Friday, February 28, 2014

Hallmark Disney Ornaments Order Form

A couple of days ago, we shared a photo on our Facebook page of Disney Hallmark ornaments that will be released monthly, commemorating holidays and events, starting in July.


The same friend that was kind enough to share this preview with us has provided us with a form for any of our readers who may not have a Hallmark nearby or would like to pre-order these wonderful ornaments.
Ann's Hallmark
141 U.S. 130, Cinnaminson, NJ 08077
(856) 829-0555 

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Citricos at Disney's Grand Floridian Resort

by: Nick

On our recent trip to Walt Disney World, Barbie and I had a lovely evening at Citricos at Disney's Grand Floridian with a group of new friends.

 Me, Barbie, Betsy, F.D., Blake, and Kim

Citricos is located on the second floor of the Grand, next to Victoria & Albert's.

A very nice bar is immediately to the left as you enter.

The kitchen is open and lovely to behold.

 Hidden Mickey?

The beautiful dining room. While this is a large upscale space, it manages to feel warm and cozy.

We didn't even realize we'd have a terrific view of Wishes, but...

On to dinner.

For an appetizer, I had the Lamb Albondiga. a lamb meatball cooked in curry tomato sauce over herb polenta with crumble Feta.

Unlike some meatballs which can be very dense, this was a light, flavorful start.

F.D. had the Sauteed Shrimp with lemon, white wine, tomatoes and Feta, which she said was delicious.

For our main courses F.D. had the Hardwood Grilled Bronzini, which is citrus marinated whole marinated sea bass, Israeli Couscous, herbed chick peas and cucumber relish, which she said was light and flaky, and she loved it.

Kim and Blake both had the Oak-grilled Filet of Beef with hominy-cheddar-potatoe puree, balsamic caramalized onions, peppadew peppers, arugala greens, and Cabernet demi-glace, which they both described as very good, though Blake thought the steak at Jiko at Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge was better.

I had the Berkshire Pork Two Ways, which is Sumac rubbed tenderloin and slow braised belly accompanied by a shishito and and sunchoke hash with natural reduction.  
I'm going to admit, I have no idea what shishito and and sunchoke hash is, but I love pork. But I'm sorry to say, I thought this dish was somewhat uneven. I felt the tenderloin was somewhat lacking in flavor, though Barbie thought it was juicy and tasty. As for the pork belly, one piece was a bit dry and chewy, while the other piece was much more tender and savory.

Barbie liked my meal more than mine, which is good, because I preferred her Madeira Braised Short Ribs, Strozzapreti pasta with hand harvested mushroom ragout and Piccante Gorgonzola. This was much more flavorful than my selection, the short ribs moist, and the pasta perfectly cooked, and I would absolutely order this on a future visit.

I'll let our friend Betsy tell you her dining experience in her own words:

"This was my first time eating at Citricos. I have food allergies and the Chef came out to chat with me. We discussed several options. I chose the Pan Seared Florida Black Grouper with Butternut Squash Risotto, Tuscan Kale, Blue Crab Cream and Black Sturgeon Caviar. The Chef replaced the Blue Crab Cream with a Lemon sauce to fit my needs. The grouper was a nice size and cooked well. The lemon sauce was light and worked well with the risotto, kale and caviar."

Betsy goes on to describe her dessert.

"For dessert I chose the Granny Smith Green Apple Sorbet. This was something new for me. I love Granny Smith Apples and that is exactly what it tasted like. Everything was light enough I wasn’t left feeling overstuffed after the meal."

Barbie had the Lemon Scented Cheesecake. She would have preferred it to be more lemony, but she loved the overall combination of flavors.

The rest of the group had the Warm Chocolate-Banana Torte with vanilla ice cream and hancrafted Belgian couverture chocolate crown.

Was it as awesome as it looks? Yes! 
I love bananas. And, well, love isn't a strong enough word to describe how I feel about chocolate. I would return to Citricos JUST for this.

Overall, this meal was made by the combination of good food and better company. It isn't on my future must do list, but I would not hesitate to return if joining others, and would recommend it if you are looking for a lovely, but pricey, dining experience.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Epcot Center Opening Day Guide

by: Nick

I've seen this guide book listed on eBay as the Opening Day Guide, although there is nothing on the cover to indicate as much. When I bought it at an antique store many years ago, the white label that someone annoyingly put on the cover, and which, as you can see, I unsuccessfully removed, stated that it was a pre-opening guide. I payed $10 for it.

The inside cover.

Page 1.

The back cover.

