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Old 11-06-2006, 12:16 PM   #61
Jennifer48
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Anyone else think that Oybolshoi's husband and zweihund's husband look alike?!

BTW, Great job B!
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Old 11-06-2006, 12:38 PM   #62
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Your reviews are hilarious! I've just discovered them and read them all in one sitting. Looking forward to the rest of them!
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Old 11-06-2006, 08:51 PM   #63
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Day5, part I, sub-set A: Sweet Sundays Leaves a Karmic Cavity

Greetings everyone - thanks again for reading.

This installment will deal exclusively with Sweet Sundays, the morning session, held at the Odyssey in Epcot 9AM-11Am, October 22, 2006.

If you were there that morning I do not apologize for creating a scene and I'd like to thank the other party (who shall remain anonymous) for getting it all started.

Let me preface this by saying that this was the one F&W event that I was most looking forward to; the one that was picked by me, for me. I love the Food Network show Sugar Rush and have always thought that the host of the show - Warren Brown - was my kind of chef. He's laid back, intelligent, and accessible - his show isn't about him, it's about the dessert and how best to make it.

And although many of you may find this hard to believe, I love to bake - not cook - bake. Ask me to make dinner and you may not be thrilled with the result but ask me to bake dessert from scratch and I'll be your new best friend.

I had read some reviews of this event from years past and when I learned that breakfast was included it was an easy sell to the rest of my family, even though the price was about $65 per person with tax.

We were told to get to the Odyssey before 9AM so that we could check-in and be seated before enjoying a light breakfast buffet. That is exactly how it was phrased when I made the reservation in July and that is how it was phrased by guest services the day before the event - I'd like to stress the words be seated.

Since we were staying at the BCV it was no trouble to enter EPCOT through the International Gateway and make our way over to that funny shaped building that I don't think I've ever been in before. There was already a line outside the pavilion by the time we got there but we still waited about 10 minutes before they threw open the doors and allowed us all entry. No one questioned Jason or me as we walked in, but they stopped my parents to make sure they were on the list (you've seen their picture - don't they look like the type of people who would sneak into EPCOT before official opening just to steal some dessert?). Well they weren't on the list because the reservation was under my name, not theirs. It only took a minute to straighten out but I'm still puzzled because I didn't see anyone else get stopped on the way in.

So, remember the comment I made in an earlier review about the great way event seating was handled at the Coral Reef F&W tasting? Well, EPCOT and their event production team blew this one big time.

There was no one directing traffic so it was a free-for-all to find a place to sit; the result being that if you weren't one of the first people to enter the dining room or if you had a party of more than two people you probably weren't going to find a seat at the same table.

There were also issues where people at some tables apparently didn't want to sit next to scary strangers and so left an open place between themselves and the unknown fearsome dessert lover to their left or right. This situation could have been easily rectified if those people hadn't all then rushed up to the breakfast buffet as soon as they nabbed a table - once they were seated and stuffing their faces no one on staff was going to ask them to move to accomodate our party of four or the other displaced party which had five members.

Of course, the entire situation could have been avoided if they'd just had someone standing at the front part of the dining room inquiring about the size of each party and then seating them accordingly. I didn't pay $250 to attend an event so that we could all sit at different tables and wave at each other - I did that at my wedding reception and once was enough.

You need a picture break, so here's a shot of the dining area:


I know - you're thinking that all those tables look empty. They are. All the people who got there before us are already decimating the breakfast buffet. I took this picture while the nine of us were standing around being a nuisance to the management team.

Initially we were told that we were all just going to have to suck it up. "Sorry - there is nowhere else for you and your party to sit together and enjoy this event you paid for." Perhaps I expect too much, but to tell nine people that they can all sit at different tables for a dining event that they had to pre-register and pre-pay for is unacceptable. It would have been different if we had arrived late, but we were there before the doors even opened, just as instructed. This was just piss-poor planning on their part.

The woman who was leading the charge for the other group was great, and if it hadn't been for her I'm not sure what I would have done at this point. But she demanded a refund - the one thing you must never ever do at WDW. It's funny how the introduction of money suddenly made this a more important issue to resolve.

I chimed in with the suggestion that in the future they seat people according to party size rather than allowing people to storm the room. We all paid the same amount to attend, but because my family got stopped at the door and entered the room later than almost everyone else we were somehow not entitled to sit together while everyone else was? Sorry...error....does not compute. When I made the reservation no one told me that I needed a line ticket to guarantee my family could sit together.

The catering staff, the event staff, the manager...they all kept saying the same thing: "we're sorry but there's nothing we can do."

Well, we had another solution for them. By this time the other lady and I kind of had an unspoken "good guest-bad guest" thing going on. We could see tables on an elevated section of the dining room in the back of the room and suggested that they simply put us all together at one of those tables.

Do you want to know what their response was or would you like to see some pictures of the buffet?

Buffet? OK.





