There are so many reasons why you should splurge and upgrade to Club Level the next time you stay at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa. At this resort, there are two different Club Levels; the outer building (Sugar Loaf Club Level) and main building.
And while I can rant about how awesome it is to stay in the main building at this resort, if you’ve been here, you know how magnificent it is. The smell, décor, atmosphere; I mean, really, what’s not to like? But this post is to simply share some pictures of the great food I had while staying in the Main Building on a recent trip. In a future post, I will get into more detail; but for now, enjoy!
Yes, Fall has arrived. In Florida many say that means ABSOLUTELY NOTHING! Yes, we are experiencing record highs in the middle of October. Yes, AC companies are seeing record profits. And while it is true that there are no seasons in Florida but the season of HOT, what is also true is that I love to eat. And about this time every year, I get as giddy as Winnie the Pooh in a tub of honey. Why, because it’s Epcot Food and Wine time!
Epcot’s Food and Wine Festival is, well you guessed it, a food festival at Epcot. Just when you thought Disney World could not get any more magical! Since 1995, Epcot has been holding this event, and every year it seems to be getting better. More food options, different dining experiences, and even things for the kiddos. Visit Disney’s website for a list of all the need-to-knows.
But I did not want to write a blog post about everything you need to know before you go to the Food Festival. That would take forever, and honestly, no one does a better job explaining all that than Disney or the folks behind the Disney Food Blog. Instead, I wanted to share my “Hits, Misses, and Must Tries” based on my recent visits (yes multiple visits).
A hit to me is something that was really good and I’m glad I tried it. What distinguishes it from a “Must Try” is that while it was delicious, I probably would spend my money trying something else before ordering it again; while a “Must Try” is something I would order twice during a single visit.
My First Hitis the New Brunswick Slider at the Hops and Barley Marketplace. Slow braised beef brisket, topped with a horseradish cream and crispy fried onion; all served on a potato roll with the most wonderful side of pickled vegetables. The acidity of the vegetables cuts through the welcomed fattiness of the brisket, making this slider a surprisingly two bite hit.
My runner up under the “Hits”was the Carbonade de Boeuf, Purée de Pommes de Terre – located in the France Marketplace, this beer braised beef, with bacon, dish was the most tender piece of meat I had all day. And I will be honest, I’m not typically a fan of the dishes that come out of this marketplace, but this year, France found a way to my heart… through my mouth, as the beef simply melted away. Served over some onion and mashed potatoes, it brings the feeling of comfort; almost like a French grandmother peeled potatoes and worked on this dish all morning for your pleasure.
Some other notable Hits, not pictured by definitely worth the bite:
In the Thailand Marketplace: The Red Hot Spicy Thai Curry Beef with Steamed Rice
In the Africa Marketplace: The Berbere-style Beef Tenderloin tips with Onions, jalapenos, tomatoes and pap
Let me first start by saying that identifying anything at Walt Disney World as a MISS brings me extreme heartache and pain. For those of you who know me, and follow my crazy adventures with my daughters on Instagram, you know I love Disney. I love this festival. I love food. I love eating all the food at this festival! But with all the amazing food this festival has to offer, I simply offer an opinion as to what I think you can…maybe skip and try something else
BIGGEST MISS: The Entire Ireland Marketplace (while I cringe typing this). Yes, they have a Guinness you can order (and I LOVE Guinness), but the other dishes were simply unremarkable to me.
The Warm Irish Cheddar Cheese and Stout Dip with Irish Brown Bread was boring. Taste was ookkaayy, but the cheese and stout dip was runny and the bread was nothing special. If you are looking for a warm cheese soup-like dish that is good, check out Canada’s cheese soup; but this one.. skip it.
And then the dessert. I love my sweets. I eat tons of sweets. And for whatever reason, I had huge expectations for the Warm Chocolate Pudding with Irish Cream Liqueur Custard. And while it was warm, it was bland. The Irish Cream liqueur was overpowering and took over the dish. It almost seemed like I was eating a fudgy brownie while taking a shot of Baileys. And compared to the other desserts available at the festival…skip this one.
