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WDW Radio # 751 – 10 Reasons You Need to Attend the Swan & Dolphin Food & Wine Classic

We’re going from Fantasyland to Flavorland, as we share 10 reasons to visit (spoiler alert) my favorite foodie event of the year, the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Food and Wine Classic! It’s a whole new world of flavors as DIsney dreams and delicious flavors combine for an unforgettable experience! We’ll discuss some of the many reasons to attend, can’t-miss items, and overlooked culinary gems and experiences and invite you to join us at this year’s event.   

Looking for the ultimate culinary adventure? Join Lou Mongello and guest Ashley Coggins as they uncover the mouthwatering delights at the annual Swan Dolphin Food and Wine Classic. In this episode of WDW Radio, they reveal the top 10 reasons why this exclusive event should be at the top of your must-try list.

Step into a world of limited crowds and extraordinary menus that change each night, offering a mix of upscale and casual dishes that cater to every palate. Indulge in tantalizing creations like king crab with blood orange or savor the deliciousness of a deconstructed Reuben sandwich. The wide range of culinary preferences is sure to impress even the most discerning foodies.

Experience a level of personalized attention like no other, as the Swan Dolphin event provides focused service that ensures a comfortable and enjoyable atmosphere. With shorter lines and a relaxed ambiance, you can savor every moment and truly immerse yourself in the flavors around you.

But the Swan Dolphin Food and Wine Classic is more than just a gastronomic feast. It’s an intimate gathering of like-minded culinary enthusiasts, where you can mingle with celebrity chefs and create lasting memories. Whether you’re planning a romantic date night, a staycation, or even a destination vacation, this event promises to be a highlight of your trip.

Join in on the vibrant atmosphere of the causeway between the magnificent Swan and Dolphin resorts, where you can enjoy not only the event’s exclusive dishes but also the delectable offerings from the resort’s renowned restaurants. With ample seating, entertainment, and a wide variety of options to tempt your taste buds, this food and wine extravaganza is a true feast for the senses.

But that’s not all! Enhance your experience with educational seminars, VIP access, and even pasta making classes, allowing you to dive deeper into the world of culinary arts. From wine pairings to craft cocktails, there’s something for everyone to learn and enjoy.

Don’t miss out on this unforgettable culinary journey. Discover why the Swan Dolphin Food and Wine Classic is one of the most highly anticipated events of the year. So grab your glass, take a bite, and let the symphony of flavors whisk you away into a world of gourmet delight.

Keywords: Swan Dolphin, Food and Wine Classic, culinary adventure, exclusive event, upscale and casual dishes, personalized attention, celebrity chefs, romantic date night, staycation, destination vacation, causeway, renowned restaurants, educational seminars, VIP access, pasta making classes, culinary arts, wine pairings, craft cocktails, unforgettable culinary journey, gourmet delight.


Thanks to Ashley Coggins from A Cup of Charming for joining me this week.

The key moments in this episode are:

I. Introduction to the episode and event

  • Introduction to WDW Radio podcast and host Lou Mongello
  • Introduction to guest Ashley Coggins
  • Overview of the episode discussing the 10 reasons to attend the Swan Dolphin Food Wine Classic

II. Reasons to attend the Swan Dolphin Food Wine Classic
A. Limited crowds and intimate experience
– Limited to just two nights
– Different menus each night
– Smaller scale allows for personalized attention
– Ability to move freely and comfortably through different areas
– No sense of being rushed or cramped

B. Mix of upscale and casual dishes
– Examples of upscale dishes: king crab with blood orange and Florida grapefruit
– Examples of casual dishes: deconstructed Reuben sandwich, Italian beef sandwich
– Appeal to a wide range of culinary preferences

C. Focused service and comfortable environment
– Swan and Dolphin location on the causeway in the middle of the resorts
– Shorter lines and comfortable atmosphere
– Exclusive tastings and unique creations

D. Exclusive experiences and customization options
– Additional educational experiences, seminars, and VIP access available
– Wine regions of Italy seminar highlighted
– Craft cocktail and pasta making seminars mentioned
– Grand tasting event, champagne and dessert party mentioned

E. High-quality food and generous offerings
– Food crafted by chefs from various upscale restaurants
– Unlimited food and drink included in price
– Variety of options available, including Il Molino

F. Memorable experiences and atmosphere
– Unique event not found elsewhere
– Party for the Senses mentioned
– Upscale yet casual and welcoming atmosphere
– Ample seating available

G. Date night, staycation, or destination event
– Family-friendly but not many children
– Event suitable for date nights and staycations
– Recommendations for staying at Swan and Dolphin or The View

H. Culinary and wine-focused experiences
– Emphasis on the passion Italians have for wine and food
– Different seminars and experiences mentioned
– Importance of tradition and creating memories

I. Value for money and alternative to Epcot Food and Wine Festival
– More variety and less waiting compared to Epcot
– Recommended for foodies or those wanting to become foodies
– Discounted room rates at Swan and Dolphin for attendees

III. Conclusion and final thoughts
– Summary of reasons to attend the Swan Dolphin Food Wine Classic
– Invitation to join the journey through gourmet offerings
– Appreciation for the balance of elegance and comfort at the event
– Reference to the hard work of pastry chefs and their innovative techniques
– Mention of numerous dishes available at the event and restaurants
– Suggestion to consider a Disney date night or destination vacation

