Swan and Dolphin Food & Wine Classic 2014

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This was a two night event with tickets costing $95 per person for each night ( FYI, the price for 2015 has increased to $105). For our $95 ticket we could get unlimited food samples from 13 different food stations, as well as wine/beer/sake from 36 beverage stations. Another option though is to purchase an A La Carte ticket booklet which contains 25 tickets at a cost of $50, or $2 per a ticket. You then use the a la carte tickets to purchase as you go, with the booth offerings ranging in price from two to six tickets (for the Shula’s beef tenderloin).

Nine of the Swan & Dolphin restaurants were represented here, from the signature restaurants of Shula’s, Il Mulino, Bluezoo, and Kimonos to the casual restaurants of Fresh, Fountain, Garden Grove, and the Cabana Bar and Beach Club Grill. Even their quick service restaurant, Picabu, had a booth. Rounding out the food line-up were a booth hosted by Chef Todd English, Cib’s Smoke Shop booth hosted by Chef Robert Ciborowski (the executive chef of the Swan & Dolphin Resort), a dessert booth hosted by Chef Laurent Branlard (the Swan & Dolphin’s executive pastry chef), and the Cabot Cheese Grille food truck. Of the 36 beverage stations, 32 of them were serving wine, three had beer, and a Japan booth was serving Ty Ku sake. While half of the wine booths were serving wines from U.S. vineyards (most from California, but one each from Oregon and Washington), the countries of Argentina, Chile, Spain, Italy, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa were also represented.

So anyway, my husband and I arrived soon after opening time, which was 5:30. We were given a small plastic tray and wine glass, plus a map with a directory that listed all of the stations and what their offering was for that evening (most of the food booths did not serve the same thing both nights). Here is a photo of part of this map to help you visualize the lay of the land for this event.

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NOTE: I just now noticed in the above photo that they misspelled St. Supéry winery (#34 station), switching the “r” and “e” and spelling it St. Suprey. Oops! ;)

My husband and I quickly located the Shula’s Steakhouse booth, which was at the far end of the side walkway (station M on the map). We were rewarded for making this our first stop by not having to stand in a line (which developed here later in the evening) for one of the most popular items of the festival…

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Roasted Beef Tenderloin with Sauce Bordelaise and Mashed Potatoes (6 tickets)

We each had one of these and it was so good that we went back for seconds. So in terms of the a la carte ticket price, we had just eaten $48 worth of food after just one booth! :eek:

I think we both chose Liberty School Pinot Noir (California, Central Coast) for our first wine tasting of the evening…

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As you can see, the pours were not very generous here…but of course, there were unlimited refills! :thumbsup2

Our next stop was at the Cabana Bar and Beach Club booth for this…

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Bell & Evans Chicken Yakitori, Mushroom Tsunomono, and Miso Crackling (3 tickets)

This was good, but not worthy of returning for a second one.

Then we came to the Todd English booth which, according to the map, was serving an assortment of crudos. There were four different seafood dishes here and we tried all of them…

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Starting with the glass and moving clockwise these were:
Lobster “Salpicon” Shot

Fluke, Lemon Basil Nitro
Pine Island Shrimp & Lardo Crostini
Tuna Tataki, Caponata
(These were all 5 tickets each)


Not being a big fan of raw fish, these were just okay for me. My favorite was probably the Tuna Tataki, probably because the tuna was cooked…

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Moving down the line, our next stop was Il Mulino where they were serving Arancini…

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Arancini – Osso Buco, Carnaroli Rice, and Spicy Tomato Sauce (3 tickets)

Molto Buono! :thumbsup2

Another of my favorites of the night came from the Cabot Cheese Grille Truck…

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Mac & Cheese with Legacy Tomato Basil Sauce (3 tickets)

I’m a sucker for good mac & cheese! ;)

Sometime during this leg of our tour of the booths, we met up with Niki (Niki Andiokno) and Beth (Couchy) and their husbands. Niki had already moved on before I thought to take a photo, so this one is just of Beth and me…

