Category: Dining (page 1 of 4)

Here comes Spring!

YAY!  It HAS to be coming for real right!?  It always feels so momentous to get back out on the road with Wicket in the stroller, and this week has been no exception!

The first run with the stroller in March has become really sentimental for me.  After starting back running after having Wicket, with the exception of a few runs in December I was primarily tied to the treadmill due to the weather.  Duh. Both for me AND for him, but the stroller really adds a different dynamic. 40 degrees was my arbitrary threshold when he was a baby, so once we hit that and the ice had melted off the roads we were out!

He was 6 months old, and I ran in half-ish mile loops over and over to start getting him used to it. You’re not really supposed to run with them in the infant seat, but I did to keep him warm and because he couldn’t sit up on his own yet.  I kept him TOO cozy apparently, since he was always trying to fall asleep. Yesterday was our first run out this year, and it’s funny to think of how far he has come. He was FAR less sassy 4 years ago, I assure you.

Last year I started out too early and had some scary slides down hills with the stroller, so I waited until the roads were more clear this year.  Yesterday hit 40 so I changed into running gear at work and we ran when I got home!

Getting out the door was a disaster.  I have totally forgotten my routine in the last 6 months.  I kept thinking we were good then forgetting stuff. Even though it was close to dinner Wicket DID NOT let me forget about chocolate animal crackers, which are his special running treat.  I thought he might not need them this year but he was horrified at the idea that he might not get them.

Once we made it out the door we were great!  He was bundled up, and the roads were nice and clear!  I only did 2.5 miles since I remember last year the first couple of runs out with the stroller being a real wakeup call for my body.  This year wasn’t quite that bad but it was hard. Running outside, especially with the stroller, is so much harder than the treadmill.

Richardson Hill man, I could have puked at the top of that.  It was SO NICE to finally feel like I was getting a real workout from a run!  My body felt really decent if not as strong as I would like, and I held about a 10mm pace which was nice to see.  I was definitely breathing hard, but that could also partly be the stupid cold I am getting over. It was windy so a headband would have been nice, but once we cleared the river I got used to it. I AM, however, surprised at how achey my arms and chest are from pushing the stroller. I guess that’s muscle I lost since Octoberish.

Wicket was extremely vocal about his displeasure over the condition of the roads after the winter.  He kept yelling at me to run in the middle of the road because the sides were too bumpy. Admittedly, I dumped him in a couple of potholes, but he was not at all understanding when I told him I can’t run in the middle of the road because of THE CARS.  He just kept shooting me dirty looks the whole time.

I feel a renewed sense of excitement for running, and NOT doing so on the treadmill at 4:30am.  I’m looking forward to getting us back out there tonight after work. I think we’re going to fall right back into the routine.  Last night I even successfully prepped and baked a pizza after having run, which was super encouraging.

We can do this!  Spring is here! It’s light out!  We don’t have to hibernate anymore!  But now I only want to run and bake and eat and make my patio and my kitchen and my basement pretty, and not work at my real job.  SO I guess that part is problematic… But look at that crussssttttttt.

Look how gorgeous that is! Since when can homemade pizza look so perfect!? SINCE NOW!

Mystic Cafe and Wine Bar

Yesterday my sister and I went shopping in Manchester, VT to belatedly celebrate her birthday.  We grew up just north of there, and she lives just a little way from there. I only live about an hour from her, and since her husband had a super fun adventure planned for he and our kids, she and I took a big girl, kid free trip!

We did a little shopping, then met our aunt at the Mystic Cafe and Wine Bar for lunch.  We got there a bit before she did, so we were seated and I ordered a glass of wine while we waited.  It was not super warm Saturday, but it was sunny, and it was GLORIOUS Friday and that was still lingering for me, so I felt it was a rose kind of day.  It was a hard choice though, as they have a comprehensive wine menu. I was pleased to see so many different wines outside of your standard Chardonnay and Merlot, including lots of red blends, which hold a special place in my heart.

