Monday, June 30, 2014

My Disney Top 10 - Table Service

Earlier this month, I wrote a blog post about my favorite quick-service restaurants at Disney World.  You can view my Top 10 Quick Service list here.  Today, I am going to focus on my favorite table-service restaurants, a list that was much harder to put together, and limit to just 10.  I am going to start with my favorite restaurants in each park and Downtown Disney, then list restaurants I love at the Disney Resorts.

Picking a favorite restaurant at the Magic Kingdom was not hard.  Hands down, the top honor goes to Chef Ken and The Plaza Restaurant.  Chef Ken has made every dining experience we have had at The Plaza special, and the sandwiches and milkshakes are just incredible.  You can read my review here.  My family has also had great dining experiences at The Crystal Palace for lunch and dinner, and Cinderella's Royal Table for dinner.  Be Our Guest made my Top 10 Quick Service List, because we prefer to eat there for lunch.  

La Hacienda de San Angel easily took my top spot for Epcot, because almost everything on the menu is naturally gluten free or can be made gluten free, and their food is fabulous.  If this restaurant was down the street from my house, I would eat there at least once a week.  You can check out my review of La Hacienda de San Angel here.  My runner-up for Epcot would be Tutto Gusto Wine Cellar, my daughters' favorite table service restaurant at Epcot.  At Tutto Gusto, you can order from their menu, or order from Tutto Italia's gluten free menu.  Epcot is definitely our favorite park at Disney for dining.  There are so many amazing restaurants to choose from.  

I have had great meals at 50's Prime Time Cafe (gluten free fried chicken) and The Hollywood Brown Derby, and who doesn't love the atmosphere at Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater, but Mama Melrose's earns my top spot for Hollywood Studios.  We just dined there on Saturday, and the herb-roasted pork chop with creamy polenta and fig marsala sauce was one of the best pork chops I have ever had at a restaurant.  You can read my full review of Mama Melrose's here.  

Tusker House Restaurant is my favorite character meal at Disney World, and it serves up some amazing gluten free options at breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  Mickey, Donald, Daisy and Goofy, dressed in safari gear, will visit your table at breakfast and lunch.  You can read about all my favorite dishes at Tusker House here.  Go hungry, because there are so many great options to choose from on the buffet.  

Raglan Road is my top pick for Downtown Disney, because they do such an amazing job with special diets, plus how many restaurants do you know that offer gluten free dishes like fish & chips, fried calamari, and strawberry apple crumble.  I'm looking forward to enjoying some garlic parmesan & truffle oil skinny chips (fries) there on my birthday in a couple of weeks.  You can view my review of Raglan Road Irish Pub & Restaurant here.  My runner-up in Downtown Disney is Splitsville, because they make some wickedly delicious gluten free rice bowls, and it's a fun place to bowl and hang out with family and friends.  

Sanaa is one of the best restaurants at Disney World for special diets, and features African cooking with Indian flavors.  They have gluten free and dairy free menus, and an incredible team of chefs who make dishes like gluten free naan and gluten free bread pudding.  You can read my lunch review of Sanaa here, and my dinner review here.   

Like Sanaa, Boatwright's boasts an incredible team of chefs that take great care of people with special diets.  Chef Tony and his team serve up amazing gluten free dishes like Cajun-seasoned crawfish bites, shrimp & grits, and Voodoo chicken.  If you're in the mood for some New Orleans specialties, you have to pay Boatwright's a visit.  You can read my full review here.  

Boma - Flavors of Africa has been a family favorite for over a decade.  Boma features African dishes at an all-you-care-to-enjoy buffet at both breakfast and dinner.  You can view my dinner review here.  I have not eaten breakfast at Boma since I was diagnosed with Celiac, but some of my gluten free friends and blog readers really enjoy it, so my plan is to take my daughters there for breakfast before they head back to school.  

'Ohana features all-you-can-eat Polynesian specialties like grilled chicken, marinated steak, and spicy grilled peel-n-eat shrimp, that are brought to your table on huge skewers.  Make your advance dining reservations early for 'Ohana, because it is one of the toughest restaurants to get ADRs at in Disney World.  You can check out my review of 'Ohana here, and read about the amazing dessert in the picture.  

