OK, I'll admit it...one of the reasons that I run is so that I can eat. I don't think I'm alone in that...Still, it's important to at least try to make those calories count, especially when I'm coming up on a race day (or two or three).
This food blog covers my last two WDW race weekends: WDW Marathon Weekend in January, and Princess Half Marathon Weekend in February. My goal is always to keep myself sufficiently fueled, try to eat what I normally would when I can, not eat anything too exotic that might upset my system, and yet still indulge myself a little bit. So far I've always been pretty successful.
We almost always stay at the Boardwalk Villas for Disney race weekends, and so we frequent many of the restaurants in that area for our meals. One of our "go-to" restaurants is The Dolphin Fountain over in the Dolphin hotel. We ate there twice on our WDW Marathon Weekend trip in January: once for lunch and once for dinner.
For dinner I tried something new: a Falafel plate with chickpea croquettes, sesame tahini, and a side salad. Everything was good, but I thought the portion size was a little small.
Lee's favorite here is Build Your Favorite Burger. There is choice of cheese and toppings like chili, bacon, sauteed onions or mushrooms.
It's our tradition to have lunch at The Fountain after the half marathon - we get there around 11:30 when they open and get right in. Though lately it's been quite popular and is often full by the time we leave. My favorite is the Turkey Burger with lettuce, tomato, and onion. Nice lean protein and it really hits the spot after running a half marathon in the morning!
Lee wasn't very hungry so instead of his usual burger he had some chili with a side of sweet potato fries. The sweet potato fries were pretty good.
A lot of people talk about the burgers and ice cream at Beaches and Cream, but I think the Fountain is as good, and much less crowded. Also, there's a 20% discount if you show your DVC Membership card!
Dolphin Fountain Menu
Since we stay at the Boardwalk, breakfast is often from the Boardwalk Bakery. Thanks to a recent expansion, the Bakery has a few more food items (especially for breakfast) than they used to. The Breakfast Sandwich is bacon, egg, and cheese served on a croissant-type roll, with a small side of fruit. It's pretty good, though I would prefer more fruit and less bread.
Lee had the Biscuit and Sausage Gravy. This looks pretty disgusting to me...he said it was just ok. I wish they offered oatmeal here rather than the biscuits and gravy.
One of our favorite lunch spots is Katsura Grill in the Japan pavilion at Epcot. I usually order the Tempura Shrimp Udon Bowl along with a side of steamed vegetables. I've learned to eat the shrimp first, otherwise the tempura batter gets all soggy and falls off. And I dunk my veggies into the broth of the udon bowl to give them some flavor.
Lee had one of the curry dishes with rice, and he also ordered a side of vegetables.
Katsura Grill Menu
The night before the half marathon we had dinner at Sunshine Seasons in The Land pavilion at Epcot. I don't find that I need to carb-load before a half marathon, but it is important to eat a good dinner, and preferably an early dinner, too. 5:30-6:00. Sunshine Seasons has a lot of pretty good choices, though you won't find pasta there other than the kid's mac-n-cheese meal.
I had the Rotisserie Chicken, which comes with black beans and rice. It's a half chicken (a small half chicken), but that's still more than I can eat. The chicken can be a little dry sometimes. I wish it came with a green vegetable, but it's still a pretty good meal for me.
Lee ordered the Slow-roasted Pork Chop with mashed potatoes.
We shared the Butternut Squash Soup which was surprisingly good! The pepitas on top added a nice crunch.
Sunshine Seasons Menu
We're almost always in a DVC unit for race weekends, so we at least have a refrigerator and toaster, if not a full kitchen. For race mornings we like to have yogurt and a bagel before we leave the room. So one of our challenges is always to find yogurt and bagels once we get to Disney so we can have them available in our room in the mornings. The Boardwalk Bakery is usually an option for both, but for whatever reason I've had a very difficult time getting yogurt at the bakery on recent trips - even in the mornings they have been out of it. They have had the yogurt parfaits, but those are too sweet and I don't like them. I've had better luck finding yogurt at the nearby Hess station, which has a mini-mart. The price is a lot lower, too. We bring packets of peanut butter and almond butter from home, and we can usually find bagels either at the bakery, or a package of them at the Hess station or in the grocery section of the Thimbles and Threads store at the Boardwalk. Lee usually has a banana, too, and fortunately those are pretty easy to find - though they aren't usually ripe enough for him. :-)
The night before the Marathon we had dinner at the new Trattoria al Forno, on the Boardwalk. It replaced the Kouzzina restaurant. We were a large party, and were at three different tables all across the restaurant, all with different servers.
One thing I noticed very quickly is that the new restaurant is much quieter than Kouzzina was - in Kouzzina you almost couldn't hear yourself think. Now there's some carpet on the floor, as well as wall hangings and other furnishings that help absorb the sound. It's still far from quiet, but we didn't have to yell to make ourselves heard.
