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Introducing S’mores, the other food group {and a review}

7 Jul

I have always been a big fan of the classic camp-fire treat and as an adult my obsession with S’mores has gotten a bit more intense.

It is the perfect combination – Hershey’s chocolate, graham cracker, marshmallow. Done. I love the simplicity of a S’more, yet every time I eat one, I am surprised at just how much I love the flavor combination.

Chocolate is normally not my first choice when I’m craving something sweet. I’m a vanilla girl. White chocolate, fruit, vanilla, coconut, lemon, these are all flavors I would choose over chocolate.

Unless it’s a S’more.

This obsession even inspired an English project last year. I had to do an evaluation project so I chose to do an at home S’mores tasting of different recipes. This has opened a whole new world of reinterpreting the classic S’more. It’s a challenge I have taken to find as many ways as possible to eat this flavor combination.

Thus is born a new segment on this weblog: S’mores – the other food group.

To begin, let’s start with a fabulous little find at Disney California Adventure, during my latest trip.

If you are ever craving a S’more on your next Disney vacation, like I was, might I recommend the new and fabulous Ghirardelli Soda Fountain and Chocolate Shop?

There is quite the impressive mural when you walk into the Ghirardelli shop. Not only is it  massive, but interactive as well.

If someone orders  The Cable Car – Rocky Road Sundae (Rocky road, chocolate chip and chocolate ice cream smothered with creamy, marshmallow topping and freshly homemade hot fudge, all surrounded by a halo of whipped cream, topped with chopped almonds, a cherry and a Ghirardelli Squares milk chocolate),  the cable car in the mural moves!

I’ll let you experience the others, but my favorites were when people ordered The Gold Rush – Peanut Butter Hot Fudge Sundae (Vanilla ice cream with freshly homemade hot fudge and melted peanut butter throughout, perfectly topped with whipped cream, chopped almonds, a cherry and a Ghirardelli Squares milk chocolate)  and The Earthquake – Family Favorite (Eight scoops of ice cream, eight delicious toppings, finished with fresh bananas, whipped cream, chopped almonds, decadent chocolate chips and cherries). We’ll be trying out some of these on our next trip.

This little delight can be found on the kid’s menu, as the Kid’s S’more Sundae. It contains a large scoop of Chocolate Chip Ice Cream, Marshmallow Creme, Ghirardelli’s Signature Milk Chocolate Hot Fudge, Whipped Cream, a Graham Cracker Square, a Ghirardelli Chocolate Rectangle and of course, some sprinkles.

This sundae delivers in name and flavor. It is the ice cream version of a S’more. I especially LOVED the hot fudge! I’m incredibly picky when it comes to hot fudge and this did not disappoint. It was creamy and had a nice depth of flavor. The graham cracker added a nice crunchy texture, while the marshmallow creme was soft and light. This sundae had it all (let’s go in order, shall we?) : cold, light, warm, rich, fluffy, crunchy, heaven.  The balance of flavors was there, which can be hard to accomplish when reinterpreting the S’more.

I’m so happy that this is on the kid’s menu. It’s the perfect size. If you’ve seen the sizes of the regular sundaes, then you know what I mean. They are monsters. My sister and I had just eaten so we shared this and it was just right.

The Verdict:

This sundae is a winner. Go. Eat. Now.

The Details:

Name: Ghirardelli Soda Fountain and Chocolate Shop

Where: Pacific Wharf, Disney California Adventure

What: Kid’s S’more Sundae

A little something extra: Get a free chocolate when you walk into the shop!

Price: $6.95

 

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Restaurant Review: Napa Rose – Chef’s Counter

22 May

The Story

On March 10, my husband Nate and I, celebrated our 5th wedding anniversary. I surprised him with a weekend trip to Disneyland. We stayed at the Grand Californian for the first time (which was spectacular) and I made reservations for a foodie’s dream dinner: the Napa Rose – Chef’s Counter.

Napa Rose is located inside the Grand Californian Hotel & Spa on Disneyland property. The Chef’s Counter gives you the opportunity to sit at the actual kitchen counter facing the action and watch the chefs work their magic.

There are three ordering options at the chef’s counter, order what you wish directly off the menu, “The Vintner’s Table” – a Chef’s four course prix fixe menu inspired by the current season, or our choice, letting the chef make a custom meal for you. It is a five course meal and the dishes are smaller than normal portions you would get from ordering off of the menu {although I think our fourth course was a full portion}.

Andrew Sutton, Executive Chef, was off that night, but Chef Gloria and Chef Alex took very good care of us.

Chef Gloria {who was just announced as the Chef de Cuisine of the new Carthay Circle Restaurant in Disney California Adventure} introduced herself and asked us three questions:

Do you have any allergies? Lisa: No, Nate: No.

Do you have any dislikes? Lisa: No, Nate: Yes, seafood and peppers.

How do you like your meat cooked? Lisa: Medium, Nate: Medium-well.

That’s all she asked and the rest of our experience was a series of very happy surprises. While we waited, we had the pleasure of watching the kitchen staff at their finest. We felt like we were part of the kitchen action. The station right in front of us was preparing and plating the scallop and salmon dishes. We could also see the salads being made as well.

