crazycatperson's best trip yet - November 2014

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crazycatperson's best trip yet - November 2014

Just a quick note to start, since at this point we're still in the World and keeping very busy what with meet-ups and travelling with friends. Thanks to getting to meet several great WDWFG folks for the first time, spend the whole week with our BFFs, and spend some time with my BBFFs (best British friends forever), this has been my best Disney vacation yet.

Animal Kingdom Lodge - Kidani Village is awesome! It's our new favorite resort, and we almost regret buying into the Boardwalk. Not really - we wanted the Boardwalk so we can walk to Epcot for Food and Wine, and we should have no trouble getting into Kidani instead if we'd rather stay here. We're loving the savannah view. Even when there are no animals around, it's still a great view into the "savannah." And when there are animals, OMG! We've seen giraffes, zebras, cattle, and antelopes right off our balcony! I have several photos that I'll post later.

As for the trip itself, we've had to adjust our plans quite a bit because our friends did not get the Park Hopper option and didn't want to spend the extra $100 to do so. In addition to having to rearrange our plans day by day, we also weren't able to park hop to the Food and Wine Festival for a quick bite, so we haven't tried as many things as we would've liked. But that's really no problem; we did get to try several awesome offerings, some that were much better than I expected, and hubby and I might return to Epcot before departing Saturday to hit a few of the booths we've missed. Also, we've had such delicious table service meals all week long that I'm really not missing F&W. Le Cellier was quite good, better than I'd expected due to mixed reviews of late. Breakfast at Boma was...breakfast, but as good as any other WDW breakfast buffet. Dinner at Jiko was superb. Amazingly, lunch at Sanaa was even better - we got the bread service based on Robynprincess's recommendation, with all nine dipping sauces and extra bread, and got so stuffed I couldn't even touch my entree and had to box it up to bring back to our room. Restaurant Marrakesh was as good as ever, and our friends loved 'Ohana, where we requested a fireworks view table and did not regret the extra wait. Oh, and then there was the TICK that took up most of my morning one day - not to worry, it hasn't ruined my vacation, just messed up plans a bit.

Today is DHS day, so I have to get going - our first FPs start in less than two hours and I haven't even showered yet. I'll write much more after we get home.

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Yay..have a magical day.. clapping

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So glad you're having a great trip! Can't wait to hear all about it when you get home mickey

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Trip Reports:
December 2013: 10th Anniversary, 1st DVC Stay | April 2014: Birthday on the Boardwalk | May 2014: Star Wars Weekend, Navigating WDW with a wheelchair | August 2014: Villains Unleashed | September/October 2014: MNSSHP, F&W, Tower of Terror 10-miler | March/April 2015: Disneyland and California Coastal Cruise | November 2015: Wine & Dine Half, Food & Wine, 1st Disney Cruise | February 2016: Presidential Classic Gymnastics Meet | March 2016: "Work" Trip, Tours, F&G Festival | April 2016: Conference at Disneyland | Fall 2016: Festive Fall Fun | January 2017: Festival of the Arts | May 2017: AbD Backstage Magic | July 2017: AbD San Francisco

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stars stars keep having fun! stars stars

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Glad it's been a magical time and it was wonderful meeting you! We actually saw you yesterday in HS, but we were booking it back to our FP (plus I was a little irritated about the whole FP mix up)!

Can't wait to hear more. We are about to head out in a bit (After our DVC talk!!!!!)

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Glad you having a great trip

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I Love Kadani...coming home in the evening and sharing a few drinks on the big chairs..enjoying a coffee from the balcony watching the animals awesome awesome awesome loving your report !!

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Yaaaaaaay! So pleased you're having a great time. Oops about filling up on breads.... Was it worth it though? Sanaa is a must do every trip for us, at least once. We are sad to be home but over the moon we got to see you twice! Xxxxxx

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Thanks for the Kidani update.....I will be there in 13 days! (Yep, going down on Friday night after work.....so pumped!) I have stayed at Jambo a few times now (love that 11 month DVC home resort booking window!) but this is my first time at Kidani. yay

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And we're back home.

Robyn, the Sanaa bread service was totally worth it. Not only did we love the bread and sauces, my Tandoori shrimp on naan bread was still delicious three days later, wilted lettuce and all. We'll definitely go back.