My first impression looking around was that this place was so pretty!  It used to be a bank but was renovated a few years ago and I hadn’t been since.  They did such a beautiful job. It was still kind of industrial, but also very pretty and modern.  Lots of exposed utilities and edison bulbs, paired with pretty light wood tables and flowers and glass.  The array of people there ranged from local families with their kids to clearly very fancy tourists.

My aunt said you used to order at the counter then find a table, but now it’s table service.  She said it was good before but the table service makes it much better. They were steadily full and busy the whole time, which is so fantastic to see.  We did notice that they also take reservations, which is great information to have since I plan to go back.

My rose was excellent, nice and dry and not sweet, and a generous pour.  My aunt arrived and ordered herself a rose as well, then we got down to the business of lunch.  I did also see that my aunt recently got a rose gold watch, which was SO PRETTY. I am a little obsessed with rose gold lately.

My sister ordered the green salad with grilled chicken, my aunt ordered the rice bowl, and I ordered the smoked salmon tartine.  As I was informed by our cute little server when I asked if I pronounced it right, tartine is just a fancy name for an open faced sandwich.  I was seriously considering the grilled cheese, but you can get a grilled cheese anywhere. Including some fairly excellent ones right at my own house. The smoked salmon tartine was something you don’t see often, so it felt like it would have been a tragic missed opportunity to not branch out.

I SO DID NOT REGRET my choice.  It was so gooooodddddddddd. Two thick slices of artisan multi grain bread with an herbed cream cheese with creme fraiche and dill, avocado, and smoked salmon on top.  I overlooked on the menu that it came topped with capers and red onion. One of the few things I do not care for in this beautiful big food world is red onions, so I just pushed those guys off the boat and ate the capers.  I like those little salty weird shrunken heads. I don’t know if you’re supposed to cut it, but I did. It had more fresh dill on top, which made my soul sing.

We were all in agreement that this lunch was kind of perfect.  We each got something exactly right for us even though we have pretty varied tastes, and my sister has some food intolerances.  Each one of us finished our lunch feeling no longer hungry, but not at all full or gross. Everything tasted so fresh and special. I hate it when something tastes so delicious while you’re eating it, but then leaves you feeling gross and off afterwards, so it really wasn’t worth it at all.

After we left my aunt showed us the bar in the downstairs of the old bank, which is SO COOL.  She said it’s super fun and that they regularly have bands play, in addition to a small bar area upstairs with outdoor seating for warmer weather.  It looks amazing, and maintained so much of the historic character of both the building and the bank that used to live there, like the vault. I am SO SO pleased to see this neat revitalization of the town that I grew up in, and it kind of makes me wish I still lived at home.  I will console myself with the fact that I live in a pretty neat place now, with tons of history and character of it’s own.

If you’re hanging out in Manchester shopping or skiing or doing any of the other Vermonty things, I cannot recommend the Mystic Cafe and Wine Bar enough.  It was truly pretty and special and elegant while also being approachable and welcoming, and the food was incredible. I can’t wait to go back and bring MattHowk!  He will be working, but my sister and aunt and I actually already decided to go back for Mothers Day with the kids.

As an end note, the company truly makes the meal, right?  Our server was great but left us largely alone, so I got to enjoy big girl time with my sister and aunt, and it was really one of the best lunch dates ever.  Such a fantastic day with excellent ladies.


Or, I won a battle and the jury is out on the rest of the war.  This remains to be seen, but for now I am counting it as a victory for ME!

Sourdough bread, my heart and soul.  I finally achieved an acceptable sized and shaped loaf.  I had absolutely no reason to bake it, other than to do it.  I am not sad to have a random loaf of bread hanging out for no reason, just begging to be eaten.

I used the exact same recipe as last time, which was from the Master Class bread baker guy MattHowk found on YouTube.  I used all the same amounts of everything, and did almost everything exactly the same with a few notable changes. I took my starter out Thursday to warm up and get it ready for baking on Sunday, and once again used the King Arthur All Purpose flour that I am saving JUST for bread baking, and primarily SOURDOUGH bread baking.