So, where were we? Ah yes, where on earth are we going to sit? They had already refused to add places to any of the existing tables because other people then wouldn't be able to see. I'm still trying to puzzle that out because a) the stage was elevated; and b) the entire cooking demonstration was being filmed and shown on two very large video screens on either side of the stage.

We were then told that there were no other tables in the dining room, otherwise they would be more than happy to seat us all together.

The conversation went something like this:

We're sorry, but there are no other tables available.

Ummm..what about those two tables over there?

There aren't any other tables.

Those tables over there on that dias aren't tables? You can't spread a cloth and move some plates and let us pretend that we're at a table?

No.

Where's the real manager because we all want a refund.

******three minutes later******

Would you like to have some coffee while we set up a table for you?
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Last edited by oybolshoi; 11-07-2006 at 09:06 PM.
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Old 11-07-2006, 12:13 AM   #64
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Glad you got your seating situation resolved. Amazing how all of a sudden there's a table available.
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Old 11-07-2006, 06:30 AM   #65
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Apologies... I wasn't able to finish Sweet Sunday last night because the server crashed while I was uploading the final portion with all the yummy pictures. I will finish it this evening for those of you who do not wish to follow the election returns.

Dessert or election....

Hmmm, tough choice.

Anyway, just as a teaser...the rest of the event was actually pretty good and inadvertently we ended up with the best seats in the place. Can't wait to share the pics!

B.

PS. get out the vote!!
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Old 11-07-2006, 07:57 AM   #66
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I want to do one of these next years, so I hope the rest of this event turns out better then the seating fiasco. Going solo just went up another point since I won't have to worry about finding a seat.

Quote:
There were also issues where people at some tables apparently didn't want to sit next to scary strangers and so left an open place between themselves and the unknown fearsome dessert lover to their left or right.
I'll be one of the "scary strangers" who spoil there plans, and slip right inbetween them.

I can definatly understand your frustation though. It would have been different if it had been one of the free demos. But even if you had arrived last minute, it obviously wouldn't have been over-booked, so they should definatly have some kind of seating system. That always seems to be the main problem at Party for the Senses to.
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Old 11-07-2006, 03:14 PM   #67
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Thanks for your excellent and detailed reviews and pics! I've really enjoyed reading them so far and was lol at them.
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Old 11-07-2006, 03:15 PM   #68
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I've been lurking on your reviews and just want to say that they are great

As for the special event, I'm amazed that it was such a cluster-you-know-what. You're not the 1st person I've read that has complained about it.
We did the mother's day brunch this past May, run about the same as all these party for the senses and other events, and they had a host checking in how many people in a party and making sure that everyone got to sit together. They should just do that in this occasion too, IMO.
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Old 11-07-2006, 04:47 PM   #69
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Good for you for sticking to your guns, Brenda.
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Old 11-07-2006, 06:20 PM   #70
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you just got me SOOO excited. I'm eating at Raglan Road in 3 days and my fiancee is a HUGEEEEEEEE whiskey fan!
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Old 11-07-2006, 07:46 PM   #71
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Great reviews Brenda!
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Old 11-07-2006, 09:43 PM   #72
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Day 5: Part II, sub-set B, Karmic Cavity Continued...

Hi everyone..I finally made it back to finish this verrrry long review. Thanks for reading so far, thanks for your comments, and thanks for your patience.

Lessee...when last I left you we were waiting for a table. The feeling among our two entirely unrelated parties was hey, why shouldn't we all sit with each other? We have plenty in common, lots to talk about, and no one smells bad.

Imagine our surprise when they set up two tables for the nine of us...I guess they didn't want us all at the same table sowing further discontent. So somehow in the course of fifteen minutes we went from the nine of us scattered among the random seats still available in the dining room to having two extra tables...one for my party of four and the other for the equally, if not even more, annoyed party of five.

And, completely unintentionally on the part of the organizers, our two tables ended up with the best view of the event because we were elevated above all the other tables on the main floor and essentially eye level with the video screens. Talk about an unobstructed view!

The unspoken attitude on the part of the wait staff at this point was something like this: So, now that you difficult whiners have a place to sit why don't you help yourselves to the breakfast buffet (what's left of it).

My initial unspoken response was: Yeah, thanks, but I'm not very hungry. That bowl of angst you guys served me when I first arrived this morning really filled me up.

But then I realized that there were yummy desserts to be enjoyed and ingested and in order to do them justice I needed some solid food in my stomach. I led the charge of the Disgruntled Nine through what was left under the heat lamps.

There was a ham and cheese scrambled egg pie-shaped thing, breakfast potates, bacon, sausage, and fruit. Martini and Rossi provided a sparkling breakfast wine called Proseco that was really really good - very light and very refreshing.

Hey! They had ham...bacon...sausage...the Homer Simpson pork tri-fecta all in one sitting! Things were defintely looking up!!

From this point forward the event was very enjoyable. Let me share the sugar love with you all now.

