Around Disney, May 2012

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In addition to my amazing vegetarian meal at Le Cellier Steakhouse in Epcot’s Canada Pavilion, we saw, ate and drank some other great things.

  • While in Epcot, we walked around enjoying the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival. We saw plants, flowers and produce from around the world, flower sculptures, a butterfly garden and lawn ornaments and accessories.
  • At La Cava del Tequila in the Mexico Pavilion we had a passion fruit margarita. Already fans of this bar, I’ve seen the menu enough to realize they are always rotating margarita flavors and coming up with unique combinations. It was a refreshing treat on a hot day.
  • No stop at Disney is complete until we have been to Babycakes. And I may have had one of my favorite bakery items yet. The chocolate cupcake with mint frosting was amazing, with the cupcake being dense and not overly sweet.
  • We checked out Animal Kingdom, the first time for both of us. And when Bill spotted the jalapeno cheese stuffed pretzel, we had to stop and try it. Chewy pretzel, gooey cheese and a hit of spice!

What is your favorite thing to do at Disney?

My February 29: One More Disney Day

To celebrate that extra day we get every four years, Disney decided to open Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom and Disneyland for One More Disney Day from 6 a.m. February 29 to 6 a.m. March 1. Since this had never been done and Bill and I have passes, I suggested we check it out.

I figured since it was the middle of the week and the middle of the night it would be pretty relaxing and a different atmosphere. And that’s where I underestimated people’s love and dedication to Disney.

It wasn’t like the one time I went in the summer, but it’s not the out-of-season midweek trips we were used to. In fact, as we were making our way to Magic Kingdom at 9 p.m. (along with everyone else as the other parks closed) I was worried it might get to capacity before we got there from what I was hearing a photo I saw. It wasn’t crazy getting in but it was busy inside the park. Everyone was lined up all up Main Street for the Electrical Parade. We grabbed a spot at the castle and watched it with the visual display and upbeat song on repeat. It really was great.

View from the castle

Then we walked to some rides and that’s where the craziness really began. There were people everywhere. People were still in the park from the day, people were coming in just for the night, it was crazy. But it was fun to be a part of that, and it was following a full day at Hollywood Studios and Epcot. In total we hit three parks in 14 hours.

But how do you fuel such a trip? With a solid breakfast. And we did that by hitting up Babycakes at Downtown Disney. If you are a regular to the blog, you know I’m becoming a big fan of this vegan bakery, and it’s a must-stop on every trip to Disney (and New York, it’s home base). We got the amazing waffle sandwich filled with frosting and cookie crunch and topped with maple and vanilla sauce. So good, yet so sugary. (Pro tip: Don’t go on Hollywood Studio’s Tower of Terror right after eating this. Trust me.) We also got a slice of banana chocolate chip loaf, which was actually better because it was a perfect balance of bread and sweetness.

Such a good way to start the day: Waffle sandwich and banana chocolate chip loaf.

Later in the day we hit up La Cava del Tequila in Epcot’s Mexico Pavillion. This is becoming another can’t-miss spot on any trip to Disney for us. We wanted an afternoon snack and drink. We almost got a completely different order (we’ll get it next time!) but ended up with a classic margarita, an avocado marg (so creamy and satisfying, like drinking guacamole but in a really good way!) and some chips and salsa. The salsa is more of a sauce, but has a kick to it and they give you a big plate of chips. Aaaaand it was free since we follow them on Twitter (@cavadeltequila). Great way to rest and recharge on a long, hot day.

From top: Classic margarita, chips and salsa, avocado margarita.

Another spot we love to visit is the Germany Pavillion, where we grabbed a pretzel, Altenmünster Oktoberfest and a German peanut snack with a hard cheesy and spice coating, NicNac’s.

Pretzel, beer and NicNac's

While on our trip we hit up two breweries, BJ’s Restaurant and Brewhouse the first night, where we had dinner and sampled some beers. About 10 minutes east of Disney, it is a cross between Cheesecake Factory (for the food) and Rock Bottom (for the drinks). Good food and good beer. While at Disney we tried the sampler from Big River Grille and Brewing Works. The beer was decent but the food choice and atmosphere were just ok. If you want to check out one of these, my vote is for BJ’s.

We had a quick trip to Disney, but I think we successfully packed a lot in. We have places we want to stop in the future so if you have any suggestions in or around Disney, please let me know!

How did you spend your extra day this year?

Weekend at Disney World

Living in south Florida, I try to take advantage of all the state has to offer. But one place I haven’t spent much time is Disney. Since we were already planning to meet friends from the north there, we decided to take advantage of Florida resident discounts. We got a ticket that would allow us to park hop that we can use again in the future.