The recipe doesn’t call for feeding the starter, but this time I did.   fed it Friday, then put the dough together Saturday to rise for at least 24 hours. Other recipes do feed before baking, and I had so little left last time that I decided to feed ahead of time instead of trying to rebuild afterwards.   This is likely why I felt my bread had very little sourdough flavor, since I was basically starting over with a teeny tiny starter and rushing it to maturity.  It did behave exactly as all the images said it should, and it smelled like sourdough, so I was pleased with that.

I let it proof overnight in the proofing basket in the fridge.  Last time I left it out on my counter since my house is cold. That time it really rose great.  This time it rose but maybe ⅔ as much? It was a noticeable difference.

The biggest change was the most intentional one, that being the use of the 5 quart dutch oven instead of the 7 quart.  That, my friends, made all the difference. I’m starting to think of sourdough like a cat. They don’t need a ton of attention, but they do require some, and when they feel they need it THEY NEED ATTENTION and you will regret not giving it.

When I took the lid off the pot halfway through baking I scared Wicket because I yelled “YAASSSSSS!!!!!! I am a CHAMPION!!” because I could immediately see that it had risen appropriately rather than being a wimpy flat lump like my previous two loaves.  Judging by the shape of the bread upon turning it out, if definitely needed to be supported as it baked, as I suspected. It was perhaps a bit too supported though, since it stuck slightly to the pot. This is very unusual when baking in a cast iron pot at such high heat.  It took a teeny bit of doing, but I got that guy out.

Now, we refine.  I feel like I want to compare recipes so I can make tweaks in terms of flavor. I don’t want to change the texture too much, since it was light and airy and not dense and just generally perfectish, in my opinion. I often feel that more salt is necessary in bread recipes, but sometimes that makes it behave like a lunatic.  I also want to wait a few weeks and see if my starter maturing a bit more adds more flavor. I HAVE messed with it almost constantly since it came of age.

In terms of technical execution, I need to get better at or experiment with more or different scoring.  The bread bulged a little strangely at the bottom, and I wonder if that’s because it felt constricted at the top.

Regardless of these intended changes, I am very pleased with the loaf of bread I created and with the resulting breakfast this week.  This weekends focus will be rye bread, since it’s Reuben weekend. THANK the sweet lord for my Instant Pot, so that can worry about the corned beef and vegetables while I focus on bread.  

On that topic, caraway seeds or not?  It seems to be a polarizing topic. I am a caraway enthusiast, and was just told by a guy at work about a caraway cocktail at some bar in Saratoga.  CHALLENGE ACCEPTED. MattHowk wants boozy shamrock shakes for this weekend, but also might need to get on this caraway cocktail thing.

The fight continues

God that sweatshirt is in horrible shape, I think it’s time for it to go

We’re not QUITE at blood feud status, but I’m bearing a grudge FO SHO.

I baked another loaf of sourdough.  It was MUCH better than the first, but still too flat and not perfect.

Just as I said would happen, the starter came out of the fridge Thursday to start warming up and getting bubbly.  I found a written version of the recipe I saw in the YouTube Master class, so I decided to go with that. I thought it would be enough for two loaves but it wasn’t, it was just one.  Just as well. This recipe did not call for me to feed the starter before using it, so I didn’t.

Ready for a 4 hour rest

Since this baker is Irish, all measurements were in grams.  Which is fine, I have a food scale. I painstakingly measured everything out, mixed it up and kneaded it, then went through the process of three 10 minute rests with kneading after each one.  I didn’t put it in my Kitchenaid, I kneaded by hand, which was easier than I had played up in my mind (weirdo) and was pleased to see the dough doing exactly what it was supposed to.

