Port Canaveral: Cruising from Central Florida

Looking back at our most recent time living in Central Florida, we feel immense gratitude for yet another Florida adventure, this time living closer to the beach than Disney World, enjoying beach bars and hanging out at Port Canaveral.

We even celebrated Rich’s birthday cruising to the Bahamas on the Carnival Liberty. So I put together a little video celebrating that time.

Port Canaveral is expanding so whether you’re a local, cruising solely, or combining your cruise with a trip to Disney World, I hope you enjoy it. If so, please like and subscribe to this blog and on youtube.

Thank you!

#Mexico #cruising #Princess #Carnival #Liberty #Bahamas #cruising #Carnival #Cruises #CentralFlorida #DisneyWorld #Florida #fiction

 

 

Farewell Thanksgiving at Wine Bar George and the Chicken Guy

When we got the email about Thanksgiving at Wine Bar George, we knew we had to do it for our good-bye to Florida. This would be our third time at Wine Bar George and one of the places we will miss when we’re back West.

It was a beautiful day – we arrived at Disney Springs at around 10:30 a.m. for our 11:30 reservation. The lime garage was already full but we’ve grown to appreciate the orange garage so that was no problem. We strolled around the springs, enjoying the atmosphere and Christmas decorations and our first stop was the Ganachery – another place we will totally miss. We got some chocolate toffee bark to take home and a milk chocolate Mickey and a vanilla with dark chocolate, shared them, while we strolled the Springs and made our way to World of Disney to get our first peek at the remodel.

We browsed and ended up getting Minnie Mickey coffee mugs. By this time it was getting close to 11:30 so we headed back to Wine Bar George and were seated on the balcony across from another couple, who were just being served a huge plate of Thanksgiving turkey. We exchanged appreciative glances and comments and ordered the same. The dinner was a traditional turkey with stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, cranberry sauce, and haricot vert. We paired it with Argyle Pinot Noir. It was quite tasty, but I asked for a box to take half of it home for my evening meal.

We skipped dessert but made a point of stopping at the Chicken Guy. I’m not a fan of chicken tenders, but this was our last chance to try them. We were especially interested in the Nashville hot honey sauce – we were wowed by Nashville’s hot chicken when we evacuated there last year. I’m not usually a fan of hot chicken as in Buffalo Chicken Wings but Nashville chicken is amazing!

Anyway, we picked up an order of 3 tenders and the Nashville sauce for Rich’s evening snack since he managed to finish his turkey dinner. And then we headed home. It may seem to silly to complain about an hour and fifteen minute drive but it does get old. But that’s probably because we’re so ready to move back west. Our Florida vacation this time around is so over.

The toffee was incredible, my leftovers were even tastier heated up later, and the bite of chicken tender I had was the best chicken tenders I’ve ever had, although Rich remembers Cane’s in Las Vegas as being just as good if not better. We’ll have to make that one of our first stops when we get back so we can double check that memory. 🙂

 

Fort Wilderness

A quick trip to Fort Wilderness this morning for brunch at Trails End and a walk through of the camp sites, checking out Fifth Wheels. We’d been hoping to get back to our old stomping grounds but now, of course, you cannot enter unless you’re a guest or have ressies at Trails End or the Hoop-de-Doo Review.

We’re not a fan of buffets but lunch is no longer served there. On weekends, it’s brunch. So we bit the bullet and enjoyed a few selections like Mickey Waffles with Bananas Foster sauce – yum!!

Our total mileage was 3.5 miles so maybe that’ll offset those rich calories.

I also played a bit of tetherball – cannot resist (I used to have my own when I was a kid in SoCal).

Stopped for a selfie in front of the stables

All saddled up

The queen of tetherball

Christmas at Disney’s Yacht Club

We knew we wanted to spend Christmas Day at Disney World (outside the parks for crowd and AP blockout reasons) and have Christmas dinner at one of the restaurants. We couldn’t decide which, though, so we changed our ressies several times. But when we read about the new Ale and Compass at the Yacht Club, we settled on that the day before. And we were so glad we did.

Of course we love the Yacht Club – it is our home resort at WDW ever since our first stay there back in 1999 (the Contemporary was Kathy’s first back in 1982). We were very impressed with Ale and Compass – the decor, the food, and the service.

Christmas Lunch
by Rich

Starter (Shared)
Oven-roasted Oysters
with Spinach and Creamed Kale, White Cheddar, and Cornbread Crumbs

Entree – Kathy
Maine Lobster Roll
with choice House-made Vinegar Chips

Entree – Rich
Open-faced Skirt Steak Sandwich
with Caramelized Onions, Poached Egg, Fennel, Watercress, and Tomato Salad with Truffle Vinaigrette

Wine – Kathy
Domaine Savary Chablis, Burgundy

Wine – Rich
Columbia Crest Grand Estates Syrah, Columbia Valley

The oven-roasted oysters were fabulous, just the right start to the meal. The breading and accompaniments to the oysters were in perfect proportion to the oysters.