10.  Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue - Disney's Fort Wilderness Resort

The chefs at Disney's Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue make gluten free cornbread, served with honey butter.  If that isn't enough, you will be entertained by the Pioneer Hall Players for two hours while you dine on gluten free ribs, chicken, mashed potatoes, salad, baked beans and corn.  Even the sangria is included in the price of your ticket.  We have spent New Year's Eve at the Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue for the past two years, and I will be booking it again for this year in the next week or two.  You can read my full review of the show and our meal here.  

Kouzzina would definitely have made my Top 10 list if it wasn't closing at the end of September.  It is my favorite table-service restaurant for breakfast at Disney World.  If you have a chance, pay Kouzzina a visit for breakfast or dinner before September 30th.  You can read my review here.  

What are your favorite table-service restaurants for gluten free dining at Disney World?  

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Stonewall Kitchen Gluten Free Cinnamon Sugar Doughnut Mix

This morning, we finally used the box of Stonewall Kitchen Gluten Free Cinnamon Sugar Doughnut Mix that we bought at The Cheese Shop in Williamsburg, Virginia.  I was excited to make the doughnuts, because several of my blog readers told me how amazing they are.

Stonewall Kitchen's gluten free cinnamon sugar doughnut mix is certified gluten free.  I haven't seen it anywhere in Orlando, but I was able to purchase a second box from amazon.  

I followed the directions to make the batter, adding 1/2 cup of lowfat milk, one large egg, and 1/3 cup of unsalted butter to the mix, before beating it for 30 seconds in my mixer.  

I loved how easy they were to make, only taking about 5 minutes to assemble and mix all the ingredients.  

I do not own a doughnut pan, so I cooked my doughnuts in my Babycakes Donut Maker.  Each batch of 6 only took 3 minutes to cook, and I had enough batter to make 20 mini doughnuts.  While they were still warm, I brushed them lightly with melted butter, then rolled them in the cinnamon sugar mixture included in the box.

Stonewall Kitchen's gluten free cinnamon sugar doughnut mix contains sugar, potato starch, rice flour, cornstarch, tapioca starch, corn flour, sour cream, baking powder, spices, vanilla, xanthan gum, and sea salt.  The only allergen warning on the box is that the mix contains milk, because of the sour cream.  

I must admit that I was a little freaked out when I realized the mix had sour cream in it this morning, because I intensely dislike it, but the doughnuts turned out so light and fluffy, and the cinnamon sugar topping masked the taste of the sour cream.  My whole family really enjoyed them, and I thought they were just as good left over when I sampled one after lunch.  You could definitely feed these doughnuts to people who eat gluten, and they would never know that they are gluten free.

Stonewall Kitchen also sells gluten free pancake & waffle mix, chocolate brownie mix, cornbread mix, herbed pizza crust mix, chocolate chunk cookie mix, vanilla and chocolate cupcake mixes, and gluten free lobster mac & cheese.  You can view and purchase these items on their website here.

Have you tried Stonewall Kitchen's gluten free cinnamon sugar doughnut mix or any of their other gluten free products?  Where do you purchase them?

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Cocina 214 - Winter Park

My family has enjoyed dining at Cocina 214 in Winter Park for several years.  Cocina 214 is a contemporary Mexican and Tex-Mex restaurant located right off Park Avenue.  On cooler days, we love to dine on their covered patio.  

Today is National Ceviche Day, and Cocina 214 has created a summer ceviche dish to celebrate.  

The summer ceviche recipe contains tilapia, fresh lime juice, purple onion, avocado, jalapeno, grape tomatoes, cilantro, mango, pineapple, and salt.  When making ceviche, it is important to use enough fresh lime juice to completely cover the fish, because it is the lime juice that actually "cooks" the raw fish in this dish. 

I regularly order The 214 Ceviche, which contains tilapia, jalapeno, red onion, tomato, citrus, and avocado.

