Now in its 8th year, I attended the “Taste of Downtown Disney,” a fundraising event on behalf of CHOC Children’s – a local Orange County hospital – and their upcoming CHOC Walk. I had previously attended the 2013 Taste of Downtown Disney event and I was thrilled to get the opportunity to cover it once again for Babes in Disneyland. The Taste of Downtown Disney is part of the overall yearly fundraising efforts by the CHOC Children’s Foundation that raises money for the incredible care provided and research conducted at CHOC Children’s Hospital in Orange, California. The Foundation’s efforts culminate in a yearly 5K walk INSIDE the Disneyland Resort. It is a truly incredible event. (Click here for more information.)
This year, Guests were treated to 9 different “Taste” locations in the Downtown Disney District. After checking into the Grand Californian Convention Center, I discovered I was in the “Purple Dragons” group, so I donned my purple lanyard and headed to my first destination. If you’re hungry as you read this, prepare to get even hungrier! (or thirstier!)
Stop #1: The Westside Stage
Cast Members greeted me with ice cold Jamba Juice and kettle corn popcorn. As the sun blazed overheard, we watched Downtown Disney guests swing dance to the sweet sounds of the Phat Cat Swingers.
Stop #2: Ralph Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen
Guests were invited into Flambeaux’s on the first floor, a New Orleans style jazz kitchen, where we were offered a choice between a Pinot Grigio and a Cabernet Sauvignon. We enjoyed the sweet sounds of a lively New Orleans jazz band and were offered two different bites: a refreshing watermelon, mozarella, and tomato shooter, and a bacon-wrapped shrimp.
Stop #3: House of Blues
For our next stop, we were led upstairs to the 2nd floor patio of the Anaheim House of Blues, where two bartenders from Anchor Steam Brewing Co. served ice cold cups of two different beers: their signature Anchor Steam and the California Lager.
Guest were treated to sliders (I opted for the meatball slider) and some crispy chips.
Stop #4: Earl of Sandwich
Our next stop, a new addition to the Taste line-up, was Earl of Sandwich, where three different sandwiches awaited guests to try. I opted for the Caprese sandwich that featured mozzarella and tomato with basil and balsamic. We refreshed our palates with Earl of Sandwich’s signature Earl Grey Lemonade (like an Arnold Palmer made with Earl Grey tea and lemonade).
Stop #5: Catal Restaurant and Uva Bar
We traversed Downtown Disney over to the Uva Bar section of the Catal Restaurant, where we were served tomato gazpacho shooters and ham and cheese grilled sandwiches. Local brewery Left Coast Brewing Co. was on hand with two different types of beers to try: Del Mar Street Lager and the Trestles IPA.
Stop #6: ESPN Zone
This stop was not for the feint of heart – and you had to be a whiskey/bourbon drinker to full appreciate the offerings. While fries and a delicious cornmeal with bacon was served, many guests indulged in 5 different types of whiskey: Larceny Bourbon, Bernheim Wheat Whiskey, Evan Williams Single Barrel, Henry McKenna 10 Year Single Barrel, and Pikeville 6 Year Rye. I opted for the Pikeville – which was strong but reiterated why I hardly drink rye whiskey.
Stop #7: Tortilla Jo’s
I was pleasantly surprised to see Tortilla Jo’s freshly made guacamole spread back in action after encountering it for the first time in 2013. They also had Tacos Al Pastor made to order and we were served margaritas featuring Partida Blanco Tequila.
Stop #8: Naples Ristorante
Much like my previous Taste event, Naples was one of the last stops on my whirlwind visit to the food offerings at the Downtown Disney resort. Guests could choose from 4 different wines, including a Rose, two types of Pinot Grigio, and a Cabernet Sauvignon/Sangiovese blend. For food options, there were caprese skewers and a roasted vegetable pizza on hand.
Stop #9: Wonderground Gallery
Our final “Purple Dragons” stop on the Taste of Downtown Disney tour was the Wonderground Gallery, where we were greeted with refreshing drinks and got the chance to walk around the art gallery. I picked up a postcard print for my husband’s favorite film “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea”!
Like previous years, all the groups were invited to the open area between Anaheim House of Blues and Tortilla Jo’s for a dessert reception hosted by La Brea Bakery, Starbucks, and Jamba Juice. I had a delicious bread pudding and there were so many different cookies to choose from. We were there just in time for the ‘Disneyland Forever!’ Fireworks show.
While the event was delicious and a lot of fun, what is most important is that it was raising money for one of the nation’s leading children’s hospitals. Learn more about how you can raise money for CHOC Children’s and get an exclusive glimpse of Disneyland before it opens by clicking here to learn about the 2015 CHOC Walk in the Park.