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04
Apr 14

2014 Epcot IllumiNations Sparkling Dessert Party Review

Last weekend my girlfriend Susan and I partook in an Epic Girls Weekend at the Walt Disney World Boardwalk Resort.  You can read about that here: Day 1, Day 2, and Day 3.

On the first night we were in “the World” we attended the all new Epcot IllumiNations Sparkling Dessert Party.

When Susan booked the party, the Disney booking site had the event taking place at World Showplace. Here’s a screenshot I took today where guests are still directed to World Showplace near the UK and Canada pavilions. The image depicted here with the view of Spaceship Earth beyond World Showcase Lagoon places it in the area near Italy. And if that isn’t confusing enough, when you click on “Read More” you are directed to “meet the greeting Cast Member at World Showcase Plaza, directly next to Port of Entry and adjacent to the Mexico Pavilion.” Well OK then.  Want to know where our party was? In the Odyssey.

epcot illuminations sparkling dessert party

Why the Odyssey you ask? Well, there was a possibility of inclement weather so the party was moved inside to the Odyssey building. Only problem, you can’t see fireworks from inside a building. Definitely not something Disney can control and this was a great option for bad weather, however it meant that our dessert eating would be cut short by about 25 minutes as the cast members tried to get us out of the building 10 minutes prior to showtime and we would be unable to munch while IllumiNations was taking place.

On any other non-inclement weather evening the dessert party is supposed to take place at the area near World Showcase Lagoon beside Port of Entry. Upside to having the party in the Odyssey, seating. If you are experiencing the party in the normal location it is standing only. However, we arrived to the party about 15 minutes after it had started, due to the fact that we had gone to World Showplace first, then Port of Entry and then the Odyssey, so there was still no place for us to sit as all the tables and chairs had been taken. Mind you there was zero signage anywhere pointing us to the right place. Hopefully Disney changes that.  Even when we left the Odyssey building to access the special reserved section where we were to watch IllumiNations (since it didn’t rain) there was no signage and we missed the first few minutes of the show getting lost in mass crowds of people trying to find anyone who could help direct us where we were supposed to go.

The Desserts

I was especially excited to attend this party because I had read two reviews online from the week prior that showed pictures of glorious mini cronuts from Refreshment Port. These are a cross between a croissant and a doughnut and are rolled in cinnamon sugar and will change your life! Honestly they are that good.  Guess what? No cronuts. None. Really? It was like visiting Disneyland for the first time expecting to go on the Matterhorn only to discover it is down for refurbishment…only worse. Nope no cronuts. Imposter doughnuts were being served instead. This was a major disappointment. (Note: The night of the party the Disney website was still reporting that Cronuts would be available)

Flambeed Cinnamon Glazed Doughnuts – America

Flambeed Cinnamon Glazed Doughnuts

The chef was at the station with doughnuts in one hand and a bottle of rum in the other.

Flambeed Cinnamon Glazed Doughnuts epcot illuminations dessert party

The doughnuts were topped with a dollop of ice cream and as disappointed as I was that these were not cronuts, I still thought they were super yummy.

Churros – Mexico

I didn’t sample these.

churros epcot illuminations dessert party

 Chocolate Grand Marnier pot de crème – France

These were almost inedible. There was a layer of gelatinous gold glitter that tasted almost like chemical on the top of this dessert. By the time I dug down into the chocolate I tasted no Grand Marnier. I’m not a big fan of pudding so take this review for what its worth.  There are so many yummy desserts at Les Halles Boulangerie & Patisserie in France I have no idea why they chose this as a representation. I would have loved to see mini macarons here.

chocolate Grand Marnier pot de crème epcot illuminations sparkling dessert party

 Tiramisu – Italy

These weren’t too bad. Not much coffee flavor. Tasted more like pound cake with whipped cream.  I’d take a cannoli over these any day.

epcot illuminations sparkling dessert party disney tiramusu

 Shortbread Cookies – United Kingdom

epcot illuminations sparkling dessert party disney shortbread cookies

 Fresh Fruit and Berries

epcot illuminations sparkling dessert party disney fruit

 Ice Cream Novelties

epcot illuminations sparkling dessert party disney mickey bars

Available were Mickey Bars, Mickey Ice Cream Sandwiches and fruit bars.

epcot illuminations sparkling dessert party disney mickey bars

Traditional Baklava – Morocco

Amazing-ness! I adore baklava and these were perfect. I may or may not have had two plates full.

epcot illuminations sparkling dessert party disney baklava

See…

epcot illuminations sparkling dessert party disney baklava

Also…you see that flute. That is filled with Prosecco. Champagne was also offered. Before the party ended they had run out of these flutes and were offering guests champagne in small plastic water cups…because who doesn’t want to sip a sparkling wine out of a water cup?

