Official theme song

Monday, May 30, 2011

Hollywood Brown Derby - Hollywood Studios, Orlando, FL - 5/23/11

Alright, Hollywood Brown Derby - this is one of the more, if not the most, sedate places to eat at Hollywood Studios.

Started with a "Champagne" flight consisting of one Champagne and a sparkler from Italy and the US.


An outstanding crab cake.


Tuna tartare with lotus root chips and microgreens.


Poached duck Magret wrapped in Swiss chard, Mushroom vegetable couscous and a crispy let confit spring roll with a spicy onion jam. Not sure if it was this particular duck or if it's standard Magret, but the duck was quite gamey...I liked it, but I can see it being offputting to some.


Char grilled filet of beef - over white truffle whipped potatoes, mushroom ragout and red wine reduction. Nicely done. The picture doesn't look too appetizing - it looked better in person.


The famous grapefruit cake - the citrus was mild enough that if you don't like grapefruit it's worth a shot, but it's not so weak that you don't know what it is. I dug it.


If you are in a hurry, this may not be the place for you. They definitely are trying to be a 'nice restaurant' not just a 'nice theme park restaurant' - dinner took about two hours, which is fine for a standalone place, but in a theme park, I could see some people expected things to be a bit speedier.

If you've been to Chicago, you may have encountered a restaurant called Wildfire. I would compare this place in almost all respects to it - quality of food, service, pricepoint, even the feel of the room.

Tony's Town Square - Magic Kingdom, Orlando, FL - 5/23/11

If you're interested in having something that's not an all you can eat buffet or hamburger, the Magic Kingdom is a rough place to be. This is an Italian restaurant right near the park entrance.

Calamari was very well done - great texture and flavor. Well played!


Meatball sliders. It is comical that we didn't want to eat burgers, so we wound up with meatball sliders, isn't it? If these were served open faced and had more sauce, they'd be better, the meat was pretty dry and there was too much bread overall...but that's just me. The house made chips were very good though.

If you want a sit down lunch or dinner, this is a passable Italian place. If you have a stronger recommendation for the Magic Kingdom, feel free to comment.

As long as we're talking Disney and Italian, if anyone can tell me where I can get Beverly soda in cans or bottles in the US or mail order, please post a comment. Beverly is Coca-Cola product available in the Club Cool room at Epcot, which is a sampling room of sodas from around the world...most people appear to find it to be repulsive, I think it's a fantastic tonic water on steroids sorta product.

La Hacienda de San Angel - Epcot Center, Orlando, FL - 5/22/11

Disney World is a fun place, though it's not exactly known as a destination for world class cuisine. We decided to try some of the nicer places in the area and report back.

La Hacienda de San Angel is in the Mexico part of Epcot, it's a fairly new restaurant, and somewhat upscale.

A couple margaritas to start...the Classic and the Orange Mango Fire. While these were good, I found the margaritas here and at La Cava de Tequila across the way to be a bit too sweet for my liking. The tequila selection is solid though, so you can try a wide array of things. I also had a tequila flight, but failed to take a photo. To be fair, it would be a photo of three shot glasses.


The entree was the La Hacienda mixed grill for two - flank steak, chicken al pastor, chorizo and vegetables, served with beans and fresh salsa. Excellent steak and the chorizo sausages in casings were excellent. Nothing here is terribly spicy (it is a tourist destination I suppose), but the chorizos saved the day with a good punch of flavor. This is billed as a mixed grill for two - it could easily feed three.

One of the selling points of this restaurant is that it's right on the water and if you have a window seat, you'll have a good view of the Epcot fireworks. There are some parts of the restaurant with no view, so you may want to have a plan B if you're desperate to see the show.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

2010 Les Deux Rives Corbieres Rose

Snagged this one for about eight bucks. The weather is getting warmer so there should be lots of rose reviews coming up.

A light nose, mostly watermelon rind and a bit of fruit thrown in.

Look up "patio wine" in the wine dictionary and you should find a picture of this. Light, easy drinking, dry, fruity - strawberry, watermelon, but a bit of acid and even the mildest of tannin give it some nice backbone to prevent it from just being a one dimensional mess.

