Sunday, November 17, 2013

We Finally Made It Back There!

Sorry for letting the blog stay dormant for so long, but we’ve just returned from a fantastic trip to WDW. What a vast difference from the last one!

Due to my mom’s ever-expanding list of dietary restrictions we did eat at a lot of the same safe places, and some things haven’t changed much, so for the sake of eschewing redundant material I’ll stick primarily to the new or updated info. 

The one thing that I will mention is that in the two years since we’ve been there, we’ve become extremely GMO conscious. (Like, probably obsessively so.) We stick to solely organic or at least Non-GMO certified foods, which as you can guess, doesn’t jibe at all with Disney standard fare. There are virtually no restaurants in my area where I can find suitably "clean" food, so I've essentially given up on eating out. (Indian food, I miss you most of all...) The Wave is one of the only places in Disney where I saw the word “organic” appear before any items, and it was just their cauliflower, green beans and some of their alcohol selections. Before we left I had to mentally prepare myself, resolving to not think too deeply about what I was going to be eating. "Just ingest the toxins and look forward to a kale-heavy detox as soon as you get home". Still, every time I saw “corn, soy, sugar, citric acid” or any of the other GMO red flags on an ingredient list I bristled and felt a bit queasy. It's funny how what once seemed perfectly normal can suddenly turn nausea-inducing once the little light switch has gone off (which most veg-people can probably attest to). There is really no way to eat organic in Disney without bringing all of your own food, which is such a shame. Even their breads are loaded with unnecessary chemicals. Consequently, I cut my snacking to a (Disney) minimum and wasn’t quite as adventurous as I had been on previous trips. That's my hyper-vigilant conscience for you. But then, it's Jiminy Cricket who always reminds us to "let your conscience be your guide", so... 

Moving on.

If you haven’t been to WDW in a while (and I hadn’t since Novemeber, 2011), the most obvious and encouraging change is that in a variety of restaurants, not only are Gardein faux meats being included in many of their standard selections, but the word “Vegan” is actually appearing on menu boards! People, we have arrived! 

One such place is Gasparilla Island Grill (formerly Gasparilla Grille and Games) at the Grand Floridian Resort. Wisely, they performed an arcade-ectomy, moving it to a separate location, completing an appreciated remodel of the restaurant. (In case you’re wondering, have no fear, there are still plenty of wild birds swooping from the ceiling while you eat. I find it comforting.)

Along with the decor, they have also changed their menu, and now have a “Create Your Own Salad with Vegan Chick’n Chunks” selection. 

I had spoken to a chef before our trip who’d also offered me a falafel burger (which I didn’t see on the menu), or a flatbread pizza. I figured that that would be a fun opener for the trip, and opted for the pizza. I ordered it with mushrooms, onions, peppers, and no cheese. Their sauce and dough are vegan, but they apparently no longer keep vegan cheese on hand. The pizza was kind of flat (both in texture and taste). Not terribly filling, and fairly bland. I think next time I would give the salad a try.

At any rate, I wasn’t looking for too heavy a meal since I was heading to Babycakes for my trip-long supply of indulgences. As always I loaded up on a bevy of breakfast (and occasionally midnight snack) treats that I rationed until the very last morning of the trip.


Cinnamon Doughnut

Banana Chip Toastie

Raspberry Toastie

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Chocolate Cookie Crumble Doughnut

Coconut Doughnut

Next up, like always, was the Luau. Not much new to report here. The entrée is still the same, (couscous with stir fried shitakes, baby corn, peppers, broccoli raab, cabbage and grilled tofu) and still delicious. However, the mango salad dressing that I always looked so forward to now contains honey and is a no-go. They do have a vegan mango slaw which I was given along with the plain salad. The slaw wasn’t bad, but if blindfolded and not told ahead of time, I never would have guessed that there was mango in it. It was lacking the tropical island zing I was looking for. I hope they remove the honey from the old dressing in time for our next trip. 

The one thing that did bother me is that they served me a gluten free roll, which if toasted can actually be okay. But they not only heated it in the plastic baggy, they served it in it too! It was a steamy gloopy mess that I didn’t even bother to open, no less eat.

