05 May 2010

Course by course - Part I

There is a lot to be said about the food of Walt Disney World. Similarly, there is just as much fare to be discussed, and digested, from Disneyland. With that thought in mind we are going to undertake a particularly intriguing conversation. So, to answer your two burning questions (which, I am certain are, who is this we I speak of and what tasty topics are we going to be chatting about?), over the next month of Wednesdays we are going to be comparing the cuisine from Disneyland and Walt Disney World with examples that are as close as in taste as is possible. The other, far lovelier, piece to this puzzle is our good friend AJ from The Disney Food Blog. In fact, since I have just returned from Walt Disney World and she has just returned from Disneyland, those will be the respective meals that we are each accountable for. Therefore, over at The Disney Food Blog you can follow our tasty trail in California, while the Main Street Gazette will offer the symmetrical dishes from Walt Disney World.

We’ll kick off our tour with the small bites. In the battle over sweet snacks around Walt Disney World, Dole Whips, Mickey Bars, Patisserie pastries, and Kitchen Sinks are often bandied about as if they are the supreme rulers of the realm. In fact, however, far more tempting and time-tested treats can be found in the first land of Walt Disney World in the Main Street Confectionery.

In my attempt to offer a fair and impartial look at the offerings of the Confectionery, I decided it was only prudent to sample as much as I could. During the week I tried one piece of fudge, but I was so concerned that the others did not meet the mouth-watering standards of the first piece, that I decided I should sample another half dozen pieces. In addition to the fudge overload, I also choked down a piece of English toffee slab and pecan caramel roll. With a spread fit for a king, and enough sugar to keep me awake until my next visit to Walt Disney World, here were my thoughts of the various sweets I tasted.

Fudge – For comparison’s sake I munched on the chocolate, peanut butter, chocolate-peanut butter, turtle, vanilla turtle, chocolate-vanilla, and s’mores varieties of fudge. There were several others I did not get to, but I saved those for another trip.

Growing up, fudge was a simple, rich slab of melt in my mouth chocolate or peanut butter, with the occasional walnut thrown in for good measure. It is the quality of ingredients that combine to make that smooth texture and tongue boggling taste, and the Main Street Confectionery clearly uses only the highest quality ingredients. These hunks of fudge were, simply put, a trip back to my childhood, at least as far as the chocolate and peanut butter classes are concerned.

When it came to the other flavors, ones that added in syrups, marshmallows, or graham crackers, the quality was well maintained across the board. Also, the additions were evenly distributed across the pieces so every bite had the same flavors coming through. All of the flavors were top notch, even if I happen to be partial to the more classic flavors.

English Toffee Slab – This is one of the Confectionery’s marquee attractions. In fact, when I ordered my piece, the Cast Member assisting me told me it would be the best thing I ate that day. Those were high standards to live up to and, unfortunately, the treat fell a little shy of that mark for my taste buds.

For those of you who have never sampled the English toffee slab, it is a block of toffee (caramelized sugar and molasses that has been allowed to cool into a brittle sheet), covered in chocolate, and the topped off with chopped nuts. If this item had been served with just the toffee bar, or even with the coating of chocolate, it well could have received my highest marks for candies. However, the chopped nuts, which usually are a plus for me, put me off of this particular snack because it simply seemed as if there was too much going on and the creamy flavor of the toffee were being lost.

Pecan Caramel Roll – Where the nuts in the English toffee slab proved to be too much, the pecans in this chunk of sugar proved to be the piece the put the roll over the top. The pecan caramel roll is a thick snaking roll of caramel, topped, once again, with chocolate and nuts, that is then sliced off into oversized wedges.

The piece is chilled, tacky, and hard when you first receive it from the case, but the longer it spends in your hands, or in the sweltering Florida sun, the softer, stickier, and chewier it becomes. Whether it is enjoyed immediately, which is nearly impossible given how rich the caramel is, or as it softens, the pecan caramel roll is at the top of an extremely tall mountain of quality sweets that the Confectionery offers up daily.

While the homemade saccharine snacks are the highlight of the Main Street Confectionery, there are still other treats to be found here that are a feast for the eyes. Staring out over Town Square, the art of cotton candy crafting can be viewed by the charmed and passersby alike. Once enticed inside the store, however, the feathery cotton candy is left in the window and the real operation can be seen. Behind a series of windows the candy making process can be monitored, and items such as peanut brittle, candy apples, rice crispy treats, and toffee come to life before viewers’ eyes.

All in all, the lines may be longer elsewhere around Walt Disney World, particularly just over the bridge into Adventureland, but the Main Street Confectionery is the real heart of the snacking soul of Walt Disney World. Fresh, quality treats can be seen being created and sampled from the large display case. And you really cannot ask for more than that. To read about Disneyland’s counterpart, the Candy Palace and Candy Kitchen, be sure to check the article at The Disney Food Blog.


AJ Wolfe said...

So I guess neither of us really loved the chopped nuts on the toffee! Funny how we both mentioned that :-)

Great post! That photo of the apple dipping is awesome -- really makes me crave an apple.

Looking forward to next Wednesday!

Molly said...

The Confectionery is always one of my favorite places to visit at the Magic Kingdom. I just found this blog and it's great! You have so much good information.

Ryan P. Wilson said...

AJ - I love that we both had to mention the nuts even though we never discussed it ahead of time!

Molly - Glad you are enjoying the site, and that you are one of the few who truly appreciate the Confectionery!

Anonymous said...

That is kind of funny how you and DFB both didn't like the nuts on the toffee. I guess since I eat my toffee in layers, it doesn't really bother me. I do agree it can be a bit much sometimes, but I like it. I wonder if they will do dark chocolate coated anytime soon?

The fudge...oh how I love that you can still use snack credits to get a piece of fudge and that it is still as tasty as ever. Do you know if they have a schedule of what days they make certain things? Part of my first trip to DLR was highlighted by watching them make the toffee sticks, and I don't ever remember seeing them make that at WDW.

Great post and I can't wait until next week!