We’re gearing up for one of our favorite weekends of the year — the Swan and Dolphin Food and Wine Classic!
The event is in its seventh consecutive year, and promises to be bigger and better than ever. In 2016, the Food and Wine Classic will include 50 food and wine stations, 10 seminars, fun themed areas, and opportunities to meet some of the award-winning chefs who bring their artistry to life in the resort’s 17 restaurants!
Last year, we enjoyed the opportunity to sip and stroll the Swan and Dolphin’s elegant Causeway. Today, we’ll share photos and impressions of our experience. And stay tuned next week, when we bring you photos and details about the Food and Wine Classic’s seminars and themed areas — The Beer Garden, Carnival Corner, and new for 2016 — Chinatown!
Never been to the Swan and Dolphin Food and Wine Classic? Then you’re in for a treat. Once you make your way through the resort’s lobby, head toward the area between the hotels to find the action. Or, if you happen to be in Epcot or in one of the Epcot Resorts, you’ll encounter the causeway immediately when you head over toward the Swan and Dolphin Resorts.
Checking In and Getting Tickets
The Causeway Tasting takes place entirely outdoors, so watch the weather and plan ahead. Once you get to the causeway area, look for the Check-In Table.
If you’ve pre-purchased your tickets, this is where you’ll pick up your wristband, which is good for unlimited trips to all of the booths on the Causeway. If you prefer, you also have the option of purchasing a booklet of a la carte tickets to use at the booths. You’ll receive a plate and a wine glass for tasting. While the food items are pre-plated, the plate comes in handy as sort of a miniature tray.
As you taste, you can choose to stroll and enjoy, or you can find seating at one of the many tables.
There are also High Boy Tables scattered throughout the area, where you can park long enough to eat.
If you’re looking for a souvenir from the event, be sure to check out the Wine Store.
You can purchase bottles of the wines featured throughout the event, but there’s also some branded merch as well.
As night falls, the Causeway truly comes alive. Cool projections on the buildings add visual interest, and there are live musical acts to entertain you.
It’s a super fun experience, just strolling the wide walkways on an Autumn Florida night. But I know you’re interested to see what we ate! So let’s check out the Booths.
Eats (and Drinks)
In 2015, there were 40 different Beverage Stations. Talk about choices! While beverage stations are scattered among the food stations, I’m grouping them all together just to keep all the stuff, well…together.
Wine lovers can explore and compare different U.S. regions within California, Oregon, and Washington.
There were also selections from Argentina, Australia, Chile, France, Italy, and New Zealand.
If you prefer brews, check out the Beer, Please! Booths. There were two in 2015, and each offered a nice variety of Craft Beer selections.
Florida Breweries Cigar City from Tampa and Crooked Can in Winter Garden were also represented, and we enjoyed a taste of everything they had to offer.
In addition to wine and beer, the Classic also offers other beverage options. In previous years, we sampled cocktails made with craft moonshine. In 2015, St. Augustine Distillery offered cocktails made with locally distilled liquors.
And they offer Mixers, too!
We sampled the Florida Mule and the New World Gin and Tonic. Both classic cocktails were delicious!
Tyku Sake also has had a presence at the Classic for the past several years. Last year, we sampled two infused Nigori Sakes — Cucumber and Coconut. We really enjoyed the fresh twist on one of our favorites.
But of course, there are plenty of Tasting Stations as well. Each of the Swan and Dolphin restaurants are represented, but there are some special “guest stars” too. Chef Todd English is a regular at the Classic, and takes a lot of time each evening to mix and mingle with guests.
See? (FYI — those ladies? Not us.)
But he’s there to cook a little too. In addition to the bluezoo Booth (more about it in a sec), you’ll find a Todd English Booth as well.
Last year, the offering was a rich Crab and Smoked Mozzarella Fritter. It was a perfect two-bite treat.
Chef Robert Ciborowski, the Resort’s executive chef, also brings something special to the event at his booth, Cib’s Handcrafted Barbecue.
We enjoyed the tender Southern Fried Chicken served with Creamy Polenta, Pickled Turnips, and BBQ “Gravy”.
bluezoo was located a stone’s throw away from the Todd English Booth and offered a different dish.
The popular Shrimp Cocktail Steamrollers are a fun twist on a classic appetizer.
The Shula’s Steakhouse Booth is always one of the most popular.
We look forward to enjoying the Salt Roasted Prime New York Strip Loin, Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes, and Sauce Bordelaise again this year.
Picabu, located at the Dolphin, is a buffet/cafeteria style restaurant, open to guests 24 hours a day (and is my go-to source for Chicken Wings in the middle of the night…which happens all too often).
They’ve delighted Classic guests for the last few years with an assortment of freshly prepared Tacos. We tried both the Braised Pork and the Organic Veggie versions. They also offer an assortment of toppings and hot sauces so that you can prepare your tacos just the way you like them.
Kimono’s always offers a terrific Sushi selection at their booth.
On the night we visited, it was an elegant and spicy Jalapeño Roll, with Spicy Tuna, Yellowtail, and Jalapeño Peppers.
Il Mulino New York Trattoria is a favorite stop of ours for authentic Italian food, and we always enjoy seeing what they bring to the Classic.
The Confit Osso Bucco Croquette with Romesco Sauce, Marcona Almond, and Shishito Piperade was one of my favorite bites of the evening.
The night we visited, we were treated to a different fish dish, however. The Blackened Salmon with Red Beets and Green Apple was fresh and light — a great better-for-you option.
We love the fusion flavors you can experience at the Fresh Booth. FYI — Fresh is an awesome breakfast and lunch option in the World.
Thai Chicken Salad with Organic Greens, Green Papaya, and Tamarind-Ginger Dressing lived up to the booth’s name!
Cabana Bar and Beach Club features a tempting array of poolside fare and craft cocktails, so we always love to see what they come up with.
They didn’t disappoint with a chilled King Crab, Savoy Cabbage, Shellfish Consomme, and Pistachio Mousse.
We were also excited to see what sweet endings award winning Executive Pastry Chef Laurent Branlard had in store for us at the Dessert Station.
The Sugar Sculpture on display at the station was a showstopper, as usual!
The miniature pastries at the station are always a treat. We enjoyed both the Baba au Rhum and the Raspberry Chocolate Fondant Cake.
But the S’mores Sundae action station was also fun and delicious.
And with that, we were ready to call it a night.
And seriously — what a gorgeous night it was.
We’ve been to every Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Food and Wine Classic so far, and it never ceases to be a fantastic event. The sheer variety of food, the incredible array of wines, and the beautiful setting combine to make for a memorable evening. And we can’t wait to share with you all that 2016 holds in store for us as well!
We’ll be back next week to share more photos and details about the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Food and Wine Classic special areas, like The Beer Garden and Carnival Corner. We’ll also have a sneak peek of a brand new area!
But in the meantime, we want to hear from you. Are you excited to attend the 2016 Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Food and Wine Classic? Leave a comment and let us know!