TV Talk: Fraggle Rock – Meet The Fraggles

fraggle rock meet the fraggles

Over on my pop culture blog UnitedMonkee, I’ve talked a bit about my history with Jim Henson and The Muppets. I only realized after watching The Muppets film that most of my knowledge of that franchise actually came from Muppet Babies instead of the classic Muppet Show. I was just too young to really get into it and my world didn’t involve reruns of that show. And yet, it’s fairly impossible to be my age and not have at least a tangential relationship with the man’s work. I might have missed out on Dark Crystal and Labarynth as a kid, but like I said Muppet Babies was super influential, I was a big Sesame Street fan and also dug Fraggle Rock.

So, when the fine folks at Gaiam Vivendi Entertainment sent out a mass email asking if any recipients would be interested in reviewing Fraggle Rock: Meet The Fraggles or Fraggle Rock: 30th Anniversary Collection. Even though it had been ages since I saw the show, I jumped at the chance and was delighted to get a copy of Meet The Fraggles in the mail. I wanted to get this review up earlier, but my incredibly picky two-year-old refused to watching anything past the first episode for want of most established favorites like Sesame Street, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and the umpteenth viewing of Brave and Cinderella.

So, I took some time out today while she napped to finally sit down and really get into this six episode collection — “Beginnings,” “We Love You, Wembley,” “Boober’s Dream,” “Red’s Club,” “Mokey And The Minstrels” and “Gobo’s Discovery” — which spans the show’s first few seasons. “Beginnings” launched the series, but also spawned about a million memories in my brain starting with that iconic opening theme song. All of a sudden, I was sitting in front of the gigantic, ridiculously heavy TV set my parents had in the living room until it died years later watching Jim Henson’s latest world come to life.

The beauty of this show is how complex and full it feels. This world is so gigantic and multi-scaled that it’s a wonder in both story and scale. Of course you’ve got your Fraggles, but there’s also the human world right outside Fraggle Rock as well as the giant Gorgs, tiny Doozers and whatever the Trash Heep is. There’s so much going on that you’re always moving from one scale size to another which varies the dramatic impact of the episode and scene. But, there’s also all kinds of technically wizardry going on behind the scenes. There’s a huge musical number in the first episode and I found myself just sitting back in awe at the Busby Berkeley-like production. So many Fraggles were up and doing their thing, plus a whole legion of Doozers. This DVD doesn’t have any extra features, but I would absolutely love to see a documentary or featurette about how this show was put together.

I also appreciated how the show’s writers tackled issues. Kids deal with a lot of wild feeling as they grow up, not all of which are covered as well on Disney or Nickelodeon these does. In the episode “Red’s Club” Red wants to start a club to help people, but the other Fraggles vote Gobo as the club’s president. This leads her on an ill-advised jaunt as she first starts her own club and then teams up with a Doozer who she keeps endangering just so she can help her. So, the episode doesn’t just deal with jealousy, but jealousy that comes from a very positive place and the ways it can get morphed.

I really enjoyed this six episode jaunt down memory lane and will continue to try and get my daughter to watch it. I think there’s not only a lot of entertainment to be seen in there, but also a lot of artistic greatness that will somehow ooze its way into her brain.

Bonus Food Pics: Cranky Carol’s Fries & Cheesesteak From Slack’s Hoagies

slacks hoagies cranky fries A few weekends back my wife, daughter and I made our way to Pennsylvania to meet up with some friends and visit the Sesame Street theme park Sesame Place (hear more about it on my most recent podcast if you’re interested). The first night we got Qdoba for dinner, but after two full days in the park and being relatively close to Philadelphia, we were hoping to get cheesesteaks. Of course, the problem with traveling is that you have no idea how good anything around you is or where to even look. Fortuitously, when we got back to our hotel that evening, there was a menu waiting from a place called Slack’s Hoagies. Not only did they have cheesesteaks, but also delivered. Perfect!

slacks hoagies cheesesteak

My wife and I each went with a cheesesteak as well as the Cranky Carol Fries where had a good deal of pepper and maybe a few other spices to bring the heat. Everything tasted great, though I will say that this was not the best Philly Cheesesteak I’ve ever had. Still, after a long day of walking around, waiting in lines and dodging excited kids, it was nice to sit down with a hot, cheesy sandwich, some fries and enjoy a meal I didn’t have to make myself.

