Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Disney Word... The Most Magical Place on Earth, and the Tastiest!

Walt Disney once said, "If you can dream it, you can do it."

Not only did Walt's dreams come true when he created Walt Disney World, a nation full of dreams came true too. My roommates and I went to Disney World last weekend for one of their birthdays. I have been fixated on Disney ever since I went to a Disney Institute seminar at this year's annual SHRM conference in San Diego, California. Since I'm in Human Resources, I very much admire the culture and values of Disney's workforce. They call their employee's "cast members" and when you interview for a job at Disney, you "audition" for the "role" instead. When we first pulled up to the Magic Kingdom and all it's glory, I noticed an employee training session going on at the bus stop where folks were learning how to drive the Disney transit buses. Instead of calling it training, the buses read, "earning my ears." How creative is that? I love it.

Anyway... Below are my two roommates. Happy Birthday to Stine with her trio of tequilla shots and Talley enjoyed Canadian cheese fondue:

But back to what my blog is really about... the magical world of Disney. We started our adventure at Universal Studios where we hit every major ride from Jaws to ET, Harry Potter to Men in Black, and Toy Story to Twister. As a movie fanatic, it was one of the best times I've ever had. But what came the next day truly falls under one of the most magical days of my life. The night before, we decided just a one-day one-park pass would not do. We upgraded to a one-day park-hopper pass and started our day at 9am at the Magic Kingdom. November is the perfect time to go to Disney World. Yeah it was chilly, but we were still able to survive Splash Mountain comfortably and there were barely any lines for each ride. Plus, we arrived at the park's first day of Christmas celebrations. Every park was decorated to the T with holiday cheer and holiday music blasted from every angle. There's no way you couldn't smile at a scene like this.

After the Magic Kingdom is where the real "adult" fun began. We headed for Epcot's annual International Wine and Food Festival, the 15th anniversary. Every foodie's dream come true: a tour through countless countries with authentic food tastings and spirits to match. It was a dream come true for me, thats for sure! Since I can't go into detail of every country, I've decided to list the top 5 countries and food/wine pairings:

1. New Zealand: Lamb slider with tomato chutney paired with Villa Maria Private Bin Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc... The most tender and juicy ground meat I've ever had. Flavor spilled out with every bite and the tomato chutney added the perfect combination. Definitely my favorite dish.

2. Chile: Shrimp Ceviche paired with Casillero del Diablo Sauvignon Blanc (Do you see the trend here? It's pretty obvious Sav Blanc is my favorite white wine)... The combination of citrus and spice hits your palette like you wouldn't imagine. The cilantro and lime seasons tender shrimp bursted with cool flavor and the Sav Blanc was a perfect pairing. I'm actually drinking a glass of this very wine as I write this blog because I loved it so much.

3. Japan: Tuna sensation... Paired with Morocco: Tangerine Mimosa... Yes I ended up eating from one country and drinking from another (very different) one. But what a combo! The tuna sensation consisted of raw sushi-grade albacore tuna on top of lump avocado chunks and drizzled in soy sauce. I'm a sushi fanatic and this was literally heaven for any sushi lover (except if it were upgraded to toro but I'm not that picky). The folks who ran the Morocco booth said I had beautiful blue eyes and topped off my Tangerine Mimosa with a shot of Orange Royal liquor. Now THAT's a mimosa.

4. France: Escargots Persillade en Brioche... Australia: Penfold's Koonunga Hill Shiraz Cabernet... The escargots (snails) were seasoned with garlic and parsley and cooked inside these little phyllo dough circular pockets coated in butter. Wow is all I have to say. Plus, I absolutely love Penfold's wine. An excellent choice for any dinner party I might add.

5. Spain: Seared Albacore Tuna with Romesco Sauce paired with Paul Chenau "Lady of Spain" Cava Brut... Give me a glass of champagne or Sparkling wine any day. I love it. I wish I could drink it all the time but I guess it should be saved for special occasions and when I have a morning to recover from the glorious hangover/headache that always ensues after a night champagne libations. Bravo, Spain.

I was going to go into honorable mentions next but I think this post is long enough. So there you have it. My top 5 international food and wine tastings from Disney's Epcot 15th International Wine and Food Festival.

To end the most magical vacation I've ever had, we enjoyed an excellent concert
by Hanson in Epcot's amphitheater. Hanson was one of my favorite bands growing up and yes, we still love them today. Following the concert, we headed straight for Hollywood Studios, the Disney park that extended their hours of operation to 11pm. Thank god for the countless drinks I had before, otherwise I wouldn't have let my roommates convince me to go on the Aerosmith roller coaster and the Tower of Terror. But I did it, even the Tower of Terror twice!

To really make the day and night one of the happiest days I can imagine (as if it couldn't get any better based on the description above), we wondered to the back-lot of Hollywood studios and stumbled upon the most miraculous holiday light show where fake snow and Christmas music played all around us. It truly was a moment I'll never forget.

So hopefully you've made it through the world's longest blog post and enjoyed it. Oh, and one more thing... No one can go to Disney World and not have a Mickey waffle for breakfast! Enjoy!

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