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


5 For 5: Domestic Park Rankings

Last month I decided I wanted to do a monthly top 5 list with a random topic each month and what better day to post it than on the 5th of the month?
This month we decided to rank our top five Disney parks!
Jaime’s Five:
1.       Disneyland
2.       Animal Kingdom
3.       Disney California Adventure
4.       Magic Kingdom
5.       Blizzard Beach
Many people, Danny included, are probably wondering why Animal Kingdom is number two and I will tell you. I LOVE it! What is not to love? You have great rides i.e. Expedition Everest, Kilimanjaro Safari, Kali River Rapids and Dinosaur; there are fabulous shows i.e. Festival of the Lion King and Finding Nemo; impeccable attention i.e. lush landscaping, ornate buildings and décor, and even detailed sidewalks! Lastly, I love animals and going to the zoo. With this park you get a theme park and a zoo right in one!  I don’t care that it is sometimes called a “half-day park” because that just means I can go back to the hotel and take a nap before dinner and fireworks. That sounds like successful planning if you ask me!
Danny’s Five:
1.       Disneyland
2.       Disney California Adventure
3.       Magic Kingdom
4.       Blizzard Beach
5.       Hollywood Studios

So now, after reading these lists maybe you are asking yourself: Both of these fools put Blizzard Beach down over perennial favorites such as Epcot. Yes, yes we did. When you are in the hot, Florida sun all day nothing beats a great water park, complete with a sandy beach, fun water slides, and a never-ending lazy river. Parks are great, but when I am on vacation, sometimes I want to relax and not worry about standing in lines or getting to the next reservation. Blizzard Beach is a great way to relax, soak up some sun and have fun.

So there you have it, our first 5 For 5 post! 5 days late. Whoopsies!

What are your 5?