Decorating with Disney: 1st Edition/Christmas Edition!

This is a new blog post we will be posting monthly, published mostly by Danny!  This idea comes from the massive amount of merchandise/memorabilia we have gathered from our various trips to both Disneyland and Walt Disney World Resorts.  We don't have the ability to just throw our Mouse Ears in a box, nor the will to fully embrace our inner Disney freak and all out decorate our house with Mickey stickers.  With that said we have found, and are still finding, ways to embrace our love for all our Disney Pins and Vinylmation in a practical way and will be sharing them monthly - and hopefully getting your feedback!  With that said please see our first post! 

As the Christmas season is wrapping up we thought we'd share a way we embraced both a classic Walt Disney World character and a classic Disney Parks piece of merchandise into our Christmas decorating!  

Jaime (right) modeling her Orange Bird
Mouse Ears gifted from Danny (left)!
The Orange is a classic Christmas gift - along with all fruit - as it is seen as a simple and healthy stocking stuffer from Santa and Mrs. Claus (well at least depending on which story you've read/grown up with).  The Orange Bird is also a classic - and original mascot, to the Florida Project/Walt Disney World - as it was both an ode to the Sunshine State and partnership with the Florida Citrus Commission that signed off on Walt Disney World coming to Florida.  See the following link for more information on the Orange Bird: http://d23.disney.go.com/armchair-archivist/d23-presents-armchair-archivist-the-orange-bird/
The Orange Bird Mouse Ears atop our
Christmas Tree!

Mickey Ears are a classic Disney Parks souvenir - no explanation needed - why, you ask?  Well because they are, duh!  

Therefore, when the Orange Bird was brought back for the 40th Anniversary of Walt Disney World Resort much of his classic and contemporary merchandise was brought about.  These included a merger of the classic Mickey Ears and Orange bird!  Now while these ears are adorable and a soon to be classic piece of merchandise to hardcore Walt Disney World fans - they really don't make much sense outside of the World.  However around Christmas time we thought they would make perfect sense outside of the WDW and on our tree top.  We placed these ears atop our tree merging both the Orange of holiday and WDW classicness; and finding a practical way to embrace our love for Disney Parks memorabilia.  

Thoughts?  Overall we love it, and we would love your feedback!  Please feel free to leave your comments below or tweet us @TMEbloggers.



Hungry Bear Leads to a Happy Bear!

The MountainEars getting ready
to enter the Hungry Bear!
The Hungry Bear quick service restaurant at Disneyland Park is a recently renovated counter service eatery located in Critter Country.  Critter Country houses such famous attractions as Splash Mountain, The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh and much more. 

This eatery is located right off the Fastpass return area for Splash Mountain.  It has a great view of the Rivers of America which houses attractions for both Critter Country and Frontierland - which always leads to a fun time trying to figure out which attractions belong in which area of the park - I'll give you a hint, Critter Country only has around 1-2, Frontierland has the rest ;)

As you would expect from any quick service eatery in Disneyland, there was nothing spectacular about the service, other than you order your food from a kiosk and pick up your food at the counter.  However, the service seemed quicker than usual, and we're thinking its because this eatery is a little hidden, which we didn't mind!  Also the Cast Members were more than generous to give out extra cups of water (which are free and consist of filtered water BTW) which was a nice perk!  

Also as you would expect from any quick service eatery in Disneyland, once you have grab your food you grab yourself a seat, however this is where things change...  

Sailing Ship Columbia getting ready to
float by the Hungry Bear dinning area!
Sailing Ship Columbia floating by
the Hungry Bear dinning area!
There is both an upstairs and a downstairs dinning area, with tons of seating and not tons people! We went downstairs and sat right next to the Rivers of America and saw Canoe Paddlers from Davy Crockett's Explorer Canoes exploring the rivers manually, and sailors exploring the rivers not so manually on both the Sailing Ship Columbia and Mark Twain's Riverboat (PS we recommend trying Davy Crockett's Explorer Canoes, they're cute and fun, just don't sit behind two kids who have no idea how to paddle unless you want to really "experience" the rivers)!   We also saw people exploring the Pirates Liar at Tom Sawyer's Island, people walking into New Orleans Square and people using the hidden bathrooms next to us which are great because less people use them!  Overall this is GREAT people viewing area with a nice quite atmosphere - and we highly recommend it!

