Port Canaveral

Waking up on a Saturday morning with so many options can be daunting. 🙂

After mulling over a few possibilities last Saturday, we chose to drive to Port Canaveral to see the cruise ships and to test out the drive for a future cruise. It’s always fun to see the DCL busses whizzing by. It was a nice familiar sight after living in our new beach town for a month now. We love it, but it is an adjustment to living in an unfamiliar place.

We also had lunch at our usual, Gulls Seafood Deck and Tiki Bar, although we noticed several other restaurants along that row for a future visit. My lunch was so sparse, I was starving afterwards (a few grilled shrimp and nothing else), so we shared an amazing chocolate cake. Basically, I had a margarita and a piece of chocolate cake for lunch – lol! We managed to take a shot of it after a bite or two. 🙂

Rich and his Summer Breeze

Chocolate Chip Cake (minus a bite or two)

After lunch, we walked along the water to see how close we could get to the ships. There were 4 ships in port that day: Disney Fantasy, Norwegian Epic, Carnival Magic, and Carnival Sunshine.

Norwegian Epic, Disney Dream, and one of the Carnival ships in photo

Christmas at Disney’s Yacht Club

We knew we wanted to spend Christmas Day at Disney World (outside the parks for crowd and AP blockout reasons) and have Christmas dinner at one of the restaurants. We couldn’t decide which, though, so we changed our ressies several times. But when we read about the new Ale and Compass at the Yacht Club, we settled on that the day before. And we were so glad we did.

Of course we love the Yacht Club – it is our home resort at WDW ever since our first stay there back in 1999 (the Contemporary was Kathy’s first back in 1982). We were very impressed with Ale and Compass – the decor, the food, and the service.

Christmas Lunch
by Rich

Starter (Shared)
Oven-roasted Oysters
with Spinach and Creamed Kale, White Cheddar, and Cornbread Crumbs

Entree – Kathy
Maine Lobster Roll
with choice House-made Vinegar Chips

Entree – Rich
Open-faced Skirt Steak Sandwich
with Caramelized Onions, Poached Egg, Fennel, Watercress, and Tomato Salad with Truffle Vinaigrette

Wine – Kathy
Domaine Savary Chablis, Burgundy

Wine – Rich
Columbia Crest Grand Estates Syrah, Columbia Valley

The oven-roasted oysters were fabulous, just the right start to the meal. The breading and accompaniments to the oysters were in perfect proportion to the oysters.

Kathy’s lobster roll was wonderful – not over-dressed, just delicious chunks of lobster on a nicely-sized roll. Kathy enjoyed an ideal pairing of hard-to-find Chablis.

Rich’s medium-rare skirt steak was incredible – tender, juicy, and full of flavor. The caramelized onions and truffle vinaigrette were especially nice touches. The Syrah was a splendid pairing, achieving a lovely balance between blackberry fruit and sweet smokiness.

After our meal we walked the Boardwalk, stopping at our usual kissing spot, and popped into the Boardwalk where we were each offered a complimentary peppermint sugar cookie. We continued our walk full circle to the Yacht Club – Rich even skipped his usual Boardwalk skip – and two stools at the Hurricane Hanna pool bar called our names and we each had a Margarita.

We chatted with other guests from St. Augustine, noting that this is the real replacement for the Trout Pass Bar at Wilderness Lodge. It has the same vibe that Geyser Point sadly does not quite have with so many families gathering there.

After our cocktails and conversation (love this about Disney World), we were in search of coffee before we hit the road and ended up at Beaches and Cream where Rich got us two coffees and two ice cream sandwiches (huge but yummy – lol) while Kathy grabbed us a table overlooking Stormalong Bay.

We stopped in at the gift shop where Yacht Club coffee cups captured our attention, made our purchases and then we drive back to the beach.

It was a gorgeous day out – low 70s compared to mid 50s at the beach. What an awesomely perfect Christmas! Disney for the day was even better being able to return to our new home at the beach.

Aunt Catfish’s on the River ala Art Smith

We took some time out from packing up the resort to scout out some of the neighboring beach cities and when we spotted Aunt Catfish’s on the River in Port Orange, we knew we had to stop there for lunch.

