Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Day 9 and 10: Our last day...until next time.

Planning out our last day was tough; not because we didn’t know what to schedule but because we knew the end was near. But rest assure we didn’t waste the day moping around! We headed back to Harry Potterville really early to ride the rides one…okay five..last times before I went around to explore and take pics of practically everything in order to waste time. We were growing super anxious as we waited for Mythos to open at 11am. With a reputation as the “#1 Best Theme Park Restaurant in the World”, Mythos had a lot to prove; especially to these two self proclaimed food critics. Prior research of the restaurant had shown that they had a vegan Pad Thai and that is exactly what I was looking forward to.

I’ve always had a knack for mythology…that’s why I took Latin as my foreign language! I love the stories, the gods and most of all, I adore the Greek culture and style. That is why the first thing I automatically noticed and fell in love with about Mythos was the restaurant’s décor. It was as if the restaurant was carved out of cave. Mythological characters elusively decorated the walls and railings while the lamps, tables and chairs displayed signs of royalty and wealth. This place clearly belonged to Zeus. 

I continued to admire the beauty of the restaurant as we sat and waited to be served. It took a while for our waiter to arrive as it seemed the pre-morning meeting was still taking place in front of the kitchen even though the doors had already opened. Once he arrived, we went ahead and ordered our drinks and our meal. I told him I was gluten-free and vegan (I was making an effort to prevent further inflammation as my gut was feeling as if it was hanging over the edge towards death…too much edible fun this week) and proceeded to request the pad thai and a refreshing side salad as an appetizer. The waiter immediately impressed us with his knowledge on the foods that were both gluten-free and vegan as he listed off the dressings that I could have. 
I mindlessly chose the soy vinaigrette, forgetting soy sauce usually contains gluten, which the waiter caught on to and told me he would check on to make sure it was gluten-free. Impressive! Of course, it wasn’t GF so citrus vinaigrette it was. He even kindly told me that the bread he brought out was also not gluten-free. I was more appreciative of this then I was annoyed. It showed that the restaurant took special diets into great consideration and had a concern for those diets that may be due to a severe allergy. Very few restaurants do this, but for those who do, they are recognized and praised for their efforts and a positive impression is automatically left on those customers who appreciate such efforts. In other words, they automatically create reoccurring customers. As I said before, sometimes the service matters more than the food.

The salad was just as I expected: light and refreshing, tangy and sweet. The Pad Thai, which came in quite a hefty size, was good. It wasn’t as “great” as I would have expected from a restaurant rewarded the best theme park restaurant in the world (maybe they were scoring more on look and theme?) but it was still good. The sauce was lighter than your typical peanut sauce in both flavor and consistency. The rice noodles were well cooked and the veggies slightly cooked, yet still fresh and crisp. Oh and it was quite spicy! Overall, it was a tasty and fulfilling dish and a nice change from what I had been eating all week. Unfortunately, though, the dish wasn’t anything unique or different and therefore, left no strong impression or desire for me to HAVE to come back. But the service alone, was outstanding, and for that, I would dine here again.

After lunch we headed back to the hotel and took advantage of the Cabana Bar…Orange Mojito? :)

The day we had arrived to the Hard Rock, we thoroughly explored the hotel from top to bottom and the one thing Tim noticed was a steakhouse (of course!) called The Palm with some pretty pricey, dry aged steaks. He looked at me with a twinkle in his eyes and all I could say was yes. After all, he had been a trooper this entire trip, making sure every place we went to had something for me to eat. I thought, HARD about when to go when I realized our last day would be perfect. My meal here was going to be light, a salad, and aye okay with me seeing I would be having noodles for lunch. So we made reservations.

The restaurant was very classy and upscale, with the walls decorated with caricatures of famous and not so famous people. Our waiter was cheery (you could tell he loved his job) and very accommodating. I ordered my salad with sautéed mushrooms on top and Tim, of course, a miniature piece of meat. Knowing it was our last meal, we enjoyed the moment, sipping on wine and already reminiscing about our favorite times at Disney and Universal. The moment was bittersweet and not to be forgotten. Our food arrived, fresh and hot. We savored every last bite, even if mine was lettuce and mushroom, and ended our night on a great note…with raspberry sorbet and crushed oreos from the ice cream shop downstairs :)

The next day we headed home. When we arrived at the airport I was shocked and excited to find some pretty vegan friendly eats available for purchase…hummus, tabouli, vegetarian wraps, etc. I grabbed an energizing acai smoothie which served its purpose well and headed home.