Cooking Nigella Lawson’s Pasta With Pancetta, Parsley & Peppers

Thanks to my lack of posting, I’ve got quite a few folders packed with images of great looking food on my desktop just waiting to find their way to the internet. Hopefully I’ll get to all of them — or at least the ones that tasted great as well — but in the meantime, I wanted to make sure and write about the recipe for Pasta With Pancetta, Parsley & Peppers from Nigella Lawson’s Nigella Kitchen (page 194). This recipe is not only wildly easy to put together but also doesn’t require too too much work and has really tasty results. The only recipe note I’ll make is that I doubled the recipe to serve four instead of two.

As far as prep goes, this one’s super easy. You get your water-for-pasta on the burner and then start cooking the pancetta in oil. Once those are nice and cooked, you throw in the red pepper flakes (I probably cut the amount down because we’re not great fans of RPF), lemon zest, lemon juice, a few tablespoons of water. While that cooked I took Nigella’s suggestion and drained the jars of roasted red peppers with a strainer and then used my kitchen scissors to chop them up into little pieces (you could also throw them in a small food processor, Magic Bullet or what have you).

After the lemony mixture cooked with the pancetta, I tossed in the peppers as well as half the parsley. As the pasta was getting close to done I fished out a cup of pasta water (I always just use my Pyrex measuring cup with a pour spout on the end of it for this). When the pasta was finally done, you drain, toss with the pepper-lemon-pancetta sauce and add in the last of the parsley. Bingo bango, you’ve got dinner.

The recipe is very simple, but it’s actually got a lot of complexity to it as the saltiness of the pancetta mixes with the acidic lemon juice and the sweetness of the roasted peppers and the crunchy bitterness of the parsley. That’s a lot going on with each ingredient really pulling its weight. I think I’ve made this recipe two, maybe three times since getting the book back in December, so it’s become a pretty big, easy favorite that I think will actually be a pretty easy one to make when it really starts heating up this summer.

The Pop Poppa Nap Cast Episode 13

pop poppa nap cast logo

This week’s episode of The Pop Poppa Nap Cast talks about Sesame Place, Brave and includes a special appearance by my occasional co-host, Lucy Dietsch.

Here’s the official Sesame Place website.

twiddlebugs at work

During the episode, I mistakenly referred to the Twiddlebugs as Doodle Bugs, sorry about that. The book I mentioned is pictured above and was called Twiddlebugs At Work.

To check out my food posts about Disney World over on Monkeying Around The Kitchen, click here, that should give you the whole rundown.

fergus brave

Merida’s dad in Brave is formerly known as King Fergus, check him out above. If you want to buy the movie, do so via this link: Brave (Three-Disc Collector’s Edition: Blu-ray / DVD). I first wrote about the film here.

Mattel The Sing-A-Ma-Jigs – Pink is one of the two Sing-A-Ma-Jigs we have.

Disney World Bonus Food Pics: And The Rest

My apologies to regular readers for the intense lack of posts the past month or so. Between the lead-up to vacation, vacation itself, getting back into the groove with work and being sick and not cooking for all of last week, writing about food unfortunately fell pretty low on the priority list. I know the Disney trip seems like it was pretty long ago at this point, but I wanted to finish things out (if you’re curious to see what else we ate either scroll down or read, this, this, this and this).

