Monday, December 12, 2011

What I Made for Dinner: December 12, 2011

Clam chowder.

I was trying to copy some delicious clam chowder Alex had at Bluezoo at the Dolphin resort at Disney World.  We went to Orlando last week for a theme park extravaganza. Extravaganza! Hoo boy.

Theme parks, they are not my thing.  I know many people adore them, and certainly there is much to adore.  I can appreciate Disney's charms, but given my druthers I would never ever go there.  I would go anywhere without insane crowds and price-gouging and rides that simulate near-death experiences.  But where are my druthers, anyway? I haven't been able to find them since I had three kids.

So. Orlando.
With the family. Everything looks dark next to Cinderella's Castle.  Everything in the whole world.

There's an awful lot there; we saw the main Disney parks and the Universal park.  Disney, of course, is gargantuan and thrilling, with marvels around every bend.  It takes at least three days to do it justice; four days would be better. 

Universal-Not-Disney-Islands-of-Whatever, as far as I'm concerned, is all about Harry Potter World.

 The Wizarding World of Harry Potter beautifully realizes parts of the books and films.  It's a must for Potter fans, and certain of us at Chez Dinnertime are Potter-obsessed.  The Harry Potter World is good for a solid three to four hours of fun.  Universal does offer much more than the Harry Potter part, mainly thrill rides and carnival games.  The kids had fun there, but from what I could tell it's basically Worlds of Fun, on crack, with better character licensing.

My niece and nephew were there too. Importantly, not one of those children is actually permitted to watch The Simpsons.
The children were delighted to be in either park.  Every part of those parks made them unhinged with joy. They goaded each other onto scary rides and congratulated each other on surviving.  The big ones encouraged the little ones.  The little ones gave the big ones an excuse to meet Goofy.  Disney knows how to make sure kids are happy.  They enjoyed several days of wild enthusiasm, and that right there was worth the trip.

Here are the main things to know about the Orlando parks, both the Disney and the Not-Disney:

  1. You should expect to just bring all your money and leave it there.  All of it. Resistance is useless.  You will want to buy your kid a hat and a shirt and a wand and a character set and a sword and a key chain and a glowstick and sunglasses and a jacket and a stuffed animal.  In the moment, those purchases will seem necessary and prudent.  Yes yes yes, we do not want to raise spoiled, entitled children, and as parents it is part of our sacred duty to set limits. I would submit that once you have set foot in one of these parks, that ship has sailed.  Teach restraint and solid Puritan work ethic some other time.
  2. You should be prepared to walk a half-marathon every day you're in a park.  It would be only about five miles, but you must do a lot of zig-zagging to avoid people on mobility scooters, doing a solid fifteen miles an hour and heading right for you.
  3. With very few exceptions, you should not eat any meals inside the park. Snacks, sure, who can help it? Ice cream, just delightful.  Candy, especially, is first-rate.  Harry Potter World has a Honeydukes that just about lives up to its legend. But life is simply too short to eat an entire meal there.  (Notably, the Disney parks have a couple of high-quality places to eat.  The restaurants in the World Showcase part of Epcot, while pricey, offer delicious food.  And we had an excellent lunch at the Tusker House buffet at the Animal Kingdom park.)
You and thirteen of your closest friends can meet Mickey Mouse at the Tusker House and then write a rhyme about it.
For meals, the hotel restaurants are the name of the game.  We had excellent meals--really, really good food--at every resort restaurant we tried.  We ate at Waves (at the Contemporary Resort); 'Ohana (at the Polynesian); Il Mulino and Kimono (at the Swan); and Bluezoo (at the Dolphin), where Alex got that clam chowder. It came in a bowl bigger than his head.

We took small children out for fine dining, including upscale sushi, and it worked out fine. The restaurants at the Disney resorts have nice kids' menus and may offer half-portions of regular food.

Anyhow, we made it back in one piece.  And when I went grocery shopping, what hey, Costco had clams! So I thought I'd try it. It was pretty good for a first attempt, but it was no Bluezoo.


  1. No. No, you may not go an entire month without blogging. Especially not when you have made homemade carnitas and tres leche cake. No.