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March 2008 Archives

March 1, 2008

La Brea Bakery Cafe

I've walked by this restaurant hundreds of times (since it is between Disneyland's tram stop and the park entrance), but until recently I'd never eaten there. I can tell you that I'll be eating there a lot more often in the future!

We had lunch there on a cool winter day - La Brea Bakery Cafe has both indoor and outdoor seating, and we sat outdoors, but right next to one of those propane heaters, so it was very comfortable.

For the most part, La Brea Bakery Cafe's menu consists of soup, salads, and sandwiches, both hot and cold. I LOVE a good sandwich on nice fresh crusty bread, and I was not disappointed. Lee and I actually both had trouble deciding what to order - there were a lot of things that looked appealing. I had the Fresh Mozzarella sandwich - mozzarella cheese, semi-sun-dried tomatoes, fresh basil and pesto, served on a demi-baguette. It was really tasty. I was not expecting the sandwich to be grilled and warm, but it was, and that worked very well.

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Lee had the Turkey Bacon Panini - oven roasted turkey, bacon, and provolone cheese on sourdough bread. That was also excellent - he shared a bite with me.

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Both sandwiches were served with a mixed baby greens salad in a light balsamic vinaigrette, and that was also very good. (We could have chosen French fries, also.)

Even though it was chilly we ordered iced tea as a beverage - our server brought us two glasses and a carafe so we could refill it ourselves, which I thought was very nice. It was passion fruit iced tea, and I really loved it - it was unsweetened but had an excellent flavor - it would be especially refreshing on a hot day.

The only thing I was disappointed in was the soup selection - I was looking forward to having a cup of hot soup to warm me up a bit, but the only soup available that day was cream of asaparagus. Ick.

Service was very good - our server arrived at our table promptly, returned quickly with our drinks and some bread (and the ciabatta bread with olive oil and balsamic vinegar was also excellent), and got our orders submitted and served in good time. I'm sure it helped that the restaurant wasn't overly busy, but he still took good care of us. .

We declined dessert since we were headed into the parks, but the warm brownie with ice cream and hot caramel sauce was tempting - I'll have to get that next time. And there WILL be a next time - La Brea Bakery Cafe gets two thumbs up from us.

La Brea Bakery Cafe Menu

March 11, 2008

Prince Caspian

The new Narnia movie, Prince Caspian, starts on May 16 - but apparently you can get a sneak peek at Prince Caspian before that, since the Prince Caspian pre-parade starts at Disneyland on April 25. If the parade's Prince looks anything like the movie's Prince Caspian, then I hope Disneyland has plenty of Cast Members standing by to catch the swooning teenage girls. :-)

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Image ©Disney, All Rights Reserved

It looks like another good movie - you can see the trailer HERE.

March 13, 2008

Ralph Brennan's Jazz Kitchen

In our quest to eat at all of the Disneyland Resort restaurants (all in the interests of research, you know!) Lee and I had dinner at Ralph Brennan's Jazz Kitchen in Downtown Disney last month.

We arrived at 5:30 for our 5:30 Priority Seating. The restaurant was almost completely empty, and the hostess directed us upstairs (there is seating both upstairs and downstairs - it's a big restaurant!). It was a chilly evening, and we were given the choice of sitting inside or out - we chose outside next to a propane heater. Though we didn't have a table right on the wrought-iron railing overlooking Downtown Disney, we could still look out towards House of Blues and Tortilla Jo's.

Our server arrived quickly with the menus, and brought water while we were deciding on wines. Lee had a glass of the Rock Rabit Syrah, while I tried the Columbia Riesling, which was quite good.

