Review: Jingle Bell, Jingle Bam Desert Party (Walt Disney World)

Jingle Bell, Jingle Bam are the Christmas themed fireworks over at Disney’s Hollywood Studio and with every firework show Disney World puts on you get a dessert party. It’s $79 per adult on top of your park admission. For that you get dessert and a reserved spot for the fireworks. This isn’t very well lit so I apologise for the pics.

When I checked in I was told a chef would make their way over to my table. She was lovely and came over with a goodie bag of snacks. Two cakes – a gorgeous pumpkin spice and chocolate and cherry – and some snickerdoodles.

Then I was brought some hummus and chips, some Rice Dream with a chocolate peppermint sauce and more chocolate peppermint sauce to dip strawberries in. All good stuff. The chocolate peppermint sauce especially worked equally well when poured on ice cream, strawberries or in my mouth.

We also got a Christmas Ornament each and a picture with Christmas Goofy. I definitely ate well, I had to save one of the cake jars for later, and the view of the fireworks was fantastic. I don’t mind spending the cash the experience is totally worth it. Even if you have a special dietary requirement.

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Vegan In Disney World

Hello! I’m currently hanging out in the happiest place on earth. As a vegan. With two members of my family who aren’t vegan. And a side trip to Universal Orlando. There are going to be a lot of blog entries on all the food I’m going to eat so I thought I’d make this post an introduction.

Is visiting Disney World Vegan?

Well probably no, strictly speaking. Animal Kingdom and Epcot are both theme parks with animals in captivity. There are carriage rides. There’s a ranch at Fort Wilderness.

However you can eat a vegan/plant based diet which is what these entries will be about.

How easy is it to eat vegan in Disney World?

Really easy. Most places have vegan options , really good ones at that. You’ll want to do some planning but you need to do some planning for a Disney trip anyway. For vegan food tips Vegan Disney World is invaluable. For everything else you can’t beat touringplans.com.

Tell me all about your trip

Glad you asked, imaginary interlocutor. I’m staying at Animal Kingdom Lodge for two weeks with my Dad and my cousin. We have 14 day passes for Disney included and we’ve got 3 day passes for Universal Studios. We have tickets for the Very Merry Christmas Party one night, which is a first for us.

We’re also on the dining plan so we get one sit down meal, one counter service meal, and one snack a day. Whether this is good value as a vegan I don’t know but worrying about whether I’m making the most of my dining plan is the type of thing that drives me crazy. So I’m not going to.

Urm… you sound like you’ve really over-thought this…

Yeah, I’ve been planning for over a year. I had all but one of my ADRs nailed down 180 days in advance and my fast passes 60 days I advance. I’m pretty sure my dad and my cousin hate me a little but you really do need to plan a Disney trip especially if you don’t want to wait an hour to go on the latest rides and you want to eat at places like Cinderella’s Royal Table.

Right, so you are crazy…

Right! But you can benefit from my crazy! By checking back to read my Disney food reviews… watch this space.

Reveiw: Asda Pizza with Vegan Cheese

When Asda introduces vegan cheese to their choose your own toppings counter it was big news. It’s been years since I’ve visited one of these counters and I can’t say I’ve missed it but you know what let’s give it a go. We got two 10″ pizzas with vegan cheese, one plain and one with all the veggies.

They were bad. Okay so the base is just basically a biscuit. Hard, crispy and bizarrely sweet. I could’t taste the tomato sauce so I’ll just assume it was okay. There was far too much cheese so at the centre it was just like a pile of white sauce. It didn’t really have any flavour to it at all.

So we’re probably never going to buy these again. But that might be progress. 2018 could be the year when vegans are just as disappointed with supermarket pizza as meat eaters.

Review: Bento Power by Sara Kiyo Popowa

My bento-making career stalled slightly when I started working in a vegan cafe. I don’t have many opportunities to pack a lunch any more but the opportunities I do have I like to make the most of. That’s why I got myself a copy of Bento Power by Sara Kiyo Popowa. Apart from a couple of egg recipes it’s all plant-based so it’s perfect for vegan bento makers.