Fresh fruit for dessert:

I’ve been referring to this as the Trip Of a Thousand Sorbets. (Okay, so it was really 13 sorbets, but when you consider that we ate there for 11 days, that’s 1.18 sorbets per day. And given that I was also eating Toffutti and LeFou’s Brews every chance I got, I was ingesting a not insignificant number of frozen treats per day {to which my waistline can sorely attest}.)

The first sorbet came from L’Artisan des Glaces, a new ice cream shop in EPCOT's France. They have six different sorbet flavors, all of which are vegan, (as well as heavy on the chemical additives). Still, opting to ignore my trepidation, I forced myself to just dig in and enjoy the sorbet. Which I did. Immensely. My first of their sorbets was the Mixed Berry. Tart, sweet, creamy, and strong on the berry flavor. It was just what it should be.

My goal was to try all six flavors, but I only made it through four… I suppose I have to leave something to look forward to on the next trip. Throughout the vacation I tried their: 

 Pineapple (my favorite)

Lemon (a notoriously elusive and unphotographable flavor... some refer to it as "The Bigfoot of Sorbets".)

(which is the only one I didn’t really care for; it had a tart cranberry-like taste that just didn't live up to the complex flavor of a pomegranate.)

Strawberry and Mango were the two flavors I missed out on. Next time!

The next old standby who has now jumped on the vegan wagon is Sunshine Seasons. Gone is the tofu noodle bowl of yesterday. It’s been replaced by Tamarind Vegan “Beef” made with Gardein beef tips, and served with jasmine rice. This is one of those locations where “Vegan” has its permanent place on the menu board. Does my heart good! (Literally.)

The tips are very tender and meat-like. I’ve seen reviews by meat-eaters saying that the flavor reminds them more of chicken than beef, (maybe that’s because, by conventional wisdom, everything tastes like chicken to omnivores…) but if my taste buds’ memory serves me right, they seem like a cross between beef and lamb. In fact, texturally, and to a much lesser degree in terms of flavor, this dish reminded me of the lamb biryani I used to order at a local Indian restaurant way back in my pre-veg days. The portion size on the Tamarind Beef is not large, but when you mix it with the rice, it’s definitely sufficient.

They still have a veggie platter in the cold takeout section, but the red pepper hummus is not vegan. They also have the grilled veg sandwich, but as I recall their bread is not fully vegan either. (I remember looking at the ingredients, but can’t remember whether it contained Sodium Caseinate, or Sodium Stearoyl Lactalyte, or L-Cystiene… Something that I didn’t want to eat.) It also appears that they no longer carry Silk yogurt. Bummed about that.

If you're not sure what to get for dessert, they carry the large and small boxes of Enjoy Life cookies in two different flavors, as well as these organic(!) vegan gummy bears.

That night was our first time at Coral Reef in many years. They are yet another restaurant with a fantastic vegan entree right on the menu. I started with a salad because I was told that their pomegranate house dressing was vegan, and I do miss eating salad when I’m away. They had to leave most of the regular house salad off, so I ended up with a plate of mixed greens and dressing. The pomegranate dressing was tart and flavorful. More pomegranate-like than the sorbet anyway. Not sure it was worth the $12 that they charged for it, but it was a nice treat. 

The meal itself, Gardein breaded chicken with black rice and pine nuts around a vegetable stack consisting of eggplant, peppers, squash, zucchini and portabellas was rich and fantastic. Very filling. In fact, I really could’ve done without the salad. (If you're wondering, this dish has replaced the red curry noodle bowl which was their previous vegan option up until mid-summer or fall.)

For dessert, mango sorbet which was smooth and appropriately full of mangoness. (I'm already running out of ways to describe sorbet. Seriously, what else can you say about fruity ice?)

This was one of the better meals of the trip.

The next day for lunch we went to Columbia Harbor House who always has vegan chili on the menu. (Again, just leave off the crackers since they do contain dairy.) 

Since we’d talked to the chef ahead, he’d offered to make me a salad as well. I got an enormous salad with fresh broccoli, carrots and green beans, and even corn salad that I believe was brought in from Crystal Palace. A really nice lunch. (Except that every time I see a kernel of corn now I picture farmers in full Haz-Mat suits saturation bombing their fields with Monsanto's Round-Up...) I digress. 

