Sunday, April 06, 2008

The Monsoons Continue

It looks like the rainy season has come to Florida early this year. In a continuation of yesterday's wet and wild weather, today featured almost non-stop downpours too. There was a lull in the morning that allowed us to grab some hot tub time, but it started raining midway through our soak and we just got out in time to avoid the thunder and lightning.

I've been feeling very theme park-deprived lately, but it wasn't a good day to even remotely consider a Disney or Universal jaunt. Well, actually we did go to Disney, but it was to enjoy a delicious dinner at Artist Point rather braving any of the parks.

Although we would have loved Ohana, getting reservations there is only slightly less difficult than finding a really good episode of "South Park" in the last two seasons. We can usually get into Artist Point or Jiko; hubby was dead set on the former, since he had a taste for mussels and their nectar-of-the-gods cream of mushroom soup.

I called WDW-DINE and managed to secure a 6 p.m. reservation. We figured that if we could just make it through the waterfall pouring down the back door stoop and into the Family Truckster, we'd have it made. It's a pretty easy jaunt to the Wilderness Lodge; turn at the second start on the right (or more realistically at World Drive) and go straight on till morning, or at least till you hit the Magic Kingdom parking toll booth.

We dashed out to the car and sloshed down the sodden streets, heading towards our culinary reward. Thankfully we have a Disney Dining Experience card, which gives us valet parking. Even with a few bucks for the tip, it's well worth not having to swim from the nether reaches of the tourist-clotted parking lot to the hotel.

The card also gives you 20 percent off your bill, including alcohol. There's an annual fee involved, but if you're a frequent diner at the Disney restaurants it quickly pays for itself. There was some controversy this year because when when you use your DDE card, an 18 percent gratuity is automatically slapped on your tab. I'm not really sure why it caused so much trauma; we tip 20 percent for good service anyway. But apparently many people were tipping on the discounted amount vs. the true bill, so this is a way to ensure that the servers get a fair tip.

The restaurant was more crowded than usual, which hubby attributed to the fact that everyone had been driven back to their hotels from the theme parks, meaning they all needed somewhere convenient to eat. We were seated at a nice window table for two that was out of the main thoroughfare, which we enjoyed. We watched the downpour from our cozy little spot, sipping our favorite drinks. Hubby's is wine, while I always get something called the Northern Exposure. I think it contains vodka, amaretto, kahlau, and a splash of Coca Cola. Sounds weird, but it's delicious.

We split a cheese plate, then he had the mussels while I (of course) had the soup; I kindly deigned to share some with him, not so much out of the goodness of my heart as in hopes of saving room for dessert.

For dinner he had cedar plank salmon, while I indulged in a new choice: the chicken. I usually stick with appetizers, but on this evening I was in the mood for a meal. I was a bit concerned because the menu said that the sauce contains anise. I know most people view it as a tasty seasoning, but to me it's a flavor created to torture my tastebuds. Still, I can take it in small doses so I thought I would live on the edge and trying something different.

The chicken turned out to be delicious. It was so moist and tender, and although I could taste the anise it was just one of a panoply of flavors. Hubby loved his salmon, but I knew that he would since that is one of his "regulars" at Artist Point. We're both counting the days when they start serving Copper River Salmon this summer; it has a very short season, but it is oh so good.

I managed to save room for something sweet. Eschewing the menu, I asked instead for a scoop of each of the three ice creams/sorbets they offer with several of the dessert items. I had blackberry sorbet, pear sorbet, and honey lavendar ice cream that actually reminded me of the honey coated friend ice cream at Chi Chi's. Ah....memories!

By the time we left, the rain had slacked off only slightly and I was glad that we'd taken the valet option. Soon the Truckster was rolling up to the entrance, and we climbed in and basked in the pleasant glow of alcohol and a good meal for a moment before heading back to Celebration.

I couldn't help but feel a bit guilty in my happiness. All around us at the hotel were sad vacationers who'd pretty much lost two days of their trips to rain. I remember how frustrating that used to be back when I was a Chicagoan for whom Disney was still a remote treat, not just one of a cornacopia of everyday options.

Yes, I still have empathy, but that doesn't mean I'm going to leave Florida and return to their position any time soon. Instead, as we whizzed down World Drive, I basked in the pleasure of knowing that when the sunshine finally returned to give legitamcy to Florida's nickname, I would still be here and able to pop over to the theme parks at my leisure. Rain or shine, it's great to live next door to Disney World, and I don't think the novelty will ever wear off.

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1 comment:

John Marco said...

Good post. It's fun sharing your meals vicariously this way. I've never been to Artist's Point; can't get the wife interested in it for some reason. Maybe someday.