We also love Cocina 214's guacamole, and their complimentary chips & house salsa.

On previous visits, I have enjoyed their Carne Asada, which is grilled skirt steak with grilled onions & peppers, and chimichurri salsa.  

February 28, 2015 Update

Last night, we dined at Cocina 214 in Winter Park, and started our meal with orders of queso blanco and guacamole to go with our chips.  The queso is very good, and reminds me a bit of The Laughing Cow cheese. 

For an entree, I chose the Don Carlos - three blackened fish tacos with coastal slaw, sliced avocado, and a citrus dressing.  I enjoyed my tacos, but a couple of pieces of my fish were a little fishy tasting.

For dessert, I ordered the vanilla flan with caramel sauce.  If you like flan, Cocina 214's version will not disappoint.

Gluten free choices are clearly marked on their menu, which you can view here.  

What are your favorite gluten free dishes at Cocina 214?  

Friday, June 27, 2014

Starbucks Gluten Free Treats at Downtown Disney

Today, we stopped in at both of the new Starbucks locations at Downtown Disney, soon to be known as Disney Springs.  The larger one is located at Downtown Disney's West Side, and it is impressive.  

Right away, I looked for the La Boulange Marshmallow Dream Bar and the two new certified gluten free treats that were just introduced by Starbucks this week.  

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Rudi's Gluten Free Ciabatta Rolls

I first learned about Rudi's Gluten-Free Bakery Ciabatta Rolls at the Gluten-Free Living Conference in April.  Samples of the new product were not available, but I started  looking for them in various stores I shop at in Orlando.  

I was so excited to finally find Rudi's ciabatta rolls in the freezer section at The Fresh Market in Winter Springs on Monday.  Yesterday, I purchased a second bag at The Fresh Market on North Mills Avenue in Orlando.  

Rudi's ciabatta rolls are gluten free, dairy free, nut free, and non-GMO.  As far as allergens go, they contain egg, and are baked in a facility that also uses soy, coconut, and almonds.  

Ingredients list: water, potato starch, tapioca starch, rice flour, rice starch, evaporated cane juice (cane sugar), egg white, yeast, sea salt, xanthan gum, olive oil, sodium bicarbonate, garlic powder, natural enzymes.  

Heating instructions:  Preheat oven to 400 degrees, arrange frozen rolls on a baking sheet, and bake for 8 to 10 minutes.  

For lunch today, I brushed my ciabatta rolls with extra virgin olive oil and baked them for 7 minutes.  

As far as gluten free bread from the freezer goes, Rudi's ciabatta rolls now top my list.  The taste and texture reminded me of the gluten-filled brown and serve rolls I used to eat pre-Celiac, when we lived in Pittsburgh.  I ended up eating three of them for lunch.  Thankfully, they are only 70 calories each, though I will admit I enjoyed them with some butter....ok, a lot of butter.  :-)

Even my gluten-eating daughters thought they were great.  I am definitely looking forward to trying the gluten free rosemary olive oil ciabatta rolls Rudi's makes.  The Fresh Market stores I purchased my rolls at only sold the plain ciabatta rolls.

June 29, 2014 Update

For lunch yesterday, we served egg salad with Rudi's gluten free ciabatta rolls.  I could eat this meal a couple of times a week, it's so good.  

My daughters and husband love egg salad.  I had never even tried it until a couple of weeks ago, because I have an aversion to mayo and mustard.  My family was raving about it so much, I finally gave in and tried it.  Wow, I had no idea egg salad could be so delicious!  My husband makes a really incredible egg salad, a recipe he learned from my uncle.

He hard boils 10 large or extra-large eggs, lets them sit in cold water for a couple of minutes, peels them, then chops the 10 egg whites and 5 of the egg yolks in a large bowl.  I added two pinches of kosher salt, and my husband estimates he adds 2 or 3 tablespoons of Hellmann's Real Mayonnaise.  Give it a gentle stir, then serve with gluten free bread.  My family likes it with a little bit of mustard, but I always ask my husband to leave it out if I am going to eat the egg salad.

