We were definitely traveling old school while we were on holidays; trains, boats and shoe leather. The majority of the interest for the two of us was at King’s Crossing, Diagon Alley, Hogsmead and Hogwarts and to get there from the hotel was by water taxi, and then going from park to park by Hogwarts Express and then the rest was by foot. A grand adventure and my Bride was totally immersed in the magic of the moment. The Harry Potter exhibits were in full capacity with crowds and with staff, while some of the other parts of the two parks were much quieter. It was amazing to see the lines for some of the rides had stretched out from one them park to another theme park, partly from distancing rules that were hard to really enforce and just from the crowds that wanted to experience the rides. I did see my old alma mater “Wossamotta U” among other sites, and when we were in Jurassic Park, I felt like one of the dinosaurs. We did see a ride that was functioning and when we got to the head of the line, we discovered that we were too tall (adult) to ride the attraction that was geared to the younger crowd, but it seemed so us.
Thankfully, we had the pass that allowed us to go from park to park and to ride the train as often as we did, and we could start making plans of where to eat, because we actually had to book a lunch for the next day, because the waiting period was almost three hours for the next opening that day. We were filling up the day with as much as we could squeeze in and then we had to take the water taxi back to the room, to freshen up for dinner, but by now you know that I am definitely old school and high maintenance. I also had to get my sport coat for dinner. We then took a water taxi to the CityWalk and then boarded another water taxi to get to the Hard Rock Hotel, a big pink hotel reminiscent of earlier Florida. We were going to The Palm, one of the old guard steak houses from New York. The Palm was legendary almost from the beginning for an Italian restaurant that served a great steak. The business was so great that they had to open up a second floor above the original location, and eventually they bought the property across the street to open up a second location for all the spill over and then they started opening up a few other locations. The walls were decorated with copies of the original and some newer drawings of celebrities that have dined there, not like at Sardi’s or the London Chop House where they were framed, these were just done on the plaster. I happened to show our waiter a photo of a matchbook from The Palm from years ago, as I used to like including matchbooks as collateral images for my articles, and I lamented that they are no longer found or PC and asked him if he recognized the place and he remembered the New York location, Later, he brought me a new version of the matchbook that I showed him, but with the Orlando location listed inside to add to our collection. My Bride was excited, because she didn’t expect to have the chance to dine on Chilean Sea Bass Fillet with leaf spinach Aglio e Olio. I was torn between having a great steak or having one of their classic Italian dishes from their roots, and the old soul in me chose an Italian dish for my entrée. I had the Veal Martini with shallots, mushrooms, fresh and sun-dried tomatoes, white wine, Florio Dry Marsala wine and basil. My Bride allowed me the honor of selecting a sharable side for the two of us, which like in most steak houses is more than ample for two, and I chose the Lobster Gnocchi; my Bride knew that I was going to order that dish, even though she knows that I know that is not partial to gnocchi, but I keep telling her that if it is made properly, it is very light. When the dinners arrived, she thought that I had the better of the two entrée dishes ordered and she was raving and gushing about the gnocchi.
They had a very nice and tight wine carte and I thought we should get something a little different, since our selections were more unique. We had a bottle of La Scolca Etichetta Bianca Gavi del Comune di Gavi DOCG 2018 and Etichetta Bianca translates to White Label, because La Scolca also makes a Black Label which is sourced from young vines in the Rovereto vineyard. The La Scolca estate was purchased between 1917-1919 and it is now in the fourth generation of the same family and the family name is Soldati which translates to soldier, and La Scolca comes from “sfurca” or “look off into the distance” as the farmhouse that stood on the property was at one time a lookout post. The family’s intention was to plant the Cortese grape in what was once an area of red grapes. La Scolca is considered the oldest winery in the area for continuity of management by the same family and also considered the most modern. The Cortese grape is the only varietal allowed for the Gavi region and the Rovereto district is considered akin to a Grand Cru. La Scolca has been making this wine since the Fifties and they have about fifty hectares in the Rovereto district. While Gavi is part of the Piedmont, the culinary traditions are more Ligurian that Piedmontese, including the wine which is lighter and fruitier. While Gavi is the crown jewel of the Piedmont for white wines, only the Cortese grapes from Gavi can be termed Gavi di Gavi and the area received DOCG status in 1998. Cortese has been recorded in the area since the 1600’s and is famed for the acidity and bone-dry character with a flinty mineral finish noting the terroir of the district. This wine was offering floral notes, lemons and green apples. While the wine has a lower proof rating, with the high acidity it is know to age quite well. Without bragging, it was a great choice for the evening and the only thing that I can think is that it must have a high level of evaporation, because the wine seemed to disappear much to quickly. A wonderful dinner and then we caught our two different water taxis and made it back to our hotel to enjoy another day.