Swan and Dolphin Food & Wine Classic 2017

This was the 4th consecutive year that I have attended the Food & Wine Classic held each year at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort.  This was the 8th annual Classic, which is held outside on the causeway between the two hotels (weather permitting).

For the first time since I’ve been attending, my friends and I discovered that the second night of the two-night event (Saturday, Oct. 28th) was sold out a week prior to the event.  In the past I’ve waited until a few days before the event to buy my ticket online, but this year I purchased my ticket for Friday night about a week before.  Luckily, Friday was my preferred night so the Saturday sell out didn’t affect my plans, but it came as a surprise to us all.  Oh, and speaking of tickets, much like everything at Disney World, their prices again went up.  The first year I attended in 2014 I paid $95.  The price went up to $105 in 2015 and 2016.  In 2017 the cost was $115 and FYI,  this year (2018) the price has already been set at $119.55 for the Classic to be held on Oct. 26, 27th.

Okay, now on to Classic held on Friday, October 27, 2017 from 5:30 – 9:00 p.m.   I met up with my friends, Paula & Hunter and Rachel, and checked in at the Will Call table to pick up our wristbands, as well as the plastic tray and wine glass which they provide.

First just a little regarding the many, many wines and beers which were offered at the Classic this year.  There were more than 40 Beverage Stations, most serving two or three different wines but there were also 4 or 5 serving beers such as Sierra Nevada and Sam Adams, one serving sake, and another serving Florida Mules and Old Fashioned cocktails.  Several of the wines were from the U.S. West Coast (California, Washington, and Oregon) but there were also wines from Australia & New Zealand, Argentina, France, Italy, and Spain.  I concentrated mostly on the food but the few wines I tried were good.

Now on to the food…

While we began our eating somewhere in the middle of 12 Food Stations (plus Chinatown, Carnival Corner, and the Bubble Lounge), I’ll organize my review of the food according to the order (Food Station A thru L) they were listed in the book we each received.

So starting with Station A – Kimonos, which on Friday was serving Jalapeño Rolls with Spicy Tuna, Yellowtail, and jalapeño

  I

I was too full by the time we were close to this booth, so I didn’t try this.  However Rachel had a Jalapeño Roll and said it was good.

Station B was Cib’s Smokehouse and Cib (Robert Ciborowski, executive chef of the WDW Swan and Dolphin Resort) was serving Hand Crafted Pork Belly, Confit-Fennel, Compressed Green Apple and Spicy Pear BBQ

Unfortunately my piece was mostly fat. Yuck!  Paula said, “The pork belly wasn’t cooked that well.  Kind of chewy.”

Next up the Fresh Station, which was serving Southwest Steak Salad with Local Lettuce, Black Beans, Roasted Corn, and Smoked-Jalapeño Dressing

Again I didn’t try this but my friends did.  Paula said her steak was fatty.  Rachel said her first piece of meat was good but the second piece on her plate was not.

Next up is Station D, Garden Grove, which was serving Maryland Crab Cake Slider (Maryland Blue Crab, Old Bay Remoulade, and Toasted Bun)

This looked good but sadly it wasn’t.

The Bluezoo station is next, which was serving Shrimp & Grits with Andouille Sausage, White Cheddar Grits, and Smoked Tomato.  First some photos of the Shrimp & Grits in the making…

And the finished product…

 

The Shrimp & Grits were pretty good.

Next is one of our favorite stations, Picabu, which served Pork Carnitas Tacos

And Organic Vegetable Tacos

And all the toppings…

 

I tried one of the pork tacos and thought it was very good.  Regarding these, Paula said, “Those pork carnitas tacos were AMAZING!  The flavor was fabulous.”

Station G is the Laurent Branlard  Dessert Station.  Chef Branlard is the executive pastry chef for the WDW Swan & Dolphin Resort.  Here were the desserts we tried…

 

 

First the Key Lime Vanilla Cream dessert…

Then the Greek Yogurt Dome

Both of these were good and were beautiful, but my favorite by far was this dessert…

The profiterole was probably my favorite thing at this year’s Classic.

 

Rachel also tried and liked this dessert…

Crunchy Chocolate Passion Fruit Truffle

Station H is the Fountain, which served Kobe Beef Mini Burgers with Truffle Aioli, Applewood Smoked Bacon, and Roma Tomato Chutney.

 

This was another disappointing dish.

 

So on to Station I for Il Mulino and its Ricotta Gnocchi with Wild Mushrooms, Baby Spinach, and Fennel Sausage

 

For me this dish was just okay.  Paula said, “The gnocchi itself needed more flavor but the rest of it was good.”

