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Old 10-26-2009, 07:00 AM   #1
UKDEB
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Sans Friends - Mall at Millenia, A Land Remembered, Shuttle Launch

This time last year we were getting ready for our trip. A year on, I still haven't finished my trip reports, but I'm determined I will!

Friday, 14th November

We’re off shopping today as we want to get something for our daughters and grandson, but before we head out, Matt phones to make a dinner reservation for A Land Remembered, the steakhouse at Rosen Shingle Creek. [When we stayed at the resort in October 2006 shortly after it opened, this restaurant was on the cards, but there were no signs of any work underway. As we’d loved Bella Cala, the Italian offering there, we’d been keen to try the steakhouse and this trip, with no-one to convince but ourselves, provided the ideal opportunity.]

Our favourite shopping venue, the Mall at Millenia, is the obvious choice and we arrive around 11am. Our elder daughter, George, has asked us to get some pyjamas from Gap for grandson Lou. Apparently they have “some new winter ones”, but we just can’t work out which she’s after. We do manage to buy him the cutest of Christmas outfits in Janie & Jack. The sweater Matt and I both like isn’t in stock in his size, so we have to settle for a reindeer adorned tank top to go with the corduroy trousers, checked shirt and reindeer socks. Matt has a paddy because they don’t have reindeer socks in his size.

We spend a while in Urban Outfitters, but despite my conviction that we’ll be able to get quite a few bits and pieces for younger daughter, Harriet, we leave empty handed. Juicy Couture opposite seems a likely candidate and, as we head in that direction, Matt greets an unassuming young guy in shorts and bermudas strolling arm-in-arm with his wife. He acknowledges Matt and carries on his way. “Who was that?” I query. “Justin Rose” he replies, nonchalantly. (I'm sure I caught Justin Rose’s wife ask, “Who was that?” and him replying, “I don't believe it! That was Matt Churchill!!!”)

It’s now approaching noon, so we make our way to Brio Tuscan Grill where we have our usuals from the Lunch Plates menu of Pranzo Sausage, Pepperoni & Ricotta Pizza & Caesar Salad (Matt) and Chicken and Butternut Squash Risotto and Bistecca Insalata (me), along with a Moretti and White Oaks Chardonnay respectively.













Whilst sitting at our regular spot at the bar, we discuss our plans for tomorrow. Neither of us is desperate to go back to any of the parks, so I suggest that Matt plays golf. It’s something we’ve toyed with on and off for the past week or so. I didn’t want the hassle of bringing clubs this trip and neither did I want anything cast in stone as far as the itinerary was concerned, but I know Matt’s been hoping he might be able to get a round in somewhere. Lake Buena Vista would be ideal as we’re staying at Saratoga Springs, but it’s closed, so that’s out and, in any event, Matt fancies playing at a course he’s never tried before. (And there’s the small fact that we need to avoid the ones where he has played before because he’s not welcome ). We whittle it down to Orange County National, Falcon’s Fire and Celebration with the final decision to be made once we’ve had an opportunity to check prices and availability.

We decide that we’re going to have to resort to the staples of perfume for the girls, so our next stop is Bloomingdales. On our way in, a top which I’d seen on our first day catches my eye and I end up buying it along with a pair of “nip and tuck’ jeans. I don’t really do jeans – my figure just doesn’t lend itself to them and I find them uncomfortable, but I let myself be convinced that they could somehow transform me from a Mr Blobby looky-likey to a sylph-like apparition. Downstairs at the cosmetics counter, I immediately spot some fragrance which I know will be right up Harriet’s street. George is a much more tricky proposition and, after circumnavigating the department several times trying virtually everything, I begin to feel I’m being a nuisance. That, coupled with the fact that I’m becoming bamboozled by it all results in a purchase I’m not at all sure about. I also buy some make-up staples which are difficult to get hold of in the UK – Lancome High Defincils mascara and Laura Mercier tinted moisturizer. I’m low on both having last stocked up during our trip in January this year.

We stop off at Banana Republic where I buy a sheer vest to wear under my newly acquired top and we then check out Tommy Bahama for one last time, but don’t buy anything.

After leaving the mall, our next stop is Golf Galaxy, the store at the junction of Sand Lake and Turkey Lake roads which we attempted to visit last week before discovering it was yet to open its doors to the public. It’s okay, but no Edwin Watts – very mass-market and not unlike Golfsmith for those who are familiar with that. Edwin Watts has the feel of an independent and its staff are hugely attentive and knowledgeable. I do take a shine to the Darth Vader, Yoda and Chewbacca driver covers, though! Anyone’s who’s seen me play knows I definitely don’t have the force with me. Matt needs some balls and a glove for his impromptu round tomorrow, so we make the short trip to Edwin Watts. He’ll hire clubs and shoes and buy a shirt from the pro shop of wherever he chooses to play.





