The time is upon us again; UOAP Appreciation Days are back August 16-September 30 and I’m here to tell you now that you are going to want to run — not walk — on the moving walkway to try all of this year’s menu offerings.
I recently had the chance to sample a handful of the special UOAP Days Menu items and to talk to the brilliant chefs behind them and I’m happy to report that each of them are really really delicious.
Lombard’s Lobster Mac from Lombard’s Seafood and Grill in Universal Studios Florida
Lobster Tossed in Lombard’s Creamy Mac & Cheese
If you’ve been lucky enough in recent months to try out the new cheese-focused food truck in the San Francisco area of Universal Studios Florida, you’ve got a head-start on appreciating this dish. A seafood-driven spin on the most comforting of comfort foods, this dish may be one of my new in-park go-tos.
Vegan Pizza Tots from Green Eggs & Ham Cafe in Universal Islands of Adventure
Plant-based Pepperoni, Sausage, Parmesan Cheese, Tomato Sauce Over Tots
You can ask anyone who has ever gone to the theme parks with me; if we’re in Islands of Adventure, we’re going to Green Eggs & Ham Cafe. And I am pleased to say that one of my favorite spots to grab a bite just got even better with these vegan pepperoni tater tots!
The chefs at Universal have been prioritizing different eating habits and allergy-friendly meals over the past few years and these vegan tots are the next stellar example of that effort.
“There are quite a few vegans within our Passholder group,” Chef Daniel Needhammer explains. “We know that everyone loves our pizza fries at Halloween Horror Nights every year, so we wanted to deliver an exciting option for our growing vegan Passholder group. We want them to know how much we appreciate them.”
This isn’t the first vegan item Chef Daniel has concocted at Universal. If you had the chance to try the vegan bratwurst during the Mardi Gras International Flavors of Carnaval, you’ve already experienced his commitment to making excellent vegan options.
“With the bratwurst, just like with this tater tots dish, it was important to me that you wouldn’t necessarily know it was vegan,” Chef Daniel explains. “It’s all in how you cook it that makes something delicious. That part is important to me because sometimes non-vegans turn their nose up at vegan options; I want to make something everyone can enjoy.”
Chef Ron Cope nods in agreement (while I am off to the side scarfing down the dish) and adds, “That’s the thing; you don’t have to be a vegan to really enjoy any of our vegan food on property. It’s as simple as the fact that it just plain tastes good.”
These tots? Just. Plain. Taste. Good!
The AP Roll at The Cowfish Sushi Burger Bar in Universal CityWalk
Braised Short Rib Glazed with Orange Togarashi BBQ, Panko Fried and Topped with a Caribbean Mango Slaw
You know how sometimes you eat a bite of something and you just know that for the rest of your life you’ll end up randomly craving it again? That was my experience with this incredibly unique and flavorful sushi offering at Cowfish. It is very, very good and the chef behind it is so excited to share it with Passholders for UOAP Days.
“They deserve something great!” Chef Synthia Raymond says. “They rode with us throughout this last year. It’s great to have the chance to make them feel special because they make us feel special every day.”
Chef Synthia, who is from Haiti, developed the short rib and haitian slaw dish with inspiration from the flavors she grew up loving.
“I wanted something sweet ‘cause I’m a sugar person,” she says. “But I also wanted something spicy, too. I wasn’t sure what exactly I wanted to do, but I started working with the ingredients on hand and thought it would be a good blend of sweet and spicy to try something sort of like BBQ. Once I knew that, the next question was, ‘well how can I do something different that nobody ever has?’ So I decided to go for something from my culture and add something Haitian in, the spicy slaw. If you like spicy, this is definitely for you!”
AP Doughnut from Voodoo Doughnut in Universal CityWalk
Yeast Ring Doughnut Dipped in Vanilla Frosting and Lemon Powder with a Strawberry Icing Drizzle
There is something intrinsically summer-y about the combination of lemonade and strawberry flavorings. I know that, you know that, and the team at Voodoo Doughnut knows that.
“This doughnut is going to be perfect for summer time; it’s almost like a cool drink,” Chef Thomas Walker explains. “We were looking to do something fresh for our Passholders because they’re really the ones who keep our parks going, right?”
I think you’ll all really dig this new doughnut. If summer had a taste, it would be this doughnut.
The Peachy Paloma at The Thirsty Fish at Loews Portofino Bay Hotel
After the last year we’ve all had, I will take any and every opportunity to be whisked away to somewhere dreamy and that is why I LOVE Loews Portofino Bay Hotel. Sitting by the harbor is an absolute delight on any average day, but during Passholder days? With this peachy paloma in-hand? Absolutely divine.
Emily Brant, the restaurant manager for Portofino Bay Hotel, worked with one of the bartenders of the Thirsty Fish, Shawn, to develop this drink.
“We wanted to come up with something refreshing during these hot summer months,” she explains. “We were playing around with some different flavor profiles and decided peach was the way to go for summertime. And what better cocktail than a margarita to pair with our sunny afternoons?”
The team also wanted to make sure that the drink had the classic Italian spin that is to be expected at Portofino, so they brightened the drink up even more with a little splash of prosecco. I am certain that our Passholders will love this drink that is as appealing to the eye as it is to the tastebuds!
“Our Passholders are some of our favorite regulars around the hotel,” Emily says. “Since they stay with us regularly, it’s important to give them something new and exciting to look forward to on every visit.”
And to think these are just some of the menu items being offered for UOAP Days! Check out the full list here if you’re prepared to have your stomach rumbling for the rest of the day.
Want to learn more about this year’s UOAP Appreciation Days or about how you can become a Passholder yourself? Head here!