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Review: The Causeway at the Swan and Dolphin Food and Wine Classic

Just in case you didn’t know, TONIGHT begins the Third Annual Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Food and Wine Classic right outside of Epcot! This year’s event will be held October 12-13 (tonight and tomorrow night) from 5:30-9:00 pm, and I think it’ll be even better than last year!

Swan and Dolphin Causeway

If you’re not familiar with this event, let me tell you a bit about it. The Food and Wine Classic is a fun companion event to the Epcot Food and Wine Festival, and features seminars and tasting stations from Swan and Dolphin chefs and restaurants as well as other culinary and beverage superstars. Seminars are beverage-related and feature everything from Wine Blending to Modern Mixology (check out our review here!).

But the centerpiece to the Food and Wine Classic is the tasting booths on the Causeway. To whet your appetite for the 2012 event, we have this review from last year’s Causeway. Be sure to check out this year’s menu selections to see what awesomeness is in store for 2012 guests!

Tables and Set Up

And stay tuned all the way to the end of the post, where we have special rate codes for DFB members to turn their Food and Wine Classic experience into a fun-filled weekend!

Atmosphere

This year, guests will choose from over 30 different tasting stations featuring dishes from all your favorite Swan and Dolphin eateries, including Todd English’s bluezoo, Shula’s, and others.

You’ll begin your evening at the check-in table on the Causeway. Here, your reservation will be checked and you’ll receive tickets or a wristband, as well as a plate and glass.

Check In for the Causeway

The Causeway takes its name from the location where the tasting stations are set up. This long promenade of pavement between the Swan and Dolphin hotels is transformed for the event, with high-boy tables through the middle and the booths down each side.

In addition to the tasting stations, guests can also take a complimentary mini-seminar, Cocktail 101, which takes place a few of times throughout the evening. Sessions are first come, first served.

Cocktail 101 Seminar Area

Last year’s event demonstrated how to make well-known cocktails with simple tweaks to update classic favorites into something new. Folks who attended had the opportunity to taste as well. These mini-seminars are different from the more extensive Mixology Seminars offered separately.

Set Up for Cocktail 101 Seminar

To give you an idea of the plate and glass that you’re “issued” at check-in, we’ll give you this sneak peek of one of the dishes served. Glasses are full-sized and the mini-tray gives you a handy place to nest food while you stroll and eat.

Palate Plate and Glass with Tood English Lobster Roll with Wine Pairing from the Bluezoo Booth

Let’s take a look at the food, shall we?

Eats

The tasting stations represent all of the Swan and Dolphin restaurants, and you’ll find chefs on hand — including a celebrity or two — to chat and take pictures.

But the best part — and something that sets it apart from the Epcot Food and Wine Festival — is that when you purchase the Causeway wristband, you’ve already paid for ALL of the food. You can get as much as you want, as many times as you want. :-)

Shula’s

We started the evening with a delicious offering from Shula’s Steakhouse, known for its amazing steaks and decadent side dishes.

Shula's Booth

The culinary team serves every plate fresh to order.

Shula's Team Hard at Work

I expect this year’s offering of Carved Prime Rib and Roasted Mashed Potatoes to be every bit as delicious as this Strip Steak and Creamed Spinach from last year’s event.

Strip Steak and Creamed Spinach from Shula's

Todd English’s bluezoo

At the Todd English’s bluezoo Booth, guests will have the chance to mix and mingle with Celebrity Chef Todd English! And I have to say, this is one of the coolest aspects of the Food and Wine Classic. Chef English is right there, serving and interacting with guests. And while there will probably be a bit of a crowd gathered, he’s still pretty accessible.

Bluezoo Booth Sign

The past two years’ menus featured these fun Shrimp Cocktail Shooters, which are back for Friday night of the event in 2012!

Shooters from Bluezoo

Last year’s Lobster Roll was over the top: a buttery, toasted roll filled with fresh lobster and no filler — only a few ingredients to enhance the taste. And keep in mind — with the Causeway wristband, you can go back over and over again.

Todd English Lobster Roll from Bluezoo

Plus, since the bluezoo Shrimp and Grits are on the menu for Saturday night, you won’t want to miss them! (I’ve had them, and they’re amazing!)

Kimono’s

While I’m not a huge fan of Sushi, this offering from Kimono’s was beautifully plated and fresh — even after the rain drove the event inside last year!

