Tag: disney world

Disney World Dining Review: Sanaa

Disney World Dining Review: Sanaa

We’ve just returned from our trip to Disney World! We were there for 5 nights, and we had a great time. I’m jumping ahead a bit, because I have to tell you about the best meal we had while we were there. All of the meals were excellent, but this one – oh, man was it good!

On our trip to Disney World, we designated a “date night” since we took both sets of parents with us. For our date meal, my husband and I decided to try Sanaa at Disney’s Kidani Village.

Oh. My. Goodness. This was one of the best meals EVER.

First, the restaurant is really lovely. The decor is beautful, and I loved all the lanterns and light fixtures. The windows (though we weren’t seated in front of one) look out onto the savannah in front of the villas. There were giraffes, wildebeasts, cranes, and more out! Our server was fantastic, and took time to make sure she answered any questions we had, and explained what we could get on the Disney Dining Plan. She was awesome!

The hostesses were even lovely enough to pose with Supermouse (he’s my little stuffed mouse who is as old as I am and has always traveled with me) for me on our way out.

The staff were all very friendly and kind, and our server was excellent.

But the food…. oh, the food!

Sanaa Bread ServiceEverything you’ve heard about the bread service is true. It was WONDERFUL. It comes with 3 fresh made naan breads, as well as two types of roti, which had a savory “spread”/herbs inside.l All three were delicious on their own, but they are serviced with 9 accompaniments, ranging from spicy to a yogurt raita. I was a fan of the tomato chutney, garlic pickle, and hummus. My husband pretty much wiped the tamarind sauce bowl clean, and he took care of tasting the spicy ones.

I also ordered a mango lassi smoothie, which was excellent. Since we were also celebrating his birthday, my husband ordered a white sangria – which came complete with a celebratory blinking ice cube.

Sanaa white sangria Sanaa Mango LassiWe ate our way through the bread service, and then our meals came out. He ordered the Braaivleis – a South African sampler plate. It came with pork, lamb, and a sausage, with mashed potatoes and a season salad. He wasn’t fond of the salad, but there wasn’t a scrap of meat left on his plate! I tasted a bite of each of his as well, and they were quite delicious. I’m not a huge fan of lamb, but it was cooked perfectly, and the sauce on the meat was tasty and helped cut through the fattiness I always associate with lamb.

Braaivleis - South African Braai Sample Plate

I had the Butter Chicken with Rice and Lentil Dhal. It was also amazing. The butter chicken is served in a thick, creamy sauce that has a great blend of spices and reminded me a bit of curry in terms of complexity and texture, but it was a different flavor. The rice was the perfect accompaniment, and the lentil dhal, with a mixture of tomatoes, onions, split peas, lentils, and spices, was also extremely tasty. I wasn’t sure how they would go together, because you choose your side with this particular menu item, but the flavors did not overpower or conflict with each other.

Sanaa Butter Chicken

After we had both cleaned our plates, there was dessert. At this point, I had already eaten too much. I figured I’d order dessert (we were on the Disney Dining Plan, so it came as part of the meal) and just taste it. You know, for research purposes.

I was so foolish to think that dessert would be any less delicious than dinner.

My husband ordered the Kenyon Coffee Petit Entremet. Basically its a coffee and chocolate mouse dessert. Our server made it even better by having the Happy Birthday added on! It was smooth and rich an luscious. I’m not a fan of chocolate mousse, but I struggled through a bite. My husband is not a big dessert eater on a good day, so he only ate about half. Then he went back and finished off the bread service, because he was so in love with that!

I had the Kheer – a coconut rice pudding that was supposed to come with a cashew peach streusel. However, I just cant’ stand peaches, and our waitress just brought it out with a mango sauce. Together, it was AWESOME. The texture was thick, creamy, and unlike any rice pudding I’ve ever had. I thought I’d have just a few bites. Five minutes later, it was all gone. And if I could have fit more in my belly, I might have ordered a second one!

Sanaa Kheer

Overall, I can’t say enough good things about Sanaa. The service was fantastic, and the food was awesome. The only reason I can see someone deciding they do not want to eat here would be if you have a very picky eater who is unwilling to try some new things (and even then, I think they could probably find something).

I was actually really surprised that during the time we were there, there were several empty tables. It is the only Disney restaurant I can think of where there were empty tables during our whole meal. Now, we chose to have a 5:10 pm reservation, so I know we were a little early, but it was unusual. It was a quiet restaurant, and I think it would be good for families or couples.

