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Old 01-05-2011, 06:18 PM   #1
ehagerty
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Victoria & Albert Dining Scheherazade Night #8 & #9 "New Regulars"

What can I say that I haven't already said? Dining here, once an infrequent, esoteric experience, has become a "must do" for each visit to the World. How did that happen? How did I overcome the bias that dining here was only meant to be experienced once a decade?

Well, a few things have changed.

I started cooking more. Not " in earnest," but with a modicum of effort. My influences:
(1) Wegmans - local grocery store - published seasonal cooking magazine. Each recipe has a "take it" "make it" or "bake it" option. If you choose "make it," the ingredients and recipe are all at one "station." Recipes were quite good, and it didn't take long before (one recipe) I realized it would taste better if I cut fresh vegetable rather than using pre-cut or frozen ones. Being able to load 8 ingredients from one location when you are always short of time was a strong encouragement to experiment.
(2) Accidental Success - I made split pea soup about 10 years ago - off the back of the dried pea bag and an Easter ham bone. My father-in-law commented on how great it was - that I must have been making it for years to have perfected it. "No," I replied, "First time." "How did you do it the first time?" he asked. "I followed the recipe," I replied, "Just like a chemistry experiment." (Much to my mother-in-law's chagrin.) "Hmmm," I thought to myself, "this cooking isn't hard at all." I said "accidental success," but the willingness to follow a recipe (at least the first time) can be attributed to watching my mom cook, as she was conscientious about her reference materials. (Note, I also realized, once I had young children of my own, that you lose track of ingredients and steps between sleep deprivation and interruptions. Recipes are a good thing for most of us.)
(3) Molly Steven's braising book - saw this book dawdling over coffee at Barnes and Noble - read some of her introduction, recipes, suggestions and instructions - and immediately set out to cook all recipes (hadn't heard of Julie and Julia at the time). Learned a lot.
(4) Babette's Feast - the movie. Really made me want to create a nice dining experience for people, like she did.

Anyway - the back story may be wordy, but the pictures will speak for themselves!

So, why am I here?

Because, even if I COULD cook like this (which is entirely untested), I probably WOULD not (a) acquire the quality ingredients used in VnA kitchen and (b) prepare the number of dishes, with the variety of ingredients that I enjoy here. All in one meal. In short, I can pretty much simulate a California Grill meal - or Artist Point braised ribs - or (the list goes on). But the sheer breadth and depth of the meals I enjoy here, I will never replicate. So, based on food alone, VnA has become a "gotta have."

Add "service" - orders taken at my pace, dishes served with explanations, when I'm ready, etc. Jack (of Jack and Sherry acclaim - see prior posts) won recognition in the service industry this year as "Server of the Year" (I may not have gotten the exact honor, and I couldn't find the trade journal online), but he was, in his own words, "Floating on air." Yes, the 2010 server of the year works at VnA. At DisneyWorld. Well deserved.

Add wine pairings - complementary (please folks, don't confuse that with comPLImentary - totally different!!!), paradoxical - wine, sake, ale - gotta love a thoughtful pairing - and an explanation of the choice. Gives me a chance to learn. I actually seek out wines in local wine shops that I had for the first time here. Merry Edwards Sauvignon Blanc. Chamey ale. Baileyanna Chardonney. Mollydooker "The Boxer" Shiraz.

Add ambiance - there are many lovely places at WDW, and many fond memories - but only a couple where, once you pass the "show curtain" completely disengage you from the fun (often hot) hectic WDW and usher, over the space of a couple of feet, into a soft, quiet, gentle, relaxing place where you can decompress for a few hours. Not something I would seek out, if it meant compromising on food, wine or service, but I sure appreciate it as an additional element of delight. BTW, the "other" location (for me) is the WL lobby.

Now, price. While dining here is still located on the outer edge of my financial bubble, you see I still manage to allocate my dining dollars here. Regularly. I've learned a thing or two about dining in more expensive cities (London, Dubai) - not on my own dime. With my limited, but not entirely narrow, understanding of dining, I've actually concluded that VnA has a very high "dining enjoyment for the dollar" index. I pretty much concluded that a couple of meals ago. I can no longer deny it this trip.

For those who have been following from the beginning (first VnA post), my original perspective was "Why would I want to eat at VnA once when I could eat at CG 3 or 4 times?" My current thinking is - "Well, to get appetizer, entree, dessert, coffee, etc. at CG, it is really only a cost ratio of 2 CG meals to 1 VnA meal (not 3 or 4)." And, yes, I would rather eat at VnA once (or more, if I have an excuse) than CG twice (or Artist Point, Citricos, etc.) - not that they are mutually exclusive. My new perspective is "What do I have to do (financially) to ensure that I get to VnA at least once a vacation." Then I plan accordingly.

