Posts Tagged Disney

VeganMoFo: Impromptu Trips – Disneyland and Reno

Scene:  late July, at a Saturday afternoon Oakland A’s game.

Dave:  “If I paid for everything, would you guys leave right now to go to Disneyland tomorrow?”

Me:  “Uh, hell yes?”

And that is how we found ourselves heading down I-5 on that Saturday night, already exhausted, with dreams of Disney dancing in our heads.  (Note – I know a lot of people don’t like Disney because they’re an evil corporation and all that, but I like Disney and I’m not apologizing for it.  I even worked at Disney World for a little while and managed not to become disenfranchised by seeing Cinderella taking a smoke break and Chip ‘n Dale walking around with their heads off.)

Dave’s sister lives near LA, so we stayed at her place, going to bed after midnight and getting up bright and early at 6AM.  We were only going to be there for one day, so we wanted to maximize our time at the parks.

This accurately reflects how we felt most of the morning.  We were excited to be there, but boy were we dragging!

I had eaten a banana and a Luna bar for breakfast, so after a few hours I had this Mickey pretzel for fuel.  I felt kinda bad about eating his face.

For lunch, we headed to the ESPN Zone in Downtown Disney, which is one of Dave’s favorite places on earth.  I ordered the portobello mushroom sandwiches, which I had confirmed on a previous visit was vegan if you take off the dressing and cheese.  I asked for a side of vinaigrette to add some flavor, and ordered fruit instead of fries, which in retrospect was a bad idea because I really could’ve used more heft to the meal.

Walking around the hotel area looking for a place to stay that night, I ran into Goofy!  Horrible picture of me, but…Goofy!

(True story:  On the way to the ESPN Zone, I was singing along to “Part of Your World” from The Little Mermaid, which was playing over the speakers.  Dave and Matt were laughing at me until we passed a middle-aged gentleman (not an employee or a dad) also singing along loudly, and then they laughed even harder.)

Scariest ride EVER.  When I go on the Tower of Terror I don’t scream because I’m having fun, I scream because I think I actually might die.

I became a little ill that evening, possibly from letting my blood sugar get too low and/or exhaustion, so Dave was kind enough to stand in line and get me this Vegetarian Gumbo from the stand next to the Haunted Mansion.  Truth be told, it wasn’t that great, but it was gentle on my tummy and stabilized me enough to go on a few more rides before passing out.  Sorry about the awful photo…

Verdict:  I still love Disneyland, and I’m glad that they have veggie options in the park.  From what I remember, the veggie burgers that you find around the park are vegan (ask for no butter on the bun), and I’ve heard that some ice cream shops have soy ice cream on request.  One day just isn’t enough to do everything!

Onto our last trip to Reno, which falls into the impromptu category because we had decided to go about two days prior.  As I mentioned in my last Reno post, we’ve gotten into the habit of going to Reno every few months, so this will probably be my last Reno post for a while, as there just aren’t that many vegan options there to show you.  Unless I go to Freeman’s again, which obviously would be very exciting.

We left work a little early on Friday to make the four hour drive.  After checking in, we decided on Brew Brothers for dinner.  I asked our waiter if he knew what brand their veggie burger was, or if it was house-made.  He said he didn’t know, and didn’t offer to try to find out.  Come on, guy.  I was highly irritated by this.  If you are a server and you don’t know the answer to a question regarding ingredients, at least offer to try to find out.  Maybe I’ll be nice and say never mind, but probably I am asking for a reason and would actually like to know.  I try not to be an annoying restaurant customer – I had one question, and if the veggie burger turned out not to be vegan, I had a back up plan.

Which was the veggie pizza with no cheese.  It wasn’t exactly what I wanted, but it was warm and filling and perfectly spicy.

I was feeling a little spunky and indecisive about what I wanted in the beer department, so I ordered the full sampler.  It was $1 for one 4 oz sample, or $7 for all eight 4 oz samples.  That’s 32 ounces of craft beer, people!  And it came in this awesome wheel!  Don’t worry, I didn’t drink it all – I needed help to finish.  Some of their beers are really good, and some are okay but not a stand-out.  Overall, I really like Brew Brothers except for the mean waiter who won’t answer my questions.  (To be fair, we’ve had good service there before, and the waiter wasn’t that mean…but he wasn’t that nice either.)

The next morning the boys went to the buffet, and I slept in and enjoyed this hotel room breakfast.

