Thursday, July 30, 2015

Yachtsman Steakhouse - Disney's Yacht Club Resort

Earlier this week, my husband and I celebrated our 14th anniversary at Yachtsman Steakhouse, a signature dining restaurant at Disney's Yacht Club Resort.  

While we waited to be seated, we watched a cast member cut beautiful NY strip steaks, which helped influenced my decision on what to order for a main course.  

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Gluten Free in New York City - Part 5

We started our final full day in New York City with breakfast at our hotel, then we headed out to see the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.  I recommend buying your tickets ahead of time from Statue Cruises.  We bought Reserve with Pedestal Access tickets, which meant we had a lot of steps to climb, but if you are up for it, try to get Reserve with Crown tickets, so you can go all the way up to the crown.  Buy them early, because they sell out fast.  

We had lunch at Hu Kitchen, a fast casual restaurant that focuses on clean eating.  All of their food is gluten free and non-GMO, and they do not use cane sugar, soy lecithin, refined sugar, or emulsifiers. You can read Hu Kitchen's food pillars here.  If you eat a Paleo diet, you will love Hu Kitchen.  

Monday, July 27, 2015

Disney's Allergy-Friendly Menus

In April, Disney began the process of introducing allergy-friendly menus at table service and quick service restaurants at Disneyland and Walt Disney World.  My understanding is that by the end of September, these menus will be available at all Disney owned and operated table service and quick service restaurants at the theme parks, water parks, resort hotels, and Downtown Disney.  All of the menus note that you may still consult with a chef before placing your order, and have the following disclaimer:

The new menus cover the top 8 allergens - gluten/wheat, milk, egg, soy, peanut, tree nut, fish, and shellfish.  Maybe because gluten/wheat is the most common special diet request at Disney, some restaurants, like Landscape of Flavors, have a separate gluten/wheat allergy-friendly menu.  These are my favorite allergy-friendly menus at Disney World, because I only have to avoid gluten.

Pizza Planet - Disney's Hollywood Studios

Pizza Planet, a quick service restaurant at Disney's Hollywood Studios, has a new allergy-friendly menu.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Gluten Free in New York City - Part 4

On our fourth day in New York City, we had breakfast at the Marriott Marquis in Times Square, which you can read about here, then headed to the 9/11 Memorial.  

The 9/11 Memorial is free, but we bought tickets ahead of time to visit the 9/11 Memorial Museum, and One World Observatory, located at the top of One World Trade Center.  We all loved One World Observatory with its amazing views of New York City, and enjoyed walking around outside and exploring the 9/11 Memorial, but my 10 year old daughters had a hard time with the 9/11 Memorial Museum.  I highly recommend all three activities, but the 9/11 Memorial Museum might not be appropriate for young children. 

Friday, July 24, 2015

Chef Mickey's Breakfast - Disney's Contemporary Resort

Mary Roelle, one of my blog readers, travels to Disney World every year.  One of the reasons her family goes yearly is because it is a safe place where her daughter, who has celiac, can enjoy a "Magical Eat-A-Thon."  Mary and I have a lot in common.  We are both teachers and moms of twins, we share a love of "The Most Magical Place on Earth,", and she is thinking about starting a gluten free blog, which I have definitely encouraged her to do after reading her wonderful review of Chef Mickey's.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Contempo Cafe Gluten Free Cupcakes

Earlier today, my daughters and I had dessert at Contempo Cafe after having lunch at The Wave...of American Flavors.

Contempo Cafe is a quick service restaurant at Disney's Contemporary Resort.  Earlier this year, I learned from a blog reader that they have gluten free cupcakes, so we thought today would be the perfect day to check them out.  

We bypassed the touch screen kiosks where guests order food, and asked a cast member at the pick up area if we could order some gluten free cupcakes.  While we were waiting to speak to a manager, I took some pictures of Contempo Cafe's current gluten free and allergy-friendly menus.  

Oddly enough, the cupcakes are not mentioned on the gluten free lunch and dinner menu.  

No mention of gluten free cupcakes on the Kids' gluten/wheat allergy-friendly menu either.  