That night we hit Crystal Palace. On the buffet, the corn and peas are vegan. (I skipped both.) Their green beans contain bacon, and the broccoli with ponzu sauce sadly now contains honey. It was one of my faves last trip, so this was disappointing. The basmati rice and curried noodles are okay as is. They are actually the only two hot things on the buffet that are. For salads, vegans are good with the cucumber salad, sweet potato salad, roasted beet and arugula salad, Moroccan couscous, and the roasted plantain salad.

I ate solely off the buffet for this meal, and they brought me Tofutti for dessert.

As far as buffets go, I’d say it’s more vegan-friendly than Chef Mickey’s but certainly not nearly as much so as Tusker House. Pooh came to my table when I was up at the buffet, and since I’d left my little food notebook open, he left me this message:

Tusker House is basically the same as always. Though there is still some conflict in terms of the information. We ate there twice this year. The first chef told me that the samosas are vegan, but fried me a special batch that weren’t cooked in the same oil as one of their meat items. Likewise, the tofu on the buffet is vegan, except that it’s fried with non-vegan items, so he made a huge separate batch of the tofu and zucchini for me.

However, the second time we were there, a different chef told me that the samosas contain egg in or on the breading. I never did come to a suitable conclusion about that. I recall having had this issue in the past. Likewise, the first chef told me that the mealy cornbread is vegan, but the second one said that all the breads except for the pita contain egg or dairy. (The pita, I believe, contains L-Cystein, so I stayed away from all of their breads.)  Still, the chutneys and sambals are vegan. As well are the plantains, roasted potatoes, Marrakesh Couscous, all of the cold salads, the white basmati rice, and the saffron vegetable stew. Still more than enough options to choose from.

I also stopped by the new Bradley Falls vegetarian kiosk in Animal Kingdom. I checked their ingredient lists and found that everything is vegan, except for the tzatziki sauce that comes with the falafel (for which he offered to substitute the mango chutney instead), and their pita bread which contains both Sodium Stearoyl Lactalyte, and L-Cysteine. I wanted to try their Asian noodles, but was too full both days that we were at the park.

Also in the Animal Kingdom is the much applauded Garden Allergy Kiosk, which unfortunately was closed the only time I went there. They do carry Babycakes items, as well as some other vegan snacks like granola bars and hummus and veggies. Good to have options! I'm hoping that this type of kiosk will eventually show up in each park. 

That night we ate at Cosmic Ray’s. The veggie burger and gluten-free roll are still vegan. I didn’t really want their chemical-laced French Fries, (they’ve changed brands since I’ve been there last, and they’re pretty industrial sounding). But since we’d talked about it before the trip, the chef was nice enough to surprise me with fresh potatoes baked as fries!

We had spoken to Chef Eric who covers many of the quick services and some table service restaurants in the Magic Kingdom. So he’s the one who hooked us up at Columbia Harbor House, Cosmic Ray’s and the Plaza Restaurant. He was fantastically helpful.

That night I tried their mango sorbet. It’s not bad, but I was dismayed to find that it's sugar free, and contains sorbitol which I would not normally eat with a rented digestive tract. Still, when in Disney… suck it up! (And suppress the guilt later.) 

For our day at Hollywood Studios we were initially planning on eating somewhere other than the Backlot Express, but the chef said that it would be a better option for us than the Studio Catering Company, so we returned. (The ABC Commissary has a Couscous, Quinoa and Arugula salad, but I haven’t checked their ingredients so I don’t know whether it’s fully vegan or not.) The Backlot veggie sandwich has taken a beating recently. The pesto is no longer vegan. Their multigrain roll is, but you have to order the sandwich without cheese which leaves little on it. It looks a bit uninspired, but is essentially okay for a quick lunch. There aren’t a ton of quick service vegan options in the park, so I make the best of it. And they do well for my mom.

If you’re still hungry after lunch, you can check out the pretzel cart on the Streets of America. Their super salty Mickey pretzels and cinnamon pretzels are both vegan! (Stay away from the jalapeño one, though; it contains cheese.)

The Saltiest Pretzel Ever Made

The Cinnamon Pretzels are closer to a doughnut than a pretzel. Crunchy awesomeness!

