Monday, March 31, 2014

Enchanted Garden Cruise Dinner

Happy Monday, friends!  We're making this a savory as well as a sweet treat Monday and having a look at the tasty things on the menu at the Enchanted Garden...

Where is the Enchanted Garden?  On the Disney Dream cruise ship!  Let's set sail!

There are three gorgeous restaurants on the ship that you rotate through your nightly dinners: the Royal Palace, Animator's Palate, and the Enchanted Garden!


The restaurant is everything you could picture from the name - you walk through the gates and feel like you're in a moonlit garden at Versailles.  Look closely at some of the garden paintings, and you'll find Disney statuettes - Tinkerbell and the Blue Fairy are in the ones near the entrance to lend some enchantment!


They have breakfast and a lunch buffet here as well, but the meal we're looking at is dinner!


I can never get straight to the food - there are too many details to take in first!  The booths are TOO COOL.  And I love that you're dining under a huge trellis of ivy.  The light even changes from day to night...


Night on the left, day on the right.  And don't even get me started on those flower lamps.

So shall we sit down and eat?  A virtual meal may be more enjoyable than the actual meal for two reasons: we ate here on the first night, and the ship was definitely rolling back and forth.  Apparently it was actually very mild as far as rough seas go, and I didn't really feel sick, but it was noticeable.

The second reason is, unfortunately, the service!  I know you sometimes hear people rave about their servers and how well they got to know them, but ours were a little too hovering and intimidating.  You know when a person's smile doesn't quite reach their eyes, and it just seems like they're trying too hard?  It was like that.  One of the servers would go around the table and ask each of us if our meal was perfect.  Not how we liked it, but literally: "Perfect?"  They were friendly and efficient, and I guess they were just trying to make sure we all enjoyed the meal, but it was a little overbearing.


Ok, server rant over.  ANYway, how cute are the menus?  I love the flowers from Alice in Wonderland.  And some yummy rolls were a great way to start...


What to choose, what to choose?  Click here and here for full-size photos if you want to look more closely at the menus!  The fun part about going to dinner on the cruise is that everything is included.  So you can get more than one appetizer or more than one entree.  So I did...

I just couldn't decide between the Ahi Tuna and Avocado Tower with Crispy Noodles and Wasabi dressing (doesn't that just SOUND incredibly fancy?  I think the tuna was a ceviche type deal - not really raw but really fresh and lemony, the avocado went with it really nicely) AND the...

Applewood Smoked Bacon Wild Mushroom Tart with Creamy Leeks.  It was more egg-y than I expected, but those leeks melted in your mouth.  I practically licked the plate clean.

Next up, the main entrees...


I only got one, but I did take pictures of everybody' we have Pan Seared Sea Bass with Fava Bean and Pea Risotto, sliced Fennel and a Dill-Chive Riesling Wine Sauce (on the left - really delicious!!), and (on the right) Caramelized Sea Scallops with Roasted Asparagus, Sun-dried Tomato Cous-Cous, Caramelized Leeks, and Red Wine Veal Jus (Athos let me try one...they were very nice as well).


Here are some of the non-seafood options: Slow Roasted Prime Rib with Thyme-roasted Vegetables, Double-Baked Potato (it looks really delicious and creamy on top, but apparently underneath it was a pretty bland baked potato), Natural Jus, and Horseradish.  On the right are the Seared Pork Loin Medallions with Rosti Potatoes, Collard Greens and a Morel Cognac Sour Cream Sauce.  PHEW.  Try to say that five times fast.  They were good, but nobody was raving.

Now let's get to the desserts!

Here's the Warm Date Sticky Pudding with butterscotch sauce, vanilla ice cream, and philo crunch.  Apparently the dates were not too overwhelming - this was a hit!

Apple Cinnamon Crunch Sundae.  One of my brothers got this and really liked it!

Here is the Sacher Torte with apricot sauce.  I think there was some apricot in between the cake layers which I was not a huge fan of.

And here is the Silky Dark Chocolate was sugar-free, but c'mon.  I couldn't resist something with a name like that.  I actually liked it better than the Sacher Torte!

One of my brothers was celebrating an early graduation, so they brought out a mousse with a fancy chocolate Congrats banner...and is that a hidden mickey in the sauce?

As if that weren't enough chocolate, there were some little chocolates and sweets to finish us off!

One last photo cause I can't resist: can you spot Minnie? :)

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Finding Nemo vs. Cars: Art of Animation Room Review

Today we are going to step into the colorful world that is Art of Animation Resort... explore not just one but two different family suites: those in the Finding Nemo section and those in the Cars section!  Art of Animation does have Little Mermaid and Lion King sections as well, but today's post is all about the PIXAR.