For appetizers we split the Soups 1-1-1, which was small servings of three different soups - the Creole Onion Soup, Gumbo Ya-Ya, and the Soup of the Day, which was a Roasted Pepper soup. Surprisingly that was my favorite of the three - it had a really nice flavor and just a bit of a kick, but not too much. We also had the Paneed Eggplant, Spinach, & Goat Cheese Napoleon - Pan-fried parmesan, herb breaded eggplant, layered with spinach and goat cheese, finished with a Gulf shrimp New Orleans bordelaise sauce. It sounds really different, and I thought it was very good. There were actually several things on the appetizer menu that looked good - maybe sometime we'll come back and just order appetizers! (Sorry that there are no pictures of the appetizers - we were so hungry that I forgot to take pictures before we dug into them!)

I ordered the Blue Crabmeat Topped Blackened Salmon as an entree. Blackened salmon topped with blue crabmeat, served with garlic roasted fingerling potatoes, fresh watercress and a green onion herb vinaigrette. The salmon was disappointing - I expected something a bit more "kicky", but the only spice I could taste was chili powder. And once I got about 1/3 of the way into it I discovered it wasn't cooked all the way through. (For some reason that seems to be a problem for me when I order salmon - half the time it isn't cooked through, and I am NOT into sashimi!) Unfortunately our server didn't check back with us until I'd eaten around the edges and had all that I wanted anyway, so by that time there was no use sending it back. The potatoes were good, though...

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Lee had the Creole Filet Mignon - a grilled 8 oz filet mignon, dusted with Creole seasonings, served with bacon buttermilk mashed potatoes, fried oyster mushrooms, wilted spinach and Creole mustard bourbon cream sauce. He likes his meat cooked medium well, so he asked to have it butterflied, which was no problem. He really enjoyed his dinner - the steak was nicely cooked and flavorful.

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For dessert we knew that Lee was going to want the Double Chocolate Bread Pudding, which requires a 25-minute preparation time, so had told our server about that when our entrees were delivered. It arrived 5 minutes or so after our entrees were cleared. It's a "rich, dark semi-sweet chocolate bread pudding served with white and dark chocolate ganache." Lee really enjoyed it - the chocolate sauce was dark and rich, though the white chocolate didn't have a lot of flavor.

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The dessert menu had a lot of interesting-looking choices and I ordered the Fresh Fruit Cobbler, which was supposed to be apple and blueberry. As I started eating it I discovered there were no blueberries - just apples. Had I known that I would've ordered something else. As cobblers go it was just so-so - I wouldn't order it again. I mentioned to our server that the kitchen had deceived him about the blueberries. Given what had already happened with my salmon he was even more apologetic. When our bill came I saw that he had not charged us for the salmon, which was nice.

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The "signature" dessert there is the Bananas Foster, which is prepared at your table. We didn't order it, but the table next to us did, so we were able to see the whole production, which towards the end involves both flame and sparks.

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By the time we finished our meal and left the restaurant (about 7:00) the place was PACKED - *and* there was a line of people standing outside waiting to get in - all of the Downtown Disney restaurants were busy on that Friday night, and there were 45 minute waits at most places. So I'd advise either eating early or making sure you have a Priority Seating time - and preferably both.

So Ralph Brennan's Jazz Kitchen...would I eat there again? Well...maybe. But I'd probably order just appetizers (since they had several that sounded good) and dessert. Lee was really happy with his meal, though.

March 15, 2008

Disneyland with Lisa

I had a new experience last Friday - I got to tour Disneyland with a fellow All Ears staff member - All Ears Picture This! blogger Lisa Berton. We hit both parks, all three resorts and Downtown Disney.

It was a beautiful southern California day - they don't get much better. Lisa was taking lots of pictures, since she's going to try to fill in a lot of the things that we don't currently have in the Disneyland section of AllEars. Let me tell you that it was a real treat for me NOT to be taking photographs - it was great to leave it in the hands of a professional.

There were a lot of characters out and about and many of them are total hams when it comes to getting their picture taken. Pluto kept striking all kinds of different poses for Lisa, and putting his ears in various positions. My favorite was when he rolled them into round Mickey Mouse ears. :-) I was surprised to see the Mad Hatter over in DCA outside the Animation Building - I guess they'd let him escape from Disneyland for the afternoon!

