Saturday, January 3, 2009

Waddling the World - Food & Fractures in the House of Mouse

There really wasn't time to put up live posts yesterday (Friday), and things kept changing so fast, I'm not sure it mattered!

By the way, the background to today's title is our voluminous meals and the stress fracture in my right foot.

I woke up a bit strung out - about my 8th night of less than 6 hours of sleep. Jim thought it meant "hungover," but no, it was just cobwebs in the brain.

Anyway, after a slow morning and a reasonable breakfast of Starbucks yogurt parfaits and Pop-Tarts, we arranged to meet David & Sommer at T-Rex for a late lunch. That would give us the chance to see Downtown Disney since it's within walking distance of of our resort, and try out a new restaurant. T-Rex is also one of David & Sommer's fun places, so they wanted to go back.

We took a leisurely stroll from our room in the Grandstand section of Saratoga Spring to Downtown Disney via the golf cart bridge. We thought it would be a little shorter than going the traditional route through through SSR to the Marketplace entrance, but I forgot how much the lake bowed in between Downtown Disney Westide and Downtown Disney Marketplace. So, we made our primary care doctor happy by getting in a 20 minute walk first thing.

While activating our Annual Passes at the Guest Services booth, I enjoyed a Jurassic Park moment proving to me that dinosaurs evolved into birds. An egret was stalking a gecko lizard along the walk. Suddenly, Egret's beak struck, locking struggling lizard tight in its jaws. Egret then proceeded to shake lizard, chomp a bit and then finally swallowed lunch whole. Animals on rampage at Disney. I tried to get a picture, but the line I was in moved to quickly. The one time I wanted a long wait for guest services . . .

We met David & Sommer at T-Rex, which is owned by the same company that runs Rainforest Cafe. It's the same idea, but with dinosaurs. There are several dining rooms, each themed to a type of prehistoric theme. We wanted to eat in the ice cave, which changes colors frequently, but the wait was just too long so we were seated in a primeval forest. Every 20 minutes, a meteor shower strikes threatening the permanent residents of T-Rex with extinction, but they manage to survive ensuring the restaurants viability for another round of dining guests.

We shared an onion ring appetizer. Sommer and I had the Lost World Chicken Salad Sandwich (Rotisserie chicken with tarragon, celery, onions, toasted almonds and mayonnaise, served on a croissant), Jim enjoyed the Omnivore's Delight salad (Iceberg, romaine and baby greens with goat cheese, Ocean Spray Craisins, strawberries, red onion and caramelized pecans. Tossed in a balsamic vinaigrette dressing with shrimp), and David had the Triassic Tortellini (Tri-colored cheese tortellini with sun-dried tomatoes, peas and mushrooms tossed in an Alfredo cream sauce).

Our plan for the rest of the day was to visit the Magic Kingdom to see the decorations and lights, and then go over to Epcot for dinner and Illuminations. Two challenges to the plan: We also wanted to give Jiko a try together since we all enjoy it as one of our favorites and I was really curious about the Boekenhoutskloof wine "Chocolate Block" that Sommer recommended. We would need a reservation for 6 on Saturday, but they didn't have room so we began to think about Friday. Also, when David positioned the car at Epcot for an easy departure, he discovered a packed parking lot indicating a packed park.

While he was doing that, we were in the Magic Kingdom waiting to be demolished by Sommer in Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin. (Apparently she is a legendary defender of the universe from the Evil Emperor Zurg.) As we waited for our rangers to be ready for us, we plotted an alternative strategy - Osborne Lights and then dinner at Jiko tonight. Fortunately, they had a seating at 9:00 and David agreed that sounded like a plan so that's what we did.

Meanwhile, we're quite full from lunch. Waddling hasn't quite set in, but various leg and foot injuries and scars for some of us started to assert themselves.