Ducks near the Hungry Bear
dinning area!
We also saw a few ducks both in the rivers and in the dinning area with us, which was cute and nice!

And as you would expect from any quick service eatery, plating is nothing spectacular, other than being served your food in a basket.  However this is where things change again...  

The food looked exactly what it looked like it the picture - WHICH NEVER HAPPENS!  Of course we know Disney isn't like McDonalds or Burger King in that their food for the most part looks exactly like it is pictured or as you would expect.  However this was picture perfect.  

From left: Fried Green Tomato Sandwich with Sweet Potato Fries,
and Ham Sandwich with Strawberry Pie
And as you WOULDN'T expect for any quick service eatery, the taste is AMAZING!  I (Danny!) got a Fried Green Tomato Sandwich with Sweet Potato Fries (to share) and Jaime got a Ham Sandwich and a Strawberry Pie (to share).  Both were elegant!  The Sweet Potato Fries were fresh and warm and the Fried Green Tomato sandwich made me enjoy fried green tomatoes from when I was a kid and my southern neighbors Kathleen and Adeline would cook friend green tomatoes for me.  They were fresh and sweet.  Crispy and warm.  Tasty and savory.  And overall great! The pie was sweet and also fresh, which again is GREAT to have mid summer! Jaime really enjoyed her sandwich. She remarked that the wheat bread was hearty and a great quality and the meat was very tasty. She normally does not get any sort of condiments like mayonnaise on her sandwiches (this one included) and liked that she could really taste the nuttiness of the bread and the sweet and saltiness of the meat. The pie was so delightful! We opted for the seasonal pie since it was summer and we really enjoy fresh berries. The whipped cream was light and sweet, the berries were tart and plump and the crust was tender and just the right thickness. Overall, even though it was a small pie it was a great size to share and not too heavy for the middle of a hot day.

Overall, if you can't tell - we highly recommend this quick service eatery for its uniqueness in quick services dinning location, atmosphere.

Taste: 8/10
Originality: 5/5
Plating: 4/5
Ambiance: 5/5
Service: 5/5

OVERALL: 27/30


Wine & Dine Half Marathon Recap

Michael with his Wine & Dine award
The following post comes to you from our friend Michael K., the 6th place finisher of the 2012 Wine & Dine Half Marathon! Micheal is an avid runner but new to Disney and we knew he would have a great perspective for those looking to get more serious about their running (for the casual runDisneyer) and those who are already serious but skeptical about running with the Mouse.

Wow! Although it's well over a month since I raced the Disney Wine and Dine Half Marathon, I still find myself constantly thinking about that race. The runDisney group did an awesome job with this race, although when I first registered I had my doubts.My previous experience with "for profit" race management groups had not been positive as I had found the course support, attention to detail and even Finish Line to be lacking at best, I shouldn't have doubted that runDisney would follow suit with the rest of the Disney brand and put on an amazing race and experience.

There's something completely different and magical about racing during the night, being under the stars and having the quiet of the world around you makes you forget pain and just let your body do the running. I've run a few other half marathons (both as their own training cycle and as part of a larger marathon training cycle), but this was my first night half marathon. Having a race that starts at 10pm definitely does a flip to your entire pre-race schedule when you're more accustomed to racing in the early morning hours, as such I lost a day out and about in the parks, but I felt that was a necessary sacrifice to make in order to be able to run my best that night. Luckily I have great friends and a great "dude" who understood that for me this race was important and allowed me that day indoors and more importantly, off of my legs. I feel that this was a major help to my being successful and calming my nerves over a night race as I was able to simulate as much as possible the 15 hours pre race.