Speaking of pretzels, while on one of my typical ingredient-list-browsing missions, I discovered that Germany's pretzels (my favorite in all the parks) list "natural butter flavor" as an ingredient. This obviously threw me into a whirlwind of self-doubt and pretzel-deprivation-induced misery. Thankfully the hotels and all the parks now have free wi-fi access, since I'm one of the few people left on the planet without a smartphone. I emailed Backerhaus Veit, who makes the pretzels for the Germany pavilion (ironically, it's a Canadian company), and I received a prompt response assuring me that none of their products contain any animal-derived ingredients. Vindication! Conscience cleared, I then went on to gorge myself with an obscene number of pretzels throughout the remainder of the trip.

While we're talking about Germany, the Der Teddybar store now carries Ritter Sport Chocolate. The dark chocolate and dark chocolate-covered marzipan flavors are both accidentally vegan (and both a little too addicting). Best of all, according to their website, it appears that their vegan chocolate is also Non-GMO!

We then went back to Hollywood and Vine for dinner. We spoke to a chef on the phone before we came, and he assured me that I could eat most of the salads and tons of other stuff on the buffet. I had a nagging memory regarding these, but didn’t remember until after I’d spoken to him that I had learned on our last trip that they’d started using a consomme mix that contains whey and egg in virtually everything. I brought this up to Chef Ivan, who was the chef on duty in the restaurant, and he concurred. Consequently, on the buffet only the green beans, plantains, and green mixed salad are vegan.

The bright spot is that they now have a make-your-own pasta bar, and they make their own vegan meatballs if you ask special! I went to the pasta bar and was disheartened to watch the girl making the pastas cook someone’s custom order with chicken, butter, cheese, etc, and then just wipe out the pan with a rag before making the next persons’. She did have a separate pan on her right which she didn’t seem to be using. I mentioned it to the server (whose husband is a "strict vegetarian", so she takes these things very seriously), and she was nice enough to bring it up to the chef for me. Apparently, they do have a separate allergy pan (presumably the one that it didn’t appear that she was using). Just as I was going to go up and inquire about it, Chef Ivan sent me out a big plate of pasta that he’d made in the back with celery, carrots, onions, spinach, marinara, and vegan meatballs! Fantastic!

My dessert here was one of my favorites of the trip. They also bake their own vegan brownies on premises with apple sauce instead of eggs! He brought me out this wonderful platter of brownies, Toffuti and Enjoy Life chocolate chip cookies. Incidentally, the parks no longer carry Divvies anything. So Enjoy Life has taken over. Their cookies are good, and you can buy them in small single serving packs, or larger boxes, but sadly there’s no more vegan caramel corn in the park. (FUN FACT: Popcorn is always Non-GMO. Thankfully it's one perfect treat that they've yet to desecrate. Though you should always stick to the organic stuff because the list of chemicals sprayed on non-organic popcorn is rather horrifying. "The more you know...")

Twice I had desserts served this year with Mickey sprinkles. I seem to recall reading the ingredients years ago in one of the stores and I feel like there’s something not vegan in them. Either gelatin, or confectioner’s glaze, or something. So I picked them off. I may be incorrectly remembering, but I was never a big sprinkle fan anyhow.

Be Our Guest is probably my new favorite counter service restaurant in any of the parks. We tried months ahead to get in for dinner, but it wasn’t happening. Which is fine, because even for quick service you can eat in any of their three wonderful dining rooms, their food is great, and you eat off of actual glass dishes with actual metal utensils. No soggy paper plates and plastic spoons here! After you order, you can go in and sit wherever you want and the food “magically” finds you. Servers bring out the food in covered rolling trays. A classy touch. The décor is amazing. We spoke to another diner there who said she’d cried for the first ten minutes after sitting down because she had grown up with Beauty and the Beast. Sitting in the iconic ballroom with the snow falling outside the window is a pretty memorable experience. Even the entrance way, though often filled with an excessively long line of hungry patrons, is fun and engaging. I loved the banter between the suits of armor.

We ate there twice this trip. The first time I ordered their quinoa salad, which is vegan right off the menu. They serve the quinoa pressed into a little disk form, with a mixed green salad on the side. The quinoa had a mild vinaigrette flavor. The salad of mixed greens, green beans, tomatoes, olives, and cold roasted potatoes was very tasty mixed with it.

For dessert, (you guessed it) they have either raspberry or lemon sorbet. I opted for raspberry. It was creamy and refreshing. No complaints here. (Except that they bring all of your food at the same time, so it does tend to be half-melted by the time you finish your entrée. Which, I suppose, is valid justification for eating your dessert first.)

