Be Our Guest Restaurant in Walt Disney World

DSC_0170The expanded Fantasyland in the Magic Kingdom includes the Beast’s castle, Belle’s village, Maurice’s cottage, and Gaston’s tavern from Beauty and the Beast. The restaurant Be Our Guest is inside the Beast’s castle and is always available for lunch, while dinner is by reservation only.

It is not a full service lunch, but rather orders are put in through an automated queue after which guests can take seats in one of the castle’s three beautiful dining rooms – the ballroom, the West Wing, and the Rose Gallery. The rose gallery has a music box of Belle and Beast revolving in the centre of the room and this is where we sat down to lunch.

The menu options are plentiful and elegant, while the prices are reasonable. I chose the braised pork with vegetables and mashed potatoes. It was so tender and tasty – definitely the right choice. For dessert, we sampled the passion fruit cream puff and the ‘grey stuff’ cupcake. The ‘grey stuff’ (of “Be Our Guest” song fame) used to only be available for special occasions, until the cupcake was created. The ‘grey stuff’ is a kind of cookies and cream crème mixture, which is very tasty.

There is a mosaic of Belle and Prince Adam near the exit, which rivals the Cinderella mosaics on the ground floor of Cinderella Castle. There are also tapestries hung all over the dining rooms and front halls, and a portrait of Adam morphing into the beast in the West Wing, giving the room a magical (if slightly ominous) feeling, staying true to the film.

It was such a long-awaited experience and now I just want to do it all again.DSC_0191DSC_0199DSC_0115DSC_0185DSC_0200DSC_0207DSC_0183

Taste your way around the world

The annual Epcot International Food &  Wine Festival allows visitors the chance to sample cuisine from various countries around the world, all in one place.

The festival is on from the end of September to about mid-November every year at Walt Disney World’s Epcot in Kissimmee, Florida. It takes place inside the World Showcase, where 11 countries are permanently represented. For the festival, booths are set up for many other countries also, as well as themed booths for regional specialties and things like dessert or refreshments.

We managed to try some very exciting food and drink items, but so many still remain unsampled. The dragonberry colada was one of the best items from the evening. Refreshing, tasty, and sweet. And it was a pretty pink colour as a bonus. We also sampled a lobster roll from the American section of the showcase, sautéed shrimp from Australia, a cloudberry horn for dessert from Norway, and watermelon juice from a booth called Terra.]

The festival also featured the Ocean Spray cranberry bog for a third year in a row, and had many famous bands and artists performing on various scheduled days. Special tastings, chef demonstrations, wine presentations, and other events can be arranged beforehand, providing more chances for all kinds of extra goodies to be sampled.

The festival draws huge amounts of visitors every year and is known to be one of the top foodie festivals in North America. New national booths are being added every year and the tasting possibilities are nearly endless. Next year, Canada’s booth will be on the radar as we somehow missed it this year, as well as France and their amazing desserts, martinis, escargot and meat choices.

A summery salad for a winter’s evening

Power of Food inspired salad for Sunday evening’s dinner.

Adam Hart’s Power of Food is a guide to health and happiness through healthy eating, and features 100 delicious plant-based recipes.

I’m not a vegetarian myself, but am excited by the book’s premise nonetheless. This recipe is one that I really liked when a colleague had made the salad for our potluck a month ago, but I’ve expanded upon it as well with my own additions of a couple more vegetables.

Publishing life – Pre-Christmas

We had a sales conference at work for the past two days. All the publishers talked about their titles for the coming season. Several authors stopped by and presented as well. Very fun and very informative.

One such author was Rob Laidlaw, a biologist who runs the organization Zoocheck and has authored several books on the treatment of animals in captivity. His talk was very eye-opening and inspiring.

Other authors were cookbook authors who talked about cooking, recipes, and life in general. Very entertaining. And one illustrator spoke about his take on the children’s tale he worked to bring to life.

The conference was a fun way to move towards finishing out the year and starting to look forward to the next.

Trying out recipes

I finally made my first recipe from Pinterest after nearly a year on the site and it was a success. Banana bread bars with brown butter icing. An alliterative name too, I just noticed.

The bars are soft and sweet - perfect. The team at the publishing house thought they were nice as well. Someone always brings something in, and this was my chance.


Potluck – publishing style

Ten days ago, we had a potluck at work organized by one of our publishers, the publisher for Whitecap Books, which are predominantly beautifully produced elegant cookbooks. Everyone had to choose a Whitecap cookbook and a recipe and make that for the potluck. My colleague and friend (from the previous post) and I had both chosen to make something from a gorgeous newly released title called Alice Eats: a Wonderland Cookbook. The book combines Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland with recipes suited to the narrative. It’s an adorable wimsily-illustrated book, with perfect and very doable recipes and great food photography.

My contribution was dual with no-wine jellies for dessert and cucumber frames as an appetizer. The potluck was a huge success, and everyone walked away immensely stuffed, but satisfied. I wish this could be something I could be a part of on a regular basis.

Gourmet Food & Wine Expo VIP Night

I won tickets (a $40 value) from Food Network to the Food & Wine Expo Preview evening at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre for the second time. A colleague and friend accompanied me this time, whereas two years ago when I had won the same pair of tickets (but from a different sponsor) I was unable to attend.

We got there just around 6 pm when it was all just starting, but the crowds were already huge. Walking inside the Expo was difficult because of the amount of people. Everyone was surprised how busy it was for a Thursday night and the first night of the show.

My friend and I each bought $20 worth of sample tickets, the minimum being sold, though they recommend $40, and it was plenty for us.

The food we had tried was great, the drinks also.  There were also all kinds of regional wines from all over the world represented by local vendors. We tried pumpkin martinis from Canyon Creek restaurant, and I had also spent the night searching for frozen drinks in vain, only to finally find them at the very end with minutes until wrap up. I ended up getting two drinks for the price of one and then having to finish them in a hurry in order to be able to leave the convention centre.

We also sampled some delicious oysters and guacamole for free at the Buick tasting table, and it was the first time that either of us had tried oysters (sad to say) – and they were fantastic. One was not nearly enough. At the end of the night, we bought maple flavoured cotton candy to take home. The vendors had come all the way from Quebec and had us participate in a little survey about the marketing of their product. Overall, the night was a success and here’s hoping to winning tickets again next year.

pumpkin martinis

pumpkin martinis


Lobster guacamole

Lobster guacamole

Smoked oyster at the tasting table

Smoked oyster at the tasting table

Cannoli for dessert

Cannoli for dessert