the disney food blog Rotating Header Image

Review and Preview: The Causeway at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Food and Wine Classic

In just a few short days, we will be headed to the The Fourth Annual Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Food and Wine Classic!

This event, which coincides with the 2013 Epcot Food and Wine Festival, is a food and wine lover’s dream.

This year’s Food and Wine Classic will take place on Friday, October 18 and Saturday, October 19. The two-day event consists of food and wine tasting booths set up on the resort’s beautiful causeway each evening.

Guests can also take part in a number of special food and beverage seminars for an additional fee. Seminars take place at 4:30PM both days, and the Causeway booths are open from 5:30 until 9:00PM on Friday and Saturday.

In addition, guests can enjoy a complimentary Cocktail 101 seminar three times during each evening on the Causeway as well as live musical entertainment.

Tasting Plate from Shula's Steakhouse

We’ve had the opportunity to attend the event for the last three years, and we’re looking forward to what 2013 holds! To give you an idea of what lies in store for guests of the Food and Wine Classic, let’s take a look at the 2012 event!

Atmosphere

When you first arrive, you’ll most likely need to pick up your tickets at the Check-In Table.

Check In for the Causeway

Here, staff will check for your reservation, and you’ll receive either your tickets or a wristband, as well as a palate plate and a wine glass.

We had wristbands for the event, which meant that we were free to enjoy unlimited trips to each of the tasting stations. If you prefer a ticketed approach, however, you can purchase books of 25 tickets (most of the booth items require between 2 and 6 tickets).

Food and Wine Classic Wristbands and My Seminar Ticket

For this event, tents are lined up the length of the walkway between the Swan and Dolphin Resorts as well as along the walkway behind the Swan. The resorts are located within walking distance of Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

The Causeway Setup

Tables of all sizes are covered with brightly colored tablecloths, and offer guests a place to sit and relax while enjoying their food and drink.

Tables and Booths Ready for Guests

In addition to tables with chairs, guests can also take advantage of high tops if they prefer to stand.

Individual Tables

It wasn’t too long before the crowd began to swell as guests looked forward to tasting a myriad of dishes.

Causeway is Getting Busy

On Crescent Terrace, guests could also take advantage of Cocktail 101, a complimentary seminar that covering the fine art of mixology.

Cocktail 101 Seminar Area

Set Up for Cocktail 101 Seminar

Later in the evening after the sun had set, we were treated to some live music in front of the massive fountain! It was pretty awesome.

Live Music

Right now though, there’s a lot to cover food- and beverage-wise, so let’s get to it!

Eats

When I checked in and got my wristbands in 2012, I also received this handy map of the event. It was great for navigating the booths, and deciding what I had to try first!

2012 Swan and Dolphin Food and Wine Classic Map -- Click to Enlarge

Shula’s Steak House

Shula’s is the place to go at the Disney World Dolphin Resort if you’re a steak lover — or if you love traditional steak house side dishes done right. (See our most recent Shula’s review here!)

Shula's Booth

The 2012 offering from the luxurious restaurant’s menu was Carved Prime Rib with Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes.

Carved Prime Rib with Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes

I usually like my prime rib with just a touch more pink, but this was still fantastic — flavorful and juicy. The Horseradish Cream on top was a winner, too.

Carved Prime Rib -- Up Close

Todd English’s bluezoo

You can always expect inventive dishes from Todd English’s bluezoo, normally featuring the freshest seafood.

bluezoo Booth

Last year, Chef English created two dishes for the night we attended. We began with a perfectly fried Oyster, served with a Creamy Mustard Sauce.

Todd English Oyster

We also sampled one of bluezoo’s most popular menu items — Pan Seared Shrimp n Grits.

Pan Seared Shrimp n Grits

This was one of our favorite dishes during our recent visit to bluezoo, so we were pretty happy to see it here as well!

Pan Seared Shrimp n Grits -- Up Close

Another fun feature of the Food and Wine Classic is that Chef English joins the party! For the last couple of years, he’s been right in the booth, cooking and mingling with staff and guests!

Chef Todd English and Staff

Even though you may find a bit of a line around him, it’s still pretty awesome that he’s so accessible.

