Thursday, October 17, 2019

Mala Sichuan - Finn Hall

This is couple weeks back, before Mala closed the Finn Hall location.
Who knew that was the last time I would be able to enjoy Mala in walking distance.  
No worries, Finn Hall is still there, and Mala still have 2 other locations.
This is Barley Lemon water - like lemonade but less zesty or sweet.

Got their Ma Po Tofu, which is my all time comfort food, despite the fact that my body does not like rice.  It also came with a side of grilled eggplants.  The brown sauce on the eggplant is not the same as the Ma Po Tofu sauce.  Either way, tons of sauce to go with the rice, and that's my weakness.
Along with the lunch portion, it also came with a soup.  That's actually alot of food.  I had split up the soup and the rice so I didn't stuff myself silly.  That said, the wonton has decent amount of meat to go with it.  So needless to say, it's also very filling.

Mala Sichuan
1201 Westheimer Rd
Houston, TX 77006

Or Chinatown location
9348 Bellaire Blvd
Houston, TX 77036

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Disney Food and Wine Festival - Day 2

Here's a recap of the Food & Wine Festival at Disney Day 2
More walking and more eating...
Picking up where I left off the day before.  Here's Belgium.
This is the Beer - Braised Beef over a bed of smoked gouda mashed potato.  It's pretty dang good.  Would've like to have a bigger portion.
Finally, the ALPS!  The long awaited...
... the Raclette.  I'm not going to lie, I was a tad disappointed that the Raclette portion was not enough.  The cheese wasn't melted enough before scraping onto the potato, but you know, it's a rare thing so I treasure it.
Then I got this Milk Capped Lychee Tea at a Tea Stand in front of China.  It's kinda unique, it's lychee iced tea, foamy milk on top (sorta like a latte) and then some Himalayan Salt.  So, the tea is sweet but the foam is salty.  That said, I'm not sure it's worth $7.95.  The Bubble Tea was cheaper.  And frankly, I would have gotten the tea, which is much better without the foam.

Next stop on the World Tour, is Africa.
This is the much talked about Kenyan Coffee BBQ Beef Tenderloin with sweet potato and corn mealie and slaw.  The Slaw was fine, the sweet potato was fine, but the much talked about tenderloin was chewy and cannot taste the coffee marinate.  It was actually pretty disappointing for a dish.
Walking along.  Wait, what?!  There's a Chocolate Studio?  How can I not stop in?!
This is the liquid nitro chocolate-almond truffle with whiskey caramel.
They basically threw a bunch of words that I like into one dish and I'm totally ok with that.  What they did is this mousse-like texture, they scoop it into a bucket of nitrogen and do a 'flash' cook.  By the time they fish it out it's a solid and they smash it with a mini-hammer, and sprinkled in these salty crumbs.  It's scrumptious.  Highly recommend.
Next to it is the Cheese Studio, WHA?!
Here, I had the Black Pepper Boursin SoufflĂ©.  It is a nice little soufflĂ© in a mini muffin style and they add some fig marmalade.  The sweet and the saltiness from the cheese makes a perfect match.  It's actually a good pairing.
Oui Oui, here we are in France!
This is the Boeuf Braise a la Bordelaise, Pomme Dauphine.  So, that is braised beef in cabernet with red onion and puffed potato.  I can eat those puffed potato all day with that sauce.  It was so good, but I had to focus!  Only taste, not full dish.
Last thing, out at the Refreshment Outpost, I got a Nigerian Meat Pie.  It is really an empanadas with curried minced meat inside.  We happen to get there when they have a fresh batch out of the oven, so it was hot, hot, hot!
Of course, this is Disney.  You can get any merch regarding this event from head to toe.  Then, again. I kept reloading my gift card, which is unique to this event and it's a good keepsake for me.

Now, for something different....
Here are the very controversial Galactic Bottles.  
They were much talked about because you can only get it here at Disney Star Wars Galaxy Edge.  Nowhere else in the park.  Lots of people think they're neat and bring them home as a souvenir.  EXCEPT, TSA thinks its shaped like a detonator and therefore caused an uproar.  If you check, most TSA in Orlando have seen these enough times to let them thru.  However, don't forget that 3oz liquid rule.  Which means, you cannot get a full bottle home.  Enjoy the drink, rinse it out, pack it, and take it home for a good wash and enjoy it then.

This trip was fun.  Ate lots, saw lots, walked lots.  I highly recommend you do a trip with people who have the same gusto as you.  Don't forget to pace yourself, both in the money and the food department.  At the end of the day, you are paying theme park prices, so yes, things are inflated.  If you veer off to do an official meal, double check and see if they do mobile order.  One of the Disney Apps can help you skip the line.

Let's talk tickets: their prices is depended on their predicted attendance.  That said, it's a little also like booking airfare.  The earlier and more days you book ahead, the cheaper it is.  You can add park hopper, which allows you to move from park to park, which I did one day in 3 parks.  OR! They have a deal that lets you in after noon for a discount price, but they only have 2 days or more on sale, not less. 

Another reason you want to get your tickets at least 60 days earlier is so that you can book your fast pass.  Some folks this is a sport, it's all strategic and good planning.  For instance, you can only do 3 fast passes in one park.  So, if you have a park hopper, how do you plan and so on.  Either way, it's Disney, you'll have fun!

