I’m always surprised at what a quick trip it is from downtown Orlando to downtown Winter Garden via the 408, turnpike and 429. The raison de trip was to visit Pammie’s Sammies, a rockin’ little sandwich shop a half block off of Plant Street.
The rockin’ part (more classic than hard) comes from the musical theme of the decor and overall ambience. The walls are decorated with guitars and band posters mixed among such eclectic miscellanea as wooden chairs nailed upside-down to the ceiling, a bank of unconnected beer taps (also upside down), and sundry works of local art.
All of this is curated by Pam Thomas, the Pammie in question, and her husband, Thorp, both of them die-hard and tie-dyed musicians. (Notice the vintage photos over one of the windows of Pam singing while Thorp plays the drums.)
Even the menus are printed on the backs of old album covers. Mine was from the Weather Girls’ “It’s Raining Men,” which was appropriate because it was drizzling outside (standard non-humanoid precipitation).
Walt Disney World has opened an expanded section of the France pavilion that isn’t but really should officially be called Ratatouilleland.
You access the new area by going around the, um, derriere of the pavilion. There you’ll find a meticulously recreated Parisian streetscape with typical storefronts, ironworks and a not so typical fountain with gushing champagne bottles.
At the end of the rue is the new attraction Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure, an immersive ride that combines 3-d animation and sensation-enhancing vehicles that take you on a rat’s-eye-view of a kitchen in a French restaurant.
After the ride you’ll want to visit Epcot’s newest French restaurant, the presumably rat-free La Crêperie de Paris. It’s a full service but tres casual restaurant featuring the crepes of Brittany, which are made with buckwheat and are a bit different from the usual rolled pancakes you might be familar with. But I’ll let Jérôme Bocuse explain in the video below.
The sisters are Heidsell Alarcon and Heidi Lopez, and they’ve been planning to open a restaurant for the past 12 years. Alarcon is the chef, a graduate of culinary school in their native Nicaragua, and Lopez is the businesswoman. Joining them is Alarcon’s husband, Jorge Cardona, and their niece Nazareth Orozco.
“It’s such a unique family business,” Alarcon said. She added that the food will be distinguished by its quality and freshness. “No preservatives, everything is chopped fresh and cooked every single day,” she said. “Basically, everything is made with love.”
Everyone’s excited that La Creperie de Paris is finally opening in the Ratatouille-themed expansion at the France pavilion in Epcot. But there’s even bigger news that no one is talking about because no one knows about it yet. It involves Monsieur Paul, the upscale upstairs restaurant above the busier Chefs de France. Jérôme Bocuse, whose company, JBI, runs the place, gave me the details but told me fermer votre bouche about it. Luckily I don’t know what that means. I'll give you more information soon, but I can tell you that it will still be called Monsieur Paul when it reopens but it will have a new concept.
And here’s a surprise: Spotted in the kitchen at a media preview of La Creperie was Bruno Vrignon, former executive chef for the France pavilion restaurants who was part of the team that opened Epcot. Vrignon retired last year but has come back to help open the restaurant.
Will Vrignon be involved in the new Monsieur Paul concept? On that my bouche is firmly ferme’d. (Details about La Creperie, which is not yet open to the public, soon.)