Mickey & Minnie waiting for the runners!
Just a sign of how much fun runDisney can be!
Boarding the bus at the hotel to head to the start line I had my usual nerves; stomach cramping, shaking, upset stomach, incredibly thirsty (good everything is going all right, it's going to be a good race), and so I did what I always do, put in my iDevice with my pre-race playlist, but as I pressed play I noticed something different, the bus was LOUD, like I had to turn up the volume on the playlist LOUD, so naturally I pressed pause and listened. People were joking and laughing and in general having, not something I accustomed to on a bus to a half marathon, usually you can hear a pin drop as people are mentally preparing themselves for the challenge ahead, but on this bus, it felt more like a school field trip. I actually engaged in a conversation with the women that I had sat by (all of whom were dressed as fairies with tutus and enough glitter to make one of my current swimmers jealous) and forgot about the fact that in 2.5 hours I was about to race 13.1 miles. Arriving at ESPN Wide World of Sports I put my iDevice back on play and went to rest and hydrate in the final hour before bag check in at 9pm. This was another thing I was having issues controlling, I am accustomed to being able to have my bag with my racing flats, warm clothes etc until 15 min pre race, in this race I had to let go of all of it prior to even beginning my warm up.

From 8-9 we were in an athlete's village of sorts with water, vendors selling gatorade and food and music, so maybe a better description would be an athlete's PARTY. I'm not kidding, again, there was a shock moment as people were up dancing to the Cupid Shuffle and Gangham Style and any other hit that had a dance that you can think of. Additionally, instead of usual runner garb, I saw at least 10 different "Snow White's" running around (pun not intended). I found myself wishing I had dressed up and may work on something race appropriate for next year. In essence I was warming up and getting race ready in the middle of a HUGE party, it was a different experience and making the decision to take it in and enjoy it was one of the best that I think I could have made.


Michael just about to cross the finish line
... yes, he was running that fast!
Once the gun started all was back to normal, I clicked my watch and off I ran, the miles clicking off like you can only expect when the race is good and you're feeling good....oh and the magic of Disney and a night race. The course is truly spectacular, running through Animal Kingdom, then out on the main road where you passed all of the other runners who were still going to Animal Kingdom, up in to Hollywood Studios by the 'Mickey Hat' in the middle, through the back to Pixar, up New York Avenue all lit up with 'The Osbourne's Christmas Lights' and then by the Tower of Terror. Next we ran through the back lot and hit Mile 10 where they took video and continued to Epcot along a boardwalk, coming through the back entrance around Spaceship Earth (my favorite ride in Epcot) and finishing just outside after running through what felt like a recreation of Jennifer Lopez's 'Waiting for Tonight' music video. Along the way there were people cheering everyone! It was AWESOME!!

Look at that sweet swag! The MountainEars are so proud to have a friend like Michael who will not only endure our love (obsession?) for Disney but can do it and still place in the top ten! He is such an inspiration to us as we take on the Tinkerbell Half in 30 days!
We can't wait to join Michael in the Wine & Dine half next year! Who's with us?


5 For 5: Mountain Rides!

Normally, it is our intent to write what each of individual Top 5 things are in a given category. This time around, however, we only have one list. Independently of each other we decided our top 5 mountain rides were the exact same! Even though we had some different reasons. Without further ado, our Top 5: Mountain Rides!

1.       Matterhorn Mountain –
·         Danny: for its uniqueness to Disneyland and to us!
·         Jaime: One of my most magical Disney memories is looking at the pink and purple Castle with the most glorious sunset behind it through the openings of Matterhorn Mountain. That pretty much sums up how magical this ride is to me.

2.       Expedetion Everest –
·         Danny: for its updated tribute to the classic Matterhorn Mountain and Yeti B Mode ;)
·         Jaime: I love that I am scared to ride it each and every time I get on.

