Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Around the World in 80 Drinks

While hubby was at his conference I went to Epcot. Years ago, it was difficult to find anywhere to consume alcohol at Disney World. The adult beverage situation remained discrete. Now, you can drink your way around the world - yards of English ale; French, Italian, and German wines; sake; margaritas. And all of it can travel with you around the World Showcase. Not that I mind. A glass of Riesling on a warm day or some Champagne in the evening before dinner is relaxing in a pleasant, well-manicured setting.

For lunch I decided to go to Italy and do the "woman eating alone in a full service restaurant" bit. I think the Italian staff felt sorry for me. I was able to be seated outside at a great table for people watching. Roberto, my waiter, gave me special attention (or at least it seemed that way - maybe it was just that Disney magic). I ordered a Rossini (sparkling wine and strawberries). Nice, light, and fruity. To eat I had taglione with shrimp in a tomato vodka cream sauce. The pasta was fresh. The tomato and cream balanced one another. The taste was garlicky and slightly spicy. The shrimp was decent as well, but the fresh pasta and sauce was where it was at.

My husband joined me in the evening over a glass of Pommery Champagne (I truly enjoy the bubbly stuff). And then we dined at the Bistro de Paris. But first we had to wade through the Spring Break chaos. The Bistro is on the second floor above the more brasserie Chefs de France restaurant. You enter the Bistro from the back and walk up a gently curving staircase. But you must wait until your name is called! There are four chairs to make your wait more comfortable. Whoa! there are 16 people waiting. The stairs for tired tourists (especially children) are prime real estate for perching, thus, making it difficult for anyone to climb the stairs. Poor planning. Also, when making reservations, we were informed that the dress code was business casual. This is never enforced. We saw all of the myriad of tourist outfits that one can imagine. The chaos downstairs translated to our waiter, Cedric, upstairs. This must have been the first time he experienced a truly busy week. He was flustered in both organization and the English language. We told him to take his time; we were in no hurry. The visible relief shined through. For wine we chose a 2003 Chateauneuf du Pape, Domaine du Vieux Lazaret. Silky smooth, yet hearty. We ordered Ribeyes Flambe with Green Pepper Sauce to eat. And the entree was flamed with cognac right at the table. Our own little fireworks show! And this was why we decided on this dish. Ribeyes tend to have a lot of fat (this steak was no exception), but once the fat was trimmed, the meat was tasty - medium rare. The sauce went very well with the beef and the wine. The meal was accompanied with roasted garlic and shallots. A great pairing. For dessert my husband ordered the Chocolate Variation - chocolate sorbet, molten chocolate cake, and chocolate mint liquid. Chocolate heaven. We wanted to end the evening with Poire Williams (pear brandy). Alas, the Bistro did not have any, even though it was listed on the dessert menu.

As a note of caution, dining at Disney is very pricey no matter where you go. I paid $6 for a hot dog and chips for lunch at the hotel snack bar one day. Count on salads, burgers, and sandwiches to be twice as much as normal. The wine prices are astronomical with the mark up for some wines being three times retail. There are no bargains, so be prepared and start saving your pennies now (throw in some dimes, and quarters, too).

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