Showing posts with label florida. Show all posts
Showing posts with label florida. Show all posts

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Voyager Bien: Sanibel, FL

Our crazy week at Walt Disney World ended blissfully on the Gulf Coast for a couple days of hardcore R&R. I loved the sleepy vibe of Sanibel, a skinny island community off of Cape Coral. We stayed at the Sanibel Inn, situated a few steps from the white sand, shell-filled beach.
We decided to prepare dinner at the hotel, so hit up Jerry's Foods for local shrimp and steaks for surf 'n turf and Florida Beer Company's Key West Southernmost Wheat, a Belgian style witbier kissed with key lime and spice. Summer perfection!
Despite the heat, I think I could have hung around Sanibel's beaches a bit longer, taking in the beauty and silently praying for its shores to be spared from the oil spill the news had just begun covering...

Sanibel Inn
937 East Gulf Dr. Sanibel Island, FL; 239.472.3181

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Voyager Bien: Disney World Dining part 4

This was the day I had been waiting for. World Showcase day at Epcot!
Situated around the massive World Showcase Lagoon, 11 countries are represented by pavilions distilling the essence of place through architecture, food, drink, shops, and even people (each pavilion is staffed through an exchange program with the corresponding country).
What made our embarkment all the more exciting was the [silly, albeit awesome] t-shirts my sister found online, stating "Drinking Around the World" on the front, with a checklist on the back... My father and I had a few goals for the day. And Epcot caters to such goals openly, with remarkable alcoholic options at every turn. Take that, Disneyland! Here you can wander about with a beer, bubbly, sake, or blended boozy beverage freely!
Just before the bridge to the World Showcase, a Coca-Cola sponsored shop is a fun stop for the all-ages contingent, featuring fountain sodas from around the globe. Some highlights include Italy's bitter Beverly (a shocking red palate-cleansing apertif soda), Germany's Mezzo Mix (a tangy blend of orange and cola, popularly mixed with beer), and Israel's Kinley (a crisp ancient blend of lemon, water, and honey).
Our alcoholic expedition began in Canada, where a beer cart offered Labalt Blue and Moosehead. A pint of the latter started things off...
The British barmaids at the Rose & Crown crowed at our shirts ("we've not seen those before! Brilliant!") and poured us tall Bass beers for our stroll, poking into a Twinings tea shop stocked with assorted exported sundries.
In the metropolitan Parisian sector, a frilly French drink was one of our faves, a Grand Mariner slush!
In Morocco we had some mini shawarma pitas and baklava with our Casa Lager Beer ("The original beer from Casablanca").
Japan was special... Sipping a sake and perusing the Tokyo-esque mall full of anime dolls, kimonos, pottery, and edible goodies was fun, but what won us over was the artist making incredible sculptural candy on the corner. She magically manipulated sugary rice paste into shimmering flamingos and dragons before our eyes...
By the end of her presentation I was feeling a little drunk and then lost my family in the shopping center. I was excited to see that in the back of the shop there's a tiny sake bar that does flights and tastings, but oh boy, I had to move on... Only halfway down the list!
We skipped America. Night was falling and it became clear we would need to be wheeled out if we drank THAT many drinks (my father and I were already on to sharing at this point, tipsy and giggling more than my nieces). And we drink in America everyday. A Budweiser product would not be necessary. We moved on to Italy, where a walk-up bar was making another lovely frozen concoction, here of limoncello, grappa, and lemon!
We had Spaten beers and sausages in Germany, and checked out the wine shop and Christmas market.
It was time to secure a viewing spot for the popular Epcot fireworks spectacular over the lagoon, so mom and I ran ahead to try to grab another snack and a couple more drinks to further the list. In China we picked up bbq pork bao, spring rolls and Tsingtao Beer from a stand.
My mother turned back and I continued making my way to Mexico (at the far end of the lagoon), for a cloying machine-made margarita, then grabbed a generic Australian IPA at "Trade-Post", a bizarre representation, seemingly for Africa and Down Under?? And ran back just in time for the rather impressive pyrotechnics show to start.
All and all, not too shabby. I'm not sure how I was standing, but somehow felt OK by the drive home (no, I was not driving). Of the WDW parks, Epcot clearly won the award for most adult-friendly and with the most eclectic on-the-go food options. 2 Thumbs up!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Voyager Bien: Disney World Dining part 3