Timestamped summary of this episode:

  • [00:00:43] Visit Walt Disney World’s Swan and Dolphin Food and Wine Classic for a magical culinary experience.
  • [00:06:06] The Swan and Dolphin offer amazing restaurants with unique dishes.
  • [00:08:31] Unlimited menu sampling, 16 items to choose from (13 new). Favorites discussed. Recommendations sought for festival.
  • [00:11:55] The “Party for the Senses” is an upscale, elegant event with food stations and entertainment. It is both casual and welcoming to all attire.
  • [00:14:52] Limited time and limited crowds make this event more enjoyable and intimate compared to larger-scale festivals like those at Epcot. There are different menus every night and a limited number of attendees, allowing for a more personalized experience with the ability to move freely and comfortably.
  • [00:16:38] The Swan and Dolphin offer focused service, shorter lines, and an exclusive experience.
  • [00:22:35] Exclusive tastings, unique creations, entertainment, ample seating, memorable experiences, customized options, educational seminars, VIP access.
  • [00:23:57] Agree with good date night at Disney World’s Epcot for celebrations, variety, and shorter lines.
  • [00:29:14] An inclusive event for wine and food lovers, with sommeliers and chefs, offering learning opportunities and entertainment.
  • [00:30:24] Explore Italy’s wine regions, showcasing passion for wine, food pairing, and traditions. Includes beer and craft cocktail seminars, pasta making, premium experiences, and a grand tasting with elite wines and chef’s table pairing. VIP champagne and dessert party concludes the event.
  • [00:33:51] Food at festival and resort made on property. Scratch kitchens. Taste difference. Interact with and celebrity chefs. Tod English present each year. Blue Zoo go-to restaurant at Walt Disney World. Friendly and approachable.
  • [00:39:30] The person has a day job as a general manager in a culinary food hall and runs a website called Cupacharming.com. They are active on Instagram and also visit parks occasionally.
  • [00:42:10] Ashley Coggins invites to a event, get tickets at foodandwineclassic.com.

Have you ever been to the Walt Disney World Swan & Dolphin Food and Wine Classic? Is it something you’d like to attend?

Share your thoughts in the WDW Radio Clubhouse at WDWRadio.com/Clubhouse, or call the voicemail at 407-900-9391 (WDW1) and share your story on the show.


Episode Transcript

Click Here To Read The Full Podcast Episode Transcript

Lou Mongello: It's the most wonderful time of the year. Why? You got Halloween, scary movies, pumpkins, and all of their spiced everythings, football, and food and wine. And I don't just mean the Epcot Festival. But even more so spoil alert, my favorite foodie event of the year. And I hope you're hungry, not just to learn, but for some food, because today we're going to dive like fork first into a celebration that it's close to my heart and my stomach.

And we're going to share. 10 ish reasons you need I'm I highlight those words. You need to visit the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin food and wine classic. It is an annual, dare I say, extravaganza that beckons foodies, wine connoisseurs and Disney enthusiasts literally from around the globe. And if you've never experienced the culinary magic that unfold at the Swan and Dolphin.

You're in for a treat. Like I want you to imagine a place where the magic of Disney and the allure of fine yet casual dining dance together under the twinkling Florida sky, creating this symphony of flavors and aromas and memories. That will stay with you forever. So I invite you to grab a snack because you don't want to listen hungry, sit back and relax as we journey through together through the enticing gourmet laden path at the food and wine classic.

And joining me is a fellow foodie. She's more like a super foodie. Like I just eat, but she actually does this for a living. Um, she's been a guest chef. At the Epcot Food and Wine Festival in Epcot, and more importantly, she simply appreciates the, the food, the wonderful food, whether it's eaten atop a, a Walt Disney World trash can lid or some of the finest dining in the area, you may remember her.

From Food and Wine Festival Walkabouts, the best of the EPCOT International Festival of the Holidays, the live review of Steakhouse 71, you see a pattern developing here. She is Ashley Coggins, and she's not just from, but is a cup of charming. Ashley, welcome back. Thank

Ashley Coggins: you for having me again, Lou. We, um,

Lou Mongello: it is usually we are out and about somewhere and we have plates of food in front of us and I've got my handheld recorder in my hand, um, but we, we saw each other earlier today, um, and spoiler alert, like we love this event.

Um, we've enjoyed it, not just together at media sneak peeks like we did earlier today, but just experience thing, this experience together as guests.

Ashley Coggins: Oh, yes. I mean, this is the quintessential to me, like food event of the year. I adore it. You have the great like fall weather of like you said earlier in your intro of Florida, which we only get a small little preview of nice cool weather throughout the year that all of us suffer through summer just for these few nights that we get.

And this classic is just they roll out the red carpet. Mhm. For every guest that comes, and you have so many different varieties of food and desserts and beverages. I mean, this team works so hard to make something for everyone. Yeah,

Lou Mongello: and they produce. And when I say 10, this is going to be sort of 10 ish.

It's going to be a very casual sort of not sticking by the numbers, because I think our conversation will just sort of, you know, beget other other things that we add to our list. But I think, and we can almost sort of make this one of the reasons like they've actually, they've moved. The time of year when this event happens before it used to be in early October, which sometimes would be very hot every now and then to get a little, little bit of rain.