Now, I'm going to start this trip report a little differently than I usually do. First up is Animal Kingdom Lodge Kidani Village. We loved our fourth-floor rooms and loved seeing exotic animals out the window from time to time. They weren't always there, of course, but they came around often enough that we were quite pleased. Our one-bedroom unit was larger than Saratoga Springs and smaller than Old Key West, which made it just about the perfect size for us. The master bathroom was gorgeous, with a Lion King motif, a HUGE shower, and a whirlpool tub that hubby used almost every night to relax his aching legs. The balcony was as wide as the whole unit and could be accessed from both the bedroom and the living room. The kitchen was a bit small if we'd wanted to cook, but we never did, just ate cold breakfasts and leftovers.

The theme and decor all through Kidani Village are wonderful; we were in awe as soon as we got off the Magical Express. The hallways are decorated with real African art as well as fixtures replicating African design. It's all beautiful.

One minor downside of Kidani Village is the long hike from the farthest rooms to the lobby and bus stop. Also, we were at the end of Kidani Village closest to Jambo House, so the distance to the Kidani lobby where we could catch a bus to Jambo was about the same as the distance walking directly to Jambo. I'm not complaining, we had no problem with the walk, but if any of you are thinking of staying there and have mobility issues, better ask for a room closer to the lobby.

Kidani Village is now our favorite DVC resort, and I'm sure we'll be back someday.

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Photos of our rooms at Kidani Village.

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More room photos.

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Ok we just got back from our first DVC vacation which was also our first time in a Deluxe resort. We had a Studio which was plenty of room for us and I KNOW it's all we need, but after seeing your pictures of that gorgeous one bedroom, I want to upgrade Wink If I get addonitis I'm blaming you laugh

Can't wait to hear about the rest of your trip mickey

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Spook, we were using the points of one of hubby's coworkers. She bought resale, and the seller had banked points that the coworker couldn't use. We rented the points directly from her and got the best unit we could with what she had. Now, we've also gotten one-bedroom units at Old Key West and Saratoga Springs, but those were on RCI exchanges and actually pretty darn cheap. When we use our own Boardwalk points, we'll be staying in a studio, also.

On to the view from our balcony! These are just a few of my photos. Mostly I took photos of giraffes, since there was a giraffe feeding station right outside our unit. But I also have some Ankole cattle and some kind of antelope (I think). We saw zebras often, but only after dark so no photos. I also saw an ostrich once and some other antelope, but also after dark.

Many of the animals, especially the giraffes, watched us almost as much as we watched them. You'll see a couple of the feeding giraffes checking me out as I snapped photos. On our last morning we happened to see one of the keepers replenshing the giraffe feeding station. The giraffes obviously know her; they came at a fast walk when she pulled up to the feeding station. She even petted them!

All of the animal close-ups were taking with the zoom feature.

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Some other animals.

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what a gorgeous room

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I so know where you're coming from with your love of kidani, it's so pretty! We were on the said you were on but closer to the zazu lifts, even that was a big walk to reception so I don't fancy walking even further, luckily we had a car so we didn't need to walk to the bus stop each day. Love the pic of the giraffe with it's head in the truck hehe

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Our Very Merry 24 nighter Nov/Dec 15
Watson's go West May 15
The one with all the birthdays Oct 14 4 Big Birthdays and a Vow Renewal thrown in
The OMG trip June 14 30th Birthday present from the hubs
Girly trip March 14 A last min cheapy week
September 13 our first all DVC stay
TR May 2013 the last min bargain trip offsite
Oct 2012 TR with a cruise!big family trip featuring the beach club, AKL, the dream and a villa offsite
TR on a budget May - June 2011offsite condo
TR Sept - Oct 2010 big family trip in an offsite villa

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I love that photo, too, Robyn. I was so happy we got to see the keeper at work before we left. We were two sections away from Zazu on the Jambo side. Our friends had a car that they parked right by the Zazu lift, but they preferred taking the bus to the parks so the car mostly stayed parked while we hiked to the bus stop.

Now, on to the Food and Wine Festival!

We only made it to Epcot and F&W twice; normally we would park hop over for lunch or dinner several times during the week, but the friends' not having the park hopper option cut into that. Hubby and I could've gone without them, but we preferred hanging out with our BFFs, Gary and Sherry.

