Thursday, 18 July 2013

New Orleans Square: The Blue Bayou [2]

Our last meal at Disneyland finally arrived. We had our last reservation for dinner at Blue Bayou at 4:30 PM so we didn't eat lunch that day due to the early scheduled dinner. We checked in and they asked about dietary restrictions and wrote that down on the reservation ticket before we went to wait. I think this was the first time I saw the Blue Bayou waiting room empty of people and we were actually able to sit on one of the benches in there. It didn't last long because we were quickly seated and our waiter got our drink order.

At Blue Bayou and Cafe Orleans they have never ending mint juleps, and in the past, I’ve had five in one seating. I've been trying to beat that record, so this evening was no different. As soon as I would get a mint julep, I would pretty much chug it, because I loved them. Also, the past three days, I had only gotten one mint julep, so I was dying for some. The only problem I had was that they weren't getting refilled fast enough. It was at the point that they might as well have just left the pitcher on the table, but alas they did not.

Our waiter was amazing, though he seemed slightly frazzled and busy, but still took his time to do his job properly and make sure everything was great for us. He brought us the regular bread and then, when we informed him of our dietary restrictions, he brought us some gluten free bread.

 It was warm and the texture was perfect. It was probably a brown rice bread and it has that toasty flavour that went well with the spread of butter on it that melted into the spongy texture. It was ridiculously filling though, so I only ate half before my meal came and I forced myself to finish the other half after my meal because it was so good. I would have taken the other two home if I had a sanitary way of doing so. Grace and I were very happy.

Our waiter also informed us of what we could and could not eat, just like at other restaurants. He said they had us covered and could pretty much make anything gluten free except the lamb, probably because a marinade for the lamb. I love the jambalaya, I always get the jambalaya, and so I got the jambalaya. The spices are always just amazing, the fish was moist and flaked throughout the dish so it was in every scoop, and the shrimp was perfectly cooked. The one thing that bothered me this time around was how salty it was. Never before was it so salty and of course it wasn't until I was almost done with the meal that I realized how salty it was and try as I wanted, I just couldn't finish it. That's when I finished off my piece of bread to try and get rid of some of the salty-ness.

I love having the bread, you really miss the little things like bread and butter before a meal when you can't eat it, so that made me happy. Especially since the bread didn't taste like gluten free bread.
The final mint julep total was four. I tried and I could have beat my old record but they really weren't coming fast enough.

The rest of the day was spent doing the things we had on our list to do and some things that weren't on our list:

Cruella de Vil

Soundsational Parade

Mad T Party

We even were able to go on all three rides in Carsland in about an hour.

My friend talking to a fellow cast member.

Another friend was our dispatch cast member when we got into our car at Radiator Spring Racers. 

 That extra person isn't a single rider, she is a friend who joined us at Mad T Party and Carsland after she got off work.

We finished in Fantasyland. Nighttime is the best time to go for this because it isn't as crowded, so you can take funny pictures like we did.

It was a great trip and we all had a lot of fun. I don't know when I will be returning, I am hoping for Disney Expo. There are still a few places I have yet to eat at and I’m hoping to eventually eat at each restaurant in Disneyland.


Main Street U.S.A.: The Plaza Inn [2]

It was our last day in the parks, and we had formulated a long list of things we had left to do. I was dubbed in charge of leading us through the crowds and getting us to the areas we needed to be at on time and when it was least crowded. I am good at that so I didn't mind, when I am with people I tell them they don't need the Disneyland app on their phones because they have me.

This morning, we had to finish off our character dining at The Plaza Inn. Yet another buffet style breakfast with pretty much all the same food as at PCH Grill. I have been here once before: review is here and it was what I expected, only this time it was nice to be inside the park when it opened and not having to rush from the hotels through Downtown Disney to get there.
They did raise the price since last time, though, just like Disney seemed to have done everywhere else. When I went there a year ago it was $25 this time around it was $32, so not entirely happy about that but it was okay.