The menu is Italian, but I would call it more up-scale Italian, and not family-friendly spaghetti-and-meatballs Italian. They serve pizza, but it's Neapolitan style with a very thin crust, and odd toppings - you won't find pepperoni pizza here. There's a Margherita pizza, but two of the others are broccoli rabe with fennel sausage, and smoked prosciutto, potato, and rosemary.
It being the night before the Marathon, I asked our server if there was a "Runner's Special", and he had no idea what I was talking about. I've eaten at other Disney restaurants (including Kouzzina) the night before Disney races that have offered a pasta special, so I was very surprised. The Trattoria really doesn't have a simple spaghetti with marinara dish on the menu - he tried to direct me towards the "Polpetta Gigante - giant meatball with ricotta cannelloni and marinara", but that's not the same thing.
I had the Chicken Breast alla Parmigiana with tagliatelle. This was a HUGE serving of chicken, and it was very good. Not quite as good as the chicken parm in Palo on the Disney cruise ships, but I liked it. The pasta was just ok - it was heavy and it needed more sauce. But the whole thing was a pretty generous serving and I ended up taking half of it back to the room (we devoured it the next day after the marathon).
Lee ordered the Baked Lasagna with shaved fennel arugula salad. He also thought this was excellent. He said it was very light, but still satisfying and filling.
We had decent but not great service. There were 9 at our table, so that was a fair bit of work for our server. But I think only a couple of people ordered appetizers and no one ordered dessert.
Trattoria al Forno Dinner Menu
The night after the marathon it was time to celebrate, and any ideas of trying to eat light or healthy go out the window. :-) We had dinner at Flying Fish - yet another Boardwalk-area restaurant.
I tried the nightly fish special - I think it was barrelfish, but I'm not positive about that. Whatever it was, it was very good. Of course I don't think I've ever had anything at Flying Fish that wasn't - it's always been consistently good.
Lee had the Potato-Wrapped Red Snapper - this is a signature dish at Flying Fish, and it's always excellent.
Where we really indulged was on dessert: there were four of us, and we ordered four different desserts and shared. The first was a special seasonal sundae - I don't remember now what was in it - maybe cinnamon ice cream, raspberries, and spiced nuts? It was pretty good.
This is the Signature Flying Fish Cafe Caramelized Banana Napoleon. I'm not a banana fan, so I didn't have any of this, but Lee really enjoyed it.
The surprise, and my favorite dessert of the evening, was the Spiced Bing Cherry and Chocolate Bread Pudding. I interpreted it as cherries IN the bread pudding, but instead it was cherry sauce served with it. The chocolate bread pudding was VERY good - more "chocolate" than "bread". It also came with a scoop of "sinful chocolate sorbet", which was excellent. While everyone tried it, my tablemates generously allowed me to eat most of this one. :-) It was quite filling and very satisfying.
We also sampled one of the "no sugar added" desserts: Chocolate Sable-crusted Peppermint Cheesecake. I'm not a big cheesecake fan, but this was pretty good. It had a light mint flavor rather than being overwhelmingly minty, and that was nice.
Really a lovely meal, and a great way to celebrate completing a successful Marathon weekend.
Flying Fish Menu
Before heading home from Marathon Weekend we went back to Trattoria al Forno to try their breakfast menu. Lee and I both ordered Scrambled Eggs with Tomato, Basil, and fresh Mozzarella, though he requested no tomato on his. It comes with choice of bacon or chicken sausage, with breakfast potatoes. As they put peppers in their breakfast potatoes I requested fruit instead. It was a pretty small serving of fruit, but I was glad that it was mostly pineapple and blueberries rather than melon.
People at the next table ordered the Poached Eggs with sausage and tomato gravy served over polenta. That looked pretty good, and they enjoyed it.
Trattoria al Forno Breakfast Menu
Fast forward about 6 weeks to the end of February...
For Princess Half Marathon Weekend I was also staying at the Boardwalk with my friend Deb. Deb is a planner, and she planned almost everything from dining reservations to Fastpass+. That was quite a treat for me and I LOVED having someone else do it for me!
I arrived on an evening flight on Thursday, which meant I'd want dinner soon after I arrived at the Boardwalk. Deb suggested Spice Road Table in the Morocco pavilion at Epcot - and with a reservation time of 7:50, it meant we should be able to watch Illuminations from there, also! She's brilliant. :-)
It was a very chilly evening, and we were bundled up in coats and scarves and gloves. Initially they sat us outside...it was a table right on the water, and on most occasions it would have been a prime location, but after a few minutes we knew we'd be too cold there, and asked to move inside. They had no problem doing that. We didn't have a window table inside, but we could see through one of the windows. And it was SO much warmer and more comfortable!
I'd never dined at Spice Road Table before, but Deb had. Apparently the menu has gone through a number of iterations in the time the restaurant has been open. It started off as small plates for sharing, but now in addition to those there are full dinner entrees as well. We ordered some of both.
We started with the Hummus Fries. Deb had had these before, and said they were served differently - these were large sticks instead of the squares she's had in the past. And they were also MUCH spicier than she'd had before. Not only was the sauce spicy, but the fries themselves were, too. A little too spicy for my taste, unfortunately. They were also very filling.