Next up was the Todd English’ Station J, who was there to oversee the preparation of this dish…

Mesquite Rubbed Wagyu Short Rib with Dehydrated Jamon Iberico, Smoked Cannellini Bean Puree, Au Blanc Red Pearl Onion Petals, Charred Brussel Sprouts, Verjus Pearls Cuisson

Again this was just okay.  Not bad, but tiny portion.

It was though fun to see Chef Todd English and have our photo taken with a celebrity chef and restaurateur.

Then moving on to Station K, the Cabana Bar and Beach Club, which was serving Double Fried Chicken, Chipotle-Buttermilk Ranch, Organic Carrot “Tartare”, and Orange Blossom Honey Pudding…

Hmm…I don’t remember having this.  But Paula said, “This was just a chicken nugget.”

The last of the lettered stations was L, Shula’s Steakhouse, which is always one of the most popular at the Classic because they always serve some kind of steak.  This year it was Oven Roasted Beef Rib Eye served with Silky Mashed Potatoes and Sauce Bordelaise

 

While the beef was pretty good (the second was better than my first), it was actually the mashed potatoes that were the star of this plate.  Paula said, “Just gimme those mashed potatoes please!!”    Which I think is exactly what she and Hunter did…they went back to this Station and requested a plate of mashed potatoes only and their request was granted.

Next we will pass by Carnival Corner (will come back to it later) to get to the Chinatown area.   I believe this was the second year that this area was part of the Classic.  Last year their food was some of the best of the festival but this year it wasn’t quite as good.

Once again they were serving the same two items, Shanghai Dumplings (Pan Roasted Pork Dumpling with Spicy Sauce)…

And Crispy Duck Steamed Buns with Cucumber Hoisin

 

And then back to Carnival Corner where we tried two out of their four offerings this year.  The first was one of our favorites, both this year and last, the Mac & Cheese (White Cheddar Macaroni and Cheese with Roasted Wild Mushrooms and Winter Truffle

We also enjoyed the Texas Style Corn Dog (All Beef Frank with Corn Meal Batter, served with Mustard Dipping Sauce)

These were repeats from last year along with the other two offerings from Carnival Corner, Funnel Cake and Nitro Kettel Corn.  We passed on these two this time but check out my review from the 2016 Classic if you’d like to hear about them and/or see photos.

So that just leaves the Bubble Lounge, which was an area set up inside the Swan.

 

 

This area was new to the Classic this year.  The “bubbles” being served here were G.H. Mumm Cordon Rouge, Perrier Jouet Grand Brut, Vineyards Cuvee 20 Brut, and Vineyards Brut Rose…

There was also food being served.  Some were simple foods like popcorn

And Deviled Eggs

Along with some fancier hors d’oeuvres like Smoked Trout Salad

Candied Detroit Beet, Burratta Cheese, and Almond “Parfait”

Open Faced Roast Beef Sandwiches

And Gougeres, which is the French name for a savory  cheese pastry…

 

Here is what I tried…

All were good but my favorite was the Gougeres.

And here’s a photo of our group enjoying ourselves at the Bubble Lounge…

It was then 9:00 and time to call it a night.  I said my “Good nights” to my friends and walked back to my room at the Boardwalk Inn.

But I do have some bonus photos to show you from the second night (Saturday, Oct. 28th) of the Classic thanks to my friends, Paula and Hunter.  Though tickets were sold out for Saturday online, Paula checked at the ticket booth on Friday night and found that they had more Saturday tickets available for purchase.  While I had made other plans for Saturday night, they returned for Night #2, which btw was held inside due to inclement weather.

While some of the offerings were the same both nights, like the Duck Bao in Chinatown

And the Mac & Cheese in Carnival Corner

Instead of tacos, they were serving Chicken Tostadas with Charred Tomato & Chipotle Salsa and Crema Fresca at the Picabu station…

In place of the Kobe Beef Mini Burgers, the Fountain station was serving Southern Pulled Pork Sliders with Apple & Cabbage Slaw and Nashville BBQ on a Toasted Sesame Brioche

Instead of the Jalapeno Roll, on Saturday the Kimonos station served Dragon Rolls with Crispy Shrimp, Tuna, Avocado, and Japanese Mayonnaise

The Cabana Bar & Beach Club switched it up from the chicken nuggets to Sweet Corn Risotto “Arancini” Wild Chanterelle Mushrooms, Caper Emulsion

 

Instead of steak salad, Fresh had Thai Chicken Salad with Organic Greens, Green Papaya, and Tamarind-Ginger Dressing

Il Mulino was serving Corzetti Stampati, Lamb Bolognese, Roasted Eggplant, and Castelvetrano Olives

And Todd English had Maine Lobster Rolls

 

So thanks Paula & Hunter…

 

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