AnotherMISS for me was the Cannoli at the Marketplace in Italy. As described, it is a Cannoli filled with sweet Ricotta, Chocolate and Candied Fruit. Why it’s a miss for me? Compared to other dishes, this one seemed extremely small. The flavor of the filling was okay, but the Cannoli shell was a bit soggy; likely from being filled with the Ricotta and kept cold for a period of time prior to me eating it. In prior years, the Cannoli was one of the favorites, so I think with high expectations, this years version let me down.
If you are going to the Food and Wine Festival and want to try just a few things, there are absolutely two things you MUST TRY in my opinion.
FIRST MUST TRY
Le Cellier Wild Mushroom Beef Filet Mignon with Truffle-Butter Sauce. I mean honestly, if the name alone does not make your heart start pounding a little faster and your mouth water a little more, you simply aren’t living your BEST LIFE! Filet so tender that you barely have to chew. The earthiness of the mushroom enhances the wonderful beef flavor. And to top it with the beautiful Truffle-Butter Sauce, adding the slightest touch of richness; bring your dancing shoes because your Happy Dance will be center stage. What is much appreciated about this dish, is that it is consistently great every year. For as long as I can remember (recent memory that is), the marketplace in Canada has been serving this dish during the festival. And if you can’t make it to the Festival, the next time you visit Epcot, make a reservation atLe Cellier Steakhouseand try it there!
And boy do I have good news for you! After you try the filet, head on over to France and order dessert. Yes, my next MUST TRY recommendation is the Crème Brulee with House-Made Raspberry Jam. Why even explain this wonderful treat when you can see it right here for yourself:
Yes….you are certainly welcome!
The Festival is tons of fun, and I am extremely lucky to have the opportunity to go more than once. But whether you go once or everyday (why are we not friends?!), just have fun! Everyone has a different palette; some people are meat eaters; some people like savory food while others like sweet. Just do you, walk around, have a good time. Here are some other tips to consider before you go:
If you look anything close to 21 years old, make sure you bring your ID if you plan on drinking. They do check IDs
Hit the More popular spots first. In my opinion, Mexico and Canada tend to be two of the busier areas. Get there early, start with one of those marketplaces, and you won’t have to deal with huge crowds
If you have saved up for this event but do not want to bring cash, put the money on a Disney Gift Card. All marketplaces accept Disney Gift Cards. Instead of walking with tons of cash, just put your ID and gift card in your pocket (of course, assuming you are not staying on Disney property, then just pay with your magic band)
Go with friends and try not to purchase the same thing at the marketplace. When everyone buys something different, you are able to try different things from each place. I know, Genius!
There is so much to see, eat, drink and do at the 2018 Epcot Food and Wine Festival. If you haven’t gone yet, hurry up and go. The last day is November 12, 2018! Explore. Travel the world through Good Eats. And have a good time. I leave you with some more pictures of delicious food. Cheers!
Beer Flight- Belgium
Belgian Waffle w/ Warm Chocolate Ganache and Whipped Cream
Canadian Ceddar Cheese and Bacon Soup with a Pretzel Roll
Charcuterie in a Cone with imported Spanish Meats, Cheeses and Olives with an Herb Vinaigrette
Teriyaki Chicken Bun
Seared Venison Sausage with Kumara Puree and Wild Mushroom Marsala Sauce
Spanish Style Paella with Chorizo and Roasted Chicken
Ropa Vieja Empanada with Tomato Aioli
Want to see more pics of my Disney Adventures and Disney Eats, follow me on Instagram @outnumberedfather and like the Facebook Page http://www.facebook.com/outnumberedfather. “Reminding all parents that together, we can take back control of the living room. Since 2018.”