Next up is a revisit to Corona Cigars where Matt picks up a box of Oliva Serie G, considered as being amongst the best value on the market, along with a presentation box of Cao Americas.



We return to the resort with our booty and get ready for our 7:30 reservation at A Land Remembered. Matt checks out the options for golf tomorrow and settles for the Orange County National, partly because it’s the cheapest and partly because it’s raved about by many, not least my brother who is a pretty accomplished amateur. It’s $89 for the round, $45 for the clubs, $11 for the shoes and $27 for a rider (me). He books a tee-time for 8:45am and is warned that they have a very strict cancellation policy, so to be sure to call back before 7pm this evening if he changes his mind. He spends the next half an hour practising his very strict cancellation speech.

Me in my new top!

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October 1992 ~ Enclave Suites, I-Drive May 1996 ~ Omni Rosen, I-Drive October 1998 ~ Villa-Clear Creek August 2000 ~ Beach Club/Villa-Sunset Lakes July 2001 ~ Animal Kingdom Lodge/Hard Rock Hotel/Villa-Formosa Gdns Christmas 2001 ~ Villa-Formosa Gardens October 2002 ~ Hard Rock Hotel/Villa-Formosa Gdns May 2003 ~ Portofino Bay/Villa-Cumbrian Lakes January 2004 ~ Ritz-Carlton Grande Lakes/Villa-Formosa Gardens July 2004 ~ Grand Floridian/Portofino Bay/Villa-Formosa Gardens December 2004 ~ Villa-Rolling Hills/Disney Wonder Cruise/BoardWalk Grand Villa/Contemporary April 2005 ~ Washington DC, Shenandoah, Blue Ridge Parkway, Charleston, Savannah, Royal Pacific Resort/Villa-Acadia Estates January 2006 ~ Reunion Resort/Royal Pacific Resort April 2006 ~ Celebration Hotel/NCL Jewel Cruise/Hotel Victor, Miami/Beach Cottage-Disney's Vero Beach October 2006 ~ Reunion Resort/BoardWalk Villa/Rosen Shingle Creek August 2007 ~ Saratoga Springs//Reunion Grande January 2008 ~ Saratoga Springs/Beach Club Villas/Reunion Resort November 2008 ~ BoardWalk Villas/Royal Pacific Resort/Saratoga Springs March 2011 ~ Celebrity Cruise/Veness Towers, a stone's throw from the Magic Kingdom November 2012 ~ Bay Lake Tower/Ritz-Carlton, Sarasota/Ritz-Carlton Destination Club, Jupiter/Saratoga Springs September 2013 ~ Kidani Village/Saratoga Springs May 2014 ~ Beach Club Villas/Wyndham Grand Bonnet Creek/Bay Lake TowerJanuary 2015 ~ Four Seasons Golden Oak/Bay Lake Tower
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Old 10-26-2009, 07:00 AM   #2
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Arriving at A Land Remembered, we’re more than pleasantly surprised by the surroundings. The restaurant is situated in the golf clubhouse as an addendum to the bar. When we stayed here, this was a very disappointing environment – a galley bar in a vacuous and uninspiring space. It’s now been transformed into an atmospheric steakhouse, and the bar, which has undergone a sympathetic makeover, is separated from it by a panelled wood and glass screen.



We’re shown to a booth and our server is with us momentarily. At first muster he appears a tad stand-offish, but he soon warms to us and is actually jovial and amiable. Matt reckons he’s taken it a tad too far when he has to ask that he removes himself from his lap. I waste no time in ordering a glass of Conundrum, whilst Matt starts with a Yeungling.





I choose the Boca Grande Crab Cake
(Scallion Aioli & Red Chili Pepper Glaze) appetizer whilst Matt opts for the Ahi Tuna
(Served Rare, Lemon Myrtle Crust, 
Nappa & Swamp Cabbage Slaw, 
Chili Pepper Citrus Vinaigrette). We eat half of each before swapping.





Tonight is the shuttle launch, so the food for the entire restaurant is held whilst the wait staff and clientele debark to the verandah to watch the show. It’s a clear night and we get a great view. Having witnessed a daytime launch from World Showcase several years previously, it isn’t as spectacular as we’d expected - we’d imagined the whole sky would light up – but it’s a pretty special experience, nonetheless.













Back inside, in a bizarre escape from the norm, we both go for something totally outside our comfort zones. Wait… rewind… only kidding! I have the 10oz filet and Matt chooses the 20oz bone-in ribeye. I order sides of sweet mash with brown butter, creamed spinach, and caramelized Vidalia onions. I’m also tempted by the lobster macaroni and cheese, but I know that I’ve already ordered more than we’ll eat, particularly as Matt will only want a token helping – he doesn’t like to taint his meat with veggies!