The Food

Our first delicious morsel was our Amuse-Bouche {a single, bite sized hors d’oeuvre, that cannot be ordered from the menu. This is considered a gift from the chef}

Nate & Lisa: Cornbread triangle with rainbow chard, ham and citrus marmalade.

This was very tasty and we both really enjoyed it. The bits of lemon were a nice, refreshing surprise.

 

First Course:

Nate: “Smiling Tiger Salad”, Twice-cooked Spicy Beef, Asian Greens and Coconut-Lime Vinaigrette {this normally comes with Tempura Lobster, but was left off due to his dislike of seafood}

Lisa: Salad of Strawberry Roasted Organic Chicken, Jicama, Upland Cress and Buttermilk Lemon Vinaigrette

Nate thought his salad was really good, although he liked mine better and I felt the same way about my salad. I LOVED his salad and thought the flavor profile fit my preferences better. I would order either of them again.

 

Second Course:

Nate: Duck a l Orange, Breast of Duckling Roasted and Duck Confit, Braised Endive and Blood Orange-Almond Jus

Lisa: Pan Roasted Diver Scallops on a Sauce of Lobster and Lemon Accented with Vanilla

Nate loved his duck, it was tender, succulent and flavorful and one of his favorite courses. He would definitely order it again. I thought the almond was a nice touch to his dish, although the duck was too fatty for my liking. My scallop was perfection. I have had this dish one other time when we ordered off the menu and I was praying I would get it this time around. Especially with the great luck of watching them prepare it right in front of us! This dish is what dreams are made of. Lobster, vanilla and lemon are some of my favorite things in the world so this was a perfect fit. I can’t say enough about this dish.

 

Third Course:

Nate: Hickory Smoked Pheasant with Wild Mushrooms, Cavatelli Pasta and Rich Pheasant Jus

Lisa: Grilled Wine Country Rabbit Meatloaf, Baby Portobello Mushroom Ragu and Carrot Puree

Nate wanted to like this dish more than he did. He thinks having it after the greatness of the duck may have tainted his palate and opinion. He says he would like to give it another chance, but there was just no comparison. I felt the same way about his dish. My rabbit meatloaf, on the other hand, is one of the best things I’ve ever consumed. When I was told what I was given I had no idea what to expect. I think that’s what made it so good. I have never experienced that flavor combination before. The depth of flavor and perfect harmony with the two sauces blew me away. I could have eaten a whole bowl of that carrot puree, it was THAT delicious. We loved that the rabbit dish was accompanied with a carrot puree, how clever.

 

Fourth Course:

At this point I thought we only had dessert left. We had had what I thought was a full, balanced meal – a salad, an appetizer, a meat course. And then they brought out some big knives. I turned to Nate and said, “Those are not dessert knives.” and they weren’t. Here is the real meat course.

Nate: Slowly Braised Veal Osso Bucco, Sweet English Peas, Ham, Buttered Leaks with Zinfandel Lemon Butter

Lisa: Pan Roasted Petit Filet Mignon, Roasted Parsnips, Braised Beef Cheeks and White Cheddar Fritter

Words cannot describe Nate’s reaction to this dish. The meat was perfectly cooked and melted in his mouth and was rich and fatty. Give him anything with a marrow bone and he’s a happy camper. This is a Nate meal to a T. The meat was incredible, but I preferred my filet, which was the best steak I have ever tasted. It melted in my mouth, I didn’t need a knife {or even teeth for that matter}. My only complaint is how big this portion was. It seemed to be the full portion and by this point we were already feeling full.

 

Fifth Course:

Before our dessert course, Chef Alex asked us which we would prefer, a chocolaty, fruity, or creamy dessert. I said fruity and Nate chose chocolaty.

Nate: Scharffen Berger Chocolate Pate with Hazelnut Creme Anglaise

Lisa: Warm Pecan Fuji Apple Charlotte with Oatmeal Raisin Ice Cream

Nate loved his dessert. It was rich and creamy, so he could just enjoy the smooth flavor of it. He really liked the  combination of the hazelnut flavor with the richness of the chocolate. I also really enjoyed my dessert. The apple was a nice, refreshing, light ending to my meal.

 

The Verdict:

Lisa’s Favorite: Tie between the Scallops and Rabbit Meatloaf

Nate’s Favorite: Veal Osso Bucco

We REALLY enjoyed our dinner at Napa Rose. The Chef’s Counter made it really special and was worth the extra money. It was amazing to watch the chefs at work and have them customize a meal for us, not to mention, eating some of the best food we have ever tasted. We highly recommend it and will be back again.

 

The Details:

Name: Napa Rose

Where: Inside the Grand Californian Hotel & Spa, Disneyland Resort

Special Instructions: Must call restaurant directly to make a reservation for the Chef’s Counter (not the Disney Dining line)

Contact: (714)300-7170

Price: $90 per person

There are two times available each night, 5:30pm and 8:30pm, with only 8 seats each, so make sure to get your reservation as quickly {they take reservations up to three months in advance}. We opted for the first one at 5:30pm. I highly recommend this as we got out just in time to grab our coats from our room and see the second showing of World of Color! It’s also nice to start early since it’s a long meal. Enjoy!

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