pizzafari lunch

The Wednesday we spent at Disney World — which also happened to be my dad’s birthday — was spent hanging out in Animal Kingdom. As happened last time we all went there, it was a rainy day, though not nearly as bad as the previous visit. For lunch we went with a counter service at Pizzafari. When I think about food like this I always think it’s going to taste like the box it was delivered in, but I’ve got to say it was a pretty solid little pizza. I mean, it was nothing like the places around us in New York, but it also wasn’t terrible. I’m always a fan of Cesar salads and also went with the pudding for desert. I have no problem recommending Pizzafari if you’re in Animal Kingdom looking for a good lunch place.

boma soup

To celebrate my dad’s birthday, we went to the African buffet dinner at Boma which is located in the Animal Kingdom Lodge. The last time we went to Disney World, this place was easily our number one favorite eating spot. I’ve got to say, though, that the experience wasn’t quite as enjoyable this time around. For one thing, the place was PACKED, so it was kind of hard to navigate the buffet line. Making matters a bit worse, the actual buffet is set up kind of poorly. People tend to line up for the carved meat, but are you supposed to get in that line before going after the other sections? Some people clearly think so while others did not. I went rogue when I needed to, as is my want.

But, the food was still really great. My personal favorite dish is the Coconut Curry Chicken Soup (above right). I’m also a fan of the Ginger Carrot Soup (above left). The interesting thing about eating at Boma this time around is that it wasn’t quite as revelatory. The food was still fantastic, but in the time since we ate there the first time, I’ve eaten and cooked a lot of different foods. Still, if you’re in Disney World, go eat at Boma, it’s worth it.

Croque Monsieur

Thursday was my daughter’s second birthday, so we tried to cater our dining choices to things she might get a kick out of. Since we were in Magic Kingdom that morning, we decided to try out one of the new eateries in New Fantasyland called Be Our Guest and as you might imagine, the place is Beauty And The Beast themed. This was the only place we ate at where diners could use a touch screen to order their food and while I love that idea, the practice was difficult because most people apparently can’t fathom how to use such a system just yet (even the helper at our station took longer to input our desired meal than it would have taken me). Anyway, my wife and I decided to split two different sandwiches because we couldn’t decide. So, we each had half of the Croque Monsieur (“Grilled Sandwich of Carved Ham and Gruyere Cheese and Bechamel with Pommes Frites”) and the Carved Prime Chuck Roast Beef Sandwich (“Served warm on a Baguette with Horseradish Sour Cream and Pommes Frites”) both of which would make fine choices for a hungry dining party.

Carved Prime Chuck Roast Beef Sandwich

To say a few more things about this restaurant, I really appreciate the theming they did. When you walk in you’re given a plastic spherical bar with a rose on it. You tap this to the screen when you order and then it acts like a GPS so the servers can find you. The servers themselves roll the food out in covered serving carts that both look neat and keep the food warm. Speaking of neat, the place is broken up into three different dining rooms, Belle’s Library, the West Wing and the ballroom. I’m actually not sure which one we were in, but one of the other rooms featured Beast’s flower and the other had windows set up to make it look like it was a dark and stormy night (though it was raining that day, so maybe that’s what it was). Anyway, if you have a BATB fan in your life, they’ll love eating at Be Our Guest.

princess dinner

For dinner that day we hoofed it over to Epcot’s World Showcase for the Princess Storybook Dining at Akerhus Royal Banquet Hall in Norway. Lu absolutely loved getting to meet and have her picture taken with Ariel, Snow White, Aurora, Cinderella and Belle so it was worth it for that alone. It was also nice that they had a great drink menu and rad food like Traditional Kjøttkake also known as, “Norwegian Meatballs served with Mashed Potatoes, Seasonal Vegetables, and Lingonberry Sauce.” It’s like that stuff they have at Ikea, but roughly 7 billion times better, plus you get the added bonus of knowing you don’t have to put frustrating furniture together after eating. They also do a complimentary buffet called “Taste of Norway,” but I don’t remember much about it aside from a sweet brown cheese that half the table enjoyed and half was not into at all.

