Halloween weekend at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Hotel was all about the treats. The sixth annual Swan and Dolphin Food & Wine Classic showcased more than 40 food and wine stations along the causeway, where guests could taste culinary offerings from the hotel’s restaurants and lounges including its signature concepts: Il Mulino Trattoria, Shula’s Steak House and Todd English’s bluezoo. Wine and spirits stations with samplings of varietals from around the country and around the globe were scattered throughout.
Popular dishes from the past, like the Shrimp Cocktail Steamroller from bluezoo and the Dragon Roll from Kimonos, returned to the lineup while new dishes, including Smoked Wagyu Short Ribs from Cib’s Smoke Shop and Mascarpone-Chestnut Ravioli from Il Mulino, made their premiere.
Many restaurants changed menu offerings each night of the classic to give returning guests a larger variety. One highlight from Friday was Picabu’s choice of tacos – beef or organic vegetables in a corn tortilla – and assorted toppings bar. Another was Kimonos Jalapeno Roll, stuffed with spicy tuna and topped with yellowtail and jalapeno. Of course, the Carved Prime NY Strip with garlic mashed potatoes and sauce bordelaise from Shula’s Steak House didn’t disappoint either night.
A big hit last year when it was introduced, the Beer Garden returned with local beers from Cigar City Brewing and Crooked Can Brewing Company along with seasonal favorites from national brands. Oktoberfest-inspired food offerings included made-to-order soft pretzels with a variety of mustards and Weiner Schnitzel with warm German potato salad. New this year, a carnival-themed food truck area featured corn dogs, funnel cakes and a macaroni and cheese bar from the Cabot Cheese food truck, all of which brought out the kid in everyone. One of the most unique offerings was the Nitro Kettle Corn, a special mix of kettle corn that was hit with smoky liquid nitrogen right before serving.
The hotel’s world champion Pastry Chef Laurent Branlard topped off the evening with a different trio of desserts each night. Friday saw a caramelized banana éclair with coconut streusel, raspberry and dark chocolate fondant cake with raspberry mousse, and a vanilla old rum baba. He also introduced his S’more Sundae Action Station that featured new flavors each night.
The Food and Wine Classic wasn’t just about eating and drinking around the causeway. The hotel’s best sommeliers and food professionals led a series of seminars before the tastings began each evening, covering topics like wine blending, mixology, wine and cheese pairing, sushi and sake, pasta making and more. The seminars required a separate ticket for admission.
Now in its sixth year, the Swan and Dolphin Food & Wine Classic is quickly becoming a guest favorite. Tony Porcellini, the hotel’s director of food and beverage and instructor for the wine blending seminar, has seen the event grow from 800 people for both nights in the first year to more than 4,000 people for both nights in its sixth year. And it shows no sign of slowing down.