Friday, June 9, 2017

Vegan Walt Disney World: June 2017

Long time no blog! I recently took a solo trip to Disney World that I feel is worth blogging about, so I'm gonna go ahead and do that :D I wanted to specifically talk about vegan offerings because blog posts were my main source of info during this trip. I also want to give a huge shoutout to Vegan Disney World for being such an incredible resource!

I should also preface this by explaining my philosophy for being vegan whilst traveling. Basically, my motto is just, "try your best". It's hard to travel being vegan sometimes because not everyone gets it. Chefs and waiters can assure you that something is vegan and it may not be. You may mistakenly assume something is vegan and it may not be. When I travel, I cut myself slack. I'm not interested in spending time poring over ingredient lists and researching specific ingredients on the spot. I wanna relax and enjoy myself. Anyway, you get my point! Onto what I ate!

I stayed at the Animal Kingdom Lodge, so I found myself at The Mara (their quick serve restaurant) quite often. Their vegan options consist of a falafel burger without yogurt (below) and a caesar salad that they can make without chicken, cheese, or caesar dressing (not much of a caesar salad at all, then... LOL). Of course I opted for the falafel burger which came with red pepper hummus & cucumber slices. I also grabbed a couscous salad out of the fridge. This meal was around $17, I believe.

I was certainly grateful for this vegan option because it was a well-rounded meal, but it was by no means my favorite. I had it twice, and I definitely recommend adding extra condiments like ketchup, mustard and pickles. The patty was kind of dry but flavorful enough that it made a decent meal for being the only solid option. I would skip the couscous salad cuz that definitely had no flavor.






Next I went to Epcot. I was really excited to grab something from Sunshine Seasons, because they offer a vegan korma and vegan flatbread sandwich right on their regular menu! I'm not a big sandwich person so I went for the korma. It was really tasty! A little heavy on the onions but if you don't mind that, it's definitely a must.



I also ordered a vegan fruit cup for dessert, but I would recommend skipping that. It was basically vegan yogurt and fruit - not worth it in my opinion.



The next morning I accidentally slept in and missed breakfast, so I headed to Disney Springs to pop by Erin McKenna's bakery because I figured they might have banana bread or something. If you're not familiar with Erin McKenna, it's an amazing vegan and gluten free bakery! You can order anything safely & rest assured that it'll be vegan. It was seriously a god-send.



This is the banana bread and a slice of coffee cake, along with an iced coffee with coconut milk. I ended up eating the coffee cake for breakfast and saving the banana bread for later. The banana bread was delicious but the coffee cake was DEFINITELY a standout. So tasty! As for the coffee, I do prefer my Starbucks, but it was nice to have a coffee option. Overall I'm so pleased with Erin McKenna's and I ended up making several trips throughout my vacation!

That same day I headed over to Magic Kingdom, where I stopped by Pinocchio's Village Haus for a quick serve lunch. This also marked the first vegan blunder of my trip... Unfortunately, although they offer vegan cheese as a mozzarella replacement on their caprese flatbread, there's something about the crust that is not vegan. Luckily it wasn't enough to make me ill, and for what it's worth, this flatbread was frickin delicious. Again, this is not something I'm going to beat myself up over, but I have to note that it is in fact NOT vegan. Also, it's my fault because I didn't inquire properly - not the staff's fault whatsoever. (When you're reading this, though, it's still worth asking if the flatbread is vegan because they switch up suppliers every so often. You may get lucky!)



Then, OF COURSE, I had grab a Dole Whip float because ~hallelujah~ the pineapple flavor is VEGAN!!! To put this in perspective, I haven't had soft serve since going vegan 1.5 years ago, so this was a big deal lol. This is also a must-have when you're in Disney because not only is it refreshing (so necessary given Florida humidity) but it's also creamy, delicious, and one of the best snacks in all of Disney, vegan and non-vegan!



For dinner that night I ended up back at my hotel so I had the falafel burger again. That leads us to the next morning, when I woke up early enough to grab breakfast from The Mara. If you wait at the counter off to the left of the main queue, an allergy chef will meet you & you can request vegan Mickey waffles. Yes, that's correct. Vegan waffles! They're made with rice milk as opposed to dairy milk. They were really tasty with maple syrup. I got mine with potatoes because I don't mind the fact that they use a shared fryer, but if you're sensitive to that just get the fruit. So good.



Then I was off to Epcot that day to explore the World Showcase, and I stopped by the American pavilion at Liberty Inn for their grilled Gardein chick'n breast with corn and guac (no mayo sauce). I was definitely pleasantly surprised by this meal! I thought it would be kind of mediocre, but I also got BBQ sauce to spread on the chicken, and the guac/corn made it really yummy. Obviously it's not the most filling dish, so I would recommend getting fries on the side, but taste-wise it was very good and I was so impressed with the fact that they had Gardein chicken.



