Category Archives: Restaurants

Thymus and Rabbit and Snails, Oh My! I Get Adventurous at Graffiato

Graffiato cauliflower

Sometimes peer pressure can be a good thing, especially when it comes to food. At least that’s what I realized after a food nerd trip to Graffiato in Washington, DC. The experience also reinforced the notion that food is indeed a universal unifier, a truth that most of us know already.

I was in DC for a work trip at the end of April (yeah, April; here’s why it took so long for me to write this) when I found myself at the restaurant with small group of foodies, one whom is a good friend, one whom I mostly connect with through social media, and three others I had literally just met. Eric (the social media friend) lives in the area and arranged the meet-up at this hard-to-book restaurant run by Mike Graffiato of Top Chef fame.

If you know me, you know I’m kind of socially awkward, especially when it comes to small talk with new people. I have an insane fear of not knowing what to say, which manifests by me usually not saying anything at all or just responding to other people’s well-meaning, conversation-starting questions with conversation-killing answers. Brilliant, right? It happens every time.

But shockingly, it was not the case this time. Because again, food is the universal unifier. Even if we had nothing else in common, we all loved and appreciated good—and, as I learned, moderately adventurous—food. Continue reading

Southern Nuevo Cuisine Goes Greek at Kouzzina on Disney’s Boardwalk

Goat Cheese Sto Fourno

It was the last dinner of our trip. That’s always an unfortunate time (at least for me) to visit a great restaurant, because by then I’ve had my fill of rich restaurant food, and the mere thought of eating yet another heavy meal has me turning slightly green.

But here we were at Cat Cora’s Greek-Southern U.S. fusion restaurant, Kouzzina, in the Boardwalk Inn complex. We’d been here once before under similar circumstances, and you think I would have planned it better this time, but alas. A number of delicious-sounding entrees caught my eye, such as the cinnamon-stewed chicken and tomatoes, braised short ribs, pastisio, or a trio featuring most of the above. But my appetite (or lack thereof) won out over my taste buds, so I ended up choosing a smaller appetizer and side dish for my meal instead. Continue reading

Epcot’s Sunshine Seasons Offers Quick, Affordable, Healthy, Sustainable, and—Yes—Tasty Fare

Beet Salad at Disney's Sunshine Seasons Epcot

There are a few counter-service gems in Walt Disney World, and Sunshine Seasons is one of them. Located right off the exit ramp for Soarin’, one of WDW’s relatively new rides in Epcot’s The Land pavilion, Sunshine Seasons focuses on variety and fresh ingredients.

What you might not know is that WDW actually has a compound of hydroponic greenhouses right on site in Epcot, and much of the produce grown there is served in the nearby restaurants: Sunshine Seasons and the table-service Garden Grill. So not only are you getting incredibly fresh vegetables in your salad or on your sandwich, they’re leaving about the smallest environmental footprint imaginable. Continue reading

My Favorite Thing to Eat at Walt Disney World Is a Simple Chocolate Muffin

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Muffin at WDW Main Street Bakery

This one’s all about nostalgia; I won’t try to convince you otherwise. When I was a kid, we went to Disneyland in Anaheim every couple of years when we were out on the West Coast visiting my grandfather. Every trip, we’d stop at the Main Street Bake Shop for a special treat. For some reason, I’d pass up cookies, brownies, and cakes in favor of a giant chocolate chocolate chip muffin. Every time. Continue reading

Magic Kingdom’s Sleepy Hollow Now Serves Waffle Sandwiches

 Ham, Proscuitto, and Swiss Waffle Sandwich at Disney's Sleepy Hollow

Have you ever walked by a place a dozen times and never given it a second glance? That was the way we were with Sleepy Hollow, a . . . well . . . sleepy little food stand in Magic Kingdom’s Liberty Square. That is, until I learned that they now serve waffle sandwiches. Then we went out of our way to seek it out.

It looks like the menu change happened sometime in fall 2011, and honestly, I’m not sure what the counter served before that, because we really never looked at it twice. Now, the restaurant offers two choices of savory waffle sandwiches—a sweet and spicy chicken variety, and a ham, prosciutto, and Swiss variety—as well as a sweet Nutella and fruit dessert sandwich (yes, please!). It also serves straight-up waffles and funnel cakes. Continue reading

Take a Culinary Trip to Northern Africa at Epcot’s Morocco Pavilion

Tilework at Epcot's Morocco Pavilion

Epcot might be my favorite Disney park. Sure, I love the Magic Kingdom for its nostalgia: nothing makes you feel all warm and fuzzy and filled with child-like wonder than stepping onto Main Street and gazing down at Cinderella’s castle. By comparison, Epcot is a bit more mature and exciting, a merging of my two favorite worlds: nerdy science projects and foods from far-off places.

After you work your way through the science- and technology-based Future World at the front of the park, you reach the World Showcase: an area representing the cultures and cuisines of 11 countries, all positioned along less than one linear mile. And this is why it’s a food enthusiast’s dream come true: it’s like an international smorgasbord. You can start your day with French crepes, then have burritos for lunch, maybe some pot stickers for a snack, fish and chips for dinner, and gelato for dessert. And everything’s merely feet away from each other.

To be honest, I probably find this so amazing because I don’t have such culinary opportunities at home. Both where I grew up and where I live now aren’t exactly hotbeds of interesting ethnic restaurants; in fact, the most adventurous international cuisine would probably be a Chinese restaurant. Granted, the addition of Biba to my town’s main street, as well as a Japanese restaurant that opened slightly before that, elevated my county’s international fare by like 200%, but they’re just two restaurants. And true, I can experience nearly every ethnic food I want in relatively nearby Pittsburgh, but that’s still a 45-minute drive. Did I mention that Epcot’s eateries are only feet away from each other?

But I digress. I have my favorites among the 11 pavilions, the ones I need to hit on every trip if I can fit it in the schedule (French pastries and Italian gelato, anyone?). Until now, Morocco wasn’t on that list; we had only dined in there once, many years ago. But as luck would have it, on this trip we ended up in Morocco on two separate occasions: one planned and one impromptu. And now it might be very near the top of that favorites list. Continue reading

Why Foodies Shouldn’t Shy Away From Walt Disney World

Disney food humor

Last week, I spent just short of five lovely days at Walt Disney World Resort (WDW) in Orlando, FL. WDW is near and dear to me, as it’s where my husband and I honeymooned almost 11 years ago now. That honeymoon was my first trip to WDW (aside from an excursion when I was two that I can’t remember, and several trips to Disneyland in my school years), and I loved it so much we’ve been back seven times since.

Sure, there are other places around the country to visit, but we keep going back to WDW for several reasons, and one of them is the excellent food, if you know where to look. Other good reasons for our continued visits are the fabulous service from truly friendly employees, how clean everything is despite the massive number of people in the parks and resort daily, and how few decisions we have to make. Yeah, I’m digressing, but only slightly. In fact, once you book your trip, the only decisions you have to make are where you plan to eat each day. Continue reading