We asked to be seated on the porch (inside they were serving a brunch buffet) but we were able to order off the regular menu. Looking for something reasonably healthy, I was dismayed to notice that everything cane with a hush puppy and their “famous” cinnamon roll.

I don’t usually eat cinnamon rolls unless they’ve come highly recommended and I had determined I would ignore it when it came with my sautéed shrimp and cucumber/tomato salad. But as soon as I saw it I knew I would have to taste it.

OMG (I also try to avoid that, too, but trust me – it was definitely OMG-worthy)!! The most amazing cinnamon roll ever!! We’ve since learned you can get boxes in different sizes to go and that spells T-R-O-U-B-L-E!

The hush puppy was special, too, with a crusty outside and soft flavorful with a hint of sweetness inside – they can sometimes be a bit bland. Best hush puppy ever and I go back to Biloxi, Mississippi in the 1980s for my first hush puppy.

Rich had the Catfish with grits lunch and we both had a Bloody Mary, creating our own brunch. We’ll definitely be back – perhaps after church? I’m already thinking about the Fried Green Tomato BLT.

This is the old Florida experience Chef Art Smith is going for at Homecomin’ at Disney Springs, which is a favorite of ours, but at about a third of the cost and a whole lot closer to home, we might just stick to the real deal.

Thanksgiving at Sanaa

We tossed around many ideas for Thanksgiving, made and canceled a few ressies  and settled in Sanaa at Animal Kingdom Lodge. It was a very good choice!

Some of you may recall our first Sanaa Thanksgiving meal back in 2011. The African flavors offer a tasty twist to what could be a boring traditional turkey dinner. We asked our server for a wine recommendation and we went with the Black Pearl Mischief Maker, which paired very well with the turkey dinner.

Btw, she gave us a very generous poor but the photo was taken well into the meal. 🙂

For dessert we shared the African Spice Cake,

(This year Sanaa also offered a couple of alternatives to turkey,)

And the atmosphere at Animal Kingdom Lodge in general! Dark, cozy, inviting, peaceful all decorated for Christmas with traditional Christmas music sung by beautiful African voices.

And tne there’s the service – so very warm and friendly. Simply superb!

We were seated at a table for two next to a large window overlooking the Savanna. It was feeding time for the animals and we spotted quite a few. Afterwards, we stopped by Jambo House for shopping and atmosphere soaking.

We just may make Sanaa our annual tradition.

 

If it’s Thursday, it must be Wilderness Lodge

Rich has been quite interested in getting back to Territory Lounge, and I’ve been craving their Dirty Martinis so off we went after work last Thursday. Of course, the drive turned out to be hellacious – there’s no good way to get around Orlando these days – even the toll roads are backed up during commute hours.

We arrived eventually and just entering the WL property makes it all worth it. Our favorite tables at TL were not available, but we found another and looked at the menu. Right away we noticed our usual pizza was no longer on the menu and since this would be our dinner, wings just would not do. So we headed for Geyser Point.

The tables were occupied but we were curious about sitting at the bar ala the old Trout Pass Bar. We found two chairs facing the water, offering a gorgeous view at dusk.

We noticed right away that our favorite from our first visit, the Salmon BLT, was no longer on the menu so we shared a Chicken Sandwich with an order of Fried Oysters and two glasses of Sokol Blosser Evolution. Drinking in plastic cups is no way to drink a Dirty Martini so wine was our best option.

We were sipping our wine while waiting for our food. A couple sat down next to us, ordered a couple of sandwiches and were served while we sat there without food. We were getting very hungry and quite miffed. We asked about our food and somebody went to check.

Still no food. We were getting quite annoyed and ravenously hungry so Rich asked again and somebody ran over and said they would look into it. In the meantime, the couple next door finished eating.

The food eventually arrived, we ate, it was quite good, and we were comped the food. We said goodnight to our servers and walked over to get a closer look at the cabins and fell in love with the place. Rich chatted with a guy we’d seen at the bar ordering a double Jameson now enjoying his drink and cigar on a beautiful quiet night.

Overall, it turned out to be a wonderful evening, and we are hoping to stay onsite soon. Day trips from the beach will be too grueling as they almost are from North Orlando.

Photos below (we forgot to capture the food but found one of the oysters – no such luck with the chicken sandwich.)