Friday, January 2, 2015

Best of 2014 - Disney

On my blog, I share recipes, and product and restaurant reviews, but my favorite thing to write about is definitely Disney.  We have been dining at Disney World at least once a week for the past 6 1/2 years, since I was diagnosed with celiac, and we moved to Orlando.  This post highlights my most magical food moments at Disney in 2014, and includes links to my original reviews in blue.

When I started thinking about my favorite breakfasts at Disney in 2014, the first restaurant that came to mind was Boma, and the amazing gluten free waffles they serve with bananas foster.  Boma has always been a family favorite of ours for dinner, but until last summer, I hadn't eaten breakfast there since my celiac diagnosis.  They also offer a delicious praline sauce with their waffles, and their bobotie, which they serve at both breakfast and dinner, is now gluten free.  

Bobotie was my favorite dish at Boma pre-celiac, so I was very excited to find out a couple of months ago that the chefs had removed the bread from the recipe to make it gluten free.

I can't even begin to count how many times I visited Port Orleans - French Quarter this year for their incredible gluten free beignets.  We even held the first meeting of our newly formed Orlando Celiac Support Group at Sassagoula Floatworks and Food Factory.

Trattoria al Forno opened on Disney's BoardWalk in December of 2014, replacing Kouzzina, one of our favorite restaurants for breakfast at Disney.  On Christmas day, we dined at Trattoria al Forno for breakfast, and thought it was just as amazing as Kouzzina.  

We all loved the scrambled eggs with tomato, basil, and fresh mozzarella served with breakfast potatoes, bacon, and Udi's toast.  I was also really impressed by the gluten free Mickey waffles with espresso-mascarpone cream.  The espresso-mascarpone cream is one of the best toppings for Mickey waffles at Disney.  If you like tiramisu, you will love this topping!  

Another breakfast favorite of mine from 2014 were the Little Mermaid waffles at Landscape of Flavors at Disney's Art of Animation Resort.  Served with some delicious turkey bacon, these waffles were crispy on the outside. and perfectly cooked on the inside.  Without toppings, they might be the best waffles I have ever had on Disney property.  

I also loved the huge POP waffle I had at Everything Pop at Disney's Pop Century Resort, which is worth visiting just to see all the shadow boxes filled with memorabilia from past decades.  

Over the summer, I had one of the best burgers I have ever eaten at The Wave...of American Flavors at Disney's Contemporary Resort.  I ordered my Build-Your-Own Beef Burger, which features Florida raised and grass fed beef, with Udi's bread, candied bacon, red wine caramelized onions, guacamole, grilled mushrooms & Black Diamond cheese, with a side of roasted potato wedges.  It was burger perfection!    

Another lunch favorite of mine at Disney in 2014 was the grilled teriyaki steak with grilled pineapple salsa, sticky rice, and sweet potato fries from Kona Cafe at Disney's Polynesian Village Resort.

We also love the grilled beef satay, Pan Asian noodles, and Kona's incredible desserts, the Kilauea torte chocolate cake with a molten center, and the banana and chocolate creme brulee.

My most memorable quick service lunch last year was the hot turkey sandwich topped with brie, apple butter, and arugula on toasted Udi's bread from Contempo Cafe at Disney's Contemporary Resort.  I was impressed that they had a gluten free menu for breakfast and lunch/dinner, and there were plenty of options for both kids and adults.  I loved the combination of the tart apples with the sweet apple butter, peppery arugula, brie and turkey on my sandwich, which could easily be shared by two adults for lunch.

Some of my best Disney moments of 2014 were at The Plaza Restaurant in the Magic Kingdom with family and friends, and Chef Ken.  Oddly enough, before May, we had never eaten at The Plaza, but once we discovered this hidden gem, we dined there four times over the course of the summer.  

The cheese steak sandwich and the beef brisket burger with french fries or housemade chips are our favorite entrees, but no meal at the The Plaza is complete without one of their incredible milkshakes.  We always make sure we go when Chef Ken is working, because he makes every dining experience at The Plaza so special.

The gluten free naan that was introduced at Sanaa at Disney's Animal Kingdom Villas in 2014 is by far the best gluten free bread available in Orlando.  The naan at Sanaa is served with the Indian-style bread service, with an incredible array of accompaniments to choose from, and it is available with a variety of different entrees as well.  We also fell in love with the butter chicken, lamb shank, and the kulfi (Indian-style ice cream) at Sanaa this year.

 My fried favorites of 2014 include the fried shrimp at Raglan Road and Cookes of Dublin, the fried calamari at the Flying Fish Cafe and Trattoria al Forno, and the fried chicken & Mickey waffles I had at Boatwright's.  Until my birthday in July, I had not had fried shrimp, one of my favorite foods, since I was diagnosed with celiac over 6 years ago.  In December, I also had the fried shrimp at Cookes of Dublin, the quick service restaurant attached to Raglan Road.  They are incredibly crunchy and delicious at both restaurants.  If I lived closer, I might be over there once a week.

