Monday, February 21, 2011

happy presidents day!

What better day than today to post about the American pavilion! Okay, here's where I'm going to gripe a bit, though. Now, the American Adventure is amazing, as are The Voices of Liberty and The Spirit of American Fife and Drum Corps... but Liberty Inn is hardly the best is American food, and the gift shop is just plain sad. I just can't help feeling that this wonderful country of mine has so much more to offer. I just wish they had done more with this pavilion.

On the other hand, part of it could simply be that I can't look at a display of coonskin caps without shuddering (even though these are obviously, blessedly fake).

I'm sorry, but this is the best they could come up with for American souvenirs? Really?

Okay, okay... back to the matter at hand - vegan snacks. There are actually a number of vegan snacks available here, though they are standard, run-of-the-mill Disney snacks that you can find through Walt Disney World. But, they're snacks and they're vegan, so I'll share.

First up, we have some Chip and Dale snack-packs. Okay, yes, I'm a total sucker for Disney "stuff", so yes, I actually think cashews in a cute little chipmunk bag are better than plain old cashews in a boring package.

They also have pretzels - usually a safe bet for vegans (as these are).

There are several different types of packaged popcorn. Most are not vegan,but the Kettle Corn is. (Ingredients: popcorn, granulated sugar, soybean oil, salt.)

There were also lots of different types of cookies. Most have dairy, but I found one that did not. Minnie's Bake Shop Vanilla Cream Cookies appear to be vegan. (Ingredients: wheat flour, sugar, coconut oil [hydrogenated coconut oil and hydrogenated soybean oil], dextrose, soybean oil, water, contains less than 2% of each of the following: high fructose corn syrup, salt, baking soda, soy lecithin, natural & artificial flavors, ammonium bicarbonate, monocalcium phosphate]

Like I said, not the most exotic selection of snacks, but it's a little something to keep you from suffering "funnel cake envy".

Well, I find myself thinking that I should have something clever to say about my own country, but I'm at a total loss. I suppose that which we're most familiar with does seem boring in comparison to things that are new to us. And perhaps that's my real problem with this pavilion. I'm glad it's there, but I have a lot more fun at the more exotic (to me) locations.

Until the next country, happy Disney dining!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

watashi no hobakurafuto wa unagi de ippai desu

Konnichiwa! (According to a website listing useful Japanese phrases, the title of this post translates to "my hovercraft is full of eels". My apologies if that is not the case.)

I have to confess that I absolutely love Mistukoshi - the huge store in the Japan pavilion. It's probably my favorite place to window-shop at Walt Disney World... and maybe even buy a few small items. Silly, I know... but for some reason, I just have this thing for Hello Kitty stuff. (Hmmm... wonder why? LOL.)

I haven't resorted to wearing the jewelry or anything (most of my jewelry is much more sophisticated... featuring Mickey Mouse, of course). But I do have quite a collection of Hello Kitty pens and pencils.

Okay, so maybe I got a little sidetracked there, but I did finally make my way to the snacks and treats. There is actually quite a large selection of foods here, but most of it is, not surprisingly, not vegan. (Actually, most of it appears rather strange to my American palette... but then, don't knock it if you haven't tried it, and all that.)

I really thought I had discovered one vegan dark chocolate bar here in the past, so if that's what you're interested in, it's worth another look. This time, though, all I managed to find was hard candy.

There were quite a few different kinds. They had two huge displays of these brightly-colored packages.

Almost everything I found listed the ingredients somewhere in English, so no worries if your translation skills are as bad as mine (read: totally non-existent).

Most of these consisted mainly of sugar and fruit flavoring. There were some that were clearly not vegan, but many that looked vegan to me (aside from concerns about the sugar). I do have the ingredients for everything shown - e-mail me, if you're curious.

One last candy was the first to catch my eye. It's called rice candy, and I used to love this stuff when I was a kid. Each candy is wrapped in an edible rice paper, so it's like both the candy and the wrapper are edible. I just thought that was so cool when I was a little girl. I used to buy this stuff - in the same exact little boxes - from a "Hello Kitty" gift shop not far from my house... too many years ago to mention.