Almost some peach fuzz comes through on the finish with some strawberry's not a length finish, but should I really even be commenting on such matters?

Can't knock it - well made and cheap, meant for the deck and the grill, I'll probably be bringing this one to Ravinia over the summer.

Score: 86

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Longman and Eagle - Chicago, IL - 5/15/11

Do I need to write about Longman and Eagle? Esquire and GQ listed them among the best new restaurants in the nation, Chicago magazine has raved, even those Frenchies at Michelin gave this place a star. This place does not take reservations, by singing their praises, I'm just making my life more difficult, aren't I? Well, here's my history -

We went here a week ago for brunch - it was awesome.

We came back a few hours later for drinks - they were awesome.

And a week later, with the family, we came back for dinner. Take a wild guess - it was awesome.

The menu changes frequently and the one on the website is not current, so my descriptions will be vague for the most part, but here we go anyway....

Pork belly, fiddlehead ferns, and some other crazy stuff.


This on the menu - Roasted Marrow Bones, Red Onion Jam, Sea Salt, Sourdough Crostinis


Not on the website, but it's skirt steak and asparagus, I feel like the sauce is morel based...


Lamb, gnocchi....


Another thing on the menu - Pastrami Cured Sweetbreads, Gruyere, Pumpernickel, Saurkraut, Thousand Island Dressing. It sounds like a deconstructed Reuben, but it's less that, more sweetbready awesome.


While they do have a wine list, this is a whiskey bar - the list of whiskey is absurdly long from the $3 shots of Jack Daniels to the Pappy Van Winkle 23 year which is...well, a bit more than $3. I've had their Manhattan (arguably the greatest drink I've ever had, I do not exaggerate), the Gin Fizz (dangerous), the Black Cherry 101 (an adult soda, quite sweet and dangerous), and the Kentucky Colonel (mildly Manhattan-esque). I don't know how they do it, but their whiskey based drinks are the smoothest and easiest drinking things you'll ever come across.

It's not a cheap not out, but as far as bang for the buck goes, this is arguably one of the best.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

2009 Starborough Sauvignon Blanc

This goes for about $10. We don't really drink much Sauvignon Blanc, but it's a good summer wine, one I'll probably make a point to explore a bit more in depth this year.

Grassy and grapefruity on the nose.

The thing I like about this varietal, especially from New Zealand, is that they are usually quite dry, but don't really "feel" dry - grapefruit dominates with grassy qualities, orange pith - general citrus pith I suppose - and even a bit of green apple peel.

Jelly Belly Pink Grapefruit on the finish. Jelly Belly Harry Potter Grass beans as well.

I'll be the first to say wines like this are tough to score - it's not terribly deep or complex, but I'll be damned if it ain't tasty.

Score: 87

Monday, May 09, 2011

2004 White Rock Vineyards Napa Valley Claret

This bottle retails for about forty bucks and is a blend of mostly Cabernet Sauvignon with Cab Franc, Merlot, and Petit Verdot.

Vanilla, cherry, and plum on the nose....blueberry and strawberry are deep in there as well.

I know it's a dumb thing to say, but this is smooth....blueberry, black cherry, vanilla, eucalyptus - all nicely integrated, nothing dominates, not overly oaky, nice balance, just a flat out nice California Cab dominated blend.

Black cherry and eucalyptus lingers, with some cinnamon and clove on the finish.

I dig it. Forty bucks? I still dig it.

Score: 92

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

N/V Perrier-Jouet Grand Brut

Around New Year's, a whole mess of big name Champagnes went on deep discount at a local shop, so I stocked up, here's yet another one.

I get sort of a dried apricot thing on the nose - some apple as well and pear, both dried and fresh.

More pear on the palate, along with golden apple - a tad sweet honestly.

Strong red apple on the finish along with some mild vanilla, tangerine, and kiwi and even a cotton candy thing. It's not quite as sweet as I may be suggesting, but it's definitely not dry.

You know, I've had the $100 Fleur and wasn't blown away - this $35 also doesn't blow me away, but at least the price is at least somewhat reasonable. For an entry level Champagne with a bit of a sweet side, this is decent, but not enough to run out for.

Score: 87