Let the pictures begin. I won't distinguish too much between the two meals - you will notice different table layouts. No worries, from here on out, it is about the meal.

BTW - I did not coin the phrase "new regulars" - I overhead Jack greeting the adjoining table of 8. "Is this your first time?" he asked. "No, we are all regulars except that guy," one of them responded. Jack quipped, "Well then, he will be the new regular."

Yes, me too. The "New Regular." On her Dining Scheherazade.
================================================== =

For those who may not already be aware, there are other nights to this story..
Night #1 - Victoria & Alberts - Picture Trip Report (January, 2009)
Night #2 - Victoria & Albert - A Once-in-a-Decade Dinner, for the second time in 2009 (May, 2009)
Night #3 - Victoria & Albert - My Dining Scheherazade (September, 2009)
Night #4 - Victoria & Albert - Dining Scheherazade Night #4 - "Table for One" (October, 2009)
Night #5 - Victoria & Albert - Dining Scheherazade Night #5 - "Table for One - Again" 23 FEB 10 (February, 2010)
Night #6 and 7 - Victoria & Albert Dining Scheherazade Night #6&7 "I could die happy,and I am only 20" (June, 2010)
Night #8 and 9 - Victoria & Albert - Dining Scheherazade Night 8 and 9 - "New Regulars" (December, 2010)
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Last edited by ehagerty; 02-12-2011 at 04:19 PM.
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Old 01-05-2011, 07:04 PM   #2
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Your pictures are always great. I can't wait to see them.
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Old 01-05-2011, 07:51 PM   #3
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Oh my, a new V&A thread with your pictures. I'm waiting with baited breath!
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Old 01-05-2011, 08:03 PM   #4
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What a beautiful intro! I am excited, can't wait to see and hear more. I love to cook as well and when we go out for dinner I want something I cannot make or I want to be inspired and surprised, allways up to learn.
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Old 01-06-2011, 06:18 AM   #5
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On with the show! I love reading your reviews and seeing your photos!
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Old 01-06-2011, 09:25 AM   #6
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Yeah, can't wait, we are hoping to do the chef's table this summer for our 20th anniversary with our girls and we are all enjoying reviews
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Old 01-06-2011, 04:58 PM   #7
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Thank you for the encourgement...

.... it definitely helps me focus on getting more posts published!

Here come the pictures......
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Old 01-06-2011, 05:19 PM   #8
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Getting started..... Greetings & Amuse Bouche

Always a smiling face, Israel and his staff greetings the guests.....







Table for one (available light)







Pommery Royal Brut NV






Amuse Bouche

Lobster Crepe, creme fraiche (sketchy notes say "good, but couldn't absorb / detect in one bite" - I'll have to concentrate better next time)








Sliced lobster (caviar) (tender)








Salmon Panna Cotta (complex, rich)






Not pictured here, the lobster biqsue (smooth, deep flavor)



.
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Old 01-06-2011, 05:41 PM   #9
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Tuna & Octopus

Tuna and Octopus a la Plancha with Jamon Iberico

Bisson Bianchettam Golfo del Tigullio (DOC) Genova 2007

The dish in it entirety......







Tuna & Octopus - Close-up, with sherry vinaigrette, artfully arranged without straining, bits of Jamon decoratively scattered in the foreground






...slightly different presentation on another day










According to my notes (which never seem to persist past my 3rd wine pairing), "a la Plancha" is a cooking method using a wood fire and Mongol grill that gets up to 800 degrees.



Microgreens





Olive Tapenade



I am normally not a fan of olives - I've always found them briny and /or harsh. This was delicate and subtle. Turns out, I LIKE olives.





Applewood Smoked Buffalo "Waldorf"

Domaine King Estate Pinot Gris, Oregon 2008


I listed the wine pairing for those who like to think about pairings while reading - but I did not try this wine. The dish was for my mom, and does not drink.


The dish







.
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Old 01-08-2011, 10:00 AM   #10
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Thanks to your wonderful reviews I am dining solo at V&A for the first time in May. I've always been scared that it would be too fancy or that it would be weird to dine there solo (although I don't care any other place!) You have proven both those thoughts to be untrue.

Thanks so much....can't wait for a wonderful dining experience.

Jill in CO
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Old 01-08-2011, 03:50 PM   #11
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Solo Dining at VnA - hey - ANY dining at VnA

Quote:
Originally Posted by jedijill View Post
Thanks to your wonderful reviews I am dining solo at V&A for the first time in May. I've always been scared that it would be too fancy or that it would be weird to dine there solo (although I don't care any other place!) You have proven both those thoughts to be untrue.

Thanks so much....can't wait for a wonderful dining experience.