(Ingredients for above: Glucose syrup [corn starch, water], sugar, sweet rice, water, lemon flavor, orange flavor, FD & C Red No. 40 [Allura red AC]. Note that as far as my research shows, this coloring is vegan, but please feel free to correct me if I'm wrong about that.)

I have to say that there are certainly a number of un-vegan items in this shop - beware of a "find your own pearl" counter, and plenty of silk items - but if you can set aside any discomfort, this is a fascinating place to wander and explore. I get more of a feel for the culture here than I do in some of the other country's gift shops. It's one of those places that just feels very exotic, for someone who currently lives in the dead center of "nowhere, Ohio".

One last thing before we leave Japan... while I don't know the ingredients, I do recommend trying to catch Miyuki, the candy artist - just to watch. What she can do with a little bit of colored taffy is just amazing! And she is so charming - just a delight to watch.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

flying carpets and magic lamps

The Morocco pavilion at Epcot is one of those amazing places that gets more interesting with each visit. I must confess that it's all too easy to simply pause in front of MoRockin, take a quick peek inside the little shop right on the water, and then simply move onto the next country. But when you take the chance to actually walk back into this pavilion, there are lots of hidden treasures to behold.

This pavilion is rather unusual in that it's the only one actually sponsored by its government, and not by a corporation. The tile-work found here is absolutely stunning - the King of Morocco actually sent his royal craftsmen to do the work. (How cool is that?!) Near the back of the pavilion, there are a couple of little "scenes" that I just find enchanting. I just love this one:

Here's a close-up of the book:

Aladdin and Jasmine can often be found posing for photos, and signing autographs in this pavilion.

But we're here looking for vegan food, right? At first, I thought I was going to strike out. Of course, there's always the vegetarian plate at the Tangierine Cafe, but I was on a mission to find snacks from the gift shops. Sure, the flying carpets were fun, and who doesn't love a nice fez, but was there anything to eat? I did come across a display for rose water and orange water. Doesn't sound all that tempting to me, but I took the time to read the blurb about it. (The sign behind the bottles reads says that Rosewater is produced in a small in the south of Morocco. Most of it is exported to France for use in perfumes and beauty creams, but some is also added to desserts and cakes for a unique flavor. Orange water is distilled from orange blossoms. It's been used in cooking since the Middle Ages, mostly in soups and stews.)

Finding that there were a lot more little shops here than I realized, I finally came across the food. While not exactly "treats", or even "convenience foods", I am happy to report that nearly all these boxes are vegan. Hummus and tabbouleh - Morocco is really not a bad place for vegans.

And we mustn't forget the falafel.

I kept digging, and did finally find something that I "think" is a treat, LOL. It appears to be called "Halva". According to the Internet, this is "a delicious East Mediterranean dessert". (Ingredients are: Tahina (ground sesame), sugar, halva extract, almonds, citric acid, natural flavors.)

Now, I realize that I'm showing you all these interesting items without actually being able to give an opinion about them. Here's the problem... I followed my own advice this time a little too well. I made sure I brought plenty of tasty vegan snacks from home, and purchased a few others on our grocery run at the beginning of the trip. I had a LOT of food in our hotel room. While I most definitely recommend "being prepared" - and I strongly push this on first-time vegan Disney visitors in particular - after so many vegan trips, I probably should just leave the snacks at home, and experiment a bit.

While it looks like my next trip won't be until the end of the year, I am strongly considering attempting a trip without ANY vegan snacks or treats from home, and seeing if I can find enough tasty options at the parks to keep myself happy. It would give me an excuse to try a lot of the items I'm writing about is this series. I would, of course, share all my findings with you. What do you think? Should I brave the unknown, in the name of research?

Sunday, February 6, 2011

bon appetit

Bonjour! While "vegan" is not the first thing that comes to mind when I think of French food, I was pleasantly surprised to find a couple of goodies at the gift shop in Epcot's France pavilion.

First, if you're in the mood for an adult beverage, there is a rather unique offering at a kiosk here, by the water - the unmistakable bright orange frozen concoction called a Grand Marnier Orange Slush (or, as I call it, "that orange slushie thing in France"). Sorry - haven't managed to get a good photo of this one yet, but you'll know it when you see it. I have yet to give it a try, but some folks say they are very tasty. Others think it's a bit too sweet. I suspect that curiosity will win out on a future trip. They're not cheap, but then this is Disney.