3.       Big Thunder Mountain –
·         Danny: for its tribute to the Old American west!
·         Jaime: I love the story, the animatronics, and it is just a fun ride!

4.       Space Mountain, Disneyland version –
·         Danny: specifically for its classic timelessness!
·         Jaime: I LOVE this ride with the Ghost Galaxy overlay for Halloween!

5.       Splash Mountain –
·         Danny: Because it makes me want to see "Song of the South" SOOO bad!
·         Jaime: Honestly, I ran out of “mountains” but I do like that it is a cool ride for a hot day.

What are your Top 5 Mountains?


Missing the Magic...

Wont be back for a few months so I suppose looking through my pictures will have to suffice! Enjoy!


1900 Park Fare: A Photographic Recap

A highlight of our trip that I think we can all agree upon was our visit to the 1900 Park Fare restaurant located in the Grand Floridian Hotel. While the restaurant itself gets hit or miss ratings we were all very pleased with our food, service, and of course the characters! We arrived for a later dinner with Cinderella, Prince Charming and the step family. Danny will do a more in-depth review of the food later on, but I couldn’t wait to share this great story!

 Upon arrival to the Grand Floridian we were treated to a picture in from of the castle. This seems to be the only group shot we managed all trip! We were seated in the main dining area directly adjacent to the buffet area and in full view of most of the restaurant. It was nice getting to see the characters interacting with other guests, dancing with the small children and being able to determine when they would be at our table.

Our first visitor was Prince Charming who gave Michael and Brice a little lesson on royal posture. He was nice, but a little dull. As Michael pointed out – how much personality can he really have given that he has about 10 minutes of screen time in Cinderella? Touché.  As you can see from the nice man accidentally photo-bombing on the right, we were quite close to the buffet area.

Next came Cinderella's step mother, Lady Tremaine, who was spot on! She made small talk with Danny about his shirt featuring Maleficent. She was very snarky and true to her character. It is very refreshing to get to interact with the characters that can speak back and not just pantomime.

Following her mother, as usual, came Drizella who was instantly smitten with a certain someone. Not only did she insist on extra pictures but kept making eyes at Jed all night from across the room! No further explanation necessary! Just enjoy the awkward.

 Not too long after, we got a visit from Anastasia who was in for a surprise! Danny decided the time was right to once again awkwardly present someone with a ring. Not me. It was nice getting to watch this little moment as he used very similar rings. Her reaction came with screaming, jumping and frantically calling her mother over to witness, unlike my quite awkwardness.

 Anastasia of course said yes and seemed quite delighted! Like any true lady would, she gave Danny back his ring to be sized before the big day. She even left an extra sweet little note in Danny's autograph book stating that she was his true love. How sweet. The otherwise perfect moment was only marred by the poor Drizella who felt scorned by her sweetheart. Being the gentleman that he is, Jed promptly went over to make things right and explained that he would have asked but still needs to get a ring.


Do you see pouty Drizella in the background? Looks like someone needs to make an apology.

Last but not least came Cinderella herself. It was unanimously decided that the sweet characters are nowhere as fun as the naughty ones! We took a few pictures with Cindy and called it a night.
If you are debating going to the 1900 Park Fare, I say, do it! The hotel is stunning and worth a visit in itself but the food was surprisingly good and the interactions we had were hysterical! 


Mmm - the best cupcake ever!

They say you eat with your eyes first so please take a moment to feast upon this delectable little cupcake display. How adorable are these pumpkin cupcakes with maple frosting, candied pecans and little white chocolate pumpkin Mickeys!
Drooling yet?

