Friday Five: 5 x 5 for Epcot’s International Food & Wine Festival 2017 & 2018

40347632_686479751712198_1256641477291802624_nYesterday, was opening day of one of my favorite events at Walt Disney World, Epcot’s International Food & Wine Festival.  This is the time of the time of the year where I unleash my inner foodie and throw out any kind of diet plan. One of my favorite things is to pour through the menus of each Festival Booth and stalk all the great Disney Food Facebook pages, dreaming of all the yummy sips and bites.  The menus were released a few weeks ago and I already have my list ready for my trip in 35! But before I look ahead to next month, let’s take a moment to look at back at some of my favorites (and misses) from 2017…

5 Top Bites from 2017

1 & 2 Piggy Wings (2nd year of my list) & Chocolate Picante-Dark Chocolate Mousse & Yellow cake with Cayenne Pepper, Chili Pepper and Raspberry Dust

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Roasted Pork Wings with a Korean BBQ sauce…sticky, sweet and just little after burn to remind you that you are at Flavors from Fire)  I love chocolate and heat, a yummy combination!

3. Liquid Nitro Chocolate-Almond Truffle with a Warm Whiskey-Caramel from the Chocolate Studio (2nd Year of my list)

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Yummy and refreshing, love the cold treat on a hot day, and paired with a beautiful red dessert wine…AMAZING.

4. Warm Irish Cheddar Cheese and Stout Dip with Irish Brown Bread from Ireland

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I was a little scared to try this combination, considering I am not a beer fan but I love Irish Brown Bread.  The flavor of the bread, cheese and beer together was the perfect bite of Ireland

5. Traditional Spanish Paella with Shrimp, Bay Scallops, Mussels, Chicken and Crispy Chorizo from Spain

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How they managed to get every component on the plate is beyond me, plus the rice had that crispy chewy bite that normally you would be fighting to get at home.  

Top 5 Sips from 2017

1. Lenotti Recioto della Valpolicella (see picture with Nitro Truffle)

A sweet red dessert wine, probably the best red dessert wine I have EVER had and a perfect complement to the truffle.

2. Kim Crawford Frozen Wine Cocktail featuring Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand

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It was the perfect wine slushy and took the edge off of a family who decided that they wanted to ATTEMPT to crowd me out of my spot for illuminations that I had staked out for over an hour.

3. Red Moscato from Italy

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This must be the year of the sweet reds for me.  Another great vino!

4. Twinings Pumpkin Chai Tea Frozen Cocktail with Caramel Vodka (2nd year)

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My favorite drink from 2016 did not disappoint…pumpkin, chai, caramel vodka fall in a glass!  I will not even admit to how many of these I drank this year. I was EXTREMELY disappointed when I was reading the menu for Ireland’s Festival Booth for 2018 and found this missing…thankfully I did not have to cancel my trip over this as has just been moved to another booth.  

5. Dragon Berry Refresher featuring Bacardi Dragon Berry Rum from the Refreshment Port

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A refreshingly light frozen cocktail, that given the opportunity I would have had more that I needed.

5 Misses from 2017

1. Bleu Spectrum (Blanc de Bleu Cuvee Mousseux with Boba Pearls) from the Light Lab

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I wanted to love this, but after 3 sips I threw it away.  It was bitter with an odd aftertaste. Light Lab is such a fun festival booth, mad scientist lab that glows in the dark.

2. Crispy Calamari with Spicy Pomodoro Sauce from Italy (see picture above on Italy’s Red Moscato)

The appearance turned me off as it seemed under fried, however the calamari was crispy but it lacked any sort of flavor at all.  The Pomodoro sauce was good, but not good enough to make up for the calamari.

3. Spicy Hummus Fries with Cucumber, Tomato, Onions and Tzatziki Sauce from Morocco

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Another favorite bite from 2016 that was a HUGE disappointment in 2017.  This year the fries were wet and soggy and lacked the spice in spicy.

4. Teriyaki Ginger Pork from Japan

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I guess I was expecting another version of the Piggy Wings, but this was not that.  It was dull and flavorless.

5. Beijing Roasted Duck Bao Bun with Hoisin Sauce from China

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I was so excited that this was on the menu again for 2016, but after the first bite I was extremely disappointed.  This year’s  lacked the deep rich flavor I remembered and the duck was chewy and greasy, so instead of being on the top again the duck moved to the bottom.