That night, a Thursday, I had a reservation at Trail's End at the Fort Wilderness Lodge so I could experience the magic of Chef TJ who's known for his over-the-top vegan creations. One thing I'll say before getting into my review is that Trail's End is quite out of the way. You have to bus from a park or Disney Springs over to Fort Wilderness, then you have to bus AGAIN or take a boat to the "campsites" where the restaurant is located. Just keep this in mind and allot a solid hour to get there if you're coming from far.

All to say, I was about 30 minutes late for my reservation. When I got there, the hostess was like, "It says on your reservation that you're allergic to dairy, eggs, and fish, is that correct?" I responded that I'm vegan and she said, "Okay so you're NOT allergic, then." I didn't appreciate her tone and I'd like to note that when you make an online reservation for a sit-down meal at Disney the prompt asks if there are any "of the following" that you "won't eat" - not that you're allergic. Anyway. I consider myself a chill vegan but I wasn't impressed with that response from her.

Then I asked if Chef TJ was working this even and she said no. *Dreams crushed*. Not only did I trek all the way to this place in the middle of nowhere, but I wasn't going to experience Chef TJ :( Regardless, I took my seat and the waitress told me Chef Steven would be out to see me shortly.



Chef Steven soon emerged with the above salad and said he would be preparing me a few different vegan dishes for the evening. He didn't really ask me if there was anything I was interested in having, he just stated that he'd whip something up. Again, not very impressed with the approach here, but I obliged. The salad was decent and very fresh, although I'm not a big fan of vegetable-only salads - I need carbs or protein, thank you very much. Lol.





For the second dish, Chef Steven brought out some samosas. I couldn't help but chuckle a little at the piss poor presentation, but the samosas were actually BOMB, so I can't complain. So well-spiced, and you gotta love fried foods.



Then for my main, Chef Steven cooked up this impressive grilled veggie & tofu dish over fried rice with sweet chilli sauce. It was a really nice meal overall, but I will say it's a feast for the eyes more-so than the taste buds. Not to say that it tasted bad, but the presentation is certainly the most impressive part. My favorite part was the mushroom (I believe the portobello was pre-marinated - so flavourful!) and the rice. Like I said, a plate of veggies isn't really my style, but it did its job.



For dessert I was given a plate of mixed fruit and a small bowl of vegan vanilla ice cream topped with a balsamic reduction. The ice cream was delicious! Definitely the best vegan ice cream I've ever had. I believe the brand is Tofutti? Americans, consider yourselves super lucky for having this option! The fruit was fine, nothing special. I'm also not a fruit-for-dessert person hahaha. Where's the chocolate, Chef Steven?!

For this 4 course meal I paid $30USD (not including tip). My verdict is that I don't think it was worth the price, especially since this is the only replacement for the entire buffet where people can make multiple trips and have plenty of options. Also, given the incredible Chef TJ creations I missed out on where people were served upwards of 7 courses for their meal, I was disappointed. I would say the meal was worth something between $20-$25, no more than that. Plus, the restaurant itself is a little too honky tonk for my liking... LOL.

The next morning I went back to Erin McKenna's for breakfast. I forgot to take a photo, but I opted for a slice of their pina colada bread. It was sooooo goooood. I highly recommend trying it. Later that day I went over to the Animal Kingdom to experience the new Avatar-inspired section.



The quick serve restaurant there (called Satul'i Canteen, I believe) offers build-your-own-bowls. All of the bases are vegan. There are a few different options but I went for the grain base which is just rice and something else... Barley? I forgot. The protein option is fried chilli tofu, and the only vegan sauce option is the onion chimichurri sauce. This. Was. DELICIOUS. Everything all mixed together made this one of my favorite meals of the entire trip. I was a little worried I wouldn't like the sauce cuz I'm not big on onions, but it was phenomenal. A+.



Later that evening I had the absolute joy of experiencing Blaze pizzeria. The concept of Blaze is similar to Subway, where you pick your pizza toppings out of a line of options. The kicker here is that all their crusts are vegan AND they have vegan cheese! I was so thrilled. I haven't had a good pizza with cheese on it in so long, and I'm really picky about vegan cheeses but this was actually great. It's not as pungent as regular cheese so I recommend adding a pinch of salt at the end. I ended up eating at Blaze 3 times throughout my trip (LOLOL). My favorite toppings were basil, mushrooms, fresh arugula, vegan cheese, chilli flakes, and oregano.



