Epcot Food and Wine Festival 2014

If you didn’t already know, the end of summer/beginning of fall is the best time to visit Disney World. Mainly because the crowd levels are low but also because of the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival. From September 19 – November 10 Epcot’s World Showcase represents even more countries with food and drink booths all around. At each of these booths the food offered is snack size and most items range from $3-$6. Most items are eligible for the Disney Dining Plan snack credits. When you’re not eating, there are plenty of additional things to do that are not typically offered in Epcot.

In the festival center there are cooking demos and different workshops you can do. My parents did a class about margaritas while they were with us in 2013. My mom seemed to have a good time and they were able to have small samples of the various drinks they learned to make. There is also the Eat To The Beat Concert Series which brings in bands like Sugar Ray, Air Supply and Boyz II Men. For the time that the bands are there they play 3 shows a day. We enjoyed Sugar Ray several times while we were there. For more information about this check out the Disney Food Blog for a full schedule of bands this year.

In 2012 Disney introduced a new booth called Terra which featured all vegan cuisine. You read that right, an all vegan booth in Disney World! We were lucky enough to try it last year and boy did it deliver. The original menu offered two dishes with Gardein and a dessert. All of the alcohol from Terra was also vegan.

Image from Disney Food Blog

Image from Disney Food Blog

We tried both the Chili Colorado and the Chocolate Cake. The Chili Colorado was absolutely delicious, we ate it so fast that we didn’t get a photo. The cake was just okay, it was a little dry,I would have rather had some Babycakes NYC. The coconut mousse was really good with it though.

Chocolate Cake

Chocolate Cake

This year they have updated the menu for Terra:

• Blackened Chick’n Breast, Farr, Spicy Gumbo Sauce featuring Gardein Chick’n Breast
• “Crab’less Crabcake” Pepper Slaw and Cajun Remoulade featuring Gardein
• Chocolate-blood orange cupcake with tofu icing
• Paperboy Red (wine)

Image from Disney Food Blog

Crab’less Crabcake – Image from Disney Food Blog

 

Returning to the festival this year is also the Scotland booth which offered a Vegetarian Haggis last year. Without the mashed potatoes this dish was vegan, you just get extra rutabaga. We had some on our trip in 2013 and we were indifferent on it. I think they offer it because more people probably wouldn’t want to try real haggis, so it’s kind of cool that they made it vegan. This item will be returning for 2014.

Vegetarian Haggis without Mashed Potatoes

Vegetarian Haggis without Mashed Potatoes

 

Japan offered a tofu dish that was vegan as is, Youki Tofu topped with Miso Sauce, Edamame and Served with Grilled Vegetables. I tried this on our trip in 2013 and thought it was pretty good. It wasn’t necessarily worth $4.50 for a slice of tofu though. It appears this item will not be returning in 2014 and there will be no vegan item offered.

Yukabi Tofu - Image from Philly Vegans

Youki Tofu – Image from Philly Vegans

 

None of the other booths appear to have vegan items. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t check them out though. Greece has a vegetable Moussaka which you might be able to get without cheese. At least check out the booths for drinks from around the world, both virgin and alcoholic.

During the International Food and Wine Festival Epcot turns into a different place. I suggest checking it out during the day if you have kids. I recommend this because a lot of adults come out for this and lots of drinking occurs. That being said, this is a great time for adults! There’s all kinds of new foods and drinks offered and you’ll want to check it all out. It’s definitely one of our favorite times to visit the parks.

Melissa and her Dad

Melissa and her Dad

Cheers,
Melissa & Corey

Captains Grille For A Disappointing Breakfast

Breakfast in Disney World is one of my favorite things, who doesn’t love Mickey Waffles? We’ve generally had good experiences when we have gone to restaurants for breakfast, until this one. I used to think all Disney restaurants were very accommodating with vegan breakfast food.

Captains Grille at the Yacht Club

Captains Grille at the Yacht Club

We decided to try the Captains Grille at the Yacht Club for breakfast during our May 2014 trip, I saw there was a buffet and also a menu so we should be fine. This buffet was nothing like the other breakfast buffets we have been to, Chef Mickey’s being our favorite. The buffet itself was very small and we were told that nothing on the buffet was vegan. Not even the potatoes?! I’m a breakfast potato fan, and most breakfast buffets offer several variations of potatoes to go with my waffles but this one did not.

