The second part of my story starts with another song from my cell phone. This time it was 6:30am Saturday morning and my cell phone was telling me it was time to get up. Ugh. We had returned from the Magic Kingdom® around 11pm the night before with two tuckered toddlers and three exhausted adults. 6:30am was pretty ugly from my perspective.
I managed to get myself ready in under 30 minutes with no lights as the rest of the party slumbered peacefully. It wasn’t until I was about to walk out the door when my baby girl, Sara, turned on her own alarm clock – a glow in the dark doll that plays lullabies when you press her tummy. The room started to stir, but I closed the door quietly and ran off to the monorail to meet my new friends and get some breakfast!
Did I mention it was St. Patrick’s Day? Our breakfast was an Irish inspired buffet complete with bangers and mash, fried egg with what I remember as cabbage, and my favorite, a little spinach (it’s green!) and egg dish, all served in cocottes. Paired with fresh fruit and pastries and the all important coffee and the day was off to a scrumptious start!
After an inspiring morning, with more than a few poignant moments, my stomach started to rumble around 11:30am. I’m an early lunch person or perhaps just a person who thinks about eating more than the general public, so I was eagerly awaiting our “A Taste of Disney” lunch.
The lunch was themed around healthy foods from different Disney resorts, WDW Parks, and Disney Catering. The head chef in charge of allergen and healthy lifestyle menus spoke before we walked over to the lunch. He mentioned that Walt Disney World® served 470,000 guests with food allergies last year. That number is staggering. 470,000. No wonder the words gluten-free, vegetarian, vegan, lactose free, and more are showing up in more than just food labels these days.
We walked a short distance to the lunch venue, nestled between Canada and The United Kingdom, behind a large gate is a reception venue called World Showplace. Sparkly chandeliers dangled at the entrance, blue lighting glowed from the tables, but eight tables set in the center were the focus of the room. Each pristine white table had multiple chefs greeting us with a knowing smile. (Disclaimer: My pictures for this were poor because I didn’t have my good camera with me, just my little iPhone 3GS with no flash.)
I’m not going to list all the food. I counted 15 different dishes, each with a unique set of ingredients. My favorites included the chicken picatta sautéed in white wine-lemon butter sauce with caperberries, spinach, and whole wheat pasta. The whole wheat pasta had a softer texture than any common pasta I have ever tasted. Usually whole wheat pasta has a bit of a chewy texture which I can’t stand. This was presented by Mam Melrose’s Ristorante Italiano in Disney’s Hollywood Studios®
I also loved the slow roasted bourbon induced black pig heritage pork loin slider with local hydro grown greens and heirloom tomato on golden spelt roll. The greens were picked right on the table from the mini garden the chefs brought with them. This dish came from the Park Event Operations at EPCOT®, basically the event catering team.
However, it was dessert that stole the show. Dear California Grill pastry chef Jeff Barnes, you are my hero. The olive oil infused chocolate truffle mousse with sea salted caramel had my eyes rolling to the back of my head. I don’t know how you created the little crunch on the bottom, but the entire dish was pure perfection. I also enjoyed the mascarpone cheesecake with lavender infused Florida strawberries. The cheesecake was actually light and refreshing. The lavender truly enhanced the strawberries.
Yet, the weekend still wasn’t over. During the afternoon sessions, my name was pulled out of a jar, not a hat, an OXO pop cookie jar I think. I won a 5 speed hand blender from KitchenAid! I never win anything! Ever! Thank you KitchenAid! I am so excited to play with it and all the other swag from OXO, Land O Lakes, and KitchenAid. My kitchen is super stocked and ready to crank out some new dishes for all the Suburban Cooks out there!
Event planning is part of my professional life, so I knew how much work went into this entire weekend. I know the countless hours, nicks, cuts, and curse words, plus all the pulling together of so many parties. From menu planning to staffing, to sponsorship, to speaker engaging, big thanks to the Food Blog Forum, White On Rice Couple Diane Cu and Todd Porter, Steamy Kitchen’s Scott and Jaden Hair, Elise Bauer of Simply Recipes, David Leite, Walt Disney World and finally to Julie Deilly of The Little Kitchen for making that call late on a Sunday night.