Throughout the novels, author J.K. Rowling fabricates her fair share of magical creatures as well as delectable, wizardy food. Though we can't naturally bring about any fantastic beasts, with a little imagination and some flour, sparks can fly in the kitchen.
When planning the latest expansion to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Universal Studios Orlando, Senior Vice President of Revenue Operations at Universal Orlando Ric Florell and Executive Chef Jayson worked closely together to conjure dishes that were both authentic to wizards and delicious for muggles.
Holding up his battered copy of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, Florell explains how he and his team are driven by authenticity. "We do our research within the work of fiction and make sure it fits. Just to give you an idea, this is one of my seven books," he says, holding it up and showing how it is bleeding with colorful page tabs.
Every tab, every marking, every dog-eared page "is everything that was a potential food item, [or] a potential beverage."
"When we sat down to talk about what we were going to serve, we went straight to our books," says Florell, adding how they used a combination of food references in the books as well as the films.
Eight new dishes were created exclusively for the Leaky Cauldron, the new restaurant in Diagon Alley. During our visit, we sampled the toad in the hole, which is basically a sausage baked into a pretty little pie crust, and a chocolate cherry pudding called "chocolate potted cream."
Other notable new dishes to expect include classic British meals like bangers and mash, fisherman's pie, and an assorted plate called the ploughman's.
Aside from the sit-down dining offered by the Leaky Cauldron, guests walking around Diagon Alley can get a quick drink at either the Hopping Pot or Eternelle's Elixir Refreshment. A special beer inspired by the scaly dragon perching atop Gringott's bank can be found at the Hopping Pot. Or you can settle for something slightly less buzzing and more fuzzing with a tongue-tying lemon squash (basically a really sour and sweet lemonade).
At Eternelle's Elixir, wizards in pointy hats mix colorful "elixirs" into Gillywater to revitalize you from the draining Florida heat. These flavors -- the typical cherry, green apple, and blueberry -- have funky-cool names like Draught of Peace, Wideye Potion, and Fire Protection Potion.
While some of the food and drink items are winks to the Harry Potter franchise, it is beyond magical when they pull out a direct reference. For instance, remember in the books when Harry, Ron, and Hermione went to Diagon Alley and ordered strawberry peanut butter ice cream? Or when Harry and Hagrid first arrived at Diagon Alley and Hagrid bought Harry some chocolate and raspberry ice cream?
Well, now you can skip into Florean Fortescue's Ice-Cream Parlour and feel like Harry and the gang and order your own strawberry peanut butter ice cream (totally delicious) or chocolate and raspberry ice cream! Wicked cool.
Diagon Alley is not only equipped with plenty of eye-popping storefronts and two new rides, but there's enough to satisfy hungry bellies craving some enchanting fare.
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter Diagon Alley opens July 8, 2014. Vacation packages are available now for travel starting June 29. Visit UniversalOrlando.com.
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