Just like Joy, it turns out that I am a big fat hypocrite when it comes to Disneyland. I am sure it has a great deal to do with childhood nostalgia - growing up in Southern California we went at least once a year - but many of the things I enjoy most about it actually didn't exist then. I especially love Disney's California Adventure (they have booze!) and the faux-lodge fanciness of the Grand Californian hotel. I have a peculiar fascination with romanticized old California - as portrayed the likes of John Muir, Diego Rivera and Ansel Adams - though I know it's all a fiction (see Joan Didion). I can't help it though, I love the whole Craftsman, deco, socialist El Dorado aesthetic, and somehow, California Adventure manages to capture it in an amusement park, no less.
We're heading up to there today and spending the night at the Grand Californian as a little mini vacation. It's going to be insanely hot - I'm looking forward to repeated rides on that Grizzly River Rapids ride, where you can - no will - get soaking wet.
As far as eating, our itinerary includes many of the places on Joy's list - but we won't be there long enough to hit them all - only about 24 hours. For dinner tonight we're planning to try Catal at Downtown Disney. I really like the fritters at New Orleans Square (if the places is open, it hasn't been on our last couple of visits) and the Monte Cristo sandwich at the Blue Bayou - which, let's face it, is just a fritter in the shape of a sandwich.
The La Brea Bakery near the Disneyland gate is a good stop for a quick breakfast (even though Nancy Silverton doesn't actually own the place anymore) and there are a few decent snacks in the DCA - l
Back when they first opened, Mondavi was running the Golden Vine restaurant and it was really excellent - just like something you'd find in Napa, right down to the fancy linens and wine glasses. I have no idea what it's like now, but it's a gorgeous room, all open to the outside with a plein air mural along one wall. I think it's only open Thurs-Saturday for dinner now, which doesn't bode well for success.
I've also had decent luck dining at the Hungry Bear cafe - mostly because they have lots of seating and it's a nice setting right next to the water. The food is mediocre in the extreme. The Bengal Barbeque skewers are good, but the eating environment leaves a lot to be desired - sandwiched between the Jungle Cruise and the Indiana Jones ride. That Dole Whip is also mighty refreshing.
I'll be back in a couple of days with more on Disneyland, a couple of restaurant reviews (Jack's Ocean Room) and some more baking adventures!
See ya real soon!