This past Friday and Saturday, October 18-19, 2013, the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin hosted their Fourth Annual Swan and Dolphin Food & Wine Classic. The festival showcases top food, wine and beer at over 40 food and beverage stations, highlighting selections from the hotels’ restaurants, encompassing the causeway between the two hotels. Guests can take part in one of nine seminars which are conducted at 4:30 p.m. each day. The festivities officially kick off at 5:30 p.m. and go strong until 9:00 p.m. with fantastic food, beverages, and live entertainment.
While we’ve heard of Food & Wine Classic since its first year, we had yet to stray from Epcot and make our way over to the Classic to see what it was all about. Upon reading more information from the official website, our anticipation grew as we looked at the food items that would be available from the Swan and Dolphin’s fantastic restaurants.
Each evening features a different menu, so if you visit on both nights, you’ll enjoy a completely new experience. I was only able to attend Saturday night, and now we both wish we could have been there Friday as well! While we couldn’t sample Friday night’s offerings, we do have pictures to share so you can become even hungrier.
Beef & More
This dish was enjoyed by both Matt and me. The prime rib was tender, and the garlic mashed potatoes were wonderfully creamy. We’ve dined at Shula’s before and know they prepare wonderful steak. Creating these dishes on a large scale was no exception.
I’ve ordered the Gyro at The Fountain before, and it was good but fairly standard. This version with braised lamb was a nice twist on the classic dish, with crisp, fresh vegetables, tart tzatziki, and salty feta.
“Short Rib Oscar”: Braised Beef Short Rib, Maryland Blue Crab, Asparagus, ISI Hollandaise
Presented by Todd English’s bluezoo on Friday, October 18
Taqueria – Corn Tortilla Barbacoa of Beef, Braised Pork,
Organic Vegetables, Cheddar Cheese, Lime Wedge, Lettuce, Onion, Shaved Radish, Pico de Gallo, Assorted Hot Sauces
Presented by Picabu on Friday, October 18 and Saturday, October 19
Matt and I were torn on the tacos. I felt the beef and pork could have used a bit more seasoning, and Matt used the vegetables as a topping for the beef taco. We both felt the tortillas themselves were a bit thick, but otherwise the flavor was pretty good. We appreciated the toppings and hot sauces available to doctor up the tacos.
This was our first bite of the Classic, and it was fantastic. The bacon had a nice amount of smoke to it and the fat was rendered beautifully and it melted away. The purée added a nice earthiness that didn’t compete with the bacon. I would gladly order this as an appetizer.
Presented by Il Mulino New York Trattoria
This ravioli was one of my favorite bites of the evening. It reminded me of light potato pierogies with onions, which are very much a comfort food for me. I’ve only stopped by Il Mulino for cocktails before, but this dish had me sold on getting back as soon as possible for dinner.
Fish and Seafood
Our one visit we’ve made to bluezoo was fantastic, so I was looking forward to the Shrimp “n” Grits. The shrimp was nicely cooked and I loved the grits, but the pickled okra’s vinegary bite and slight heat really stood out to me.
I liked the Fish ‘n’ Chips from Garden Grove. While I’m typically not a fan of fish in general, I do like fish and chips. The bass was a touch on the “fishy” side for me, but otherwise was light and flaky. The vinegar chips were thin and crispy, and while I prefer a thicker cut chip, these were expertly fried and touched with a hint of tart vinegar. Matt kept sneaking them from my plate.
You know how I just said I don’t typically care for fish? This sandwich definitely surprised me. I jumped right in and took a big bite, and everything came together wonderfully. Some crunch from the lettuce, sweetness from the onion, and saltiness from the remoulade all balanced perfectly making this dish a surprising win in my book.
I liked this taco a bit more than the vegetable, beef and pork tacos I sampled earlier in the evening. While the tortilla was still a bit thick, the heartiness of the fried shrimp stood up to it a bit better than the soft veggies and meat.
The Tuna Tartare was one of the dishes Matt went for twice. The tuna was a wonderful bite paired with the crunchy crackling. It was an unexpected textural concept we both enjoyed.
Presented by Kimonos
The Spicy Yellow Fin Tuna sushi was Matt’s second top pick for the Classic. We both liked the spiciness of the tuna and the rice’s seasoning added a touch of acidity. It paired well with the TY KU sake we were drinking alongside of it.
The Bao was pillowy soft and the vegetable filling was in a rich gravy-like broth. I’ve had a few varieties of Bao before, but none quite like this. I enjoyed the twist of the savory vegetables.
Pastry and Desserts
Presented by Laurent Branlard
Laurent Branlard is the executive pastry chef for the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort. A native of France, Branlard is a highly accomplished pastry chef who holds the distinction as the only two-time winner of the World Pastry Team Championship.
This decadent bite was the perfect bite for chocolate fans. While I prefer dark chocolate, I had no problem enjoying this sweet dessert.
I liked this fruity dessert, particular the blueberry compote. It was a refreshing pairing with the lemon panacotta. It reminded me of the 2012 Epcot Food & Wine Festival’s Lemon Custard Verrine with Blueberry Compote from Desserts & Champagne, but with a much more developed flavor and upscale presentation.
I loved the raspberry marshmallow in particular for this dessert, and the cinnamon sable dough offered some crunch. Matt gave me his marshmallow, as they’re not his thing, so I was happy.