Our first full day, Sunday, was spent at Epcot, but the friends suggested going out for breakfast. Everyone else ended up eating quite a lot while I saved a little room but not quite enough, so our first tour of F&W saw us eating not much at all. And I have no photos of this day's tour, so it'll just be descriptions.

We passed the Scotland booth first, and while the aromas were lovely we saved this booth for our next visit. Our first stop was Hawaii for one of my favorites, the tuna poke. (Nobody else was eating at this point.) The tuna poke was as lovely as ever, but I couldn't help noticing that the portion size has decreased significantly " only three chunks of tuna (maybe four, but I don't think so) on a tiny bed of seaweed salad with one lotus root chip. Definitely not enough to share, so I was glad I didn't have to. Gary attempted to get a Kahlua pork slider, but they were out! In the middle of the afternoon! I've never seen that happen before. (He got to try it on a later visit.)

We continued past the Canada and UK pavilions enjoying the pleasant aromas but not eating anything until we reached the Belgium booth, where I got the potato and leek waffle with braised beef and a Stella Artois cidre. Hubby got a Hoegarden here; we traded a sip of each other's drink and both preferred the cidre. I'd seen ads on TV for the Stella Artois cidre and had wanted to try it, and the F&W Fest gave me a chance to do so without committing to a whole six-pack or case. And I really liked it! I will definitely be looking for it at our nearest beer purveyor. As for the waffle with beef, it was very good. I could've tried this again if we'd spend more than a couple of days at Epcot. I believe our friends also got the potato and leek waffle and enjoyed it as well.

Our final food stop of the day was the Morocco booth. I got my beloved baklava while our friends got both the baklava and the spicy shrimp roll with cilantro and mint sauce. That shrimp roll was quite large, definitely big enough for them to share, and looked delicious. Another thing I would've tried later in the week if we'd gone more often.

At this point we were just two or three hours from our Le Cellier ADR, so that was the end of F&W Fest for that day. Our next F&W visit will come in sections with photos.

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Our next visit was Wednesday, and this time we ate a light breakfast in our rooms at Kidani so we'd have more room for the good stuff. First stop was Scotland. I ordered the potato pancake with smoked salmon and herb sour cream while hubby got the seared sea scallop with spinach-cheddar gratin and crispy bacon, and our friends shared the vegetarian haggis and the smoked salmon. For beverages, hubby got the Innis & Gunn beer while I ordered the 18-year Glenfiddich, and we shared both; Gary got the beer as well. Hubby is a big fan of scallops and very much enjoyed his dish; I had a small taste of just the scallop and agreed that it was delicious. The smoked salmon was even better in my opinion; all three elements of the dish worked perfectly together. Our friends liked the haggis, which surprised me since I've read so many horrid reviews of it here, but didn't care so much for the smoked salmon. Gary very much enjoyed the Innis & Gunn beer; Sherry already knew she didn't care for it so let Gary have it all to himself. Hubby and I both love the Innis & Gunn, which hubby enjoyed at Raglan Road in September. And as for the 18-year Glenfiddich, OMG worth every penny. Gary and Sherry both had a taste and agreed it was superb, then hubby and I shared the rest. I have to mention here that I am normally neither a beer nor a whisky drinker, but those Scots sure do know what they're doing, and of course that 18-year stuff was especially smooth and flavorful. Going to have to look for both the beer and the whisky here at home.

Photos, in order: scallop with Innis & Gunn; smoked salmon with 18-year Glenfiddich; and a partially eaten haggis.

Edited to add - I could be wrong about that last item being haggis. If it isn't the haggis, I have no clue what it is - not something I ate, at any rate.

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Next up was Hawaii. I skipped the booth this time around since I'd had the tuna poke Sunday. Hubby and Sherry both got the tuna and Gary finally got his Kahlua pork slider. He liked it very well, but unfortunately Sherry didn't care for the tuna poke at all, so I got to finish it off for her. Hubby and I both agree that the tuna poke is awesome, so I was sorry Sherry tried it on our recommendation but didn't care for it. No photos from this booth.