You can view Rudi's product locator here.

Have you tried Rudi's amazing new ciabatta rolls?  Where did you purchase them?

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

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

Today, my daughters and I had lunch at Sanaa at Kidani Village at Disney's Animal Kingdom Villas.  Sanaa is one of our favorite restaurants at Disney World for both lunch and dinner.  You can read my dinner review  here.  

I received the lunch menu for people with wheat allergy/gluten intolerance when we were seated.  As you can see, we had a lot of options to choose from.  Sanaa also has a dairy free lunch menu that you can view here on my friend Sarah's blog, Gluten-Free & Dairy-Free at WDW.  

Sanaa features African cooking with Indian flavors, and if you have a window table like we did, you get to watch the animals while you dine.

I already had my heart set on a couple of menu items before we even arrived.  One of my wonderful blog readers emailed me last week that Sanaa was now serving gluten free naan.  Many thanks to Christine for the tip!  The naan was not listed on the gluten free menu, but Chef David said he could make it for me, and told me that it is made with Cup4Cup, my favorite gluten free flour.  Cup4Cup does contain dairy, but Sanaa has gluten free, dairy free pappadum for GF/DF diners.  I have enjoyed it at Sanaa on previous visits, and it is available at Boma as well.  

My girls and I ordered the Indian-style Bread Service with nine accompaniments and gluten free naan.  We had 8 gluten free accompaniments to choose from, but decided on the red chile sambal, coriander chutney, mango chutney, and roasted red bell pepper hummus.  My two favorites are the coriander chutney and the roasted red bell pepper hummus, which my daughters love as well.  I also like the mango chutney, but I wouldn't order the red chile sambal again.  

After eating the 3 pieces of naan that were served with our platter, we still had a lot of accompaniments left, so we ordered two extra pieces of gluten free naan.  It was really amazing!  My gluten-eating daughters loved it as much I did.  They said it was just as good as any gluten-filled naan they had eaten.  For me, it tasted exactly like the naan I used to eat before I was diagnosed with celiac.  

My twins and I also shared a main course, choosing two of the slow-cooked dishes served with basmati rice.

The beef short ribs were tender and flavorful.

My girls adored the butter chicken.  Now I know what to order for them the next time we go to Sanaa for dinner.

Both the beef short ribs and the butter chicken had incredibly flavorful sauces, and neither was too spicy to scare off my daughters.

For dessert, I could have chosen mango sorbet with fresh berries, or tapioca pudding with chai-spiced berries, but I decided on the seasonal kulfi, which I can best describe as an ice-cream like dish.  The seasonal kulfi today was actually strawberry, but Chef David said he also had pineapple, a new flavor they were working on.  My girls enjoyed eating my butterfly, that was made out of white chocolate.  I give this dish an A+ for presentation and taste.  Do you see the smiley face?  Next time we go to Sanaa for dinner, I am hoping to try their gluten free bread pudding.  I asked Chef David about it, but he said they hadn't made any yet on the day of our visit.  

My girls decided to pass on dessert at Sanaa in favor of gluten free zebra domes from The Mara at the Animal Kingdom Lodge.  You can read my review of The Mara here

I walked out of Sanaa with a huge smile on my face, because every part of our meal was incredibly delicious, and I had just eaten naan at a restaurant for the first time since my celiac diagnosis six years ago.  I think we will be going back again very soon! 

August 5, 2014 Update

My daughters and I went to Sanaa for lunch today.  We ordered the bread service again, but this time with six pieces of naan and some new accompaniments.  I loved the garlic pickle, because it was a little bit sweet and didn't have too strong of a garlic taste.  Chef David also brought us out a side of African olive oil with herbs, which was quite good as well.  For an entree, we shared the butter chicken, which my daughters just devoured.  We all loved dipping our naan in the butter chicken sauce. 

For dessert, I chose the banana kulfi, which is actually on the kids menu, because I thought I would prefer that over the strawberry kulfi.  It was served with a strawberry sauce on top, fresh berries, leaves made out of chocolate, and a lemon mint sauce.  It was as delicious as all the other kulfis I have tried at Sanaa.