While the chef was talking to us he seemed really irritated that we were there. I had never felt this from any other chef at Disney World. The chef told us he’d make us some vegan waffles, dairy free potatoes and I asked for some fruit. Potatoes and waffles isn’t a very healthy or filling breakfast. He quickly left and we ordered some french press coffee and asked our waitress if she could get us some soy milk too.

Mickey Waffles and Fruit

Mickey Waffles and Fruit

We received our plate of waffles and fruit and then both received a giant plate of hash browns. At first we were nervous because it looked like there was cheddar cheese in the potatoes but it turned out to be sweet potatoes. The potatoes had no seasoning on them at all, not even salt and pepper. The waffles were good, as always. The best part of our breakfast was honestly the coffee. Eating a few waffles and fruit wasn’t very filling since I opted to not eat the bland potatoes.

Hashbrown Potaotes

Hash Brown Potatoes

We also found out that since the waffles typically come with meat that we were charged for substituting potatoes for it. The chefs attitude and the food we were given definitely turns me away from ever returning there for breakfast. I am always happy when I can have Mickey waffles, but sometimes everything else just makes it a bad time. Not a fun start to our morning in Disney.

 

Would we go back?
No, the chef didn’t seem to want us there and the food reflected his attitude. Being charged for potatoes instead of substituting it for a more expensive meat made me a little upset as well considering we were also charged for the fruit.

Price
$$

 

Cheers,
Melissa & Corey

Board Shorts and Jerked Tofu

I’m sure you’re thinking, what do board shorts and jerked tofu have to do with Disney World, this isn’t Jamaica. Well let me tell you! This is a review of our dinner at Jiko the Cooking Place in the Animal Kingdom Lodge Jambo House from May 2014. I’m sure you’re still confused, don’t worry, I’ll explain.

Jiko is an upscale restaurant located next to Boma in the Jambo House at Animal Kingdom Lodge. This restaurant is so upscale they have a dress code, which they apparently don’t enforce. Corey and I were excited to eat somewhere that required us to look nice since we have no fancy vegan dining options at home. We were quickly disappointed when I spotted a man and his child, who appeared to have just come in from the pool, being seated. Now I’m not typically a snob about these things, I like being comfy too, but if your restaurant states out front that you have a dress code, you should probably enforce it. That being said, if you go to Jiko please actually follow it, it’s nice to dress up sometimes.

Seating at Jiko

Seating at Jiko

Jiko drew us in because they have a full vegan menu! One major draw back for most people for Jiko is that if you are using the dining plan you will use two sit down credits. Since it’s two credits we were anticipating an expensive vegan meal. All of the vegan entrees are $29, which seems like a lot until you compare it to the actual Jiko menu with items ranging between $30-$46.

Awful photo of vegan menu

Awful photo of vegan menu

The decor of the restaurant was really neat, not overly African but felt like an upscale restaurant. It was pretty dark where we were sitting, which was a bummer for us taking photos of our food and menu. I will write out the full menu we were given at the bottom of this post. Where we were sat we could see the chefs creating the pappadam and other breads. There is also an option to sit at the bar there and watch them. If you’re traveling alone, that’s a good option!

African Inspired Dips

African Inspired Dips

We decided to order an appetizer because we were really hungry. We went with the Taste of Africa which was a collection of four dips and lentil pappadam. The four dips were Bhuna Masala, Sagh Dahl, Moroccan Chermoula and Kalamata Hummus. The Bhuna Masala was pretty spicy, it helped clear my sinus cold pretty quickly. The pappadam was really good and crispy, we ate it all pretty quickly, which is why there are no photos of it.

Dip Descriptions

Dip Descriptions

For our entrees I went with African “Jerked” Tofu and Corey had Maize-Crusted Seitan. My jerked tofu was super spicy, the coconut curry and vegetables definitely helped to cool down the flavor.

West African "Jerked" Tofu

West African “Jerked” Tofu

The tofu wasn’t very firm, but being someone who is used to all sorts of tofu I didn’t mind. The vegetables in it were seasoned and cooked perfectly. As a whole I really enjoyed this dish. Thank goodness the coconut curry was there otherwise I would not have been able to handle the jerk sauce. There was also red quinoa through out my dish that added a nice texture to my meal.