We bypassed Desserts and Champagne. Hubby and I made our next stop at Puerto Rico while Gary and Sherry visited Greece. Hubby went off to visit the tobacco attraction while I got our food; he specifically requested the Caribbean conch salad with onion, tomato, and cilantro and after that said "anything but the tostones." So of course I got the tostones, because that was what I really wanted to try. Because of this we mostly didn't share. I had a bite or two of his conch salad and he had maybe half a tostone. I thought the tostones were marvelous, especially with the delicioso mayo ketchup; hubby liked the sauce, but wasn't keen on the tostones. As for the conch salad, hubby loved it - he adores conch - but I thought it was just okay. Gary and Sherry rejoined us with a chicken gyro from Greece, which they both enjoyed. The photo below is of one lonely tostone with what's left of the mayo ketchup - I didn't think to take pictures until everything else was gone.

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We skipped Canada since we'd eaten at Le Cellier Sunday. Next stop for everyone but me was Ireland. I always skip this booth because I don't eat cheese (except on pizza) and don't usually care for the dessert offerings there. Hubby and Sherry both got the fishermen's pie, which they both loved, while Gary got the Kerrygold cheese selection and enjoyed it as well. Both of the guys also indulged in a cup of Guinness. The photos below show the cheese selection, the fishermen's pie, and the Guinness and my "peeps" enjoying their food.

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Next stop was France. I got the creme brulee and the sparkling pomegranate kir and thoroughly enjoyed both - the kir and whatever creme brulee is offered are always among my favorites. Hubby shared the creme brulee and had a sip or two of the kir, but neither was among his favorites. Gary and Sherry shared the pasta gratin with mushrooms and Gruyere cheese and a Kronenbourg beer. Photo below.

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The next booth was Brazil. Nothing there was on my "must try" list, but hubby got the pork belly with black beans, tomato, and cilantro, Gary got the cheese bread, and Sherry tried the coconut candy. I had a taste of the candy; it was quite good but very sweet. I also had a taste of hubby's pork belly and OMG it was awesome! I never would've tried it on my own since pork belly is very fatty, but it was beyond delicious. If we'd gone back another day I probably would have gotten one of my own. Photos of the coconut candy and pork belly below.

After Brazil we skipped Belgium and Morocco since we'd visited them Sunday. We were all getting a bit full and wanted to save our appetites for the things we thought we'd enjoy the most, so we also skipped most of the booths at the south (Japan, USA, Italy) end of the World Showcase.

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Looks great so far! That giraffe sticking his head into the truck is too much!! laugh

We tried the Tuna Poke on your recommendation and we thought it was quite good. It just wasn't Sherry's cup of tea, I guess.

More, please Smile

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Trip Reports:
December 2013: 10th Anniversary, 1st DVC Stay | April 2014: Birthday on the Boardwalk | May 2014: Star Wars Weekend, Navigating WDW with a wheelchair | August 2014: Villains Unleashed | September/October 2014: MNSSHP, F&W, Tower of Terror 10-miler | March/April 2015: Disneyland and California Coastal Cruise | November 2015: Wine & Dine Half, Food & Wine, 1st Disney Cruise | February 2016: Presidential Classic Gymnastics Meet | March 2016: "Work" Trip, Tours, F&G Festival | April 2016: Conference at Disneyland | Fall 2016: Festive Fall Fun | January 2017: Festival of the Arts | May 2017: AbD Backstage Magic | July 2017: AbD San Francisco

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Hubby stopped at the Poland booth because they had a dish with not one, but two of his favorite things - pierogi and kielbasa. He thought it was excellent, but I didn't taste it since I'm not a fan of either kielbasa or pierogi. See photo below. We then skipped past Germany.

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I then made a beeline for the Singapore booth and was in and out before any of my companions had even decided whether to stop there. Why? I'd tried and loved the seared mahi mahi with jasmine rice and "Singa" sauce two years ago, adored it, and could not pass by that booth without having it again. Eventually the others also got in line and got another Singapore offering, the lemongrass chicken curry with coconut and jasmine rice. I had a taste of hubby's and was so glad I'd gone with the mahi mahi, since in my opinion it was one thousand percent better. But they all liked the curry well enough. I considered getting a Singapore Sling as well, but decided to put that off for another day (which never came).

After Singapore we bypassed the Brewer's Collection, Africa, and South Korea " and I really regret skipping South Korea because I'd wanted to sample the kimchi dog with spicy mustard sauce, but never got around to it. Maybe another year.

Photo of the chicken curry and mahi mahi below, and apologies that we'd eaten half of each before I thought to take a photo.

