized we wanted the Pork Bao too and added that to our order. Sharing small plates over a couple yummy drinks is one of our favorite ways to dine. And this was the epitome of this kind of dining.

I could not share the shrimp, but Kathy was blown away by the great flavors of this signature dish from Morimoto. The tuna pizza, another signature dish, was full of flavor and texture, enhanced even more when our server brought us some soy sauce to drizzle on it. Wow!

The spare ribs were the ideal sticky, Asian-style ribs we love so much. We could have eaten more of these. And the savory steam buns were filled with flavorful pork belly and a mayo with some kick.

Kathy asked me which appetizer was my favorite, and I didn’t have an answer. They were all incredible.

We were unsure if we wanted dessert, but since we wanted to linger, we decided to share an order of the cream caramel. We had a bit of a wait for the dessert to be delivered. The cream caramel itself was rich and delicious. The black sesame whipped cream and air cake added a bit of an odd savory flavor, but nonetheless, this was a nice ending to a marvelous anniversary dinner.

We’ve had some incredible dining experiences in our 21 years of marriage, and this ranks up there as one of the best.

Thoughts by Kathy:

As fans of all those cooking shows on TV, we were really curious about Morimoto’s food. And then when Deb Wills talked about the new late night cocktail menu and how, in her younger days, she might have downed them all – lol – well, we just had to experience this. And I know exactly what she means. Really cool vibe – kind of like an updated contemporary 70s Disco – at least like the one I used to frequent several nights a week. All that was missing was the dance floor. Oh, and maybe some disco balls.

The food was amazing and even the Mai Tai had a special flavor of its own. Rich couldn’t help me with the Shrimp so I took some of it home and had it for lunch the next day – yum!

We didn’t announce our anniversary, unlike our birthdays. Last year was the big 20th anniversary cruise and we wanted to play it a little more low key this year.

This was our first time at Disney Springs at night and it is so fabulous – very Vegas in a good way and now trumps Downtown Disney at Disneyland.

We stopped by Art Smith’s Homecoming, which we’re hoping to check out later this fall when we might be more in the mood for a bigger meal. It looked quite inviting and I’m sure it’s delicious, but I don’t really eat fried chicken any more. Still, we do want to try it.

Chef Art Smith’s Homecoming

Outside seating for street fare, Morimoto’s

Entrance to Morimoto Asia

Floating staircase leading to upstairs dining

Table for two seating along the upstairs rail

Morimoto’s Mai Tai – delish!

Rich enjoyed his Mai Tai

Kathy enjoying her Mai Tai in lieu of Singapore Sling, which is no more

 

Signature dish – tuna pizza

Signature dish – shrimp tempura

Ribs, appetizer portion

Bao buns

Cream caramel

After our meal, we strolled around Disney Springs to take a look after dark, stopped to listen to a band, and then a night time view of Morimoto’s all lit up – really cool!

Evening entertainment Tuesday-Thursday

Amphicar

The Boathouse at night

Morimoto’s all lit up

Jock Lindsey’s Hangar Bar

We’ve been thinking about the Hangar Bar since lunch at the BoatHouse a few weeks back. And because it was somebody’s birthday, we decided to start the day off with some Disney Springs shopping and snacking.

First, we stopped in at World of Disney to do some birthday shopping. We’d been trying to get back there on previous trips to Disney Springs, but hadn’t made it. We immediately spied two “must haves” – a Minnie Mouse shirt and a Minnie Mouse hat.

Then we headed to Guest Services to get a birthday pin. The CMs were all so wonderful, wishing lots of happy birthdays.

It was a bit too early for the Hangar Bar so we sat in the rocking chairs for a while and then made our way over to Morimoto’s to check it out for a possible future celebration and then we noticed The Ganachery. Once we inside, we were offered a sample and oh my goodness! It was amazing! We made plans to stop back after our lunch at Jock’s.

We were still too early so we decided to revisit the BoatHouse gift shop and get Mrs. Quack. We’d gotten Mr. Quack after our lunch a couple of weeks previously and we didn’t realize there was a Mrs. Quack. So, of course, we had to get her and bring her home to Mr. Quack!

We killed time taking a couple of photos. We thought briefly about taking one of the Amphicars out for a spin but maybe some other time.

By this time, the Hangar Bar was open and we took a look around. We’d heard so much about the theming inside, but it was a little claustrophobic for us, and we chose to sit outside under a fan next to the water. Great view and atmosphere so great choice!

We had such a fun CM who took our order and brought our drinks: the Scottish Professor and Pancho’s Margarita. For full descriptions of menu items, see the WDW menu listed here.

To start with, we ordered the Shrimp Marakesh and the Snakebite Sliders. Rich’s is allergic to Shrimp, so I ate that but there were so many shrimp, I took half of it home. I tasted one of Rich’s sliders, which was amazing. Rich was still hungry so we put in an order of Air Pirate’s Pretzels, which he really enjoyed. They were served in an airplane – lol!

Everything was delicious and so much fun! We’ll definitely be back.