kat korra dinner I din't eat

Unfortunately, I was not feeling very well for our last full day at Disney. I had some weird stuff going on with my stomach that was probably compounded by drinking more coffee and beer than water while on vacation. Not smart, people, be sure to stay hydrated. I really wish I had because we went to Kouzzina by Kat Kora for dinner and it was one of the restaurants I was most interested in checking out going back to the early days of planning this trip. Unfortunately, the strong Greek smells and flavors did not work well with my wobbly tummy, so, even though I ordered the Briami — “Oven-roasted Vegetables with Oregano, topped with Greek Cheese, served with Herbed Orzo Pasta” — I was only able to look it, sigh and go back to the room to take a nap. So while the Disney trip didn’t end on a high culinary note for me personally, I’ve got to say that, overall I probably haven’t had a better week of meals ever. Also, get the Dining Plan if you can!

Making Veggie Hash Out Of Failed Veggie Burgers

When I first started cooking, I was really big on following the recipes to the letter. My wife, who’s been cooking much longer would razz me about this a bit, but I took the same approach to cooking that I’ve read about comic book editors gave to new artists: do it a very specific way until you get the craft down, then branch out and do what you want. In the case of comic artists, they were often given a set number of panels to work with per page. For my cooking, I stuck super close to the recipes.

Now that I’ve been playing with food and recipes for a while, though, I feel like I can play around a little more. It’s good that I have that confidence now because my attempt to make Food Network’s recipe for Veggie Burgers With Mushrooms wound up not working out quite as planned. I don’t quite remember why my veggie burgers didn’t hold together. The only real swap-out I made was to use Panko crumbs instead of regular bread ones. Could that have had something to do with it?

Anyway, after making the patties and starting to cook them in the pan, I realized that these guys were not going to stick together. So, I broke down the burgers and cooked the whole thing as a kind of stir fry or hash, adding a little more Worcestershire AND low sodium soy sauce to boost the flavor.

For dinner that night, we ate it as is, but my wife suggested eating them with eggs, like a breakfast dish. I didn’t feel like cooking up some eggs at that point, but I did remember the idea the next morning and had myself a nice breakfast of sunny side up eggs and veggie hash. I gotta say, the eggs really brought the whole thing together and made for a much more interesting and tasty dish than it was as a plain old dinner.

The Pop Poppa Nap Cast Episode 12

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The downside of being sick, working from home with a deficient immune system, temporary tattoo goodness and Rob Reiner all on this week’s episode of The Pop Poppa Nap Cast.

Here’s a link to check out A Goofy Movie (Walt Disney Gold Collection). I’ve since ordered Goof Troop, Volume 1 too.

I actually first wrote about Yo Gabba Gabba way back in 2010 when Muno appeared in some pretty great Kia commercials.

If you want to check out more Yo Gabba Gabba, dig Yo Gabba Gabba!: Party in a Box. The record I picked up was Yo Gabba Gabba: Music Is Awesome Volume 2 (Amazon Exclusive Sticker Version). I have no idea what Brobee toy I talked about, but if you can figure it out let me know.

I hadn’t actually seen the video for Weezer’s “All My Friends Are Insects” yet, but it’s amazing.

In case you missed my more detailed review of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, you can check it out here.

SafetyTat’s website is here. We went with the TatBuilder Basic set which costs $19.99. Definitely worth picking up.

The specific episode of New Girl I referenced is called “Winston’s Birthday” and, for now at least, you can check it out on Fox’s website.

Pop Poppa Nap Cast Scheduling Announcement

Hi everyone. I’ve been doing my best to get the Pop Poppa Nap Cast up on Mondays, but the timing’s been all kinds of wonky and I seem to be having more and more trouble getting it ready to go on time. So, in an effort to set myself up to succeed, I’m going to move the release date from Monday afternoons to Tuesday and give  a solid release time of 1:00 PM EST. Hopefully this will work out better and be a lot more consistent. Thanks for listening!