Then they moved it to Halloween and somebody like, Oh, come on, man, you can't put it on Halloween. And then they moved it from Halloween. They're like, why, why'd you move it from Halloween? I was looking, but now it's in November. And I think this is, yeah, I think this is going to be the sweet spot because it's, you know, we're recording this in sort of almost the middle of October and it was 89 degrees today, but I think once we get into that, God, I'm praying once we get into that November, those cool fall night outside on the causeway by the water are going to be delightful.

Yes.

Ashley Coggins: And it's like a gift, you know, hoping for a breeze if we're lucky, you know, and you got the entertainment going and all this energy, it's just, it's, it's just, you can, you have to go. I just, I don't know what else to say. It's just, you have to go. You have to be there.

Lou Mongello: All right. So when we talk about sort of 10 reasons, cause we were just sitting there chatting today and we were sort of, you know, going back and forth and like this, wait, this is a show.

We should be recording this right now. What's the first thing that comes to mind? Like, what is the first sort of compelling reason, whether you have never been there before? And look, I think we should say on the outset, you don't need to be like a super foodie to attend and enjoy this event. Like this really is an event for everybody.

But what, what is sort of the thing that, that jumps out at you first

Ashley Coggins: variety? There's so many different things and it's not just small little things. It's like each dish that they make is so curated. It's almost like a little bit of, even if it's just a piece of sushi or a piece of pasta or a piece of meat, whatever you have, you, they do it well.

It's like they shrink down a miniaturized gourmet dish and just put it on the plate. Even when it's just like a pretzel with cheese and they just present it off so well. I love that. You go from having, you know, Todd English's food to going to a beer tent and having like, like pretzels and wings, like Bavarian party and then you're having like an upstage, beautiful, elegant dinner all in one walkway.

Where are you going to get that?

Lou Mongello: You know, and I agree because, and one of the things I think that's, that's important to realize. So one of the reasons why I love the Swan and the Dolphin is not just for the heavenly beds and the way the lobby smells, but they have so many. Amazing. I think it's some of the best dining you'll find in all of Walt Disney World.

And the food that comes from the restaurant makes it out its ways out onto the causeway. So you're talking about places like Shula's, Il Molino, which is some of the best Italian food in the area. Oh, how I love your sushi. So Amare Rosa Mexicana, which opened just, I guess, less than a year ago at the dolphin, there's also a Chinatown section, a carnival corner, and every year the chefs craft, these special dishes that are exclusive to the event.

So you're going to get a culinary experience. You're not going to find. Elsewhere. And like you said, they're, they're very innovated and showcase a lot of what the chefs and the restaurants have to offer. And I was looking earlier today, there's, there's about 25 or so different food dishes. And what I love too, actually, is that they often will vary from Friday and Saturday night.

Like if you're looking for a reason to make this a weekend, here's just one. I was just quickly going through the, the items on some of the menus. So, Shula's Steakhouse on Friday and Saturday has this Roasted Heritage Black Angus Beef Tenderloin. There's a Smokin D's Barbecue with Smoked American Lamb, Smoked Rib Beef, Todd English's Blue Zoo.

Cabana Bar and Beach Club has, we had some of that today, that compressed watermelon and the marinated tomatoes and the feta cheese, which was just so light and so delicious. The Fountain, Il Molino, Kimono, Zamora, Garden Grove, Peekaboo, Rosa Mexicano, Chinatown, For the Love of Florida, which we'll talk about, the Beer Garden.

The Beer Garden is not just pretzels. Poached potato dumplings with caramelized onion puree, crispy bacon, and brown butter. I'm sweating just a little bit. I'm getting excited as we're going through this, as well as a host of different desserts. And I love that they bring new items every single year. But every now and then you'll find a couple of classics that they'll bring back from past events as well.

Ashley Coggins: Absolutely. Especially that dragon roll from kimonos. I just stand there and be like, I'm new. Keep

Lou Mongello: them coming. And they can because it's unlimited. It is. Yeah, which we'll talk about that alone being a reason. But today we had a chance to sample. Some of the new items and I took a quick look through the menu from the tasting that we had today There were 16 Items that we had to choose from 13 of them were new So I love the fact that there are some and we went back and forth today in terms of what?

Some of our favorites and remarkable. So when you go to the festival, right based on what you try you try today We're like, where would you go first? What's like, what would after like, cause I'm thinking about something we had today and I'm like, I want to make a beeline For this what is like one of the one or two of the items that you had today That you just sort of fell in love with and asked me to go up and get you extras of at least three or four times

Ashley Coggins: definitely the the gorgonzola cheese filled angolotti pasta That was amazing.

It had spiced pear with walnuts, natrum flour, Nijua vinaigrette from El Molino. They were like little pockets of heaven. It was, it just like float, floating pasta that just, somebody made those by hand, you can tell. And it was just the sauce is complimented, you know, you know, pasta is soft, you know, and then they have like, you know, the walnuts and the pear with it, that kind of give it comes some kind of texture there.

And I could just, I just wanted the whole bowl. Can you just get me a full size dinner serving, sir, please.

