Sunday, March 11, 2012

A Vegan in Disney World: Part Trois


Already my last post on my culinary tour of Disney World, and the end of my perfect sister-bonding vacation... Five full days and two short half days in Disney World (counting the marathon) was really the perfect amount of time for us to be there. I think we could potentially have used another day to finish up some of the things we didn't get to do (mostly Tomorrowland in the Magic Kingdom, and a couple places in Epcot and the Animal Kingdom), but we definitely got to check all our favourites and more.

I can't stress enough how amazing it was to go on this trip with my sister. It was our first vacation as "adults" together, so for anyone with really close friends/siblings/etc, I highly recommend you take a vacation together now. Haha, I just realized that our first "adult" trip was to Disney World... yep, that's just who we are! It seems silly to say, but it made me happy in a way I actually hadn't been in a really, really long time. Running a 1/2 marathon and all, it was an actual vacation. Here were some pre- and post-marathon celebratory eats:

Day 5: Pre-Marathon Meal at Via Napoli, World Pavilion, Epcot

Not wanting to jinx her first run, my sister opted for the whole carb-loading/pasta dinner method so we went back to Epcot's World Pavilion to dine on pasta the right way... in "Italy." We made reservations that morning for an early dinner at Via Napoli, and I knew this probably wouldn't be a mecca for vegan food. 

That being said, it's Disney World, and I got to be a princess for five days. Also, our waiter was super open to my veganism, saying that he had a vegan friend back home so he understand how challenging it can be to eat vegan and Italian. I did see that the menu was pretty vegetarian friendly, so I knew making a couple switches wouldn't be too difficult either. As always, they were really good about everything, and had one of the managers come over to make sure my order was indeed properly veganized. Because we wanted to get a little fancy that evening, I went for this delicious appetizer:
Veganized Eggplant Caponata
The flavours of this was sooo delicious. 
I think I could have order three or four and called it dinner.
My Salad Beast: Pollo sans Pollo...
I managed to get a laugh out of the waiter, when I looked at the salad section
of the menu and asked for the Pollo (chicken, in Italian)... without the Pollo.
This salad was a lot bigger than it looks. Its simplicity was exactly what I needed after
a couple nights of huge dinners. It was exactly what I needed before the run!

Day 6: Trip Celebratory Dinner at Jiko, Animal Kingdom Lodge

And then, after being up since 3:30am to run a successful half-marathon, my sister and I went for our last-night-here Feast. I'd been looking forward to going to Jiko since before we even got to Disney World. I had seen online that they had a special menu for almost every dietary lifestyle under the sun: omnivore, vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, lactose intolerant, and more. The place itself was lovely, named Jiko, meaning "the Cooking Place" for the central open-concept kitchen they had. After our fantastic experience at Boma, which was the slightly less fancy dining option right next door, we knew we were in for a treat.

By the time we got to Jiko, we were hungry, like, hungry hungry hippo hungry... or maybe fit, athletic, half-marathon running hippos? The waiter was even a little surprised by how much we wanted to eat, but he did agree that we had just run a half-marathon, so he cut us some slack... haha. Are you noticing how many times I'm subliminally inserting the whole "I ran a half-marathon" message into the past two paragraphs?

Anyway, our last dinner started with the Taste of Africa sample which was four dips (don't remember exactly what they were anymore but there was a very spicy masala, a delicious Moroccan tomato-based dip usually used as a fish sauce, an African-spiced pesto, and a spruced up hummus). 
I cannot even begin to describe the vegan bread that came with it (sorry for the dark photos, the restaurant was romantically lit and I only had my phone cam)... Because the waiter already thought we were porkers, I had to keep myself from asking for more when he suggested it:
For the main course, I opted for the Durban Curry Vegetable Plate, which made me really happy. The curry sauce was light and excellent, and once again, you can't go wrong with a plate full of veggies. It had just the right amount of jasmine rice, sprouts, and lots and lots of veggies.
Dessert, oh dessert. Did I tell you that after the vegan ice cream no-go at Boma, I had it in my mind that if Disney World truly was a magical place it would give me vegan ice cream? Now, for the next three days, I scoured Disney World for ice cream. I even spent on night online looking through vegan blogs and reviews just to find out where I could get some... No luck. Until our last night.
So, they blessed us with Toffuti vanilla ice cream for dessert. I had never had it before, it was exactly that type of creamy vanilla ice cream you expect to have in a vegan sandwich. It was the perfect end, to the perfect trip. 

The message I want to leave you with, is that as a vegan, you will have no trouble making your way through Disney World. Everyone was 110% accommodating and friendly about my dietary choice, and often went out of the way to make sure I had enough to eat. You can do it on the cheap, or you can put down some serious cash for some inventive dishes, either way, you will have all you Disney food dreams come true :)

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