As I pointed out in other reviews from this trip, Disney dining has become more aware of dietary restrictions and when we first checked in and paid they asked if there were any in our group and we told them of our gluten and gluten/soy allergies and they wrote that down on our ticket and said they would send a chef to our table.

We got a table in the back, and I took the seat right next to the noisy family that often blocked my seat so I couldn't sit, that was fun. We sat down and of course the characters started coming around first thing, this was the only place where there wasn't a waitress to take our drink orders, so once seated you can immediately go get food. We stopped and took some pictures first, though.

After all that, the chef came around to our table. I want to say her name was Allison, but regardless of her name, she was a nice chef who really wanted to make sure Grace and I had enough food to eat. We only ordered some gluten free waffles and while everyone else got their food, we waited for our waffles. That's when Hook came around and we took a picture with him.

Our waffles came and I was excited because I hadn't had them before. I got the same meal as last time I was at The Plaza Inn, so nothing exciting there, but the new thing were the waffles. I was almost tempted to get the pancakes as well, but that would have been too much food.

They were Mickey shaped like the regular ones, and it isn't in this picture but I did get some syrup to pour on these, they also offer powdered sugar to sprinkle on top as well. They were interesting. The flavour was great, a hint of grain with some sweetness from the syrup. They tasted fresh and healthy, but in a good way. The only odd thing about it was the texture. I think the base flour for these is rice flour because the texture was, for lack of a better word, squishy.

If anyone knows what mochi is (Japanese rice cake), it was that exact same texture except for the crispy crust where it was in contact with the waffle pan. Others might be put off from it, but I didn't mind, I was use to that texture because I eat a lot of mochi. They were also incredibly dense, so eating all four after having my other food was a challenge, but at least I knew I was going to be full for a while.

Afterwards we went on Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage. Where we found Nemo...

We got to see the one thing I had been dying to see. The Ironman suits! My love of The Avengers still goes strong so this was like a dream for me.

About five minutes later I got to do the other thing I wanted to do that day...

Yes, Wendy Darling was my Disney Bound outfit that day. Since I wouldn't have been allowed to wear my actual Wendy costume in the park, I took the ribbons from it and added it to my light blue dress.

For a last day in the park, this was a pretty spectacular morning. At least for me it was, and I'm sure the others had fun because we got to go to the new Fantasy Faire as well as meet Rapunzel.


Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Paradise Pier: Ariel's Grotto

When someone in your group is named Ariel, it really is a no-brainer that you should go to Ariel's Grotto, right? At least, that was our logic. Also, it was another character dining experience that we weren't going to pass up, especially since it was the princesses.

Everyone in our group (except me) are obsessed with the princesses, yes even the honourary male of the group, Adam- he likes Rapunzel. Anything with the princesses, anytime we saw the princesses, anything with the princesses on it, we were there. It was highly amusing.

Here is the breakdown of princess love:

Gaby loves Princess Aurora

Grace loves Princess Snow White

 Ariel loves Princess Ariel

Adam loves Princess Rapunzel

And I like Princess Tiana, but I wasn't as crazy about her as the others are. When we saw Tiana in New Orleans Square that morning, they immediately freaked out and made us get in line. They thought I was going to get as excited as them since she is my favourite but I don't think I am capable of getting as excited as they were. We got photos and had another amusing conversation about my name being Charlotte with Tiana.

Now, dining at Ariel's Grotto was to be expected and it was where we went for lunch on July 4th. Of course we had reservations and only waited a little bit before we were led down the stairs and took pictures with Princess Ariel before being seated.

I loved the decor in the restaurant; it felt like you were under the water. My favourtie things were the jellyfish lights that were above each table- I love jellyfish and really want a light like that. There was a lot of glass because that has the glossy underwater feel and lots of great sea life detailing.