The manager told us that we could choose vanilla or chocolate cupcakes with white frosting.  We all picked chocolate of course.  I thought the cupcakes were adorable, though our frosting got messed up a bit by the lid they put on our plate.  

The cupcakes were a bit dense and bordered on being dry, but overall, I thought they were pretty good.  Usually, I remove a lot of the frosting from cupcakes, because they tend to have too much of it, and I find most frostings to be too sweet, but the cupcakes at Contempo Cafe had the perfect balance of frosting and cake.  The Mickey colored sprinkles on top were a nice finishing touch for the cupcakes.  Usually my daughters complain about sprinkles, but they must have enjoyed them, because they didn't say a word.  

Contempo Cafe has other gluten free desserts, like soft serve and prepackaged cookies and brownies, which you can read about in my lunch review.  It is rare though, to find a dessert like these cupcakes at a quick service restaurant.  They are also available next door at Chef Mickey's.  If you are at the Magic Kingdom, you could ride the monorail over to the Contemporary Resort for some gluten free cupcakes.

Here's a picture of Contempo Cafe's gluten/wheat allergy-friendly breakfast menu.

They also have an allergy-friendly breakfast menu for people with allergies to milk, egg, soy, peanut/tree nut, and fish/shellfish.

August 4, 2015 Update

After having breakfast at the The Wave and doing some early Christmas shopping at the Magic Kingdom, we stopped at Contempo Cafe for a cupcake before we headed home.  This time, we decided to give the vanilla a try.

My daughters and I agreed that we weren't too fond of the vanilla, which was very dense, and tasted more like a muffin with frosting than a cupcake.  We will definitely be sticking with the chocolate cupcakes on future visits.  I did find out today that the gluten free cupcakes are also vegan, so they are safe for people with egg and dairy allergies.  When I eat at Chef Mickey's next week, I will ask if they are soy and nut free as well.

You can read more about Contempo Cafe on Disney's website here.

What are your favorite gluten free dishes at Contempo Cafe?  

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Gluten Free in New York City - Part 3

Our third day in New York City started with breakfast at our hotel, the Marriott Marquis in Times Square.  

The buffet breakfast at Crossroads American Kitchen & Bar was included with our room for the last four days of our stay, so we ate breakfast there every day except our first morning in New York City, when I dined at The Little Beet, which was a short walk from Times Square.  

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Sanaa Lunch - Kidani Village at Disney's Animal Kingdom Villas

Earlier today, my daughters and I had lunch at Sanaa at Disney's Animal Kingdom Villas - Kidani Village.  Sanaa is a table service restaurant featuring African cooking with Indian flavors, and great views of the animals on the savanna outside.

Sanaa is one of my family's favorite restaurants at Disney for lunch and dinner, and is featured in the following blog posts: My Favorite Table Service Restaurants at Disney,  Best Disney Restaurants without a Park Pass, Best of 2014 - Disney, and two posts in my series The Best Thing I Ever Ate at Disney - Gluten Free Appetizers and Gluten Free Desserts.

Sanaa used to have a gluten free menu, but now they have one of the allergy-friendly menus that are being introduced at all Disney-owned table service restaurants between April and September of this year.  Allergy-friendly menus list dishes that are safe for people with gluten/wheat, egg, milk, soy, fish/shellfish, and peanut/tree nut allergies.  These menus are also being introduced at major quick service restaurants in the theme parks and resorts.

Before the new allergy-friendly menus were introduced at Disney, a chef would come to your table to discuss your dietary needs, but now, they will typically not visit your table unless you ask to speak to a chef.

After we ordered our meal, I asked to speak to Chef Carroll, one of my favorite Disney chefs.  I had some questions about the newest version of their gluten free naan.  The gluten free naan (pictured above) at Sanaa used to be made with Cup4Cup flour, and in my opinion, was the best gluten free bread available at a restaurant in Orlando.  The new gluten-friendly vegan naan is made with Bob's Red Mill all-purpose baking flour, and is dairy free, which the previous version wasn't.