Kathy’s lobster roll was wonderful – not over-dressed, just delicious chunks of lobster on a nicely-sized roll. Kathy enjoyed an ideal pairing of hard-to-find Chablis.

Rich’s medium-rare skirt steak was incredible – tender, juicy, and full of flavor. The caramelized onions and truffle vinaigrette were especially nice touches. The Syrah was a splendid pairing, achieving a lovely balance between blackberry fruit and sweet smokiness.

After our meal we walked the Boardwalk, stopping at our usual kissing spot, and popped into the Boardwalk where we were each offered a complimentary peppermint sugar cookie. We continued our walk full circle to the Yacht Club – Rich even skipped his usual Boardwalk skip – and two stools at the Hurricane Hanna pool bar called our names and we each had a Margarita.

We chatted with other guests from St. Augustine, noting that this is the real replacement for the Trout Pass Bar at Wilderness Lodge. It has the same vibe that Geyser Point sadly does not quite have with so many families gathering there.

After our cocktails and conversation (love this about Disney World), we were in search of coffee before we hit the road and ended up at Beaches and Cream where Rich got us two coffees and two ice cream sandwiches (huge but yummy – lol) while Kathy grabbed us a table overlooking Stormalong Bay.

We stopped in at the gift shop where Yacht Club coffee cups captured our attention, made our purchases and then we drive back to the beach.

It was a gorgeous day out – low 70s compared to mid 50s at the beach. What an awesomely perfect Christmas! Disney for the day was even better being able to return to our new home at the beach.

A Disney Christmas: 2 Parks, 3 Resorts, 1 Festival Kicks Off Moving Week

We took today off to have some Christmas fun at Disney before moving week begins.

We noticed that Christmas magnets for AP holders were available at Disney Studios and we wanted to tour Epcot’s Holiday Festival so the plan was to park at Disney Studios and then boat over to Epcot. Genius, right? Surely, this was better than parking in the Epcot lot and walking through Future World just to get to World Showcase. Surely, this approach would be a breeze, saving our poor feet significant steps.

Normally, when we do the Epcot thing we clock about 4 miles. With this new shorter plan we clocked 6 miles. Lol! Maybe because instead of staying on the boat, we got off at the Yacht and Beach Club and the Boardwalk to check out the Christmas decorations and then walked to/fro Epcot.

The highlights were: Disney Studios Christmas decorations, tacos and Margaritas at the Cantina in Mexico, the Kir at the Festival Marketplace in France, the awesome Canadian Holiday band, and the Butter Brickle Ice Cream at Ample Hills Creamery.

 

Thanksgiving at Sanaa

We tossed around many ideas for Thanksgiving, made and canceled a few ressies  and settled in Sanaa at Animal Kingdom Lodge. It was a very good choice!

Some of you may recall our first Sanaa Thanksgiving meal back in 2011. The African flavors offer a tasty twist to what could be a boring traditional turkey dinner. We asked our server for a wine recommendation and we went with the Black Pearl Mischief Maker, which paired very well with the turkey dinner.

Btw, she gave us a very generous poor but the photo was taken well into the meal. 🙂

For dessert we shared the African Spice Cake,

(This year Sanaa also offered a couple of alternatives to turkey,)

And the atmosphere at Animal Kingdom Lodge in general! Dark, cozy, inviting, peaceful all decorated for Christmas with traditional Christmas music sung by beautiful African voices.

And tne there’s the service – so very warm and friendly. Simply superb!

We were seated at a table for two next to a large window overlooking the Savanna. It was feeding time for the animals and we spotted quite a few. Afterwards, we stopped by Jambo House for shopping and atmosphere soaking.

We just may make Sanaa our annual tradition.

 

Epcot 2017 Food and Wine Festival, Part Two

As the Festival progresses, the weather cools and the crowds heat up. We’d heard how much more crowded it is now than 5 years ago and now we’ve seen it for ourselves. Next year we will stay onsite during the week. Circumstances did not allow it this year.

Still, we enjoyed ourselves, returning to some old favorites like Mexico (loved the Apple Margarita) and China (the Black Pepper Shrimp with Garlic Noodles is to die for) and new favorites like Thailand and Brazil and the Italian Margarita (with Lemoncello) in Italy, Scotland, and Belgium (Belgium Waffle with chocolate sauce).

We’ve planned a third visit in the evening for atmosphere and live music but are unsure about it because the crowds will be unbearable then. And we’d like to get to the Holidays Around Epcot or whatever it’s called this year and must save some of our stamina for that.