Lou Mongello: What I love about the menu and even what we saw from the tasting today. Is like you said earlier, you sort of alluded to the fact that there is, you'll find upscale, right, I'm sort of using air quotes, like upscale things like King Crab, which is new, which has King Crab meat and blood orange and Florida grapefruit and this crispy garlic, but you'll also find things that are more casual, sort of this Deconstructed Reuben sandwich, which was phenomenally insanely good, like remarkably good, but we also have like the Italian beef sandwich, so there's sort of more casual foods.

And that's why I think it really sort of appeals to a wide spectrum from purely a culinary perspective. If you are looking for something that's a little more upscale as well as something a little bit more casual.

Ashley Coggins: Absolutely. And I think some people, that's what they want. They want something more casual, or they want something elevated.

And I think giving it to anybody in your party, that if you go in a group especially, you're making memories of being together, and it's like a party you're at, that you just go from each booth to each booth, and everyone has something that they would love, or want to go back for more, for seconds, thirds, fourths, whatever.

You know, us fifths.

Lou Mongello: Bring your eatin pants when you go, whether they're casual or formal. And actually, that was the first thing that I had on my list, as I was sort of like brain dumbing this, that I really do believe that this is the best food and wine event, not just in Walt Disney World, but in the area. And that's saying a lot, because the food in Orlando, not just here sort of in the Disney bubble, but Going out into, you know, the mills district in downtown Orlando.

It really has sort of elevated over the past maybe three, five, even, even seven years. This is the 14th year of the festival. And I do believe we talked about this today too. I do believe it's an elevated experience over things like flower garden, food and wine festival of the arts. And even if you want to sort of.

Attribute it more to something like a party for the senses. Um, I think this is actually, and I've been to a number of parties for the senses. It is a much more elevated, um, elegant, expensive experience, right? That runs about 230 to about 360, uh, per person has 20 entertainment. I'm sorry. Uh, food stations and some entertainment.

But what I like about this is it, it really sort of balances between being elegant and comfortable. It's upscale, but casual, which makes it, I think, very welcoming for anybody. Um, and it, even though it's outside and it's on the causeway, it's just the way it's decorated, the way it is presented. Um, and, and the way that the, the sort of the flow of the event, I think like you said, you could.

You can get dressed up for this event, especially if you want to do some of the other add on experiences that we'll touch on, but you could also come in, you know, shorts and a polo shirt and be perfectly comfortable as well.

Ashley Coggins: Absolutely. And also everybody to the age ranges is very much all over the place as well.

It's everybody. You got people that are an older, younger. Mixed families having like, you know, a mixture of families and people there with their friends, people there like on vacation, people that are local, like it's so everybody it's there's not just one likes kind of group of people that it's attracted to this event.

Lou Mongello: What was next for you sort of on your mental or Actually handwritten list, if you have either.

Ashley Coggins: I want to talk about that raspberry moon dessert that we had today.

Lou Mongello: I love the fact that one of the reasons to go is a specific item on the menu.

Ashley Coggins: Yes, right there. I just, this is what I want to say in the culinary world, especially pastry.

There's a lot of intricate work that goes that somebody is standing there Prepping for this and they're cutting out these by hand and making you know All these desserts like I just want to give like kind of shout out to the chefs for that kind of situation Like how much is in the behind the scenes just to curate?

How many like thousands of these that they have to make in a night just to put out there? So everybody can have two per person, just kidding. Um, but yeah, I just think that the dessert team with how they do all these little things intricately, and they're using like different, uh, newer fad, like I want to say procedures, as you say, you know, about how they make like ice cream right there in front of you with nitrous.

And, and there, it's like a show to show you how to do it. Especially if you're into food stuff, a lot of people like to see how things are made. And some of these things are hands on where people can watch the chef create their dish right in front of them. So I kind of like that for me and being able to talk to chefs too, while they're there serving up their dishes and asking questions about it.

And I just think it's a cool, like conversation.

Lou Mongello: Yeah. And that, so that was the next thing I had on my list is that it's not just limited time. But limited crowds. So this event, unlike the Epcot festivals, which now they're basically is a festival going on pretty much any time of the year, which is not necessarily a bad thing.

This event is limited to just two nights. Um, there's different menus every night, but to your point, there are limited crowds, right? So there are a very limited number of attendees. Which makes it a much more, in my opinion, enjoyable and intimate experience compared to something that's on a larger scale like Epcot food and wine.

So it, it, they do, it does a number of different things. It avoids the event being overly crowded. You can move a lot more freely and comfortably through the different areas. You'd never feel rushed. You never feel cramped, like you're not going to be able to see and do it all. But I think that the smaller scale also gives you more personalized attention.

It ensures that you get attention from the chefs and the sommeliers and the staff, which really improves the experience. Because I think you're, you're encouraged to interact and talk with the chefs and the expert, which I think, especially if you're, if you don't consider yourself a foodie, it makes this sort of borderline slash upscale culinary Approachable and enjoyable.

And I think it's not just about, you know, consuming food for the sake of eating, but this atmosphere promotes learning and discovery in a fun and engaging and very sort of relaxed manner. Like you said, you, you can talk, you're encouraged to sort of talk to the chefs and don't feel like they are rushing you where you're getting rushed by a line of guests behind you.