Looking towards the 2018 Epcot Food & Wine Festival…

So, what I am looking forward to eating and drinking in 2018 (based on menu only)? Of course, I am going for the Liquid Nitro Chocolate-Almond Truffle, the Pumpkin Chai with Vodka and the Piggy Wings, plus I might give a few past disappointments another chance but here is what is topping my list to try…

Top 5 Eats to Try For 2018

1. Maple Bourbon Cheesecake with Maple Bourbon Cream, Caramel & Pecan crunch (Cheese Studio)

2. The Steakhouse Blended Burger (blended beef and wild mushroom slider with brie cheese fondue, arugula, truffle and blue cheese potato chip on a brioche bun) from Earth Eats

3. Bougasta (warm phyllo dough strudel with sweet vanilla custard, lemon honey syrup and cinnamon) from Greece

4. Sweet Potato Poutine (sweet potato fries with caramel sauce, mini marshmallows and pecans) from Refreshment port

5. Korma Chicken with cucumber tomato salad, almonds, cashews, and warm naan bread from India

Top 5 Sips to Try For 2018

1, Caribbean White Sangria from Islands of the Caribbean

2. Chateau Des Charmes Vidal Ice-wine from Canada

3. La Passion Martini Slush from France

4. Fiji Apple Cocktail from Japan

5. Blood Orange Mimosa from the new Mimosa Bar

I have decided that this year, I do not have to try to eat and drink something at every booth.  Instead, I am going to get as many dishes and pours at a Festival Booth that catches my attention (and my stomach as room for).

Follow this link to the 2018 Menus…

2018 Epcot Food & Wine Market Places

What would make your list?  Share your lists in the comments!

Tuesdays on the Run: Running Guilty Pleasures

It’s Tuesday, so that means I am linking up with Patty, Erika & Marsha for Tuesday’s on the Run.

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This week’s topic…

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I admit it, I love running because of all it allows me to indulge in some of my guilty pleasures…

I run because I really like dessert…

running affords me (or at least I think it does, the scale not so much) a few extra calories, right?

I run because I love runcations…

I have run in some pretty cool places (literally cool) and what a great excuse to get out of town for a weekend (okay, what a great excuse to use on Mr. Grumpy to go on yet another girl’s trip to Walt Disney World).

I run because I get to pick the music (and turn it up real loud)…

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With 2 teenage boys in the car, mom’s music isn’t so much respected or appreciated…most of the time I don’t even get control of the dial.  I love that I can blast a little Charley Pride, Air Supply or Ozzy while I run.  (Yes, my musical taste is very diverse). And I have to say, the 2 teenage boys did a great job with my Christmas present this year!  

But you want to know the biggest guilty pleasure I have when it comes to running?  My biggest guilty pleasure is running.  

If you would have said that 5 years ago (hey, I just celebrated my run-anniversary on January 1st)  when I started on this running journey, I would have laughed at you because then running was just a way to get to my guilty pleasure of a vacation to Walt Disney World with the girl’s.  My mindset has shifted, with the help of a boot for 6 months and everything that came after it was gone.  When I didn’t have running, I realized how much I missed running and how much I needed it (and my family too, for their own personal safety).  Running is MY ME TIME, something precious that most of us can relate too.  It is during my runs that I have an outlet to release all the things in my daily life that are weighing on me.  I have the time to reflect and pray, often finding clarity and strength to deal with things when the run is over.  Sometimes a good run is the release that I need to “Let it Go…” (yes, I it’s on my run playlist and is on my most played list, too).  

So not only does running afford me some of my favorite things in life, it also is one of my favorite things (remind me that after my next bad run).  

What does running bring to your life, guilty pleasure or not? Drop me a line in the comments!  And if a Disney vacation is a guilty pleasure that you would like to indulge in, I can help you with that…contact me for your free, no obligation quote today!

#(almost)wordlesswednesday: Epcot’s Food & Wine Festival

It’s #(almost)wordlesswednesday, that means linking up with Focused on the Magic to share my #DisneySide through pictures and a few words, since nothing for me is ever wordless with me…  

This week’s theme is “ Epcot’s Food & Wine Festival,” which happens to be a favorite topic of mine and one I often daydream about.

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In fact, I have been pouring over the marketplace menu’s for this years festival making my list of what I am going to eat and drink.  For the 2017 festival there will be a record number of marketplace booths, 35 to be exact as well as a record number of days!  That is a whole lot of eating, drinking and fun!  

Epcot International Food & Wine Festival 2017

Let’s take a look back at my selections in 2013


I am still working on last year’s pictures…hopefully I will get them up this weekend.

This year I am not letting anything stand in my way of visiting ALL 35 booths and having at least one sip and sample.  For a complete listing  of all the Marketplace Booths with menus & pictures visit…

Epcot Food and Wine Marketplaces

The 2017 Epcot Food and Wine Festival will be here soon! Mark your calendars for August 31-November 13, 2017, as the event runs for an unprecedented 75 days this year!