I was worried that my gluten-eating daughters would not like the new gluten free naan, so we ordered three pieces of gluten-filled naan for them, and two pieces of gluten-friendly vegan naan for myself as part of the Indian-style bread service.  My naan was served on a separate plate, while theirs arrived sitting right next to our accompaniments.  Because I have celiac and worry about cross contamination, I requested new accompaniments for myself.  Next time, I will be sure to ask for any gluten-filled naan that we order to be put on its own plate.  Oddly enough, my daughters, who love gluten-free bread, said they like the old version of Sanaa's gluten free naan better than the gluten-filled naan they ate today.  I was excited that the bread service now includes five pieces of naan.  The three pieces it was served with in the past were never enough for us, so we always had to order and pay for extra naan.

Honestly, I thought I was going to dislike the new gluten-friendly vegan naan.  The previous version with Cup4Cup was amazing, and I had heard that the new gluten free naan was not as good, which it isn't.  That being said, I enjoyed it, and if I had never tried the old version, I would have been quite satisfied with the gluten-friendly vegan naan.  I love to spread my two favorite accompaniments on my naan - mango chutney and coriander chutney.  The combination of both is pretty amazing.  The new naan has a different consistency than the Cup4Cup version, and isn't as soft and pliable as traditional naan, but it is still good.  The chefs at Sanaa are still working to improve their gluten free vegan naan recipe, but the naan I had today is certainly a good start.  In an ideal world, both versions of the gluten free naan would be served at Sanaa, but since that isn't the case, I will continue to enjoy the Indian-style bread service with the gluten free naan they currently offer.  You can view Sanaa's gluten free naan recipe made with Cup4Cup here.   

For an entree, I was torn between the grilled beef sirloin steak with Tunisian olive oil crushed potatoes and spice route vegetables, a new dish on the menu, and the lamb curry & butter chicken.  

I ended up choosing the butter chicken and lamb curry with basmati rice.  The butter chicken is always amazing, and beyond the bread service, it's one of the main reasons my daughters and I love dining at Sanaa.

I enjoyed the lamb curry, but probably not enough to order it again.  I much preferred the beef short ribs, which are no longer on the menu.

Oddly enough, adult desserts are not listed on Sanaa's new allergy-friendly menu. Our server mentioned that I could have the tapioca pudding or sorbet, but my favorite dessert at Sanaa is their seasonal kulfi, which is an Indian-style ice cream.  The adult kulfi has been coconut for several months, which is disappointing, because I don't like the taste of coconut, but I was able to order the pineapple kulfi from the kids' menu, and it was delicious.  The kulfi was rich and creamy, and full of pineapple flavor, and the sauce on the plate was divine.  You can read about the other flavors of kulfi I have tried at Sanaa in my previous lunch and dinner reviews.  

Be sure to ask for a window table, so you can watch the animals while you dine.

November 5, 2015 Update

Earlier today, I had lunch at Sanaa with a friend.  We shared the Indian-style bread service with nine accompaniments.  I tried the tomato-date chutney for the first time and enjoyed it, but my two favorite accompaniments are still the coriander and mango chutneys.  This was my second time eating the gluten-friendly vegan naan, and I remain disappointed that Sanaa no longer makes gluten free naan with Cup4Cup flour, which is so much better than what they offer now.

For an entree, I ordered the grilled beef sirloin steak with Tunisian olive oil crushed potatoes and spice route vegetables.  I wished my steak had been a little more tender, but it was seasoned well, and I loved the potatoes and the broccolini.

For dessert, I had the seasonal kulfi, which is now pumpkin, one of my favorites.  The kulfi itself is nicely spiced, and it is topped with a cranberry compote. The sauce on the plate was delicious, and with the edible chocolate at the top, it formed a pumpkin.  I am looking forward to having this dessert again when we dine at Sanaa on Christmas Eve.

You can make advance dining reservations for Sanaa, and view their lunch and dinner menus on Disney's website here.  

What are your favorite gluten free dishes at Sanaa?