If you ever get the chance to go here, TAKE IT! I will be coming back on our next trip, and dragging everyone who comes with us along!

Have you eaten here? What did you think?

 

 

“VeraVise
check out the #mousefanmondays tag for more Disney content from around the web!
Don’t Forget Mousekeeping!

Don’t Forget Mousekeeping!

I’m going to take a brief moment today to remind you of one of the most important Cast Members at Disney – and one of the ones you don’t often actually see or think hard about – Mousekeeping!

Without Mousekeepers, the resorts would be a mess. Think about it – they come in, clean up the rooms we’ve left messy, remade beds, restocked the soaps, emptied the trash, and a hundred other jobs I wouldn’t want to do, in HUNDREDS of guests’ rooms. Every. Day. They also make sure that all those gorgeous lobbies and restaurants and shops stay sparkly clean.

So if you’re planning a trip to Disney, don’t forget about your Mousekeeper. Leave them a tip. It doesn’t have to break the bank. I’ve heard that you leave a dollar a person, per day. That’s not so bad, considering how much they do every day. For our trip, I started saving my dollar bills and fives months in advance. I put them all in one envelope until I had enough set aside. That way, it wasn’t coming out of the vacation budget right before the trip (or during).

Now, you can just leave the money on a nightstand and write a little note on the pad they leave (which is what I do in a normal hotel, usually). But this is Disney – why not help spread a little magic and make something for the Mousekeeper?

You can (or the kids!) decorate a simple envelope with stickers and crayons. You can make something super fancy with a cutting machine. You can find tons of printables online. Whatever makes you happy!

I’ve tried to make some printables that you can download that are both something you can print, but also allow you to personalize them a little. They’re just the line art – made for you to color in! Markers, colored pencils, crayons, whatever medium suits your fancy! You can print them on regular computer paper, or make something more substantial from cardstock (though it really isn’t necessary – regular copy paper holds up just fine once it’s all glued and folded.)

If you want to access these (and there are more things already there, and in the works) you will have to subscribe to the blog. Hopefully since you’re already here reading this, that won’t be a problem! Once you subscribe, you’ll be given the password, and you can click on the “Resources” tab, enter the password, and download the PDF files for these envelopes!

Mousekeeping Envelope Dole Whip Mousekeeping Trader Sams PatternMousekeeping Envelope - Epcot Style

 

Spreading a Little Magic at Walt Disney World

Spreading a Little Magic at Walt Disney World

I have to apologize for being a little late with this post. I’m a teacher, and this past week was the last week of school. It’s CRAZY. But I’m back now, and I have lots of great posts planned! Mexico Margarita Cupcakes are coming – and they are fantastic!

But I want to talk about something different today. About magic.

©VanessaEdwards Cinderella's Castle

If you’ve ever been to Walt Disney World or any Disney park before, I want to ask you to take a moment and close your eyes and remember walking into the park. Stroll through your memories. There were, I’m sure, a lot of fantastic images there. But I want you to see if you can remember something that most people overlook – the Cast Members (CM).

We talk all the time about magical moments and how to have a magical Disney vacation. Many times it’s a Cast Member who makes that magical moment or memory possible. Usually when you think about it, they blend into the scenery. They are there in the background taking care of serving customers, or picking up a piece of trash, or helping a family find something or do something. Many of the memories where something awesome happened, a cast member was involved in providing that boost of pixie dust for your family.

So today I’m going to suggest something – rather than just being a recipient of the magic, maybe we should help encourage it as well.

Cast Members deal with a LOT of guests every day. They do it with a smile, and in costumes and temperatures that would make lesser mortals melt into puddles of goo. Seriously. I’d die if I had to work outside in Florida in August in those costumes!

They help make all that magic possible, and I believe that you can’t do a job like that unless you have a real passion for it. And while going to Disney World is like nothing else, most people don’t think about making magic themselves. But there is no reason a guest can’t make a little pixie dust for a Cast Member.

Next time you’re there, take a moment to thank a CM. Maybe they helped make your day – maybe they are making magic for another guest and you saw it. But take a moment to acknowledge what they’ve done.

