Monday, September 13, 2010

California Grill - Sushi and Fireworks!

We met David & Sommer at Epcot for a late lunch at Via Napoli and then mosied around Italy and Germany for awhile.  The park was empty!  The Unofficial Guide rating was .3 on a scale of 1 - 10.  Yes. that's right:  0.3 for Epcot.  

This was our second visit to Via Napoli.  Jim, David & Sommer had the minestrone, which looked VERY good.  It was rich and hearty, a marked improvement over Mama Melrose, which appears fairly thin.  Sommer said MM's version was good, but not as hearty.

We then decided to visit Captain EO, which Jim and I have never seen and David & Sommer haven't seen since it's return.  Technically, it seemed pretty good, but the 3D experience was a little painful - everything seemed consistently out of focus, which surprised me since Muppets was sharper than I had remembered.  I'm not a Michael Jackson fan, so I probably won't be back, but it was fun to see it.

We then went over to Living Seas, so David & Sommer could say Hi to their finned friends (they dive here frequently).  Dinner had been up in the air because Jim and I were considering staying for Illuminations, but storms clouds were up on the horizon making that seem a risky proposition.  It was also David & Sommer's last night, so we wanted to spend some final relaxing time with them.

David suggested we try for seats at the Sushi Bar at California Grill and watch Wishes.  They were able to get us in without much wait at all, so we had (an unnecessary, except for hobbits,) dinner watching Derek and Gabriel, the Sushi chefs, work their magic.  It was fascinating and we ended up ordering several plates of sushi.  I just sampled from Jim's but I think we'll be back.

I'm very intrigued by the Yellowfin Tuna Three Ways . . .Poke, Tartare, and Tataki.  It was the tataki which got me.  It's spiced and then very lightly seared so only the outer millimeter or two are cooked and the rest as raw as it was in the ocean.  It really looked yummy.  The Poke and Tartare are cute because their shaped by a square ice cream scoop so you have these sushi cubes to pick from - and then there's a cube of rice in the middle of the plate. It's fairly popular, and watching it get prepped, I see why.

Jim and Sommer each had the Yoshie's Deluxe Sushi Platter, which is a sampler of nigiri and maki (1-2 pieces of 3 different types).  The tempura maki was very tasty, so Sommer ordered a full tempura maki as her dessert!  It's wrapped in soy paper rather than nori (seaweed), which gives it a different flavor. I sampled Jim's tempura maki and had Jim's ebi (shrimp) and maguro (tuna).

We also watched them prepare the Spicy Kazan Roll, which is something else I think I would like to try. It's a roll with crab, shrimp, bay scallops, and tuna covered with a fireball sauce (which Derek says has a very nice bite to it) and topped with shredded ginger.  I really wanted to dive into that!  

I did stick to my original plan for dessert, which included the Tanzanian chocolate creme brulee (absolutely to die for) accompanied by a Fonseca 20 Year Tawny Port.  If that was the port we used for communion, attendance would definitely soar.  David had the "Sweet Celebration" dessert, which was a Florida Peach Crostata with brown sugar sour cream and white peach ice cream.  I'm normally not a fan of the themed desserts each restaurant develops, but that looked REALLY good.

Note to self:  If California Grill is even remotely on the horizon, don't eat during the day.  Actually, I told the group that the next time Sommer wants lunch at 3:30, we should just toss her a couple of gummi bears and bottled water.  :-)

Well, the fireworks came about on time, but not the ones we were expecting.  A huge thunder storm blew up overhead and we were treated to about a 30 minute thunder and lightening show from 8:50 until 9:20 that was among the fiercest event the California Grill staff have seen.  The good news is that the storms validated our decision to skip Illuminations, but they also meant Wishes was either delayed or canceled.

By 9:30, the rain had stopped so we lingered until 10:00 to see if Wishes would start since it was an Extra Magic Hour evening.  Still nothing by 10:15, so we went down, got the car and headed back to the Animal Kingdom Lodge.  From our review windows, we saw the Wishes volleys kick in about 10:40. D'oh!!

Oh well - it was still a wonderful evening.  We showed David & Sommer around Kidani Village and they were really impressed.  We then said our farewells, and now we're off to another day of tossing our plans and making it up as we go along


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