That looks smooth and elastic to me

I let it proof for 4 hours, punched it back down, then put it in my floured proofing basket for the long haul rise.  The recipe said it could go in the fridge overnight, but I left it out since my house is cold. When I got up in the morning I was PSYCHED to see that it had done what it was supposed to! SO psyched that I forgot to take a picture, which I really should have.

I turned it out of the basket, and baked it in the Dutch oven so I wouldn’t have to steam the oven.  It baked at 450 for 50 minutes, 25 covered then 25 uncovered. Immediately upon turning it into the pot I could see that we were going to have a flat problem again, and I was not wrong.  Not as flat as last time, but it definitely needs support as it bakes.

It smelled AMAZING cooking, definitely like sourdough.  It looks amazing, and it tastes excellent. It’s not as dense as the last recipe.  I’m definitely using it for sandwiches tonight, because even though it’s sort of weird and skinny I want to taste it. If worst comes to worst I’ll make the grilled cheeses open face.  Grilled Jesus. They’ll still be delicious in our homemade tomato bisque.

Next weekend we battle again!  I’ll use the same recipe I used this time, and I’m working on building my starter back up this week since I used so much of it for this recipe.  I’ll do almost everything the same, but I will let it proof overnight in the fridge this time, and will use my 5 quart Dutch oven instead of the 7 to try to encourage it to be a bit more tall and less flat.  It seems to seek out the sides. I’ll also do a bit more research throughout the week to see if I will feed the starter before using it this time.

What should I make with it?  Corn chowder? Chili? Potato soup?  Potato soup sounds gooooooooooooooooood.  With crispy bacon on top.

If at first you don’t succeed

And MAN did I NOT succeed!

For Christmas, Matt’s Dad and Stepmother got us the America’s Test Kitchen Cookbook.  This thing is huge and the most comprehensive cookbook I have ever met. It has an excellent section on breads, which we know is the way to my heart, including a recipe for a sourdough starter.  Every year I make goals instead of resolutions, and one of my 2019 goals was to learn to make sourdough. It was fated.

A few weeks ago I started the starter.  It went great! It was doing everything it was supposed to, and it smelled like sourdough!  I gave it an extra week hanging out in the fridge, then last Saturday I took it out to get it ready to bake with it.  I portioned some off for Dawn (who was much more successful than I was) and got it ready to go!

I got cocky.  And impatient.  I didn’t allow enough time for the starter to keep hanging out doing it’s thing, OR for the bread to go through the proofing process enough.  I forced one rise in a warm oven without steam (even though the recipe called for it) then threw it in the Dutch Oven and baked it. I wasn’t JUST being lazy doing this, I have had success forcing the rise with the other bread I make ALL THE TIME, so I thought it would be ok.

It was not ok.  It was so flat and shapeless and dense!  I had planned to make paninis for dinner, so it was a VERY good thing I baked early enough to recognize my failure and make something else.  It smelled and looked amazing, it was just flat and wrong. I haven’t failed this badly with a new cooking project in a long time.

Today is Thursday, and I intend to try my soup and sandwiches meal again this Sunday.  I CAN DO THIS. The starter came out of the fridge today to start getting warmer. Friday I will do whatever feeding needs to be done and let it sit until Saturday.  Saturday I will mix up my dough, and this time will not try a no knead method. I will likely use my Kitchenaid with the dough hook, then proof in one of the buckets MattHowk gave me for Christmas, for the appropriate amount of time.  

I did some research into different recipes, and see that sourdough needs to be supported as it rises (thanks Dr Google).  This time, I will put a loaf in my proofing basket and another in a dish for the second rise. I found a “master class” on Youtube, and he says sourdough lends itself well to a very long slow rise, so I will likely let it rise overnight.  Since I am going to make two loaves I am going to experiment with one loaf on the counter and one in the fridge. I will then bake nice and early in the day.

