The International Food & Wine Festival may be in full swing (and just a quick boat ride away) over at Epcot, but foodies ensconced at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Hotel in Orlando won’t want to go anywhere on Halloween weekend.
The property’s two-day Food & Wine Classic – back Friday, Oct. 31, and Saturday, Nov. 1, for its fifth consecutive run – will feature more than 40 food and wine stations, 10 fun seminars and opportunities to meet the professionals (and even celebrities) behind the culinary magic.
At the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Food & Wine Classic, charred octopus with sauce romesco, espinette and olive vinaigrette will be among the fare presented by Todd English's bluezoo — Photo courtesy of Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Hotel
“Disney has already done a great job creating an ideal atmosphere for foodies and wine lovers at Epcot’s International Food and Wine Festival,” says Tony Porcellini, the Swan and Dolphin’s director of food and beverage. “We like to think of the Swan and Dolphin Food & Wine Classic as an accoutrement to the overall atmosphere, a 'don’t miss' weekend party for adults.”
There’s a street-vibe atmosphere, as guests meander amid the offerings – each of the property’s 17 restaurants is represented in some fashion, including Il Mulino, Todd English’s bluezoo and more – but educational elements allow for enrichment beyond the digestive.
Event guests need not stay at the glittering Swan and Dolphin property to attend, but packages are available — Photo courtesy of Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Hotel
“Each dish is a unique twist on street food,” says Porcellini, which makes most easy to enjoy while strolling.
Wine regions in Italy, Spain, California, Oregon and Washington will be among those available for sampling. Others for melding.
Porcellini will be teaching the event’s Wine Blending seminar. After beginning with reviews of the five grape varietals of Bordeaux, guests will enjoy an explanation of the blending process while sampling and learning about the flavors to expect on the palate.
“The fun part is at the end, when they create their own Bordeaux and we all get to taste the different blends,” adds Porcellini.
Seminars – which this year include Italian Wines, TCU: Tequila University and others – are based on the Swan and Dolphin’s food and wine professionals’ passions and areas of expertise.
Certified sommelier and native Brazilian Tatiana DeCastro, for example, will be running a class on Brazil’s famed caipirinha cocktail. As in the others, an interactive teaching method means attendees will be mixing their own as they learn.
Come hungry: Event guests enjoy the fare, wandering al fresco — Photo courtesy of Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Hotel
Hop and malt enthusiasts will be thrilled at the event’s newest addition: a beer garden that Porcellini says will give the event “its own Oktoberfest.” The venue will feature 14 different varieties of local craft beer, along with the Swan and Dolphin’s own new signature brew – the Fin & Feather – which was created in partnership with Shipyard Brewing Company.
“It has a distinct, seasonal aroma. Its smooth sweet potato flavor and subtle marshmallow sweetness resemble popular holiday dishes.”
Guests can pair homemade pretzels and schnitzel as they sample – a suitable pairing for the Oktoberfest comparison – before heading back out to the booths. Indeed, notes Porcellini, pairing is part of the learning process. Three seminars featuring goodies such as sushi and sake will move enthusiastic foodies along the road to becoming true gourmands.
From the resort's Cabana Bar, chicken yakitori, mushroom tsunomomo and miso crackling — Photo courtesy of Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Hotel
“One of our goals each year is to provide guests with a better understanding of their palates,” he explains. “We do that by offering them an interactive opportunity to create their own pairings in a seminar. We also provide them with expert tools and tips for discovering personal flavor preferences.”
Two-night packages, including accommodations and festival tickets, start at $610. Advance-purchase event-only tickets (including unlimited food and beverage samples) go for $95. Upgraded tickets, including the beer garden: $115. Seminar admission ranges from $45 to $60.
See the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Food & Wine Classic event website for more details.