It is never too late to start your planning to visit this foodie lovers event, contact me today for a free, no obligation quote and let’s start your list of things you want to sip and sample!

Friday Fives: 5 Favorite Breakfast Dishes at Walt Disney World

Normally I am not a breakfast person, but all that changes when I am vacationing at Walt Disney World and many days it’s my favorite meal of the day.

I love getting to the parks prior to rope drop, for those Disney newbies that means EARLY (prior to park opening) and I love taking advantage of Extra Magic Hours (EMH) in the morning (which means even earlier than rope drop).  It is amazing how much fun you can have before 10 am and how hungry you can get because of it.  Once the crowd builds later in the morning, I like to take a break and splurge a little (okay a lot) on a delicious breakfast.

A Mickey Waffle is certainly a must for at least 1 Disney vacation breakfast because who can resist smiling back at that smile?

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But there are so many other tempting yummies that also must be showcased (devoured).  So, let’s start the day off right at Walt Disney World with my 5 of my “Best Thing I Ever Ate at Walt Disney World” Breakfasts…

If I am headed to the Magic Kingdom for the morning my pick is a pre-rope drop meal inside the Magic Kingdom with Pooh and friends at the Crystal Palace, where every day you get to celebrate Friendship Day.  My favorite dish at the Crystal Palace is the Breakfast Lasagna

 

 

Layers of Waffles, Pancakes, Pound Cake, Strawberries, and Banana Topped with Pastry Cream and Caramelized Sugar.  How is such yumminess even possible?  Trust me it is worth every calorie!

My next two favorite dishes are just a couple monorail stops away from the Magic Kingdom and make great choices for when you are park hopping or just need a break from the park altogether.  First, catch the monorail and go two stops to the Polynesian Resort and when you exit the monorail you will find the Kona Café to your left, home of the Tonga Toast

 

2 slices of thick sourdough bread that is stuffed with bananas and then deep fried and coated with cinnamon sugar, served with a strawberry compote (and a side of bacon, you need a little protein). This sweet breakfast treat is certainly worth the extra steps you must take to exit the Magic Kingdom. Take the monorail one more stop to the Grand Floridian and the Grand Floridian Café for something a little savory, Lobster Eggs Benedict

 

two poached eggs, lobster hash, asparagus and hollandaise sauce. This is as elegant as the surroundings it is served in.

But what if you decided to get up with the animals and you spent your morning at the Animal Kingdom?  My first choice would be to dine with “Safari” Mickey and the gang for my favorite character meal at the Tusker House.  Here you will find a buffet full of both American breakfast favorites and African inspired dishes.  Want a pro-tip?  Book your ADR (Advanced Dining Reservation) at around 10: 30 am you will get both breakfast and lunch selections. Back to my favorite dish here, Mealie Pap

A South African porridge made from ground maize (or other grains).  Shocked you didn’t I with this choice because basically I am proclaiming my love for Grits.  I honestly don’t know what it is about this dish but I love it…of course I do doctor it up with brown sugar, lots of butter and raisins.  For a bonus at Tusker House make sure you have a glass (or several) of Jambo Juice.  Just a short 5-minute bus ride from Animal Kingdom you will find Animal Kingdom Lodge-Jambo House and Boma for even more flavors of Africa (and American for my less adventurous friends).  I love the warm rich colors of Boma, decorated to resemble a lively African marketplace.  On the buffet is my ultimate go to comfort food, bread pudding but this is not your ordinary bread pudding instead you get

 

 

French Toast Bread Pudding with Pecan Praline Sauce.  Who says you can’t have dessert for breakfast? After all, it’s vacation, right?

I am looking forward to my next trip to Walt Disney World in the fall as I have 2 new breakfast locations picked out, who knows maybe one these places will be home to my next “Best Thing I Ever Ate at Walt Disney World”, breakfast.

There is a huge variety of breakfast options you can enjoy all over Disney World. No matter where you choose to start your day, here’s hoping it’s a magical one!

Want more great dining ideas?  Book your Disney vacation with me and I will help you navigate your way through the word one dish at a time.  Remember all my services are complimentary.

 

 

Friday Fives: 5 (+5) Favorites from 2016 Epcot International Food & Wine Festival

x1Okay, I admit it…I did a little happy dance this week to burn off a few calories anticipating one of my favorite things to do in Epcot’s World Showcase, Eat & Drink Around the World because Disney released the menus of the Festival Marketplace Booth menus for this year’s International Food & Wine Festival.  During most visits to Epcot my quest to experience the flavors of the World is done in 11 eat & drink stops, but from August 31 to November 13, Disney adds 35 new stops during Epcot’s International Food & Wine Festival.

