Aloha from Aulani

Aloha kakahiaka and good morning! Today we’re taking a detour across the country (and the ocean) to Aulani in Hawaii. In November 2012 I (Melissa) went with my family to enjoy a few days in paradise with board shorts Mickey and friends. Aulani sits roughly 20 minutes west of the Honolulu airport on the “dry side” of the island. It is tucked away with a private beach and is neighbored with 2 other resorts. The resort is huge, two large towers with rooms, multiple places to eat and drink and a whole separate adult only area. From Aulani you can do several excursions to see the island from land or sea.

Aulani from the ground

Aulani from the ground

Aulani was a beautiful resort, there was plant life everywhere and lots of hidden Menehune’s. Menehune’s are from ancient South Pacific folklore that are tiny elf-like creatures who become frozen statues during the day and become mischievous during the night. There are tons of them throughout the property which gives you even more to look at while you’re there, as well as plenty of hidden Mickey’s. There is a private beach for Aulani guests, a large pool, lazy river and two infinity hot tubs, perfect for watching the sunset. You can even swim in an aquarium with fish, I would rather snorkel out in the open water but I’m sure others would like the feeling of safety this brings.

Lazy River

Lazy River

Aulani has two main restaurants, ‘Ama’Ama and Malahiki, a quick service at the pool and two bars that offer appetizer style meals. ‘Ama’Ama is set back by the beach and offers beautiful evening views of the sunset. I wasn’t sure what kind of vegan options I would be able to get on this trip, so I went in with a completely open mind and was willing to eat anything at this point. We ate at ‘Ama’Ama for lunch when we first arrived and I was able to speak to a chef about my diet. He told me I could get a vegan version of the Char-grilled Vegetable Sandwich on Focaccia which typically comes with Basil Aioli. My sandwich came with zucchini, portobello, eggplant, red pepper, onion and spinach and was sautéed in balsamic vinegar to replace the aioli. I also had fries as a side with my sandwich. This appeared to be the only vegan offering at this restaurant, so luckily it was really good!

'Ama'Ama at sunset

‘Ama’Ama at sunset

After dinner there is plenty to do at Aulani from Hawaiian shows, fires, movies and two fun bars. The Olelo Room offers small plates and the whole bar is covered in common words and objects that are written in both English and Hawaiian. The other bar is outside near the pool, Off The Hook, features more of a restaurant menu. There appears to now be Soy-Marinated Tofu Lettuce Wraps which I would hope be vegan but can not confirm as these were not there when I went in 2012. My parents and I stopped at both bars during our stay and I really enjoyed Off The Hook since we could sit in an open air bar and enjoy the Hawaiian warmth.

Off The Hook fancy drink

Off The Hook fancy drink

There are two options for breakfast at Aulani, you can do the character buffet at Malahiki or a table service breakfast at ‘Ama’Ama. We opted for the character breakfast at Malahiki. It is not a quiet breakfast, we ended up moving to outside seating because of the noise, grumpy dad wasn’t enjoying Aunty’s singing and children banging on pans. I was able to speak to a chef about my vegan diet and he said he would make me vegan Mickey waffles, which made me very happy! I was surprised that I could get them in Hawaii too. He asked if I wanted maple or coconut syrup, I naturally opted for coconut since I had never had it before and I am now obsessed.

Vegan Mickey Waffles

Hawaiian Vegan Mickey Waffles

The chef also walked me around the buffet to show me what I could eat. The buffet at Aulani was much different then one in Disney World. Since there is a large Japanese influence on the island much of the buffet was typical of a Japanese breakfast. I was able to eat potatoes, lots of fresh fruit, steamed rice and miso soup, yes miso soup. On the buffet they made fresh omelets, pancakes and waffles as well, for your omni loved ones.

Goofy inspecting Melissa's tattoo

Goofy inspecting Melissa’s tattoo

We were seated outside next to all the Koi ponds which they began feeding while we were out there. The fish began jumping out the water to eat and it was a fun experience. If you come here for breakfast ask to be seated outside for the fish and the lack of noise. The characters made their way to each table in typical Disney fashion. Mickey and the gang came around for pictures and autographs.

Alex (sister), Nancy (aunt), Minnie, Melissa and Denise(mom)

Alex (sister), Nancy (aunt), Minnie, Melissa and Denise(mom)

We were only at Aulani for a few days and the food situation was definitely not ideal. Since there was only two main restaurants the food selections were pretty slim. We went back to Malahiki for dinner where there wasn’t a single vegan-like item on the menu. The chef came out to talk to me and said he was excited to try to make me something different. He made me a plate or risotto and lots of veggies, brussels sprouts, asparagus and many more. It was pretty tasty for him just throwing it together but not something that I would come back for.

