Space 220 Restaurant

The Space 220 Restaurant at Epcot in Disney World is an out-of-this-world restaurant. It’s so popular that it is nearly impossible to get an online reservation. We went in person on a Friday morning at 10:30 and lucked out. They had several slots available for lunch. This themed dining establishment is located next to the Mission: SPACE Pavilion. As you come into the park by Spaceship Earth, veer left toward the attractions on that side of the park.

 

At the designated time, we gained entry and were given boarding passes at a neon-rimmed reception desk.

From there, we lined up to ride on the space elevator. This would take us to the space station 220 miles up from Earth. A small group of us went inside. There’s a round rail in the center where we held on, with viewports at the bottom of this circle and overhead on the ceiling. With a rumbling vibration, we took off. Florida receded below as we shot toward the sky.

The station came into view above and grew larger until we docked. Here we entered a snaking utilitarian corridor. One section rotated with hydroponic vegetables reminiscent of the Land Pavilion.

A server escorted us to our table. Out the wide set of windows, we saw the curvature of Earth.

 

I ordered a Planetary Punch – Bacardi Silver, Malibu, Blue Curacao, Guava, and Coconut. The purple beverage bubbled and had an intriguing taste.

 

For $55 each, we had a two-course fixed price lunch with an appetizer and entree. Annual passholders get 10% off lunch only. Dinner is $79 and includes different choices of appetizers and entrees plus dessert. Here is the lunch menu. You can see the dinner menu here. Lunch starts at 11:30 am and Dinner at 4:00 pm. Remember that you need a reservation to Epcot for the day plus an admission ticket or pass.

I chose the Space Greens which was huge – Bibb and Red Leaf Lettuce, Honey Crisp Apples, Radish, Cornbread Croutons, Bacon Bites, Warm Bacon Vinaigrette. The lettuce was so fresh it might have been grown right there in the hydroponic garden.

My lunch was the Spaceghetti & Shrimp – Sautéed Shrimp, Spaghetti, Cherry Tomatoes, Basil, Garlic Beurre Blanc. Richard had the Rocket Flame Seared Tuna – Fennel Spice-Rubbed Tuna Loin, Eggplant Caponata, Arugula, Aged Balsamic. Sue and Mark both had the Galactic Miso Salmon – Miso Glazed Salmon, Glazed Rainbow Carrots, Edamame, Celeriac Puree.

 

While the food was tasty, I wouldn’t return based on the meal alone, although the dinner menu is very appealing. However, the out-of-this-world space station experience would definitely be worth another visit. You can go to the lounge without a reservation if you don’t mind standing in line for a spot, but there’s limited seating and it faces away from the viewports.

As we dined, suited spacemen floated past and various spacecraft came and went. It was awesome to imagine yourself dining on a real space station. Space elevators have been elemental to science fiction novels since I’ve been reading them, and our imagination often fuels invention.

The ride down to Earth was even more exhilarating than the one up to the station. It seemed real as we jostled with movement and sped down toward the land far below. With a gentle thump, we reached the terminal and entered reality once more.

For a more immersive experience, there’s always the Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser Adventure. That’s a mind-blowing two-night stay in the Star Wars Universe. If not for the cost … well, maybe our kids will get there someday.

In the meantime, Space 220 Restaurant offers a stellar adventure. We were glad to enjoy it with Sue and Mark Bernstein. Next time, we’ll have to try this place for dinner.

Space 220 Restaurant Experience #Epcot #Space220 Click To Tweet

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Epcot Food and Wine Festival 2022

Epcot Food and Wine Festival is the main reason we get annual passes to Disney World. It’s fun to stroll among the food booths at Epcot’s World Showcase to sample new dishes. A number of cookbooks in my collection feature previous festivals and include many of their popular dishes.

Here is what we sampled this time:

Grilled Sweet and Spicy Bush Berry Shrimp at Australia with pineapple, onions, peppers, and snap peas.

Warm Chocolate Pudding Cake with Irish Cream Liqueur Custard at Ireland

Teriyaki Chicken Bun at Japan with chicken, vegetables and teriyaki sauce.

Chesapeake Crab Slider at The American Adventure with tangy coleslaw and Cajun remoulade.