It’s difficult to find a time when Epcot is not having a food festival, yet my favorite moment is when we’re relaxing with a regular Margarita al fresco in the Cantina. No Festival necessary.

If it’s Thursday, it must be Wilderness Lodge

Rich has been quite interested in getting back to Territory Lounge, and I’ve been craving their Dirty Martinis so off we went after work last Thursday. Of course, the drive turned out to be hellacious – there’s no good way to get around Orlando these days – even the toll roads are backed up during commute hours.

We arrived eventually and just entering the WL property makes it all worth it. Our favorite tables at TL were not available, but we found another and looked at the menu. Right away we noticed our usual pizza was no longer on the menu and since this would be our dinner, wings just would not do. So we headed for Geyser Point.

The tables were occupied but we were curious about sitting at the bar ala the old Trout Pass Bar. We found two chairs facing the water, offering a gorgeous view at dusk.

We noticed right away that our favorite from our first visit, the Salmon BLT, was no longer on the menu so we shared a Chicken Sandwich with an order of Fried Oysters and two glasses of Sokol Blosser Evolution. Drinking in plastic cups is no way to drink a Dirty Martini so wine was our best option.

We were sipping our wine while waiting for our food. A couple sat down next to us, ordered a couple of sandwiches and were served while we sat there without food. We were getting very hungry and quite miffed. We asked about our food and somebody went to check.

Still no food. We were getting quite annoyed and ravenously hungry so Rich asked again and somebody ran over and said they would look into it. In the meantime, the couple next door finished eating.

The food eventually arrived, we ate, it was quite good, and we were comped the food. We said goodnight to our servers and walked over to get a closer look at the cabins and fell in love with the place. Rich chatted with a guy we’d seen at the bar ordering a double Jameson now enjoying his drink and cigar on a beautiful quiet night.

Overall, it turned out to be a wonderful evening, and we are hoping to stay onsite soon. Day trips from the beach will be too grueling as they almost are from North Orlando.

Photos below (we forgot to capture the food but found one of the oysters – no such luck with the chicken sandwich.)

 

 

Epcot 2017 Food and Wine Festival, Part One

So we finally made it to the Epcot Food and Wine Festival this year. Actually, it was the traditional kickoff weekend, as well as our tradition, too. And it also aligned with the 35th Anniversary of Epcot’s Opening Day.

In spite of the crowds, we managed to sneak off early and catch a few booths before the rest caught up with us. Everything we tried was tasty, but Rich’s favorite was the chicken with peanut sauce from Thailand. It reminded me of my trip to Thailand several years ago.

We plan to drop in on Epcot a couple of evenings to taste some of our other favorites, to try some new offerings since our last visit, and to enjoy the nighttime atmosphere and live music.

More tasty treats from Africa, Germany, Mexico, Thailand and New Zealand.

Chef Art Smith’s Homecomin’ at Disney Springs Feels Like Coming Home

Let’s be honest – when you make a bold change, you turn your life upside down. And I’ve done this more than a few times through marriage, divorce, religious conversion, a quest to find dad, inter state moves, cross country moves, and moves across town. They’re all stressful no matter how much you want or don’t want them.

Art Smith’s Homecomin’ at Disney Springs was exactly what was needed after 16 weeks of living in temporary housing after leaving our home in Las Vegas, no matter how fancy or resort-like this place may be. Along about now, we need a little dose of home.

We arrived early for our 7:40 reservation but as soon as we sat down at an outside table with our beeper, it went off and we were seated on the screened porch at our request. Right away we were immersed in the down home southern hospitality feeling as if we were visiting family.

The Screened Porch Bar

David introduced himself and he was an excellent server, attentive, and genuinely likeable. He told us something about Art Smith, although we were already quite familiar with him, made his recommendations, and took our order.

For our meal, we chose to share a few appetizers and drinks, fully aware of budget and calories, as we must be with frequent trips to Disney as locals.

Rich started with the Bootlegger and I had the Moonshine Margarita, which were tasty twists on a classic Rum Runner and Margarita.

We then shared the Church Lady Deviled Eggs, Fried Green Tomatoes, and the Thigh High Chicken (with Cheddar) Biscuits. All were delicious but the biscuits were our favorite.

It was a fabulous night with great food, drink, atmosphere and company with a nice dose of home, taking me back to my childhood and a southern grandma’s cooking, where you’re always welcome, greeted with hugs and love and good food.

Looking back at the porch, saying our good nights.

We’ll be back, though, because there is just so much more deliciousness to be tasted. But, for now, we’re going to take a break from catching up with these new restaurants and focus on the house build. Oh, yeah, and the Food & Wine Festival, too. 🙂