For dessert that evening I opted for Sprinkles' vegan red velvet cupcake. It was so yummy and so fun to use their cupcake ATM machine.

I didn't want to cap off a trip to Disney Springs without stopping by Erin McKenna's, so I picked up a french toastie cupcake and another slice of that pineapple pina colada bread I mentioned earlier for breakfast the next morning. Both ended up being incredibly delicious. As you can tell I am very much in love with this bakery LOL.



That day I ended up going to Hollywood Studios. I was a little worried about the lack of vegan quick serve options, but in the end I ordered the veggie pizza with vegan cheese at Pizzarizzo. I know it looks kinda sad in the picture, but I was pleased with this meal. The sauce and crust were tasty. They could've added more veg but I was overall content. They also replaced the caesar side salad with a bag of plain chips. That was nice of them!



For dinner I ended up back in Epcot for vegan korma round dos. This is a much better pic than the previous one so I thought I'd include it again.



The next day (my last day! Sad) I had a bagel with vegan cream cheese for breakfast from a previous Erin McKenna trip that I had saved. It was a little underwhelming and very bready for a bagel, and I wasn't crazy about the vegan cream cheese, but it was satisfying enough to tide me over 'til lunch. Erin McKenna's strong suit is definitely sweet over savory.



For lunch I was going to head back to Disney Springs, but I opted for room service because I wanted to watch the Manchester benefit concert. This was hands down the most underwhelming meal of the entire trip. It cost me a whopping $34 for a salad, tofu, and some fries. It was quite good and I liked the salad dressing they provided (some sort of vinaigrette), but it certainly wasn't worth the price. And not only that, but I gave a $6 tip not realizing gratuity had already been factored into the bill. Facepalm.



For dinner that evening I headed back to Blaze once again. Blaze was the star of the vacation. I even tweeted them to express how pleased I was with their restaurant!


Overall my main recommendations are Erin McKenna's bakery (try anything and everything!), Blaze pizzeria for some fire pizza, Dole Whip float, vegan korma, and the veg bowl from the new Avatar section of Animal Kingdom. I also want to say that I'm very impressed with Disney's willingness to cater to vegan diets. Aside from the snide hostess I dealt with at Trail's End, all the staff were very pleased to accommodate me and I have no qualms about heading back to Disney in the future as a vegan. Yay!

Friday, December 16, 2016

Abundance of Erica PR TEAM Search

IF YOU'RE LOOKING FOR A LINK TO OUR ETSY SHOP: CLICK HERE (ABUNDANCEOFERICA.ETSY.COM).

SUMMARY:







DETAILED:

ABUNDANCE OF ERICA IS GOING THROUGH SOME BIG, EXCITING CHANGES IN 2017, SO WE’RE ON THE LOOKOUT FOR 4 PLANNER PEEPS TO HELP PROMOTE THE SHOP IN A FUN & CASUAL WAY!

REQUIREMENTS: 
* MUST RUN AN ACTIVE (3-4 posts per week) PLANNER-RELATED INSTAGRAM ACCOUNT WITH CONSIDERABLE # OF FOLLOWERS/LIKES (a couple hundred at least) & WELL-LIT PHOTOGRAPHY
* MUST BE ON FACEBOOK

EXPECTED TASKS:
* MUST BE WILLING TO DISPELL INFO ABOUT AOFE SALES, PROMOS, AND OTHER PERTINENT SHOP NEWS
* MUST FEATURE OUR STICKERS IN YOUR WEEKLY SPREADS & INSTAGRAM PHOTOS

PERKS:
*YOU WILL RECEIVE AT LEAST 4 NEW AOFE STICKER SHEETS PER MONTH (IF NOT MORE) FREE OF CHARGE.
*YOUR PHOTOS WILL LIKELY BE SHARED ON OUR INSTAGRAM PAGE, BOOSTING YOUR OWN VISIBILITY. 
*YOU WILL BE PROVIDED WITH MATERIALS FOR GIVEAWAYS, AND WILL RECEIVE UNIQUE COUPON CODES TO SHARE WITH YOUR FOLLOWERS.

HOW TO APPLY:
SEND AN EMAIL TO ABUNDANCEOFERICA@GMAIL.COM WITH THE FOLLOWING INFORMATION:

- YOUR NAME
- YOUR INSTAGRAM HANDLE
- A FEW LINES ABOUT YOURSELF, WHERE YOU'RE FROM, ETC.
- 3 OF YOUR PLANNER PICS (ATTACHED OR LINKED)
- ANY QUESTIONS YOU HAVE REGARDING THE POSITION :)
- PLEASE LET ME KNOW IF YOU ARE PART OF ANOTHER SHOP'S PR TEAM & WHICH SHOP.