Warm Raclette Swiss Cheese with Riesling poached pears, red wine braised figs, candied pecans, honey, and cranberry toast. I liked this dish, except for the toast that was too hard to bite.

Alps Wine Flight – I liked the white wine, Huber Vision Gruner Veltliner from Austria. The rosé, Cave De La Cote Rosé Gamay from Romand was also good. I didn’t care for the red choice, René Favre Dole from Chamoson.

Flavors From Fire over by Test Track – We shared the Smoked Corned Beef on crispy potato chips with melted cheese. My blurry photo doesn’t do this dish justice, but it was delicious. It was more than enough for the two of us.

 

Epcot Food & Wine Festival Tastings 2022 #foodie #DisneyWorld Click To Tweet

We had a great time with Ann Meier and Sue and Mark Bernstein.

 

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Dining Adventures Sept 2022

September is an exciting month for us with family birthdays. We get to enjoy several celebrations, in some cases trying new restaurants to add to our roster of Orlando eateries.

For our first experience, we ate at Hamilton’s Kitchen in the Alfond Inn at Winter Park. It was a lovely place for brunch in a boutique hotel, and I could easily return there.

   

The next occasion found us in The Taproom at Dubsdread again for Sunday brunch. This place is set on a golf course and is always a favorite.

Dining at Las Lomas Mexican Grill in Altamonte Springs was a new experience. It’s a gaily decorated restaurant with an enticing menu and generous portions.

         

Finally, we topped off the month at TooJay’s in Altamonte Springs with Rosh Hashanah dinner since nobody could host due to travels or kitchen renovations.

  

Between September birthdays, Orlando’s Magical Dining Month and Epcot’s Food and Wine Festival, it’s a festive time of year!

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Magical Dining Sept 2022

Magical Dining month in Orlando is an opportunity to try new restaurants or to revisit a favorite one at reasonable prices. For a fixed amount of $40 per person, you get a three-course dinner. Our first stop this year was The Back Room Steakhouse in Apopka. We actually went twice, because my husband got a gift card there as a birthday gift. The atmosphere was elegant with good service. The first time, we had Thai Chili Coconut Shrimp, 10 oz. Prime NY Strip, and Key Lime Pie. The shrimp and the dessert were really good. The steak was okay. I wish they’d offered a beef fillet instead. I’m not a big steak person but chose this entrée because I don’t eat much meat at home.

       

The next visit, we indulged in the Braised Short Rib Egg Rolls, Sauteed Norwegian Salmon Filet, and — how could I resist? — Key Lime Pie again. The egg rolls were deeply fried and rather heavy, making me prefer the lighter spring rolls from Trader Joes. The shrimp was much better as an appetizer. The salmon was perfect and I chose a baked potato and broccoli as an accompaniment.

   

My overall impression? If you live west in Apopka, this is a nice choice for a fancy occasion although the prices can be steep. It might be worth another trip for Magical Dining depending on the menu. However, where we live, we do have lots of other options.

Our second experience was at TerraMia Ristorante E Trattoria in Altamonte Springs. Here we shared the Antipasto TerraMia and the Burrata Pugliese for appetizers. Both were excellent. For an entrée, I had the Agnello Abbruzzese, a barolo braised lamb shank served with genovese sauce. It was very tender with lots of meat that fell off the bone. Richard had fish, the Branzino Mediterraneo pan-roasted in a white wine garlic sauce with cherry tomatoes and served over pasta. He enjoyed his dish. For dessert, I chose the Torta Alla Pera, a classic neapolitan cake filled with cream and pear. This did not impress me. I didn’t taste any cream inside and there was a small half slice of pear on top. I can make a better cake myself. Richard got the Selvanera Cake, an Italian version of black forest cake.

                     

Overall, the food was excellent, but the atmosphere was extremely noisy. Maybe it’s better on a weekday, but the bar overwhelms the restaurant and does not make for a cozy, intimate experience. If you’re looking to sit at a lively bar, you might like this scene. We prefer a quieter evening.

Kennedy Space Center

Kennedy Space Center is a great place to visit if you’re a space program fan, like to observe space launches, or merely want to learn about our space-age achievements. We’d been there years ago and wanted to see the new attractions. Plus, all the recent launches had piqued our interest in the space program.