Exactly. The, um, one of the things I've always noticed, and this is sort of true for the Swan and Dolphin as, as a whole, is you get very focused service there. Like it's very, very service focused, which is what I love about that event. Plus it's a very, it's. Because it's on sort of the causeway in the middle of the swan and dolphin as well as the areas in the front of both resorts Um, it's a much more comfortable environment too, you know, it's shorter lines You know, usually there's not just more than a couple of people in front of you because there's not transactions happening for each The time you go up, it's a much faster experience, too, because it's a pay one price.

You've got your wristband. So the flow is much quicker as well. And I like this, the idea that it's intimate, it's relaxed. And there is a little bit of exclusivity that comes with it due to the limited attendance. And I think it allows the Swan and Dolphin and the chefs and the staff to focus on it. Yeah.

We're even at really have a heightened focus on quality and personal engagement and sort of makes it really a standout choice.

Ashley Coggins: Absolutely. And the other thing about that too, for if you go to a something like this, and you've always been afraid to try something new, like a new alcohol, like a new champagne, for instance, or a Japanese whiskey, they have.

Salmon years and different, um, beverage ambassadors that are there. Like you were saying that could talk you through or, you know, help you pair something. And that's interesting too. Like where, you know, sometimes things are out of people's price point. Like you don't want to spend a hundred dollars on a bottle of champagne per se, but you can try one that night if you want to and see if it's something that you would buy for a special occasion in the future, maybe for another event.

And that's what the Champagne Room is. That's one of the things that, um, we really enjoy going in there. They have a really cool, uh, kind of crooner, like Michael Bublé style singer in there. Last year they had him and the year before that they had like a jazz trio. And that room is very atmospheric. They have like pink and blue lighting and balloons hanging everywhere.

There's a really cool, like, photoshopped little area to take, like, a cool picture together with your group. And they have all different, um, stations there for different, like, types of champagnes, rosés, things like that. And that's a really fun space that's unique, I think, that adds to also the fun. The flair of the fests that they're doing.

Lou Mongello: Yeah. So, and, and those things are included with your, um, the, the price of admission as it's different than some of the seminars and other educational offerings that they have, but what, right. Obviously the entertainment that is available, um, and just sort of happening all around you is wonderful as well on the causeway.

You'll have a number of different bands from Motown and blues and dance music from the 60s up until today. And in some of those places like the Rosé, so the Rosé room is going to be new this year. They have a pop strings trio, uh, with, you know, classical melodies reimagined through a pop lens. Very curious to see what is that is going to be like, uh, in the, for the love of Florida themed area, Jamie Davis is going to be a singer songwriter and guitar player.

So a little bit more relaxed, a little bit laid back. And at one of the VIP parties, they have the American sirens with jazz and reimagined classic. So wherever you go, you know, you sort of get these different vibes, different fields, and you'll sort of find your place that you like to just sort of. Hang out if you want to be close to the band and sing along and dance and you can be if you want to be in some of those quieter areas or even some of those indoor spaces that have this different type of entertainment.

You have that option as well. I'm just here for the food. I'm not like I'm not gonna like Like The music is a nice add on, but, um, so the other, one of the things I had on my list as a reason to go for some people, I think when, when you see it, they say, well, this is a reason not to go. And, and I think the fact that it is a, a single priced event that has unlimited offerings is a great value.

You're going to say, Mangello, what are you talking about? It's 185 per person. It is. But I think there's a lot of value for attendees. And here's the reasons why. Look, if you're going to go to Epcot and you're going to, you know, eat slash drink your way around the world, which is very difficult to do on a single night, one, because it's incredibly crowded too, because it takes a long time because you have those individual transactions and you're going, it can get.

Very expensive. Like it can be a very, very expensive,

Ashley Coggins: especially if you're not a pass holder and you're used paid admission to get into the park at a peak time.

Lou Mongello: Exactly, exactly here. It is the single price. And I think one, and we talked about this today too. I think we keep sort of using word, like it's an elevator experience.

I think the food that is being served is. It showcases premium dishes and beverages that are crafted by these chefs. So I think you get access to a very high quality gourmet level food and drinks that would cost significantly more if you order them separately at some of the upscale restaurants and bars, including the ones in.

The swan and dolphin. Um, there's a, a, obviously a wide variety of options. Did I mentioned unlimited food and drink? So you don't have to worry about, well, let's just skip this because I don't want to wait online. I don't want to spend the. 12, 13, 14, you know, in, in Italy, in, in Epcot, but you can go here and get, you know, a number of different options from Il Molino.

You can go back over and over again. So you get these exclusive tastings and unique creations that are specifically. Crafted for the events. Um, yes, there's some add on things that you can do too, but the entertainment is included as, as well. There's lots of seating everywhere, um, which sometimes at food and wine festival is, is a little bit, uh, different to a little, little bit difficult to get.

And I think. You know, I, I, I talk about this being one of my favorite events, not just culinary, but sort of favorite events of the year, because I always sort of walk away from these with memories that I take with me. You know, I think back to certain events and people that I went with things that I tried.

I remember the first time they had the carnival there. And the first thing they had Chinatown town there, and some of the different, you know, when Todd English is there all the time and he could sort of spend some time with a celebrity chef. Um, You can sort of really customize your experience to so if you want, if you want to even add on to that with some of the educational experiences and seminars and VIP access to certain areas before and later on in the night, you can do that too.