The fact that I was able to taste this little piece of heaven happens to be a happy accident. You see, when I went to the famed Starring Rolls Bakery for lunch I could not decide between this beautiful, seasonal pumpkin cupcake and the long-loved but new-to-me Butterfinger Cupcake. Ultimately, I foolishly chose the Butterfinger. Now, don’t get me wrong. It was a yummy cupcake. The cake itself was moist and had a fudge-like filling. The top had a marshmallow like frosting caked in Butterfinger crumbs. It was good, but it was nowhere close to being as good as the pumpkin one!


You may be asking yourself what the happy accident was that resulted in that cupcake being in my belly. Well, you see, as Danny and I went to Starring Rolls for sandwiches for lunch the rest of the group headed to Pizza Planet for lunch. My mission was primarily cupcake focused and had I know that I could get a great cupcake at Pizza Planet I may have changed my plans. After a filling salad and individual pizza our friend Jed decided he could not quite take on his pumpkin cupcake, so he got a box and sent it back to the resort with Gen who happened to being going back. Fast forward a few days and the cupcake was still in our resort room, not Jed’s. After a hectic last morning, bag checking, park going and lunch we never made the hand-off to get that cupcake to its rightful owner.

As you can imagine this little guy had quite a journey from Hollywood Studios, to All Star Music, to bag check, through the airport and all the way to Denver. By the end of the journey it was not such a treat to the eyes.

 But then… I tasted it. Straight out of the fridge the frosting was dense like a cream cheese frosting, but after letting it come to room temperature it turned into a light, airy, almost whipped cream consistency. I couldn’t quite place the flavor but once I looked back and saw it was a maple whipped cream I got it. There was a nice hint of warm spice like nutmeg and cinnamon in addition to the sweetness of the maple. The cake itself, despite being several days old at this point, was so moist and neither too airy nor too dense. It took a lot of will power to resist eating the whole thing but I did manage to save about half for Danny who agreed that it was spectacular.

When not at Disney we frequent a local cupcake shop that usually satisfies our cravings. Shout out to Buttercream Cupcakery for all your yummy flavors! http://www.buttercreamcupcakery.com/ And my only complaint about the pumpkin (or any Disney) cupcake is that I cannot get it in mini-sized like I do at the Cupcakery. After this treat I don’t know if I will ever be able to look at a pumpkin cupcake the same again. A bar has certainly been set!

To Jed and Colleen: I’m sorry I ate your cupcake. I’m sorry that I am not really sorry. It was so good! I regret nothing. I am sorry that you didn’t get to try it though… Maybe next year?



5 For 5: Trip Anticipation

Happy November 5th! The MountainEars are just 4 days away from their next trip to the World and we are so excited!
We will be staying at All Star Music Resort and will be joined by Danny’s mom, Gen, a WDW veteran and four of our friends. Jed, Colleen and Brice have all been before but this will be Michael’s first time. I think it is safe to say that we are all very excited. Our trip will include the Food & Wine Fest, the Jingle Jungle 5K for Jed, Jaime and Danny, the F&W Half Marathon for Michael and Brice, and Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party!
The theme of this month’s 5 For 5 is what we are most looking forward to:
1.       Spending time with our crazy friends/family - I am very excited to vacation and share my Disney Parks love with my partner Jaime; but I am also excited to share this with our close friends and my family (mom)!  This will be both an exciting scarey adventure and hilarious riot!
2.       Epcot Food & Wine Festival - Uh hello...  Delicious food and eligant wine, where can this picture go wrong?!  Give me a try (that is a shout out to AJ over at the DFB Podcast)!
3.       Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party - This is just so cute and so exciting, and I cannot wait to re-experience it, and share it with our great friends and family!
4.       Running Mickey's Jingle Jungle 5K - We'll be working on our fitness, while working on our Epcot Food and Wine!  This means we can over indulge, right?!
5.       (Maybe...) Getting to see New Fantasyland - New Fantasyland is just upon the horizons and I am hoping not only Jaime and I get to see it, by being Premier Annual Passport holders, but also our friends and family may get to see it!
6.       Signing up for the Princess 1/2 Marathon - Don't tell Jaime, but I really wanna do this lady run, in support of all the ladies!
1.       Going to the Food & Wine Festival. I may not be a big drinker, but I do love food and appreciate that the smaller portions means I can try more things. Yum!
2.       Getting to try some new restaurants, specifically the Tusker House in the Animal Kingdom and lunch at the Liberty Tree Tavern in the Magic Kingdom. I have heard such good things and am so excited!
3.       Christmas time! We will be attending the first Christmas party of the season and will be there in time to see all the ornate holiday décor. From the ice on the castle to the towering Christmas trees in each hotel, I am excited to get a better look at all the little things Disney does for the holidays. My first trip to WDW was in December 2010 and I am hoping to feel a little of that first time magic again, too!
4.       Spending time with loved ones! I find vacations to be much more satisfying when you can share the experience with people who are important to you. I know there will be times we go our own way and enjoy things in smaller groups but I also look forward to the silly shenanigans that accompany a party of 7 in a theme park.
5.       Running the Jingle Jungle 5K! Danny and I are signed up to run the Tinkerbell Half at Disneyland but I have not had any motivation to get my legs moving (eek!) but I know I will be able to do the 5K just fine and hope it will be a nice kick in the butt to get me really into gear for our January race.