Kimono's Booth Featuring Sushi Rolls

Sushi at Kimono's Causeway Booth

Pastries and Desserts

Beyond the tasting stations, there were also decadent desserts prepared by award-winning Executive Pastry Chef Laurent Branlard. Here, his team are creating Bananas Foster while interacting with guests.

Chefs Preparing Plates in the Dessert Booth

Here’s the finished dessert, which I promise you tasted as fantastic as it looks!

Bananas Foster with Vanilla Ice Cream

These desserts are as much works of art as they are over-the-top delicious.

Chocolate Dome Dessert with Gold Leaf

And you can taste them all! Go back as many times as you’d like.

Saint Honore

Intense Dark Chocolate Cake

Beverages

And what are you to do when you get thirsty? Why, grab a drink, of course! There is no end to the beverages available with your Causeway Ticket. One of my favorites from last year? Moonshine!

Original Moonshine Booth

I had never had moonshine, so it was fun to try it in different drinks. Both infustions were super refreshing!

Melon Shine with Original Moonshine, Watermelon Juice, Mint, and Fresh Lemon Juice; and Shine Tea with Original Moonshine, Lemonade, and Sweetened Iced Tea

The “Beer, Please” Booth featured a lot of craft and local brews.

Beer, Please!

If you prefer wine, you’ll also have lots of options there as well. Last year’s Causeway included wines from New Zealand and several other countries and regions.

Wines from New Zealand

And whether you’re new to Sake or are an expert, you’ll find something new and interesting at the Sake Booth.

Discussing Sake

And even though we encountered rain on our first night of the Food and Wine Classic last year, we still had an amazing time! And the staff really went above and beyond to move the event indoors and make it a fantastic evening regardless of the wet conditions.

Rain Doesn't Stop the Fun!

Overall

This is a fantastic event and we really, really enjoyed ourselves last year — so much, that we’re definitely looking forward to taking in the events again in 2012! It’s the perfect enhancement to your Epcot Food and Wine Festival experience. It features accessible celebrity chefs and an emphasis on specific restaurants rather than foods from different regions.

This definitely a more sophisticated, adult vibe, though. The food is a little fancier than what you get at the Marketplace Booths in Epcot, and you won’t find as many kid-friendly options. The all-you-care-to-eat Causeway ticket enables you to eat and drink to your hearts’ content — which is an excellent reason to grab a room after the event!

The best part? DFB has special rate codes for you for this year’s festival! Booking a room at the Swan or Dolphin means you won’t have to worry about getting “home” after the event. Plus, you’ll be able to easily walk into Epcot to enjoy the Food and Wine Festival during your stay! Rates start at $285 per night for two people.

Call 888-828-8850 for reservations and ask for one of the following rate codes for these packages!

Package 1 – One night stay, plus causeway tickets for two! Ask for rate code DFBFWCL1.

Package 2 – One night stay, plus causeway tickets and seminar tickets for two! Ask for rate code DFBFWSM1.

Package 3 - Two nights stay, plus causeway tickets for two for both nights. Ask for rate code DFBFWCL2.

Package 4 -Two nights stay, plus causeway tickets for two for both nights AND seminar tickets for two! Ask for rate code DFBFWSM2.

And take it from me, staying at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin is awesome! We often stay there for several reasons: the close proximity to Epcot is very handy, especially during the Food and Wine Festival! In fact, you can walk or boat to two Disney theme parks – Epcot AND Disney’s Hollywood Studios. And just like guests at Disney-owned hotels, you’ll also have exclusive access to theme park Extra Magic Hours and Disney Transportation.

Tickets

If you choose not to purchase a package, you can purchase your causeway wristbands for this 2012 event for $80 per person, inclusive.

A La Carte Tickets

And here’s another great option for guests with limited time and/or light appetites! A La Carte tickets will be available for purchase at the event. At $2 each, these tickets are perfect for those with a lighter appetite and for young children. Offerings range from two to four tickets per item!

Are you looking forward to the 2012 Food and Wine Classic? Let us know below!

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One Comment

  1. Alan says:

    When it comes to food and drink services this set of hotels continues to set and raise the bar (no pun) for all of WDW. Bravo to the folks who run them. If you are staying in one of the Disney owned resorts, you owe it to yourself to go on over there and at least have a drink or a meal if you can. It will be one of your best memoties of your trip.

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