They do a hard job – Disney is supposed to be the Happiest Place on Earth, and working there means that even if you are having a terrible day, you are expected to act like everything is amazing. They work in a service position, and as someone who also works in a service position (sort of – all these things are true in education) where a lot is expected of you every day, often the most attention happens when you are doing something wrong, not when something is going right. It’s always a nice change to have someone tell you thank you for doing a great job. And in a CM’s position – where they deal with hundreds of guests a day, not all of them pleasant, I can see where a simple thank you and smile may go a long way.

In my experience, doing little random acts of kindness helps the giver just as much as the receiver.

So when you’re at Walt Disney World next, and you want to spread a little magic of your own, I’ve made up a couple of free printables that might work. I’d recommend printing them on cardstock or some kind of fancy paper (but that is just me). Have your kids hand them out. Carry one in your park bag and decide as a family that you’re going to give one away every day. These two designs are available to everyone. On June 12, I’ll have uploaded a few more designs that are for blog subscribers only. If you’d like access to those, just subscribe to the blog!Disney Cast Member Appreciation Certificates

Disney Cast Member Appreciation Certificates
Click on photo to download PDF.

 

If you aren’t comfortable walking up to a CM and handing them this and explaining, that’s okay! I’m not the most outgoing of people either. But if a CM or Mousekeeping or other person needs some recognition, maybe try social media. I’d suggest heading to Twitter. Send a shout out telling what the CM has done that was so awesome. Make sure you say where you are, and the CM’s name (if you can), and tagging the WDW twitter account. I’ve seen several times where WDW has seen those tweets and has gone back and recognized the CM for their work.

You can also take a moment to help make a little magic in another guest’s day. If you have an extra set of dollar store glow sticks you’ve brought in, share it with that family with small children next to you. If you’re playing a game in line while waiting for a ride, invite the family in front of you to join in. You never know – that may end up being the highlight of their trip.

Several years ago I went on a roadtrip with a friend. We met up with a group of her friends, and they were going to Harry Potter World at Universal, on opening weekend. I am not that big a Harry fan, so they dropped me off at EPCOT in the morning. I stood in line for Soarin’, and the wait was well over 45 minutes. A CM came by asking for “single flyers” and I got to jump to the front of the line.  I ended up at the end of a row with a large family. When we got off, they asked if I was alone. When I said yes, they were so concerned. “You can be part of our family for the day!” I declined, but it was one of the nicest things I’ve had someone do in a theme park. She genuinely wanted to make sure I had a great day in Disney World.

That kind of attitude is what helps spread a little kindness. Like Cinderella says, “Have courage and be kind.” In the world we live in, it never hurts to help spread a little pixie dust – whether in everyday life, or the Happiest Place on Earth.

If you do this, please comment and tell me how it went – or even send a photo! I’d love to post it on the blog. And if you’ve had a magical experience at Disney World, I’d love to hear about that too!

‘Ohana Grilled Shrimp

‘Ohana Grilled Shrimp

This past weekend, we had friends over for a Moana dinner and a movie party. Like any good party (or at least the ones at our house) there was a lot of fabulous food! We tried to keep with a Polynesian theme for all the dishes, and it was a hit!

We started with an easy salad – my garden isn’t producing lettuce, so we had an easy bagged salad, with homemade croutons and Honey Lime Dressing. The recipe for the dressing actually came from the Polynesian Resort’s ‘Ohana restaurant on my first trip to Disney World with my parents back in high school! When we ate there, we all LOVED the food. My mom took a chance and asked our server for the recipe. We were all thrilled and surprised when the server came back with printouts of all the ones we asked for!

Back to the party – we made the dressing, and we made rice, and we made three different main courses. There was ‘Ohana Shrimp, ‘Ohana Chicken, and Boma Marinated Flank Steak. I will be the first to point out that the steak is not even close to the Polynesian theme. But its DELICIOUS, so we made it anyway. It was the last thing off the grill, after we’d eaten most of the chicken and shrimp, and people said they would just try a bite, but they were stuffed. We also made the Maui Wayfinder Sunrise, which is quite a tasty way to start off the evening, and Bananas Foster Cookies for dessert!

There was only a quarter of it left when I turned around later.

But we aren’t talking about beef. In this blog post, you’re going to find the recipes for the ‘Ohana shrimp. We made this for three reasons: it fit the theme, one of our friends is a vegetarian (pescatarian, I suppose, if you want to get technical), and because it’s just YUMMY.

