Farm Industry News Blog

With a side of raspberry air and lemon snow

Jeff Ryan reflects back on his culinary adventures at Disney World's Flower and Garden Festival.

Our server at Le Cellier on our last visit was a very friendly young lady. We will call her Andrea. She was quite chatty. The place wasn't terribly packed in the middle of the afternoon, so that may have given Andrea more opportunity to stop and visit with her customers. We learned a lot about the Disney program for foreign students. We also learned a lot about what actual employees at Disney (they call them cast members) like to do at the park. Inside information is usually the best. 

Our Canadian new best friend did not disappoint.  She had a couple of recommendations for us once we had mentioned where we had already been.  The one that seemed to stand out, though, was not even on our radar. It was a restaurant in The Grand Floridian Hotel near The Magic Kingdom. 

Sherill and I had seen The Grand Floridian a few times as we went by on the monorail, but we had never stopped by to check it out.  My hunch was that it was a bit spendy. A quick look at the website revealed rooms start at $540 per night, so my hunch seemed pretty good. There were a couple of restaurant options at The Grand Floridian, but we were on a mission to find one in particular, based on Andrea's glowing review Citricos

Andrea had mentioned two items that caught our attention and steered us to Citricos. The first was raspberry air. It was a light and fluffy dessert concoction that Andrea said was one of her all-time favorites. The other one was lemon snow. That is another light and fluffy dessert item that is somewhere between cotton candy and slush. It's made with some process that involves Nitrogen so that it packs a great lemon flavor and sort of disappears into thin air once you get it into your mouth. Tremendous flavor with almost no substance. Sort of a home economics meets chemistry deal. It is one of the best inventions ever, I think. It has to rank right up there with Chocolate Vapor. (Copyright that. Guy No. 2 invented Chocolate Vapor using his A.I. tank and a Milky Way. It will probably make me the next Food Network Star!) 

The ambiance in Citricos was quite relaxing. It was definitely an upscale place. The sound of a harp filled the room as we made our way to our table. A quick glance down the wine list clued me in on just how upscale this place was. The cheap stuff was $140 a bottle. Then there was the $1200 stuff, as well as the $1800 stuff. To round out the list, there was the $3000 stuff. Yep, I could either get a bottle of wine or a gooseneck trailer load of high-end, dairy-quality hay. Decisions, decisions!  

My meal started off with a delightful number of the chef's creation. Not only did I not catch the name of it, but I also failed to take a photo. It included a slice of blood orange and a few other items neatly arranged in the center of the plate. When I told our server about my column and my desire to get photos of the food for it, she not only told me about the item, she went back to the kitchen and grabbed another one for me! Then she had the chef come out and chat with us. The chef loved my business card. (Thanks, Jill!) He was intrigued by both our high-quality beef cattle production involvement and our role in the production of raw honey. It is entirely possible that Buzz In A Bottle may be finding its way to the kitchen at Citricos at some point in the future. You can never have too many connections. 

Every option at Citricos is an adventure. My first course was sautéed shrimp, which was outstanding. Sherill went with the cheese course trio. That one had a variety of cheeses. One was a Gorgonzola, which she loved. Even the bread with her cheese tray was incredible. The whole thing seemed to be quite hoity and toity. 

Then came the salad selection. I went with the Florida King Farm peaches & baby greens salad. I didn't think I'd ever find myself saying this, but the spiced walnuts really worked well as a complement to the other greens. This wasn't the regular iceberg lettuce with some Western French dressing on it that I've been used to over the years. It could be that my horizons were actually getting broadened too quickly. 

Now came the big decision. It was main course time. A couple items were automatic disqualifiers -- no chicken and no tofu. I consider neither of them to be food fit for humans. That narrowed down my list to filet of beef, braised short ribs, braised veal shank, Berkshire pork, swordfish and cassola fregola sarda. That last one kind of caught my attention. It was a mix of shrimp, scallops, clams, mussels and Peppadew Coulis. That says seafood smorgasbord to me, so I went with that choice. I have access to beef and pork on a pretty regular basis, but seafood is a different story. 

The dish presented to me was much larger than I expected. It sure looked like all that seafood floating around in the giant bowl probably came with a good-sized undertow! Dedicated diner that I am, I dug in and got to work. Once again, it felt like a brilliant decision. Sure, it was no giant turkey leg from a food cart at The Magic Kingdom, or an $8 hot dog at a quick-service outlet elsewhere in the park, but it hit the spot. 

That spot seemed to be an easy target at Citricos. The final big decision of the night was the dessert choice. This wasn't a question of if I'd have dessert. Come on, get real. It was a question of which one. I didn't see lemon snow on the menu anywhere, so I went with the next best option.  That would be lemon-scented cheesecake with a blanket of white chocolate ganache. First of all, I love anything lemon-flavored. Secondly, a guy can never get too much ganache. I can't remember how many different times a doctor has looked at my lab results and said, "Mr. Ryan, your serum ganache levels are dangerously low. See what you can do about that." 

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The Farm Industry News Blog features commentary from Willie Vogt, Daryl Bridenbaugh and Jeff Ryan.

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