corellian_sugar: (Fuel: Innocent)
[personal profile] corellian_sugar
I actually took my shiny expensive camera on vacation and couldn't seem to find the motivation to use it. I was THAT tired. I did manage to take a few cell phone pictures, mostly of glorious meals -- and even then, usually my mother was prompting me. Otherwise, I probably wouldn't have taken any pictures at all.

It was a very nice, albeit unorthodox Disney trip. We had reservations at the lovely Grand Californian Hotel and Spa. We had park passes only to get to restaurants within the DLR parks, for the most part -- and in one case, we ditched reservations because the weather was wet and miserable and the hot tub was beckoning more loudly than the planned meal. The Ritual for Hands and Feet at the Mandara Spa was fantastic. It was just good to get away, unplug, and rest. Of course, with rest comes reflection. I think I needed that, too. A little healthy perspective as I face down what is certain to be a frantic and crazed holiday season.

Carnation Cafe
The completely deserted Carnation Cafe, 7 a.m. The only reason we took advantage of early admission to Disneyland, breakfast before the onslaught of park goers. Had a lovely discussion with the chef, who came tableside for a chat. That was unexpected...

GCH front doors
You have to wait forever for this shot. These are the stained glass sliding doors that open into the Grand Californian lobby. They're constantly open with the influx of people entering and exiting the hotel, but they are gloriously beautiful and so worth the wait.

The highlight meal of the trip was the Napa Rose within the Grand Californian. I opted for the four course Vintner's Menu with wine flight. Mom went with the grilled tenderloin with hazelnut scented fingerling potatoes. I was not terribly with it when dinner started. I do not have a picture of my first course, which was Skuna Bay Salmon in a leek broth with brunoise of celeriac and turnip. Not a fan of salmon, but this was fabulous. Silky and beautifully seasoned with a crispy sear of black cracked pepper on top.

Napa Rose - duck
Course #2: Maple Leaf duck medallions on bed of smoked lentils and chanterelle mousse, sitting on a puree of sweet potato. Accents were pickled persimmon and creme fraisch with a duck jus. Freaking fantastic. So complimentary. Sweet, earthy, succulent, creamy.

Napa Rose - lamb
Course #3: Colorado Rack of Lamb on a bed of broccolini and califlower, pumpkin puree and a Sangiovese jus. Supporting the lamb is a fattier portion of the lamb that has been slow rendered to the point where it falls apart if you look at it the wrong way. Lamb two ways - fatty and melting (the lower portion), rare and rich (the rack). Beautiful and beautifully cooked.

Napa Rose - dulce de leche cake
Course #4: Dulce de leche spice layer cake with nutmeg ice cream (on a bed of wine marinated Asian pears), salted caramel droplets, and pumpkin seed brittle accent. This was shockingly delicate and light. Stunning and delicious. My mother's dessert was a Meyer Lemon Creme Brulee tart with blueberry compote -- hers was equally light and delicious (I had a taste).

Honestly, if I could have eaten here every night, I would have been the happiest person on the planet. I would also be very, very poor.

Piano in GCH lobby
After dinner, we sat in the lobby and listened to the pianist near the fireplace for a little while and talked. After four glasses of wine (the flight was more than generous), I was more than a little drunk. I've done prix fixe menus before with wine flights that were more wine "tastings" than full wine glasses. Not at the Napa Rose. In fact, they asked if I wanted each wine topped off before the next course came. (Answer: NOOOOOO). Whoa, I think that would have made me pass out. We decided it was best to sit a little before climbing in to the hotel's hot tub/spa for the evening dip (which we took advantage of every single night).

Steakhouse 55 - eggs benedict
On our last morning, we treated ourselves to breakfast at Disney's iconic Steakhouse 55. I'm a sucker for a good Eggs Benedict, and this one was awesome. Fabulous coffee, to boot. :)

Oh, and on our brief travels (two hours???) in Disneyland, we ran into this guy:

Iron Man at DLR

Long story short, I didn't really miss the rides. I did manage a ride on Star Tours (my adventure went to Hoth and Naboo). I got possibly the cutest Star Wars shirt ever (women's football jersey style, low cut). But for the most part, it was nice to take advantage of other things that Disney has to offer (on a more adult level). We took a very early morning stroll through California Adventure (perk of GCH guests) and saw that Andrew Sutton (executive chef of the Napa Rose) has another four star restaurant in the park: the Cathay Circle. Took a tour of that restaurant and my mom just about fell over. Stunning place, stunning menu. In fact, my mother was so taken with the whole GCH experience that she is saving for another trip back -- only this time she wants to go in early December when the hotel is tricked out for Christmas. It might not be for another two years or so, but I'm down with that.

Now I'm just mentally preparing myself to head back to work in a few days. It's going to be nuts again, and I'm hoping that my relaxation isn't obliterated in the first few days back. We shall see.
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