Last Friday, October 8th, Dave and I headed to the Walt Disney World Resort for our FIRST EVER weekend away without the kids. (GASP) I felt a huge mix of emotions including guilt for not bringing my children to their favorite place, but I was also overwhelmingly excited!! After reading about the Food & Wine Classic I had been looking forward to it for weeks, and now we were on our way. We had decided to book the special $169/night package at the Dolphin which included one seminar each night as well as unlimited access to the food and drinks. This was also to be our first stay at the Dolphin Resort and I really thought it was a beautiful place. Friday we attended the Wine Blending Seminar hosted by Tony Porcellini, the Director of Food and Beverage at the resort. Tony was excited to talk about the wines and his presentation was fun and engaging. On Saturday we had the pleasure of tasting different varieties of Riesling at the Riesling Rendezvous with Luciano Sperduto, the Assistant Director of Food and Beverage. Luciano was also a lot of fun to watch and you can tell that he really knows his stuff. Now, I know next to nothing about wine, but I have to tell you that I really enjoyed both of the seminars. Many interesting facts about making the wines including grape ripeness, climate, and geography were discussed. I thought it was so helpful when they talked about our palates, what to look for when tasting the wines and what the flavors meant. It was accessible to those of us who really knew very little about wine and I had a great time. One of the highlights of the seminars was the delicious cheeses that were served in addition to five different types of wine. (Boy, do I LOVE triple cream!) I was very grateful to the empty seat next to me for providing an additional plate of cheese for my enjoyment…I mean, why let it go to waste, right? J Dave and I really enjoyed ourselves at the seminars, but the REAL treat was waiting for us out on the Causeway.
For a first year event, the Food & Wine Classic was done extremely well. The way that the food booths, beverage stations and tables were set up really allowed for a constant flow of traffic so I never felt crowded. I also thought it was a great idea to have actual tables and chairs set up towards the back on the Swan side for those of us that wanted to sit down and enjoy our food. The live bands were featured under the huge fountain outside of the Dolphin which I thought was a particularly nice touch. The only thing I didn’t like about the music was that it seemed extremely loud at times, but on Saturday night the tables in front of the speakers had been moved to the side, so no matter where you stood it wasn’t blasting your ear off which was a definite improvement. In regards to the food served, most of it was EXCELLENT. The stations featured small dishes from some of the restaurants at the Swan & Dolphin. My favorite (VERY surprisingly) was the Dragon Roll from Kimonos. I say surprisingly because under normal circumstances I do NOT like sushi at all, but this was absolutely delicious. I thought the items from Bluezoo were imaginative though not very practical… I did enjoy the Buffalo Chicken on the Blue Cheese Pipette, but the deconstructed Shrimp Cocktail in the tube didn’t work for either of us. We tried a couple of times to eat it the right way and each time I ended up with a mouth full of lettuce and no shrimp. I was most looking forward to the ‘choose your own filet’ station at Shula’s, where a nice size portion of filet mignon was cooked to order. Both Dave and I wanted our filets cooked medium but ended up with well done which was disappointing. In addition to the food booths there were a TON of beverage stations. They served all kinds of wines and mixed drinks at the Classic. My favorite drink was the Sangria with dried fruit and liquid nitrogen which made the glass smoke. It was so cool!! The best thing about that drink was that it didn’t taste too strong… I like fruitier, sweeter drinks and this was right up my alley. Something else I really appreciated was that the staff was very friendly and went out of their way to accommodate the guests. For instance, after drinking all of that wine I needed to have some water and when I couldn’t find any, the guy making the spiked lemonades offered to fill up my glass with the water he was using to make his drinks. He also made me a non alcoholic lemonade which was great. My suggestion for next year would be to have less drink stations and more food booths. There were probably twice as many drinks (at least) as there was to eat and barely (if any) non alcoholic drink choices. I think it’s important to offer something non alcoholic… at the very least, water for those of us who need a break from the alcohol or even for those who are under 21. I also didn’t notice them asking for any kind of identification from anyone even though there were younger adults there and even young children. Dave and I really enjoyed this event, I think it was a great success and I can’t wait to see what they do to make it even better next year!