Saturday, January 16, 2010

Vegan Disney 2009

At the end of December, my family had the yearly trek down to Disney World in Florida. This was my third year eating vegan at Disney, and I find myself learning more each time that I visit, even though I only visited the parks for one day this year. Following, is a brief summary of the places where I ate as well as an interesting new observation that I had, one that was a first for my yearly visit. (I apologize for the lack of pictures, but I somehow managed to leave my camera at home during this trip.)

Earl of Sandwich (Downtown Disney): Enjoyed a lunch of the roasted veggie sandwich. I'm rather fond of toasted sandwiches so this really hit the spot. The only small change that had to be made to the meal was to request the balsamic sauce instead of the usually used Mediterranean (which contains dairy).

Rainforest Cafe (Downtown Disney): The chef came out to talk to me after our rather large party arrived. I ended up with a veggie pasta with olive oil and garlic and bread on the side. Not the most imaginative dish, but it worked, and I had enough leftovers for another meal.

Backlot Express (MGM Hollywood Studios, technically sans MGM but I grew up saying it...): This is a counter service restaurant as opposed to a nicer sit down. The veggie sandwich was vegan, once requested without the cheese. I was surprised to find that the tomato pesto on it was vegan as well as the black bean salad that came on the side. Not too bad for a quick in the parks option.

Cosmic Ray's Starlight Cafe (Magic Kingdom): The veggie burger is now vegan! I was very excited to see this mentioned somewhere else, and it proved to be true. The only alteration that needed to be made was to have the tapioca bun, which is the gluten free and vegan bun option.

Bakery of sorts on Main Street in Magic Kingdom: Has packaged vegan chocolate chip cookies. (As well as caramel corn.) The cookies weren't too bad, as far as packaged cookies go. I was just glad to be able to have a chocolate/sweet snack along with the rest of my family.

Turf Club Bar and Grill (Saratoga Springs Resort): This was the nicer sit down restaurant at the resort where my family's time share is. I was skeptical about my dining options, even though Disney is always great with accommodations at sit down places, since the entire menu is very meat centered. I ended up having quite a nice meal. The chef came out to talk to me, and we figured out a dinner and desert for me right at the beginning of the meal. I got a portabello burger, but not to be boring, the burger also had roasted balsamic veggies on top. This sandwich ended up being huge, and I could hardly fit the whole thing in my mouth to take a bite. Along with a side of fries, this was a very filling meal. For dessert, he had a gluten free vegan spice cake. It was a little dry due to being storied in the freezer, but I was surprised to have a slice of cake with frosting that I could eat, and the frosting was perfect and not too cloyingly sweet. My dad could hardly tell that it was gluten free as well as vegan when he tried it.

All in all it was a great visit, though I did have an experience at the two counter service meals that I had never had before. Because I had to make an alteration to the meal (omitting cheese or switching the bun), the person at the register made a big deal about it and kept saying it was due to the allergy (even though I said I was vegan), and had to have the manager come and approve it and talk to me even though I had already checked the vegan friendliness in the ingredients book that each register has. It was a little obnoxious in how it took a lot longer and held up the line, but at least Disney is serious about getting this sort of thing right.


Jeni Treehugger said...

Disney gets the thumbs up in the food department then. Happy New Year to you - hope 2010 is awesome.

Mary said...

Sounds like it was a good trip! Now that I'm vegan and gluten-free, at new restaurants I usually just say I'm allergic to gluten, eggs, and dairy. It's plausible, easier to explain to servers, and they're a lot more careful if they think I'm going to die in their restaurant.

Happy 2010!

Mary said...

Hey, thanks for your comment. I wanted to tell you that making polenta is very easy. It's just like making oatmeal or porridge. Buy a bag (I have Bob's Red Mill Corn Grits/Polenta) and follow the directions. It's usually a 3:1 water to corn ratio. You just boil water, add the corn grits, reduce heat, and stir for 3-5 minutes, until the polenta is nice and thick. Use it right away, or set it in a pan (smooth the top with a spatula) to cool, and then you can slice it into squares or triangles and grill or pan fry it. Mmm, good. Polenta is an easy alternative to pasta, and one of my favorite comfort foods. I hope you like it!