Sunday, 27 May 2012

The 19th Hole

20 years ago I had a boyfriend who played golf. My mother used to buy him christmas presents of useless golfing "executive" gifts - like ball scrubbers - but we managed to stop that after a couple of years. I went once or twice with him to the practice swinging hitting place - whatever it is called - and took a few swipes. My impatience quickly overcame my desire to learn.

But just because I know nothing about golf doesn't stop me from posting about it. After all, Wayne Swan knows nothing about budgeting and that doesn't stop him.

"Every golfer will get a climate change support payment of $850 to buy extra sunblock cream"
I do know there is the odd Australian Zontian who enjoys a round of golf, and so I hypothetically imagined that they asked me "If we were to go to Orlando, are there courses on which we can play?"
Answer: Just a few - there are over 170 courses in the area
If there is one thing Florida is famous for, it is golf. And so let's play a short 9 with the USA's most famous golf ambassador: Bob Hope.

“I once showed Pat Bradley my swing and said, ‘What do I do next?’ Pat replied, ‘Wait till the pain dies down.’”
In Orlando there are famous designer championship courses, golf course hotel resorts, little private courses, country clubs and public courses.

Grand Cyprus: Considered the best course in Orlando - well 4 courses really! North, East, South and New!
“My only regret is that they don’t have an intensive care unit in the Eisenhower Medical Center for my golf game.”

It's all finely mown grass, raked sand and Florida Slash Pine as far as the eye can see

The Reserve at Orange Lake Resort:
“Bing was an excellent player, with the slowest backswing I’ve ever seen. While he was taking the club back you could fit him for a tailored suit.”
I don't know what you want to know, but I do know that within Walt Disney World there are five golf courses.

Disney's Magnolia Course. Don't tell me you weren't expecting these sandtraps:
“That reminds me of Sammy Davis (Jr.). Sammy hits a nice ball, about 90 yards. But his jewellery flies 110.”
You can have lessons with a pro, shop for those special polo shirts golfers wear, drive around in the little carts and of course relax in the club house. All the things that I imagine golfers do.  But then again I imagine that Disney food has no calories and pixie dust is sprinkled in every resort room.
“It’s fun playing with Dean Martin. Dean doesn’t drink liquor anymore. He drinks Windex. He gets an awful hangover but his eyes are so clear…I’ve seen Deano send a ball over 250 yards…just by breathing on it.”

Disney's Old Key West Resort is built around Disney's Lake Buena Vista course. You could tee off straight from your balcony:
“Arnold Palmer …He’s the biggest crowd pleaser since the invention of portable sanitary facilities… He’s won as much money as I’ve spent on lessons.”
I don't know in what else you golfers are interested? Perhaps to see the courses in action?

Visit Florida has a couple of videos. This first one shows Rosen Shingle Creek and Grand Cyprus

“I went to play golf and tried to shoot my age, but I shot my weight instead.”

Here's a couple of minutes of golfing at WDW:

 "If President Eisenhower slices the budget like he slices a golf ball, the nation has nothing to worry about."

Hmmm .... that brings me back to where I opened - I wonder if Wayne Swan slices when he plays golf?

Oh - and remember to take that extra sunblock you'll be buying with your climate change bonus. Orlando in June is hotter than ..... well .... let's keep it polite and say the outback in summer.

for my friend Marg - keep swinging!

all photos and videos from the official websites of each course

This blog post is part of the DisMarks Disney Blog Carnival! Check out more fantastic Disney websites and articles over at the Carnival.

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Sailing with the Yachtsman

I know what you people come here for.

or as Winston Churchill would say: For what you people come

and correct grammar is most appropriate for a visit to the Yachtsman Steakhouse at the Yacht Club Resort. Disney describe the resort as having the "formal grace of a grand New England yacht club."

"hi ho Bunty? Shall we wander down to the Yacht Club for a gin libation?"

This is the very adult face of WDW.  The Club is very clubby with highly polished timber parquetry, overstuffed chairs, model yachts, palm trees in chinese pots.

Of course Bertie! First I must get Kitty her pool pony for the St. S&Ms synchronised swimming gymkhana

The hotel is very very quiet cause they are hunting rwabbits because it is more serious and less cartoony - so kids find it boring. But for the gin swilling sailing set's right up their alley creek!

"Well, Bunty I want to be out of there before the Faversham Twins arrive, flaunting their ill-gotten narco-dollars"
And what is better for the giant globe-y, hunt-y, clubby, yachty set but a temple to great huge hunks of meat!

hmmmm ....meaty goodness
On arrival at the Yachtsman Steakhouse, right in the entrance is their own meat hanging room. Here you can peer through the windows and leer at the aging cuts hanging around.

I'll have the vegetarian option.... no just joking - half side of beef for me
Inside the restaurant the woody, clubby, meaty kind of atmosphere continues. All that's missing is the cigar smoking.
The wonderful Disney Food Blog captures it well - see how dark it can be? Even though it is daylight outside.
Let's get on with the important stuff.

All good Disney restaurants provide a signature bread. At the Yachtsman their bread is the highly addictive onion pull apart. This stuff is dangerous. I had to make a conscious decision to reject additional offerings. It is served warm with butter and whole roasted garlic cloves to squish and smear all over. Oh Wow!

Once again, the Disney Food Blog has the best photos of Disney food. You could get lost on that site.
Take a look at this plate:

Butter poached Maine lobster tail with American osetra caviar, tarragon emulsion, garden vegetable crudites, and lime sorbet
This was one of the most amazing dishes I have EVER enjoyed - not just on this trip but EVER! (The Ken Man rarely reads this blog so I shan't have to worry about reprisals - I shall share the glory with you)

So there is lobster chunks, poached in butter with fishy, briney, black caviar pearls whilst sitting on a swipe of tarragon emulsion that was surprisingly strong in flavour so such a thin painting.