…and then this happened.  Sports book, football and baseball lines, bloody Mary.  When in Rome…

When I couldn’t stand being inside one minute longer, I stepped onto the street to check out the Great Italian Festival, which just so happened to be going on that weekend.

The concept was pretty neat, actually.  Each booth was for a family or region, and they had big vats of hot pasta sauce.  Most booths had little slices of bread they would scoop some sauce onto for sampling.

Or, you could buy a bowl of spaghetti for them to put the sauce on.  All the sauce samples were free, which I thought was really nice considering how much festival food usually costs.

There was a grape stomping (?) contest, of which I only saw the before and after.  This guy was pitchforking grapes into the buckets in preparation for their stomping.

There were fresh artichokes, but sadly they were all going in that giant pan with sausage.

I did pick up a bellini to try, made with fresh peaches, and it was lovely.  I don’t think I had ever had a bellini before.

There was one vendor that caught my eye, pastamore.  They had a large variety of their vinegars and oils for sampling, and every single one that I tried was outstanding.  They don’t currently sell in any retail shops, but you can find their products on their website.  I bought two of their balsamic vinegars to take home.

Upon coming back inside from the festival, I was in dire need of lunch.  I headed over to the Silver Legacy food court, which has one or two veggie options, and they were closed!  In the middle of the day at 3PM!  What’s the point of a casino food court if they’re closed in the middle of the day on a Saturday???

Luckily, I’ve been to the area enough times now that I know what my other options are, because I was getting hangry.  I headed back outside and across the street to the taqueria.

Okay, so burritos don’t photograph very well, but my god do I love burritos the size of my head!

Dave and I celebrating 10:10 10/10/10.

I also celebrated winning my first sports parlay!  I turned $10 into $90.  Or rather, I recouped the money I had lost playing craps and buying vinegar.

Since I had eaten such a late, large lunch, I wasn’t hungry again till it was basically time to retire.  I went to the food court again, and AGAIN it was closed!  How is a casino food court to make any money if they’re closed at 3PM and midnight on a Saturday?  I don’t get it.

Instead, I went to Cafe Sedona, which I don’t really care for but is open 24 hours, so they win.  The only real option was the veggie burger.  The fries were pretty good and the burger came with sprouts, so it was decent for midnight eats with limited options.

We checked out relatively early the next morning and decided to take the long way home, since neither Matt nor I had ever been to Lake Tahoe.  We weren’t in a hurry, so we stopped for brunch at the Black Bear Diner.  They have a few vegetarian menu items but nothing that’s vegan without being modified, and they are happy to accept special requests.  In spite of my limited options, I really do like the Black Bear Diner.

I wasn’t in the mood for another veggie burger AT ALL since I’d just had one 10 hours prior, but it was the best full-meal option, so I went for it.  I have to say that I was very pleasantly surprised when my plate arrived!  For vegan diner food in a non-vegan diner, it was good stuff.

It was a long drive to Tahoe.  A very long and sometimes scary, mountainous drive.  The first view of the lake was worth it though.

We descended to the city of Lake Tahoe, and drove around about half the lake.  Tahoe is a lovely area with plenty to see and do, and we definitely want to go back and spend some time there on one of our next trips.

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Orlando Weekend

For my birthday last month I asked bf to take me to Cirque du Soleil’s La Nouba.  Since the date we picked to go coincided with our anniversary, we decided to book an extra night and go for the whole weekend.  In addition to seeing La Nouba and sleeping a lot, we took the opportunity to try some new restaurants and visit an old favorite.

Friday we left work early to get on the road and visit Garden Cafe for dinner.  I had heard only good things about this vegetarian Chinese restaurant and was excited to try it, bf not so much.  But he made do.  I was actually worried about deciding what to order, as I’m not used to having so many options.  From what our waitress said only a few menu items included egg or honey, the majority was vegan.

I started with the wonton soup.  The wonton filling was a little bland, but the stock was very nice.

garden cafe

BF got a spring roll which looked good.

garden cafe

BF loves lo mein so he ordered the Combination Lo Mein, which had a couple kinds of veggie meat.

garden cafe

I chose one of the house specialties, Orange Beef.

garden cafe

I had a choice of brown or white rice which I always appreciate.  Here’s my brown rice posing next to a shrimp I stole from bf’s lo mein.

garden cafe

Overall the food was very good.  If you’re not a fan of fake meats they had veggie and tofu selections as well.  It’s a little pricy compared with standard Chinese fare, but the portions are large enough for leftovers.

