Swan & Dolphin Food & Wine Classic 2016

For the third year in a row I attended the Swan & Dolphin Food & Wine Classic.

This was the 7th annual Classic, as the 1st was held in October of 2010.  The Classic is a two night event (held on both Friday and Saturday nights) held by the Walt Disney World Swan & Dolphin Resort each year in October.  For the last three years (and again in 2017) it was held on the last weekend of the month.  You are able to purchase tickets online in advance.  In fact, tickets are already available for the 2017 Classic, at a price of $115 per night.  However, I waited until just 5 days before to purchase my ticket for the 2016 Classic and had no problems getting it.  I believe they even still had tickets for sale on the evening of the event.  And FYI, the ticket prices for both 2016 and 2015 were $105 and the first year I went, 2014, the cost was $95.  So as you can see, the price for this event is slowly increasing.  However, even at $115 I believe this event is worth it…but if it goes up too much more I might reconsider that statement.

Okay, let’s move on to the party now.  I attended on the second night, Saturday, October 29.  I had several friends also there that night so I was very happy to be able to tag along with them.  I started out with my friends, Paula and Hunter…

We checked in at the Causeway Check-in table just before 5:30 (the official start time of the party) and were given our wristbands, which allowed us to have unlimited food and beverage tastings from any of the causeway booths.  The other alternative was to purchase a booklet of 25 A la Carte Tickets for $50 and pay with these tickets for the items you wanted.  The offerings ranged from 2 to 6 tickets per item.  As an example, the food offering at the Todd English booth was 5 tickets for those who chose the A la Carte option…

In addition to our wristbands, we were also given a small plastic tray and wine glass and a booklet…

The booklet included a map of all the tents and a menu showing what was being offered at each tent/booth…

Of the 54 booths which were set up on the causeway between the Dolphin and Swan hotels, 12 had food and 42 were beverage stations, mostly serving wine (from Washington, Oregon, and California, as well as Australia & New Zealand, Argentina, Chile, France, Italy, and Spain). But there was also sake being served at the Japan booth, a Bubbles booth serving Chandon champagnes, two cocktails (Florida Mules and New World Gin & Tonics) being offered at a St. Augustine, Florida booth, and at least 4 beer booths.   Beer drinkers who were not satisfied with 8 beers that were offered at these booths could pay an additional amount (I think around $25) to gain entrance to the Beer Garden where they were serving about a dozen or so more beers plus some additional food offering which were not available at the causeway booths…

The three of us were soon joined by another friend, Rachel…

It was Rachel’s first time at the Classic, so it was fun to hear her first impressions…which for the most part were good.

We were also joined by our friend, Beth…

Beth and Rachel did a lot of food holding for me that evening while I took photos so I really appreciate their help.  And speaking of food photos, let’s get started shall we?

Our first stop of the evening was at the Shula’s Steakhouse booth, located at the very end of the section of the causeway in front of the Swan’s pool.  Even at the beginning of the party, there was a long line here.  The reason for this is that every year Shula’s serves steak…

Salt Roasted Prime New York Strip with Sauce Bordelaise, served with Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes

This was good but would have been even better if served warmer.  I think they had pre-plated a lot of these dishes in preparation for the long lines at the opening of the party and for that reason the meat had gotten cold.

From here we veered off of the causeway to a special section that was set up for the party for the first time this year.  This area was called Chinatown and had two Chinese beers (Tsingtao and Lucky Buddha) and two food offerings, which is what we were there for…

– Photo by Paula –

The first of these was a Shanghai Dumpling…

Pan Roasted Pork Dumpling with a spicy sauce

And the other was Duck Bao…

Crispy Duck served on a Steamed Bun, garnished with Hoison sauce, Cucumber, and Scallions

Both of these dishes were excellent and were among our favorites of the night.  We are all hoping that they again have the Chinatown area next year.

And out by Chinatown they also had an area called Carnival Corner.  They had this for the first time in 2015 and I was happy to see it return since it had some fun and tasty offerings.  This year there were four food trucks and another truck serving wine.  One of the food trucks was serving another of our favorites…

Grafton Village White Cheddar Macaroni and Cheese topped with Roasted Wild Mushrooms

This was delicious!  Some thought the mushrooms were an odd addition to the mac ‘n cheese but I love fresh mushrooms so I really enjoyed this combination.

Also in the Carnival Corner area was a truck serving…

Nitro Kettel Corn (Popcorn, Caramel Foam, Honey Roasted Peanuts, Sea Salt, and Liquid Nitrogen

I thought this was pretty good but others thought it was wrong to serve Kettel Corn cold.

And speaking of cold, Hunter was very disappointed when he finally got a Corn Dog (served at the third food truck) and it was cold.  At the end of the evening, I returned to this area to get a funnel cake and saw they were serving corn dogs fresh out of the fryer so I had to get one…

Texas Style Corn Dog (All Beef Frank, Corn Meal Batter, and Mustard Dipping Sauce)

This was much better now that it was hot.  Unfortunately Hunter was too full to have one though at this point.  So his corn dog craving would have to wait for yet another day.

