Thursday, July 31, 2014

Disney Reviews: Snack Edition #3 - Dark Chocolate-Covered Pineapple Spear

Karamell Kuche is a relatively new addition to Epcot's Germany Pavilion:

Let me preface this by saying I'm not a fan of caramel, not in the least, but I do LOVE dark chocolate and I love pineapple, so I can forgive the drizzle of caramel that covers this thing:
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And there is nothing small about it! It's also very cold, so you might want to prep your teeth for it. But the pineapple is fresh and the chocolate is not like typical German chocolate with that weird "bite" to it (maybe because it's dark instead of milk).

This might have been the shortest review yet!!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Disney Reviews: Restaurant Edition #7 - Kona Cafe

Since I'm on a roll, let's continue on with a resort restaurant, shall we? Like I mentioned in my Polynesian Resort review, we'd eaten at Kona long before staying there. I'm not really sure how it came about, probably something as simple as we needed a sit-down restaurant that was close enough to the Magic Kingdom as to make it convenient to eat at for a Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party night.

Kona is located in the Main Ceremonial House at The Polynesian Resort, on the second floor.

It's a rather small dining area and can get quite loud at times. It has an open kitchen:

and some seating tends to be extremely close together:

We managed to get a separate table in 2007, but ended up in the, what I like to call, community seating in 2010:2010-0156

Of course, because it is the Poly and it's Hawaiian based, there does tend to be a bit of Lilo and Stitch hanging around, especially during Halloween time (but I don't mind, seeing as how Stitch is second only to Donald in my eyes):

if you'll notice, the chocolate statues of Lilo & Stitch were there in both 2007 and 2010...I just hope they weren't the same ones (although I have the feeling they were, even if they still smelled of chocolate in 2010)!

But anyhoo, on with the good stuff! Apparently, even though they aren't included in the dining plan anymore and you have to pay out of pocket for them, I'm a definite fan of appetizers because I seem to get them everywhere (and given a choice, I'd much rather have an appetizer versus a dessert anyway, but that's a rant for another day).

The bread is very sweet, and, if not for the butter, I probably wouldn't eat it at all (and I don't usually have much of it), but it has always been fresh:

Where Kona excels is with their sticky wings!
I don't typically like bone-on chicken (despite my love of cow blood, the sight of chicken blood, raw or cooked, turns my stomach and wings tend to have a lot of cooked blood on their bones). I just try not to eat all the way down to the bone. The sauce on them is AH-MAZ-ING! You do literally lick your fingers!

My Sister, our resident beer aficionado, is quite fond of the Fire rock Pale Ale. She first had it at the Food & Wine Festival and fell in love. It's one of her favorite beers ever.

I much prefer my drinks in a pineapple!

Again, I'm not a fan of different kinds of food, which has always been a sore spot between Kona and me. They do tend to change their menu up a lot and there is really only one thing that I can get there that I like to eat, and that's the steak. It's not always on the menu though, so I've had to cancel many a ressie to Kona because of it. Despite how much we enjoy eating there, I'm just not a fan of mixing sweet and savory. But luckily, both times we've been there, they have had cow.
2010 (at least the pineapple wasn't infused in the steak and I was able to scrape it off)

We did dessert in 2007, but not 2010 (and I'm not sure why). I went with the cheesecake, which was extremely tiny, but really good, and thankfully didn't have a graham cracker crust (which I absolutely HATE on cheesecake...either cookie or none, graham crackers ruin the flavor of the cheesecake):

Am had the Banana creme brulee:

Well, that was a short one, but since we've only been there twice, my pictures are a bit limited!

Wednesday Hodgepodge

Woopsie! Must have forgotten last week's podge...oh well, on with this one!

1. "Summer is like childhood. It's full of warm memories and gone too soon."~Kellie Elmore Agree or disagree? Share something you loved about the summers of your childhood.
Disagree. I was a miserable child. Aspergers and the 70's/80's didn't mix well (although I didn't know that's what it was then). The only thing I miss about my childhood is spending hours swimming in the backyard. I haven't been in a pool in 25 years or more and I'm a water baby by nature.

2. Are you a fan of auto racing-NASCAR, Indy, Stock, Grand Prix, etc? Ever been to a race in person? Any desire to do this? Do you know a lot about cars? Do you notice particular makes and models when you're out and about?
No, No, No, No, and No! Living in the South, all anyone talks about is cars and Nascar (and hunting). I just don't get it. I love my Nissan Rogue, but it's only purpose is to make me comfortable while getting from one location to another.

3. What's something you think is too serious to be joked about? Or do you think anything and everything is fair game?
I think this whole "PC" movement is the worst thing to ever happen to society. I really only get offended if someone is making fun of me personally and then only if it's meant to be hateful and not funny. I don't joke much myself and don't laugh much anyway. Besides, I was picked on heavily as a child, so I've got the skin of a rhino. The stink caused by Jason Biggs' tweet after the Malaysian crash wouldn't have happened 20 years ago. I didn't think it was that offensive, but neither did I think it was funny. It was just a case of poor taste and bad timing on his part and aren't jokes all about the timing? Plus, I grew up in an age where comedians like Whoopi and Robin Williams and Bobcat Goldthwaite were on the scene...need I say more? Well, I'm gonna.