So when you head back to your room, do you want to be swimming in a big blue world?

...or would you rather be taking a drive in Ornament Valley?

Each section has its pros and cons: Finding Nemo has the main pool and is closest to the main building with the lobby, Ink and Paint Shop, and Landscape of Flavors food court (click the links above for more photos/info on each).

But then again, the Cars area has a pretty stellar pool as well, and the exterior theming is truly stunning (find more photos of the Finding Nemo area here and Cars here).


Which will it be: the goofy fish or the goofy tow truck?


I don't think Sheriff trusts that fish, you guys... ;)

When you step inside the buildings of either section, you'll find oversized prints and paintings from the movies covering the walls.

Totally awesome, dude!

There's one painting that you'll find on every floor (for Finding Nemo it's of the EAC), but then each floor has a different character scene across from the elevators...


Marlin and Nemo, the whale, and Mr. Ray's class are just some of the faces you'll find. :)

I like the ad for in-room pizza delivery in the elevators in the Finding Nemo buildings!

**Quick Disney public service announcement: if you ever find a flyer for an outside pizza delivery company under your door at a Disney resort, don't use it!  Scammers come into the resort, leave the flyers, steal your credit card when you call, and, to add insult to injury, never deliver the pizza.  Seriously though, don't trust unofficial flyers you find at your resort.**

Now back to Art of Animation!  The every-floor art in the Cars section features Ornament Valley:

So pretty!  And there are different shots of Radiator Springs by the elevators:


Such a simple way to add some excitement and extra pixie dust to the hallways.

In the Finding Nemo building, you feel like you're swimming down the EAC!



The Cars section hallways are very orange.

You do start to feel like you're out along Route 66 in the desert.

Detail from the that a hidden mickey I see??  But enough with the outside - let's step into one of the rooms.  First up, Finding Nemo:

I fell in love with this space: it's an explosion of bright coral-reef colors!


The main living area is right in front of you as you enter the room, and in it you'll find: the couch and tv opposite each other, an extremely funky chair and stools, a small kitchenette next to the couch, and an open closet/hangers area next to the tv.  Off to the other side you'll find a dining area...

The ENTIRE table and wall are like a giant, colorful fish tank.  And just get a look at those chairs!  I loved the under-the-sea scenes in this room.  Sprinkled in amongst the ordinary fish were characters from Finding Nemo, and it was like going on a treasure hunt all over the suite to find them all...

Is that a certain turtle dude I see swimming down there?

Now we'll have a look in the Cars suite: here you'll find a retro vibe and a continuation of the orange and earth tones out in the hallway, with some racing colors thrown in.  The drawers, closet area, and kitchenette are done in red, black, white, and silver.


Safety cone lamps on a safety cone table - they're also all over the curtains and floors!  The dining area in the Cars room is covered in bumper stickers for Radiator is cute, but somehow it didn't wow me as much as the Finding Nemo table.


The Cars space didn't feel as saturated with characters as the Finding Nemo space, but they are still here: there's Doc trying out his old racing tires and McQueen and Sally!


The art is always an important part of a Disney resort room: in the Finding Nemo suite it's being made by a school of fish!  In the photo on the right you can see how the couch folds out into a bed - it does that in both rooms, as does the table...


You can cozy up with Marlin and Nemo or with Mater!  Which leads us to the second room in the family suites, the bedrooms...

In the Finding Nemo section you've got a giant sea life headboard with Peach the starfish on the coverlet.


I wasn't surprised to find a little towel fish swimming around right above Mr. Ray!

 In the Cars section, you've got a very different feel: you've stepped into the cozy cone motel!  On the bedside table you may notice what look like postcards - they are postcards, but they're painted onto the table.  Such a tease!

I do wish they had the cute traffic cone alarm clocks (like in the movie) in the Cars rooms, but at least you can find them outside as you enter the Cars pool area.


Finding Nemo on the left, Cars on the right.  Both rooms do get high points for creative light fixtures...


A jellyfish and a traffic cone!


And the Cars rooms get high points for completely adorable bathrooms.  This carwash will get you "Spiffy in a Jiffy!"

(Although I think the soap should be 'traffic cone orange' instead of 'blushing orange!')


The mirror in the Finding Nemo (not to be outdone) is of course not an ordinary mirror - it's shaped like a porthole, with a message warning you that "Fish are FRIENDS. Not FOOD."  And watch out for sharks in the shower!

Now I have to admit, my heart belongs to the Finding Nemo room:


The colors, the carpet, the details, and THAT TABLE.  I want one in my house just like it.


But if you have a Lightning McQueen fan, I can see that staying in a Cars suite would be a pretty big thrill.

Will you be staying at Art of Animation anytime soon?  Which would you chose?