Saturday, January 15, 2011

Great Dining in the world of Disney -- Todd English's Bluezoo

"You're going to Orlando????" my 11-year old son asked me as I packed for a week-long conference in mid-January.  "Well," I said, "Technically I'm flying to Orlando, but I'll be eating hotel food for a week and I won't actually enjoy any daylight while I'm there. And no, I'm NOT going to DisneyWorld without you!"  I'm sure he wasn't satisfied, but I wasn't really looking forward to room service or a quick sandwich on the run every night.  Boy, was I surprised -- and decidedly so -- by the fabulous restaurants that populate   the area around Disney.

I attended a private party that was held at Celebrity Chef Todd English's Bluezoo, and it was a wonderfully surprising dinner -- the appetizers were especially delightful and surprising!  We were treated to a wonderful selection of shrimp and oysters in the raw bar, freshly made fish tacos (with rock shrimp) and a host of passed appetizers that were out of this world!  My favorite ones were a series of three appetizers on little plastic gadgets that I can only describe as bulbs with skewers.  The chicken was stuck on the end of the skewer, and when you popped it into your mouth you would then squeeze the sauce out of the bulb on the end -- for a burst of fabulous flavor!  (Here's a link to Mouse Planet Review, where you can find more pictures and descriptions of a similar dining experience -- in case you don't believe me!)

Once we got through the cocktail part of our meal, we were seated -- and treated -- to the main meal, which was lovely.  We started with an a lobster role for our amuse.  First course choices included:  jumbo seared sea scallops w/braised beef short rib and silky cauliflower puree or seared ahi tuna w/ miso caviar and "nitro siracha".  Let me guess, you don't know what that is?  I didn't either, but the waiter brought me over a sample for the blog.  He had a copper pot that was smoking, like when dry ice hits water, and he scooped out a handful of the stuff in the pot and put it in my hand and told me to pop it fast into my mouth.  I was surprised when smoke came out my nose!  No, it's not a party game I would recommend, but several people at my table wanted to try it.  Apparently it was a little spicy sauce for the tuna, but it was mixed with liquid nitrogen.  It would "smoke" for a minute when it first went on the plate, then it would leave a lovely dipping sauce for the tuna. It was certainly entertaining!

For our main course we got to choose between three things: wild mushroom penne (I had that, it was delicious), roasted beef tenderloin, or fish with mustard crab sauce.

For dessert we were served warm chocolate cake with liquid ganache center, with chocolate cream pudding and peanut ice cream -- it tasted a bit like a Reece's Peanut Butter Cub, but the mix of textures and temperatures made this a wonderful selection.

A few years ago our family went to Todd English's restaurant,  English is Italian, where the waiter would make pulled mozzarella at your table.  I was sad when it closed, and I haven't been to visit any of his other restaurants in NYC, but my trip to Bluezoo has piqued my interest. I think I'm going to have to check out Olive or Cava sometime in the future just to keep up.  (And maybe I can find out where to find those skewer-bulb things. I think a dessert with fruit on the skewer and chocolate in the bulb would be fun to try!)

I even think a trip to DisneyWorld would be fun, as long as I could check out some other fabulous restaurants when I'm in town.

Happy new year!