Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Raise a Toast

I visited Disneyland for the first time when I was 26 years old. I didn't wear a princess dress, but even without, it was pretty magical; in fact, I was so enamored we went back 6 months later the same year!

Gabriel and I have not been on a vacation since... that was three years ago (unless you include our weekend tromp to Bryce Canyon which was wonderful but did not include a plane ride, or an extended drive...) We ended our vacation hiatus at the first of May by jetting across the country, taking full advantage of our fun new benefits courtesy of the many hours of hard work we've spent over the past few years. We made our way down to Florida to visit Disney World.

Now, Disney World and Disneyland are not the same place; they may have the same first name, but they are very different. For instance, there is no Epcot in Disneyland. All my life I've wondered what was in that giant space ball... it's not that exciting I have to admit, but nevertheless, I thoroughly enjoyed myself in Epcot. Epcot is a mini universe, complete with restaurants, shopping centers, boutiques and rides that comprise the culture and history of so many of the wonderful countries in the world.

Disney World itself is a country of it's own and we were fortunate enough to visit during an especially imaginative time: The International Flower and Garden Festival. The park is decorated with fully organic works of art; shrubs, flowers, trees, etc. all shaped to impersonate our favorite Disney characters. The horticulturists at Disneyworld are amazing! Daffy Duck roasting marshmallows over an open fire, giraffes from Lion King, Cinderella and Prince Charming, and of course Mickey and Minnie Mouse! 


We ate pastries in France, watched unicyclists in Italy, and took a high-seas Viking boat ride in Norway. In Germany we feasted at the Biergarten, a German buffet replete with multiple delicious varieties of potato and sausage dishes, and celebrated Oktoberfest.

Germany Pavilion
Disney World, Florida
Online Reservations

Frau Weiting, my high school German teacher would have been so proud of me conversing with and enjoying the ambiance of this little part of Germany! This small version of Germany seemed to be a direct transplant from the country in Europe. Everyone spoke with a wonderfully thick accent including our handsome seater Hans, and our adorable server Svenja. 

One German tradition is feasting at a large banquet table, seated with persons you do not know. We were seated with a Father and Daughter from California, and two couples, one from Arizona and the other from Philadelphia. We enjoyed getting to know each other and raising our glasses to toast the German Culture, and our own vacations, as prompted by our in-dining entertainment.  

Throughout our meal, a wonderful authentic German band (our in-dining entertainment) serenaded the crowd with German music and songs, even inviting the patrons to come below the stage to dance. 

Their finale presentation ensued with a presentation of a magical orchestrated ensemble completed by the lead vocalist/trumpeter and the hornist center stage, with the band in tow, performing a special selection with cow bells! 

Every dish was wonderful, throughout both the main course and the dessert, especially the hot potato soup recommended by Svenja. As suspected, I discovered a particular fondness for the Bavarian Cheesecake, shown far right in the below picture. It was the most ethereal cheesecake I've ever had the pleasure of consuming. 

I've tracked down the recipe for you, courtesy of AllEars, and if you ever find yourself in Germany via Florida, don't pass up the opportunity to visit the Biergarten and enjoy a generous sampling of this cake! 

One Year Ago: Dancing in the Kitchen, Fairy Oatmeal Cookies. 

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Failed Fusion

Carrot Cake is, hands down, my favorite cake... so when I wanted cake this past weekend Carrot Cake was the obvious choice. I will eat Carrot Cake without abandon, without guilt and without regret.

But see, I have this tendency to get infatuated with things... for instance chocolate chunks. So this weekend, I decided to pair my favorite cake with my current infatuation and I added chocolate chunks to my favorite Carrot Cake. Oh, but I didn't stop there, I took it a step further and added chocolate to the cake batter itself...
Chocolate Chunk Chocolate Carrot Cake

Oh it was good, don't get me wrong, but Carrot Cake it was not. While Carrot Cake has an elusive texture and rich flavor peppered with the sweetness of carrots without the zealousness of sugar, the chocolate overwhelmed the individual flavors and hampered the fusion of ingredients leaving the cake a bit flat in my opinion.

It was still super tasty, it was cake after all.
1 cup oil
2 cups sugar
Cream together until smooth and integrated

3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
Whisk together until batter lightens in texture and color
1 cup cocoa powder
16oz pineapple tidbits with juice
2 cups finely shredded carrots
1 cup coconut
1 cup walnuts
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 cup chocolate chunks
Stir to combine

Pour into prepared pan, 2 cake rounds or angel food cake/bundt pan
Bake at F350°, 45-60 minutes depending on pan size, until cake springs back to the touch
Invert onto wire rack, let cool, frost as desired; I opted for a chocolate cream cheese cinnamon frosting (simply add cocoa powder and cinnamon to taste).

Gabriel frosted the cake while I was working late last week and we enjoyed it while relaxing to the max. Want to see me making my favorite cake and throwing ingredients around - sure you do!

One Year Ago: Straying From the Ordinary, Rootbeer Float Cheesecake

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