Epcot Food and Wine Festival (thru Nov 23, 2019):

Coke Bottles at Galaxy Edge:

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Disney Dining on site

We stayed at the Port Orleans Riverside
Love the scenic area that they created.
They don't miss the details here at Disney.  They even have a boat that takes you to Disney Springs.  Otherwise, you can take their bus and it'll take you to various parks.
Every hotel property has its own general store (aka a mini Disney store), fancy restaurant, bar, and a food court.  This food court is the Riverside Mill.
They have several stations for different type of food in different windows.  Like they have pancakes here.
Omelettes, with variety and kids version.
While they're not made to order, they are still pretty fresh.  Of course, that helps expedite the lines and the guests can go to the park that much faster.  

And if you're not quite ready, you can ask them to give you a lid and you can bring it back to your room.
Of course, you cannot skip the Mickey Waffles.
Let's not joke, one of my MUST HAVEs in the morning...
Not the muffins ...
... or the danish.
It's Coffee!!!!  So, Day 1, I got the omelette and bacon, and of course coffee.  Nothing spectacular, but it'll keep you filled up for the day.
Day 2, I got the Mickey Waffle platter, which came with the waffle, egg, sausage and bacon and potato.  That's actually alot of food.  

The morning scene can be chaotic because folks are awake and ready to go to the parks.  Tip: if you could, wake up early and take advantage of the Magic Hour, which is different at different park on different days.  That way, you beat the crowd on the breakfast and on the busses too.

The other thing, if you're staying on site, check for Disney Dining Plan.  They now have several levels and you can find one that suits your needs.  But more importantly, it'll link up to your wristband, which is also your room key, fastness, photo pass, and now add your meal plan. 

Should one of the places you want food from is crowded, you can see if they're on Mobile order, and you can place your order on the app and then walk up to the pick-up window when it's ready.  Worth downloading before leaving the house.

The Riverside Mill Food Court
in Port Orleans Riverside

Monday, October 14, 2019

Disney's Food and Wine Festival 2019

I've always wanted to go to the Disney's Food and Wine Festival.
Of course, having an excuse to visit the House of Mouse, also a perk.
The festival is taken place in Epcot Center which means you need to have a ticket to the park.
 Food is extra, the dishes ranges from $4.50 - 6.50 for food and the drinks for non-alcoholic is less than $8-ish, and alcoholic drinks are $8.50-15.  If the booth serves flights that's your best bet.

As many blogger suggested, cap yourself, because you can go crazy paying the theme park price quick.  So think of it like going to Vegas, give yourself a max and cut yourself off.  Another perk is that if you do gift cards here, they give you a limited edition gift card to the event and when you're done, it can be a keep sake.  Of course, they are Disney, they think of everything.  This come in a stretchy wrist band, so you can easily go from booth to booth and easily use the gift card. 
 1st Stop: Australia
 The Roasted Lamp Chop looked great.  It was served with Sweet Potato Puree, Bushberry Pea Salad, and pistachio-Pomegranate Gemolata.  I loved the way they had the lamp chop, the sweet potato was good.  On to the next thing!
This was formerly the 360 theatre in Canada.  Instead, they decorated it to be the Appleseed Orchard. One one side it has the Apple Wine Bar, which has about 7 kinds of wine, 1 kind of Apple Beer, 2 kinds of Apple ale, 3 kinds of Apple Ciders.  
 That said, they do have non-alcoholic drinks.  This is the Frozen Apple Pie, you do get the pie part when you mix the slushy with the crumble.  That said, the white stuff you see are apple chunks.  I can do a few sips but had to abandon ship because the slushy's syrup taste like medicine after having a lot of it.
 That said, one thing that was super cute, and yes, I brought one home, is the Apple Shaped popcorn holder.  It has caramel and apple popcorn mix in there.  If you have one of each into one mouth-full, it's actually pretty good.
 Next up: Ireland.
 This is their Roasted Irish Sausage, with colcannon potatoes (aka mashed potato) and onion gravy.  The gravy was awesome, and you can taste a hint of stout in there.  It tasted delicious.
 Then, it's off to Brazil!
 This is the Crispy Pork Belly, over a bed of Black beans, diced tomato & onions (aka pico).  You can't really see the meat, I promise you, it's in there.  It's not too dry, but only top was crispy.  Look, I have not met a pork belly that I don't like, on the other hand, would've appreciate more enhanced flavor.
 Then, of course, my favorite wherever I go: the Pao de Queijo (aka Brazilian Tapioca Cheese Bread).  You cannot go wrong with this.  Should you want to make it at home, it's not hard to do either.
 Last country of the night as they are preparing to close and getting ready for fireworks: Germany.
 This is the Schinkennudeln, which is pasta gratin with ha, onion, and cheese.  Think of it as a Germany version of baked ziti, except there's no sauce.  The is a layer of noodle, layer of filling, and then baked.  Not bad, not one of my best either.  Would've picked the bratwurst instead, but since I got that in Ireland, thought I'd pick something different.  Oh well.
So grateful that I walked and ate all night.  During the Food and Wine Fest, they have a concert every night.  Though they are about 20-30 mins each, they are people or songs you know.  So, while we were there, 98 degrees were there, and folks were having a grand ol' time.  

 The firework indeed was special here at Disney, not spectacular like they are at Magic Kingdom, but it's still unique.  Make sure you time your food and the firework right.

Disney Food and Wine Festival:

You can do some homework before you go: