When one is at an amusement park, I guess one goes on rides; I guess I am one of the few that worries about what I am going to eat. Of course, when you write a wine blog and couple it with whatever is occurring with that meal, you can understand my concerns. While we were staying at a hotel on the grounds of Universal in Orlando, we had an “express pass,” but found that certain rides and exhibitions were exempt from getting preferential treatment. We survived, and it was fun, though I guess my days of roller coasters or whatever these new rides are referred to are a bit discombobulating to us at our age, and we did it, though I am not sure if we need to do it again at our age. I guess having a knowledge of the Harry Potter lore helps, I am sure if you don’t know it, the rides are still exciting, but if you are like me and know the films, there are parts of the rides that kind of reenact scenes, and if you are a maven like my Bride, who has even read all of the books, it is more exhilarating. The first ride we did was just off Diagon Alley at Gringotts Bank and called “Escape from Gringotts”; of course traversing the lines to get to the rides is longer than the ride itself, but if you get there at the right moment, the line is not that bad and once in the structure of the ride, there is even to look at, to keep the average person interested. This ride is based on one of the later books/films where the heroes break into the bank and there are plenty of scenes from the movie that are brought to life and culminate with a dragon. The other ride that we did was based at Hogwarts and called “Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey” and even places the riders in a quidditch match. One even got to observe some of the paintings of past illustrious wizards and witches having conversations from their paintings on the walls of the school. One also gets to see certain of the characters from the films portraying themselves in different parts of the rides, so it is all in good fun.
In between the two rides we had lunch in another part of one of the parks, set in Greek and Roman mythology. We had been touted that the restaurant was an award winner for themed park dining, and as I mentioned in another article, when we tried to have lunch, we were told it would be a couple hours for a seating, so we made arrangements to have lunch there the next day. The restaurant is called Mythos, and the conceit of the restaurant is that you are in a grotto underneath a mountain and it gave the appearance of being cavernous. The restaurant was supposedly Mediterranean in scope, but there were exceptions. My Bride had Pad Thai which was rice noodles, mixed vegetables, chicken and shrimp tossed in a sweet and sour Peanut Sauce and she enjoyed it. I had the Brick Oven Roasted Chicken which was done lemon-herbed, with Rosemary fingerling potatoes, rapini and pan jus. I started to eat mine and someone came by and asked me how I liked the new chicken entrée and I said that it was dry like cardboard. The next thing I know the manager appeared and switched out my order for my other choice which was Wild Mushroom Barley Risotto with Braised Beef Loin Tips, chopped wild mushrooms, Red Wine Bordelaise and Shaved Parmesan, and it was excellent, even my Bride liked it. We were also talking with the manager about our dinner at The Palm, which she had not eaten at, but told us, that almost all of the other restaurants in Universal were owned and operated by Universal, including some of the chains. She also asked where we were going to have dinner that evening and we said that we were going to try a place, she took our information and the next thing we knew, we had a confirmed reservation for the evening. It was magical.
While I was looking at the wine list, I saw a wine that we were going to have the day before with lunch, but the restaurant was out, so we had it with lunch this time, just a little festive Prosecco on a very warm day, though in the grotto, it was very comfortable. We each had splits of Cantine Maschio Prosecco DOC Brut NV. In 1973 Bonaventura Maschio turned his family’s century-old distillery into a winery and it was even then considered a state-of-the-art winery in terms of technology and production and they actually produce the two biggest-selling wines in Italy, Maschio Chardonnay and Maschio Pinot Rosa. The wines produced by Cantine Maschio have their fruit grown from the hills of Valdobbiadene and Conegliano and in the Piave Valley. As this wine carries the Prosecco DOC, all production is by the books and it has to be at least eighty-five percent Prosecco (Glera) to get licensed and sealed with a banderole. It was just a very easy drinking wine and we ended up having seconds before venturing out back in the sun and the crowds.