TV Talk: My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic Princess Twilight Sparkle

My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic Princess Twilight Sparkle As a kid, I had a My Little Pony toy or two. I’m not sure how they made their way into a toy collection that mostly consisted of action figures, cars and weapons, but there they were. And, while I didn’t exactly tell everyone I knew about them, I still played with them with some consistency. So, a few years ago when I started hearing all this hubbub about Bronies — usually described as adult male fans of the new series My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic — it didn’t seem like that big of a deal. It’s great that a bunch of dudes are into MLP. I wasn’t sure if it was the kind of thing I’d be into, but that’s never made me want to stop other people from enjoying something. The whole, “I don’t like it! It must die!” internet mentality needs a good flush down the toilet.

For a while that was the end of my experience with the property that launched back in 201o, but then I started hearing more and more about it and my interest was piqued. First, I heard Princess Twilight Sparkle herself, Tara Strong on Kevin Smith’s Caped Crusader-based podcast Fat Man on Batman. From there I eventually discovered Talkin’ Toons With Rob Paulsen where longtime voice actor Paulsen interviews his friends and fellow people in the biz. I’m still way behind on episodes, but I noticed a solid pattern of people being really excited about working on MLP: FIM. When creative people get together and enjoy what they’re doing so much, that’s a very good sign.

So, when the ridiculously great people over at Shout Factory asked if I’d be interested in reviewing My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic: Princess Twilight Sparkle, I was very interested. The disc contains five episodes — “Games Ponies Play,” “Magical Mystery Cure,” “Mmmystery On The Friendship Express,” “Magic Duel” and “Lesson Zero” — which kind of acts like one of those chocolate sampler boxes.

 

In addition to being curious about a cultural phenomenon, I was also interested to see how my two year old daughter would react to the show. She seemed to dig it. The super bright colors and a talking horses definitely seem to hit buttons in children of a certain age. However, she’s the type of kid who likes to watch the same thing over and over again, so it can be hard to get her eyes on something new. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve put on a brand new DVD or Netflix Instant show only to hear how much she wants to watch Mickey Mousse Clubhouse Road Rally for the umpteenth time. Still, on a few occasions, I was able to get her to watch a few episodes of MLP and she seemed to like it, but it hasn’t quite made its way into the regular rotation yet, but I think its earning a spot.

As far as I go, I can see why people get a kick out of this show. It’s big and bright and colorful and filled with mostly upbeat, likable characters who you wouldn’t mind spending time with. But, more than that, it’s actually really well put together and thought out. “Games Ponies Play” features Princes Twilight Sparkle and her crew of ponies getting on a train. I was curious how non-anthropomorphized horses were going to get around and do things and was pleasantly surprised to see that not only do they wear fashionable saddle bags, but also have unicorn horns that allow them to move things around telekinetically.

They’re also clearly having fun with some older cartoon elements that you don’t see as much these days. In the episode “Mmmystery On The Friendship Express,” there are several silent movie references (a moustache-twirling villain trying someone to the train tracks) but also a horse ninja. It’s pretty cool seeing a mix of what used to be cool and what will always be cool in the same thing. It reminded me of watching old Looney Tunes cartoons where they’d have caricatures of Humphrey Bogart and I’d kind of vaguely understand who they were, but was also interested in learning more.

I liked what I saw, but it’s just not the kind of thing that’s for me. But, that should in no way reflect negatively on the show. It’s like listening to a band that you know is good, but just doesn’t hit your internal sonic buttons. I know MLP: FIM is a great show with fun plots that work both for adults and kids, but it’s just not my thing. So, while I guess I’m not a Bronie, I could be in a Friends of Bronies group. Is that a thing? Even though it’s not for me, I recommend giving it a shot either for yourself or your kids because it is a really well made show.

