15 September 2021

Walt Disney World 50 for 50: From the Islands

The Coral Isle Cafe was a true tropical hideaway during the first several decades of the Polynesian Village Resort. The opening day eatery was a mainstay of Polynesian dining until 1998, when it would become Kona Cafe. The menu here, particularly during the early years, was a mixed bag. There was American fare, sometimes given horribly out of place names, such as the Rueben that was presented as the Rueben Rarotonga, to go alongside the spaghetti and meat sauce and the broiled filet mignon. There were also an assortment of dishes "From the Islands," including chow mein, beef teriyaki, and Fried Chicken Hawaiian.

The Exotic Salads were always intriguing to me, but never in an "I had to order it" way. They included The Volcano (a ton of meats with tomato and cheese), The Bali Hai (assorted fruit with either sherbet or cottage cheese), and The Surfer (king crab and shrimp with hearts of palm, egg, tomato, and green pepper). They were, to say the least, eclectic. One thing that the salads at Coral Isle Cafe had going for them was a signature dressing, Buttermilk Coconut Dressing. Let's give it a try.



1/3 Cup Buttermilk
1/4 Cup Sour Cream
1/4 Cup Mayonnaise
1/4 Cup Coconut Milk
2 Tbsps. Red Wine Vinegar
2 Tbsps. Vegetable Oil
1/2 Tbsp. Sugar
1/4 Tsp. Salt
1/4 Tsp. Black Pepper


Combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth.
Leftover dressing will keep for 1 week, in an airtight container and refrigerated.

Does this sound like a ranch dressing recipe? Because that's what it felt like and tasted like to me. Albeit, a very sweet-savory dressing, with a hint of coconut happening in the background. It probably could have used some herbs or spices, just to give it a little more of a punch in the flavor department. Overall though, it was a very solid salad topper that we'd probably make again, with a little more dressing up of the dressing.

The one thing to remember is that homemade dressing are rarely as thick as those you get in restaurants. The Buttermilk Coconut Dressing follows suit, and is very thin. So if thin dressings are not your favorite, the kind that can form small pools at the bottom of your bowl, then it may be best to skip this one. Regardless, it is exceedingly simply to put together.

While it will give you some coconut to tingle your taste buds, this dressing is not indicative of those found on the islands of Hawaii. The sweet-tart flavors of this dressing is a nice change of pace from your traditional dressings, but this one feels like it is missing something. It may be a nice reminder of Polynesian Village days of yore, but I would definitely tinker with this one if you plan on making it at home.

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