For our second meal there, since I had spoken to the chef ahead, he offered to do something a little different and made me a delicious stir fry in place of the quinoa with the same side salad as the first day. Really good!

Again, I got the raspberry sorbet.

A definite must try while in the New Fantasy Land (which is really really cool, by the way!), is LeFou’s Brew in Gaston’s Tavern. Being true to the song, Gaston’s Tavern uses “antlers in all of [its] decorating”, and would be profoundly un-vegan if it weren’t for the fact that the mounted heads and horns all appear to be fake. Even the wreaths and garland that they decorated that section with for the holidays are studded with antlers. I found it amusing. Anyway, the turkey-leg-esque pork shank is certainly to be avoided, but LeFou’s Brew is an odd concoction of frozen apple juice, toasted marshmallow flavored syrup and passion fruit-mango FOMZ, all of which (thankfully) contain no animal parts. I kind of wish they would mix the marshmallow syrup better into the frozen apple juice, but because it sinks to the bottom it makes the last third of the cup the best. That said, I got three of these over the course of the trip, and would’ve gotten another had I had the time.

While perusing their ingredient list book, I found that they have something called a "Ghost Cupcake" which happens to be unintentionally vegan. I don't know whether they only sell them seasonally or if they're at a different restaurant, but they weren't on the menu at Gaston's, so keep an eye out.

That night we ate at The Wave. This is yet another restaurant with a fabulous vegan entrée right on the menu. They offered to add tofu to the curry vegetable stew for me, and of course, I accepted. Their bread is vegan, and they still carry Earth Balance, so that’s a treat! The stew has Pink Lady apples, asparagus, butternut squash, and a few other unlikely, seasonal veggie ingredients, all soaking in a thick coconut milk broth that’s both rich and a little spicy. On top was a sufficient pile of jade rice. The balance of the fruit and vegetables worked to cut the richness. Coconut milk and tofu can be a sickeningly fatty combination for me at times, but this worked well. I still couldn’t eat the whole serving and took some back to the room for another night.

Their dessert was perhaps my favorite of the trip. Poached pears with pear-ginger sorbet. Both were out of this world. The poached pear was sweetly spiced with a cinnamon and vanilla flavor that reminded me of really good apple pie. The sorbet was stunningly well balanced and full of flavor. Spectacular.

We had the good fortune of being there during the Food and Wine Festival at EPCOT and I made sure to take full advantage.

Vegans have really come up in the World (Showcase) since 2011. I missed Terra’s debut last year, but they’re still going strong! (Though I sampled all of this stuff at different times, I’m just going to cover it all here.) I started with their chocolate cake with coconut cream and passion fruit sauce. Same basic flavor pairing as last year’s dessert from what I saw, but why mess with a formula when it works? I’m funny about passion fruit. I like it, but it also sometimes tastes a bit like B.O. Given the choice, I probably would’ve preferred a sweeter fruit like mango, or guava would’ve been excellent, since I didn’t find the cake overly sweet. Still, I was quite happy with it as is!

Their Chicken Curry was spicy, and the chicken had good texture. I felt the sauce was a bit bitter, but it might have just been my particular batch since I’ve seen a lot of great reviews of it. I would still order it again.

The Chili Colorado, however, has been haunting my dreams. I had it three times while I was down there, and though the portions got progressively smaller each time as their supply dwindled, it was still unerringly delicious. I’ve been searching fruitlessly for the recipe which I heard was in the 2012 F&W cookbook. If anyone would be kind enough to share it, I would be forever in your debt! Honestly, I don't think of it as chili so much as a fabulous saucy "beef" dish, and I couldn’t pick the cashew cheese spread out of a lineup, but all scooped up on one of the salty homemade potato chips, it’s just so freaking satisfying! Absolutely loved it!

I also tried their watermelon juice which, as expected, was like slurping up a fresh watermelon. It was like a last taste of summer. (I guess I forgot to take a picture of the juice.)

Now, I don’t drink, but the novelty of having vegan wines and an organic vegan IPA right in front of me was too much to pass up. So I tried the Red Blend which had been suggested as a pairing with the Chili. Again, I am as far as you can get from a wine connoisseur, but I honestly did not like it… at all. I drank wine growing up, fairly cheap wine to be honest, but I don’t remember it tasting that, well, vinegary. The tiny cup they served it in was really too much. I don’t mean to be harsh, but I’m curious whether anyone else tried it, and if they found it to be that rough, or if it’s just that my taste buds have changed so much that wine tastes much stronger than I remember. Consequently, I didn't venture to try the Chardonnay.