I just want to say that this is meant to be a stress-free, fun thing to do in exchange for some stickers. The position is really malleable and you can promote our shop in any way that fits your existing feed - all we're looking for is a little boost in visibility on social media.

4 PEOPLE WILL BE CHOSEN AFTER THE HOLIDAYS! DEADLINE TO APPLY IS FRIDAY, DECEMBER 23RD, 2016.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Summer in Italy, 2016

I finally had to opportunity to import all my pictures from our family vacation in Italy this summer. We started with a week in Agropoli, took a day trip to the Amalfi coast, and then spent 4 days in Rome.
I took this photo the first morning we woke up in Agropoli. The beach is really nice, although we had a few overcast days during our stay.

The first order of business was to check out the grocery store to see if I could pick up some vegan snacks. I ended up finding this vegan mozzarella (and behind that, vegan ricotta), which was amazing!

Cute pic of my mom and brother on our first night in Agropoli.

I thought the gelato situation was going to suck being vegan in Italy, but most places offered soy gelato, or sorbetto (lemon and strawberry, in this case). 

For the first couple days I thought I was going to be stuck eating grilled vegetables the entire time, but luckily the resort chef got more creative as the days went by. (Always order the pattatine frite!)
Up on that hill is the Agropoli city center, where my mom would walk to and from TWICE a day every single day. I only did that walk a couple times.
Really delicious zucchini risotto made with olive oil.

My brother took each and every opportunity to nap on this trip.
Our day trip to Amalfi was definitely a highlight of the trip for me. Here's a photo op from Positano.

Posing in front of Positano.

My mom picking out some dried herbs on the side of the road to Amalfi.

The Amalfi coast is known for their citrus fruits. Here's my brother sampling some freshly squeezed orange juice slushie.

Family photo in Positano.
Amalfiiii. So nice.

The big church in Amalfi. We found a pizza place for lunch right on the lefthand side of this place.

My hangry brother waiting for me to take a picture before he could dig in.

Luckily in most cases the pizza dough in Italy is vegan, so you can opt for a veggie pizza, or my preference: Pizza Marinara (sometimes called Pizza Napoletana), which is just sauce, herbs and olive oil. I know it doesn't sound like much but it's so delicious.
It seems like veganism is starting to trend in Italy a little bit. This is from a cafe advertising vegan pear and cinnamon muffins for breakfast.

I ended up buying the vegan ricotta from the picture above, and sprinkling it over my pasta. It was amazing. The ricotta would actually melt properly and added a really nice creaminess. I seriously wish this product would come to Canada.

Snapped this photo on our last day in Agropoli. It looks nice, but honestly doesn't do the sunset justice at all.
Next stop: Rome. This was our cute little street for our stay. Our Air BNB was located here, and it was literally tucked right around the corner from the Colosseum - amazing location.

I was so happy to find that our Air BNB had a big, comfy bed, because as you might now, the bed situation in Europe can leave a lot to be desired usually.

My brother was stuck with the pullout couch, but he was happy to have the best view of the soccer game.

Our place was in the cutest little courtyard with other apartments all around.
We found the best pasta place ever right near our Air BNB. Think Chinese takeout, but rather Italian pasta.

Basically, you pick your pasta and your sauce from a list of 7-10 choices, and you can enjoy it in a cute little takeout container. Best idea ever?!
Here's a picture of my mom and brother in front of an impressive building... I can't remember what it actually is. A museum maybe?

The Trevi Fountain is one of my favorite things to see in Rome. It's tucked away in this tiny corner, and it's so big & impressive in comparison.

Of course I had to drag my family to at least one vegan restaurant in Rome (Universo Vegano). My friend, brother, and I had their vegan hamburger, and my mom had their vegan salad which included vegan cheese and vegan tuna. So good.
Of course I also had to pick up what would be the only dessert I had the entire trip. Vegan Italian desserts... does it get any better? I opted for the vegan tartufo and bought a vegan chocolate cheesecake to take back to our Air BNB as well.
Here's a photo of my friend Felicia and I in Rome. She was doing an internship in Vienna at the time and flew out for the weekend :)
A quick selfie from our street in Rome. 

My brother and I gearing up for the Italy VS. Spain Euro cup soccer game.

If you're vegan in Italy, gnocchi tend to be a really solid choice. They're usually just make with potatoes, flour, and water, and they're so so so yummy.

I had to take a pic of the candy selection inside Eataly.

Colosseum at golden hour.

Snapped this last photo of some ancient Roman buildings on our way to the airport back home.