Michael Mina

Last year’s event also included another well known chef, Michael Mina. Chef Mina is a James Beard award-winning chef who, along with business partner Andre Agassi, owns the Mina Group.

The partnership is responsible for 19 concept restaurants, including Bourbon Steak in Miami. These days, Chef Mina currently helms his signature restaurant, the Michelin-starred Michael Mina in San Francisco.

Chef Michael Mina's Information

Chef Mina’s offering was one of my very favorites of the evening — a Hamachi Parfait. The two-bite wonder consisted of lightly-dressed Hamachi on a crisp-tender Rice Cake.

Hamachi Parfait, Crispy Rice Cake, Wasabi Tobiko

The perfect bite was garnished with Tobiko, or Flying Fish Roe, which had a bit of kick thanks to Wasabi.

Cib’s Smokehouse

Fans of the Swan and Dolphin restaurants may be wondering where exactly Cib’s Smokehouse is located. It’s actually not a restaurant at the resort, but a special event presentation by Executive Chef Robert Ciborowski.

Cib's Smoke House

Few things on a menu excite my husband and I more than the words “pork belly.” So we were all in for this one! And the gently Smoked Pork Belly, served with Texas Toast, certainly did not disappoint.

Smoked Pork Belly, Texas Toast, Baked Bean Foam

I was a little confused by the Baked Bean Foam, as I am not so much a fan of this hot trend. But off to the side, it didn’t detract, so I was fine with it.

Fresh

Another of our favorite dishes of the evening was a simple offering from Fresh. It should really come as no surprise, since we think this quiet spot flies under the radar, but offers some pretty great food. (Check out our review of lunch at Fresh here.)

Fresh Booth

The Custom Blended Burger with Cheddar Cheese Roll, Truffle Aioli, and Caramelized Onions was absolutely out of this world! Seriously, I could have stopped right here, had three, and I would have been a happy, happy girl!

Custom Blended Burger with Cheddar Cheese Roll, Truffle Aioli, and Caramelized Onions

There is truly something magical when a juicy hamburger meets soft, griddled bread. And truffle aioli just takes it straight to the moon.

Kimonos

You’ll find some of the best sushi in all of Orlando at Kimonos Sushi Bar. Guests swear that this is THE place to go for sushi while at Walt Disney World. (Read our review of a fun evening with friends here!)

For the event, we had the opportunity to sample the Spicy Yellow Fin Tuna.

Spicy Yellow Fin Tuna

The bite was fresh, and I appreciated the condiments that were all dished up and ready to go for us.

Il Mulino

We also couldn’t pass up the chance to see what Il Mulino was serving up! The New York-style Trattoria is among our favorite stops when we’re craving pasta at Walt Disney World, and AJ’s recent dinner review will give you an idea why!

Il Mulino Booth

I was pretty happy to see a fairly traditional offering here, and one of my favorites to boot — Fried Calamari with Spicy Marinara.

Fried Calamari with Spicy Marinara

The dish can be a little iffy when it’s overcooked. You end up with rubberbands where once there were tender rings of squid! But this was cooked perfectly, and the spicy sauce was an excellent accompaniment.

Cabana Bar & Beach Club, Garden Grove, and Fountain

The Cabana Bar & Beach Club is a hip lounge, located steps away from the resort’s beautiful pool, is known for being a step up from your garden variety pool bars. For the Food and Wine Classic, they offered a delicious two-bite Blackened Fish Taco, garnished with fresh veggies.

Blackened Fish Taco

The Jumbo Lump Crab Cake Slider offered by Garden Grove was an excellent little sandwich. The crab cake was full of lump crab meat, and it was fresh and hot.

Jumbo Lump Crab Cake Slider

The Fountain is usually a great stop for amazing milkshakes, sundaes, and comfort food! But for this event, they offered a Mediterranean vegetarian option: Falafel.

Falafel in a Cup!

While it wasn’t my favorite dish, it was a good, solid option for someone looking for a meatless item or two.

Desserts by Laurent Branlard

The Swan and Dolphin’s Pastry Chef extraordinaire, Laurent Branlard, once again served a beautiful variety of miniature pastries, plus offered a fun dessert with homespun appeal.

Dessert Case

Desserts, Ready for their Close Ups

In addition to plated desserts, the culinary team were busily preparing Strawberry Sundaes for guests who preferred ice cream.