As for the gift shop, I had fun picking up all the little food items and reading labels. There are bins full of hard candies - most vegan (as long as you're not worried about sugar, or the usual "may contain traces of..." message):

Here's a close-up of the raspberry-filled ones:

They also had some hard strawberry candies in a cute little tin. (Why is it that candy is so much more fun in cute little tins?)

And I was pleasantly surprised to find some dairy-free dark chocolate:

... as well as some more fancy chocolates in a cute tin:

Description and ingredients for above listed as: 15 Dark Chocolate Squares with Cocoa Beans, Cocoa 70% minimum. Ingredients: cocoa mass, sugar, roasted cocoa beans 8%, emulsifiers: soya lecithin, E476. May contain traces of egg, milk, wheat, shell nuts.) Okay, I confess that I had to look up what E476 meant - but the Internet says it's vegan. :-)

Last but not least, I found a lovely confit. Aside from the fact that it clearly recommends you pair it with some goat cheese, it is basically just fruit and nuts. (Ingredients: figs 50.5%, fruit sugars, cane sugar, white wine from Pays D'Oc, walnuts 1.7%, fruit pectin, concentrated lemon juice. Okay... not sure about that white wine. Please feel free to correct me if that's a questionable item.)

Add a nice baguette, and you could have yourself a very French little picnic here. And when you're done, be sure to check out the Impressions de France. The film may not be the most exciting, but the music is beautiful, the seats are comfy, and the theater is air-conditioned.

Bonsoir mes amis.

we interrupt this regularly scheduled blog...

I promise I'm still making my away across the bridge to France - I will hit every country around the World Showcase. But first, I just had to give a shout out to my buddy Emily, who had an article in last week's e-zine! Yes, there is a VEGAN article in the latest issue, and I actually learned something I didn't already know! No, I'm not going to share that - you'll have to read the article yourself.

And you know what's even more exciting? It looks like she'll be writing even MORE vegan stuff in future editions!

What's that? You're not a subscriber? Well, it's never too late to sign up for the best Disney newsletter in the world - just go here, and fill out the form. And if you missed the latest article, every newsletter includes a link to the archives, so you can read what you missed.

Okay, okay... back to my trip around the World...

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

a spot of tea

Cheerio, and welcome to the UK. I'm not sure if it's the gardens, the architecture, or just all those rows and rows of tea, but something about this pavilion always makes me feel all warm and fuzzy.

Yes, they sell a LOT of tea here. I'm sure it's not everyone's treat of choice, but I have actually become quite the tea-drinker, so this is a regular stop for me now. Although I'm not an expert, it looks like they have every variety of Twinings there is...

... and not just in those stuffy cardboard boxes.

No, most of the candy here isn't vegan - mostly milk chocolate, I'm afraid. But they do have some very British potato chips.

And while most of the cookies had some dairy in them, these Digestive Biscuits appeared to be more or less vegan (depending on your definition). Ingredients listed as: wheat flour, vegetable oil (palm), sugar, wholemeal, partially inverted sugar syrup, raising agents (sodium bicarbonate, tartaric acid, malic acid) salt. Contains gluten. Produced on a line handling milk.

As for non-food treats in this pavilion, there's no shortage of Beatles memorabilia, and there are some adorable teddy bears. (I fell in love with one in a kilt.) This is also the place to shop if Off Kilter inspired you, and you're in the market for a set of bagpipes. And there's a special shop for researching family names - a nice gift idea for a family member.

And I highly encourage you to try and catch the World Showcase Players here. They put on a really fun, and funny, show. For all you bashful fans, though, keep in mind that these actors always look for a few members of the audience to join them. I strongly suggest hanging out well behind the rest of the crowd, and don't make eye contact with any of the actors. Once they've found there victims... err, volunteers... it's safe to move up a bit and watch the show. :-)


Okay, so I'm sure you're thinking "where's this bonanza of vegan treats you promised us?" Well, it does get better. I could have mixed it up a bit, but somehow it just seems right to follow the countries in order. So, next time we'll cross the bridge and see what France has to offer.