Ohana Grilled Shrimp

The recipe says to marinate the shrimp for two days. We have made this and barely marinated it, marinated it for a couple hours, and for this particular meal, for the full two days. The taste is awesome, no matter which way you do it. If you want them really spicy, then marinate them for two days. That was the biggest difference I noted. The longer it sits, the more spice it picks up. And for the record, I don’t really eat spicy, but I can handle this, so it’s not going to leave tears running down your face and smoke rolling out your ears.

I recommend putting this in a plastic resealable bag (and then in a bowl. I’ll say it every time.) for easy clean up. You can also pour off a cup or so before you put the shrimp in and save it to baste them with. I frequently make this in a skillet rather than the grill and just pour a little of the marinade in to help make a sauce.

You will need to either make this in a food processor or a bowl and then pour it into the bag. The directions from the original recipe say to whisk it together in a bowl. But I already had the food processor out for the Ohana chicken, so I just pulsed it a few times in that. I’d probably do it again that way, just because it was so easy.

Gather your ingredients. I chose not to use hot garlic chili sauce and regular garlic chili sauce both. Instead, I just used the regular garlic chili sauce and used a little more than originally called for. I have significantly scaled back the amounts of ingredients, because it made a TON of marinade, and unless you’re making several pounds of shrimp, you just don’t need that much.

Anyway, put your garlic chili paste, finely minced ginger, garlic, honey, salt, and pepper in your bowl or food processor. Add the oil in a thin stream, whisking well or keeping the food processor going until all the oil has been blended in.

Then put your shrimp in the bag and pour over the marinade. I used 25-30 size shrimp, and got them peeled and deveined. You could get shrimp still in the shells, but I wanted to keep the mess to a minimum. That is up to you! I try to seal it with as little air as possible (without making a huge mess), and then put it in the fridge. As I said, the recipe says two days. I say anywhere from 2-4 hours to 2 days, depending on what you want. It’s really convenient to be able to start it the day before a party, because it cooks quickly and you can get things made in advance to alleviate some stress the day of.

Ohana Grilled Shrimp

Then you can either sauté the shrimp in a skillet, or put the shrimp on the grill. I’d recommend a grill basket or skewers if you go the grill route, as it will make life a lot easier.

Either way, the hardest part about this dish is keeping it on the table longer than a few minutes! The pictures I got of these were snapped quick, because they were gone almost as soon as the platter hit the table!

Ohana Shrimp

table rating

Print
'Ohana Grilled Shrimp
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
15 mins
Total Time
30 mins
 

This is slightly altered from the print out our server gave us in the Polynesian resort's 'Ohana Restaurant years ago. 

Servings: 4 people
Ingredients
  • 3/4 tbsp Minced garlic
  • 1/4 cup Minced fresh ginger
  • 1 1/4 cup chili garlic sauce (use regular, not hot)
  • 1 cups Honey
  • 1 cups Lemon juice
  • 1/2 quart Canola oil
  • 1/2 tsp Fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp Kosher salt
  • 2 lbs Peeled and de-veined shrimp 25-30 count really, use whatever size works for you
Instructions
  1. Mix all ingredients except for the oil well. While whisking, pour in the oil slowly. You can also use a food processor.

  2. Place the shrimp in a resealable plastic bag. Pour the marinade over the shrimp, reserving about 3/4 cup for basting, if you like. Marinate the shrimp for 2-4 hours to 2 days, depending on your time.

  3. Once you're shrimp are done marinating, skewer the shrimp. You can cook them loose, but if you are grilling them, skewers will make the process easier.

  4. Heat the grill, and place your shrimp on there, basting as occasionally. Alternately, you can saute them in a non-stick skillet. 

  5. Cook shrimp to an internal temperature of 145ºF, and enjoy!

Pepper Pot Pork Chops

Pepper Pot Pork Chops

This afternoon I decided it was time to try another grill recipe. Since I found two lovely butterfly pork chops at the store the other day, I went on the hunt for a recipe on my list of recipes to attempt – and came across Pepper Pot Pork from Boma! So far, all the things I’ve made from Animal Kingdom restaurant recipes have been awesome. Pepper Pot Pork was not a disappointment!

The original recipe calls for a pork roast and its cooked differently. There are also some differences in the seasonings. But this recipe was really delicious and perfect for the grill on a warm spring evening. (Though it was pretty hot today – we’re quickly working at skipping spring and heading straight for summer!)