But I honestly think actually that that 185 person while it might sound like a little bit of sticker shock at the beginning. If you go and you enjoy it for the event runs from five 30 to nine, I, I, I've never left feeling that I didn't get my money's worth.

Ashley Coggins: I can agree with that. I do. And I feel like it's a good date night as well.

If it's like you're celebrating or something like that. I know a lot of people that come to Disney, they're coming for someone's birthday or an anniversary or a family reunion or something like that. And if you wanted to. If you're going to do, I've caught food and wine, you know, this could be supplemented for that.

And you're going to get more for your money. I think then you would, if spending like how everything you broke down was perfectly said, it's true. And you're not always guaranteed to get the item you want, because I do notice. Especially on the weekends, the lines are getting more and more hefty in world showcase.

And with this, you're not going to have that kind of a situation. And you have more variety of, of like moving through the different scenes that they have there too, of staging that they have set up between Chinatown, the carnival and the beer garden and the champagne room. So you have way more value of different places and placements that you would have to enjoy yourself and have a relaxing thing where you're not going to be on top of people.

That you can casually peruse or you can get a game plan together and grab a couple of plates together and meet up and try things together. It's a fun environment that you don't feel overwhelmed and feeling like the walls are closing in on you. Yeah.

Lou Mongello: There's something cozy and comfortable about this too.

And I love. Again, outside, especially like when golden hour hits, like it's beautiful out there and it is, there's, Oh, you can always sort of find a place to sit. You know, there's rounds, there's, there's high tops, there's some, you know, other comfortable seating, even like around the pool area, which is really, really nice.

And, and, and that sort of, again, we keep using words like intimacy and uncomfortable, but that those are really the things that I love about the event. And to a certain degree, you know, that, that is part of what you're paying for too.

Ashley Coggins: Right. And people are all having a good time. People are dancing, they're drinking, they're having fun.

They're all together singing the songs they know. It's a really fun environment too. And there's times where people, you know, with the taller tables that you just stop out for a minute, you're with strangers sometimes. And it's kind of fun like talking like, Oh, did you try this dish and you should go get that over there.

Where'd you get that? You know, people are on vacation having fun or their local having a night out. It's just a fun, fun thing, but

Lou Mongello: it's a little bit different too, because go with me here, you know, in Epcot, if it's a Saturday night and you're walking around and you see this gaggle of people walking by and they're wearing sombreros or Viking hats, you know, it's probably not going to end well for them.

And it's, it is, it's just a different feel that it has. To again. It's a little bit more relaxed. Um, you know, it's family friendly, but you don't really see, you know, there's not a lot of kids that are there, but certainly you can bring kids. I brought my kids. My kids are both foodies. So I've brought them in the past as well, too.

And, and they, and that Which sort of leads me into the next thing, which is on my list, which is you talk about this being a great place for a date night. I actually look at the food and wine classic as a perfect reason slash excuse For a staycation or taking a long weekend or even as a destination event So if you're looking to if you are Or want to be one, you can say, Hey, let's go and spend a couple of days at the Swan and dolphin.

They have discounted room rates, right? So if you're staying, if you have tickets to the event, you get discounted room rates at the Swan and dolphin. In addition to the food and wine classic, there's 23 restaurants and lounges, six pools, the Mandara spa, you were then walking slash boat. Distance from Epcot and the food and wine.

If you're still hungry, the food and wine festival is still going on and Disney's Hollywood studios. And I love as, as a local, we've done this before we've done like staycations. We've stayed at the view, the new, um, the new sort of smaller resort across the street from the Swan and dolphin, which we absolutely love because it really does feel like a bit of a getaway, but you're still close enough to access everything.

So. I like the idea of making the food and wine classic, a date night, a date weekend, or sort of a reason for a destination vacation. Absolutely. Anything, what else is on your list? Or are you going to go back to the raspberry dessert again, which is fine. You can repeat it. Raspberry

Ashley Coggins: dessert. I'm telling you, don't sleep on that raspberry moon dessert, everybody.

I'm not

Lou Mongello: a sweets guy, but today I was.

Ashley Coggins: Oh, today he was everyone. Um, you were talking previously too about there's like, they're also the seminars that, that are being held prior to the event. I've gone to a couple of them in the past. Um, one of them I liked was the base to bubbles. So they had like a master sommelier coming in, um, to teach you all about the regions of France that make champagne.

And then you got to do a pairing of each. Champagne and what the grape comes from to creation and how they produce it. Like some people want to nerd out to that kind of thing. I did, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. And then they have like things, if you just want to have a good time and make pasta, they have that too.

So if that's something extra that you wanted to do to further your enjoyment of your evening, that's a great way to kick off the night.

Lou Mongello: Yeah, I, um, I really like this, this add on aspect. To it, um, because whether you want to learn about or expand your knowledge of wine or beer or spirits, or like you said, learn how to make pasta with an executive chef, or, you know, look, you know, I don't know anything about pairing beverages and how to pair the perfect wine to the perfect meal.

