Photos by TastyChomps.com‘s Krystle Nguyen
The Waldorf Astoria Orlando and the Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek resorts are hosting the third annual Orlando Food & Wine Weekends, which runs Friday and Saturday evenings Sept. 27 – Nov. 9, 2013. The menus that the restaurants are running this year both surprised and delighted my taste buds and were truly a culinary experience to seek out. This past weekend, I was invited to visit and sample some of the menus available.
For seven weekends, the resorts are featuring these special programming and events aimed to complement and “fill the gaps” around the wildly popular Epcot® International Food & Wine Festival held at the nearby Disney theme park.
They are serious here about food.
“For the past 19 years, Disney has done an amazing job of building their Food & Wine Festival at Epcot,” said Peter Kacheris, managing director of Waldorf Astoria Orlando. “As the festival has grown, so has the public’s appetite for additional culinary-focused experiences. We’ve created our Orlando Food & Wine Weekends to highlight our own world-class culinary team while we complement the Epcot festival.”
Orlando Food & Wine Weekends events will be held at Waldorf Astoria Orlando, and at its sister resort, Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek, located less than one mile from Epcot, and accessible inside the gates of Walt Disney World® Resort.
Event highlights include:
• A Taste of Waldorf Astoria® at the Bull and Bear Restaurant
Exclusive tasting menus and wine pairings from the master chefs of many of the most renowned hotels in the Waldorf Astoria brand. Guests will enjoy a degustation menu comprised of some of the most celebrated dishes from Waldorf Astoria hotels around the world, paired with exquisite wines. The menu features dishes from Rome to France to New Orleans and right here in Orlando. Offered Friday and Saturday evenings, 6pm – 11pm, Bull & Bear.
• Il Cibo Della Vita at La Luce by Donna Scala
From the kitchen of La Luce by Donna Scala at Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek, each weekend from Sept. 27 – Nov. 9, a new tasting menu and wine pairing will be unveiled, featuring chef Scala’s newest recipes – many being presented for the first time. This series of culinary experiences is certain to be the talk of the town! Friday & Saturday evenings, 5pm – 11pm, La Luce by Donna Scala.
• Pea Ringu – The Art of Sushi Pairing at Zeta Bar and Sushi Lounge
An exciting epicurean journey awaits as the culinary team of Zeta Bar & Sushi Lounge explore perfect pairings for our favorite sushi dishes including beer, sake and wine. Friday and Saturday evenings, Zeta Bar & Sushi Lounge at Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek.
• Bar du Chocolat and champagne tasting
Decadent, yes. Sinful, perhaps. Most certainly an experience for those with a sweet tooth. Peacock Alley will be transformed into a chocolate-lovers’ dream, offering a cocoa-infused evening of self-indulgence paired with a selection of fine champagnes. Guests can choose from a signature selection of chocolate treats from the Waldorf Astoria Orlando’s world-class pastry team using recipes from the most romantic points of the globe. Friday and Saturday evenings, 6pm – 10pm, Peacock Alley at Waldorf Astoria Orlando.
• Live Entertainment – nightly at Peacock Alley
• Royal Tea, A New Waldorf Astoria Orlando Tradition
Guests will treasure time together as they savor finely-prepared tea sandwiches and house-made pastries while sipping premium hot tea and listening to live piano music. Sundays, 3pm – 5pm, Peacock Alley at Waldorf Astoria Orlando.
• Astoria After Dark – Adults are not the only ones to have fun. The WA Kids Club is offering a nightly children’s program including dinner and a non-stop roster of fun activities – providing parents some “adult time” in which to experience Orlando Food & Wine Weekends activities. Friday and Saturday evenings, 6pm – 10pm.
Photos taken by Krystle Nguyen with the Nikon D5000 DSLR
Pea Ringu – The Art of Sushi Pairing at Zeta Bar and Sushi Lounge
The sushi at Zeta Bar and Sushi Lounge, made by some of Orlando’s best sushi chefs, is among some of the best I found in town. The decor is ultra modern and the setting is reminiscent of a swanky night club.
The tasting menu at Zeta Bar and Sushi Lounge features chef-inspired sushi served in a bento box and paired with specially selected beverages all for $35.