It was yet another flat rate price type of dining and it comes with a three course meal. The first course is a tower with fruit, cheese and prosciutto, a salad, and a sourdough flower-which I am certain was provided by Boudin Bakery. Once more, I noticed how Disney dining is becoming more aware of dietary restrictions because when our waiter came to take our order for the second course, he first asked if anyone has a dietary restriction. We informed him of a gluten allergy and a gluten/soy allergy so he went and got one of the best chefs ever.

The chef came out and he explained what we could and could not have. Basically, they can make anything into gluten free, so whatever we wanted they could change things up for us. So Grace and I had a decent amount of choices. 
When first looking over the menu, I had to bring up the interesting issue of the seafood cuisine. It makes sense in a place with an under the ocean theme but that theme expands to being Ariel's Grotto. Ariel was a mermaid and made friends with all the creatures under the ocean (except that shark) so if you think about it, all of Ariel’s friends are on the menu, right?

Well, I love seafood so I didn't care, but I'm sure if you brought that up to other people like little kids, or Ariel, they would be disturbed.
The menu had a variety of seafood based dishes and I couldn't resist the temptation that was ciopinno. It is a tomato based soup with all matters of seafood from fish to lobster and mussels. Being from Northern California, I know ciopinno from San Francisco to Monterey Bay and I had to try Disney's version.

The food arrived and it was honestly both what I was expecting and what I wasn't expecting. In Fisherman's Wharf or in Moss Landing, you get a big, huge bowl full of soup- I know that seems redundant but that really is just how enormous the portion is. This was small, but I kind of was happy that it was or else I would have been there all afternoon eating it while the others waited, especially since we kept stopping to take pictures of the princesses.

All of the seafood in it was fresh and perfectly cooked, it was still moist and it had absorbed all of the flavour of the broth. I don't like lobster, but I liked this lobster because of the broth that went with it. They described it as slightly spicy, and ciopinno is spicy, but this was very mild, I would have liked it to have a bit more spice. My only complaint was that I wished there was more of the soup, as you can tell from the image it looked more like a sauce than a soup. It was really good but I still would rather have the original in San Francisco.

And now an intermission for the Princesses:

And with that, I have now officially met ALL of the Disney Princesses! I just needed Mulan and Belle.

 Back when the chef first came to our table, he talked to Grace and I about our options. The dessert they usually give out is a platter with cupcakes, cookies, chocolate cake, and some berries, in other words, close to nothing that we could eat. The chef informed us of other choices for those with dietary restrictions. They had a brownie, a cookie, and sorbet they could give us. The brownie did have soy in it so I couldn't eat it and he said the cookie “was a gluten free cookie and it tasted like it”. I love that he was honest about that and while others might not know, sometimes gluten free things have an off taste or are just crumbly because they don't have that gluten to hold it together. Immediately, Grace and I understood what he meant by 'tastes gluten free' and we stayed away from that.
In all honesty, the sorbet sounded like the best dessert they offered, both gluten and non-gluten, and that is what Grace and I both got.

The sorbet came in a frosted glass with a rim of sugar and the sorbets were lemon and raspberry with a slice of lemon, a few berries, and some mint leaves. It was creamy and tart yet with the sugar on the side it added the little bit of sweetness. I think this was the perfect dessert to go after the seafood dishes instead of all those cookies and cupcakes. It was light and really summed up the meal perfectly. So they can have their baked goods, I'll take my sorbet.

And we got all of that for about $40.

We then went and had fun for the rest of our Fourth of July:

Said 'hi' to some of my friends working in A Bug's Land.

My friend Chris always has a way to get me on her Red Car Trolly.

Found out that I was most like The Evil Queen from Snow White in Beast's Library.

Ate dinner at the Village Haus, which I reviewed already: here.

Watched Fantasmic. It lived up to its name.

Then watched the Fourth of July Fireworks. Last year, I watched them while sitting on my bed in my apartment while watching Captain America: The First Avenger.

And we ended our evening with Grace being the rebel spy.

I know this was a long one, but Ariel's Grotto really had great food!