I missed it all and suffered anxiety for about a week until I was finally able to cope and really get back to reality. But I know this won’t be the last trip. So instead of goodbye, it’s see you later! Until next time…

Day 8: Pumpkin Juice and Natty Dreads

Today was the day! We were finally going to visit for the very first time in our lives the Wizarding World of Harry Potter! I am a huge fantasy book reader! I love stories that are full of imagination and wonder and anyone can agree that the Harry Potter series provides that and so so so much more! I geeked out like crazy and after riding the Forbidden Journey and Dueling Dragons multiple times, browsing through the wands at Ollivander’s, and after trying to convince my husband to buy me a robe, which miserably failed, it was time to chow at Four Broomsticks. Unfortunately, there wasn’t much for the vegan to eat so instead I got a yummy Pumpkin Juice to go along with my raw bar that I had brought along.

The Pumpkin Juice was fantastic! It tasted very similar to pumpkin flavored apple cider; sweet and full of warm, fall spices. It was perfect ice cold; a refreshing treatment to the scorching sun outside. I just love when someone brings an imaginative world into reality and I love it more when they also bring the food into existence! Now if we could just figure out this whole spell thing…

After Four Broomsticks we headed back into the heart of Islands of Adventures and decided to enjoy the rest of the park. Crazy us even decided to walk back to the hotel and get dressed into our bathing suits, come back and ride every single wet ride back to back. We were drenched head to toe!!! It was so fun and convenient to be able to get dressed and come back as opposed to walking around in thick, wet clothes.

A much needed shower later we headed back to City Walk to enjoy an early dinner before our movie, The Avengers, started. Our choice for tonight: Bob Marley’s. During previous research, I noticed they had a decent line of veggie friendly eats so I figured this place would be a safe bet. Plus, Tim adores Bob Marley...

The atmosphere was definitely a bit different. The restaurant was located under an open air cabana with TVs displayed everywhere playing Bob Marley’s peace inspiring music. Our waitress proceeded to take our order and of course, I kindly asked what was considered vegan friendly, defining what a vegan did and did not eat. She looked at me a bit like I was nuts, and told me she did not know and would get the chef. I wasn’t going to complain with that! If anyone knows what’s in what it would be the chef!

Now let’s go back to those lessons learned..yes for a third time in a row. During the planning process for this trip, I had researched Bob Marley’s to try and determine what was vegan and what was not based on other people’s reviews. I had read somewhere that the Natty Dreads veggie patties were vegan, and so were the stuffed peppers and coco bread, so I planned on finding a way to get all three to try!

Well, when chef, Robinson Prime arrived, I explained to him I was vegan, which he responded with a head nod, clearly indicating he knew what I was talking about, and I proceeded to ask him about the options I had previously read were vegan. He corrected me and explained that the only dish that was strictly vegan, besides a salad, was the veggie patties, but only when made fresh (from the freezer). He explained, that all other patties are prewashed with an egg wash before they are baked. I told him I was all for having the Natty Dreads veggie patties which he offered to whip me up some vegan veggies on the side. He also told me he was in the process of creating an all vegan menu which left me excited to come back! I thanked multiple times for coming out and off he went to whip of my meal.

Now it did honestly take a while because my veggie patties were frozen and needed to defrost. In the mean time we eye browsed through all the shirts that were available for sale and lipsynced with the songs that were being played. After a good 30 minutes or so, our meal had arrived. It looked and smelled insanely delicious (I’m a serious Jamaican food fan!) and I thanked Chef Prime multiple times for being so helpful!

I took one bite of my Natty Dread patty, which was piping hot, and fell in love! I adored the crumbly, curried flavored pie crust and the seasoned, and should I mention, spicy, well cooked veggies inside. I also added some Jamaican Hot Sauce that was available in both Scotch Bonnet and Mango flavor which seriously added to the heat! The veggies on the side were also well cooked and well seasoned, adding more yumminess to my already awesome dish. As I devoured my food, Chef Prime actually came out to check and see how everything was, which with a full mouth, I nodded and mmmd in approval, thanking him once more and stating that I would totally be back. 

Tim looked and me and could tell I was enjoying my meal as I finished the very last bite. By that time my nose was running, my lips were burning and my eyes were watering…but I was also smiling. A good meal to end the day with.

Unfortunately, no desserts were available, but that was quite alright. I had Babycakes treats still waiting for me at the hotel to devour :)