Saturday, 21 January 2012

Paradise Pier: Boardwalk Pasta & Pizza

Yesterday my roommates and I went to the parks. We didn't exactly plan it, sort of a spur of the moment thing, but we went nonetheless. First, we went to Disney California Adventure to ride Tower of Terror and get dinner. Because we weren't planning on going I didn't grab my camera and I took a photo of my meal with my phone but it is too dark to see anything, so you'll have to use your imagination as I describe what I got.

Paradise Pier is the main area with dining and one of my roommates works there. Having to stare at the food all day she finally just had to get some and I think that was the main reason we came to the park last night. The place she works at is the Boardwalk Pasta & Pizza and that is where we found our dinner. As you can imagine, a place with pasta and pizza in the title would not have as many options for those who have food allergies and this was true.

 Walking in you will notice that there are three stations (minus drinks and cashier): pizza, pasta, and salads. Two of my roommates got the pizza (a cheese pizza and the vegetarian pizza) while my other roommate got pasta. I had to get a salad and there was only one I could get out of three options. There was a Chicken Cesear salad, a Boardwalk salad, and an Italian salad. My roommate suggested the Boardwalk salad but it had blue cheese* so I went with the Italian, which was the only one I saw as being gluten free.

It had mixed greens with ham, salami, and mozzarella slices on the outside with fresh mozzarella balls tossed in the salad, as well as red bell peppers, a chile, kalamata olives and a simple vinaigrette. The salad only priced at $7 or so dollars (without tax) and there was a lot of food there so you do get your money's worth. The only complaint I have is that it was really salty because there were so many olives; I also didn't finish the deli slices because they weren't anything that special.

Only one thing that I could eat and it was at a good price, just nothing too spectacular or all that memorable. The only time I would go back, though, was if I was with someone that wanted to go there.


*Blue cheese: When blue cheese was first created the mold used was bread mold. Of course this a time when there was only gluten breads so the mold can possibly contain some gluten properties. I don't actually know how scientifically true this is, but I don't want to risk being sick. Also I don't like blue cheese.

Friday, 20 January 2012

New Orleans Square: The Mint Julep Bar

This is the sign of the Mint Julep Bar. But don't look on any map of Disneyland for it because it isn't on there.

Located in New Orleans Square in the Disneyland Resort, it is hidden in the back of the French Market. If you stand at the New Orleans Square Train Station and look at the restaurant below, you can see where the line begins for the Mint Julep Bar.

One of the best sights that always can put a smile on my face at Disneyland is scattered on the ground in that area. The Mint Julep Bar only sells drinks (mint juleps, coffee, soda, etc.) and Mickey Mouse shaped beignets. They don't have gluten free ones, sadly, but I've found my own way to enjoy them. Just like in New Orleans, these come covered in powdered sugar, so all over the ground you see spots of powdered sugar on the floor where people tried to eat them while not getting the sugar all over their clothes. It is just a sight that I would only find in Disneyland and it reminds me where I am.

Now to write about my addiction. Hello, my name is Charlotte and I am addicted to the Disneyland mint juleps. I'm not too sure what it is but I can't go on a Disneyland trip without getting one. They offer two different kinds of mint juleps and it all depends on where you get yours. One is from the Mint Julep Bar and the French Market, but the other (better) one is from Blue Bayou and Cafe Orleans. What is the big difference? Blue Bayou's mint julep has more mint in it, and I don't mean extract or flavouring, I mean actual leaves of mint. I crush the mint up with my straw and the ice and it adds more mint to your drink and, personally, makes it a better experience.

But if you can't get into the Blue Bayou, the French Market one will do just fine.

What exactly is a mint julep? Well originally it is a drink from New Orleans, LA and it has mint leaf (spearmint is traditional in Southern States), bourbon, sugar, and water. Disneyland being non-alcoholic has made several changes. I don't know exactly what is in it but my guess is lemonade with a hint of lime (for the green) then a lemon wedge, two cherries, and a sprig of mint. The way the menu describes it is 'a refreshing mint drink with a hint of lime'.

Why do I love them so much? Well, first, they just plain old taste delicious. Second, I've visited the Walt Disney Family Museum at the Presidio in San Francisco, CA three times now and in the room with the Disneyland model (a giant table model of what Disneyland looked like in 1955 [opening day]) they mention how Walt and Lillian spent one of their anniversaries aboard the Mark Twain Steamboat with their guests, all drinking mint juleps. I like classic Disney things and to know that these mint juleps have been around since the beginning makes me love it even more.

Here is the Mint Julep Bar menu.


Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Downtown Disney: Tortilla Jo's

As of today I am now a Disney cast member and can fully operate a total of four different rides at Flik's Fun Fair in A Bug's Land located next to the Tower of Terror at Disney California Adventure!