I suspect that one cause of my failure was the fact that I keep my house miserly cold in the winter.  I don’t want to pay for heat, so I make the guys bundle up. Sorry guys. That, however, is not the most optimum environment for bread baking.  So it will be interesting to see if there is a difference between a long counter rise or one in the fridge. I AM planning to bake in the Dutch Oven again, I’ll just do one loaf at a time. I think another cause for failure was not giving my starter enough time to hang out. It’s awfully dry looking (see above).

We have to learn from our mistakes, right?  Isn’t that the point? Isn’t that what “they” say?  This weekend I will be the PICTURE OF PATIENCE, and I demand two beautiful loaves of bread as reward for my unnatural reserve.  I will then grill the crap out of those babies and melt nice cheddar and bacon into the most delicious sandwich. I WILL SUCCEED!!!

I swear to the sweet baby Jesus, if I don’t succeed this time it’s a blood feud.  I don’t suck at baking bread. A BLOOD FEUD!

Food and Wine Festival here we come!

YAY!  The thing I was so excited about but didn’t feel capable of writing about the other day!  My Mom and I, and possibly my aunt?, are taking a few days in September and going to Disney’s Food and Wine Festival! (I’m feeling much better BTW, since I know you have been preoccupied with concern)

We’re flirting with danger a little, since they haven’t announced the dates yet and aren’t likely to until mid Marchish, but last year it went from late August to early November so we feel decently safe with going in late September.  Just us. Grown up ladies.

As we all know, I am ALWAYS excited to go to Disney.  I wasn’t sure when the next time we would go would be, since we have some unique situations coming into play in terms of travel in the next month that will last a few years and may prohibit our habit of biannual Disney trips, so this was a nice surprise!  We went in January, then my youngest sister and her family just went last week, so my mom purchased an annual pass to go with both of us and wanted to get more use out of it. Hence my DREAM TRIP is born!

I’m trying a few new things for this trip.  The biggest is that I am renting Disney Vacation Club points for our stay.  For anyone who doesn’t know, this is the Disney version of a timeshare for Disney resorts.  Sometimes people can’t or don’t want to use their points, so they rent them out. I am trying it out this time for this short trip, to see if we want to do it for a longer family trip.  It’s allowing us to stay at the Bay Lake tower at the Contemporary Resort, lake view. I am very excited about this. I picked it again partly because I love it, and partly for the convenience of just being a monorail ride away from the ACTION! I am working with the Disney Vacation Club Rental Store, and so far am happy with my experience.

The next thing I’m doing differently is likely not getting a park hopper ticket.  Sacrilege, I know. But we’re really just going there for the Food and Wine Festival, which I would like to take as much full advantage of as possible.  If we want to see fireworks we can see them at Epcot, and if we want to see Magic Kingdom fireworks we can see them from our hotel. I know I am going to want to try the Skyliner if it’s running yet at that time, but I can take it to another resort from Epcot instead of to Hollywood Studios.  If Star Wars land is open I would be sorely tempted to go, but would hate to do so without my super fan guys.

I am really looking forward to this, so so much!  I have been looking at last year’s schedule to get an idea of what to expect for this year, and reading the reviews on blogs like the Disney Tourist Blog.  He does a really comprehensive job, isn’t blindly in love with and positive about Disney where it’s not warranted, and I think he’s realistic and funny. I am really looking forward to just hanging out at the World Showcase all day every day, slowly eating our way around and not having to cater to a small child’s schedule. (I LOVE my small child, but this will be a fun change of pace) I am hoping for some reasonably priced demonstrations and seminars on food and beverage pairings, it might be neat to hear some famous chefs talk if it’s affordable, and I can’t wait to see what else they have to offer!

The planning is so fun for me, so I am really enjoying this different take than I have gotten to do before. I already know I am going to want to do this every year.  I just know it. I’m even thinking about my packing and attire plans. I enjoy the challenge of comprehensively yet minimalistically packing! I might not even take a rolley carry on!  You don’t need that much room for sundresses and a raincoat, and I do have a pretty excellent Nine West weekend bag that I got 867 years ago.

Expect as much more to come on this as I can possibly produce.  I am deeply looking forward to it!

