Orlando Trip – Epcot


During my first visit to Orlando at the age of 9, I thought Epcot was the most boring park in all of Disney World. But in my recent return, I couldn’t have been more wrong. I probably appreciate this park because it’s so different than what we have in Anaheim. The park is designed in a hourglass figure and is divided into 2 sides-the Future World and the World Showcase. The park celebrates the innovations in technology and culture and is said to never be complete as long as the world is introducing and testing new materials and systems. My favorite part of this park is that all of the employees in the World Showcase are from the countries in which they represent. How legit is that?


  • World Showcase – The World Showcase walks you through 11 countries around the world (Mexico, Norway, China, Germany, Italy, the American Adventure, Japan, Morocco, France, UK and Canada). Each country has restaurants and cafes representing the native cuisines. I’ve seen adults turn the World Showcase into a drinking game, ordering an alcoholic beverage in each country. In true culturebite fashion, K and I tried to eat our way through the countries.
  • IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth – This attraction is a light and water show at the center of the World Showcase. You can pretty much enjoy this attraction from anywhere around the lake. This is supposed to be Disney World’s equivalent to World of Color, but I enjoyed the latter so much more.


  • Test Track – Similar to Radiator Spring in California Adventure, this Chevrolet sponsored ride allows you to design your own sports car and race it around a track. This ride is Epcot’s newest addition to the Future World and has long wait times.
    Tip: Grab a fast pass to completely skip the “design a car” phase of the line. 
  • Mission:SPACE – This ride “Orange” is so intense, I’m not sure my body liked it. In this ride, you’re broken into groups of 5 with each person owning a responsibility in this mission to Mars. You sit in this tiny simulator in which they pump G-forces so you get the feeling of entering space. I got a little disoriented during the ride and had to close my eyes for a break. If you don’t want an experience this intense, you could opt for the “Green” version of the ride.
  • Battleship Earth – This Siemen’s sponsored ride is the icon of Epcot. Inside the dome, you’re taken (very slowly) through the history of mankind. This one can be a snoozer, but it’s something you have to do at least once.
  • Maelstrom – This is a short ride that takes you through the history of Norway in the World Showcase.

Inside Test Track


  • Kringla – I found this little Norwegian bakery to serve the best food in all of Epcot. Cultural classic like rice creams, school bread and lerden bestes can be found here. My personal favorite was the rice cream – a rich rice pudding topped with strawberry preserves. Super delish and it was only $2.99!
  • Crepes de Chefs de France – This kiosk in the France Pavilion serves dessert crepes at $4.50. K and I didn’t make it here, but it was on my list and it had good reviews
  • Coffee Kiosk in Italy – I added this to my list because I knew finding a good latte in Disney was not going to be an easy feat. Using common sense, I figured the coffee in Italy would be worth a try (mainly because the employees in each country are natives from these countries). First thing I noticed was the price. It was the most expensive latte I’ve seen in all 4 parks – $5. The taste? Pretty darn good for a Disney park.
  • Tip: I know these posts are geared more for adults, but if you’re looking for character sightings, check out the Akershus Royal Restaurant in Norway. They offer character dining here and seems to be less crowded than the other character dining spots at the other parks.



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Orlando Trip – Magic Kingdom

Magic Kingdom

Here I am in my mid-20s and still completely in love with the magic of Disney. There’s something about it that make me feel all warm and cuddly inside and believe that everything ends in “happily ever after.”

Being native Californians, K and I are frequent visitors to Disneyland. We thought, “Why don’t we try something different and go to Disney World?” (You’d be surprised how different the experiences are.) In just 2 weeks, we booked our hotel, flight and park tickets and headed off to the happiest place on earth. Within those 2 weeks we researched everything there is to know about the parks–food, wait times, attractions, etc. And because most people I know share the same love for Disney as me, I thought I’d come back to theculturebite to share.

Magic Kingdom is a lot like Disneyland but with fewer rides and more attractions. The park is iconic and they’ve made a few upgrades that are worth the visit alone.


  • Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom (must do!) – This alone was worth the trip to the Magic Kingdom. Sorcerers is an interactive scavenger hunt around Fantasyland, Adventureland, Frontierland and Main Street. Basically, 7 villains are trying to take over the Magic Kingdom and it’s your job to defeat them. You’ll receive a pack of random spell cards by the Fire Station before Main Street as your weapon. With a map and key in tow, you’ll unlock secret portals hidden within the Kingdom to fight the villains.
  • Mickey’s PhilharMagic – This is a fun 4-d music show where Donald tries out the Sorcerer’s Hat and the PhilharMagic Orchestra gets a bit out of hand.
  • Main Street Electrical Parade – A truly magical, light show parade. They don’t have this in Disneyland anymore, so this is a must see.
  • The Magic, the Memories and You – Immediately after the electric parade, you divert your attention over to Cinderella’s castle for a visual light show projected onto the castle. You’ll see scenes and hear songs from your favorite Disney classics. Think World of Color, but instead of water, they use the castle as the backdrop.
  • Fireworks – The evening events wrap up with the fireworks show. Even in Disneyland, this is one attraction I cannot miss.

Sorcerers of the Magic KingdomMK Evening Attractions


The rides in the Magic Kingdom are also at Disneyland in Anaheim. Though, you’ll notice subtle nuances within each ride.

  • Space Mountain
  • Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin
  • Haunted Mansion
  • Peter Pan’s Flight
  • Pirates of the Caribbean
  • Splash Mountain


  • Be Our Guest Restaurant in new Fantasyland
    Lunch: No reservations needed / Can eat in Rose Gallery (K and I did this)
    Dinner: Reservations needed / Rose Gallery closed but the Beast’s Library open
  • Gaston’s Tavern in new Fantasyland
    Roasted Pork Shanks – Need I say more?
    Le Fou’s Brew – Frozen apple juice with a hint of toasted marshmallow topped with a passion fruit-mango foam. This tastes exactly how it sounds. I wasn’t much of a fan.
    Cinnamon Rolls – The cinnamon rolls here are serious and the size of half-a-loaf of bread. Of course K and I had 2 of these during our trip (with a side of extra frosting and caramel).
  • Note: Sadly, the corn dogs are not the same in Orlando.

Be Our Guest Restaurant Gaston's Tavern

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You Only “Liver” Once – Saying Goodbye to Foie Gras

2367 Market St
(between 16th St & Noe St)
San Francisco, CA 94114
Neighborhood: Castro

Rated: ♣♣♣

As you may have heard, California is saying goodbye to foie gras on June 30, 2012. To celebrate our last experience with the beloved foie gras, we dined at Bisou in the Castro a day before the ban went into effect for an un-foie-gras-table meal. Haha, see what I did there?

We ordered the foie gras tasting menu complete with an appetizer, entree and dessert ($75/p). Five foie gras’ later, I’m happy to say my goodbyes to the little fatty goose livers.

Foie Gras Pav̩ РCool, buttery pav̩ de foie gras on toast and drizzled with an orange syrup. This was amazingly delicious.

Bisou Foie Gras Pave

Beef Duo – Filet mignon topped with a piece of torched foie gras and shaved truffles and beef bourguignon with a piece of seared foie gras on top of a brioche bun. I almost quit halfway to save myself, but my greed got the best of me. I was a little relieved when I discovered the hidden pile of spinach hiding underneath the filet.

Bisou Beef Duo

Shortcake w/Ice Cream – Foie Gras ice cream and two pieces of dense shortcake. At this point, I could not take any more. To top it off, I have no clue why anyone would think foie gras ice cream would taste delicious. The ice cream tasted like iron and there was no amount of raspberry sauce to overpower the taste. I was almost offended by this dish, but then K and I concluded that this was the perfect way to say goodbye to foie gras.

Bisou Foie Gras Shortbread

Other than the dessert, I think Bisou did a great job of celebrating foie gras with their tasting menu. But after this meal, I’ve learned that foie gras is best eaten in small increments.

Let me take a second to comment on the vibe of this restaurant. Bisou is much louder and trendier than its older but cuter sister restaurant ChouChou in Forrest Hill (which was sold to a new owner a few years ago). Decked out in purple padded walls and black booths, all the single people in the Castro are standing at the bar talking and laughing over the blaring club music. Though every time I come to Bisou, I feel very out of place. It could be because the owner seems to know, kiss and hug everyone in the restaurant but “grandma”  me and “grandpa” K. But K and I keep coming back, leaving satisfied.