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I've found another fan of the Orange Stinger - Lisa enjoys flying around on it, too, so we had fun doing that. And we checked out the S.S. Rustworthy play area. They've cut waaay back on the water effects (no more water cannons - and I don't think that's such a bad thing!), so it's pretty hard to get wet these days. But you can try "surfing", or steering the ship, or ringing the ship's bell, or pushing buttons for the foghorn, dropping the anchor chain, and throwing a life preserver.

We caught a bit of High School Musical 2 before heading over to the Paradise Pier for dinner. At this point we REALLY wished that the back entrance that Paradise Pier guests used to be able to use to enter DCA was still open! We used the Grand Californian's egress instead.

We had a very nice dinner at the PCH Grill at the Paradise Pier - but I'll write more about that later.

After dinner we went back to Disneyland - by way of the Disneyland Hotel and Downtown Disney. Last month I wrote about the new floral Mickey inside the entrance, and how it has new sparkling lights that show up better at night. Of course just as we walked up the lights *stopped* twinkling. We waited for a few minutes but no luck - we think Tinker Bell was mocking us. Eventually we gave up and went into the park and found a spot in the hub for the Remember...Dreams Come True fireworks.

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Though we had a good view of the castle and a great view of the Matterhorn, we had an obstructed view of the fireworks - they were off to the left of the castle, and mostly blocked by some trees. I'm beginning to wonder if there is any spot where you get a good view of *everything*. The show proceeded just fine until Tinker Bell's flight...the spotlight went on her and she flew about 50 feet...and then she stopped. And kind of swung in place. Eventually they turned the spotlight off and the rest of the show continued, but she was stuck there for at least 5 minutes before they were able to get her apparatus moving again and she finished her descent. Normally she makes a return appearance near the end of the show - not that night! The rest of the show appeared to be unaffected.

On our way out of the park we checked the floral Mickey again - sure enough, it stopped twinkling just as we arrived. Guess that's my new mission in life!

March 20, 2008

The Pixar Play Parade

The new Pixar Play Parade officially opened at DCA on Friday evening (there were several preview performances). I was on-hand for the first official parade, which started at 5:15. I claimed a spot on the edge of the parade route at Sunshine Plaza (where it starts) about 4:00 - turns out I didn't really have to be there quite that early for a front-row seat.

Prior to the parade Cast Members went down the parade route warning guests that they would get slightly wet...I'd heard the parade involved water, but didn't know how much, and I worried a bit for my camera.

A few minutes before the parade started we heard the voice of Mike Wazowski (Monsters, Inc.) making a few announcements - and heckling Roz, who seems none-to-pleased with her role as drum majorette (complete with twirling baton!).

The Pixar Play Parade

The parade includes sections representing all of the Disney-Pixar movies: Toy Story and Toy Story 2, Cars, Monsters, Inc., "a bug's life", Finding Nemo, The Incredibles, and Ratatouille. The floats have a lot going on - they can all spray water, for one thing - and there are lots of characters on board or accompanying the float. The larger floats have some additional surprises, like bugs swinging on giant daisies, bungee-jumping rats, and cowboys and cowgirls twirling on a high bar. My favorite was The Incredibles float - that segment starts off with Mr. Incredible, Elastigirl and Frozone all riding their own hovercrafts (and I wonder if there's really a Segway buried underneath all of that fiberglass), followed by the VERY large Omnidroid - with baby Jack-Jack perched on top. Not to worry for Jack-Jack, though - every so often he bursts into flame! And that looks really cool. (They didn't do the flame effect at Sunshine Plaza, though - I saw that back at Paradise Pier.)

The Pixar Play Parade

In addition to the aforementioned bugs, rats, and cowboys, there are also a number of talented parade performers cast as dancing bugs and monsters, puppeteers with Dory, Nemo, and Marlin puppets, stilt-walking chefs, and those guys on the bouncing stilt things.