The Epcot IllumiNations Sparkling Dessert Party pales in comparison to the Wishes Dessert Party (aka Tomorrowland Terrace Fireworks Dessert Party) offered over at the Magic Kingdom.  Magic Kingdom doesn’t offer booze, so if that’s your pleasure Epcot may be a better choice.  While I was severely disappointed that the cronut didn’t make an appearance I really enjoyed the stand-in option and the baklava. Hey Disney! How about some Schoolbread from Norway?  For the price, I would say that it is very unlikely that I would return again. Now if they brought that danged cronut back…

The Illuminations Sparkling Dessert Party is going to run you $49.  Kids 3-9 are $29. The event is offered on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday nights from 7:45 PM to 9:20 PM, unless you’re in the Odyssey where they will try and run you out at 8:50PM.


02
Jan 14

Disney Toy Story Birthday Party Dessert Table

Made by Cake Pop Princess UK

Disney Toy Story Birthday Party Dessert Table

Disney Toy Story Birthday Party Dessert Table cupcakes cookies.

Disney Toy Story Birthday Party Dessert Table cupcakes cake


30
Sep 13

Food & Wine Weekends Five Course Meal Review at La Luce by Donna Scala at the Hilton Bonnet Creek

La Luce Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek food and wine weekendsFollow me on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and you might notice that I have a special affinity for a certain Italian restaurant inside the Hilton Bonnet Creek at Walt Disney World.

This past weekend was opening weekend for the “3rd Annual Food & Wine Weekends” at the resort property which adjoins the Waldorf Astoria Orlando Resort.

La Luce, the brainchild of chef Donna Scala, has crafted an impeccable specialty menu for the Weekend Events running through November 9th, 2013 and I was first in line to sample them.

La Luce Donna Scala Hilton Bonnet Creek Orlando DisneyFriday Night

On Friday night I headed down to La Luce with a girlfriend and we prepared ourselves for “Il Cibo Della Vita”, which translates to “the food of life”.  We decided to dine at the bar and share the offerings between the two of us. This is a more casual way to experience La Luce and the service from my favorite bartenders Tony and Deborah make the experience that much more fun.

Zuppa $9 Butternut Squash – Creamy…sweet…lucious and silky smooth. The serving size was generous and we enjoyed dragging the specialty bread service through it when we got to the bottom of the bowl. I especially enjoyed the fried sage leaf on top.

Butternut Squash Soup La Luce Food and Wine Weekends Hilton Bonnet CreekBruschetta $12 Mozzarella di Bufala, Roasted Tomato, Arugula – Crisp bread and forward flavor is what you’ll get with this starter.  The deep roasted tomato had a distinct sweetness which was a perfect match to the saltiness of the olives and creamy cheese.

Bruschetta la luce donna scala hilton bonnet creek food and wine weekendsRisotto $28 Speck Wrapped Scallops, Wild Mushrooms, Reggiano – Decadent is the word I would use to describe this dish. I wouldn’t normally order a risotto but this dish might sway me to do that more often.  Imagine crispy prosciutto wrapped scallops atop a bed of creamy…cheesy…risotto finished with a splash of olive oil and fresh parsley.

scallop risotto la luce donna scala hilton bonnet creek food and wine weekendsAt this point in the meal we were getting pretty full and I wished that we hadn’t eaten so much in the afternoon as we noshed around World Showcase for the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival.  Here’s course number four, which I wish I had sampled. There’s always next weekend….

Lamb Meatballs $26 Tuscan Bean Ragu, Mint Gremolata, Natural Jus

lamb meatballs la luce donna scala hilton bonnet creek food and wine weekendsOur dessert was delivered by General Manager Rabie Elmtioui.