I did, on the last day, order the IPA which I found much more palatable. It was my first ever IPA, so I have nothing to compare it to, but at least it wasn’t a test of endurance to drink the whole 6 oz cup!

Moving on to happier fare, Japan’s Youki Tofu was vegan. The portion was super tiny, but the vegetables was tasty, the tofu had great texture, and the mirin sauce was sweet and salty with a pleasant fruity quality. As a fun aside, the young Japanese cashier told me that when he first came here, his host mother was vegan and loved tofu. He actually thanked me for liking tofu. Not sure whether he felt it was a sort of cultural acceptance or if he'd been the victim of some unprovoked tofu-bashing during his time in the states, but either way, I was happy to be a humble representative of the Tofu-Friends of America. 

The other surprisingly vegan-friendly booth was Scotland, whose vegetarian haggis was vegan, (and which earns you an “I Tried It!” sticker, because nothing inspires confidence in a food like getting a sticker before you eat it commending your lack of good judgement, or your ability to willfully triumph over it) as were their pureed rutabagas, or “neeps” (I really want to say that the chef said they were parsnips... either way I liked them.). The potatoes contained butter, so I got a second scoop of the sweet and creamy "neeps" whatever the heck they were. The haggis actually had a taste reminiscent of a sausage patty. I've never had real haggis, so I don't know what it's supposed to taste like, but this was certainly a less-frightening version! (Sticker not withstanding.)

(One night's dinner all together)

We also stopped into the Food and Wine Festival Center whose cafe had a "Vegan Trio" listed on the menu. When I inquired about it, the man immediately warned me that it contains honey, so it's not fully vegan for some people. I was really happy that he volunteered the information. I'm guessing it must have come up multiple times already. I never did find out exactly what it consisted of.  Apparently last year's was a combination of couscous, tabouli, red pepper dip, hummus, and pita, which sounds suspiciously similar to Sunshine Seasons' veggie takeout platter.

We had a bit of a mix up in our planning this year. For some reason, we were under the incorrect impression that the Plaza Restaurant in the Magic Kingdom was a quick service and not a table service. We hadn’t actually made reservations, but we had spoken to the chef ahead. As it turns out, they were worried that we weren’t going to show because we hadn’t made a ressie. Wonderfully enough in true Disney fashion, they not only got us right in, but we had a perfect table from which to see the castle all lit up with “ice”. It didn’t, however, change the fact that it was a table service, and we were on the dining plan with all of our table service meals already accounted for. Since the prices here are so much cheaper than at most table services (their menu is primarily sandwiches that average around the $15 mark), we just paid out of pocket for this meal, which left us a few extra quick services to play with. The chef had already planned on making me a veggie burger, which was good but basically the same thing as Cosmic Ray’s. It was presented in a somewhat more upscale way, though.

He also brought in the plantain salad and beet and arugula salad from Crystal Palace for me as a side dish. They were enough on their own to constitute a meal. In fact, he had brought so much in for me that he sent me a couple boxes home as take out.

The nicest part of the meal was that Chef Stephanie, a pastry chef at the MK, baked us vegan chocolate chips cookies from scratch! They were cakey, loaded with mini chocolate chips and all around awesome! We're so appreciative for that!

For those who don’t get the special bakery treatment, they do have Tofutti and an organic rice milk ice cream for dessert. There aren’t really any other veganizable sandwiches, but if you do find something you want to try, their sub roll is pretty basic and vegan.

Twice we ate at the Tangierine Cafe for lunch. Nothing new there. The chef did offer to fry me some special falafel in olive oil since they normally cook them with chicken or some other animal product. Everything on the vegetarian plate is vegan unless it comes with yogurt. I would stay away from both breads. The Moroccan bread has eggs and dairy in it. And the pita they carry is the same as the other restaurants.

Chefs de France is still one of my favorite meals of every trip. I always leave it up to Chef Laurent, and he never lets me down. This year was grilled zuchinni, baby zucchini, green and white asparagus, broccoli, and tomatoes over garlicky smashed potatoes, all surrounded by a red pepper/tomato sauce with a balsamic drizzle. It was as fresh and flavorful as always.