It was a pretty quick tour, but in a day and a half we hit Magic Kingdom, Epcot and Hollywood Studios and a quick stop at Downtown Disney. It was a quick overview of all the parks, but we plan to spend more time in the future checking them all out.

I didn’t really take many pictures, but created memories with friends who have spent a lot of time at Disney. They knew the ins and outs and how to make the most of our limited time, where to stop for food and drink  and tips for using our passes in the future.

We went to Epcot, where I had various drinks around the world, including a michelada in Mexico made with Tecate, tomato juice, salt and a lime; sake in Japan; and an Oktoberfest beer in Germany. I spotted frozen drinks I hope to try when it’s warmer (it was a cool, rainy day).

From bottom: michelada, blood orange margarita, tequila flight, margarita flight

We went to a sit-down hibachi restaurant in Japan and, when told I was vegetarian, two people (including the manager) came over to ask what I do and do not eat and make sure I was comfortable. I was really impressed by that, and that fact alone makes me willing to spend the time and money at a restaurant with table service at Disney in the future.

One of our final stops was to Downtown Disney to Babycakes, a vegan bakery I love. This is my second time at Babycakes, the first was in Rockaway Beach, New York, at their summer shop.

Love the look of this box!

I’m not a huge doughnut fan, but I saw the cookie-topped doughnut so I gave it a try, and couldn’t pass up a lemon cupcake. The food is so good and it’s great knowing it is all free of animals (and other things for those with allergies).

From top left: Cookie doughnut, lemon cupcake, toasted coconut doughnut

Where is your favorite place to eat or drink at Disney? Since we don’t know the area well and will be back, I would love to know the can’t-miss spots!

Food fit for Queens

I’ve been back from New York for a week already, but feel I’m still getting settled. Time went too fast, but the weather was great and the company was even better.

The original Nathan's Famous in Coney Island

While in New York, we took a trip to Coney Island (my first time!) and I saw the original Nathan’s Famous. I didn’t eat there and have never had a Nathan’s dog, but it was still cool. It is the site of the Independence Day tradition of professional eaters shoving food into their mouth that can easily choke a baby, after all.

The rest of the weekend was spent in Queens. This is where the vegetarian treats were.

I spent Saturday at Rockaway Beach, a very popular beach in Queens. A subway stop brings people from all over, and Rockaway is home to the city’s only surfing area. It is so popular that many food stands have opened beachside outposts at the boardwalk.

A quick Google search for “Rockaway Beach boardwalk food” can show you how big a deal this is. I first caught wind when I kept seeing articles in the New York Times and Wall Street Journal about what was going on, but countless blogs and community papers have great information on it, too. A recent New York Times item and Brooklyn blog photo tour help get a feel for the place. The boardwalk sells tacos, arepas, juices and smoothies, among other treats.

Babycakes vegan bakery in Rockaway Beach, Queens

Vegan brownie and cookie sandwiches on the beach. Life is good.

One place to open this summer was Babycakes, a very well-known organic vegan bakery that is sensitive to food allergies and has locations in Manhattan, Los Angeles and Downtown Disney in Orlando. (I hope to check out the Orlando outpost sometime.) They are known for vegan doughnuts and cupcakes. When I heard they were opening in Rockaway for the summer, my mouth started watering, as I hadn’t been before. They don’t have their full offerings at Rockaway, but are limited to mini doughnuts (I don’t like doughnuts), waffles (interested but I passed) and, what Bill and I settled on, a cookie sandwich and brownie sandwich they keep cold, which is great for hot days. The filling is vegan cream, and they are amazing. The cookie is the perfect size for a beach snack, the brownie was a little too big and chocolaty for my taste, but we managed to finish it!

Let's go Mets!

Veggie burger with fixings at Citi Field

The next day we went to the Mets game. I got an Yves veggie burger (they also sell Yves veggie dogs). Theeeeenn I went to the best-kept secret in baseball stadiums, the toppings bar. I’m not ashamed to admit this is where I always clean up at baseball games. The Citi Field topping bar did not disappoint. I topped my sandwich with sautéed mushrooms, onions, lettuce, tomato, jalapeno and deli mustard. This also works for nachos or fries if veggie options aren’t present. Tried and true. And I wasn’t hungry for the rest of the game.

And the Mets promotion was a MetroCard. With an article telling the international food options along the No. 7 train (the line that runs past Citi), I might have to return next summer for some food and baseball.