Top Three Meals of My Life

Food, especially in the South, is more than mere sustenance we shove into our mouths. Food is a quenching art form, and the perfect meal can leave your belly swollen with sleepiness, remaining in your memory for years to come.
Most of my favorite meals occurred while on vacation. Of course, the magic of travel can make these memories sweeter, but I long to eat these meals again.

1. Chelsea Grill, New York City


My family and I happened upon the Chelsea Grill, located in Hell’s Kitchen, by chance. It was late, and we were starving.

The Chelsea Grill may not be New York’s largest restaurant, but the exposed brick and candles make it a posh, yet rustic, spot. My penne pasta with vodka sauce was creamy, cheesy and slightly, but pleasingly, tart. The tomatoes were fresh, firm and sweet, and the pieces of chicken breast tossed in with the pasta were tender. That night, I went from tolerating asparagus to craving asparagus after trying stalks of the char-grilled vegetable. Seasoned with fresh pepper, the stalks were as thick as a quarter.

The Chelsea Grill offers a variety of food, mostly American-inspired, like steaks, pork chops, sandwiches, salads and pasta.

2. Boma, Walt Disney World Resort

Boma is an African-inspired buffet in Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, a safari-style hotel near Disney’s Animal Kingdom. After visiting Boma during my senior trip, it’s a must-go whenever I’m in Disney World.

Boma offers a variety of food– meats, salads, soups, vegetarian options, desserts and more. The soup and salad bar is one of the best I’ve ever experienced. Five unique soups ranging in color (there’s usually a pastel green and/or buttery orange) and ingredients offer a variety of choices. My favorite is a coconut-seafood creamy soup. The salad bar’s tangy vinaigrettes over mixed greens and spinach are fresh and flavorful.

If you’re picky, don’t worry. Meat, potatoes and mac n’ cheese allow even the choosiest eaters something to munch on.

Be sure to save room for the dessert bar. The zebra domes made with chocolate, cream and rum are my weakness.

Be sure to look around the resort before or after your meal. Animals surround the grounds and the rustic, African decor makes you feel like you’re across the globe.

My friends Allison and Callie have a little too much fun with the decor.

3. Mystery Sandwich, Paris

My friend John Paul enjoys his Swiss cheese.

When I was in France a few years ago on a church trip, lunch was provided on our way from Paris to Normandy. It was the best sandwich I’ve ever eaten, and I have no idea where it was from.

A warm baguette with only two ingredients is still etched in my memory. Only Swiss cheese and creamy French butter topped the sandwich, but it was more flavorful than a sandwich with ten ingredients. I’ve tried to recreate the sandwich a number of times, but it’s impossible.

According to our tour guides, putting butter on a sandwich is a French custom, as they don’t typically use condiments.

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Forgotten Disney World

When Disney World creates a new attraction, it takes all the control in me to not jump up and down on a couch shouting, “I love this park! I love this park!”

Kind of like this.

Kind of like this.

But sometimes in the heyday of the new, we can forget the attractions of yesterday. Though they may not be around anymore, they deserve to be remembered.

1. Food Rocks

  • Location: Epcot’s The Land
  • Replaced by: Soarin’

Now don’t get me wrong, I would never ask the high-flying experience that is Soarin’ to close, but did the wonder of nutrition and music have to die in order for Soarin’ to exist?

Most of my love for the audio animatronic singing and dancing food of Food Rocks is probably nostalgia, but there was something special about The Peach Boys singing “Good Nutrition” (to the tune of “Good Vibrations,” of course). Food Rocks taught me classic songs like The Police’s “Every Breath You Take.” However, I learned the tune as “Every Bite You Take” by the Refrigerator Police, so you can imagine my confusion when I heard the original number.

2. Skyway 

  • Location: Fantasyland and Tomorrowland in the Magic Kingdom
  • Replaced by: Stroller Parking

Skyway was composed of buckets that sat about four people, transporting guests from Tomorrowland to Fantasyland. The Tomorrowland station is no longer in existence, but the Fantasyland station still resides across from Peter Pan’s Flight. The outside area is used for stroller parking, while the cottage where guests once boarded the Skyway remains unused. It is rumored to become additional restrooms.

Skyway allowed you a great view of the park and gave your feet a break from power walking from attraction to attraction. Though no official reason was released regarding Skyway, I’m sure problems with rocking the buckets became an issue. Also, it would be difficult to make the ride completely handicap accessible (very small spaces and you end up in a different place than where you started) and limited seating could make wait times extremely long. Practical or not, it was the best view of the park.

3. Teenage Muntant Ninja Turtles

  • Location: New York Street in Disney’s Hollywood Studios
  • Replaced by: Power Rangers

The Teenage Muntant Ninja Turtles may seem like very un-Disney characters, but they used to roll up in their turtle van (driven by April O’Neal), dance and sign autographs. Though this area is a constantly changing character meet-and-greet location, I miss the turtles. Looking back at characters that used to grace Disney’s Hollywood Studios (then Disney-MGM Studios), most of the characters were actually pretty un-Disney like.

4. Wonders of Life 

  • Location: Future World in Epcot
  • Replaced by: N/A

The Wonders of Life pavillon taught guests about the human body, health and fitness. The Fitness Fairground featured exercise equipment to test your fitness level. My favorite piece of equipment was the exercise bike. The bikes had video screens, making it appear as though you were riding your bike through Disney World, swirling around parades, characters and balloon salesmen.

Body Wars was the only thrill ride in Wonders of Life and Epcot’s first thrill ride ever. Body Wars, like Star Tours, is a motion simulator ride with a video screen. It made guests feel like they were traveling through the body to help Dr. Cynthia Lair remove a splinter. Dr. Lair, however, is carried off by capillary and your crew must venture through the bloodstream to save her.

Other attractions included Cranium Command (an audio animatronic show about the brain), The Making of Me (a video about birth) and the Coach’s Corner (a batting cage).

The building is currently only used for special events, like the Food and Wine festival.