I should also note that while this Princess Twilight Sparkle disc is a good sampler, it might not be the best introduction to the property. These episodes come from the second, third and fourth seasons and don’t spend a lot of time explaining what’s going on. Just pushing play on this disc and jumping in left me a little bit confused here and there, but I caught up pretty well as things went on. However, if you want to start from the beginning, it might make sense to start off with the Friendship Express DVD which features the series opening two-parter.

Disney World Bonus Food Pics: French Breakfast & Moroccan Dinner

french breakfast You know what I love in pretty much any combination? Ham and cheese. You really can’t go wrong there, you guys. One morning we decided to hit Epcot and to start our day we headed over to the World Showcase to get breakfast in France at a place called Les Halles Boulangerie & Pâtisserie. When you add ham and cheese to a buttery piece of bread you’re really onto something. Good on the French for figuring that out.

moracco salad

For lunch we went to a place in Epcot where I not only had a bad experience but also didn’t enjoy my food, so we’ll just skip right past that. That night, my wife and I had planned on going out for a date just the two of us. We wanted to try something new and interesting so we decided on going to Restaurant Marrakesh in Morocco back in Epcot in the World Showcase. We both went with the Taste of Morocco – Royal Feast which included (*deep breath*) “Jasmina Salad: Lettuce, Tomato, Olives, and Feta Cheese in Mustard Vinaigrette, Seafood Bastilla: Layers of thin Pastry filled with Grouper, Shrimp, and Mushrooms, Lemon Chicken: Braised Chicken seasoned with Green Olives and preserved Lemon, Roast Lamb Meshoui (A Moroccan tradition – Roasted Lamb Shank in Natural Juices),  Couscous with Seven Vegetables and Assorted Moroccan Pastries.”

moracco entree

As you can imagine, it was quite a meal. First off, everything was fantastic and interesting. I was a big fan of that salad, which is kind of a strange thing to single out when talking about so many different kind of food. The lamb fell of the bone and I don’t have much experience with that particular protein, but I enjoyed it. The lemon chicken was also nice and tangy. I even dug the desserts which is something I don’t always say. So, if you’re looking for something unique and packed with variety, do yourself a favor and hit up Restaurant Marrakesh.

Walt Disney World Bonus Food Pics: BBQ At Whispering Canyon Cafe & Pork Belly From Waves

bbq On Monday my wife, dad and I went on the Disney Backstage Magic tour which takes you on an all-day tour of the park behind the scenes. Since it really does last all day they stop at a place called Whispering Canyon Cafe in the Wilderness Lodge hotel that’s got a real country western theme. They’ve got a regular menu, but also a family style barbecue thing where they bring big plates of food to your table and you all just dig in. As it turned out, there were the perfect number of people on the tour to fill three big tables and then one with just three people. We were that table of three which was great because I don’t like the idea of other people accidentally touching my food.

Anyway, the food itself was pretty great. The menu describes the Family Platter as including “Kansas City-style Smoked Pork Ribs, Herb-baked Chicken, Hand-carved Oak-roasted Beef Strip Loin, Citrus-crusted Market Fish, Western-style Sausage Sides fro Sharing: Seasonal Farm Fresh Vegetables, Herb-crushed Yukon Gold Potatoes, Cowboy-style Baked Beans, Corn on the Cob.” I’m pretty sure we didn’t have fish or beef stip loin, but the ribs were fall-off-the-bone cooked and super tasty but the real star of the show was that sausage which I could have eaten a whole plate of. I’m not sure if a huge heavy barbecue lunch is the best idea when doing a Backstage Tour, but it was tasty.

