Chip and Dale Critter Breakfast
I know I said I was going to do the Festival of Holidays food, but I changed my mind. I need a bit to make up some new superlatives to describe it.
I have never done a character meal before. I can't really recall meeting too many characters aside from Ariel when I was a teenager. No, I wasn't creepy about it. A lot of you men and women, and I am only looking at you men, need to keep your hands, phone numbers and lascivious comments to yourselves, if even part of what I have heard is true. Stop being gross, its a family place and they get enough shit inside those hot costumes.
The Chip and Dale Critter Breakfast at Storytellers Cafe in the Grand Californian Hotel has been my one experience with a character meal and I can say that although I could not justify the price to just meet characters, this breakfast buffet was actually worth it to me, due in no small part to the fact that they had lox on the buffet. Chip and Dale were sweet, and the Brer characters from the Disney movie that shall not be named, were fun, too. They make sure to visit all the tables as part of what you are paying for is the entertainment.
I love buffets and I love breakfast, which is why I avoid them generally. I can eat all that I want of what I want until I hate myself as much as I want. There is no keeping things in check. It also allows me to eat things I wouldn't normally order. Say, if I were to order off the menu and I had the choice between waffles, migas, and eggs benedict, I would generally get the benedict.
Let's be honest, I would probably order all three, but that's beside the point.
The lox were both plain and dill flavored. They had the standard accompaniment of onions, tomatoes, capers, and lemons. Butter and cream cheese were both whipped up enough to make them easily spreadable. Bagels were available and of the quality that you would find on many a buffet, not New York tier, but acceptable.
The breakfast potatoes had peppers and onions on them to keep them from being just plain old potatoes and there were tater tots, as well, which as tempted as I was I avoided. Why? Why would I avoid the tots? The potatoes were flavored up enough on their own, and I still had to save room for the other treats.
Now, you might be asking yourself, "Matthew, if you passed up tots for a thin reason, why didn't you bypass potatoes all together?" Because I am not a savage, that's why. I still ate like an animal, so calm your jets.
The scrambled eggs were good and will probably work well for a picky kid, or a picky adult. They were not cooked to the point of being dry.
Migas and eggs benedict. Two great tastes that taste great together. America and Mexico together sharing a plate in all their glory. The migas were just barely spicy. Enough to notice but no oppresively so. If you think ranch dressing is spicy you might find them challenging, but they were great. The eggs benedict were the luxurious breakfast decadence that you expect them to be without being fussed with. Everything seemed to be as fresh as a buffet product could be, without having been made and put into a hot box to hold it until they needed a back up brought out. There seemed to be a high level of care for the product. Which brings me to the next thing on the buffet, and the one I had the most trepidation about. The Mickey Waffles.
I had three plates of food of varying sizes, pacing the buffet back and forth like a caged tiger, side-eyeing the waffles. Waffles are one of those foods that don't hold up well on a buffet. They should be crispy on the outside and moist inside. If they sit on the buffet or worse, sit in a hot box, they deteriorate into a soft and chewy mess that only copious amounts of butter and syrup can mask the texture of. When I set them down on my plate you could hear it chatter a bit. Surely they had dried out on the bottom. I slathered them in butter and syrup and sat down at the table to eat them begrudgingly.
I put in the first piece in my mouth, because I was for sure and for certain, at the very least, going to hate-eat a Mickey Waffle. I'm hoping that everyone else gets the waffle I had. It was perfect, especially out of a steam table. Kudos to the staff and the chef for maintaining such high quality.
Ralph Brennan's Jazz Kitchen
Ralph Brennan's Jazz Kitchen is one of the non-Disney offerings in Downtown Disney. It is well themed and the night we were there there was a great piano player, who's last name escapes me, but his first name was definitely "Kirk with a k, like Captain Kirk, not Curt." The architecture is of the Spanish Colonial you would find in the French Quarter. I don't think that third-party restaurants are allowed to be bland on Disney property, and the theme is executed well without becoming too much of a caricature of New Orleans.
I wanted the gumbo, I wanted the etouffe, and I wanted the boudin balls. So I settled on the soup trio which that night also featured a mushroom soup as soup of the day. And I got the boudin balls, duh. All the soups were good, but the I really enjoyed the mushroom. It caught me off guard. I was expecting a pretty basic soup of the day fare, but I found myself wanting more. The boudin balls were crispy and meaty.
For my entree I had the Catfish St. Charles. I am not sure it this is a classical think or a modern name, either way it's tasty and I am not waste valuable google searches on validating or refuting it's authenticity. Lort knows that I have only a working knowledge of classical French preparations. Shrimp, Catfish, and a grit cake. It was solid eating, but I like freshwater fish. If you are gun shy about catfish, don't fear. The catfish has so much going on with its sauce that it blends in nicely.