I always think of the South Park Christmas episode (which, just the fact that I watch South Park, defines my sense of humor) where all the parents were screaming about certain aspects of the children's Christmas pageant being offensive to their beliefs. In the end, the kids were all wearing gray jumpsuits, spinning in circles, going "beep boop" over and over again. When the parents kicked up a stink about it because it wasn't "Christmas-y", Mr. Garrison told them, "well, you made me remove everything offensive and this was all that was left!". Political Correctness sucks. Guaranteed I've probably offended SOMEONE with that answer, but oh well.

4. July 29th is National Lasagna Day. Are you a fan? Do you have a great recipe, and if so where did it come from? If given a choice would you choose a plate of lasagna or a plate of spaghetti?
I do like lasagna, but I have to be in the mood for it (and my diet won't allow it, so I haven't had it in a while and, since it uses the same sauce as spaghetti, you'll have that answer in a minute). I prefer to make it myself because no one EVER puts enough cheese in it for me! I kind of prefer the Stouffer's kind to homemade anyway (as long as extra cheese is added to it). Spaghetti was my mother's "go to" dish when she was in a hurry, so we ate a LOT of it. Now, I might have it every other year or so and only if I'm in the mood.

5. What's a simple pleasure you'd miss if it were not a regular part of your life?
Disney! That one was easy!

6. If you could be the CEO of any company, which would you choose?
I wouldn't. I would much prefer to be independently wealthy enough not to have to work.

7. August is just around the farewell to July in exactly seven words.
Come back! I need more Disney money!

8. Insert your own random thought here.
Don't have any today actually.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Disney Reviews: Special Edition #3: Garden View Tea

Yes, I know that this, in essence, is a meal, but it's not set up that way and is more of an experience that just a meal, so I'm putting it in the Special Edition section. It takes reservations like a normal restaurant, but that's where the normality ends!

Located inside Disney's Grand Floridian Resort and Spa (or Disney's Indian Burial Ground resort, as I like to call it due to it's freaky Indian Burial Ground vibe), the Garden View Tea Room is on the main lobby floor.
There are plenty of things to see in the GF's lobby,

including a band:

and don't forget to look down:

They also have various shops, from the fancy-smancy clothing store, to their very own Basin which has scents that are specific to the Grand Floridian. Plus, at Christmastime, it's one of the best on property (here's a teaser, I'll do a Christmas review at another time):
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If you arrive via monorail,

you will either have to take the stairs:

or the elevator down to the main level:

It is a very small area and the tea only happens for about four hours a day, so reservations are extremely hard to come by (and now they are rehabbing the room, so it's temporarily closed until late fall). It's another thing that we do on a Magic Kingdom day because it is so easy to take the resort monorail directly to the GF.

The decor is very Victorian (like the rest of the GF):

right down to the China:
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I can't help but blush at the cherub with the saggy va-jay-jay (yes, I'm twelve), but we always seem to be looking right at her! Must be because the room is so tiny:

There are several different experiences to be had here, from a package to ordering separately. We typically do a package, the Grand Tea to be specific. Here is the descrption directly from

The Grand Tea - The classic English tradition of Afternoon Tea, Grand Floridian style. We offer you a variety of tea sandwiches, scones and jam tarts, followed by your choice of our freshly baked tea pastries or English trifle, accompanied by a glass of Domaine Ste.-Michelle sparkling wine and your choice of tea. Iron Horse Cuvee $6.00. Veuve Clicquot $9.00 $29.00

They bring you samples of the tea to sniff if you are undecided about which to choose. They carry everything from blacks to whites to greens to oolong, and every flavor in between. They also have herbals, but here's where my tea snobbery is the worst...HERBAL TEA IS NOT TEA! There are no tea leaves in it! It's more of a natural Kool-Aid than tea, but I digress:

The tea arrives in your own pot and the CM serves it up for you. Each person gets their own pot (which is good). We don't typically get the same flavor anyway.

It stays hot the entire time due to being covered in cozies:
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We've also swapped out the champagne for mimosas:

Here are the scones and jam tarts (the jam tart flavors have always been the same-Strawberry, but the scone flavors tend to vary):
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Next comes the finger sandwiches, and these are hit and miss:
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I usually have to cover up the pate (because it's nasty) and I don't eat the onion tart, but the sandwiches are all pretty good...there is usually a cucumber pear (which you'd think I'd hate, but it's actually rather good), an egg, a seafood salad, and a very mustardy flavored one with chicken.

Then come the pastries! We've gotten everything from strawberries and creme:
to a selection of pastries you pick from a trolley:
to my all-time favorite, English Trifle:
which has now been fancied up a bit more:
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It's a very "English" experience, and we all know how much I love all things English! Am likes to really ham it up while we're there:
sometimes they give out roses:

I won't show you the one picture of me, sticking my tongue out because I didn't want her to take my picture. You should be spared that horror!

All the tea they serve, they also sell, including a Garden View Blend that is specifically made for the tea room (it's a bit like a Lady Grey with a floral twist to it, I absolutely LOVE it!). Now, I think I may have mentioned that I'm an extreme tea snob, I don't take tea lightly, but I have yet to try a flavor that I didn't like.

It's an event we try to do as often as possible, and, although we usually have the same menu items, it seems like an entirely different experience every single year! Granted, I would never be able to stay at the GF (due to the Indian Burial Ground vibe), but it's Amber's favorite and she has stayed there before. I can't manage more than the couple of hours it takes to do the tea and to pick up some Basin White bath bombs (my absolute favorite) without my spidey-sense kicking in and urging me to get the heck out of dodge!