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My final stop was China, where I tried the black pepper shrimp (photo below). It was good, but not quite as good as a similar shrimp and noodle dish that I'd gotten in 2011, or at least not as good as my memory of that other dish was. Still, not bad at all. I think Gary and Sherry were done by then, and hubby stopped at the Joy of Tea cart for one of his favorite adult beverages, the mango gingerita, which I sipped and thought quite good.

And that was the end of our Food and Wine Festival experience. We never did get to several booths I had on my list - Patagonia, New Zealand, Australia, Mexico, Farm Fresh, South Korea, Africa, Germany, Italy, Hops & Barley, Japan, and Canada, and didn't try everything I'd wanted to try at Scotland, Morocco, or China. But as I mentioned, we had such good food elsewhere that I didn't really feel deprived. So next up, our table and counter service meals.

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I'm frontloading this trip report with the stuff I think people will find most interesting, then I'll finish up with a day-by-day record of what we did. So on to the rest of the food. I don't have a lot of photos for this bit because I either forgot to take them or didn't feel comfortable taking flash photos in a dimly lit restaurant.

Hubby and I arrived first and famished, so we made our way to AKL's counter service restaurant, The Mara. Hubby got the African stew, which consisted of beef, turkey, ham, carrots, potatoes, peas, chickpeas, and raisins served over basmati rice. I tried it and it was excellent. I ordered the falafel on pita with couscous as a side dish. It was good, but not nearly as good as that stew.

Next morning our friends suggested going offsite for breakfast. The first place we spotted was Cracker Barrel, not my favorite restaurant but breakfast is breakfast. And their breakfasts are HUGE. Everyone but me ordered a nice big breakfast platter; I got the sausage biscuit and ate hubby's fried apples and a little of his other stuff. Hubby's platter included (working from memory) biscuits and gravy, fried apples, eggs (which he ordered over easy), bacon, sausage, ham, and I think grits. Sherry had blueberry pancakes (four huge ones) with blueberry syrup and bacon. She offered me some, since she couldn't finish it - very good. I forget what Gary got, but it was equally ginormous.

Dinner that evening was our first visit to Le Cellier. I was a bit apprehensive, having read very mixed reviews about the quality of the food there, but figured we had to try it at least once. Gary in particular had wanted to go there during our first trip together back in 2005, but we were ignorant newbies and, ha ha, tried to walk up and get a table. No way. This time around I was able to book at the 180-day window, so we got an excellent dinner reservation time, 6:00. We arrived early and only had to wait a bit before we were seated in the Prince Edward Island section. Our excellent waiter, from Toronto, asked if we'd ever dined there before; we said no and he declared that this would be our new favorite restaurant. Wrong. But it was very good.

Hubby and I shared the scallop appetizer, which was excellent, while Gary and Sherry each got a bowl of the famous cheddar cheese soup and thought it was delicious - although Sherry forgot that she had meant to order some kind of poutine and was a bit disappointed when she saw it delivered to a nearby table. The breads with sea salt butter were also very tasty.

Main dishes were the equally famous "Le Cellier" filet mignon for everyone but me; I ordered the dry aged bone-in ribeye with fingerling potatoes and roasted garlic butter. But oops, the waiter "second-guessed" himself, to use his own words, and put in for four filets. The two servers who brought our dishes out quickly hustled all four back to the kitchen, our waiter apologized profusely, and not much later four plates returned, one of which had my very rare ribeye on it. I think the medium rare filets came back just a hair closer to medium and the medium filet perhaps a bit closer to medium well. As for my ribeye, it was delicious but huge (if I'd known I might have ordered that filet instead), and the roasted potatoes were just a tad oversalted for my taste but probably perfect for most people. Still, we all thought the food was delicious.

For dessert Gary ordered ginger cake and the rest of us had the maple creme brulee, which was awesome. Beverages included the beer flight for Gary, a 10-year-old Canadian whiskey for hubby, and two different kinds of cabernet sauvignon for Sherry and me, each of us ordering the one that was recommended for our dish. My cab was quite good, although Sherry and I exchanges sips and I think hers was a bit better. As for hubby's whiskey, OMG it was SO smooth and flavorful. Hubby also got some Bailey's Irish creme with his dessert, and I confess I had more than a sip of that as well, the end result being I was QUITE jolly by the end of the evening.

