Monday, June 4, 2012

Our Disney Wedding Planning Session, part 1: menu tasting

I can't believe that it's over and I had to come back to real life today.  We had a whirlwind weekend at Disney and I have the blisters on my feet to prove it!

We flew out of Philadelphia to Orlando on Thursday evening.  After the flight, the trek through Orlando's airport, waiting for the Magical Express bus and the trip to the property, we didn't get to the check in desk at Coronado Springs until midnight.  Still, we set up a wake-up call for 6 am, we set the alarm on my Kindle for 6:30 and the room's alarm clock for 6:45.  I figured if we were up by seven for our nine o'clock appointment, we'd be in good shape.  And we were.

We took a taxi to the Wedding Pavilion so that the trip over would take 15 minutes instead of an hour plus.  When we got to the Pavilion, there were security guards parked in the driveway, blocking the way.  Our driver tried to explain with his thick Haititan (I think!) accent that we had an appointment.  The security guard kept saying "Planner?  Planner?"  After a couple minutes of this I yelled from the backseat, "Yes, we have an appointment with a planner!"  And they finally let us through.

The construction at the Grand Floridian is still ugly.

Those aren't the types of cranes I'm used to seeing at Disney.
 We were actually quite early for our appointment so we got to hang around Franck's and look around before being ushered into the Merriwether room to discuss stuff with our Wedding Planner, Maxine.  It seemed like five minutes went by before her Blackberry beeped that it was time to head over to the Grand Floridian for our menu tasting!!! We were both totally giddy with excitement.

Food photos are after the jump!

I didn't realize that the tastings are actually held in the GF kitchen!  Having done the whole culinary school thing and the food safety certification that goes with it, I was quite intrigued to see the state of Disney kitchens.  Let me just say, it was IMPRESSIVE.  The hallway and the kitchen were spotless and well organized.  The floors were clean.  The kitchen staff I saw working were all completely sanitary.  People were bustling around because there were several weddings that day. 

We were escorted to a fancy table in the kitchen and there was a dot matrix scrolling sign above the kitchen door that said "Welcome Juli & Wayne."  We had our own server, Tina (?), and Chef Corey served us each course, explaining what we were eating and what was in it. 

To start, we were given a plate with the Thai Beef Salad in a wonton cup and a spoon that held the Smoked Scallop with Cilantro Sriracha Ponzu Sauce. 

The beef cup had tiny cubes of beef with peppers in a very light dressing.  I loved it.  My only issue was that some of the beef fell out when I took a bite and landed on my plate.  The scallop was amazing.  It was only lightly smoky and the real sweetness of the scallop was still there but the sauce was thick and sweet and spicy all at the same time.  We both loved it. 

Next we tasted a soup.  I didn't really want to serve a soup course at our reception but this just sounded so good on the menus we received that we asked if they could serve it as a shooter and Disney complied.  It was a Sweet Corn Bisque with Lobster.  It was a little hot, so they gave us tiny spoons to eat it with.  At the wedding, it will be served room temperature so it can be eaten out of the glass.  I was really surprised by the amount of lobster in the shot glass.  There was a lot.  It was so sweet and perfectly poached.  The corn in the soup was fresh and whole.  I think having this corn bisque at the wedding is our nod to central Pennsylvania and the corn fields around our house.  (Man, I wish I had some of this now!)

Next we moved onto salads.  We'd asked to taste a seafood salad of Florida Rock Shrimp, Scallops and Crab with Hearts of Palm and a touch of "Fire Lemon Basil Lime Oil."  My first bite was a little fishy.  The second and all subsequent ones were just delicious.  The seafood flavors weren't hidden behind a heavy dressing.  Wayne was worried that there would be mayonnaise involved and there was not.   I love hearts of palm and was glad there were big slices of it in the salad. 

The second dish is Couscous with Rum-Marinated Pineapple.  I really wanted this dish even though I was afraid it would be too boozy and that Wayne's family wouldn't like it.  I didn't really taste rum but I loved the burst of sweetness from the pineapple with the little pasta balls.  It's light and sweet and colorful.  I think I liked this more than Wayne did. 

After the salads, it was time to bring out the three selections to choose between for our entree.  I think it's pretty standard New Jersey wedding tradition to allow the guests to choose between chicken and beef at a wedding.  We were pretty set on our beef option- a beef strip loin to be carved at an action station and served with red onion compote and a blue cheese fondue.  For the tasting, they grilled a NY Strip Steak (same piece of meat, much smaller scale!) and they didn't do the blue cheese, they did a horseradish cream sauce.  I liked it a lot.  It's my favorite steak cut anyway and they cooked it just the way I like it too. 

Then we had to choose between the two chickens.  One was a parmesan crusted breast topped with a mushroom cream sauce and the other was a roasted breast topped with sauteed shallots and bacon and then drizzled with a cabernet reduction.  Both were delicious but the parmesan crusted was sublime.  Because Wayne isn't as fond of mushrooms as I am, we asked if they could make the sauce with half as many mushrooms for the wedding. 

While we were eating, our amazing planner, Maxine, was creating schedules and making lists and just generally pulling things together.  She took a photo of us and Chef Corey by the kitchen sign right before we left to look at the reception site and sort of pace out the space.



  2. You can...if you ever send back your RSVP card!!!!

  3. It sounds fantastic! Your guests are in for a real treat!

  4. I hope part 2 about the cake is coming?

  5. Reading this made me hungry! The pictures of the Art of Animation Hotel also look wonderful! And don't ask me how I became Grandma Campos to Google! Now I feel hungry and OLD!