As it’s whole foods focused there are lots of great ideas for getting more nutrients in your box. One that I was keen to try, and one that I’m going to keep using again and again, is the idea of throwing whole grains in your sushi rice. It brings nutrients, it brings taste, it brings texture. So good in the Onigirazu.

When it comes to books about bento I’m often reading them in a panic at the last minute. I imagine most people are too. So the most useful part of the book for me are the guides and the little tips. Honestly the tip on how to reheat rice in a steamer is probably the most useful thing I’ve ever read. That might make me sound a bit sad but I’m sticking with it. I used the Onigiri guide to make these cute rice balls out of leftovers.

There are also, of course, recipes for boxes full of food. I thought I’d delve into 15-Minute Bento section for my lunch today. I went for the Pasta Surprise Bento with kale, pine nuts, chickpeas and a really delicious dressing. This book has everything you need to pack amazing lunches and I 100% recommend it. If you’ve never packed a bento box before it will walk you through it, and if you have you’ll find plenty of cool new tricks in here.

Review: Waitrose Vegan Spinach Ravioli

Waitrose are trying to up their vegan game. We approve because it’s one of the few supermarkets in walking distance and it makes us feel fancy to shop there. One of the few offerings we’ve managed to track down so far is the spinach ravioli.

There was a point in our life when we lived off supermarket ravioli. We’d have spinach and ricotta ravioli whenever we were stuck for ideas so this is a real nostalgia trip. Of course it has no ricotta in it; instead the packet promises ‘solidified coconut derivative’. That’s not a joke. That’s what the packet says: ‘solidified coconut derivative’. At this point I’d recommend Waitrose hire some better writers.

Despite the plain packaging and the bizarre description this is a pretty solid midweek, no-fuss option. We tossed ours with some tomato sauce and relived our memories.

Review: Pizza Cafe (Newton Abbot)

The Pizza Cafe in Newton Abbot has a great reputation locally for its vegan options. We decided to try it out on a Thursday night. It was rammed and we’ve been told that’s the case all the time. We did manage to get a seat though and started to work our way through the menu.

We began with the vegan combo. Purely because it’s hard to find a whole platter of starters to eat when you are vegan. The combo was carb heavy with crisp potato skins, buttery garlic bread, waffle fries and onion rings. Not the most exotic selection but satisfying and the garlic mayo was great and — not going to lie — I want to pour it on everything ever.

Pizza time: Kate went for the Mama Mia with pesto, tomatoes, pine nuts and spinach and I had As Good As It Gets with olives, spinach, tomatoes and feta. I’m not big fan of the base, it was a little bready for my liking, but overall it was a decent pizza. Kate thought hers had too much cheese, making it a little soggy in the middle.

Desert was the highlight. It was incredible. We split our desert which turned out to be pretty hard. The brownie came first and while it was absolutely delicious it ended up being overshadowed by the banana bread sundae. Vanilla ice cream, chocolate ice cream, slices of banana and hunks of banana bread. So, so, so good! And it looked so amazing that waitress had to reassure us that it was vegan.

All in all we’ll definitely be going back. We need to try the burritos and the milkshakes anyway.

Brunch and Munch: Where to find the best hollandaise sauce (Vegan MoFo 2018)

There are cookbooks that I think I would still buy, full price, if it only had one recipe. There’s the Banana Everything Cookies from Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar. There is the Stir-fried Tofu, Shiitakis and Green Beans from Vegan For Everybody. And, because this post is about something brunchy, there is the hollandaise sauce from Vegan Bowl Attack by Jackie Sobon.

That isn’t, of course, to say that the rest of the book is no good. It’s just that this recipe gets made so much it justifies the price. It’s so quick and easy. In that respect completely unlike a traditional hollandaise, but the taste is exactly the same. It’s perfect on the bowl it belongs to or on top of a eggs Benedict type concoction usually with whatever seasonal veg we have on hand. Purple sprouting broccoli, asparagus or – like here – samphire.