You have certified sommeliers and chefs who are there to. Create an event that is, when I say inclusive, it is, it caters to both food and wine connoisseurs, as well as casual food lovers, making sure that everybody can find something to enjoy. So you talked about the base to bubbles. Um, I, you know, I'm not a huge drinker, but every now and then, you know, a glass of wine is nice.

Uh, a year or two ago, I went to the, um, the Somalia led, um, wine pairing and, and wine blending. So you can figure out. What you should serve or at least order when you go out. So you don't look slash feel ridiculous. Uh, they have something I want to go to this just because I think the name is funny. It's better to wine in Italian.

So you can go through the three main wine regions of Italy and showcase the passion that Italians have for wine and how it it's influenced by the food and how to sort of, um, Keep to tradition and create your own traditions and pair those as well. There's also a, a beer please seminar, a craft cocktail seminar.

You talk about the pasta making as well. There's also a couple of other like premium experiences as well, so there's a grand tasting that runs on Saturday from two to 2 45. They have a welcome reception. Then 2 45 to five is a. Grand tasting, which is a master sommelier led experience that has the champagne reception, three flights of very elite wines, a chef's table menu pairing from the executive chef who was there.

There's also a VIP champagne and dessert party Saturday night. As the event is coming to an end, you go from eight 30 to 10 PM over to the Swan reserve for a VIP dessert pairing reception up at, um, uh, up at the view up at the top of the. The reserve, which is on the 15th floor of the ballroom, which we were at today, which has ridiculously beautiful views of not just Epcot, but all four parks.

So you can sort of plus up your experience, however much or as little as you want to. And it sort of goes back to this idea of, you know, you can sort of make this event your own, whether you want to sort of just go casually with friends or spouse or family, whatever it is, or if you want to sort of make this You know, a culinary and, you know, wine slash cocktail slash beer sort of focused event.

You have the, the option to do it. And everything is led right there at the resort.

Ashley Coggins: It is. And I feel like the whole team there, they do such a great job of just putting things together. They make it look like it's such a flawless thing. And, and all the different team members that are out there, like interacting with you and putting on the show, as they say.

It just, I just enjoy this experience so much. And I, I just, there's just so much to say that we've said already that it's a great experience. You're going to have a fun time. The food is going to be superb, like amazing, superbly, like amazing. Like I can't relate it enough. And it's just so many different.

Things like I just, it's like you go from pasta to beef to pretzel to like, you know, chicken wings. We left that night eating chicken wings With blue cheese, you know, and then they have guacamole with chips and you're like, oh, this is great at the end of the night You're just like eating that on the way out.

You know, all

Lou Mongello: these are themed areas to write like last year they had sort of the There's a beer garden one year. There's the Chinatown section. There was the carnival section, which they had right of carnival foods Um, yeah, didn't they I think last year they had sort of a little uh, Was it like a mexican themed area like with they had entertainment

Ashley Coggins: for that as well?

And they were making like gosh, what was it? There was some specialty It was like, but they were making it right then and there. I can't remember if it was like a taco or some kind of, um, quesadilla or something, but they were making it right there in front of you. And there was a little line for that because those were like literally on the grill being made right there per person.

So that was a little longer, but they had like awesome music there too.

Lou Mongello: Yeah. And that's the thing too, like with all of the food at the festival, like every, every single thing, not just there, but even in, in the resort restaurants, everything is made. On property like the scratch kitchens there. It's made right there and you can, you really can sort of taste the difference.

Um, and yeah, you know, the other thing too, I wanted, we were talking about sort of walking the thing. The other thing too, I forgot to mention is maybe I did is it's not just interacting with the, the chefs are, but there's also like celebrity chefs that are there too. Um, they have some, Todd English is there every year.

Um, blue zoo for years was like my go to restaurant at Walt Disney world. He's there. Yeah. Usually both nights every year, like very approachable, like very nice guy. And you can also talk to him, you know, not just about blues or his restaurants or what he's serving tonight, but I love the fact that he is.

Not up on a stage somewhere. He is literally, like, in front of the tables, like, serving food, talking to guests. Uh, there's, you don't have to sign up for anything. You don't have to get online for anything. He is just there, sort of, literally, like, working his booth. Yes,

Ashley Coggins: and he's so funny. He is so funny. Like, he'll just, like, you know, he's like, He's like, he was last year when he was joking around about like, well, it better not, we never not get any more hurricanes.

Cause I, I, I don't want to have to not be able to fly out here for this and miss everything. Cause it was like a storm literally, like I think three or four days beforehand and we got some rare November storm. And he was joking about possibly missing his flight to come down here. So he's such a real, like down to earth guy, like, and so approachable.

Lou Mongello: Uh, do you have anything else on your list that we, we gave up on the numbering system a long time ago?

Ashley Coggins: Yes. Pretty much. I think we said everything. It's just trying new things, trying elevated, wonderful beverages that you may have not ever had before, or something that's like more expensive that you wanted to try that you never had before, you know, and we had a lot of new dishes today that I have to say that it's just so hard to pinpoint.

Cause everyone was just so great.

Lou Mongello: Yeah. A couple of just quick things that I will, I want to mention too, is, um, every year, including this year, they have a number of sustainable and local offerings. They like to, to, uh, use locally sourced ingredients and promote environmental consciousness and support for local producers and suppliers, not just in sort of the micro micro breweries, but we tried a couple of things today, like a.

