After months of planning, you and your family are finally vacationing in Walt Disney World. It's 6 o'clock on your third crowded summer evening.
You're tired. Your feet ache from miles of walking through the Magic Kingdom, EPCOT Center and the Disney-MGM Studios. You're hungry. And you don't want a hamburger. Real food is what you need.
Don't fret -- getting a hearty and healthy meal at Walt Disney World not only is possible, it's a lot easier than you'd ever imagine.
Now, fast forward a few months. At home, you think back to that stuffed chicken breast you ate at the Disney-MGM Studios. If only you had the recipe.
You're not alone. Each year, Walt Disney World receives 70,000 or so recipe requests from novice chefs. Six years ago, chefs at the resort put together the most-requested recipes and compiled them in a "Cooking With Mickey" cookbook.
"Cooking With Mickey, Vol. II" has hit the stands at Walt Disney World and Disneyland, and it's possible to sit around your dining room table and enjoy coral reef linguine from the Living Seas pavilion at EPCOT, lamb shanks from the Studios' '50s Prime Time Cafe or crabmeat ravioli from the Polynesian Resort.
It may be Disney food, but it's not Mickey Mouse stuff, says Ed Wronski, chef de cuisine for EPCOT's World Showcase.
"We go 100 percent authentic. Taste and quality are No. 1," Mr. Wronski says. Although the resort won't release figures, a conservative estimate figures Walt Disney World's 153 restaurants serve 47 million meals a year.
"A lot of people think that it's just hamburgers and hot dogs," Mr. Wronski admits.
It's not. The 350 recipes in "Cooking With Mickey, Vol. II" (some of them come from Disneyland) run the gamut -- from meatloaf to tournedos of beef with cabernet raisin sauce.
Mr. Wronski says the cookbook is a combination souvenir and everyday kitchen helper. Some of the recipes are, to say the least, difficult. Most aren't.
Although he won't say which restaurant is the resort's most popular, he says three restaurants at EPCOT are always crowded: L'Originale Alfredo di Roma Ristorante, Germany's Biergarten and Mexico's San Angel Inn Restaurante.
There's also at least one full-service restaurant in each of Disney World's 10 resort hotels, which have a total of 17,000 rooms.
Walt Disney World is growing; new hotels are on the horizon, along with new attractions at the Disney-MGM Studios, a revamped Tomorrowland, new World Showcase and Future World pavilions at EPCOT, and possibly a fourth park. Only about 6,000 of the 28,000 acres owned by Disney have been BTC developed. As the resort grows, so will the number of restaurants and the array of choices available to diners, Mr. Wronski says. Among the changes that already have been made: more healthful food.
With an ever-increasing menu, are more Mickey cookbooks on the way? Definitely.
"We plan to have this as an ongoing project," Mr. Wronski says.
NB Here are selected recipes from "Cooking With Mickey, Vol. II":
(From the Tangaroa Terrace at Disney's Polynesian Resort)
Makes 4 servings.
3 cups orange juice
1 cup pineapple juice
1 tablespoon coconut cream (in the drink-mixers section of supermarkets)
1/2 cup papaya juice
Place all ingredients in a blender with ice. Blend until smooth. Pour into a glass. Garnish with pineapple wedge and paper parasol.
(From the Brown Derby at Disney-MGM Studios Theme Park)
1 1/2 pounds chicken tenders (or chicken breast meat, cut in strips)
1/4 cup butter
1 cup red bell pepper, cut in julienne strips
1 cup green bell pepper, cut in julienne strips
2 cups heavy whipping cream
3/4 cup Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
4 cups linguine, cooked (8 ounces before serving)
black pepper, freshly ground
Rinse chicken under cold running water and pat dry with paper towels. Cut peppers and prepare remaining ingredients.
Melt butter in a large skillet. Add chicken tenders or strips and saute lightly until about half done. Add peppers and continue cooking until chicken is fully cooked and peppers are tender but not mushy. Add heavy cream and bring to a boil. Simmer for a minute or two and add pasta, then fold in grated cheese. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.
Key lime parfait
(From the Coral Reef Restaurant, The Living Seas)
1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
4 egg yolks
3 to 4 ounces Key lime juice
8 ounces poundcake
1/2 cup whipping cream
1 teaspoon powdered sugar
6 whole strawberries
In a medium-size mixing bowl with an electric mixer, combine milk and egg yolks; blend at low speed. Slowly add lime juice and continue mixing until well blended.
Slice poundcake into 1-inch slices and cut to fit inside of a white wine glass. Pour Key lime filling over poundcake and refrigerate for at least two hours.
Whip whipping cream with powdered sugar and top each wine glass.
Garnish with a fresh strawberry and a slice of kiwi.
"Cooking With Mickey, Vol. II" is available at Walt Disney World or Disneyland, or by calling either resort's Merchandise Guest Services. For Walt Disney World, call (407) 934-4718. For Disneyland, call (800) 362-4533.