waves pork belly and tenderloin For dinner we ate at a restaurant called The Wave…Of American Flavors in the Contemporary Resort. I feel like I kind of screwed up while eating at The Wave. While my family went with some fancy steaks, I decided to try the “Thompson Farms Naturally Raised Pork Belly and Tenderloin with White Bean Cassoulet and Locally-sourced Vegetables.” What drew me to this dish is the fact that so many chefs and food personalities that I like and appreciate say that pork belly is supposed to be one of the best foods around. Unfortunately it didn’t do a whole lot for me and just kinda tasted like fatty bacon. It wasn’t bad and I didn’t really know what I was expecting, but it didn’t exactly send fireworks through my brain like in Ratatouille. However the tenderloin — small as it was — was fantastic as was the cassoulet, though I wound up passing that to my daughter who really loved it.

waves sherbert dessert

Since the Disney Dining Plan comes with dessert (I’d personally rather have an appetizer, but I’m a team player) I had a lot more dessert during that vacation than I normally would. The desserts at The Wave are pretty neat because they all come in little tiny dishes and you get three of them. I went with “Our Spring Gelato Trio: Mandarin Orange Gelato, Chocolate Malt Gelato, and Toasted Marshmallow Gelato” because I didn’t want to pile it on too heavy. And it was actually really tasty. My favorite was the marshmallow gelato because it really did taste like toasted marshmallows which are one of the desserts I really enjoy.

The Pop Poppa Nap Cast Episode 11

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This week’s Pop Poppa Nap Cast deals with our recent trip to Walt Disney World before moving into the world of toddler ear infections and a look behind what makes me tick.

For our Disney World trip we rented a stroller from Kingdom Strollers because they’re much more comfortable looking than the ones Disney rents. It was waiting for us at our hotel’s concierge desk and we highly recommend their servies.

I didn’t mention it in the podcast, but we also ordered groceries for our room through Garden Grocer. You just go to their site, click all the things you want and they deliver them to your hotel! We wound up getting way more than we needed, but it was nice having a few more familiar foods in the room (including beer!) on the rare occasion we found ourselves there and not falling right into bed, exhausted.

If you’re interested in the Disney Backstage Magic tour, head on over here for more details.

I wrote about the audiobook version of Brad Meltzer’s The Millionaires over on UnitedMonkee a while back, but I first read the book back in the early 2000s or so.

 

The Pop Poppa Nap Cast Episode 10 – FIXED!

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I’m really sorry about the janky version of this episode that went out. I was in a rush pre-vacation and didn’t check to make sure it was the way it should be. Here it is as originally intended!

In this episode we prepare for Disney World while also talking about a super fun party with friends, the waning days of Wizard and how that experience has helped me refrain my bad days now. Oh, and fun with baby talk!

I was actually right that a pidgin is a combination of two languages! I know this because I looked it up on Wikipedia!

If you’re curious to see what other offerings Golden Books have right now, check out the official Random House website.

If you’re interested in The Spirit Is Willing check it out on Netflix Instant, that’s what I did. If you want to read more about it, check out my review over on UnitedMonkee.

Walt Disney World Bonus Food Pics: Studio Catering Co. & Sci-Fi Dine-In At Hollywood Studios

studio catering company We spent the second day of our Walt Disney World vacation walking around Disney’s Hollywood Studios, a place that had great food at both the counter service and sit down levels. For lunch we hit up Studio Catering Co. which is supposed to be set up like the commissary of a studio, but, you know, right around the corner from Star Tours and butting up against the Honey I Shrunk The Kids playground (which is a childhood favorite of mine).

The way places like this work is that there’s a menu posted up high where everyone can see it (those yellow signs in the above picture). When you know what you want, you approach one of many very nice people standing at a computerized register. Once your food is ordered, you move up and pick it up from the people working in the kitchen and prep area, so it’s a little nicer and more organized than your average cafeteria, which you’d expect from Disney.

studio catering turkey panini For lunch I went with the Pressed Turkey Club which includes “Turkey, Applewood-smoked Bacon, Swiss, Roasted Red Pepper, Arugula, Multigrain Ciabatta Bread.” It was a really solid, tasty sandwich that didn’t feel like something slapped together. It seemed well thought out and well balanced. I also got the cole slaw which was better than average and think I even had a little cheesecake dessert, though the for-a-limited-time-only Worms & Dirt Cupcakes you see in the background were enjoyed by my family.

sci fi dine in reuben That day we had dinner at the Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater which is a fun place where you actually sit in tables that look and feel like old school convertibles. Those car-tables are “parked” in an area that’s set up like a drive-in theater complete with a movie screen running film clips, cartoons and trailers of stuff from the 40s, 50s and 60s.