The first thing you need to do is pull out a bowl or (my preference) a resealable gallon baggie, and mix up the marinade. This part is easy. Just dump all the ingredients into the bag and then add the pork chops. You can mix it separately in a bowl and pour it in, but this works just fine. I made sure I massaged the pork chops a bit to distribute all the spices and make sure they were covered, but that’s as much fussing as you need to to.

Once its in the marinade, put it in the fridge and leave it for anywhere from 2-4 hours. I recommend putting that baggie down in a bowl, just in case, but its up to you. I only needed the bag to leak once to make me err on the side of caution. No one wants to clean marinade and meat juice from the fridge. Seriously.

So you’ve got a couple hours to kill. Read a book, watch a movie, do something productive. Take a nap. Whatever. When the time’s up, you’ll need to prep your grill, as well as your sauce.

The sauce is also pretty easy – don’t let me list of ingredients throw you off. Just dice your onions and peppers, put your olive oil in the pan and saute them until they begin to get a little tender – anywhere from 5-10 minutes. Once that’s done, you just add all the rest of the ingredients. Make sure all the spices are well mixed in, and let it come to the boil. Once it does, turn the temperature down to medium low and let it simmer for 5-7 minutes. Don’t let this reduce too much – you’ll run out of sauce!

Once its has simmered, you’re going to make a cornstarch slurry – a tablespoon of cornstarch in a couple tablespoons of water or cold stock. Mix it until its smooth, and then pour in about half. Make sure you mix it as you pour it into the pan. At this point, you can add more cornstarch for a thicker sauce, or leave it as is. The thickness is all personal preference! Once you have your cornstarch mixed in, cook about two more minutes and then remove from the heat.

While your sauce is cooking, you’re going to grill the pork chops. I made this with butterflied pork chops and they worked beautifully. There are only two in this recipe, but if you need more, just adjust the amounts as you need to. Its pretty easy to double or even triple it, and it should work out just fine.

I serve this with rice made with vegetable stock, because if I can use flavor instead of water, why not? There is a lot of flavor going on here, so you don’t need seasoned rice. (Though if you want to, do what makes you happy!)

I’m enjoying the grilling part of these recipes because my husband is the grill master (so he’s in charge of cooking that part) and because there is one less dish for me to wash when its all over. Priorities, right? 😉 But whether it is grilled or cooked on the stove top, the flavors are fantastic!

This recipe does differ from the original, which you can see at AllEars.Net if you like. All the same, its a really tasty recipe. I hope you try it, and if you do, I’d love to hear what you think!

Disney Pepper Pot Pork Chops

quick rating

Print
Pepper Pot Pork Chop
Prep Time
30 mins
Cook Time
20 mins
Total Time
4 hr 50 mins
 
Adapted from the Pepper Pot Pork recipe from Disney's Boma.
Course: Main Dish
Servings: 2 people
Author: cookwcharacter
Ingredients
Marinade
  • 1.5 pound butterfly pork chops
  • 1/2 c soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp sweet chili sauce
Sauce
  • 1 c chicken stock
  • 1 c vegetable stock (you can just substitute 2 c chicken stock)
  • 1/4 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/8 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp sweet chili sauce
  • 1/4 c soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 diced bell pepper (I prefer yellow or red, but any color is fine)
  • 1/2 diced sweet onion
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch (Hold until the end, then mix with 1 1/2 - 2 tbsp water)
Instructions
Pork Chops
  1. Combine all the ingredients in a gallon resealable baggie. Add pork chops and massage marinade in, making sure that spices and sugar are well mixed.
  2. Place in refrigerator for 2-4 hours. When the time is up, you'll cook the pork chops on a grill, or saute in a pan. Either way, you'll want to cook to an internal temperature of 160 degrees.
  3. Take off heat and allow the pork chops to rest for 5-10 minutes.
Sauce
  1. Dice onions and peppers together, and saute in a non stick skillet in about 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Cook these for around 5-10 minutes, until they begin to soften.
  2. Add in the remaining ingredients for the sauce, except the cornstarch slurry. Allow to come to a boil, turn the heat down to medium low, and simmer 5-10 minutes.
  3. Add the cornstarch slurry, stirring in until you reach the consistency you like. Start with half the mixture, and add more as you need.
  4. Cook 1-2 minutes longer, then remove from heat. Serve with pork and enjoy.