Maize Crusted Seitan

Maize Crusted Seitan

The Maize-Crusted Seitain came with grains, vegetables and chakalaka. Corey did not seem to like his dish as much as I enjoyed my own. He felt that the seitan was rubbery and not as firm as it should be. There was also a bit of a flour residue on the crust of it. He liked the vegetables more then the seitan which was a bit of a let down for him since he was excited to try some seitan from a restaurant that didn’t appear to be Gardein. He felt that his meal was definitely not worth $30.

As a whole, Jiko was an interesting place to check out. We had both been wanting to go there for quiet some time and finally made it while on our wedding trip. The atmosphere was nice, and it was really great to go to a “fancy” restaurant and enjoy a fine vegan meal. If you are going for a special occasion I would recommend making a stop at Jiko for a romantic dinner, just please, PLEASE, follow the dress code. Also if you are using a dining credit, I would just pay for this restaurant rather than use two credits. We have had more expensive dinners that were just one dining credit then our total meal cost at Jiko.

 

Would we go back?

Yes, just not as a every time we go ADR (advanced dining reservation). It would be nice to go again for an anniversery and when I don’t mind spending a lot on dinner.

Price?
$$$$

Cheers,
Melissa & Corey

 

Legible menu:

Wood-fired Flatbreads
Roxanne’s Seared Seitan    Coriander Chutney, Berbere, Tomatoes and Rocket     13.00
KG’s Peri Peri Tofu     Lime Chakalaka and Picked Sweet Bell Peppers     10.00
Roasted Cauliflower     Bhuna Masala and Roasted Cipollini Onions     10.00

Appetizers
Taste of Africa     African-Inspired Dips with Lentil Pappadam     9.00
Jiko Salad    Summer Greens, Watermelon, Blueberries, Caviar Limes, Smoked Almonds and Lime Date Vingarette  15.00
Braised Greens     Mealie Pap, Chakalaka, White Truffle Oil and Micro Cilanto     17.00

Entrees
West African “Jerked” Tofu     Basmati Rice, Red Quinoa, Vegetable Melange and Coconut Curry Sauce     29.00
Egyptian Kushari     Lentils, Couscous, Chickpeas, Golden Raisins, Almonds, Roasted Vegetables     29.00
Tofu and Vegetable Sambuasas     Mint-Coconut Chutney and Saffron Cashew Rice     29.00
Maize-crusted Seitan     Ancient Grains, Vegetables of the Moment and Chakalaka     29.00

Dessert
Coconut Milk Penna Cotta     with Mixed Berries     9.00
Seasonal Fruit     with Sorbet     8.00
Vanilla Tofutti Ice Cream     with Mixed Berries     8.00

Moving Over To Teppan Edo

Since we were in Japan last week at Tokyo Dining, we figured we’d move next door to Teppan Edo. Teppan Edo is located in the same building as Tokyo Dining in the Japan Pavilion in Epcot. This restaurant is a Hibachi style steakhouse where the chefs cook in front of you. We used to enjoy eating at these style of restaurants prior to being vegan, so we figured we would see how it was.

Main Dining Room

Main Dining Room

We went with a big group of friends for our first time here in May of 2014. We felt more comfortable about requesting vegan food with friends at our table who already knew rather then being judged by strangers. We were seated in a room in the back with only two tables, it was much quieter then the main room. If you have a large party try to request the back rooms. It was easy to have a conversation with our whole party and not have people feel excluded. Since there was 8 of us we took up a whole table.

Waiting for dinner

Waiting for dinner

We talked to our waitress about our vegan diet as well as my friends gluten allergy and she brought out a manager. The vegetarian meal at Teppan Edo is Yasai which is fresh seasonal vegetables. All the meals come with Udon Noodles and Beef Rice, both of which are not vegan friendly. The manager told us that we couldn’t eat the noodles and that we would receive something else to replace it. We were also getting steamed white rice instead of the beef rice. Our friend with the gluten allergy had to have her meal cooked in the kitchen away from the table.

The waitress came out and started to put the different dipping sauces in dishes for the table. We were only able to have the ginger sauce because both the mustard and yum yum sauces were not vegan. Soon after that our chef came out and started to cook our meal before everyone else’s. Since it was just for the two of us he didn’t do any of the fun theatrics with our food. To replace our lack of udon noodles we were given more vegetables.

