For videos of our most recent time living in Central Florida, check out our 18-Month Florida Vacation Playlist on our new YouTube Channel.
The F&W Festival gets more and more crowded each week, and Saturday, wouldn’t you know it, seemed to be the hottest, most humid day yet. It may have been the last hot and humid day of 2018, because it’s been cooler ever since. Anyway, all I know is that I dripped sweat like I was in Thailand so many years ago. It makes it all so very tiring, and we didn’t have a lot of energy for this one.
But our list of things to do on this trip wasn’t that ambitious – mostly to revisit Taste Track and get another one of those tasty Chocolate Raspberry Croissant Donuts, the Skirt Steak with Chimichurri, and, perhaps, the Short Rib Tostada at Mexico or the Black Pepper Garlic Shrimp Noodles in China. We did all of the above (except for the noodles) and more.
We also tried the Corned Beef with Crispy Potatoes when we got the Skirt Steak. I actually preferred the Corned Beef over the Skirt Steak, although the smoke on the steak stood out nicely.
So, back to the beginning. We debated about whether to choose the Festival Center or Taste Track for our first stop but we were so hungry, Taste Track won. But we had to wait about 7 minutes for the booth to open, but it was worth the wait.
Then, we were off to the Festival Center for our free on 4th visit Passholder Mickey cutting boards (so cute!) and a couple of Mimosas to wash down breakfast. Rich got the Blood Orange I got the Tropical – mine was a bit too sweet and his was a bit too tart so we mixed them to get it just right. Hard to tell which is which from the photos.
We stumbled around and found the Flavors from Fire both and got the Skirt Steak with Chimichurri and Polenta and the Corned Beef with Crispy Potatoes (amazing cheese sauce) and a wine pairing (Michael David Winery: 7 Deadly Zins Zinfandel, Lodi).
My apologies for the not so great photos – the sun was so bright it really was hard to see what I was snapping.
We thought we might want a refreshing Baileys Guiness Milkshake in Ireland but partway there, we decided to turn around and head for Mexico for the Short Rib Tostada and a couple of Margaritas – so hot and sweaty out!
Halfway through the margaritas, we decided to head over to Hawaii for some dessert. Rich got in line and I snagged a table.
The Passion Fruit Cheesecake with Macadamia Nuts was awesome!
We’d also heard great things about the Maple Walnut Cheesecake at the Cheese Studio so we made a final stop on our way out. It was quite tasty, too, but better suited for Thanksgiving – it had a real taste of Fall but too heavy for such a hot, humid day.
My favorite was the Passion Fruit Cheesecake in Hawaii, although the Maple Walnut may have been Rich’s favorite. Both delicious and a great way to end the 2018 Food & Wine Festival for us.
I will miss the morning sunlight peeking through the trees,
Soaring birds chirping their morning wakefulness,
Squawking gulls flapping their wings,
Treading shore birds scanning the pond for breakfast.
I will miss sipping my coffee on the lanai greeting the dawn with prayer,
Scribbling my early thoughts,
Clearing my mind of nighttime fears,
Making room for gratitude and thankfulness.
I will miss cocktails and apps overlooking the springs at the BoatHouse,
Strolling World Showcase,
Martinis in the Wilderness,
Dipping my toes in the ocean.
I will miss our dream kitchen,
White cabinets and quartz countertops,
Undermount lights with a view,
Morning walkers and evening golf carts.
But most of all I will miss
The last house where Skipper lived.
We’ve been craving a martini at Territory Lounge at Wilderness Lodge for some time now. It would be a nice change from hoofing it around a hot park – air conditioning, peace, quiet, ah…
We each had a dirty Ketel One Vodka martini, the Oregon White Cheddar Chardonnay Cheese Fondue that comes with 3 pretzel breadsticks and grapes, and the Asian Sticky Wings. The Cheese Fondue is amazing and the wings are quite tasty, although tonight they were especially salty.
We noticed the famous Artist Point Mushroom Soup is on the lounge menu along with the Berry Cobbler (we’ve had the Cobbler in the lounge before), but we decided to save those two items for our final Artist Point dinner at the end of next month right before it becomes the silly Snow White Character dinner. I mean, did they have to convert it completely? How about special occasions or just until 8 pm or something like that?
We noticed Artist Point was quite busy last night so maybe it hasn’t been hurting or maybe everybody is just booking it now because they know time is running out but it seemed like there were many families with the stroller brigade crowding the restroom area. Obviously, Disney World is going after the family dollars above all else.
After our lovely little meal and drink, we walked the grounds and while it’s as beautiful and mostly peaceful as ever. We stopped with another couple to get some photos of a rabbit hiding in the flowerbed and took turns taking photos of each other.
Later on our way to what was once the Trout Pass Bar, we were almost run over by two New Yorkers when I paused for two seconds to take a photo. People seem to be storming over to Geyser Point – that place is always a madhouse these days – and the smores area is making it even more crowded.
Note: Rich is standing in front of where we last sat on stools and enjoyed a glass of wine before our last meal at Artist Point over Thanksgiving 2017. Sigh…
We did enjoy another lovely walk over to the cabins – wouldn’t we like to live there? Wow! Of course, we love Wilderness Lodge and in some ways really hate to see these changes impacting that peaceful experience it used to be. It’s sad that the Trout Pass Bar is now a nail salon – I mean, a nail salon by the pool? Seriously? Oh well, I may have to give it a try for old times’ sake.
