Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Dinner at Victoria & Albert's

This is a posting for all those foodies out there!

I will admit, I love a meal at a very good restaurant - I love the unusual food combinations, the ingredients I'd never think to put together, the presentation, the service, all of it. Some people complain that the portions are too small at high-end restaurants, but I love it because I get to try more things!!

A few weeks ago I got to take a family trip to Walt Disney World, and they have a restaurant there in the Grand Floridian Hotel called Victoria and Albert's. We've actually been there several times, it is an excellent restaurant you wouldn't expect at a family-oriented resort and yes, it's expensive, but worth the special trip when you are at Disney if you are a foodie of any sort. They only have 2 seatings a night because the dinners are several courses, and they offer wine pairings if you like with each course. There is also a chef's table in the kitchen which offers a tasting menu which we've done in the past. All of it is AWESOME!

New for our visit though, was the Queen Victoria's Room, which is a separate room within the restaurant, behind closed doors, that only contains 4 tables and provides French gueridon service. That means table-side finishings for courses by highly trained waiters. So naturally I said, WANT!!! And signed us up for a reservation!

This is a picture from the website of the Queen Victoria room at the restaurant. The two tables you see there were pushed together for our reservation. That little side table next to the tables is where the waiters do the finishing touches for the French gueridon service. We had a lovely couple serving us - they were married and foodies themselves - they told us they plan their vacations around what kinds of meals they can get! We knew at that point we were in good hands for the evening. And yes, it was all evening - our reservation was for 5:30pm and we didn't stumble out of there until after 10pm that night.

That night I took pictures of every course, so here goes - a picture with the description of what it is (and you can double-click the pic to see a larger view)!

(starting bottom left and going clock-wise)

Soft-poached Quail Egg with Galilee Caviar
Ahi Tuna with Pickeled Ginger
Jamón-wrapped Shrimp with Athena Melon
Butternut Squash Soup

Paired with Pommery Royal Brut NV

(Yeah, uh, sorry about the picture, I accidentally ate it first....)

Heirloom Tomatoes, Octopus, Iberico Ham Croutons, and Burrata Cheese with Yellow Tomato Gazpacho

Paired with Michel Redde Sancerre "Les Tuileries", Loire 2009

Although it's not a course, I thought I should mention they brought out 3 different breads throughout the evening, each paired with a specially made flavored butter. Wow!

Cold “Smoked” Niman Ranch Lamb with Fuji Apple and Curry Dressing

Paired with Grans-Fassian Piesporter Kabinett Riesling 2007

I should mention, the "steam" you see in the picture was dry ice under the top dish.

This lamb paired with this wine was by FAR my favorite of the evening. These flavors together were stunning!!

Alaskan King Salmon Cooked Tableside on a Heated Himalayan Salt Rock

Paired with Kanbara “Bride of the Fox” Gohyakumangoku Junmai Ginjo, Nigata

I learned here the difference between "real" wasabi and what we get normally. Wow - the real stuff is delicate and wonderful!!!

Roasted Quail with Asian Pears and Serrano Ham Jus

Paired with Ceretto Rossana Dolcetto d’Alba, Piedmont 2006

Roasted Veal Tenderloin with Tomato Jam and Garlic Caramel

Paired with Domaine Font de Michelle Châteauneuf du Pape 2007

Australian Kobe-style Beef with Garlic-Potato Purée

Paired with: Freemark Abbey Cabernet Sauvignon Napa 2007

Selection of Cheese from the Spaulted Maple Tray

Paired with Quinta do Crasto Late Bottled Vintage Porto 2005

All were fantastic, the goat Gouda was especially wonderful!! At the time, being on my 8th glass of alchohol, I uttered these timeless words: "Goat Gouda good!!"

Thankfully, at this point they made some coffee, both regular and decaf, in these wonderful contraptions.

Orange Panna Cotta with Chartreuse-Pineapple Sorbet

Mocha-scented Tanzanie Chocolate Mousse Timbale and Chocolate Cocktail

That's a "spun sugar" bow encircling it.

And finally, some gourmet chocolates which they kindly boxed up for us since at this point we were perilously close to the Monty Python sketch about the diner who eats a disgustingly huge meal, but then actually explodes after the waiter convinces him to finish it off with a "wafer-thin mint".

And since we had some birthdays, they also gave us a little date-nut bread as a treat as well to take home!

One of the best things about the night was drinking a different wine/alcohol pairing with each course and knowing that all we had to do was stumble back to our rooms in the same hotel! Yay for that!!!!

Every bite was delicious, I'd do it again in a second!!

Overall, I'd have to say it's one of the most wonderful dining experiences I've had!! What really makes a place like this though is the service and they do a great job of that at Victoria and Albert's. I will go again in a second the next time I have a Disney trip!!!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Clapping Games I Used to Play

Way back in the 20th century when I was in elementary school at good old Burnside Elementary in Norristown, PA, me and my friends would play clapping games. I remember several of them, it's hard to forget like lyrics to a song, if you start doing it, it just comes back! I thought I'd take the time to document the variants that we used at Burnside. Some of them are well-known enough that they have their own pages on Wikipedia! Some not so much, I found variants on people's personal pages or on list forums, but no official documentation.