runDisney – Expedition Everest Challenge and Mickey’s Jingle Jungle 5K

Jaime and I are getting ready to run our second ever runDisney race this Saturday November 10, 2012.  This will not be the headline race (the Wine and Dine ½ Marathon) but the family fun run 5K – Mickey’s Jingle Jungle 5K.  Our first ever runDisney event was the Expedition Everest Challenge in 2012.  It’s the only 5K headline event sponsored by runDisney.  With that said, this blog post will focus on what we are expecting and what our past race was like.

runDisney sponsors many ½ Marathon and Marathon events at both Disneyland and Walt Disney World.  All events, except for the Expedition Everest Challenge and Tower of Terror 10 Miler, are at the minimum ½ marathon events.  All ½ Marathon and Marathon events include a family fun run, which includes a 5K and kids runs.  These events are meant to target people who want to participate in the event weekend itself, but whom aren’t ready to dive into a minimum 13 mile run.  I also like to think they are there to get people excited about fitness and wellness, but yet again, not be intimidated by a minimum 13 mile run. 

Our first race was the Expedition Everest Challenge and this was a blast!  So many people were there in the most creative and elaborate costumes EVER seen.  Yes costumes.  runDisney is, I’m pretty sure, the only race where you can dress in a full body suite and be complimented for it.  People dress up like classic Disney characters such as Mickey and Minnie Mouse, Disney Princesses like Aurora and Ariel or even Disney quirks such as Yeti A and B mode (if you are a Disney’s Animal Kingdom fan you’ll get this), Earl from Up and Figment.  The people there are a huge perk. Also you get to see characters and take pictures with them during the run if you want, how fun!

The course itself was both good and bad.  The first mile of our 5K was completed in the parking lot, which is both intimidating and exciting all at once.  If felt like we were running in the parking lot forever. Once you entered the park the raceway became very narrow. With nearly 5,000 people on the run there was a huge mix of people who were taking the race very seriously and those just there for a fun challenge. What made this race unique though are the obstacles that must be completed. It was a fun change of pace to stop and run through tires or hop over hale bales but at the same time it slowed down the overall pace of the race. In addition to the obstacles, once the race portion was over came the scavenger hunt that was also factored into your overall time. We were not anticipating how confusing this would be, but luckily Jaime is good at puzzles!  There were a lot of people so if you are not ready for running in huge crowds a runDisney event may not be for you. The Expedition Everest race is one of the smaller runDisney events compared to something like the WDW Marathon that hosts over 20,000 people.