The Instant Pot

How nice that you can see the beads I have been looking at

In the beginning of the hype, I had no interest in the Instant Pot. Typically, if the masses are all about something, I glare at it and want nothing to do with it.  I spend a lot of time on Pinterest researching recipes, and pointedly ignored all the Instant Pot recipes I saw coming up, even though there were so many of them.  Then one of my favorite friends got an Instant Pot.

Kat got an Instant Pot and brought it over one weekend they stayed with us.  This was AFTER she extolled it’s virtues at length, so I was appropriately intrigued.  It was so interesting to me! She had made a few things in it at home, and at our house she made the sausage dip she usually does when we get together.  It seemed versatile, so I was definitely interested in it.

Then I got one for Christmas.  MattHowk took into mind Kat’s one regret about hers, which was that she wished she had gotten the 8 quart rather than the 6.  So an 8 quart Instant Pot showed up under the tree for me and I was excited despite myself!

I have had so much fun with this thing!  The first thing I made in it was italian sausage, then once those were cooked (in 10 minutes!?) I took them out and made macaroni and cheese in the same pot and added the sausage back. One of the other first things I made in it was the chicken and dumplings recipe that I got from Kat.  I thought it worked better than the original recipe, since the bone in chicken thighs took so much longer to cook than anticipated in the regular pot and threw off my timing for dinner. When Kat and her family came for New Years she proofed cinnamon roll dough in it, which I have not yet tried for my regular bread recipes but I want to soon!

Pot roast, it all just gets dumped in together
I was SO HAPPY with the final result!

Next I cooked down a chicken carcass.  2 hours for bone broth! AND since it was pressure cooked there was a lot less straining required!  Then I just changed the setting over to saute and made the rest of my soup right in the same pot. I’ve also made a pot roast in it, which came out AMAZING, I have done venison stew in it twice, and I made chicken pot pie filling in it.

This week I am trying two new recipes, a tuscan chicken pasta recipe which will be made on Wednesday night, which is the night we typically need to be a very quick and early dinner due to our schedule.  This is going to be a real test for it, since I am going to prep it all the night before and MattHowk is going to need to just turn it on. I am also trying a chicken and rice recipe this week, which I have high hopes for since MatHowk made himself a steak and rice bowl recipe for lunches this week in it which came out great.

While I SUPER love this thing, and have used it one or two times a week since I got it, it is a tad deceiving.  Yes, it took 2 hours to make bone broth, BUT you have to factor in the time it takes to come up to pressure, then to release at the end.  We’re getting better at that. It’s still worth it though, because it doesn’t need to be watched or babysat while it works so it frees you up to do other things. I also love the stainless steel pot in it, and that it’s dishwasher safe.  The less I have to do at any given time the better.

I’m super interested in trying more “dump” recipes, and more things I can cook in bulk to freeze.  It seems to provide an option for affordable and easy meals and I am really looking forward to expanding my collection of recipes that work with it!  I’m also REALLY interested in seeing how dough proofs in it. That could be a massive game changer, but I’m not getting my hopes up too much. I imagine it’s probably also a really good thing to have on hand with you if you are traveling and have kitchen space, or have power while camping or something.

Go get one.  It’s super fun!  But don’t get burned, that steam is no joke when it comes out

Sometimes I just don’t want to

Like, for real.  I just so don’t want to.

As much as I love meal planning and cooking and the whole deal, sometimes I just don’t want to.  It actually is a lot of work, and I spend a lot of my lunches at work researching meals or techniques or meal planning or making my grocery lists.  It DEFINITELY keeps my family and household running smoothly, but still. Sometimes I don’t want to.

Last week I didn’t want to.  I told MattHowk and he took over one night of planning and preparing for me, which is always a treat!  I had no idea what we were doing, so that was fun too!

HE DELIVERED!  Look at that gorgeous cheese and charcuterie board!  He even researched the best meats and cheeses and fruits to go together.  This was SO DELICIOUS! We had so much food we had it again the next night!