I sit here on the heels of reading this Miami Herald article about a male lawyer, in Florida, objecting to a female lawyer’s request to continue an upcoming trial due to a pregnancy. Feel free to read the article and form your own opinions as I don’t want to make this a post about my (very strong) opinions on this particular situation. But it made me think; as a father, raising two beautiful, lively, full of potential young girls, am I doing the right thing to pave the way for opportunity and changefor them; so that they do not have to encounter similar issues when they grow up and choose to have families of their own? My gut reaction is to say that I am; but when things like this continue to occur, I feel like I’m not. I’m not doing enough. We know the saying “Be the change you want to see in the world”. But when you feel like you are, and the world isn’t changing; what are we left to do? What are the options? I started this blog out of the joy and love I have for my family, to share the stories, fun and journey of feeling like an #outnumberedfather in a house full of women. And as I meet more of you through this journey, I realize there are so many fathers and mothers out there doing their DAMN BEST to raise strong, powerful women. And so I have hope. I have hope that these strong fathers and mothers will continue to encourage these young women to do what they want in life; to be their own person; to work hard and never accept defeat. As I continue to strive to be the change I want to see in the world, I honor my sweet girls by saying:
I Promise you that I will Love You Unconditionally, Support You and be there for you every step of the way.
I promise that when you feel you can’t, I will encourage you and remind you that you can.
I promise that when you are sad, I will tell a horrible dad joke to make you smile.
I promise that when you feel weak, I will remind you that your heart is your strongest muscle and you can move any mountain.
I promise when you feel you don’t know, take a minute, breathe and remember your mind is your most powerful resource to resolve all problems.
You are not weaker because of your gender. You are not limited in your abilities. You are strong, powerful, capable, courageous, and beautiful. Dare to dream. Dream Big. Never Give Up. You will overcome all unnecessary obstacles. I promise you.
Whether you are a new parent or savvy veteran; a mom or dad; have daughters or sons, join me in setting the example and encouraging them that anything is possible. That everyone deserves respect. That we don’t treat people differently because they are female, male, gay, straight, black or white. Make your own promise, pledge or vow. Let’s be the change and set the example… well, so that we don’t see situations of another attorney objecting to a pregnant female attorney’s request for a continuance.
Yes, the day finally arrived. We were going on our first weekend getaway as a family of four to Daytona Beach, Florida. Home of Nascar’s “Super bowl”. Once referred to as the “World’s Most Famous Beach”. Where Bikers from around the country congregate for a week of drinking up and down Main Street and Coleslaw Wrestling at the famous Cabbage Patch Bar (don’t believe me, see for yourself: http://cabbagepatchbar.com/#events). Where, in the late 80s and earlier 90s, MTV introduced the world to what college co-eds really do on Spring Break. But perhaps most importantly, where yours truly grew up.
I haven’t lived in Daytona since leaving for college (Go Gators!). Going back to the city you grew up in always brings back memories; some good, some just plain awful. We were excited to spend the weekend at the beach. Much to my surprise, a Hard Rock Hotel was a hotel option. For those who have been to Daytona, you know the hotel options are pretty limited if you are looking for something on the beach, clean, and void of that musty, natty lite stench. Don’t get me wrong, if this is a guys trip with The Posse during the second week of March, circa 1990 something, all those things are a must. But this trip was different. My 3 month old was getting baptized and we wanted to be surrounded by friends and family. We wanted some place for my 3 year old to have a good time; pool, splash pad-you get the idea. So we packed our bags, loaded the Pilot and began the….LONGEST trip, to Daytona Beach.
Typically, it would take us 2-2.5 hrs to get from the Tampa area to Daytona. Not this trip. Nearly 4.5 hours! “Leave early”, she said; “we can beat traffic”. I mean, simply thinking that we were going to beat traffic was cursing us from the beginning; but with a toddler and a newborn? Who were we kidding. If you have kids, you know that everything takes substantially longer. You want to brush your teeth? Add 5 minutes. Leave the house to go anywhere..thats an hour. So, why would I think this trip was going to be any quicker? But here’s the deal, I can’t blame my kids entirely; hell- I don’t blame them at all. I certainly did not help the situation. And for those who know me, you know that I value my time and take being on time very seriously. “When you’re early, you’re on time, when you’re on time, your late!” Words I try and live by, give it a shot.
But, now with two kids, everything is just a little longer, harder, slower. With one kid potty training and the other just pottying when she feels like it, I thought I’d share a couple of “First Trip Do’s and Don’ts” in hopes that you find some comfort in knowing you’re not alone AND perhaps it becomes useful advice for your future trips.