It was such a beautiful night and we were wishing we were staying over, but, alas, it was soon time to go home. But first we had a quick look around the gift shop and then out to the parking lot to retrieve our car to begin the drive home via the Windermere townhome for old times’ sake. After all, when we lived there, Skipper, Lovey, and Buddy were still with us. It wasn’t such a bad life, now was it? 🙂
Back when the townhome community was new. The trees in front of the townhomes are so huge now, it makes the neighborhood seem much more crowded.
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.
Cathead vodka, Cappelletti, fresh watermelon, lemon, and cucumber
Malfy gin, Cappelletti, Cocchi vermouth di Torino, and orange
Capellini with Crab
Toasted Garlic, Olive Oil, Serrano Chili Pepper
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.
You might have noticed our new domain for this blog – DisneynCruising.com. It all goes back to 1999 when Rich and I flew to Orlando from San Francisco and stayed at the Yacht Club for the first time. This was Rich’s first trip to Disney World – I’d been twice before: 1982 after my first Caribbean cruise and in 1987 on a combo Big Red Boat cruise to the Bahamas/WDW trip. It was always about Disney and cruising.
1999 was quite the year. In May, we went to WDW, and in November we celebrated Rich’s parents 50th anniversary on a Caribbean cruise on the Holland America’s Westerdam out of Fort Lauderdale – our second cruise together – the first was on Celebrity’s Century (see header pic) in 1997.
By December, we bought our first home together after Rich transferred to the “Silicon Forest” office in Oregon and I continued contracting for a couple of Silicon Valley companies. That’s when this whole journey began that led to three moves to Florida and where we are today.
Skipper and Buddy were born April 9, we moved into our home on April 14th, and Skipper and Buddy came home June 19th. We got Lovey a year later. The 3 Musketeers. Skipper was devastated when we lost Lovey last year. And, now, with Skipper gone, we are grieving the end of a very special time.
Shadow is grieving terribly – running around yelling all night – not every night, although tonight is one of those nights and neither of us can sleep. So I figured it was time to pay a little tribute to the journey that started with Disney World and cruising.
After church on Sunday in Orlando, I think we’ll drive by the Windermere townhome remembering when I pulled up in front of the townhome and Rich opened the front door and Skipper just walked outside to greet me. I was horrified that he was outside – for 18 years I put my heart into loving him and protecting him and worrying about him getting outside. And now he’s gone. The end of an era that leaves me feeling rather empty.
Here are a few photos from the early days.
Buddy and Skipper with their personalized collars they hated as kittens (those were soon dispensed of) in first house in Oregon
Lovey in the dishwasher
Skipper never very far away from Lovey
Little girl with her big bruiser
“The Little Couple” (Skipper and Lovey)
Lovey loving the fireplace
The 3 Musketeers – Lovey and Skipper with the “Brother/Brother-in-law”
Living 2 miles from Cinderella Castle – remembering when I parked in front of the townhome and Rich opened the front door and Skipper just walked outside to greet me
We called 2017 the “Year of Repositioning” and many of you followed our journey from Las Vegas to Florida and the fits and starts along the way.
2018 is the “Year of Adjusting,” and I’ve really been struggling lately, actually even before the one-year anniversary of arriving in Florida. The first 7 months were spent in an apartment in North Orlando while we house hunted and then built our home in a beach city we’d never lived in before. So the adjustment period started all over again, although we might have been further along in our adjustment if we hadn’t had to split our time. But, then, this is our third time in Florida and I always get homesick. Hence, the upcoming birthday trip to SoCal, a short cruise to Mexico, and a couple of days at Disneyland Resort. I can’t wait to touch down once again!
Just for kicks, I looked at some pics of our Las Vegas home and the surrounding area and am so thankful we’re out of the desert – the best thing about living there was that feeling of home and being only 4 hours from Disneyland/SoCal childhood. I miss that! Sometimes I can’t believe I’m so far away now. How did this happen? 🙂
Anyway, here are two pics that show the contrast of living in Las Vegas and living in Florida – no wonder I struggle to adjust – it’s a huge change!
The back of our Vegas house – solar screens are popular as a way to block out some of that hot desert sun. We also had blackout drapes on the back side of the house for that intense afternoon sun.
This morning’s view from my screened Lanai where I sip my coffee every morning – glorious!
Two different worlds for sure!
Saturday, we shopped for the trip in the morning and then had our lunch at La Fiesta, which is so authentically Mexican, we’re there practically every week. At least the weeks we’re not at Disney. The Margaritas are amazing!! Growing up in Southern California surrounded by Mexican culture, margaritas and tacos are a taste of home.
Tequila, take me home!
Halfway through eating lunch. 🙂
We were shopping at Target the other day and we picked up some food items like tortillas, black beans, rice, tortilla chips and salsa and the clerk said, “Are you having a Mexican Fiesta?” I just looked at her and said, “Every night is a Mexican Fiesta for us.” The thing is nobody would say that to you in California or the West Coast or the entire SW. In this day of the Food Network and food education, I’m a bit shocked even somebody in Florida said it.
No doubt we’re having a blast in Florida, enjoying frequent trips to Disney and the beach – what a welcome change from the desert. Our house is wonderful, the golf community is gorgeous – both a dream come true. But it’s not home. And, as always, it’s starting to feel like we’re on another extended Florida vacation.