Contempo Cafe Guest Review - Disney's Contemporary Resort

Dave Barber and his family have been going to Disney World for more than 25 years. About eight years ago, his wife found out that she had a gluten intolerance. They looked for an iPhone app to help them find out what gluten free offerings were available in their favorite restaurants, and when they didn't find anything helpful, Dave created the Gluten Free Disney Dining App, which is now available in the Apple App Store for iPhones, and in the Google Play store for Android phones. Here is his review of Contempo Cafe at Disney's Contemporary Resort:  

On a recent (July 2014) trip to Disney World, we stayed at Bay Lake Tower at the Contemporary Resort. During our stay, we had more than a few meals at the Contempo CafĂ©, which is a quick service restaurant. Located between the gift shops and Chef Mickey’s in the original Contemporary Resort building, the dining area is wide open so you can watch the Monorails go by, which is always a kid favorite.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Akershus Royal Banquet Hall Dinner - Epcot

Last Friday, I celebrated my birthday at Akershus Royal Banquet Hall in the Norway Pavilion at Epcot.  

Before last week, we had never had lunch or dinner at Akershus, but my daughters and I had breakfast there with all the ladies in my family on our annual trip to Disney, before we moved to Orlando.  None of us were particularly impressed by our meal, so we never went back, but after hearing great feedback from blog readers about dinner at Akershus, we decided to give it a try for my birthday.  

Friday, July 17, 2015

Gluten Free in New York City - Part 2

Day two of our trip to New York City started with us walking to The Little Beet for breakfast.   All of the food at The Little Beet is gluten free, and they promote it as being 100% guiltin' free too, because they use local, seasonal, and natural ingredients that are non-GMO and unprocessed.  You can read about our lunch at The Little Beet here, in my post about our first day in New York City.  

I ordered a bacon, cheese and egg sandwich on a whole grain english muffin.  This was my first breakfast sandwich in seven years, since my celiac diagnosis.  The english muffin tasted more like a bun than an english muffin, but the sandwich was very good.  The egg was cooked well, and the bacon was nice and thick.  

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Gluten Free in New York City - Part 1

My aunt and uncle, who live in our hometown of Pittsburgh, have been waiting over 10 years to take us to New York City, since before my twins were born.  For years, my aunt looked forward to taking my daughters to the American Girl store and to see Broadway shows, but we wanted to wait until they were old enough to remember and appreciate the trip.  The American Girl store never happened, because my girls don't like dolls, but we had an amazing vacation.  

We stayed at the Marriott Marquis in Times Square, and our room had this incredible view.  We arrived at our hotel via Uber, which I highly recommend, from Newark Airport by 11:00 a.m., checked in, and headed out to buy some show tickets and have lunch.  Before our trip, I did extensive research on gluten free options in New York City.  I read the newly published New York City: The Gluten-Free Guide from Anna Sonnenberg of Gluten-Free Jet Set, and visited blogs like Gluten-Free Globetrotter and Gluten Free, Follow Me.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Everything POP Breakfast - Disney's Pop Century Resort

This morning, my daughters and I had breakfast at Everything POP Shopping & Dining, a quick service restaurant at Disney's Pop Century Resort.  

As I mentioned in my previous breakfast review of Everything POP, having been an American History teacher for most of my 18 year teaching career, I love the lobby of the resort, and all the amazing shadow boxes filled with memorabilia from some of my favorite decades, like the 1980's.  My kids always have to drag me away from them.  

Be Our Guest Breakfast - King Gluten Free

I have followed Jordan Middlebrook's blog King Gluten Free for a while, and had the pleasure of meeting him last November at the Food Allergy & Celiac Convention at Disney World.  Jordan, like myself, loves everything Disney, as evidenced by the Mickey pancakes he is always posting on Instagram, and he even proposed to his wife at the Magic Kingdom.  For their 10th anniversary, he surprised her with a trip to Disney World, where his family dined at Be Our Guest for breakfast.  Here is Jordan's guest review of his recent dining experience:

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Landscape of Flavors Breakfast - Disney's Art of Animation Resort

This morning, my daughters and I had breakfast at Landscape of Flavors, a quick service restaurant at Disney's Art of Animation Resort.

I love the theming of this resort, especially the lobby, which is full of artwork from Finding Nemo, Cars, The Little Mermaid and The Lion King.  

Vivoli Il Gelato - Disney Springs

Earlier today, my daughters and I stopped at Vivoli Il Gelato, a new addition to The Landing at Downtown Disney, which is soon to be known as Disney Springs.  

Vivoli Gelateria is a famous gelato shop in Florence, and their new storefront in Downtown Disney is their first outside of Italy.