We travelled onward to our hotel, Buena Vista Palace.  We were originally thinking of staying at a “moderate” Disney hotel, but this was a much more affordable room that was still really close to all the Disney action.  The decor was modern, the bed was comfy, and the room was cold.  We opted for a “Disney view” room, so Friday night we watched the fireworks over Epcot.  Here’s the view when we arrived, you can see the Epcot sphere at the right on the horizon.

disney view

After the fireworks we headed to one of bf’s favorite places on earth, the ESPN Club at the Boardwalk, to watch the A’s/Giants game.  I was feeling snacky so I ordered fries, which came in this contraption.

espn club

I think it’s supposed to be like a basketball hoop?  I’m still not sure.  I didn’t know it came with the dipping sauces on the bottom, and didn’t eat any of them.  Ketchup is enough for me.

Saturday morning we ate blueberry muffins I had pulled from my freezer, and I had hotel coffee with instant creamer and stevia, which was actually pretty good.  For lunch we headed to Big River Grille, also in the Boardwalk area.  This brewpub is owned by Gordon Biersch, who also owns A1A Aleworks in St. Augustine.  I had previewed the menu online to be sure I’d find something to eat there.

I ordered their beer sampler, 3 ounces of 6 kinds of beer.  It was quite a bit for lunch, but I like to get samplers at brewpubs to get a feel for everything they do.  This was after I kicked the table and spilled some of it.

big river grille

I didn’t care much for the light lager or the pilsner.  The seasonal wheat beer was okay, and the special cherry beer in the middle was interesting.  The flavor was good but it had lost carbonation in the brewing process since it was an experimental beer.  My favorites were the darker beers, the pale ale and the red ale.  I’m not sure why there weren’t any truly dark beers, I guess they brew those seasonally.

For lunch I ordered the hummus appetizer minus the feta it comes with.  I was pretty hungry and forgot to take a picture until I was a couple bites in.

big river grille

The hummus was standard, good but not anything special.  My only wish was that there were more veggies.  I was worried an appetizer portion wouldn’t be enough, but thankfully this was plenty to get me through until dinner.

After lunch we went back to the room and took a TWO AND A HALF HOUR nap.  We didn’t mean to sleep that long.  The room was just so dang comfortable!  It was lucky bf had thought to set an alarm just incase.

Next stop was La Nouba.  We got dressed up all nice, but bf didn’t want to appear in a photograph.

la nouba

The show was amazing.  I knew it would be good, and it delivered.  Even bf, who wasn’t sure he would like it, said “I liked it a lot more than I thought I would”.  If you ever have a chance to see any of the Cirque du Soleil performances, go.  I hope to see more of them.

We had planned to go to dinner that night at an Ethiopian restaurant, but it took a little longer to get out of the theater than anticipated, and bf was hoping to be back at the ESPN Club by 9 for another baseball game.  So we decided to postpone our dinner plans and just eat at the ESPN Club.  I knew thanks to one of Ruby Red Vegan’s Disney food posts that there was a suitable veggie sandwich on the menu.  I double checked with our waitress, who sent the chef out with a list of ingredients to go over with me, and sure enough the Grilled Veggie Sandwich with Cucumber Salad is vegan!  It was pretty good too, the bread was hearty and the vegetables well seasoned.  The only thing that got me was that the grilled veggies had been chilled so the whole meal was cold.

espn club

I wasn’t in a beer mood, so I got this frou frou drink which I think was called the Power Play.  It had blue caracao, melon liqeuer, lemon and pineapple juice, and I think rum.  I’m a sucker for anything with melon liqeuer.

espn club

We slept like babies again Saturday night.  The next morning we packed up, walked around Downtown Disney for a bit, then headed to Nile Ethiopian.  I’d only had Ethiopian food a few times, and was looking forward to trying it again.  I ordered the vegetarian combination plate.

nile ethiopian

From left to right there is a salad with vinegary dressing, spicy lentils, split peas, collard, and cabbage on the bottom.  I don’t know the proper names of the dishes but I know they were all tasty.  BF liked the flavors but wasn’t a big fan of the sour injeera bread you use to scoop.

Overall I had a great time.  We slept a lot, ate a lot, saw an awesome show, and now it’s back to the daily grind.  I hope everyone else had a great weekend.

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