For dessert, don't miss the strawberry & apple crumble, or the Dundon's Delight at Raglan Road, or the new gluten free zucchini cupcake at Cookes of Dublin.  I had a great year with gluten free desserts at Disney!

Both the Flying Fish Cafe and Trattoria al Forno serve up huge portions of fried calamari on Disney's BoardWalk.

The Flying Fish serves their calamari with fried shrimp, while Trattoria al Forno's is served with a delicious balsamic and lemon agrodolce.

Before last summer, I had never had chicken & waffles, even in my gluten-eating days.  The weekend after my birthday, I was lucky enough to enjoy fried chicken and Mickey waffles at Boatwright's at Disney's Port Orleans-Riverside, and check this dish off of my bucket list, thanks to the incredible Chef Tony.  The combination of fried chicken with waffles and syrup was divine!  The breading was super crispy and flavorful, and the chicken was perfectly tender and moist.  I loved everything about this dish!  I can't imagine having a more perfect version of chicken & waffles.

In December, we ate at the Grand Floridian Cafe for the first time.  The Grand Floridian Burger with butter-poached lobster, red onion marmalade, and arugula is divine, and it is served with a side of delicious house-made chips with mango ketchup.  The Grand Floridian Burger, and the Build-Your-Own Beef Burger from The Wave are the best burgers I have ever had at Disney World.

In 2014, we dined at Coral Reef Restaurant at Epcot for the first time, where I had one of the best fish dishes I have ever had at a restaurant.  The seared rainbow trout with a warm salad of white beans, arugula, tomatoes, crispy bacon, aged balsamic vinegar, and brown butter is heaven on a plate.  While this dish is on the menu, I will always be ordering this entree at Coral Reef.  It's too good to pass up!

In November, we had dinner at the Crystal Palace in the Magic Kingdom, one of our favorite all-you-care-to-enjoy buffets at Disney.  It had been several years since we dined there, and we had only eaten lunch at the Crystal Palace in the past.  I am not sure why we waited so long to go back, because all the food was incredible, especially the roasted corn spoonbread, which has been my favorite dish there for years.  It's always fun to see Pooh and friends while you dine in this beautiful restaurant, which was inspired by Victorian greenhouses of the late 1800s.  Our meal at the Crystal Palace was one of our favorites of 2014, and we look forward to dining there again soon.

At the Mexico Pavilion in Epcot, we had some incredible meals at La Hacienda de San Angel and San Angel Inn Restaurante.

Some of the best gluten free desserts I ate last year were at these restaurants, including the corn ice cream, and chocolate mousse at La Hacienda de San Angel, and the Crema Bavaria from San Angel Inn Restaurante.  Almost all the menu items at both restaurants are naturally gluten free, or can be modified to be gluten free with the use of corn tortillas.

My family loves Tutto Gusto Wine Cellar in the Italy Pavilion at Epcot.  In December, I tried the Risotto Ai Sapori Con Gamberi, which was described as arborio rice with shrimp and lemon zest, but it also included lobster.  My risotto was creamy and flavorful, and I was in heaven with all that incredible lobster and shrimp on top.  With a little added Parmesan, this dish was risotto perfection.  This dish is also available next door at Tutto Italia.

In November, I attended the Food Allergy & Celiac Convention at Disney's Coronado Springs Resort.  This amazing event was put together by my friend Sarah from Gluten-Free & Dairy-Free at WDW, and Laurie Sadowski, The Allergy-Free Cook.  I bought a ticket for Brer's Breakfast Buffet, where I ate the most delicious top 8 allergen-free waffles with banana & toffee syrup, and blueberry compote.  I had a great time helping Sarah and Laurie, hanging out with friends at the Orlando Celiac Support Group booth, and meeting Justin Cunningham, creator of the YoDish App.  I also had the pleasure of getting to spend time with the amazing Erica Dermer from Celiac & the Beast, and Jordan Middlebrook from King Gluten Free.  I hope to see them all again next year if Sarah and Laurie put together another convention in 2015.

My most special Disney memories of 2014 involve our cruises on the Disney Dream in April, and the Disney Magic in December, mainly because we got to spend quality time with my parents, and my brother and his family.  I also got to enjoy some incredible gluten free food without worry.  Some of my favorite meals were spent with my husband at Palo for brunch and dinner.

While at Disney World and on the Disney Cruise Line, I can sit back and relax, and not worry about the preparation of my food.  Thank you to all the servers and chefs that made 2014 such an incredible year for me!

What were your favorite Disney dining moments of 2014?  


  1. We are visiting Disney at the end of the month -so, I'm soaking in all your blog post! How do you find out when the infamous Chef Ken is working at the Plaza? We haven't eaten there yet and would be amazing to experience...especially for my 5 year old and myself! Thank you for all your great blog post!!

    1. You're welcome Melanie! Last time I saw Chef Ken, he was working Tuesdays to Saturdays, with Sundays and Mondays off.