By now you might have noticed that this is basically a Skeptics Guide to Walt Disney World. That given, I have to say, one of the most memorable meals at WDW was definitely the Disney Princess Storybook Dining at Akershus Royal Banquet Hall, part of the Norway Pavilion within Epcot's World Showcase.
The castle-like hall is actually rather dramatic and enchanting. Belle from Beauty and the Beast greeted guests near the door for pictures and a quick chat before being seated by the [yes, really] Norwegian staff.
The menu at Akershus has a good amount of seemingly authentic Norwegian dishes. Even the specialty cocktail list makes a concentrated effort (with only a few concoctions laughably out of place). I ordered the most Norwegian I could, starting with the Fjellbekk (Mountain Stream) cocktail of Aquavit, vodka, Sprite and lime. Bracing as a viking's kiss!
The first course was a salad bar (which immediately worried me), but the vast array of pickled and marinated vegetables, roasted beets, cured meats and white fish were surprisingly Nordic, and delicious.
I ordered the Traditional Kjottkake for my main - Ground beef and pork dumplings with mashed potatoes, asparagus and Lingonberry sauce. This kicked Ikea's Swedish behind in the meatball-n-berries category, with juicy seasoned meat and a comforting gravy. I ate every bite!
The dessert platter was an unmemorable combo of a bittersweet chocolate mousse, flaky puff pastry with mascarpone mousse and fresh berries, and a baffling "Traditional Rice Cream" with strawberry sauce. Irregardless, we were so full, one bite each was plenty. The real treat was the absolute AWE in my niece's eyes getting to meet her idols...
For reservations:
(407) WDW-DINE or (407) 939-3463
or book online

Voyager Bien: Disney World Dining part 2

Since this was the week to do Disney World -and do it right- a handful of special events filled our agenda, especially around meal times. Our second day at the parks ended with one of the more anticipated - the Spirit of Aloha Dinner Show at WDW's waterfront Polynesian Resort.
A quick boat ride from the Magic Kingdom, and a stop along the WDW resort-wide monorail, the Polynesian is one of the most popular resorts, and I could see why. It's a slice of the Big Island with a breezy tropical lobby, two authentic Hawaiian restaurants, and even a sandy [faux] beach. In fact, one of the best meals of the trip was our breakfast at the Polynesian's casual Kona Cafe on our final day, with macadamia-pineapple pancakes, smoked pulled pork hash and eggs. Recommended! (Check out their menu).
This evening however we were not dining in one of their restaurants, we were attending an outdoor "all-you-care-to-eat", family-style luau featuring hula dancing and fire knife dancers.
Once we were lei'd and had our photo taken, we were lead to a table in a large bamboo dining hall. A server took our drink orders (I got a tiki cocktail served in a carved monkey coconut shell) and brought out heavy silver platters holding fresh cut pineapple, salad with mango poppy seed dressing and Mandarin oranges, and my favorite, lightly sweet coconut bread. A very refreshing start.
The main course consisted of barbequed pork ribs, roast chicken, Polynesian-style rice and seasonal vegetable. The ribs and chicken were smokey and tasty, but the sides left something to be desired. A picturesque chocolate mousse volcano (that ironically I did not capture a good image of) was a passable dessert, but second fiddle to the show which by now was well underway.
The talented performers represented the many nations of the South Pacific, with traditional dances and costumes from Tahiti, Samoa, Tonga, New Zealand, and Hawaii. Climaxing with the crowd favorite fire knife dances, the Spirit of Aloha was an entertaining dinner theater event, though my itchy aversion to pure "tourism" flared throughout. I would recommend this to families with children, but perhaps dinner at 'Ohana for a slightly more adult Polynesian experience.

For reservations:
(407) WDW-DINE or (407) 939-3463
or book online