Matt orders a glass of the Folie A Deux, Zinfandel, Amador County and I go for the Robert Hall Syrah, Paseo Robles. Mine’s more expensive, but I prefer his. I flash him a look. He rolls his eyes and swaps the glasses. It’s the little things which remind you you’ve picked a good ‘un. He might do a good impression of an uncaring git, but, in reality, he worships the ground I walk on.

My steak comes with some sort of vegetable fritter and a pepper confit. Matt’s is accompanied by a bulb of roasted garlic and blue cheese stuffed tomato. Both are heavenly, as are the sides. We share the Key Lime Crème Brulee, although our half-hearted attempt at eating it only serves to underline why we hardly ever bother with desserts. The damage, as accurately predicted by Matt this morning, is $250 ($204 pre-tip). Expensive, but our one blow-out meal this trip. Normally we’d have several.

We’re back at the room in reasonably good time and set the alarm for 6am for our early tee-time tomorrow.
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October 1992 ~ Enclave Suites, I-Drive May 1996 ~ Omni Rosen, I-Drive October 1998 ~ Villa-Clear Creek August 2000 ~ Beach Club/Villa-Sunset Lakes July 2001 ~ Animal Kingdom Lodge/Hard Rock Hotel/Villa-Formosa Gdns Christmas 2001 ~ Villa-Formosa Gardens October 2002 ~ Hard Rock Hotel/Villa-Formosa Gdns May 2003 ~ Portofino Bay/Villa-Cumbrian Lakes January 2004 ~ Ritz-Carlton Grande Lakes/Villa-Formosa Gardens July 2004 ~ Grand Floridian/Portofino Bay/Villa-Formosa Gardens December 2004 ~ Villa-Rolling Hills/Disney Wonder Cruise/BoardWalk Grand Villa/Contemporary April 2005 ~ Washington DC, Shenandoah, Blue Ridge Parkway, Charleston, Savannah, Royal Pacific Resort/Villa-Acadia Estates January 2006 ~ Reunion Resort/Royal Pacific Resort April 2006 ~ Celebration Hotel/NCL Jewel Cruise/Hotel Victor, Miami/Beach Cottage-Disney's Vero Beach October 2006 ~ Reunion Resort/BoardWalk Villa/Rosen Shingle Creek August 2007 ~ Saratoga Springs//Reunion Grande January 2008 ~ Saratoga Springs/Beach Club Villas/Reunion Resort November 2008 ~ BoardWalk Villas/Royal Pacific Resort/Saratoga Springs March 2011 ~ Celebrity Cruise/Veness Towers, a stone's throw from the Magic Kingdom November 2012 ~ Bay Lake Tower/Ritz-Carlton, Sarasota/Ritz-Carlton Destination Club, Jupiter/Saratoga Springs September 2013 ~ Kidani Village/Saratoga Springs May 2014 ~ Beach Club Villas/Wyndham Grand Bonnet Creek/Bay Lake TowerJanuary 2015 ~ Four Seasons Golden Oak/Bay Lake Tower
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Old 10-26-2009, 08:57 AM   #3
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Yay !! Another installment (about blooming time too ). A great day and a lovely top too Deb. I think I would've been so excited to see the Shuttle launch in the dark, we saw one years ago from Cocoa Beach and I thought it was a great experience

I look forward to your next installment in the next month or so
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Old 10-26-2009, 03:20 PM   #4
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Worth the wait . . . but what a wait!

Stylish writing as ever, but loaded with substance, too. Being able to write such a thorough report this long after the fact speaks well for your long term memory and/or detailed trip notes.

Must say, though, that if you're going to crow about doing this trip sans friends, you shouldn't complain about having trouble finishing a dessert after a meal you've announced was too much food in the first place. Good friends would have been right in there, helping you with that chore. You know we would.
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Old 10-26-2009, 03:56 PM   #5
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Nice report. I am interested in the cigars. Can you tell me how much the box was or am I being too nosy?
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Old 10-26-2009, 04:07 PM   #6
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You look lovely in that outfit Deb x
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Old 10-27-2009, 04:21 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by martinrmn View Post
Nice report. I am interested in the cigars. Can you tell me how much the box was or am I being too nosy?
Well, you are being nosy but I'll tell you anyway. The Oliva's were around $90 for a box of 24, and at that price point I think are a very good cigar, they always rate highly in taste tests. The CAO America's were something like $30 for the 4 of them - varying sizes, and a couple of big uns in there.
However, the surprise of the trip, cigar-wise, was a box of La Gloria Cubana Serie R #4 Maduro's which I picked up earlier in the trip. They were a little more, around $100 for 24 but are really nice - cannot recommend them highly enough. Nice full flavour but not really strong, and being a Maduro they have a deeper flavour I find. They are also a larger guage and longer than the Oliva's. Again, they scored very heavily in some tests I read.
Once last thing I'd say, is that Corona's the best place IMO to get cigars from as they give discounts on full boxes
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