Regardless of what it is, I love it. It is like a time capsule, showing many beloved attractions, some still with us, others changed or extinct, pavilion sponsors, and those terrific Epcot Center logos.

Some of the companies that were sponsors don't even exist any longer.

I miss Dreamfinder. Who am I kidding, I miss the whole original ride!

And perhaps my all time favorite ride, Horizons.

On the World Showcase side, the artwork is even more stunning.

There is even a preview for 3 nations that were planned, announced, but never made it.

Finally the book ends showing some of the workmanship that went into what I consider a Wonder of the World, Epcot.

Because of the wonderful photos, and a glimpse back at classic Epcot Center, this is one of my favorite pieces of Disneyana.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Mickey and Friends Epcot Center Adventure at Walt Disney World

This set of Happy Meal Toys is from Disney and McDonald's circa 1994, "Mickey and Friends Epcot Center Adventure at Walt Disney World".

The Epcot pavilions represented are, left to right, Chip for China, Pluto for France, Goofy for Norway, Donald for Mexico, Mickey for the United States, Minnie for Japan, Daisy for Germany, and Dale for Morocco.

A close up look at a few.

One day, while looking through boxes in the basement, because my wife thought she remembered me putting some Disney toys down there, she came up with a complete set of these.

When I started to try and find out more about this set on eBay, I discovered that my collection was actually NOT complete! This figure of Dale as a Canadian Mountie was released exclusively in Canada! So I bought one!

The whole gang welcomes it's newest arrival!

Monday, February 24, 2014

Narcoossee's Restaurant at Disney's Grand Floridian Resort

by: Nick

Since becoming a blogger, I travel differently, keeping an eye out for interesting topics to write about.
Blogging also influences dining choices at restaurants. I usually try to choose different items than Barbie, so I have at least 2 menu selections to review.
This doesn't always work out. When we visited the Yak and Yeti Restaurant at Disney's Animal Kingdom on our trip in October of last year, we both ordered the Chicken Lo Mein. But at least I had other photos from previous trips to write about.
What I'm getting to is this, the review of Narcoossee's is going to be slim in the food review portion, because we both ordered the exact same thing, and as this was our first visit, there's nothing else to fall back on. 
Also, I apologize for how dark the photos are, the lighting in the evening at Narcoossee's is pretty intimate.

Narcoossee's is located on the shores of Seven Seas Lagoon, at the end of the Grand Floridian transportation boat dock.

We gave our names at the podium, and were handed a pager. We decided to have a look at the menu, so headed for the bar area.

On the way, we passed the open kitchen and the wonderful staff. Be sure to say hello!



I was impressed with the beer menu, not overwhelming but a nice selection.

We asked the bartender for a food suggestion, and he said his favorite was the scallops.

As I perused the beer list, our pager went off. As we were being brought to our table, Barbie spotted a man wearing a vest covered in Disney pins. She approached him, and they spoke at length. He came over to introduce himself and his wife. They were locals, and they also suggested the scallops, as well as the calamari.

If you time it right, and have a table facing Cinderella Castle, you can see Wishes at the Magic Kingdom. I made our advanced dining reservation at 180 days out for 8:00 pm, thinking the fireworks would be at either 8:00 or 9:00 pm. They were at 10:00 pm that evening, and while I could have changed our ADR, we both agreed that was rather late for dinner.

The menu is somewhat limited.

As our bread was being set on the table, we asked our server for an entree suggestion, and weren't really surprised when she said the scallops.

The bread was very crunchy with a soft center, almost a sourdough. I love butter with salt, and this was course, better yet!

We shared the  Crispy Rhoade Island Calamari with pepperoncini-olive relish and tomato coulis appetizer. 

I thought it was very light and crispy yet tender, not chewy. The relish was just the right kick, and the tomato coulis was the perfect acidic addition. Barbie thought they were the best Calamari she'd ever had! With a salad, this could easily be an economical choice for an entree.

For dinner, we both ordered the Pan-seared Georges Bank Day Boat Scallops with Trofie pasta with Sultana raisins, Marcona almonds, young string beans and herb creme with wild mushrooms, lemon-thyme-mustard au jus and arugula.

We both agreed these were the best scallops we'd ever had. They were perfectly prepared, and as good as they were, the pasta and mushrooms in the lemon-thyme-mustard au jus was even better. Shhhh, if you listen carefully, you can hear my stomach growling now as I write this!

We would have loved dessert, but were too full!

There is no doubt we will return to Narcoossee's in the future, and we will try to choose different food selections, but it won't be easy!