Dolce $9 Cannoli, Ricotta, Mascarpone Cheese – Three cannoli…each one, two bites of heaven. A light and sweet ending after the heavy risotto.

cannoli la luce donna scala hilton bonnet creek food and wine weekends

Saturday Night

On Saturday night I was allowed in on a special staff tasting. Ask your server what they would recommend and they will be able to give an honest answer because of the tastings that take place before dinner service.

Zuppa $9 Cauliflower - Don’t you just want to dive in? Another excellent offering from La Luce. Silky smooth cauliflower puree with crisp croutons. A perfect contrast. (glances over shoulder for the “Soup Nazi“)

la luce food and wine weekends hilton bonnet creek cauliflower soupBruschetta $12 Grilled Pears, Gorgonzola, Prosciutto, Aged Balsamic - This was the stand out dish for me from the entire weekend. I could have eaten an entire plate of these and washed it down with a bottle of wine. Crusty bread, ripe cheese, sweet pears and tangy balsamic. Like a symphony in my mouth. **smacks lips**

la luce food and wine weekends hilton bonnet creek bruschetta pear gorgonzola

Risotto $28 Prawns alla Plancha, Wild Mushrooms, Melted Leeks, Truffle Cheese - You had me at melted leeks and truffle cheese. This risotto was on par with the scallop risotto I had on Friday night. I may be turning into a risotto fan. Well played La Luce…well played.

la luce orlando hilton bonnet creek food and wine weekends shrimp risottoGrilled Duck and Sausage $32 Umbrian Lentils Ragu, Tomato, Cipolline, Saba - Generous in portion size, this entree is full of flavor. Perfect proteins top a bed of savory lentil ragu.  The duck literally falls of the bone. The hand stuffed sausage has just the right amount of spice.

la luce food and wine weekends hilton bonnet creek grilled duck and sausageDolce $9 Lemon Souffle Pudding - This light and airy dessert read more like a souffle and less like a pudding. It was tangy and not at all heavy. La Luce has perfected dessert! It’s signature Butterscotch Pudding even has its own Facebook Page!

la luce food and wine weekends hilton bonnet creek lemon souffle puddingThe level of service from the kitchen staff to the servers and bartenders to the management is five star at La Luce.  The restaurant was awarded the 2013 Award of Excellence from Wine Spectator. With over 150 selections of wine to choose from there is something to suit any palate.  The specialty menus for Food & Wine Weekends includes suggested wine pairings for an additional fee.  For a complete list of the weekend events check out my “Weekend Offerings” post.

If you would like to book a room at the Hilton Bonnet Creek please visit http://www.hiltonbonnetcreek.com/ or phone 407-597-3600.  La Luce is open daily from 5-9pm.  For reservations phone 407-597-3600 or visit http://LaLuceOrlando.com

Special thanks goes out to the Hilton Bonnet Creek for hosting my stay. I was not required to write this post and all opinions are my own.


10
Oct 12

First Look – Disney’s Be Our Guest Restaurant Mousse Filled Cream Puffs

Disney’s Be Our Guest Restaurant Mousse Filled Cream Puffs

French-inspired cuisine three years in development will be highlighted when Be Our Guest Restaurant opens in the New Fantasyland. The stylish restaurant will be available for quick-service lunch and table-service dinner. In keeping with those elegantly-themed dinners, select wines and beers will be included on menus. Pictured: Mousse-Filled Cream Puffs. Disney announced two of the flavors: Passion Fruit and Chocolate. Any guesses on what the third flavor will be?


20
Sep 12

First Look – Disney’s Be Our Guest Restaurant – Gourmet Cupcakes

Disney’s Be Our Guest Restaurant - Gourmet Cupcakes

(from Left to Right) Lemon Meringue, Triple Chocolate and Strawberry Cream Cheese.

French-inspired cuisine three years in development will be highlighted when Be Our Guest Restaurant opens in the New Fantasyland expansion at Walt Disney World. The stylish restaurant will be available for quick-service lunch and table-service dinner. In keeping with those elegantly-themed dinners and French-inspired cuisine, select wines and beers will be included on menus — and dinners will be presented tableside by servers dressed in a style inspired by European fashions from the 1400s to the 1600s.

For a look at the menu check out this post: Fantasyland Chef at the Be Our Guest Restaurant Reveals New Menu Items