Travel Post: Gorging Myself in Orlando (and the Bahamas!)

3:50 PM

As you may have surmised by now, one of my favorite pastimes is eating. Combine that with traveling to a new place, and I am in absolute paradise! Last week, I was fortunate enough to actually visit paradise in the form of Orlando, FL and the Bahamas while on vacation with my boyfriend to celebrate our anniversary.

We hit up the tourist staples in Orlando: Disneyworld, Universal Studios (for the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, of course!), and managed to try some great eats in both the parks and in Orlando restaurants. 


The famous EPCOT ball
Though there are four Disneyworld parks in total, we opted to only go to EPCOT and Animal Kingdom. We have two Disneyland parks in California (Disneyland and Disneyland's California Adventure) which are very similar to Disneyworld's Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios.



EPCOT is particularly exciting in that it features a "World Showcase", with parks that imitate select international countries! Each park is built with the country's characteristics and unique landmarks; for example, the France pavillion has the Eiffel Tower, and Japan with bonzai trees.



An even more exciting fact was that each of these parks offered cuisine and beverages unique to its own country. As such, visitors to EPCOT have the option to play "Snack Around the World", or the more adult but entertaining, "Drink Around the World". I did not eat from every country, since California has such great Japan, Chinese, and Mexican food already, but I did try enough food that I was full throughout the whole day. The best part about the food in EPCOT is that everything was very affordable and my bank account did not suffer too much.



Our first stop was in Norway, where I tried the Cream Horn and the Schoolbread.  Both were around $3, which I thought was a very fair price for yummy pastries from a themepark!

Cream Horn

Schoolbread
Both were delicious, but I prefered the Cream Horn to the Schoolbread.

Next stop was China. I grew up eating Chinese food, so I did not to try any of the food. I ordered the "Tipsy Ducks in Love" drink, which is essentially hong kong style milk tea with a healthy dose of whiskey.




Whiskey and milk tea is a surprisingly tasty combination. Not to mention that I did feel the alcohol halfway through the alcohol!



In Japan, I tried the Green Tea Colada. The Green Tea Colada is a blended frozen drink which reminded me of green tea ice cream. Unfortunately, while I greatly enjoyed this drink, I did not taste any alcohol in it. I suppose that's to be expected with a frozen drink!




In Germany, my boyfriend had a german-style hot dog - a sauerkraut, I believe. It was savory and satisfied our hunger a bit. Germany also had alcoholic beverages which I was too stuffed to try.




I should have tried the grapefruit beer.

Baked goods galore!
Next stop was France - which turned out to be my favorite country in EPCOT. I'm a huge fan of baked goods, so Boulangerie Pattisserie was a must-stop for me! I definitely spent the most money here because I wanted everything

Napoleon Cake - one of my favorite snacks. It has layers of crispy pastry with custard in between. (I later discovered you can find this at your local Whole Foods.)
French donuts with a lemony taste. I could have passed on this.
Ice cream available at L'Artisan Des Glaces
Croque Glace at L'artisan Des Glaces

White chocolate coconut ice cream with raspberry sauce in a warm, fresh baked brioche bun

Tarte Aux Fraises (Strawberry Tart). This would have been good if they made the filling out of custard instead of plain whipped cream. I could have passed on this as well.

Croque Monsieur. This was a bit pricey at around $8, but very savory and delicious! It was my favorite thing to eat at all of EPCOT.

Quiche - the crust was buttery and flakey. The cheese flavor in the quiche was not overpowering either.
In America, I tried the Rocky Road Mousse Brownie ($4). I did not enjoy this as it tasted like a normal brownie and was nothing spectacular.

In England, we ate Fish and Chips!
The England pavillion
Fish and Chips from the Ye Olde Yorkshire Fish Shoppe
The Fish and Chips were flakey, warm, and everything fish and chips should be. They make the breading just right - it's crispy, not crusty-like microwavable fish and chips.

In Morocco, we had some mediterranean-style food ($15 for the plate below) at the Tangierine Cafe. Not too shabby!
Falafel, beef, and chicken in pita wraps with a side of hummus, beans, and some green vegetables

Almond cheesecake ($4)
The Almond cheesecake was not good, and I could have passed on it. If you're curious, it tastes like an almond danish from any bakery.

We certainly ate a lot at EPCOT, but as I mentioned earlier, I actually did not spend a lot of money because the pastries were only around $4 each, the heavier meals around $7-$15, and the alcohol drinks at around $8-$9.

We visited Disneyworld's Animal Kingdom a few days later, but they did not have as wide variety of food as EPCOT did.
Disneyworld Animal Kingdom's "Tree of Life"
Zebra Cupcake - vanilla cupcake with buttercream frosting and chocolate on top ($4)
Ribs with a side of coleslaw and beans (~$10)

The things that we did try at Animal Kingdom were pretty good for theme park fare. We also tried "Beef Lo Mein" at a stand in the "Asia" park in a fit of desperation, but it was not particularly good. I don't think Asian food in theme parks could ever compare to what we have here in California.

