Friday, October 5, 2012

Day 5: A Multicultural Culinary Adventure and a Steakhouse!?

On Day 5 we went to my absolute favorite park; EPCOT! As a person who enjoys learning about and exploring different cultures, especially from a culinary standpoint, it’s no surprise that I find this place to be the best. The only thing that disappoints me every time, is that they have very few vegan options when it comes to authentic snacks. So I make that up in drinks…yes, I am lush at Epcot. I get one alcoholic beverage from every county. Wine in France and Italy; Sake in Japan; Beer in China, Germany and England; and oh, can’t forget my margarita in Mexico! I know it’s sad. But not to despair there ARE a few vegan friendly quick bites that can be enjoyed to soak up all that yummy adult juice.

As many vegans have discovered, Mexican food is by far one of the most veg-friendliest eats. Tacos can be easily veganized and guac will never let you down, unless they throw bacon and cheese on it (Boo!). It also happens to be Tim and I’s favorite food, so, of course, tacos it was for an early lunch. We ordered from Le Cantina de San Angel, tacos for Tim and a margarita and chips and guac for me (and him too). The guacamole was well balanced in flavors, not too limey, a bit spicy, but it was a bit too salty; same goes for my margarita. Unless you want to meet your sodium intake for the entire day at one sitting, I recommend going without the salt rim on the margarita. The chips..LOVED! I'm not a huge fan of thin chips. I prefer the thick salty ones and these were it!

Too busy enjoying my drinks and pretty full already from chips and guac, I didn’t seek out any further vegan eats. I was planning on finding more info about Germany’s pretzels but they weren’t really selling them so I pushed it back for my next visit. From my understanding all plain pretzels are vegan, but its best to double and triple check. The smell and thought of (vegan) falafels from Morocco made my mouth water, but I practiced self-control and waited til dinner. I did find a few treats in the stores such as tea in Britain and candies and dark creamy chocolate in Italy and Germany. 

And then came dinner. So a brief story. Normally we skip making reservations at Epcot because usually we seek out food from every country. However, last minute, Tim and I decided why not end the Disney trip with one more gourmet meal. Ever since we started planning this trip Tim expressed on numerous occasions his interest in dining at a very popular steakhouse not only in Disney, but all around: Le Cellier Steakhouse in Canada. He was hesitant to make reservations due to the fact the vegan options, according to the menu were limited to salads. But when the menu was updated this year, guess what ends up on the menu: a dish that seems very much vegan! So a few days before we tried to make reservations but to no surprise considering they are booked 6 months in advance, no seats were available. Instead, we made reservations at the Hibachi Steakhouse in Japan. We debated back and forth and realized we can have hibachi ANY TIME and at a much cheaper price to add, so we canceled our reservations. Upon canceling, Tim expressed to our concierge server his true desires to eat at Le Cellier and so she offered to look once more. There’s no harm in trying right!? And of course, SCORE! Two seats were left! I’m not sure if our concierge server pulled off some Disney magic for us or if we were just truly lucky to have a couple cancel last minute. At any rate, we got in!

Walking into Le Cellier, we finally understood why this place was always so booked. Besides the fact they are well known for having the best steak around, the restaurant is tiny! If I recall correctly, I’m pretty positive the capacity was in the 140’s. After being seated, we were greeted by our waitress, who I deemed as the best waiter/waitress we had the entire trip. I could have been a bit bias too, because upon talking to her about the menu and sharing with her my vegan lifestyle, I came to learn that not only is her husband vegan, but she east predominantly vegan at home with him! So she knew exactly what I could and could not eat! AWESOME!!! Plus, her personality was super cool and outgoing which I adored. It was like chatting with a best friend! Orders were put in, and to add I ordered a Canadian wine (didn’t know Canada made wine!), and waited while observing my husband’s attempts at hiding his inner foodie that was grinning from ear to ear and throwing fist pumps in excitement. Thankfully I had a unique, gourmet dish to be quite thrilled about too.

Like most restaurants, appetizer was an assortment of breads from pretzels bread, to white to a multi-seed, multigrain roll that is always my favorite. Knowing that I was vegan and couldn’t eat the butter, our waitress brought out some fragrant olive oil and white balsamic to dip my bread into instead. I never had white balsamic before so again, a new experience. I found the vinegar to be surprisingly light and sweet; it was a delightful accompaniment to the bread and EVOO.

Not too long afterwards, our entrees arrived, mine being a Quinoa Potato Cake with Potatoes, Royal Trumpet Mushrooms, Spring Onions and Baby Beets. The quinoa potato cake was cooked surprisingly well; a crispy, fried texture on the outside and a soft, creamy texture on the inside. As for taste, it was bland alone, but combined with what seemed like a pesto sauce, it was flavorful. That’s why the sauce is there right!? The veggies on the other hand, were great! They were loaded with flavor and seasoned really well.

As for dessert, champagne sorbet in cucumber flavor! Each little scoop was topped with something different…mint, sea salt and lemon rind and cucumber bites. Wowzers! Light, refreshing and every bite unique in its own way. Its amazing how a bit of garnishing can change the flavor profiles of such a simple dish. It was by far one of the best sorbets I have ever had. Very, very delish! Trust me, skip the cake and chocolate for this one.

While my dish wasn’t impressive, it was still good. But sometimes it’s not the dish that wins your heart and makes you want to return. Between the story behind us getting reservations, my husband’s face and our wonderful waitress (not to mention dessert), I would definitely return. It was a magical, memorable dining experience; one that makes it all well worth it.

P.S. The camera and the lighting we're NOT my friends that day! Arrr.


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