October 8, 2014 Update

I had lunch at Sanaa today with my friend Jennifer, who also has celiac.  We both started with the seasonal soup, which was curried corn.  I loved that it was slightly sweet, with a little spicy kick.  Jennifer and I also ordered the Indian-style bread service, and kulfi for dessert.  I was shocked to see that papadum was no longer listed as an option for the bread service.  Chef David explained that there were issues with the supplier, but Sanaa is now offering gluten free and dairy free falafel chips instead.  

January 14, 2014 Update

My daughters and I had lunch at Sanaa over Christmas break.  We always start with the Indian-style bread service with nine accompaniments, with lots of extra gluten free naan, but on this visit, I decided to make it my lunch.  Trust me when I say that four pieces of naan covered in both mango and coriander chutney (my new favorite combination) is plenty to eat for lunch.  

My girls always share the bread service with me, and split a butter chicken.  

I am never one to pass up dessert at Sanaa, no matter how full I am, so I was excited to learn that the seasonal kulfi was still pumpkin.  I first tried the pumpkin kulfi at dinner, when we dined at Sanaa the night before Thanksgiving.  It was just as good as I remembered, and I was really excited when Chef Carroll told me that it will be around for a couple of more months until Sanaa's next menu change.  

April 1, 2015 Update

Sanaa's seasonal kulfi is now coconut.  Not being a fan of coconut, I asked what kulfi was being offered on the kids' menu, and was told it was pineapple, so I ordered it.  Here's a picture of the beautiful kulfi that arrived at our table.  

I gave my kids the dark chocolate leaves, then took a bite of the butterfly.  As soon as I realized it was a cookie, I panicked a little bit, thinking I had been given a gluten-filled cookie.  I called our server over, who went to double-check on the cookie.  She came back and told me that it was gluten free, then she noticed that my kulfi didn't look like pineapple, though it did have pineapple on top of it.  She asked me to take a bite, which I did, and we both realized that it was the coconut, though it did not have any noticeable coconut taste at all, leaving me to wonder if it is made with coconut milk, and doesn't contain shredded coconut.  This is the first time at Sanaa that I was asked by a server if I wanted the chef to come to the table, and I said no, because we have eaten there so many times.  I found myself regretting that decision after what happened with my dessert.  In the end, I was told that they didn't have pineapple kulfi.  I have no idea if they were out of it that day or if the kids' kulfi is also coconut.  Overall, our service was pretty poor on this visit, which has never happened at Sanna before.  On the bright side, we enjoyed our Indian-style bread service and butter chicken.

Here are the current gluten free options at Sanaa for lunch:

Indian-style Bread Service (falafel chips or naan served with three or nine accompaniments) - red chile sambal, cucumber raita, coriander chutney, mango chutney, garlic pickle, spicy jalapeno-lime pickle, roasted red bell pepper hummus, coconut chutney

Appetizers - chana tikki, tomato soup, seasonal soup

Salad Sampler (choice of three salads) - kachumbari, seasonal fruit chaat, chickpea-cucumber-tomato, and watermelon-cucumber-fennel

Slow-cooked in Gravy, Simple & Well-seasoned (choose two/served with basmati rice) - butter chicken, chicken vindaloo, beef short ribs, spicy durban shrimp, goan seafood curry

Sanaa Vegetarian Sampler (choose two/served with basmati rice) - seasonal greens & tomatoes, lentil dahl, paneer tikka, seasonal vegetable wat, chickpea wat

From the Tandoor Ovens - tandoori chicken  or shrimp served on naan with minted greens, tomato, onion, and cucumber raita

African Cooking with Indian Flavors - grilled lamb kefta served on naan, grilled Angus chuck burger served on naan, today's sustainable fish, grilled beef sirloin 

Desserts - mango sorbet with fresh berries, tapioca pudding with chai-spiced berries, seasonal kulfi

July 21, 2015 Update - you can read my most recent lunch review of Sanaa here.

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?