Making Strawberry Sundaes

And you know we had to sample one!

Strawberry Sundae

One of the smiling staff helped us to choose our dessert…but in the end, we sampled everything!

A Helpful Culinary Assistant Suggests a Dessert Option

My favorite was the St. Honore. I have a deep love for cream puffs, and this is just about the best version you can get. Fantastic.

St. Honore

Chocolate lovers should dive head first into the Intense Flourless Chocolate Cake, because you totally won’t be sorry. And check out the gold leaf garnish!

Intense Flourless Chocolate Cake

The Dome made of an exotic fruit mousse was also delicious, and was just as beautiful as it tasted!

Fruit Mousse Dome

The best part? Trips back for seconds. :-)

Beverages

But eating is only half the picture here, because as much fantastic food as you’ll find, there are just as many beverages to match and pair.

Beer lovers will want to swing by the Beer, Please! booth for some craft beer options.

Beer, Please! Booth

Is Sake more to your liking? A trip to the Japan booth offered tastes of Tyku Sake, both Silver and Black. And knowledgeable staff could answer any and all of your sake-related questions.

Discussing Sake

If wine is your drink of choice, you’ll find a seemingly endless supply of literally dozens of different wines to try. Grouped together by country of origin, the wine tents are scattered among the food booths, making pairing an easy prospect.

South Africa and Spain Wine Booths

And if you like something you see, be sure to visit the Wine Store, where you can purchase bottles to take home with you!

The Wine Store

We ended the evening by listening to a few tunes, followed by a stroll around the beautiful grounds.

Overall

Once again, the culinary team at Walt Disney World’s Swan and Dolphin have produced a world-class event. Everything that we tasted was simply wonderful! Our only regret was that we couldn’t eat more.

As the evening progressed, we did find it a little difficult to locate a table at times. However, we could usually share with other guests, and make a few friends in the process. And when all else failed, having the handy palate plates meant that we could actually stroll and eat.

I’m looking forward to attending the event once more in 2013 to share with you all that is new! I’m especially excited about the addition of Drink Pink! This experience will take place on Crescent Terrace, which will be turned pink in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Guests can sample a variety of pink wines, and can also explore special pink merchandise.

Book your stay, causeway tickets, and seminar tickets now before your favorites sell out! Contact the Swan and Dolphin at 888-828-8850, and ask for the Disney Food Blog rate code on any of the packages below! :-)joy unlimited food and wine tastings and entertainment offered on the causeway. Also includes tickets to one seminar of your choosing.

To book ONLY Causeway tickets with no package, see details here!

Read about the 2013 Epcot Food and Wine Festival, happening now through Nov. 11, 2013!

Will you attend the 2013 Food and Wine Classic? Let us know below in comments!

Disclosure: Our reporter received complimentary admission to this event from the Swan and Dolphin food and beverage team. We were not obligated to report on the event — or to give it a favorable review. As always, we provide you with the truth about what our staff thinks. (Hamachi Parfait, guys!) Read more about our disclosure policy here.

Other Posts You May Enjoy:

4 Comments

  1. Sandra says:

    I have to say that the falafel at the Fountain was a revelation to me. I eat a lot of it as I mostly skip meat, and this was crunchy on the outside, light and garlicky on the inside, a perfect little sphere of pleasure, not the heavy, oily patties I was used to. I had it served with salad greens as a light supper there one night, followed by some fantastic coconut pie. Highly recommended for veg eaters.

  2. Tricia says:

    Have to ask if this event is worth it for a non- seafood eater?

  3. Brooke says:

    Sandra — Excellent point! I tasted it at the end of the evening last year, and I was a bit “food fatigued.” I’ll have to try it earlier on in the festivities this weekend. Can’t wait!

  4. Brooke says:

    Tricia — I’d say it depends. There are a lot of fish and seafood dishes, but they also offer meats, vegetarian options, and pastas. In addition, the sheer number of wines that you can taste is amazing, and there are tastings of beer as well. In my opinion, the menu is pretty well balanced. But then, I’m an enthusiastic fish and seafood eater :-). Check out the menus on the Food and Wine Classic Website for more info.

Leave a Reply

Current month ye@r day *