Out and About: Tasting My Way Through the Swan and Dolphin Food & Wine Classic

5th Annual Swan and Dolphin Food & Wine Classic

On Saturday, November 1, I attended the second night of the 5th Annual Swan and Dolphin Food & Wine Classic, and had a wonderful time sampling all of the offerings as I walked the grounds of the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin resorts.

I started the afternoon with my friend John from The Disney Blog in a seminar called Bordeaux Wine Blending. Our teacher, Tony Porcellini (Director of Food & Beverage at the Swan and Dolphin), led us through a tasting of five different Bordeaux reds – Cabarnet Savignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, and Malbec – along with educating us on wine tasting terminology.

5th Annual Swan and Dolphin Food & Wine Classic - Bordeaux Wine Blending
My blending work station; Me with my final blend

Then he let us loose with blending the five wines into a mixture that pleased our own palattes. I was a little tentative at first but finally came up with a combination that made my taste buds happy: 2 parts Cabernet Savignon (for the base); 2 parts Petit Verdot (for the spicy notes and higher alcohol zing); and 1 part each Merlot and Malbec to round off the blend. I actually felt like I learned a lot in this seminar, and Porcellini kept it light and fun.

5th Annual Swan and Dolphin Food & Wine Classic
Roasted tenderloin from Shula’s; weiner schnitzel from the beer garden, BBQ pork from Cib’s Smokehouse

Then John and I headed out to eat and drink our way around the walkway between the Swan and Dolphin. The resorts’ main restaurants were all represented with food booths – Todd English’s bluezoo, Shula’s Steakhouse, Kimonos, Picabu, and Il Mulino – and there were wines from all over the world to sample.

New this year to the Swan and Dolphin Food & Wine Classic was the addition of a beer garden, which offered a wide variety of craft beers to sample. This area also offered more food to sample, such as housemade soft pretzels and weiner schnitzel with warm German-style potato salad.

5th Annual Swan and Dolphin Food & Wine Classic
Sushi from Kimonos; Halibut 3 ways from Todd English; Shrimp Cocktail Steamrollers from bluezoo

I also lucked out and got to meet Chef Todd English. Of course the wind had to whip my hair in a frenzy right before, but I wasn’t going to let crazy hair stop me from getting a photo with him. He was very nice, but couldn’t stay long as he was overseeing all of his stations at the event.

After taking a few hours to sample what I could (disclosure: I’m allergic to seafood, so I couldn’t try any of those offerings), here are my official picks for Best of Show at the Swan and Dolphin Food & Wine Classic:

5th Annual Swan and Dolphin Food & Wine Classic
Picabu pulled pork tacos before toppings; trio of Laurent Branlard desserts

Best Food: Pulled Pork Tacos from Picabu.
They were served just with the pork in a soft corn shell, but Picabu offered a full table of toppings with which to customize your taco. Veggies, cheese, several hot sauces – pretty much anything you could want to put on a taco.

Best Dessert: Laurent Branlard’s Orange Peel and Grand Marnier Cream Puff garnished with Almond Sable and Chocolate Coated Almonds.
Hailing from Wisconsin, it’s very hard to impress me with a cream puff (the state fair cream puffs are legendary), but this mini version hit all the right notes on my taste buds.

5th Annual Swan and Dolphin Food & Wine Classic
Ty Ku Sake Black; Batasiolo Brachetto D’Acqui Spumante; Delirium Tremens; Shipyard Brewing’s Sweet and Mallow

Best Wine: Batasiolo Brachetto D’Acqui Spumante.
This dessert wine from the Piedmont region of Italy was sweet but not overly so, and made my taste buds very happy. A close runner up was the Ty Ku Sake Black, a polished sake that tasted very smooth with a hint of sweetness.

Best Beer: Sweet and Mallow from Shipyard Brewing.
I have never seen this blend before, but this beer was brewed with sweet potatoes, and just a hint of marshmallow. It works in dessert, and strangely, works in a beer. A really close second was Delirium Tremens, a Belgian pale ale that had a little bit of a champagne taste to it.

It was a lovely evening getting to sample the offerings and running into friends. I look forward to checking out next year’s edition of the Swan and Dolphin Food & Wine Classic – and we’ll bring you all the details as soon as we get them, so you can plan to attend!

Thanks to the Swan and Dolphin for hosting the event, and to John for the invite.

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