For the Expedition Everest Challenge all participants received real medals and post race party tickets with their registration fee, in addition to the standard race shirts and refreshments. Some may feel that the entry fee (around $100) was too expensive for a 5K race but we didn’t mind since the post race party was like an extra day in the park. The party went from the time you finished the race and scavenger hunt until 3am. Many rides were open including the Primevil Whirl, Dinosaur and of course, Expedition Everest! Some snack carts and beverage stations were also open. A fun quirk about the medals is that they are a compass, which embodies the expedition theme. One thing to note, however, is that the face of the compass is incorrect with some of the directions in the wrong places. Nonetheless, they are pretty great and it was cool to see all the proud finishers wearing their medal around the parks!

Overall the race was neat because we got to run through a park that is rarely open past sundown. The participants seem to take the event seriously but not so much so that if you are stuck on a clue during the scavenger hunt they wouldn’t help you. We were warned before the race began and again around mile 2 to be very quiet for a certain stretch of the race as we were running in a backstage area near were some of the animals sleep overnight. How cool is that?! The post race party was tons of fun, but since only some of the rides were open we did experience some long lines. Riding the signature attraction of the Animal Kingdom, Expedition Everest, in the dark was an unforgettable experience that we partook in several times that night.
We look forward to this next race, the Jingle Jungle 5K, because it will be an early morning run through the Animal Kingdom. From the look of the map it seems that the race route has been changed, which is exciting. Maybe we will have less running through a paring lot and more through the park itself?


Taste of Disney Review: Kalua Pork Sliders

Danny and I both enjoy the process and reward of cooking at home. Most Sundays include planning our weekly menu and grocery shopping for the week. Recently we received a Disney Insider email with a recipe we knew would be a hit in our house. Not only was it a fairly simple dish in terms of ingredients but it was also crock-pot friendly! We made some (minor) modifications to the dish and were very happy with the results. We have even decided to throw this into our regular meal rotation.

What we made

Kalua Pork Sliders with Pineapple Chutney and Spicy Mayonnaise on Brioche Buns

We absolutely loved the spicy mayo. This condiment is so easy to do and versatile. I anticipate making this for many dishes!

What we changed

For starters, this recipe yields 15 sliders which are simply too much for our family of two. Now, that is not to say that we couldn’t down 15 little sliders, because they are that good, but since we try to eat sensible portions it seemed like a better idea to half the recipe. Enough for dinner and little left for someone’s lunch the next day.

Our local supermarket doesn’t carry banana leaves, sadly, so we had to do without for the purpose of our dish. Instead, Danny usually throws in a little garlic. I think next time I will recommend a splash of pineapple juice as well to really compliment the chutney.

Remember how I said that this was an easy-peasy dish? Well, part of that is because we did not make our own brioche rolls. We took the easy way out and purchased some King’s Hawaiian Rolls from the store and toasted them before serving. Way simpler, just as tasty!

Lastly, we have used both fresh and canned pineapple for the chutney. We love getting fresh pineapple whenever it is in season and pack it for lunches and snacks so we didn’t mind getting some for the recipe. With that said, I understand that some may be intimidated with the idea of hacking apart this tropical beauty. Canned pineapple works just as well. I suggest getting crushed pineapple so most of the prep work is already done. Crushed will also get you a better end result, consistency wise, otherwise you will have large chunks of pineapple on little buns.



Carthay Circle Restaurant Review

Bar area in the main dining room
of the Carthay Circle Restaurant
With the recent overhaul of Disney California Adventure came a spectacularly themed new dining location for foodies and boozies alike. The Carthay Circle Restaurant is exquisitely themed after the venue where Walt Disney premiered “Snow White and the Seven Dwarves” decades ago. On the main level of the building you will find a lounge serving a variety of food and drinks in addition to the restaurant check-in stand. Once checked in your host will escort you upstairs to the main restaurant. There is the main dining area, patio seating, and several smaller, private rooms. Alex, our server when we went in August, was very helpful in explaining the theming behind the rooms and pointing out all the little details that make a park Disney. For instance, in one of the smaller rooms there is a large table with an intricate stone base. The base was made to represent the wishing well in “Snow White” and rumor has it that John Lassiter himself had recently eaten at that very table. From the floor to the ceiling, the details of the Carthay Circle restaurant are breathtaking. But… the food is even better!

