Sometimes your notebook is scribbled with little thoughts here and there, things you come across in the food world and want to share but aren't sure how or when. Well, folks, I need to get some of this off my chest. Here is a somewhat random collection of culinary things I am really enjoying right now:
The bowls at Animal Kingdom's Satu'li Canteen
There are many things to marvel at in the new Pandora section of Walt Disney World's Animal Kingdom. It's stunning (and the ride is just flat-out cool). But on my first visit about a month ago, I was most pleasantly surprised by the land's main restaurant, Satu'li Canteen.
It's a quick service restaurant, but it doesn't read like your typical theme park restaurant. For one thing, the menu is rather limited, and this is a good thing. The thing I can't stop thinking about is a build-your-own bowl for which you choose a base (quinoa and vegetable salad, red and sweet potato hash, mixed whole grains and rice, and romaine and kale salad), protein (grilled beef, wood-grilled chicken, fish fillet or crispy fried tofu) and sauce (Charred Onion Chimichurri, Black Bean Vinaigrette and Creamy Herb Dressing).
It's a spin on the bowl trend that has consumed the quick-service food world the past couple years, and a welcome option at the theme parks. I opted for a bowl with grilled chicken and whole grains, and it was one of the healthiest quick-service meals I've had at the parks. The components are well-prepared and full of flavor, and delightfully on theme for Pandora, with a crunchy slaw and fun boba balls topping each bowl. (Bowls start at $11.49.)
Great, now I'm craving one slathered in Creamy Herb Dressing.
Dinnerly, a new meal delivery service
This meal delivery service launched in June on the West Coast, and expanded into Florida about a month ago. I recently tried a box from Dinnerly, which is trying to set itself apart from the Blue Aprons and Hello Freshes of the world by touting its lower price point. It offers meals for $5 per serving in its two plans: $38.99 per week for three dinners for two adults (includes an $8.99 shipping cost) or $68.99 per week for three dinners that feeds four adults. A Blue Apron box of three dinners for two adults costs $69.
It's a very familiar setup otherwise, with pre-portioned ingredients and recipe cards delivered to your door. In the box I received: Chorizo-Spiced Chicken Chili, Grass-Fed Stuffed Cheeseburgers and Sausage Pasta with sweet potato and rosemary. None of the meals required many ingredients, and the amount of packaging seemed low compared to other services I've tried. I had to do some chopping and sauteing, but there was no heavy lifting, and each of the meals came together in about 30 minutes.
The ingredients and recipes generally don't have as much complexity as ones offered through Blue Apron in particular; if you're craving simplicity, this is an ideal meal kit. And that price is really on point.
Starbucks' Maple Pecan Latte
I don't have that much to say about this espresso drink, except that the war for Best Fall Beverage is officially over, and this is the winner.
The Maple Pecan Latte is better than its partner in fall merriment, the Pumpkin Spice Latte; both arrived on Starbucks menus in September. The MPL (forgive me) is toasty and mapley and tastes like caffeinated butter pecan ice cream. I don't even like flavored lattes, and I can't seem to stop ordering it. Though, one tip: Order half the amount of syrup normally added. Because, wow, that thing is really sweet.
Cooked buttercream frosting
Do you guys know about cooked buttercream? After having done two stories on local confectioners who use it, I feel the need to spread the word. The stuff, also known as European buttercream, is insanely good. I came across it most recently at Cake Affection, a St. Petersburg bakery notable for its marshmallows but that also makes excellent cupcakes slathered in that buttercream. (The other company is Wandering Whisk Bakeshop, which uses it on cakes, cupcakes and in cookie sandwiches and macarons.) Drool.