DO #1.Pack throughout the week and try and get your kids things packed first. By now, your parents, wife’s parents, friends, neighbors, second cousin twice removed sister-in law have all bought your kids more clothes than they will ever need. So there is no reason why the weekend before the trip, the kids bags are not fully packed with clothes without getting into what they would need for the week. Leave the last minute packing for your things.
DONT #1 Don’t forget the diapers DAD! I mean for crying out loud, this should be the first thing we reach for when we start packing for our child that still uses diapers. And in my defense, I had the diapers ready to go. All 60, unopened size 2 diapers. PROBLEM? They were 60, unopened, size two diapers- so of course, they wouldn’t fit in the bag with the clothes, so I had them sitting next to the bag… I think. Either way, YES I forgot my newborn’s diapers at home. So, don’t pull a Pete and forget your kid’s diapers at home. And IF you do (haha), DON’T sweat it. Everywhere sells diapers and you can pick them up anywhere- which is what we ended up doing on the way to Daytona (adding to the travel time) when it began to sound like my kid was going to unleash the beast that lives within her! But if you ask my wife, the look on my face walking out of a Walmart, somewhere in Orlando, with a box of diapers and a Monster Energy drink, provided her with a much needed chuckle.
DO #2 If you are driving, be prepared to stop….several times. The fact of the matter is the days are gone where your road tripping solo or with your buddies and can make “good time”. I’m not saying it’s impossible, but with two young kids, they will be hungry and need to use the potty, multiple times…never at the same time. You will soon realize that this is not a “vacation” but more like a “test-your-patience” trip. But being prepared may level your expectations a bit. Bring some small snacks and maybe a tablet/IPad for the older kids to watch a movie/play games. My go to snacks for my toddler are granola bars and yogurt pouches. Grab a granola bar that may have some chocolate chips, and they will love you even more.
DON’T #2 Do not forget about naptime. I get it, much easier said then done; especially when the kids are having tons of fun. But if the kids generally take naps during the day at daycare or at home, you’ll be throwing off weeks, if not months, of hard work getting them on that routine. I’m certainly not an expert on getting kids to take a nap; let alone getting them to nap while on vacation. There are several articles online about this issue and I invite you to google the “how to” part. My simple thoughts: keep the nap schedule as close to when they actually nap while not on vacation and use this as an excuse to splurge a bit for a bigger room that may have a separate living area; that way, the adults can still have a good time. On this trip, well I’m sure you can guess…my toddler decided she was going to finally nap 10 minutes before our dinner reservation with the rest of our family…guess how it went getting her up?!
CURVE BALL By now you know that things are going to happen that you did not plan for. It happens every day, kids or not. But when it happens on vacation, involving the kids, it becomes a bigger hurdle to clear. So, when your newborn has a blowout in her new bathing suit, while sitting in her car seat, an hour before dinner, THAT is a big hurdle. Yes, that happened; Yes, it got all over her bathing suit; Yes, it got all over her car seat. Do you think I planned for this to happen? I’m the guy that forgot the diapers, remember?! BUT, at the end of the day, we can let this ruin the rest of the day, or deal with it the best you can. In this case, I borrowed the Lysol spray from the housekeeping cart, sprayed the car seat cover down, gave it a little shower and used the blow dryer to speed up the drying process.
Going on vacation with young kids, in our case a 3 year old and 3 month old, is hard; but it can be done! Hopefully some of the Do’s and Don’ts can help you with your next trip. If you’re reading this and thinking, “my wife does all the planning, I’m never going to worry about this stuff”… well, maybe the next trip, you take on more of the planning duties? Who knows, the wife may recognize your hard work and extra effort and vacation may be a little nicer for ya if you catch my drift…. If that is not convincing, forward this blog post to your wife!
There will be times during your vacation that you need that daddy juice because the vacation is getting the best of you and you’re feeling a bit #outnumbered; definitely take a minute and enjoy yourself.. I did
Hopefully by the end of your next trip, you and your family are all smiles and you’ve created some unforgettable memories!
Have any Do’s and Don’ts you would like to share, please feel free to share you story in the comment section below.
Want to know my thoughts on the new Hard Rock Hotel, check out my review on yelp (link on the homepage). There you will see some additional photos of the Hard Rock.