The last food truck in this area was serving the aforementioned funnel cakes…

The mini-funnel cakes were served with your choice of Nutella, fruit toppings, and/or powdered sugar.  Last year I couldn’t decide so got all of the toppings and it was just too much.  So this year I got the Nutella and powdered sugar and it was perfect.  The perfect amount of sweetness to end the evening with.  I actually liked it better than two of the fancier desserts that I had had earlier from the Laurent Branlard Desserts booth.   Sorry Chef Branlard!

Then it was back out to the causeway to check out some more booths, starting with the Cabana Bar and Beach Club which was serving…

Chicken Yakitori with Mushroom Tsunomono and Miso Crackling

This was the same dish that they served here in 2014.  It was not memorable then and again in 2016 it was not memorable.  I think it’s time for something new.

Our next stop was a more successful one, as it was the booth hosted by the celebrity chef, Todd English.  He was serving a tasty version of Surf ‘n’ Turf…

Chicken Fried Halibut & Braised Beef Short Rib served with Carolina Gold Rice and Roasted Salsify Puree

The beef was pretty good, but the halibut was definitely the star of this dish.

Our group found a standing table to enjoy the Surf ‘n’ Turf…

By this time we had met up with three more friends, Niki & her husband, Mike (who appears in the above photo) and their friend Sally.

Then it was on to the Il Mulino booth to try their…

Arancini: Braised Osso Buco, Carnaroli Risotto, and Sauce Fra Diavolo

I had arancini at the Il Mulino booth at the 2014 Classic and it was good.  Again it was good but I would like to see them change it up for 2017.

Our next food stop was at the Cib’s Smokehouse booth, hosted by Robert Ciborowski, the executive chef of the Swan & Dolphin Resort.  Tonight Chef Ciborowski was serving…

– Photo by Paula –

And a close up shot…

Hand Crafted Bacon, Sweet Corn Puree, Fried Brussel Sprouts, and Compressed Heirloom Apple

The bacon was again a repeat from 2014.  Wasn’t really a fan then and again wasn’t a fan.  This style of bacon or pork belly doesn’t really appeal to me because of the large amount of fat it contains.

Next we found some sushi to try at the Kimonos booth…

Dragon Roll with Crispy Shrimp , Tuna, Avocado, and Japanese Mayonnaise

I’m not really a fan of sushi, but that said, this wasn’t bad.

Then our group moved on to the main section of the causeway that lies between the two hotels…

 

In this area we found the Fresh booth, which offered…

Thai Chicken Salad, Organic Greens, Green Papaya, and Tamarind-Ginger Dressing

I don’t remember anything about this dish so I suspect that I didn’t try this one.  However I do remember the Fountain’s booth and its…

Southern Pulled Pork topped with Smoked Tomato BBQ Sauce and Apple-Fennel Slaw served with a side Mac ‘n’ Cheese

The bun tasted a little dry and stale but the pulled pork was okay. However, the mac ‘n’ cheese was not good.  The mac ‘n’ cheese served at the food truck in Carnival Corner was better by leaps and bounds.

I did find a dish that I liked though at the Garden Grove booth…

Seared Striped Bass, Artichokes, Nicoise Olives, and Spanish Caper Emulsion

There was one more booth that I visited but failed to take a photo.  Like last year, the Picabu booth was again serving tacos.  Last year I had their pork tacos, this year they had chicken.  Here is a photo of last year’s pork tacos…

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There were toppings available to add to the chicken, but even so they were still just your basic tacos.

And then one booth that I did not make it to was Bluezoo, which was serving…

Shrimp Cocktail Steamroller

– Photo borrowed from the Swan & Dolphin Classic website –

Although I didn’t try this, Rachel did and liked it.  She did though say that it was kind of weird to suck the shrimp cocktail out of a tube.

And that just leaves the Dessert booth, hosted by Laurent Branlard, the executive pastry chef for the Swan & Dolphin Resort.   Here were his dessert offerings…

– Photo by Rachel –

While I didn’t try the Lemon Meringue Cup (with lemon gelee and frangipan) because I don’t really like lemon, I did have the other two.

Caramel Sea Salt Eclair, Vanilla Whipped Cream and Ginger Pear Confit

I thought I would love this but I didn’t.  I didn’t like the combination of the ginger pear and caramel flavors.

I also didn’t really care for the…

Chocolate Fondant, Orange Pate de Fruit, Milk Chocolate Cremeux, and Orange Cream

Again I didn’t like the orange and chocolate flavor combination.

But I did like the 4th dessert that was being served at the Dessert tent…

Chocolate Cake and Vanilla Sundae with Caramelized Banana, Peanuts and Whipped Cream

This was a simple dessert, but very tasty!  My favorite of all the desserts at this year’s Classic.  I guess I’m a simple girl, with simple tastes.  Lol

The clock then struck 9:00 (closing time) so it was time for our group to call it a night, but…

A GOOD TIME WAS HAD BY ALL!!

Hope to see you all next year at the 8th Annual Food & Wine Classic!

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