Sunday, 29 July 2012

The Marriott World Centre - bring semaphore flags

In the last few weeks a couple of short videos have been shared among the Zontians on Facebook.

The first, originally distributed by Zonta International, is the official promo video from the Marriott World Centre Resort. It is full of the usual happy, shiny people holding hands, jumping into the pool, jumping on the beds, noshing down in the food court, and basically escaping the horror that is the I Drive outside the front door.

There's rather a lot of pool and food court time in this video. What is missing is where we'll be spending the majority of our time - in their MASSIVE convention centre. So instead, have a look at this video:

Much less jumping. I feel better already.

Finally, here are the Gormans - your typical father and son duo. Mucking about with a ball. As you do. "That is why it's call the ballroom!"

I wish someone would commercialise my vacations.

Friday, 13 July 2012

Just 3 words: Italian, desserts, and wine

I know you are all enjoying the Italian cuisine in Torino!

Did you know when you come to Convention 2014, you can keep that Italian Party going?! At the Italy Pavilion at Epcot!
Gee ... am I in Venice or Florida?????

I have that wonky kind of love for the way Disney mangles everything

And when I turn around ......

I'm suddenly I'm in Florence!
With its own little Disney trashcan - just like the original would have!

And in this little spot of Italy in Florida is the Tutto Italia ristorante and Tutto Gusto wine cellar.

But I was there for a special reason: The Food and Wine Festival Event: Italian Desserts and Wine matching!


Ushered into room ... yeah yeah .... 50 ish people ... yada yada ... a couple of welcome speeches ... LET'S GET TO THE FOOD!

So we were all seated and presented with this array of shiny glassware and cutlery:

Four desserts and four matching Italian dessert wines! Pancreatic heaven!

The wines all came from the same winery: Batasiolo. All dessert wines - an Asti, Moscato, Moscato Rose and Sparkling Red. They were quite sweet, and it was explained to us that the sweetness is due to less fermination of the sugars, and so the wines had a lower alcohol content. They were also just slightly bubbly or 'frizzante'

Now I know nothing about Batasiolo - from my scant Google research they seem to range from the excellent down to the average everyday. They seem to get average and above reviews

The first dessert up was Tiramisu. I love a good Tiramisu and this was very close to Delia Smith's recipe. How authentic is that!

All that chocolately, coffee, mascaponey goodness in a martini glass - YUM! 

Paired with an Asti - I polished it off quickly. Living up to it's name, Tiramisu always 'makes me happy'.

With my tastebuds just getting going, the next dessert was a cannoli

Fresh, fresh cannoli creaminess. I surrepticiously wiped the creamy filling through the chocolate sprinkles. I don't think anyone noticed.

This was the freshest crispest shell I had experienced in a long time. Had a smooth creamy filling that was studded with flecks of chocolate. Fantastic - and paired with a moscato. I love moscato. I am now having a moscato fling - I notice it on every menu and must have a glass! You know, moscato makes for the best Bellinis!

Onto dessert No. 3: Torta Di Ricotta Con Fragole al Limone.  All you gals currently in Italy: Do you remember what is 'Fragole'??

Yes! It's strawberries! Our first fruit for the session
And look - ripped off - only half the dessert! After giving us two full sized ones now this??  To be frank, someone had to pace my consumption for me - cause I wasn't doing it.

This was nice - well done, technically good etc. Just a little bland. The lemon flavour didn't really cut through. I ate it gratefully but mostly enjoyed the moscato rose with which it was served.

Batasiolo Moscato Rose
This was my favourite of the wines. More bubbly and depth of flavour and fruitiness, whilst still carrying that dessert wine sweetness. Why is this not available in Australia?? (someone please tell me that it is) Don't worry about the small amount in the glass - top ups were continuous.

By now the table was getting clearer - I was running out of glasses and cutlery and all they had left to serve was No. 4: Semifreddo Alla Nutella Con Cioccolato Amaro. No translation needed.

Oh look! More fruit!
Back to the dairy based, fibre free, full sized zone. THIS was my favourite dessert. Basically really upmarket chocolate ice cream. By this stage, the smooth coolness of the ice cream was refreshing and the rich sauce was a bit too much for me. Dessert No. 4 proved my killer.

I took one for the team, and just ate the important bits.

This was paired with a Sparkling Red - an unidentified varietal. Unfortunately by now I was a bit too full to really appreciate the wine. I do remember that it was not as luscious as sparkling burgundy and seemed a bit like a half failed carbonation of  your average house red.  Perhaps this one is down at their "average" range of products.

In 2 hours I had consumed 3.5 full dairy based desserts and at least 2 glasses of wine. I was a tad buzzy and a tad porky and definitely very happy.

This was definitely 3 Mr Creasotes cause I was "stuffed" and

2 spoonfuls of sugar - because whilst delicious - it was not the most inventive, creative, diverse range of desserts they could have served. I bet there is better in Torino!.

 This special event was part of the Epcot Food and Wine Festival held from September to November every year. However, these desserts are available all year round at Tutto Italia ristorante. Only the Moscato and the Moscato Rose are available, and only at Tutto Italia.

Adjacent to the restaurant is the brand new Tutto Gusto Wine Cellar - which is looking very impressive (according to this review on Disney Food Blog). Have a look at both menus and plan your trip to Italy in Florida!   

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

5 ways to keep up with Zonta Convention action

I am here in Canberra, Australia.

2000 Zontians are gathered in Torino


That means there are another 28,999 Zontians somewhere out there in the world.

How do we all keep up the ZI Convention action?

Well ZI have made it very easy!

The fastest way to get information is from ZI's Facebook page

Posting as it happens!
A daily newsletter is being released - both on the Facebook page and by email, if you have registered an email address in your membership profile on the ZI website.  Of course, the ZI website has links to these sources as well.

There is the Convention website itself. The added bonus you get from visiting the Convention website is that the Convention powerpoint presentations are being loaded up for your reading pleasure.

You can already check out presentations on:
Convention is tweeting on the ZI Twitter page!

great for smart phone users!

AND ....  ZI have set up a foursquare page.

although it is pretty quiet over there:

Hear that?? sound of crickets chirping....
Finally - you COULD follow me. I have spies at Convention.

But I obviously didn't pay them enough. Cause they are too busy out partying to bother giving me any insider gossip!!

Plenty of ways to stay up to date with Convention highlights. Which method will you use?

p.s. This is my 100TH POST!! YAY!!

Who would of thought Zonta and Orlando would generate so much content! And there is WAY more to come. Sign up, subscribe by RSS, send me an email - let's stay in touch and together get ready for Convention 2014.

Saturday, 7 July 2012

2014 Zonta International Convention DATES ANNOUNCED!

Hot off the Zonta International Facebook page:

DATES IN 2014 are: June 27 to July 1 

As mentioned before ("leaked"?) the venue is confirmed as the Marriott World Centre Resort

Probably the LARGEST resort in Orlando - HUGE!

The rate of $169/night (Jan '13 UPDATE:  add tax 12.5%) for a double room is FANTASTIC! very reasonable. Especially considering it is USA school holidays and in the Summer peak season.

In my December '12 reconnaissance trip I will be visiting the resort and will give you a full tour!

Oh - and don't forget it will be HOT.  Remember from my 4 July 2011 post how hot it was that week?

Still just as hot and humid this year! Mr Ice cream was needed again!

Oh - how excitement!!

Stay tuned to Mrs Banks - I'll post more information as soon as I can!