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The Daily Double Shot – Obama is Smokey and Sweet

On Sam’s last business trip to Seattle, she set out to buy some new beans from the Seattle Coffee Works cafe to try some Seattle roasted coffees. As we all know, Seattle is known for a few famous and popular coffee brands, but we wanted to try something uniquely Seattle. I had caught wind of a special coffee blend that is made exclusively at SCW. It had a presidential quality to it. One that was equal parts funny and creative. It was the Obama blend, Indonesian origin beans mixed with East African to create a blend that was similar to the blend of our president.

When we finally ground the coffee, it had a darker roasted smell to the beans. One would instantly realize this was no trendy San Francisco espresso roast. (It seems like the trend in San Francisco tends to be on the lighter roast side when it comes to espresso.)  I tamped the grinds into the portafilter, and pulled some shots.

The first straight espresso sip, was very bold, with that darker roasted taste (like the smell, duh!).  As I let the taste linger in my mouth a bit, it started to fill my buds with a smokey-sour taste.  A little too sour for my personal liking.  Instantly, we realized this was a roast for drip coffee methods and not for espresso.  I suppose some may like their espresso in this format, but the Ritual Nine Darling Road has spoiled my senses and is still my favorite, because of it’s lighter, floral (and campfire) taste.

I eventually decided to try the beans in a French Press.  This time, I set the grinder to a coarser setting and poured in about 5 tablespoons of coffee into the cylinder. I poured about a 14 ounce mug of boiling water and let it steep (percolate? coffee experts correct me on the terminology) for about 4 minutes.  Around the 4 minute mark, I pressed down, and poured the coffee.  The flavor of Obama was different, than with the espresso.  It was still dark and smokey, but the coffee tasted sweet, with only a hint of the sour note.  Definitely a lot better as a coffee than as an espresso.


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Sam’s Kitchen – Home-made Granola

The other weekend, I had a sudden strong urge to bake up a batch of granola. I don’t get it because I hardly ever eat granola, and when I do, it’s usually out of a package and made by companies like Nature Valley and Quaker Oats. I’m always low on snacks around the house and I figured granola would be a “healthy” alternative to chips and cookies. I grabbed a granola recipe that my mother filed away from the Plumpjack Resort in Squaw Valley up in Tahoe that she raved was the “best granola ever.” One quick look at the recipe and I saw butter, maple syrup, corn syrup, honey. Okay, this wasn’t going to be healthy, but I’ve got the recipe in my hand and now I’m committed. I didn’t have all of the ingredients so this was my adaptation.


  • — Cooking spray or butter
  • 1 cup honey
  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 1 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup light corn syrup
  • 4 cups rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened dried coconut flakes
  • 1/2 cup pecan halves
  • 1/2 cup whole raw almonds
  • 1/4 cup millet
  • 1/4 cup sesame seeds
  • 1/4 cup wheat germ
  • 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 pound mixed dried fruit (cherries, cranberries, raisins, currants, apricots, apples, etc.)

Instructions: Preheat oven to 300°. Prepare a cookie sheet with cooking spray or lightly coat with butter.

In a thick-bottomed pot, slowly bring the honey, butter, maple syrup and corn syrup to a boil. Boil the mixture for 5 minutes, watching it carefully as it can easily boil over.

Meanwhile, combine the dry ingredients, except for the dried fruit, in a large bowl. I didn’t have millet, sesame seeds and wheat germ, so I substituted in an extra cup of oats.

Pour hot syrup mixture over the dry ingredients, stirring carefully until completely combined. Pour granola mixture onto the prepared baking sheet and spread evenly.

Granola Mix

Bake granola for about 45 minutes to 1 hour, until golden brown throughout, stirring every 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from oven and leave at room temperature to cool completely, stirring every 10 minutes to prevent it from forming one large, hard sheet.

Granola Toss

Add dried fruit and toss to combine. I used golden raisins and dried cranberries, but I’m thinking dried apricots would be delish.

Store in an airtight container for up to three weeks.

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