Jill in CO
I am glad you found encouragement to do something you might not have otherwise done - and, as always, we look forward to your thoughts and comments on the experience! I usually add the complete list of VnA links in the original post (haven't done that yet), but you seem to have found it anyway!

I have so many things to do, I typically wait until I see some activity on the thread before making time to do the next post. Here I go!


BTW, they must be awfully nice in Aurora CO. I was not familiar with your hometown, but I recognized it from a Cast Member name tag Dec 16th. He was so good, I sent WDW Guest Communications an email the same night (while on vacation - now THAT is a testimonial!). Here is the content:
Subject Line: Eric from Aurora Colorado - Animal Kingdom Safari Tour, but tonight at Magic Kingdom

Just had to comment on what a great job Eric did tonight. In the 60 minutes I observed him, he interacted with all sorts of guests - adult, children, handicapped, etc. He was always doing his job (traffic) while entertaining (telling jokes, etc) while interacting with guests. All the CMs were "nice", but they mostly talked to each other. Eric was 100% Disney. He was such an exception, I nominate him for whatever comprises "awards" in the Disney culture (read letter aloud to peers, raise, etc.).

To which my mother added:
Great letter about Eric. I heartily agree and hope he continues to spread his special talent. He would have made Walt proud.
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Old 01-08-2011, 04:08 PM   #12
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Bread & Butter Pairings

Chef Erich Herbitschek is the Pastry Chef for VnA. His breads blend in perfectly with the meal as transition elements - light (without being empty or airy), flavorful (but always balanced), fresh (I suppose that goes without saying) - and perfectly paired with wonderful butters.

First, the Baguette and Vermont Butter (unsalted)

For one....





For two...








Herb Brioche & black truffle oil butter(working from memory here, not menu)







Multi-Grain (from Eric's family recipe)....

Although, you can see here that I ell behind in my bread pairings almost as quickly as I fall behind in my wine pairings. I can see all 3 bread on the one dish. Clearly I would not let them go!





As the first butter was unsalted, Sherry let me try adding some different salts. Pretty sure the pink was Himalayan (remember the salt bowls from an earlier report?), black was Hawaiian or lava or something. The other include kosher, pretty sure some sort of Fleur de Sel. I didn't have a lot of appetite / room left to experiment much at this point, but appreciated the opportunity to try. Something new to do at home.






This is just my opinion, but I would rather have these bread and butter pairings for dessert than any other restaurant offering for dessert, except the chocolate souffle at VnA and Palo's.

.
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Old 01-08-2011, 05:41 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ehagerty View Post
I am glad you found encouragement to do something you might not have otherwise done - and, as always, we look forward to your thoughts and comments on the experience! I usually add the complete list of VnA links in the original post (haven't done that yet), but you seem to have found it anyway!

I have so many things to do, I typically wait until I see some activity on the thread before making time to do the next post. Here I go!


BTW, they must be awfully nice in Aurora CO. I was not familiar with your hometown, but I recognized it from a Cast Member name tag Dec 16th. He was so good, I sent WDW Guest Communications an email the same night (while on vacation - now THAT is a testimonial!). Here is the content:
Subject Line: Eric from Aurora Colorado - Animal Kingdom Safari Tour, but tonight at Magic Kingdom

Just had to comment on what a great job Eric did tonight. In the 60 minutes I observed him, he interacted with all sorts of guests - adult, children, handicapped, etc. He was always doing his job (traffic) while entertaining (telling jokes, etc) while interacting with guests. All the CMs were "nice", but they mostly talked to each other. Eric was 100% Disney. He was such an exception, I nominate him for whatever comprises "awards" in the Disney culture (read letter aloud to peers, raise, etc.).

To which my mother added:
Great letter about Eric. I heartily agree and hope he continues to spread his special talent. He would have made Walt proud.
Aurora is a nice place! It is E/SE suburb of Denver....I think the altitude gives us great attitudes! Anyway...its my adopted hometown now. I moved here from Missouri about 2 1/2 years ago.

I will confess...I did a search of the forum for V&A threads after reading one of your original reviews as well as I believe UncleDisney?...I'm sure I have his name wrong. I can't wait to dine there on May 11 and will definitely post my experiences if only to pay it forward.

Jill in CO
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Old 01-08-2011, 11:42 PM   #14
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I adore your dining reviews. Your pictures are always a delight!
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Old 01-09-2011, 11:46 AM   #15
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I am so enjoying your review and can't wait for more. Similar to what you described in your intro, I am just getting into cooking (wish my grocer had the take it/make it option!) and am very intrigued at the possibility of dining at V&A's. The one thing holding me back is I'm afraid I might be squeamish at certain ingredients. For example octopus is scaring me a bit. But the wine pairing might convince me to give it a try.

Looking forward to hearing more about your experience and seeing your pictures!
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