NOTE: Due to the amount of junk mail our blogs have been getting, we've implemented a new procedure for posting blog comments. After sharing your thoughts, there is one more box to complete before you press “Post.” For now, type the word “blog” (without quotes) in this field (this word could change periodically). This will let the system know that a real person is writing and not some automated program that generates spam. Thanks for your help and understanding!
So you've been to Epcot's International Food and Wine Festival numerous times, and feel like you've done all the various special dining experiences, wine seminars and cooking demonstrations. Now you're looking for something new, something a little different.
Well, you have no further to look than just beyond Epcot's International Gateway, where something new is cooking over at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort.
According to Tony Porcellini, the resort's Director of Food and Beverage, the first Annual Swan and Dolphin Food & Wine Classic being held October 8 and 9, 2010 (coincidentally the second weekend of Epcot's big do) will give visitors a chance to attend "a really cool party, with cool scenery, entertainment, and a chance to learn about and enjoy food and wine in an unpretentious way."
"With our 17 restaurants and lounges, we have an array of food and beverage here at the Swan and Dolphin unlike most other resorts," Porcellini says, when describing how the Food & Wine Classic came about. "In fact, we have 600 people in our Food and Beverage Division. So we thought, 'Why not give people a chance to experience some of our passions?' We love food and we love to teach, so that's what we decided to do."
The two-day event will begin each evening by offering six different beverage seminars, led by one of the resort's beverage professionals. Porcellini, himself a master sommelier, will be heading up a session on "wine blending" that will look at a variety of wines and the wine-making process, followed by a chance to blend your very own meritage. These seminars, which range in length from 45 to 75 minutes, also include RIESLING RENDEZVOUS (covering the broad range of Riesling styles); MODERN MIXOLOGY (the science behind mixologists' methods); ALL THINGS SAKE (the history of sake along with tastings of various types); BEER, PLEASE! (discussing the process behind different brews and their impact on the food and beverage industry as well as a tasting of the multiple styles of beer); and BUBBLES (which of course covers the basics of champagne, finishing with a blind champagne tasting).
After these beverage seminars wind up at around 5:30 p.m. both evenings, the causeway between the Swan and the Dolphin hotels will be filled with a number of food and beverages stations that will allow guests to sample offerings from a cross-section of the resort's restaurants. Each station will be hosted by at least one chef or member from the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin.
"It was important for us to have one of our people at each table," Porcellini notes. "We want to try to demystify what we do, not do it pretentiously."
Among the offerings will be the chance to try a tasty morsel from Todd English's bluezoo. Friday night the station will offer a shrimp "steamroller," which fills an open-ended test tube with the elements of a classic shrimp cocktail that's been "deconstructed." On Saturday, you can sample bluezoo's southwest buffalo chicken "pipettes", presented in a similar unique style.
Kimonos' station offers its classic "dragon roll" with salmon, avocado and shrimp tempura.
The Fountain serves up vegetarian falafel both nights, while the Cabana presents a tuna tostito on Friday and a molded watermelon and crab salad on Saturday. And at Il Mulino you can "mangia" on mini polpetti (meatball) sandwiches on Friday, or a special "pasta creation" on Saturday.
Mini Polpetti (Meatball) Sandwich
Or you can saunter over to the Shula's Steak House station either evening for a chance to “Pick Your Own Filet” -- you can literally choose your own 3 oz. portion of beef, which will be grilled to your specs, and served with creamed spinach.
And finally you can finish off your eating spree with some treats for your sweet teeth -- famed executive pastry chef Laurent Branlard, a two-time World Pastry Champion, will present five miniature creations.
Many of the wines and spirits offered during the tasting portion of the event will be selections served at the resort's restaurants, but Porcellini notes that some will be unique to the Classic. One station will specialize in champagnes and the varietals from which champagne is made, while others will feature wines from the Veneto region, Australia, and Spain. Rieslings and handcrafted beers will also have special stations, and there will be a spot that continues with the earlier beverage seminar's theme of "mixology" -- along with mixed drinks it will host a bartending competition.
bluezoo's "Bazooka Joe"
Throughout the entire affair, music from three different live bands -- Philadelphia's Pieces of a Dream, The Latin Jazz All Stars and The Groovemasters -- will provide a "nice, laid-back vibe and atmosphere," as Porcellini puts it.
"We think this is the kind of event, and the kind of venue, where people will feel free to walk in and out," he adds. "Maybe they'll want to grab a glass of wine, then go to dinner at one of our restaurants, then come back out later. Or maybe they'll stay until the event ends at 9:30, then go to visit one of our lounges, at Shula's or Kimonos. It's not that structured and has a certain simplicity."
Yes, a laid-back event that is held outdoors. But what if the weather fails to cooperate? Don't worry, Porcellini asserts. There is a back-up plan that entails moving most of the festivities into the cavernous lobby of the Dolphin, and perhaps even over to the escalators that lead directly down to bluezoo, which also could host its own station.
While this all sounds like an ambitious start, Porcellini notes that they managed to pull this year's activities together in just four or five months.
"This is an event we're excited about, and we'll begin planning for 2011 immediately after this year's is over," he adds. "It's our intention is to grow bigger and bigger every year."
The first Annual Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Food & Wine Classic will be held Friday and Saturday, October 8 and 9, 2010. Beverage seminars begin at 4:30 p.m. The causeway dining begins at 5:30 p.m. and runs until 9:30 p.m. Cost for the event when purchased in advance is $50 for the entire evening -- that includes one beverage seminar and unlimited tasting from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. Food and wine samples also can be purchased "a la carte" on the day of event. Tickets are $2 each or 25 tickets for $45. Note that some samples may require more than ticket. Or you can purchase a bracelet for $50, which allows you unlimited food and beverage samples for the evening.
The Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin is also offering for AllEars® Readers hotel packages that include this event. For reservations, call 1-888-828-8850 and refer to rate code EARFWC.
For beverage seminar reservations only, call 407-934-1609.
The previous post in this blog was Festival 15: The 2010 Epcot Food and Wine Festival.
The next post in this blog is New Karamell-Küche in Epcot's Germany Pavilion.