We also ordered Spicy Garlic Shrimp. As promised these were a bit spicy, but fortunately not as spicy as the fries. :-) Deb enjoyed them, I thought they were just ok.
On the entree side we tried the Lamb Sliders. These came with another order of hummus fries - though the menu didn't say anything about an accompaniment, nor did our server mention it to us when we ordered the hummus fries separately. I really enjoyed the sliders - maybe a bit more sauce would have been nice. I'd order those again.
For dessert we ordered the Chocolate Pyramid. That was a wonderful surprise! It was really excellent. The outer layer was not really cake, but was sort of spongy, with more of a chocolate mousse underneath, and in the center was a white custard. It was served with almond ice cream, though I didn't taste much almond in it. It was an excellent dessert.
We also shared the Spice Road Digestive Flight, which seems like a very odd name for a flight that included Grand Marnier, Godiva Liqueur, and Frangelico. Each was a 1-3/4 ounce pour.
Just after our dessert was served Illuminations started. While we didn't have the best view from that location, it was certainly a good view, and a very interesting place to watch the show from. I thoroughly enjoyed it. The restaurant is not very busy, so it would be great if they would offer some kind of dessert/Illuminations experience here. I'd definitely do it - as it is I'd certainly return to do dessert and wine/liqueur before Illuminations again.
The meal itself...I wasn't too impressed. Which disappointed me, because I'd really wanted to like this place. The sliders were good, but the others were just too spicy for me. And I'd steered away from a couple of the other appetizers because Deb had tried them before and thought the spice level was a little too high. But I really did enjoy the dessert and the liqueur flight.
Spice Road Table
Deb and I went to Magic Kingdom on Friday and had lunch at Columbia Harbour House. I ordered the Broccoli Peppercorn Salad - mixed greens, corn, peas, chicken, broccoli, and parmesan cheese. It is normally tossed with peppercorn dressing, but I requested it on the side. I was expecting the broccoli to be warm, but it was cold. The chicken was warm, so that made for a somewhat strange combination. But it was a pretty good salad.
That night we went to Trattoria al Forno - Deb hadn't been there, and I didn't mind returning. DebW and Linda joined us, also. We started with the Margherita Pizza. I thought it was ok - it needed more basil. And I'm not a big fan of the thin crust Neapolitan style of pizza.
DebW and Linda had dined at the Trattoria before, and they recommended we share the Grilled Treviso. Treviso is a type of radicchio, which is an Italian lettuce (I had no idea what it was). This was served with Gorgonzola and pistachios. Not something that I would ever think about ordering, but it was delicious!
Since I was running the next day I stuck with my Chicken Parmigiana as my appetizer. It wasn't quite as large a piece of chicken as I had in January, but it was still good, and I still had leftovers. The pasta seemed kind of glued together, though - and it still needs more sauce.
We tried several different desserts. The chocolate gelato was excellent, and I really enjoyed it.
The Piedmont Hazelnut-Chocolate Cake was just ok. It was a very small serving, and I thought the cake was dry. It had a lot of hazelnut flavor, though.
We also had the Tiramisu, but we ate this one so quickly that no one took a photo of it! It was very good, and very light. Deb and Linda said it was served much differently than when they had it before, but said it was just as good.
After eating dinner at the Trattoria twice, I'd give it a B-. They do some things very well, and other things not so well. I'm not sure how wide an appeal the menu has to the average WDW visitor looking for Italian food...I'll be surprised if the menu is not significantly changed later this year.
One afternoon we had lunch at Tangierine Cafe in the Morocco pavilion at Epcot. This has always been one of my favorite counter service locations. I had one of my usual choices: Falafel Wrap served with lentil salad and couscous. The wrap was pretty good, but I don't remember the lentil salad having red peppers in it before. And I don't like peppers. Sigh.
For dessert I had a piece of Pistachio Baklava. It was pretty good - not as good as my mom's - but good. Nutty and crisp and not cloyingly sweet or sticky.
The night before the Princess Half Marathon we had dinner at Il Mulino in the Walt Disney World Swan Resort. I'd never eaten there before. Because it was an Italian restaurant, and it was the night before a big race, it was crazy busy - I'm told it's not usually like that. So we had slower service than usual, unfortunately.
I ordered the house salad to start. It was a nice salad with mixed greens, sliced red onions, carrot strips, and pine nuts.
For my entree I requested a half order of Pappardelle and Tomato Basil Sauce Even a half order was plenty of food!
The menu had lots of interesting things on it, and I'd like to go back again on an evening that's not quite so busy.
Il Mulino Dinner Menu
My last meal at WDW on this trip was Fish and Chips from the shop in the UK pavilion at Epcot. The two pieces of fish were pretty large, and nice and hot and crispy. It's not something I eat very often, but I'd run a half marathon - I could indulge myself. :-)
So there you have it...two long weekends of running and eating.