At each place setting was a program that listed the desserts we would be trying throughout the morning. Detailed recipes for each delectable item were also included along with a brief biopic of both chefs.

There was a facilitator on the stage...I don't know who she was but she kept the conversation going with Warren and Mary while they were baking...asking them why they did things a certain way or why they used one type of baking chocolate as opposed to another, and while there were times that I found her chatter somewhat annoying, for the most part she was an asset to the program.

Here's a picture of the action taking place on stage:


The first dessert of the morning was a chocolate buttercake cupcake topped with Italian meringue buttercream. This was my favorite dessert of the three that we sampled. This was a very dark chocolate cupcake - rich and moist. The secret, according to Warren Brown, is in the cocoa powder. He says to use unsweetened Dutch processed cocoa powder with 22%-24% cocoa butter - that extra cocoa butter is what really makes the taste difference.

You wanna see a picture?

OK...I guess I can share; but I am not responsible for damage done to your keyboard by spontaneous salivary gland reaction to this photo.



Dessert number two was a chocolate chip cookie served with some samples of Valrhona chocolate. Now, you might be thinking "big deal, a cookie." But this was a COOKIE. A big ol' soft, sugary offering made with two types of chocolate. A secret...instead of using brown sugar use a refined sugar called light muscovado. And why use waxy chocolate chips when you can use quality baking chocolate like Valrhona? And why only one type of chocolate? Why, why, why? Here's a question...why don't you hand over the cookie?


This would be a great recipe for making homemade cookie / ice cream sandwiches. And having never tried Valrhona chocolate before this event I can vouch for the taste...way better than a hershey's morsel. And if I had been paying attention to something other than eating I would have manipulated my plate to make it look like a hidden Mickey. Too late now!

Dessert number three was served with some Martini & Rossi Asti Spumante. When I was younger I thought Asti Spumante was the end-all, be-all of sparkling wines pretending to be champagne. But now, I prefer a Moscato if I'm having sparkling wine with dessert...and truth be told I actually prefer a nice glass of port with dessert instead. Mmmmmm....port with dessert. If anyone reading here likes port wines, try pouring a tawny port over ice cream some day...good times!

What? The final dessert? Oh, sorry...sometimes I get all carried away with the endless possibilities presented by booze and dessert.

Dessert number three was a lemon cranberry scone served with a pat of butter. This was ok, but I've been spoiled by the scones served at the Grand Floridian for afternoon tea, which are served with rich, tasty devonshire cream, so this scone was a bit of a disappointment. I thought it was on the dry side but I must admit that the lemon and cranberry really combined well. And the presentation was very pretty.


And this marked the end of the event. There was an audience Q&A session and then everyone had a chance to meet Warren and Mary. However, before that could happen for the Disgruntled Nine, there was a small surprise. The young lady who had to deal with our..situation...sat down with the assertive female leader of each party (that would be the not-anonymous-to-me leader of the party of five, and your wordy author). She gave us each a priority pass to one attraction of our choice in EPCOT for our respective parties. This was a nice gesture on her part - as far as I was concerned everything had turned out well and we had all made the best of an imperfect situation and I didn't need or expect anything else. We used our pass at Soarin' a few days later, but that's not going to prevent me from writing a letter explaining to EPCOT / F&W Management how they could improve the guest experience.

We did get to meet Warren Brown and Mary Meyers before leaving the venue - absolutely two of the nicest, most down-to-earth and approachable people you could ever want to talk with. They autographed our programs and check out this picture of Jason and me with Warren Brown:


Overall, this was a pretty good event once we moved past the seating fiasco. I'm not sure that I would do it again unless the event were being led by someone else that Jay or I really wanted to see - in part because of our experience but also because we'd like to try something new next year.

And I'm not entirely sure if some of the problem at Sweet Sundays can't be traced back to the vibe being thrown off by my mom...it seemed like we only encountered problems when she was around. Keep reading and you'll see what I'm talking about.

This concludes our discussion of Sweet Sundays. Tune in tomorrow when I finally manage to finish our Day 5 dining reviews...really.
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Last edited by oybolshoi; 11-08-2006 at 12:00 AM.
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Old 11-08-2006, 06:27 AM   #73
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Quote:
Originally Posted by oybolshoi
. When I was younger I thought Asti Spumante was the end-all, be-all of sparkling wines pretending to be champagne.
What? I thought it was Boones Farm Strawberry Hill or Mad Dog!! Guess I just aged myself huh? C'mon you young adults of the 70's, you know what I'm talkin' about!!
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Old 11-08-2006, 08:48 AM   #74
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Now that I've wiped the drool of my chin, I can say that I got a sugar rush just reading your review...... can't wait for more!
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Old 11-08-2006, 09:07 AM   #75
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did you happen to get a recipe for the cookies? Can you tell I am a baker as well? DS4Preschool has a cookie bake for the holidays and I thought those would be a great addtion to my gingerbread cookies.
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