I had never really had prosciutto on it’s own, and I may be in love.  It was so delicate and lovely, literally paired with everything on the board.  All those fruits! Wicket stole ALL OF THE FRUIT before we could get much, but I have never had blueberries and raspberries on a charcuterie board before and I was MISSING OUT.

These crackers murdered me.  ROSEMARY CRACKERS!!! They’re all I can think about.  All I want to eat for the entire rest of my life is these rosemary crackers with brie.  That could literally be it for me. We also had regular club crackers, and melba snacks.  So crispy and delicious!

MattHowk also researched beverages to pair with our lovely board of happiness!  He got me the Gnarly Head Pinot Noir, which was soooooo friendly and mild and went amazingly with the brie.  He got an Irish Whiskey for himself, which was super interesting. It was light and had a bit of a sweet finish, and almost took on the flavor of whatever you had just eaten, in the best possible subtle way.

I NEVER think of just having snacks for dinner, but CLEARLY we need to do this more often.  It was a major hit with ALL of us, and was so easy to prepare and clean up, perfect for a Friday after a long week.

Marriage win for MattHowk! Especially since the beautiful board was a wedding gift from close friends, and was made by their brother in law!

Disney eating. And eating. And eating

Recycling, since I was at Disney eating, and everyone deserves to see that gorgeous image as often as possible

I ate at Disney.  I gained 5 pounds.  I don’t regret it. I ate all.the.things.

On our honeymoon, MattHowk and I got beer and a brat at the Germany pavilion in the World Showcase, and from there our love of grazing and eating as we go at Disney was born.  Wicket was more than happy to jump on board with us this year. We started off with the familiar old standbys, like grabbing a Mickey ice cream in Magic Kingdom, then a pretzel and beer in Epcot later that day.  We also got popcorn at Hollywood Studios and got Wicket the AT-AT walker popcorn holder. We were EXTREMELY popular for that one.

I took no pictures of my food on that epic day of grazing, due to my diminished cognitive capacity as a result of having run a marathon that morning. I jacked this off google images

Going into it, my mother knew that all I wanted after the marathon was to eat my way around the World Showcase.  We didn’t hit every pavilion, but we put a good hurting on it. We started with nachos and guacamole and margaritas in Mexico, which was my primary priority.  MattHowk grabbed beer and a brat in Germany, then my mom and I had some wine and an eclair in France. She left then, so we walked her part of the way out, then grabbed more beer and some poutine in Canada, and beer and fish and chips in England. We didn’t think they were as greasy as the person who took the picture above apparently did.

There were some notable favorites from our grazing as we went this trip. My absolute favorite was the brisket melt sandwich at Woody’s Lunchbox in Hollywood Studios.  SO delicious, and so gigantic. MattHowk and I split it at about 10:30 and weren’t hungry still at lunch time. We got an adult lemonade to go with it which was glorious. I also really liked the macaroni and cheese with pulled pork from the Flame Tree Barbecue in Animal Kingdom and the poutine from Disney Springs.  I’m going to try to recreate the macaroni and cheese with pulled pork this weekend at home I think, since I thought I might be able to improve it a little.

jacked off the interwebs

The most lasting food impression we had seems silly, but it was the Shrimp Tempura Udon from Katsura Grill at the Japan pavilion.  I had it before the marathon, then our last night we hopped on the monorail and had it for dinner.  It keeps sticking with me! I want it so bad! I can’t stop thinking about it! I did look up how to make it all myself, but I don’t live in an area with a plethora of ethnic food options so it may take me some time to collect what I need and figure out how to do it.  In the meantime, I am counting down until we can go to the Japanese restaurant in Glens Falls. You know I already looked up their menu and I know they have it. Wicket also LOVED it.

interweb photo. Not MattHowk’s hand

I do have one inflammatory statement to make regarding something very popular that we tried, and feel no need to ever try again.  The turkey leg. That damn turkey leg. I am VERY much a carnivore, but that was too much even for me. It tasted kind of good, but it was just way too big and messy and too much of a commitment.  MattHowk is glad he got it, but he also agrees that he’s not sure it’s an experience his needs to revisit next time.