This ice cream sandwich was filled with jam and chocolate ice cream and pressed until the bread became warmed through. The ice cream stayed fairly cold but has a slight melt around the edges that absorbed into the bread.
The Swan and Dolphin Food & Wine Classic is an amazing event for wine lovers as well, with scores of wine stations serving up reds, whites and roses from around the world.
Chataeau St. Michelle Mimi Chardonnay
Seven Falls Merlot
Argyle Pinot Noir
Francis Coppola Diamond Sauvignon Blanc
Francis Coppola Diamond Claret
Estancia Cabernet Sauvignon
Wild Horse Merlot
Beaulieu Vineyards Beauroge
Beaulieu Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon
Treana White Blend
Troublemaker Red Blend
Mer Soleil Silver Unoaked Chardonnay
Belle Glos “Meiomi” Pinot Noir
Lincourt Unoaked Chardonnay
Lincourt Pinot Noir
St. Supery Sauvignon Blanc
St. Supery Moscato
Justin Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc
Justin Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon
Layer Cake Cabernet Sauvignon
Benziger Sauvignon Blanc
St Francis Merlot
La Crema Pinot Noir
La Crema Pinot Gris
MacMurray Pinot Noir
Noble Vines 337 Cabernet Sauvignon
Brazin Old Vine Zinfandel
Copa Cabana Red Blend
Concha y Toro Gran Reserva Charonnay
Concha y Toro Gran Reserva Cabernet
Puerta Vieja Crianza
Perrin Reserve Côtes du Rhône Reserve Rose
Perrin Reserve Côtes du Rhône Rouge
Joseph Drouhin Laforet Pinot Noir
Joseph Drouhin LaForet Chardonnay
Marc Bredif Vouvray
Marc Bredif Chinon
Barone Fini Pinot Grigio
Barone Fini Merlot
Rotari Brut Rose Talento
Luigi Righetti Campolieti Ripasso Valpolicella Classico Superiore
Il Molino di Grace Chianti Classico
Il Molino di Grace “ill Valano” Super Tuscan
La Scolca Gavi di Gavi White Label
Allegrini Palazzo della Torre
Matua Valley Pinot Noir
Matua Valley sauvignon Blanc
William Hardy Chardonnay
William Hardy Shiraz
The Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Fourth Annual Food and Wine Classic is proud to celebrate Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Both Friday and Saturday night we invite you to join us on the Crescent Terrace as we ‘light it up pink’ in honor of those affected by breast cancer. Sample pink wines from Chateau d’Esclans, including their famous ‘Whispering Angel’ Rosé and explore our pink merchandise, a portion of which will be donated to the American Cancer Society.
Our Swan Dolphin Cast members are proud to honor these special guests and will be making a donation to the American Cancer Society at the conclusion of this year’s festival.
Chateau d’Esclans “Whispering Angel” Rose
Chateau d’Esclans Rose
M.V. Veuve du Vernay Brut Rose
Clarendelle Rose, Bordeaux
Roquesante Cotes-de-Provence, Provence
Falesco Vitiano Rose, Umbria
Base to Bubbles
Chandon Pinot Noir
Chandon Pinot Meunier
Samuel Adams – Presented on Friday, October 18
Brooklyn – Presented on Friday, October 18
Cigar City – Presented on Friday, October 18
Highland Brewing Company – Presented on Friday, October 18
Since we’re more into beer than wine, we found some favorites in the offerings from Swamp Head. I kept going back for the Stump Knocker, while Matt enjoyed the Wild Night.
New Belgium – Presented on Saturday, October 19
Oskar Blues – Presented on Saturday, October 19
Matt was a fan of the TY KU Black. Its flavor was incredibly dry and smooth – almost like water. Dangerous!
While I liked the Black, I preferred the slight sweetness of the Silver. Both would equally be welcome in our home, though!
Seminars ore offered each evening at 4:30 p.m. and last about an hour. Cost is $45 with the exception of the Pasta Making seminar as noted below.
Pasta Making with Chef Robert Ciborowski
Cost: $60 (inclusive) per person when purchased on its own OR get this class for $45 (inclusive) per person when purchased as part of a room package.
Wine Blending Seminar
Riesling, So Sweet and So Dry
It’s Better to “Wine” in Italian!
Base to Bubbles
All Things Sake
While it’s free to stroll around the Swan and Dolphin Food & Wine Classic, there are two ways to experience the food and wine booths. The first is to purchase a wristband, which costs $80.04 (including service fee) per person, per evening. The second is to purchase tickets a la carte, where ticket booklets containing 25 tickets are available at a cost of $50. Offerings range from two to six tickets per item.
For us, the Swan and Dolphin Food & Wine Classic is not to be missed. The food is high quality, which is what we’ve come to expect from the restaurants at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin. Lines could become long, but moved along swiftly as chefs prepared and beautifully plated dishes in a streamlined fashion. The Classic made for a wonderful evening on property, and I wish it hadn’t taken us to this long to experience it. The Classic is definitely on our calendars for next year, and we can’t wait to see what the chefs will have in store for us. I highly recommend anyone who loves food and wine to take time to experience the Swan and Dolphin Food & Wine Classic next year.
Did you visit the Swan and Dolphin Food & Wine Classic this year? Let us know what your favorite samples were in the comments!
Disclosure: I was invited by the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin to attend this event. Photos that are not © eatingwdw.com are property of the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin. The views expressed in this post are my own.