Anyway, our rangers were prepared and we took off to do battle against an array of odd creatures and mechanical beasts seeking to destroy childhood forever. Jim and I switched our normal positions, with me on the left now and him on the right. Sommer was behind us in her own ranger. I lucked out with a great target, shooting my up to 225,000 points. Jim scored 56,000, and Sommer was somewhere in the 100,000s - her first defeat in quite some time. Apparently, it has to do with sitting on the left side as she took the right seat. ;)

Battling Zurg was thirsty work, so after we re-joined David we collected our favorite thirst quenchers and toured Tomorrowland on the Wedway People Mover (er, ah, Tomorrowland Transit Authority. Amazingly, there was actually a long line for the TTA (5 minutes is a long line for this attraction), and even Carousel of Progress was quite full. The park was crowded.

Anyway, once in our vehicle I no sooner said that I really hoped to get inside Space Mountain with the house lights on someday that our ride vehicle turned into Space Mountain and the house lights were on! The attraction was down, and we could see the track, the domed ceiling and what not. That was fun.

We had time for one more attraction so we all went to Carousel of Progress. It's nice to see the show when the theatres are full.

It was time to head to Disney Studios (via the Epcot parking lot), so we strolled down Main Street, enjoying the Christmas lights and then took the monorail to Epcot. Yes, both lots were full.

At Disney Studios, we enjoyed several shows of the Osborne Dancing Lights. They've now got 5 different sets of dancing lights. The two Trans-Siberian Orchestra sets, along with Feliz Navidad, Barbara Streisand's "Jingle Bells" and one more that I can't remember. We took time to find several hidden Mickeys, a hidden Minnie, and a Halloween cat that they forgot to take down and incorporated into the lights. The snow on the streets between the sets is a nice tough, and it's always fun to watch guests freak out that it's snowing in Florida in 68 degree weather!

So, on to Jiko - while my foot fracture is starting to assert itself and I'm wondering if I've walked off enough of lunch to actually eat dinner, even though lunch was 6 1/2 hours earlier!

Jiko seated us pretty quickly. We each sort of made our own meals off of salads, appetizers, and sides, though David ate fairly traditionally. I started off with their signature tomoto and cucumber salad with watermelon vinaigrette, somosas with tamarind dipping sauce (which are a new item), and the duck confit salad. Jim had the Taste of Africa breads and dips (which he just purred through while David, Sommer, and I chatted), Pumpkin soup, and duck confit salad as well. Sommer had the pumkin soup, ostrich filets (which she shared with me - and they were amazing, almost like beef), and a collection of comfort food sides, including the famous Jiko Mac & Cheese. David had the pumpkin soup and lamb.

And yes, we did have the Chocolate Block wine, which is a blend of several reds (Grenache, Syrah, Cinsault, Cabernet and Viognier). It's very smooth but a bit spicier than another Boekenhoutskloof label (The Wolftrap - a blend of Syrah, Mourvedre, Cinsault and Viognier) that I like. But that made it all the better for this meal. Excellent companion.

Now, here's where the waddling comes in. David & Sommer were wise and avoided the dessert temptations, well aware that this wasn't a first or last trip to Disney or Jiko. Jim and I, however, have no such wisdom where chocolate is concerned. In my defense, I had offered to split the Jiko signature dessert, pistachio creme brulee over chocolate. Jim thought that could work, until he saw the Tanzanian Chocolate Cheesecake - With chocolate ganache, amarula sauce, and lavender ice cream on the menu.

Well, common sense got lost in the luggage that never made it (it was packed in its own bag, so nothing else was missing) and each had our own desserts nearly putting us into carbohydrate stupors and assuring a rather Weeble-esque countenance on our way to the car.

David & Sommer were gracious enough to take us back to Saratoga Springs rather than just set us on the roadway and give us a good roll in the direction of our resort. So, tired, stuffed, and filled with taste buds convinced they've died and gone to heaven we just sort of hit the bed and didn't move until this AM.

I did have a full night's sleep for the first time in awhile, so I think my Disney energy is finally kicking in.

Today's plan? Who knows. We'll figure it out as we go along! After all, it's Disney. Who needs to think ahead?!!


Debbie Churchill said...

Oh, how well I know that feeling of attempting to stand after the wine pairings at V&A's. They should re-name it "wine pairings challenge". :D

Debbie Churchill said...

Oops! Apologies - I somehow managed to attach this comment to the wrong day.

Erin White said...

In my family, the Wedway/TTA is called "Aidan's Space Mountain"