Danny and I had been drooling over the menu from the day the Disney Food Blog posted it and couldn’t wait for our trip to arrive.

We had debated over getting the Signature Fire Cracker Duck Wings or the Carthay House Biscuits for our starters. The wings are made with soy, lime, and Sriracha chili sauce whereas the biscuits are stuffed with white cheddar, bacon, and jalapeno. I’m sure you can see why this was such a debate. Lucky for us, the Carthay Circle threw us a curve ball when we were presented our table with a basket of warm sourdough bread and some butter. The decision to get the duck wings was then an easy one.

I am drooling a little thinking about how great these wings were. The Sriracha and soy was a wonderful compliment to the decadent, deep fried duck wings. It was a prefect balance of salt and spice. The wings were literally melting in our mouths. We especially appreciated the lime wedges as the hint of acid cut through the richness of the duck. This was a great portion to share but I wouldn’t say no to having this as an entrée in future trips.

Moving on to the entrees, I ordered the Strawberry-Lemond Roasted Organic Chicken Salad. The dish included jicama, haricot verts, upland cress and a buttermilk-lemon vinagrette. This is a wonderful, light, seasonal lunch. The greens were crisp with a great crunch and the chicken was very moist and juicy. The only thing I would change would be the dressing. I found the salad to be a little overdressed for my tastes but I think that was partly to blame for the fact that the dressing was so thin, which I wasn’t totally expecting; the dressing was, however, very flavorful and complimented the components of the dish well.

Danny’s lunch is something that I am still thinking about months later. He selected the Korean Pulled Pork Sandwich topped with Kimchi, Sriracha mayonnaise, a fried egg and cilantro; this also came with a side of fries. WOW! The pulled pork may have been the best I have ever had. As a fan of “traditional” barbequed pulled pork I really enjoyed the flavor profile of the sandwich a lot more than I thought I would have. The egg was expertly prepared and the runny yolk gave the meat an extra flavor dimension and some much needed richness to balance the Sriracha and kimchi. The fries came in their own little cup and were clearly a step above traditional park fries. Earlier I said I would consider getting the wings as an entrée, but that would only be if this sandwich is no longer offered. As much as I would like to go and try new things how could I knowing that this phenomenal dish is calling my name? Knowing that the Carthay Circle is prized for their wine collection, Danny wanted something to accompany his lunch. Once again, our server Alex was extremely helpful, talking through the available wines and what would go best with Danny’s meal. He ended up ordering the house chardonnay – this wine was sweet with notes of honey. Danny said that even though he enjoyed this wine, next time he would like to try something that has more of a California vibe such as a zinfandel.

Last but not least came time for dessert. Once again, the options were all mouth-watering. We selected the Toasted Lemon Pound Cake, with fresh blueberries, lemon curd and a Tahitian vanilla Chantilly. This was a taste of summer! The lemon pound cake was rich and sweet whereas the lemon curd was creamy and tart. I am a huge fan of the lemon-blueberry romance; taking a bite with a little of each component was heavenly. I don’t expect this to be on the menu come January during our next trip, a good thing since it will require me to try something new. I do hope, however, that it will be back next summer! If it is there when you go, which I hope you do, get it!

Hands down, our entire experience was outstanding. The ambiance, service, variety and food were second to none. For our dining reviews we are using a modified Iron Chef rating system which also includes overall ambiance and service since this isn’t a TV show where the chef will walk your dish over and explain things ;)

Taste: 10/10
Originality: 4/5
Plating: 4/5
Ambiance: 5/5
Service: 5/5

OVERALL: 28/30