One weekend a year, the chefs at the Swan and Dolphin Hotels pull out all the stops to deliver their best bites to a group of passionate food and wine fans, many of whom make a yearly pilgrimage to the hotel just for this event.
The event also includes great music from guest bands, fun themed areas and more. With over 60 wine and beer booths attendees are guaranteed to find something they can enjoy again when they return home. You can buy tickets to redeem at the booths, but most guests pick up a ’causeway’ ticket and enjoy unlimited eating and wine and beer samples throughout the event.
We were very happy to be invited again to cover the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Food & Wine Classic, now it its 10th year. The organizers celebrated that milestone by opening a new food area called “Hang 10” that had a beach party atmosphere, it’s own band, and a beach BBQ themed menu that had guests lining up for more all night long.
With regulars returning year after year, the Classic also takes on a bit of a feel of a reunion. Everyone last night was sharing stories about past events, favorite foods, and the best finds of the night.
Let’s talk about the food. As a vegan, I was happy to learn about 4 options for me at the Classic. The Vegan Pho was the big winner, but it was nice to have options and I hope they bring back even more options next year. For omnivores, the menu was more extensive this year than ever before. Shula’s, Blue Zoo, and Kimonos regularly bring tasty options to the table The big surprise this year was the Arkansas “BLT” with Friend Green Tomato, Smoked Bacon, and Lettuce. Also getting god marks was the traditional Kalua pork served over steamed white rice, barrel aged tamari, and nappa cabbage over in the new Hang 10 area. I also enjoyed the Hawaiian style shaved ice for dessert.
The secret with the Classic is that queues at the food booths shrink to nothing during the last hour of the event, but the food is just as good. We recommend exploring some of the wine and beer booths the first hour and if a line is short for food, jump in and grab a sample. Then in hour two you can make sure you hit the booths you’ve starred on your map, and in hour three return for more of your favorites.
The Classic has traditionally been held on the last weekend in October, but was pushed back one week this year due to a conflict. Although the first night was moved indoors due to rain, Saturday night was back outdoors and the weather was absolutely perfect. Many people buy weekend packages and go on both nights (the menus vary at most, but not all, booths from night to night). But really just pick the best night for you, go early and stay to the end. You’ll have a blast.
The entire event is expertly run from the moment the causeway opens up to the minute things wrap up. We hope to return to enjoy many more Food and Wine Classics. As soon as we hear an official date for the 2020 event, we’ll let you know so you can go too.