Seminole pumpkin fry bread, which was, I'm not a sweets guy, but I'm learning and the, um, the butter poached base scallops with that Florida corn today, uh, you, I think that you had like five plates in your hand to that. So many. And

Ashley Coggins: now I need to go scalloping in Crystal river. Let's go. Live from Crystal River.

Let's do it.

Lou Mongello: You know, I've never been. I know

Ashley Coggins: you got to do that. I don't get out of the pool. It's fun. Not in the Florida sun, but you know, maybe

Lou Mongello: on a not in the middle of, of the, the summer, but, um, look, I actually, I think sort of the, the big takeaway is that there's something. At this event for everybody, whether you are a first time sort of foodie, or if you really sort of consider yourself, uh, very much and enjoy some upscale food, um, there are, well, the other thing we should mention too, it's very accessible, right?

It's, it, there's vegan, vegetarian, gluten free, dairy free, You don't have to go to the chef and ask them to make you something. There are a number of items specifically on the menu. There's a lot of different mish mish. That's a combination of meat and fish is mish meat and fish and, and vegetarian options.

If you're not a drinker, that's okay. They have non alcoholic options for you as well. There's like great merch on the causeway as well. I think it's, it's really. It's a fun, um, way to sort of unlock this, this world of, of different sort of culinary delights and, and tastings, like you said, without having to worry about buying and trying something that you might not enjoy.

You can sample a little bit of everything in this very comfortable and intimate yet personalized, um, environment. Um, so I think whether you're looking for, you know, a special evening with friends or loved one or loved ones, uh, or you want to sort of make a weekend for it. Um, I'm going to be there. My plan is to be there both, both nights this year, because one night, um, was not enough.

And I, I sort of. I've been saying to our community, like, let's just go, like, let's go together. If you've never been before, this is the year that I think we should go together. I don't have any sort of like specific meetup plan. There's no event, but my plan is to go definitely on Saturday, trying to go on Friday as well.

But it's an opportunity for us to go and. You know, do exactly what we're saying here. Just enjoy the night on the causeway together. Dare I say, indulge a little bit in a very sort of magical and flavorful evening.

Ashley Coggins: Yeah. With 200 plus wine, beer, and spirits, there's gotta be something.

Lou Mongello: Be responsible. Drink responsibly, please.

Um, thank you very much again. I'm excited to see you again. You obviously have to be there when we go because you make the events so much more fun. These look food is best enjoyed when it is shared with friends. It is why gathering around the table is, is not just about the food that is placed on it, but it's the people that are around it, uh, tell people.

Where to find you? Tell me what you do and where they can find you. I don't mean like your home address, but like on social or you can give your social home address and

Ashley Coggins: well, my, my regular day job is I work in a culinary, culinary food hall. One of the original ones out in Orlando called East End Market.

That's my regular day job. I am the general manager of there. And I also run the kitchen, the commissary that's also there. And, um, for my fun foodie stuff, I have my own website and it's called a cup of charming. com. And on there, I have different travel things and recipes, and I'm on Instagram. So that's where you can find me.

If you want to come out and say, hi, um, I do go to the parks every once in a while too. And I like to have a day out there, especially when the weather's like it's been the last couple of days, nice and cool and, uh, come hang out, say

Lou Mongello: hi. And East end market may sound familiar to you because that is the home of not just a number of great sort of food stalls and stations.

But it's also the home of the original Gideon's Bakehouse, which is still there. And sometimes the lines at Gideon's in Disney Springs are so long, it literally would take me less time to drive to East End Market, get my Gideon's from there, and drive back home.

Ashley Coggins: Absolutely. And we don't have a virtual queue, so you just come on in and say hi.

Lou Mongello: And you might run into Steve, or you might run into Steve, who's there all the time as well, too. Yeah. This was a lot of fun. Thank you very much. Last question. If you could close your eyes and snap your fingers and have anything on the food and the food and wine classic menu that we tried today other than the raspberry dessert, because you've eaten all those already.

What would the one thing be?

Ashley Coggins: Oh my goodness. Let's do the Reuben sandwich deconstructed. I think that's going to be it. That was just so amazingly Flavorful everything like he had like all you have sauerkraut here. You have a little bit of like Lots of sauerkraut, I love sauerkraut

Lou Mongello: I want to let you in on the inside joke because Ashley loved the sauerkraut so much How much did she love it so much that she got the executive chef to give her a to go box full of sauerkraut

Ashley Coggins: Yes, everyone the shame I feel the shame I know my cheeks are so pink right now

Lou Mongello: Don't I'm not calling you out like that's a win that is that you like plussed up your you absolutely plussed up It was authentic

Ashley Coggins: old world sauerkraut.

When are you going to get that around here? I mean, you know, now i'm gonna have to pull out out of the freezer some of my, uh, Hummel hot dogs from Connecticut and have a grill out this weekend with my sauerkraut. Come over.

Lou Mongello: Listen, don't tempt me to a good time. Uh, Ashley Coggins, thank you so very much. I hope to see you and I hope to see you, our friend who is.

Been sitting around the table with us at the Swan and Dolphin Food Wine Classic Friday and Saturday, November 10th and 11th. You can get your tickets by going to FoodandWineClassic.com


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