Next it was time to do what we really came for - eat! At the Almond Orchard we shared a serving of Cauliflower Risotto with pulled chicken, artichokes spinach, Parmesan cheese and aged balsamic dressing. It wasn’t bad but it wasn’t special, either. Risotto should be creamier and they seemed a bit light on the add-ons.
No matter, the Scottish booth was nearby, where we couldn’t make up our mind so we got 2 items: Potato Pancake with Scottish Smoked Salmon and herbed sour cream, and Scottish Lamb Stew with Neeps and Tatties. Neeps, it turns out, is a root vegetable called “Swedes”, which is a lot like a turnip. It was OK but the smoked salmon was better.
We snacked standing up, surrounded by the lovely, well maintained grounds. One area did seem to be a little less picked-up, but hopefully that is not a sign of things to come.
In this area several characters were signing autographs for youngsters. We got a kick out of how determined Rafiki (from Lion King) was to sign his autograph, regardless of having almost no field of vision and big floppy hands!
We walked over to the Rose and Crown Pub for a Guinness, and this time we saw how they get a design in the foam. They pour a glass of beer, set it aside to settle a bit, then slowly add a little more beer, using a very small stream and moving the glass to create the design. In the past it was Micky Mouse; today it was a clover leaf.
In the French area we watched an acrobat balance on top of 4 chairs, which balanced on top of wine bottles, which were setting on a table. Then we stepped over to the Belgium area for a mini-waffle with warm chocolate ganache and whipped cream. The waffle was light enough to soak up all the chocolate but it was a far, lonesome cry from the waffles we had in Belgium.
The Japanese area has a couple of gorgeous statues of soldiers on horseback.
I expected to find more historic displays inside but instead they have a room full of Kawaii memorabilia. Kawaii is the cult of cute that has overcome Japan for the last few decades. Doesn’t interest me; oh, well, at least the coy were beautiful.
Italy was set up to mimic a lot of Florence, which was lovely but we moved on to Spain before buying more treats. The Charcuterie in a Cone caught our attention there, and we were glad it did. On top were a couple of thin slices of Spanish ham. One was Jamón Jabugo , which is my absolute favorite! I haven't had this since I left Spain. Underneath was a collection of olives, salami and hard cheese with with a little vinaigrette.
At the India stand we got Indian bread served with coriander pesto, pickled garlic, and mango salsa. The pesto was a little bitter and the garlic was unremarkable, so the mango was our favorite.
Then we went to the FastTrack ride. While waiting in line, everyone gets to design a car. Ours was fast but impractical, but when designing a fake car at Disney, practicality is not a consideration. The actual ride was fast and fun, and at the end your car design is judged against the designs of everyone in your ride buggy. Ours won!
We walked to the building with the Soarin ride, which is my new favorite ride. The car doesn’t move much, just enough to enhance the feel of the movie, but the movie screen is huge and we were so close that it felt like we were gliding over the Himalayas, Polar cap, Pyramids, Taj Mahal, the Great Wall, herds of elephants, Monument Valley, and African waterfalls. Air currents and strategically-timed puffs of scents enhance the sensation - it was lots of fun!
That was so good that we went to the nearby “Living with the Land” boat ride, hoping it would be similar. It’s not, but it was interesting. The first half of the ride was normal scenes of animatronics but the second half was about edible plants. I learned that Dragon fruit grows on succulents.
And they raise fish here - sturgeon , catfish and Tilapia. The catfish and Tilapia sometimes go to the Disney restaurants, but these fish grow so big that they aren’t good for single servings. I learned that sorghum grows like top-heavy wheat. And they grow a big monster of a mellon called Winter Melon. Later a docent explained these taste a little like cucumbers. Here they are grown on overhead trellis and hang down; they look like the pods from "Invasion of the Body Snatchers".
For some reason they like to grow watermelons overhead, too.
And they grow lettuces, herbs and flowers in tall hydroponic tubes.
The fluted pumpkins were interesting. According to the docent, the very large seeds inside taste like potatoes.
About this time we joined back up with Pete and Donna to check out The Nemo ride. It turned out to be just right for little children, but nearby was a large tank with two full grown manatees, busy feeding on full stalks of romaine lettuce. One manatee's tail was almost completely chopped off - he just had a couple of stubs. But he was swimming well and it makes it easy to understand how he came to live here.
Around the corner were several lovely, smaller aquariums holding a variety of sea life.
Jellyfish were kept separate, since they are such predators. And the Moray eels were comfortably entwined in their coral home. Most were yellow with big brown spots all over them, looking like sea giraffes. The large groups of coral quivered like they were in a strong wind. I know they are feeding, but it makes them look so much like plants! The big Lion Fish was beautiful, and we all liked the graceful little seahorses.
Bright red shrimp crawled along the bottom, not bothered by the pretty chocolate-chip starfish.
We stopped to watch Turtle Talk, then went back to Soarin with Donna because we all liked it so much. Afterwards we took her on the Living with the Land exhibit. By then it was time to go home. It's just an hour away, so we should be able to get here often!