And those veges - so beautifully warmed through - perhaps poached in vege stock? They seemed to have heightened fresh vege flavours - honestly this is the way all veges should be prepared.

And yes - that is lime sorbet with a lotus chip on top.

See that little plastic pippette in front of the lobster? That contained their special chilli oil/sauce/dressing. The waiter advised that it was in a pippette so that I could control the amount of heat in the dish. Well - this dressing had barely any heat so after a small testing squirt, I quickly doused the lobster with the entire serve. What that dressing did have was hints of harissa - I feel certain there was some kind of extract of harrissa in there.

Now who would possibly even dream up the combination, let alone bother to put it all together on a plate?? Well the Yachtman did - and it was a winner! The flavours mixed together absolutely beautifully. Think about the citrus with the chilli - that works, chilli with butter and lobster - yep that works. Veges with butter / lobster / chilli - yep yep yep.

This was imaginative, flavourful, cooked to technical perfection, and presented beautifully. I licked that plate clean.

For my main course, what else? The prime New York strip steak with peppercorn brandy sauce

And I couldn't decide what side I wanted so I requested 3. Fortunately the chef was generous and he set up a little sampling tray for me! How nice was that  - and food not wasted!

So what sides did I enjoy?

Zellwood corn, butter, smoked bacon and herbs
Yummo - love every ingredient in this dish. (And I suspect this dish is the start of the 2012 Disney foam festish - yes - in Disney 2012 the theme is sticking something foamy on top of anything they can. Watch out for reviews from my Christmas Trip. I suspect they shall be foam filled.)

No. 2 :
Every American's love: Mac and Cheese - Truffled Orecchiette pasta and reypenaer
How could I turn down an offer like that?

And finally in honour of The Ken Man who could not be with me:

Brussell Sprouts with carrot-sherry emulsion and house cured pancetta
Really - it behooves me to admit that the sprouts were really just the mechanism by which I ate more butter and bacon. But they did a very good job by trimming off the old leaves and steaming lightly so they were not bitter. And just to prove that I did The Ken Man proud:

No - I didn't hide them in a pot plant
So now the main attraction. That steak!

Surprisingly evenly cooked
I asked for medium rare: which they achieved. However the evenness of the cooking suggests that they are pre-cooking in some method (I kid my myself it is a Heston waterbath) and then when ordered, whacking on the grill. Nethertheless, let me assure you that the steak was very good, tender, and tasty. I did not feel the need to slather the sauce around as it had enough flavour on its own. My caveat - not as good as the steak at the California Grill - but amoung the best you'll get.

So I am now sitting there, being all 2 Mr Creasotes after all of that ....

'One more wafer thin brussel sprout'
.... when I am handed the dessert menu.

Do I have their signature Banana Napolean? The creme brulee (if 2012 is foam, 2011 was creme brulee)? NO! I have another entree. The artisinal cheeses. Because we all know cheese is one of the major groups for proper nutrician.

Not my actual cheese plate but close enough: source: wdwmagic forums
When one is already at 2 Mr Creasotes, 4 samples of cheese is rather a lot. Unfortunately for you all I can't remember the cheeses (eek!) EXCEPT the exceptional ones. The blue on mine was delicious and was served with dried grapes on the vine - an excellent pairing. The goat cheese on mine was FANTASTIC. I compaired to the fresh, first spring offering from the now gone Kervella farm in Western Australia. Then I remembered it was Autumn in the US. Still it was a great plate that I didn't want to not finish.

So this meal gets my top scores:

3 sugarspoons for amazing flavours, technical excellence and all round tastiness at all 3 courses
Irrestistible comestibles - I waddled to the door.
A 'Douglas Macarthur' of a meal - I shall return!

So Zontians - have I convinced you yet that there are wonderful offerings to be had in 2014?

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Winter Park - Posh preprandial delectations

I am known to say that I have never met a Zontian who doesn't have a healthy appetite. Maybe I've met one who doesn't drink alcohol - but really - most events are accompanied with cake and champagne.

So if you are going to 2014 Orlando International Convention you could drink Lapu Lapus at the Polynesian  Resort .....
It has a little umbrella - snerk!
....or you could get serious and head out to Winter Park: Home of the Wine Tasting Room!

It was closed dammit! Just because it was 10am?!
Now there are several of these babies in Winter Park - and whilst they are very common in the USA, not so common in Australia. So for Australians - if you want to taste test wines you hop in your car and drive around a wine growing region stopping at the cellar doors. You taste the wines which that particular winery makes. One becomes very good at spitting.

The beautiful Yarra Valley - drink in the vines
In the USA, you go to your local shopping centre, you enter the Wine Tasting Store and sit there all afternoon until completely plastered.

Winter Park is the location is to transform oneself into a Patsy type character - it's all beluga and little nibbly things. I saw plenty of wine tasting, bottle shop type places mixed in gourmet olives, artisanal cheese and specialist chocolate shops. Not a single supermarket to be found. Until recently there used to be a store called Bullfish - a mixture of dog boutique and wine store.

Coffee, tea, spices, chocolate, tea - all the major food groups covered
When you have finished shopping for your little nibbly bits you may desire to release your tensions with a cheese platter and New Zealand SVB. Finally it is 3pm and you may enter the holy grail: The Wine Room. Using the unique Enomatic wine dispenser machines and the widest range of tasting bottles, supposedly in the world, at 150 on tap, this is the theme park of wine tasting!

The delightful Samantha Brown explains how it works - and become less lucid as the video progresses:

hmmm ... it's jammy and plummy and clangy and tinny and Eddie at 5:12

Zontians! It is time for a call to arms! Am I organising a function at The Wine Room ?..... with beluga and little nibbly things of course!