It took us an hour to get there from the Orlando area. We parked by the Visitor Complex and entered through the turnstiles. It wasn’t crowded in the morning, so we could stand in awe to see the rockets poised in the Rocket Garden beyond the entrance.

We skipped the Heroes & Legends pavilion to our left and walked briefly through the Nature & Technology building. This housed museum-type exhibits of the local environment. Up ahead was Gateway: The Deep Space Launch Complex. Inside the dark building were multiple space capsules and other displays. Upstairs was Spaceport, an immersive ride experience with four itineraries. We bypassed the line and headed instead for the Observation Port to view the films. It’s a good way to have the experience without the jostling motion. This building also has an IMAX theater.

 

 

 

We didn’t really want to watch any other movies, so we skipped the Universe Theater. I dipped into the Journey to Mars to view the different land rovers. Again, I passed by various interactive displays so we could move on.

Inside the Space Shuttle Atlantis building, we viewed a 12-minute movie before being allowed into the exhibit area. This film shows how the Space Shuttle came into being. There are several floors with displays and interactive exhibits plus a huge slide. If you like thrill rides, there’s also the Shuttle Launch Experience.

 

Another building called Planet Play is an indoor playground. It’s way cool for kids and has a seating area for adults to order drinks. A large globe circulating in a plaza with cascading water also attracted young children as did a Lego section.

Re dining, we ate at the Orbit Café that has a good selection of menu items. Other venues offer bistro bowls, hot dogs, ice cream and movie snacks.

It’s not possible to do everything in a day, especially if you want to sign up for any of the special experiences such as a bus tour of the complex or Chat with an Astronaut. But it was enough for us and re-inspired our awe of the space program. Now all we need are anti-gravity engines and warp drive.

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St. Johns River Restaurant

It’s fun to explore a new area, and the St. Johns River has been on my to-do list since moving to the Orlando area. After I took my car for maintenance at a dealership in Sanford, we headed east for lunch at a restaurant that I’ve wanted to visit. St. Johns River Steak & Seafood is at 550 N. Palmetto Ave. in Sanford, FL. It’s at a wharf adjacent to the historic downtown. We were very pleased with the food and the views of the expansive waterway.

 

My husband had crabcakes. I had grilled grouper with asparagus and a baked potato. We couldn’t resist key lime pie for dessert. The meal was enough for leftovers even without a salad or bread.

  

I miss the ocean in Fort Lauderdale and seeing the cruise ships, freighters, and barges offshore. This is the closest we come here, but it doesn’t compare to the Intracoastal either with its water taxis and gleaming white yachts. Still, we enjoyed the tranquility as we feasted on our meals.

 

The drinks must have filled us up. Richard had a Mai Tai and I got a glass of red sangria. With our stomachs satisfied, we kept our couches company when we got home. Forget about getting any work done.

 

Recent other excursions have been to Central Florida Zoo, Disney’s Animal Kingdom, and Epcot for the Flower & Garden Festival.

Meanwhile, I’m plugging away at Star Tangled Murder. I’m over 36,000 words on page 123. My goal is approximately 80,000 words. This will be book #18 in the Bad Hair Day Mysteries.

 

Disney Doings

We visited Disney World twice in December for double the pleasure. First we visited Magic Kingdom. The magic got somewhat lost on our twenty-minute trek from the parking lot back in the wilds to the ticket and transportation center. No trams meant an unexpected hike. Then more walking until you get to the actual entrance. We decided to wait in line for the Jungle Cruise ride since we hadn’t been on the latest version, but after a crowded wait where we were packed into lines with no social distancing (we wore masks), we had to leave for our lunch reservation.

   Magic Kingdon        Jungle cruise

 

   

We had a delicious meal at Liberty Tree Tavern that’s essentially a turkey dinner with a gooey toffee dessert. This was almost worth the angst in getting there.

       

After lunch, the park was getting more crowded and the skies cloudier. We quit to head back to the parking lot. Naturally the monorail wasn’t working and we had to take the ferry. Finally made it back to our parking lot in the land of the forgotten and were rained on before reaching our car. Not the most magical experience this day. I will not return here until the trams are running again or else we’ll have to pay extra for preferred parking.

Our day at Disney Springs was better. We met our kids for an anniversary lunch at Paddlefish which was very enjoyable. Here’s my clam chowder and crab cake meal.

