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Friday, June 29, 2012

high-class munchin'

we capped off a fun weeklong visit with MIL with - well, what else? - a trip to california adventure.  the bean always has something she wants to show her at the disneyland resort, and with the new cars land and buena vista street having just opened, she was antsy to ride her new favorite ride with grandma.

but of course it's summertime now, which means lots of folks on vacation and in town to check out the new and improved DCA.  i was slightly alarmed when we attempted to park in our usual "mickey & friends" parking garage and were instead turned away to find a spot in one of the other lots, which are all a bit further away - and without a tram to whisk us right to the gateway to the parks.  boo.  we ended up in the "simba" parking lot, which is located across from the grand californian hotel.  a photo of the nearest aisle marker was a must, since we weren't familiar with this area at all.

despite my mumbling and grumbling over the unexpected variance from our usual routine, it almost seemed easier this way.  i didn't have to unfold and fold and unfold again the stroller to board the tram.  instead, we rolled right through the lot, across the street, and through the hotel to the turnstiles.  the bummer was being parked out in the sun, which meant a pretty toasty car to return to after a sweaty day.  oh, well.

MIL wanted to have a picture of the four of us all together, so we finally got to take a photo in front of the entrance to cars land (something i'd wanted to do on opening day, but it was damn near impossible).

the bean's new favorite ride is thankfully the one with the shortest line.  with a posted wait time of 40 minutes, i'm pretty sure we were whizzing through this attraction in less than half an hour.  she was so excited to share it with her beloved grandma.  and as we went through the line, i managed to snap a photo of a "hidden mickey" - see it?

my MIL is the best sport ever.  inside a souvenir shop, i thrust this thing at her and said "hold this!" while i busted out my phone.  she didn't even know what it was till i'd taken this picture, and she'll probably going to kill me for posting this.  hee!

after dragging us to the "little mermaid" ride, the bean enjoyed a little cooling-off time in a fun waterplay area that i'd never even realized was there.

and another first for MIL - the "golden zephyr" ride.  i'm not sure why it's called that since the rockets we get to ride are silver, but whatever.

we even got to meet the buena vista street version of mickey.

although i'd called a few days earlier to secure a reservation at the brand new carthay circle restaurant, i'd been shit outta luck.  hoping for the best, though, we headed over to see if they might take us as a walk-in or snag a table via a cancelled reservation or no-show.  and happily, we were quoted a 30-minute wait and settled into the lovely air-conditioned lounge.

believe it or not, as we waited, i actually ordered a cocktail.  with real alcohol in it and everything!

this restaurant, a replica of an old l.a.-area theater from the 20s, is beautifully done.  very upscale and classy, and not something you'd really expect in the middle of an amusement park.  then again, this is disney after all.  and upstairs in a secret corner of the restaurant is a special lounge, available only to club 33 members.

before our drink order arrived, we were led into the elevator to be seated at our table.

our host explained that the framed photos inside the elevator depicted the original carthay circle theater, which the imagineers had used to painstakingly recreate every small detail.  from the lighting fixtures to carpeting to wallpaper, they'd duplicated the look of that long-ago era perfectly.

upstairs, the restaurant was just as lovely as the lounge area.  i realized that the center of the ceiling was adorned with a scene from "snow white and the seven dwarfs."  this was disney's tie to the original theater - that's where the movie premiered in 1937.  and there were more framed photos of walt disney himself and lots of old-time movie stars.

all along the edges of the dining area were doorways that led to rooms of varying sizes for larger parties with names like "hollywood," "buena vista," "hyperion."

as we perused our menus, our beverages were served.

pimm's punch for me, rose water soda for the teen.  hers had a sugar-encrusted rose petal floating at the bottom, but to me it looked like a potato chip.  heh.

cheers to a fabulous visit and a surprise lunch at a fantastic new place!

we chose a couple of appetizers - our server highly recommended the grape leaves stuffed with goat cheese, served with roasted garlic and red pepper sauce, eaten with their specially made sourdough bread.

the carthay house biscuits were amazing - served hot from the oven and stuffed with white cheddar, bacon, and jalapeƱo.  they came with an apricot butter that complemented the flavors perfectly.

the teen's pappardelle pasta with housemade chicken meatballs and yellow tomato essence.  she shared a bite with us, and it was really delicious with a delicate flavor that we all loved.

the bean ordered orecchiette pasta with marinara sauce - "mickey ears," we called it.

strawberry-lemon organic roasted chicken salad was MIL's choice.  the server told us that it was a 4-day process to make this:  fresh strawberries dried overnight, rubbed over the chicken and marinated for another 48 hours, then roasted slowly before being carved and served warm over the salad that was tossed with two dressings - a buttermilk lemon and a strawberry vinaigrette.  she loved every bite of it.

i'd chosen the kobe beef cheek sliders.  whipped horseradish sour cream, red bell pepper marmalade, and crispy onions.

we were all stuffed silly by the end of lunch, and although we didn't order any we just had to take a peek at the dessert menu.

before we headed back out into the bright sun, we made a quick pitstop.

there was time for just one more ride before we headed home (to make it back in time for the bean's swim lesson), and she chose "monsters, inc."  of course.

it was definitely an upscale lunch with a price tag to match.  and it was an awesome way to wrap up MIL's visit.  if you get the chance to go, take it - we were totally satisfied with every bite (well, except for that rose water soda.  the teen had to chug it so it wouldn't go to waste, although she hated it).  i'm hoping that we can bring the hub there after summer is over - i'm pretty sure he'd love the place.  hell, i wouldn't be surprised if he opted to hang out in the bar while we went out to ride rides.  heh.

squeezing in all the sightseeing

this was our NYC home for a whole week: it was one of only a few hotels that i could find that offered two beds in a room rather than, say, ...