Guests visiting Epcot this fall will be treated to an amazing culinary adventure exploring a wide array of cooking techniques and flavors from chefs from all over the world.  This is a “foodie” paradise with tasty dishes both savory & sweet, fine wine, craft beer, spirits and other beverages.

In honor of the menu release, I am looking back at my 5 favorite flavors & sips from 2016 (and a few I will get to experience again this year in addition to all the new yummies)…

Favorite Flavors

  1. Liquid Nitro Chocolate Almond Truffle with Warm Whiskey Caramel from the chocolate studio
  2. Beijing Roasted Duck in a Steamed Bun with Hoisin Sauce from China
  3. Piggy Wings (Fried Pork Wings) with Korean BBQ Sauce and Sesame Seeds from Craft Beers
  4. Duck Confit with Creamy Polenta and Fire-roasted Salsa from Greenhouse Guru
  5. Spicy Hummus Fries with Cucumber, Tomato, Onions and Tzatziki Sauce from Morocco

Favorite Sips

  1. Twinings Pumpkin Chia Tea Frozen Cocktail with Caramel Vodka from Ireland (Bonus flavor- Warm Chocolate Pudding with Irish Cream Liqueur Custard from Ireland)
  2. Caposaldo Peach Moscato Sweet Sparkling Wine from Italy
  3. Frozen Spiked Chai Latte with Baileys Irish Cream
  4. Frozen Brown Elephant from Africa Outpost
  5. Frozen Szarlotka Apple Pie featuring Zubrowka Bison Grass Vodka from Poland (not sure that was a favorite but it was certainly interesting…like drinking literally an apple pie, chunks of apples and all)

DISCLAIMER:  I ALMOST ate and drank at every Marketplace Booth…BUT I did run a 5K, 10K and Half Marathon this weekend plus this food was consumed over the course of several days, so my rolling and teetering Around the World in a Food Coma doesn’t seem so bad.

It is NEVER too late to plan a Food & Wine or even run the Wine & Dine Half Marathon (5K or 10K) this year…I can help you with your booking and plans just email me or respond in a comment to this post!  I would love to help you discover your inner foodie. 

For more information on Epcot’s International Food & Wine Festival, follow this LINK

#(almost)Wordless Wednesday: Disney Food (New Orleans Style)

We made it to Wednesday, which is one of my favorite blogging days, (almost) Wordless Wednesday where I link up with Focused on the Magic.com and other Disney bloggers to share our #DisneySide through a themed picture blog hop.  This week’s topic is probably my favorite…Disney Food.

When people think of dining at a theme park they think of hamburgers and hot dogs with a side of salty fries, but Disney shatters that vision and brings theme park dining to a whole new level and place…

One of my favorite meals from last November was at

(or the makeshift location as renovations were still in the process at that time to this location) located in the Port Orleans French Quarter Resort, because while you are in Rome, err New Orleans, you must do as the Cajuns do, right?

Lunch consisted of the finest that New Orleans has to offer or that I wanted to try…

a hearty bowl of Gumbo and a Shrimp PoBoy Sandwich. I wish I would have known how big that PoBoy was before I ordered because I certainly we would have split one!  The gumbo was a bit underwelming, but the PoBoy was awesome (and those homemade chips, AMAZING).  No meal at Disney is ever complete without dessert and in this case you had to get the beignets!

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Fresh from the fryer, definitely messy but oh so worth be coated myself in powered sugar.

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And no celebration New Orleans is complete without a little beverage, for that we went to Mardi Grogs pool bar and had “All that Jazz.” A layered adult beverage with the green Gata-Melon Juice on top, the orange Front Porch Freeze in the middle, and the purple-red NoLa Cola on the bottom. The colors make a very fun and fitting Mardi Gras effect. I sure wish I had more time to lay around the pool and sip on a couple of these all afternoon.

The “Happiest Place on Earth” , Disneyland, is where Disney New Orleans dining began…

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located in the New Orleans section of Magic Kingdom.  Last March I took the boys on a fact finding mission for my first Disneyland client and our first meal was atI had been dreaming of this since we had booked our trip and in my true Disney form knew exactly what I was having…

Monte Cristo Sandwich with Pomme Frites. They were as good as the reviews and oh that dipping sauce on both items…let’s just say the #monsterchild and I fought over who was liking the bowl.  My boys love dessert as much as I do…

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and loved getting powered with these fun Mickey shaped beignets.  I wish Walt Disney World’s beignets were Mickey shaped, because after all Mickey shapes taste even better.

There are so many places that Disney dining will take you…