     

We strolled around to view the Christmas trees. There wasn’t any defined trail like in previous years. These were scattered among the stores.

         

We passed a concert by a band and watched our grandson on a train ride with his mom. Not sure which one of them loved it more.

       

Next trip, if we care to brave the crowds, will be Epcot for the food booths at the arts festival. I’d definitely get the preferred parking although it grates on my nerves to have to pay extra when the free trams should be running. The magic isn’t what it used to be.

Dining Around the World

We had a wonderful day at Disney World’s Epcot Food & Wine Festival as we strolled around World Showcase to sample the foods. My writer pal and critique partner, Ann Meier, accompanied us. It was a trek from the parking lot without the trams running and around the new construction obstacles past Planet Earth. We detoured to go on one of my favorite rides at The Land pavilion. I love the boats that glide through the plant and hydroponics gardens where you learn about new growing techniques.

Our first stop was for the Beer-Braised Beef with Smoked Gouda Mashed Potatoes at Belgium. This was a tasty dish, although the meat could have been more tender.

The Griddled Cheese with Pistachios and Honey at Greece was delicious. The flavors were unusual and reminded me of melted Brie with jam on top. The honey and chopped pistachios were inspirational.

Who wouldn’t like the Wild Mushroom and Truffle Tart at the Rotunda Bistro in the American Adventure? It was a perfect melding of sauteed mushrooms atop a puff pastry shell.

At the Alps, Richard had a wine flight, and I had the Blueberry and Almond Frangipane Tart. Since I love marzipan, this was a yummy dessert. The portion was large enough for us to share.

   

And how could I pass up the Traditional Macaroni and Cheese with Herbed Panko at Mac & Eats? If you’re a mac and cheese fan, you’ll want to make a stop there. Creamy with a slight crunch from the topping, this dish is the ultimate comfort food.

We were lucky to have perfect weather, partially cloudy in the low seventies, before a cold front came through the next day with heavy rain. It wasn’t terribly crowded at Epcot, which made for almost no waits in line anywhere. There were still other foods I might have liked to try but I got too full to eat anymore. The lower temperature and drier air made walking pleasant as we strolled around World Showcase. I achieved over 12,000 steps this day but counteracted it with all the extra calories consumed.

 

 

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Birthday Bounties

We were fortunate to have three family birthdays fall during Magical Dining month in Orlando. That makes it simple what to do to celebrate. Go out to eat! Here are the birthday dinners we attended and the delicious meals we consumed, along with one we did on our own. Never mind the added sugar and cholesterol consumption. I’ll deal with those later.

The Tap Room at Dubsdread
Buffalo Shrimp
10 oz. Herb Encrusted Prime Rib
Key Lime Pie

Buffalo Shrimp  Prime Rib  Key Lime Pie  

Le Coq Au Vin
Tarte l’Oignon

Beef Bourgignon
Crème Brulee

Tarte L'Oignon  Beef Borgignon  Creme Brulee         

Delaney’s Tavern
Roasted Mushroom and Burratta Flatbread

Almond Crusted Salmon
Bourbon Peach Cobbler

Mushroom and Burratta  Almond Crusted Salmon Peach Cobbler

Fig’s Prime
Goat Cheese Croquette
9 oz. Filet Mignon
Rum Chocolate Torte
Goat Cheese Croquette  Filet Mignon Rum Chocolate Torte

If you could wish for your favorite meal, what would be your appetizer, entrée and dessert?

Animal Kingdom Safari

We took a break and went to the Animal Kingdom at Disney World to make use of our annual passes. Our parking space was within easy walking distance of the entrance so we were lucky in that regard. We walked along the shady paths toward Africa.

Animal Kingdom

After stopping at Starbucks for some snacks to refuel our energy, we headed onto the Kilimanjaro Safari ride. No wait in the line, which we also saw later at Expedition Everest. The park is so spread out that it didn’t seem terribly crowded. We got front row seats in our safari vehicle.

   

The animals were strolling about or lazing in the heat. We viewed quite a few as you can see from these photos.

           

We lunched in Dinoland at a fast food place where we could sit indoors and enjoy the air-conditioning. On our way out, we browsed in the shops and then headed home tired but happy.

   

 

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