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Then it was time for us to explore the main causeway…

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We started with the Fresh booth, which was serving Thai Chicken Salad…

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Thai Chicken Salad with Petite Lettuce, Green Papaya, and Ginger Dressing (3 tickets)

I actually can’t remember anything about this one. :confused3

I do though remember liking the falafel from the Fountain booth…

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Falafel – Chickpea Fritter with Tahini Sauce (2 tickets)

Then it was time for something sweet from the Dessert tent, where they had this beautiful work of art on display…

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This was made of sugar!! :eek:

We had to try all four of their dessert offerings…

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Lemon Angel Food Cake topped with a Lemon Peel Mousse and Blueberry Dome (3 tickets)

I’m not a fan of lemon, but my husband enjoyed this one.

I did like this dessert though…

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Chocolate Crunch Napoleon with Hazelnut Dacquoise, Chocolate Whipped Cream, and two layers of Chocolate (3 tickets)

And I liked this one even better…

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Tres Leches Sponge Cake topped with Exotic Cremeux Vanilla Bavarois, Exotic Gelee, and Coconut Marshmallows (3 tickets)

But my absolute favorite dessert of the evening was being made at this table…

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Any guesses what this was? If you guessed Pressed Brioche Ice Cream Sandwich, then you were right…

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Banana Foster Panini with Caramelized Banana Rum Compote and Vanilla Bean Ice Cream (3 tickets)

Their sign referred to this as a panini but no matter what you call it, this was delicious! :thumbsup2 It was even better than the similar pressed brioche ice cream sandwich (they call it a Croque Glacé, I think) that they sell for about $6 at Epcot’s French ice cream shop, L’Artisan des Glaces.

Having satisfied our sweet tooth, we grabbed a glass of wine and took a break to listen to the band which was performing on the stage in front of the Dolphin’s entrance…

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This was The Current and they were quite good. They were actually the third (and last) group to perform that evening, as there was live musical entertainment from the start of the event at 5:30 until the finish at 9:00.

After enjoying a few songs by the band we were ready for Round 2 at the food booths, beginning with the Garden Grove booth where they were serving another one of our favorites for the evening…

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When the grill masters noticed me taking photos they posed for this shot…

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And here is their finished product…

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Blackened Salmon with Spinach Puree and Meyer Lemon Beurre Blanc (4 tickets)

In terms of deliciousness, this was equal to Shula’s beef tenderloin. This was really good!!

I think it was about this time that we ran into a “new” friend…

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This was Lou, who had been one of my table mates at the French Luncheon I attended at Monsieur Paul one week earlier. Our paths had again crossed the next evening at the Party for the Senses. So this was our third meeting at a Food & Wine festival event, but it would not be the last. ;)

Our next food tastings were tacos from the Picabu booth…

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These tasted better than they looked in my bad photos. One of these was filled with shredded beef and the other had organic vegetables, both with a corn tortilla shell.

Next to Picabu was a beer booth serving craft beers from the Lagunitas Brewing Co., as well as some Sam Adams beers…

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I took a photo because this booth was being manned by a friendly bear. :laughing:

With less than a half hour remaining, we had time for only two more booths. Here is a photo of my husband holding our final two choices…

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This was also the only photo I have which shows what the plastic trays and wine glasses looked like.

So the first of our last two booths was Cib’s Smoke Shop, where they were serving Handcrafted Bacon…

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Handcrafted Bacon with Sweet Potato Puree and Caramelized Onion Barbecue Sauce (3 tickets)

This was a little too fatty for my taste. My husband liked it a little more than I did, however it wasn’t one of his favorites.

But I did actually like our last choice of the evening, which was from the Kimonos booth…

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Dragon Roll with Crispy Shrimp, Tuna, and Avocado (5 tickets)


So with the dragon roll, our evening at the Swan & Dolphin Food & Wine Classic ended on a tasty note.

Oh, but here’s one last photo of the two of us, looking quite happy and perhaps just slightly inebriated… ;)

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