Gekkeikan Zipang Sparkling Sake, Schloss Vollrads Kabinett 2011, Takara Plum Wine, Cigar City Florida Cracker White Ale
Nori Cracker - Seared Tuna served over Nori Crackers with Avocado, Spicy Mayo and Smelt Roe - Paired with Cigar City Florida Cracker White Ale
Bonzai Roll - Spicy Tuna Roll topped with Barbequed Eel, Avocado, Eel Sauce and Tempura Crunch and served with a sample of Red Snapper and Salmon Nigiri- Paired with Schloss Vollrads Kabinett 2011
Fried Dumplings - Pork Gyoza and Vegetables fried with a Ginger and Shallot Vinaigrette - Paired with Gekkeikan Zipang Sparkling Sake
Fire Cracker - Yellowtail Sashimi with Jalapeno, topped with Tobiko Yuzo dressing, Tamari Shoyu and Truffle Oil - Paired with Takara Plum Wine
Hiyashi Wakame - Classic Japanese Seaweed Salad - Paired with Gekkeikan Zipang Sparkling Sake
A Taste of Waldorf Astoria® at the Bull and Bear Restaurant
The Bull and Bear Restaurant at the Waldorf Astoria Orlando is one of the finest restaurants in Orlando and is probably one of the most overlooked – the food here blew my and my dining companions’ gastronomic minds on our recent visit.
The restaurant is led by Executive Chef Massimo Falsini, a world class chef who has served as Executive chef at Hilton in Dubai along with Sous Chef Daniel Tederous, a former executive chef at The Capital Grille, Tampa, along with a list of fine restaurants in Atlanta.
If Orlando had a Michelin guide, the Bull and Bear at the Waldorf Astoria Orlando would be one of the few restaurants in Orlando I could see easily making the list.
The tasting menu “A Taste of Waldorf Astoria” may sound a bit humble, but look closer and realize that it is a compilation of 7 dishes from all the best Waldorf Astorias from all around the world, including Orlando. Truly the definition of the ultimate luxurious foodie dream, and well worth the $110 per person, plus tax and gratuity.
Rome Cavalieri (La Pergola, 3 Michelin Starred) – Rome, Italy
45 DAY DRY AGED PRIME BEEF PAPER, AMARANTH CRACKER, BELUGA CAVIAR
Waldorf Astoria Ras al Khaimah – Ras al Khaimah, United Arab Emirates
VELVET OF CORAL LENTILS, CUMIN CROUTONS, LEMON ESSENCE
Trianon Palace Versailles (Gordon Ramsay au Trianon) – Versailles, France
RAVIOLI OF LANGOUSTINE AND LOBSTER STEAMED IN RIESLING BISQUE, LIME BOUILLABAISSE on top of shrimp, oyster
The Roosevelt New Orleans – New Orleans, France
FILET OF RED FISH, OYSTER POCHE AU BEURRE BLANC, MAQUE CHOUX
Waldorf Shanghai on the Bund – Shanghai, China
LAKE MEADOW ORGANIC CHICKEN, CRISPY MILLET, GREEN PAPAYA CHUTNEY, GREEN CURRY
Waldorf Astoria Orlando
PINOT BRAISED BISON RIBS, PARSNIPS THREE WAYS, SUC DE CUISSON
Waldorf Astoria Berlin, Germany
BERLINER PFANNKUCHEN, raspberry creme filled donut
Both hotels are offering packages that include a $50 resort/dining credit. The popular Best of Waldorf Astoria package includes deluxe accommodations, a $50 daily dining/resort credit, and complimentary scheduled transportation to Epcot® (and other Disney theme parks). Rates starting from $269 per night. For more information or reservations, please visit www.waldorfastoriaorlando.com/food-wine , or call +1 888-353-2009, and reference promotion code PBBWW1.
At Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek, the Bonnet Creek Fall Retreat package includes deluxe accommodations, a $50 daily dining/resort credit, daily parking and internet and complimentary scheduled transportation to Disney theme parks. Rates starting from $199 per night. For more information or reservations, please visit http://www.hiltonbonnetcreek.com/food-wine, or call +1 888-353-2013, and reference promotion code BCFT.