Wooden Stitch

Wooden Stitch

The resort was great, the food was pretty good and the Disney vibe was strong. If you are planning on coming here I suggest renting a car. We ate at Malahiki twice for breakfast, ‘Ama’Ama twice for lunch and Malahiki once for dinner. When you can only eat one thing at each restaurant there isn’t a huge variety. We were there for Thanksgiving and in our effort to find something else to eat that night my aunt and I found an all vegetarian grocery store. This is worth checking out if you go to get some grab and go food or something to change it up from just eating waffles and vegetable sandwiches!

 

Mahalo,
Melissa & Corey

Tangierine Cafe – Morocco’s Quick Service

When you’re walking around the World, you are bound to get hungry at some point(har har). Luckily half way around World Showcase in Epcot you will find Morocco. Morocco now offers three separate dining experiences; Spice Road Table, Restaurant Marrakesh and Tangierine Cafe. For a quick meal we often stop in Tangierine Cafe where they offer a vegetable platter and a falafel wrap.  They offer minimal seating inside, which is a bad situation if it’s raining, but there is a large patio area outside as long as it’s nice out.

Interior Image from EasyWDW.com

Interior Image from EasyWDW.com

When you go to Tangierine Cafe as a vegan there are a few things you need to know. The Vegetable Platter consists of Falafel, Pita, Hummus, Olives, Couscous Salad, Tabouleh and Lentil Salad. The Lentil Salad IS NOT vegan, this item contains mayo. They will easily swap this item for you with extra of something else. The Pitas they use are also NOT vegan. Make sure you tell them this and they will swap them for honey-free pitas.

Modified Vegetable Platter

Modified Vegetable Platter

We often eat here at least once a trip. The food is really filling, relatively healthy and reasonably priced (about $11 a plate). The service is quick and the couscous and tabouleh are incredible. We have been told from a source that the falafel is cooked in a  shared fryer so if this is something that concerns you, ask for something to swap it.

 

Would we go back again?
Yes, every time! It’s a quick meal and will keep you full for hours.

Price:
$

Cheers,
Melissa & Corey

How Do You Plan?

We often see people asking about calling ahead to restaurants before their ADR (advance dining reservation). We want to know how you let restaurants know about your diet so they can accommodate you. Personally we just mark ‘allergies’ when booking our ADR’s and have never called ahead. When marking allergies we also tell the host about our diet so she makes sure that we will talk to a chef upon being seated.

 

Feel free to comment about any experiences you have had from no warning to calling ahead.

Cheers,
Melissa & Corey

Liberty Inn, American Adventure

When you’re from the United States, it’s pretty easy to skip dining in the America Pavilion in World Showcase. Every time I have been to Epcot we have avoided eating at Liberty Inn since it was full of burgers and hot dogs, which you can get at any of the other parks, so it has never appealed to my family (pre-vegan). However last trip something new appeared on the menu and it was even vegan!

Liberty Inn Menu Board

Liberty Inn Menu Board

We were pleasantly surprised to see they had Vegetarian Chick’n Breast on their menu in May 2014. It seemed rather out of place though among the hot dogs and burgers. The Chick’n Breast comes with guacamole, corn salsa, lettuce and tomato. The sauce that is pictured on the chick’n isn’t vegan so make sure to omit that.

Since this is a quick service option there is seating all over. The dining hall was very loud, there is a large seating area outside so I suggest eating there if it’s not unbearably hot or raining. We ordered our plate and they forgot the guacamole, we assume many people don’t get this odd dish for this restaurant. We also ordered a side of french fries because we assumed this wouldn’t be very filling, we also eat a lot.

Chick'n Breast plate

Vegetarian Chick’n Breast Plate

The Chick’n Breast had a bit of a grilled flavor to it but was pretty unseasoned and generally bland. The corn salsa was actually the best part of this plate and it wasn’t even that great. The guacamole was clearly a quick bagged option and was severely lacking in flavor and texture. We weren’t really sure what to expect with this meal, but now know that we won’t be eating it again unless they make some changes to it. All we could think was why isn’t this on a sandwich? Everything else they serve is so why leave this item without a bun? Corn salsa and guacamole don’t scream American Adventure to us, but a BBQ Chick’n Breast sandwich would, so maybe opt for BBQ sauce over guacamole if you go. For a quick service in World Showcase I would suggest walking over a few more countries and getting some falafel.

Cheers,
Melissa & Corey

 

Would we go back?
Not anytime soon, there are other quick service options we like more in Epcot. If they were to make it a sandwich with some more flavor I would consider going back. For now we’ll stick to the Frozen Red Stag Lemonades at Fife and Drum Tavern outside in American Adventure.

Price
$

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