Sadly, so far I've only had the opportunity to play in the parks just once and that was last Tuesday night. My roommates and I walked around Disneyland and went on the shortest wait time rides and had snacks throughout the park. Once the park closed, which was at 8:00 PM for it was not peak season, we headed over to Downtown Disney and walked around there before getting some dinner at Tortilla Jo's.

Personally, I think the name is awkward and strange, but I love Mexican food so I wasn't going to argue just because the name was odd for me. Additionally it wasn't as busy as all of the other places in Downtown Disney. I don't know if that is saying something about the food here, or what, but we took it for what it was: a really short wait time. Just remember that at nighttime, Downtown Disney= BUSY!

We sat down at a table almost immediately after walking in and ordered drinks before browsing the menus. The prices are a little on the expensive side in comparison to other Mexican cuisine restaurants, but those other Mexican restaurants aren't located on prime real estate located on Disney property, now are they? Price range is $15-$25 depending on what you want, so not too outrageous, but still not how you want to eat every night.

Their menu lay out is great though, and makes finding different options easy. They have vegetarian options and they have an astrix next to gluten free options, which was very helpful so I didn't have to ask the waiter and spend more time trying to figure out what I want.

I ended up getting one of the cheaper things because my pay checks hadn't started arriving yet, only $7 for a regular size- small size was $4- without cast member discount (side note for cast members: discount does not work on the weekends). I got the tortilla soup. I use to have it a lot at home when I was younger and I really couldn't remember the last time I had it; plus it was January and chilly out so a bowl of soup was the perfect thing.

The food came out unusually fast, my hopeful guess was to the fact that it was slowing down in the area, and we promptly dug in. It was tasty and what I was expecting, just on the bland side. I added some salt and my roommate gave me her limes to add some tang to my dish. This new level of flavour really added to the dish and made it all the more enjoyable.

If you are able to figure out the pricing so it isn't too hefty on the wallet, and you pick the right time to go, your experience at Tortilla Jo's can be a very successful one. It isn't the best food, but it isn't the worst and it is a nice alternative to Disney dining.


Monday, 9 January 2012

Greetings from Disneyland!

I am officially settled in and ready to get down to business. Food business to be exact.

Last night, my parents and I took a stroll in Downtown Disney and did a little light shopping. My mum needed more Alice in Wonderland Tea, and we were more than willing to oblige and get as close to Disneyland as possible despite the fact that we weren’t going in. Downtown Disney was crowded, which was to be expected during night time, so we didn't linger for long, only long enough to see the necessary things such as a rather large Woody from Toy Story made entirely out of Legos.

Soon enough we felt the emptiness of our stomachs and the ache of our feet so we found our way to the Anaheim Garden walk just down Harbour Boulevard. This area has a selection of chain restaurants and stores that are somewhat on the expensive side, but it shouldn't be forgotten when it comes to food outside of the parks.

Like everywhere else at this time of night, the restaurants were busy and our original intent was to eat at the California Pizza Kitchen- just like we had done previously on a Disneyland trip- but the wait time was longer than our stomachs would allow so we moved onto the next restaurant. Right across the way was McCormick and Schmick's and that too was a long wait of 45 minutes with no room at the bar. Trying to ponder our situation, we sat on a lonely bench amongst the restaurant madness and went through our options. It was dinnertime and it was busy, but where else could we go?

My mum then pulled out her Open Table app and discovered that she could make a reservation for that very same McCormick and Schmick's we were sitting outside of. At that point anything was worth a shot so she made the reservation and we went to see if it worked. It did! So while we waited to be seated we dared to venture into the packed bar area and order some drinks. Still under the drinking age, I had a refreshing raspberry lemonade which I downed rather quickly before we were seated.

McCormick and Schmick's is a fancy, expensive seafood restaurant with very few choices of either fish or steak, and the options are even more limited if you have allergies. I had a choice of maybe two entrees- maybe. The waiter did fill me in as to what was gluten-free which was helpful but involved a lot of going back and forth between our table the kitchen on his part. In the end I got my fifth dinner choice and it was expensive at close to $30 in price but the good thing was that it at least tasted good.

I finally ended up having the wild barramundi with herb ratatouille. To be honest, I kind of was sold when it said ratatouille. I love the Pixar movie by that name and because of that film I had made ratatouille at home several times and know how delicious it was- despite it being a peasant dish. The only reason this was number five on my top dinner choices was because I was not familiar with the fish. Barramundi is a flaky white fish in between halibut and sea bass, and I had never come across it before, which was shocking since I have been to many a fish market. Its texture is very soft and while one would worry if the herb sauce would over power it, it didn't and complimented the fish quite nicely. The ratatouille was tender and perfectly seasoned, and while I'm not too certain if it particularly went with the fish, it was a nice side dish.

The dish overall was satisfying and delicious just very expensive. Personally I wouldn't eat there again unless someone else was paying because of the limited allergy friendly options and the prices.