I remember the clapping games the best, I know we used sing-song stuff for playing jumprope, London Bridge, and some sort of game using long bamboo-like sticks where we'd be kneeling with a girl at each end, holding a stick in each hand and we'd bang them on the ground and together in rhythm to whatever our song was.

Anyway, here's what I remember below. I apologize ahead of time, a couple lyrics here and there aren't that nice, but I'm being true to my memory of what we used. At the time, I was utterly clueless as to what I was saying!!

For those of you that might research folk songs and clapping games, these variations of the songs were sung in the late 1970s at Burnside Elementary, Norristown, Montgomery County, PA. The school has since been torn down, a shame, it was a beautiful red brick building. Anyway, here's the one's I remember!

Miss Mary Mack

Miss Mary Mack, Mack, Mack
All dressed in black, black, black
With silver buttons, buttons, buttons
All down her back, back, back.

She asked her mother, mother, mother
For fifteen cents, cents, cents
To see the animals, animals, animals
Jump over the fence, fence, fence.

They jumped so high, high, high
Right into the sky, sky, sky
They never came back, back, back
Poor Mary Mack Mack Mack!

Miss Susie

Miss Susie had a steamboat
The steamboat had a bell
Miss Susie went to heaven
The steamboat went to...

Hello Operator
Give me number nine
And if you disconnect me
I'll spank your...

Behind the 'frigerator
There was a piece of glass
Miss Susie sat upon it
And broke her little...

Ask me no more questions
And tell me no more lies
The boys are in the locker
Pulling down their...

Flies are in the meadow
Bees are in the park
Miss Susie's in the driveway,
Kissing in the

See See My Playmate

See, See my playmate
Come out and play with me
And bring your dollies three
Climb up my apple tree
Slide down my rainbow slide
Into my cellar door
And we'll be jolly friends
forever more - more - more!

See See My Enemy

See, See my enemy
Come out and fight with me
And bring your enemies three
Climb up my poison tree
Slide down my spider slide
Into my dungeon door
And we'll be jolly enemies
forever more - more - more!

Winston Tastes Good

Winston tastes good
Like a cigarette should
Winston tastes good
Like an ooh aih
Have a piece of pie
Pie too sweet
Have a piece of meat
Meat too tough
Ride on a bus
Bus too full
Ride on a bull
Bull too black
Want your money back
Money too green
Eat a jellybean
Bean too red
Climb in bed
Bed too hard
You're a retard
Now count to 10
And if you miss
You try again

I'm not sure what this next one is called, it seems to be a variation of a clapping game called "Rockin Robin" but our words were definitely different than the standard variety out there when I searched on the internet. And yes, looking at this now, I CANNOT BELIEVE we were running around singing this during recess!!! Obviously this is one my Mom did not want to hear me singing:

Swing swing swing
To the limbo tree, hey hey!
Rockin' and a-rollin'
All night long
Huffin' and a-puffin'
A a-singin' that song
All the little girlies
On Happy Days
Love to see the Fonzie
Goin' Hey Hey Hey
Rockin' robin tweet tweet tweet
Rockin' robin tweet tweet tweet
Momma's in the kitchen cooking rice
Daddy's in the elevator shootin' the dice
Brother's in jail
Raisin' hail
Sister's on the corner
Sellin' fruit - cock - tail
Rockin' robin tweet tweet tweet
Rockin' robin tweet tweet tweet
Momma's on the top
Daddy's down below
Baby's in the middle
Sayin' Get it Pop
Get it Pop
Get it get it get it get it get it Pop!

OMG, can you believe it! If I heard my 4th grader singing that I'd freak! lol!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Cinderella's Castle and Genetics

Right! So, the other week I got back from a wonderful vacation at Walt Disney World. I was preparing a fun little post of pictures of Cinderella's Castle comparing the castle from 2011 to the slides my Dad has scanned from the 1970s.

As I was going through everything, I came across this scan of a slide from 01-Sept-1972:

I went to my pictures from the other week, and found this one from 02-Oct-2011:

Nobody can tell me I'm not related to my Dad!!! :-) These pics were taken 39 years, 1 month and 1 day apart (that's 14,266 days total). They do a pretty good job of maintaining the castle down there, don't they? Although it does seem they use a lighter color for the "mortar" in between the stones nowadays...

Another little fun comparison photo I came across while doing this was a picture of the carousel and my sister and my 3 year old niece on it:

And here's me and my Mom! The horses don't look a day older, it's really amazing how things are maintained:

If only I'd thought to look at these slides before the trip so we could try to get the same horse! Oh well...that will have to be next time! :-)