We weren’t sure if the atmosphere — which was fantastic — would outshine the food, but I really enjoyed the Reuben I had. You might think that a sandwich with such basic ingredients (corn beef, Sauerkraut, Swiss cheese, Thousand Island dressing and rye bread) would be difficult to screw up, but that’s not been the case in my experience. For one thing, you can find a wide spectrum of quality in just those five things, but the way a place treats their corn beef is also really important. The Sci-Fi Dine-In seems to treat its beef really well because the meat was nice and juicy and not dried out at all. In fact, all the ingredients felt top notch and tasty. I’ve probably had better Reubens in my life, but not while sitting in a fake car watching trailers for Plan 9 From Outer Space and Attack Of The 50 Foot Woman. Oh, the cucumber salad was actually super tasty as well, it was a kind of sour, pickle-y alternative to fries if that’s something you’re looking for.

Walt Disney World Bonus Food Pics: New York Strip & Shrimp Combo At Big River Grille

Hi folks, it seems I’m apologizing more and more for my lack of posting these days. I apologize for that. Things were crazy work-wise two weeks ago as I was doing my best to get all my work done before heading on vacation and then spent last week computer-less at Walt Disney World with my wife, daughter and parents. I’m back in action now, though and have plenty of food pictures to show off from our vacation! My dad and wife did a fantastic job figuring out the whole trip while also mapping out the restaurants. We went with the Disney Dining Plan, which gives each person in your party one snack, one counter service meal (basically any place where you’re not being served by a waiter) and one sit down meal per day. It worked out really well for us and I recommend giving the plan a look if you’re even remotely interested. In addition to having a lot of different options, we really enjoyed the break that a sit down meal gave us from all the park hopping.

steak and shrimp at big river grille

Our first meal was at a place called Big River Grille & Brewing Works on the Disney BoardWalk which was right across from our hotel room at the Beach Club. As it turned out, our flight from New York was right on time and without complication, but my parents wound up having to sit on the runway pre-takeoff for 90 minutes. As you can imagine, they were looking forward to getting some food and a drink, so Big River — which had been planned out months in advance — became an even better choice thanks to its proximity to our hotel and availability of beers brewed in house and a healthy list of cocktails.

The beauty of the Dining Plan is that you can choose anything on the menu from the cheapest to the most expensive offering and it all costs the same (though it doesn’t include alcoholic beverages, just FYI). With a healthy appetite, most of us ordered the New York Strip & Shrimp Combo which is described on the menu as “Grilled 8oz. New York strip with large scampi-style shrimp, served with garlic mashed potatoes and vegetables.” I also went with a couple of the Steamboat Pale Ales which had that bitterness that all pale ales are known for, but didn’t pack that real soul-punch that some of the more intense ones feature.

I’m not the biggest fan of shrimp, in fact I tend to avoid the tiny sea bugs most of the time, but figured I’d give them a shot and they were pretty good. I’m just not a big fan of that flavor/texture combination though I guess as I’m still not won over. The steak was also great, but not the best I’ve had. I think what I actually liked best about the meal was the garlic mashed potatoes, but then again, I’m a sucker for mashed taters. As far as I’m concerned, you can’t go wrong with a nice steak and some beers on a warm Florida day after doing some hefty traveling.

Stay tuned here for more Disney food posts. If you’re more interested in our trip, keep an eye on Pop Poppa where I’ll be catching up on Photo Diary posts and also posting the latest episode of The Pop Poppa Nap Cast which will be all Disney!