The World Showcase is my favorite.  Probably one of my favorite places in the world, actually.  Sorry if that’s dumb to you, and that we can’t be friends anymore. I am so glad we got so much time to walk around and eat and enjoy it this time.  I want to go baaacccckkkkkkk.

San Angel Inn Restaurante

Birthday Boy
We can’t take nice pictures

For MattHowk’s birthday dinner we went to Disney’s San Angel Inn Restaurante in the Mexico pavilion at Epcot’s World Showcase.  Earlier in the week we had ridden the Three Caballeros ride with Wicket which is in the same place, and MattHowk got all excited about eating there again.  LITTLE DID HE KNOW!!!!!Even up to the ride to Epcot he was still trying to figure out when we could eat there on our trip.

MONTHS ago when our 180 dining reservation window opened I spent a ton of time researching restaurants to take him to for dinner, knowing that Wicket would be with grandparents and that we would be on our own for a change.  I gave him a few menus to look at without knowing what restaurants they were for , since I wanted it to be a surprise, and got an idea of the type of food that was sounding interesting to him, and how fancy an experience he was looking for.

Mexican food ALWAYS sounds good to us, and he wanted something nice but not crazy fancy, so San Angel Inn it was!  I remembered how nice it always looked, it just seems like the kind of place I would want to eat every meal with my husband every day of my life.

We headed to the restaurant just before our reservation (it’s easy to forget how long it takes to hop between parks on the busses) and were almost immediately seated.  We had a nice table in the middle of the terrace area, seating was a little tight but manageable. It would have been nice to be right next to the water from the boat ride going by, but where we were was still good because you could see the “Mayan temple” without being allll the way to the front of the restaurant right on top of where people are shopping and walking through outside the seating area.

The Wild One
Blood Orange

We started with margaritas which were AMAZING, MattHowk got the Wild Thing and I got the Blood Orange.  I didn’t love the flavored salt on the rim of mine, so I just avoided it. MatHowks’s was INCREDIBLE! I wish I had gotten that one!!!  It was so good and just a little sweet, so perfect. We then got the guacamole as an appetizer. SO MUCH GUACAMOLE! It was a HUGE portion.  I really liked it because it was super simple and I think sometimes people go way overboard on the add ins and seasonings,but MattHowk felt it was really good but a tad bland for his taste. I also loved the toasted pumpkin seeds.

For our entrees, MattHowk got the pork tacos (Tacos al Pastor) and I got the beef tacos (Tacos de Costilla de Carne).  They were both VERY large portions, and came with soft corn tortillas on the side. Maybe I am wimpy about filling my tacos, but I felt like there weren’t enough tortillas  for the amount of filling, so we both ended up eating what we could in tacos then just eating the rest as it was. MattHowk was happy with his, especially the flavored guacamole that came with his meal.  I LOVED mine, braised short ribs call to my soul, they were so tender and delicious, and I also liked my pomegranate guacamole that came with it.

We ate ALL of our massive dinners (and I’m actually not great at remembering to take pictures of everything, also they looked a mess even though they tasted great) so we didn’t get dessert, but some people around us did and they looked amazing.  We chatted with our excellent server for a bit, then we were off to pick our kid up from his time with his grandparents.

We loved this place and would absolutely eat there again.  I saw a few reviews of people saying that they were Hispanic and the food at Mexico in EPCOT is terrible, but I’m not that picky and I really liked it.  We LOVED the atmosphere. It just FELT so nice, it really felt like we were dining on a veranda at twilight. Those drinks too man, so good. I wish I could go back right now.

Can you imagine if I really just did?  Just left snowy NY and just WENT and ate all the delicious foods at Disney.  That sounds like the dream.

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