At Universal Studios, the only food I ate -or should I say, drink?- was Butterbeer! I'm a HUGE Harry Potter fan, so visiting Hogwarts and Hogsmeade was very much a dream come true. I was introduced to Harry and friends at the tender age of 10, and every year would devour the newest book overnight. It was a sad time for me when the last book came out.

When I first stepped foot into Hogsmeade, I thought I would pass out from excitement. I may have shed a tear out of happiness.

Hogwarts!



Butterbeer is everything I imagined it would be - butterscotchy, caramelly, whipped goodness! There are long lines at all the Butterbeer carts, but (hint hint!) absolutely no line inside the Three Broomsticks. Each cup is ~$5, but I purchased the souvenir cup for an additional $7.

When we were not at any themeparks, we also tried a few restaurants in Orlando. I initially thought that there would only be touristy and gimmicky restaurants, but there are some great restaurants in Orlando. We chose great restaurants, and I enjoyed every one:

1. Maggiano's Little Italy (yelp) - A great family-style Italian restaurant which was across the street from where we were staying. There was always a long wait for prime dinner hours (an hour or more for 2 people), so we really wanted to try it! 

When we finally were able to secure a reservation, we were not disappointed. The food was great, service was impeccable, and we left happy and full. If only this place was in California...
Garlic stuffed mushrooms (Apologies for the low quality picture)
Meatball Spaghetti

Individual-sized Creme Brulee

2. Marlow's Tavern (yelp) - Also across the street from our hotel was Marlow's Tavern. Very unique bar food with great brews.
Crab nachos - mmmm!
Local Florida beer - hoppy and quite refreshing
Crab fried balls with a side of garlic aoli

3. Pio Pio Restaurant (yelp) - Our last day in Florida, we craved some Peruvian food. Pio Pio is a definite must try for those of you who like peruvian food! They had some great lunch specials, and everything was just very, very delicious.
1/4 rotisserie chicken - very juicy and flavorful

Skirt steak lunch special, with a side of beans, crispy plantains, and saffron rice. I think that green sauce that it comes with has some sort of crack in it as well!
 4. Friendly's (yelp) - For some reason, I'm convinced that I heard of the name "Friendly's" somewhere, so I dragged my boyfriend here our first night in Orlando. They serve American breakfast food, but also have a separate ice cream stand inside the restaurant. I got the "Chunky Hubby" flavor. which is vanilla ice cream with caramel, fudge, and chunks of peanut butter chocolate. 

They give a fairly generous scoop (this was the size of one scoop)!



Who knew Orlando was such a foodie city?

As I mentioned previously, we also went on a cruise on Royal Carribean to the Bahamas. The weather was lovely, and the beaches were absolutely stunning! I had no idea that such places in the world actually existed!



The sand was absolutely to die for
The water was so clear and warm. We went snorkeling above a coral reef, and it was one of the most memorable moments of my life
Kalik = beer of the bahamas. Tastes similar to Coors Light, but with a twist

While we were in the Bahamas, we booked an all-inclusive day trip to the Sandy Toes Resort. Sandy Toes granted us access to a private island which included food, snorkeling, lounge chairs, and a boat ferrying us to and from the main island. It was definitely what I most enjoyed from my whole vacation, since it gave us a quiet recluse from all the noise and crowds of the main part of the island. If you are planning a trip to the Bahamas, I highly recommend looking into Sandy Toes! The folks who work there are very friendly, and it was SUCH a great experience.
Fried fish, salad, and hot dogs that Sandy Toes served at their lunch buffet

I of course, took also took the opportunity to try local Bahamian food while we were in town. After much research, we decided to hit up The Fish Fry, a block of local restaurants which serves Bahamian food. From my brief stay in the Bahamas, it seemed that food mainly consisted of fried fish and seafood. Namely conch.

Yes, Bahamians eat this type of conch
Fried conch
Delicious!
Conch salad

You may be curious as to what conch tastes like. It doesn't taste like anything in particular. The texture of conch is very chewy, and it does not have a distinct taste like other seafood does. It's not something I have to try again.

The unfortunate bit of our trip was when my boyfriend ate the nerve of a raw conch, he got severe food poisoning and spent the remainder of our cruise in pain! :( So a helpful tip that is applicable anywhere in the world: do NOT eat any raw seafood, especially seafood that you have never tried before!

Overall, it was an extremely fun and relaxing vacation. I was extremely depressed when I had to come back. It's hard to go from frolicking in the warm Florida/Bahamian sun to being shuttered away in an office. I certainly look forward to more vacations and trips in the future!

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