I have no photos of this meal, but I did take a non-flash photo of the wonderful backlit menus. I wish all dimly lit restaurants had something like this.

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I forgot to mention that because my ribeye was so huge I couldn't finish it or the potatoes, so hubby polished it off for me. He compared it to his filet and said they were very different in terms of texture and flavor, but both were equally good. Also, I got the menu description of the ribeye above from the Allears.net menu, but it's wrong because my ribeye was actually boneless. Everything else about it was the same, though. And that very rare steak was so cool the butter barely melted - which in my opinion was perfect.

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We were in Epcot Sunday also and couldn't get the pork sliders... That's the only booth that we ran into that problem. I LOVED the tuna! So good.

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Joined: 09/19/2011
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Glad you liked the tuna, JMed, and I hope you got your pork sliders later in the week.

Monday we had two ADRs, Boma for breakfast and Jiko for dinner. Again, no photos.

Once upon a time Boma was our favorite WDW restaurant for dinner - but that was before we tried 'Ohana, The Wave, Coral Reef, Jiko, and Sanaa. We still like it, though, and thought that on this trip we'd try it for breakfast instead of dinner since we were staying at Kidani and wouldn't have to get up really early to make it to a breakfast reservation. Well, it was...breakfast. There were a few African and African-inspired dishes on the breakfast buffet, but none of them particularly appealed to me. I don't eat eggs or cheese, so that limits my breakfast options. Instead I stuck with the standard American fare - bacon, sausage, Mickey waffles, pastries - along with a bit of the cured meats on the buffet. Everyone else at our table was a bit more adventurous, and hubby in particular thoroughly enjoyed some of the African flavors on the breakfast buffet, such as the bobotie and pap. Everyone raved about the French toast bread pudding with pecan caramel sauce, which I had skipped, so on my second pass I got a couple of bites of that and dang, wished I'd filled my plate with it. So good, especially the sauce. I also admired the donuts but never did get one. And I can't say enough good things about the jungle juice, which is a blend of orange juice and tropical fruits. Yummy. It was all very good, an excellent breakfast buffet with lots of variety, but hubby and I think we'll pass on buffets or family-style meals for breakfast. If we want a hot breakfast, we'll go to the counter-service restaurant wherever we're staying. The food is good for a lower price, and I can't eat enough to get my money's worth at the buffets. I had just a plate and a half at Boma (and neither plate was packed with food) and didn't eat another thing until dinner at Jiko nearly 12 hours later. I should mention that our server was wonderful, and even brought clean mugs for Sherry and me when we asked for decaf instead of the pot of regular coffee that was on our table.

As for Jiko, we loved it. We arrived a little early for our reservation and were seated a good bit late, perhaps as much as half an hour late. After we stood by the desk for a time a CM invited us to sit down at a just-vacated table in the bar area, where we didn't have to wait much longer. We had another superb waiter, three for three so far. We started with the Taste of Africa; Robynprincess had recommended Sanaa's bread service, and since this was a similar dish (bread and dips), we thought we'd get a head start. And it was lovely, so good I knew we'd want the bread service at Sanaa the next day. The others also ordered an appetizer with cheese in it, I believe the Inguday Tibs in Brik, which I didn't taste, although I did try the apple and vinaigrette and thought they were tasty. For the main course I ordered harissa chicken, which I thoroughly enjoyed. Hubby got the lamb two ways; I tasted both ways and would happily order this dish even though I'm not normally a fan of lamb. The dish included lamb chops, probably cut from a rack of lamb from the look of them, and some kind of shredded lamb, rather like an African-flavored pulled lamb, which was my favorite of the two. Incredibly delicious. Our friends got the spice-crusted Berkshire pork loin and the West African jerk scallops. Unfortunately, due to how busy this trip was, my daily trip notes are not as detailed as they should be, and I don't recall who got what. We had a lovely South African white wine with all of it, but again I don't recall what it was. Anyway, nobody had room for dessert. And Jiko offers the 15 percent annual pass discount, so we saved a bit of money on this meal.

When we were first seated, our server echoed the server at Le Cellier by announcing that THIS would be our new favorite restaurant. Wrong again, as good as it was (and it was excellent). Amazingly, our new favorite restaurant is neither of the signature restaurants. More on that later.