The parade is a little over 20 minutes long - after it ended at Sunshine Plaza I zipped over to Paradise Pier via Condor Flats and the Grizzly Peak Recreation area and caught up with the beginning of the parade in front of the Golden Zephyr. I really didn't need to worry about getting a spot for the parade an hour early - I got a front row spot in Paradise Pier even after the parade had started! But it was nice to see it twice - and as I said, I saw the fire effect which I'd missed in Sunshine Plaza, and also saw one of the high bar twirlers - they weren't in action yet at Sunshine Plaza, either.

I think the parade is a lot of fun, though since it doesn't have a performance stop, it's missing the interactive component that Block Party Bash and the Parade of Dreams have. Still, there are lots of characters walking the route and they greet the guests. The floats are complex and really visually interesting. And even Hopper (the menacing grasshopper from "a bug's life") has a smile on his face!

But...I could've done with a lot less water. While nothing was drenching and probably isn't going to damage a camera, my lens got drops on it a couple of times when I didn't see the water coming in time to shield it. I understand that in cooler weather they'll blow bubbles rather than spraying water.

I found the Ratatouille float a little bit creepy - the jumping rats were ok, but there were several rats hanging upside down in some ropes looking rather lifeless. It just looked odd.

Still, overall I liked it, and think it will be quite popular with guests, particularly the younger ones who have grown up with the Pixar movies.

You can see a gallery of parade photos on AllEars.net HERE.

March 29, 2008

DCA Food and Wine Festival Update

I was checking out Disney's California Food and Wine Festival website (http://www.disneyland.com/foodandwine) last night and noticed that some new things have been added recently.

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Most weekends are going to feature a celebrity chef who will be conducting cooking demonstrations as well as book signings. In addition to Chef Jamie Gwen, who will be there every weekend, Cat Cora is scheduled on April 12-13, Bret Thompson on April 19-20, and both Nancy Silverton and Guy Fieri on April 26.

Hmm...with all those chefs around, I hope there aren't too many cooks in the kitchen...

A new "Signature" event has been added: A Special Evening with the Gallo Family Winery is scheduled for Sunday, April 20. This dinner will be held from 6:30-9:30 p.m. at the Vineyard Room restaurant inside Disney's California Adventure. The cost is $85/person.

I hadn't planned to be at the parks that weekend but that sounds intriguing...I love Chef Tae's food!

The Daily Schedule for the Food and Wine Festival complimentary events is now up on the web site also, so I've been checking out things I want to attend on the weekend of the 11th-13th and the weekend of the 2nd-3rd.

Ghirardelli Sweet Sundays...oooooooooooh! (Every Sunday at 11:00)

Wine and Chocolate...oh my. (Every weekend at 5:30)

They're starting the Festival off right as far as I'm concerned - Delicious Desserts on April 11 is the very first demonstration. Also that weekend are demos for Gilroy Garlic and Melissa's Produce, and a What's for Brunch session on Saturday.

With the Festival going to a daily schedule this year, there's many more wineries represented - 24 if I counted correctly. Beer tasting sessions will feature either the returning Karl Straus Brewing Company or (new this year) Widmer Beers. Don Julio Tequila sponsors tequila tasting sessions every weekend, and there's a new Mixology 101: Drinks 1-2-3 session offered every Monday afternoon.

If you haven't made plans yet to attend any of the Signature events...The Napa Rose Cooking School is sold out, but there are still tickets left for all of the other events, though some are getting close to capacity.

I plan to try to blog live from the Festival the first weekend, so there will be lots of photos and reports coming both here and on the AllEars.net Disney's California Food and Wine Festival web page, which is HERE.

Please send me any reports or comments that you have, too!

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About March 2008

This page contains all entries posted to Salute to All Things Disney but Mostly Disneyland in March 2008. They are listed from oldest to newest.

February 2008 is the previous archive.

April 2008 is the next archive.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.