Wine Pairing with a View at Disney’s California Grill

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Waitress with wine bottle, couple dining with view of the Magic Kingdom. | California Grill | Disney WorldLocation is just as important to dining as it is to real estate. This revelation came to me while at the newly remodeled California Grill atop Disney’s Contemporary Resort in Orlando, Florida.

I was there with a group of journalists brought in to experience the Disney Golden Oak lifestyle. In a word–marvelous. Residents of the resort community call on a resident services team to arrange all kinds of special extras–anything from lawn care to hot concert tickets–and that includes hard-to-get dinner reservations at popular venues like the California Grill.

Refrigerated wall of wine at California Grill | Orlando, Florida

California Grill Experience

Stepping off the elevator on the 15th floor, the first item I noticed was a refrigerated wall of wine. The restaurants stocks over 300 hand-picked wine, many from from California, with over 50 available by the glass. Sommeliers are available to offer pairing suggestions, which is convenient in the face of so many choices.

California Grill Sunset

Entering the restaurant proper, I was struck by the view. Because it’s located on the top floor of the tallest building as far as the eye can see, California Grill patrons have an unobstructed view through floor-to-ceiling windows of the Magic Kingdom’s castle and Space Mountain, making this an exceptional spot to observe the fireworks at the Magic Kingdom. We were too early for the fireworks but instead saw another spectacle–a golden sunset that put man-made pyrotechnics to shame.

Prepping Chocolate Pudding Cake. | California Grill

When I could tear my eyes from the view, I noticed the shiny new show kitchen at the center. We passed a number of food prep stations, including an intriguing sushi counter offering an Omakase tasting menu, but my eyes were immediately drawn to the desserts. One of the chefs was prepping a row of plates bearing Chocolate Pudding Cake, which looked almost too rich and pretty to eat. (See video for the recipe.)

California Grill - Private dining room

We were escorted to a private room, also with floor-to-ceiling window, looking out on the lush green space that Florida is known for. Few buildings dot that land, except for a terra cotta castle on the horizon that we were told will soon be the new Four Season Orlando. It was tempting to gaze out the window until dark, only a savory meal–perfectly complemented by new-to-me wines–and delightful conversation competed with the vista.

California Grill - Four Seasons View

 California Grill Wine Pairing Menu

Appetizer

Signature Three Meat Meatballs with Meyer Lemon, Lavender Mind, and Chimichurri Drizzle

Mini Spicy Kazan Sushi Bites with Scallops, Shrimp and Seared Tuna, Spicy Mayo and Micro Wasabi

Wine: Belle Glos Meiomi Pinot Noir, California Coast ’12

Second Course

Individual Platters of Duck Charcuterie

Wine: Paul Hobbs “CrossBarn” Pinot Noir, Sonoma ’11

Salad

Farmer Inspired Salad with a Honey and Sherry Vinaigrette

Wine: Cakebread Cellars Chardonnay, Napa ’11

Sorbet

Pear Ginger Sorbet

Main Course

24 Hour Sous Vide Beef Short Rib…served with Red Curry Puree, Applewood Bacon, Brussel Sprouts, and Pomegranate Glaze

Wine: Tres Sabores Zinfandel, Rutherford ’09

Farmer Inspired Salad - California GrillBeef Short Rib - California Grill

A word from the Getaway Mavens

This is the second of what will be an ongoing series showcasing wine pairing menus. After reading a number of pieces on wine tasting and wine pairing, I came to the conclusion that it would be much easier if I could see how others accomplish what seems to be equal parts science and art. We hope this will inspire your travels and/or home entertainment. At the very least, these posts should be good for vicarious pleasures. ¡Que aproveche! 

Many thanks to Disney Golden Oak for hosting my stay and this delicious meal!

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