Preparing our vegan meal

Preparing our vegan meal

While the chef was cooking our waitress brought out everyones rice. He soon finished up our meal and began to cook everyone else’s. He did more of the fun theatrics, including fire, with their food. At one point it did get awkward when he placed raw chicken down and it began to sizzle and “bounce” on the grill. He made a joke about the chicken still being alive and everyone felt awkward because they all know how Corey and I feel about animals and that this joke was not too funny for us. Once the awkward moment passed everything moved quickly and our friends could finally start eating with us.

Vegan Yasai

Vegan Yasai, bowl of rice not pictured

Our vegetables for the Yasai consisted of onion, mushroom and zucchini. The vegetables were really good with the ginger sauce. To replace our udon noodles we had carrots, broccoli and green beans. We weren’t very excited about the extra vegetables since our meal ended up just being vegetables and steamed white rice. It wasn’t filling at all.

On the menu they also have edamame, miso soup and a salad to get as appetizers. Since our meal was already $18 each and we both ordered fancy alcoholic drinks I didn’t really want to spend even more on more vegetables. The experience as a whole was just okay. The chicken comment really didn’t make us feel comfortable and if you don’t like to see raw meat being cooked in front of you I suggest you stay away from this restaurant.

Would we go back?
No. If you’re with a big group of non vegans it’s at least somewhere you can eat a big meal too, just don’t expect to be well fed.

Price?
$$$

Cheers,
Melissa & Corey

Vegetarian Sushi at Tokyo Dining

Looking for a quiet restaurant with great views of World Showcase? Check out Tokyo Dining in the Japan Pavilion. Tokyo Dining is located in the same building as the restaurant Teppan Edo. Teppan Edo is a hibachi style steakhouse and Tokyo Dining is a sushi restaurant.

Windows facing World Showcase

Windows facing World Showcase

There are two great areas to be seated in this restaurant, if you are there late enough to watch Illuminations you should ask for a table by the window. There is also an area with sushi chefs working near tables which can be entertaining. There is a TV on a wall and sometimes they will demo how to roll sushi.

Sushi Chef View

Sushi Chef View

This restaurant is relatively quiet, and a completely different atmosphere then it’s neighbor Teppan Edo. Tokyo Dining is a one of my go to ADR (advance dining reservation) restaurants. We have been here twice and will be going back each trip. This review is from our most recent trip in May 2014.

Vegetarian Menu

Vegetarian Menu

Tokyo Dining offers a vegetarian menu and has a fantastic drink selection. Both times we have been here we have interacted with the same manager. He is very knowledgeable about what is and isn’t vegan and does a great job with telling the waitresses what to change on our order. The Vegetable Tempura and Sushi is almost vegan except for the tempura. They use an egg wash on it so instead of tempura we received steamed vegetables. There is an edamame appetizer which we ordered the first time we went that was good, it was cold though which we weren’t expecting.

Vegetable Sushi

Vegetable Sushi

The plate is huge! The sushi is rolled with cucumber, avocado, kanpyo, carrot and ginger and has been perfect both times we’ve been. The seaweed salad is my favorite part, it has just the right flavor is sesame. The sunomomo is a cucumber salad(top right on the plate) which is a similar to the seaweed salad but a bit more sweet. The steamed vegetables and rice almost isn’t necessary with the amount of food on the plate, but they are cooked perfectly and have a great fresh flavor. You could probably order just the Vegetable Sushi roll as an entree if you aren’t hungry enough for the whole plate with steamed vegetables.

Corey ready to eat

Corey ready to eat

The plate has a lot of food on it and it is extremely filling. If you’re not too hungry then it is a great meal to share with someone. Since the sushi doesn’t contain fish (otherwise it wouldn’t be vegan!) if you don’t finish it all, it’s great to eat the next day for a snack in your room, I know this from personal experience. Tokyo Dining offers a fruit dessert for vegans, but we have been too full each time to even consider it. Bonus, if you’re traveling with kids, they get to enjoy their sushi out of this adorable monorail plate!

Monorail Plate

Monorail Plate

This meal is definitely one of my favorites. I love the atmosphere here and the view of Illuminations would be fantastic. The meal is worth the money for the amount of food you receive.

Would we go back?
Yes! Every trip!

Price:
$$

Cheers,
Melissa & Corey