Their baguette is still vegan. They now use the same ones that are baked fresh at the Boulangerie Patisserie in the back of France, so I recommend swinging by and picking up a half or whole baguette during the day. They’re actually pretty cheap by Disney standards. It’s only $2.95 for a whole baguette! That’s comparable to our local chain grocery stores.

For dessert, as always, the sorbets of the day. This time I had coconut, mango and passion fruit (there was a lot of passion fruit this trip!). And though they’re made on the same machines as those sold in L'Artisans De Glaces, they just seem so much creamier and richer in Chefs de France. These along with the pear/ginger sorbet at The Wave were my two favorites of the trip.

Our penultimate night was spent at Chef Mickey’s. Their buffet is extremely vegan unfriendly. They do have hummus and greens on it, but that’s where the options end.

That said, the chef made me a very nice plate of red quinoa cooked with artichokes, spinach, onions, peppers and sundried tomatoes. I enjoyed this dish a lot.

For dessert, he brought me two spiced cupcakes and my mom a chocolate cupcake with strawberries. The spiced one was quite good, and the frosting is vegan. I tried the chocolate cupcake but didn’t care for it as much as mine.

Our last day we had two extra counter services to use since we’d made the mistake at the Plaza, so after having found out that Tortuga Tavern was indeed going to be open this trip, I stopped by for an in between lunch and dinner meal. At first it didn’t appear that they had their old house made chips, (they do) so I ordered a plain veggie burrito. (Basically a tortilla shell with black beans.) Their white rice is vegan, but they mix it with a cilantro pesto that contains cheese. If you have the time to talk to a manager, I’m sure they’ll give you just plain rice, but our schedule was pretty tight at this point. It wasn’t bad anyway. I loaded it up with lettuce, tomato and salsa. Since I can’t eat any of their desserts, they substituted a second bottle of water, which was really nice of them. My aunt tried that at Pecos Bill’s next door and they refused to do it.

About an hour and half after my burrito, it was time for our dinner reservation at Crystal Palace again. We won’t be eating there twice next time. We were all somewhat underwhelmed there this year. I was still so full from all the eating earlier in the day that I eschewed the buffet all together. The chef made me a curried quinoa dish that was pretty good. Filling, but not spectacular. Still, I appreciated him going out of his way for me.

And so wraps up another food adventure in the warmth of Central Florida. And now, I need to go drink my wheatgrass and kale smoothie and say a hundred Hail Chia's in penance...

As always, thanks for reading!


  1. Omg, thank you for this. I'm planning on heading to WDW in April and food will be an issue. I will be taking copious notes from your posts. Thank you!!!

    1. Thanks, Laura! Glad to help! Let me know if you have any specific questions before you go.

  2. Thanks for these reviews! They're so helpful. How do you talk to all the chefs beforehand?

  3. Thanks, Julia!
    I contact the special diets line via email ( and ask them for the special dietary form. Then I list all of the restaurants we're planning on eating at (even the quick services) and ask for a chef from each to call me in the two or three weeks before our trip. In general, it helps immensely!

  4. Hi again! WDW trip in T-7! Last minute research here on what and where to eat... I found a grid (seems more outdated than your notes) on Allears (dot) net that says: "The plain pretzel is vegan, but please note that the cinnamon & sugar variety has both dairy and eggs." in regard to World Showcase Plaza in Epcot. You found the cinnamon pretzels in Streets of America to be vegan. Do you know about any discrepancy in the recipes between the two parks? I would think this would be one of those consistent things throughout the parks. (I'm gonna need a sweet treat now that Babycakes has closed! :( ) TIA!

    1. Hey Laura,
      I'm so sorry, I just saw your post! Been slacking off lately...

      How was the trip?

      Not that it does you any good now, but for future reference, I definitely read the ingredients at the cart in Hollywood Studios and theirs were vegan. I'm pretty sure that EPCOT doesn't even carry the cinnamon pretzels anymore. If they do, I don't remember seeing them.

      I know Germany's pretzels all come from Backerhaus Veit. Not sure about the cinnamon variety that they used to carry.

      Again, sorry for the the too late info, but I hope you had a great trip and would love to hear about it!