Food & Wine Weekends at Waldorf Astoria Orlando and Hilton Bonnet Creek
It’s time for Food and Wine Weekends! The fall season is the most delicious time of year for culinary enthusiasts in Orlando. Epcot® Food & Wine Festival is in full swing offering two months of tasty bites and sips from around the world and fun events to whet your appetite. As the perfect complement, the gorgeous luxury properties of Waldorf Astoria Orlando and Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek, located less than a mile away, are hosting a vast array of culinary experiences. Serious epicureans gather to celebrate fine wine and culinary arts, during the 6th annual Food and Wine Weekends. Choose to visit for a night or stay for the weekend, it is guaranteed you won’t leave hungry.
I attended a media preview recently to learn more about what to expect during this culinary extravaganza. The fantastic evening was hosted by Waldorf Astoria General Manager Sean McCarron with his food & beverage and marketing teams. The highlight of the evening was sampling delicious bites from each of the restaurants – Bull & Bear, La Luce and Zeta Bar & Sushi Lounge.
When McCarron shared with me his favorite “Must Eat” dish at the famous Bull & Bear Steakhouse, I was so surprised and intrigued, I made reservations practically on the spot. The legendary steakhouse has been on my ‘someday list’ for years and Food and Wine Weekends was the perfect opportunity to #MakeSomedayHappen. Is this iconic restaurant on your list too?
During my follow up visit, I not only got the opportunity to finally dine at Bull & Bear (spectacular!) but also check out La Luce’s complimentary wine tastings. I also couldn’t resist glancing at the Macaron Bar and Bar du Chocolat. I was so impressed with all the foodie activities, I was ready to move in for a month. (i.e. goals!) Oh, and if you’re wondering what that “Must Eat” dish was he recommended, stay tuned for my follow up post.
Now, let’s explore an overview of Food and Wine Weekends.
Food and Wine Weekends Fast Facts:
^ Waldorf Astoria Orlando Food & Wine Weekends runs September 16 through November 13, 2016.
^ Guests’ favorite sweets like the Macaron Bar and Bar du Chocolat with champagne tasting return as fun a la carte treats to enjoy pre and post dinner. Set up in the respective lobby lounges of Hilton Bonnet Creek and Waldorf Astoria Orlando, you can order as much or as little as you want. These also make perfect treats to take home and enjoy the following day.
^ Four-course tasting dinners at the hotels’ signature award-winning restaurants, La Luce and Bull & Bear, are available on Friday and Saturday nights. These extravagant menus showcasing the best of the best of each restaurant are only available during select times of year and they are not to be missed. Reservations are a must.
^ The Art of Sushi Pairing at Zeta Bar & Sushi Lounge offers a unique option to sample Japanese specialties with sake and beer pairings in a more casual environment. Plus, their Happy Hour is not to be missed.
^ As an alternative form of culinary indulgence, the Waldorf Astoria Spa is offering a Tuscany Wine Wrap or Pedicure featuring the powerful antioxidant benefits of red grapes. Sounds like a magical treat!
^ Complimentary transportation to Epcot® and the Disney Theme Parks is offered from both hotels.
^ Complimentary valet parking is offered when dining at one of the restaurants.
^ The hotels are conveniently connected via their convention center area so you can easily walk from one hotel to the other to enjoy experiences in both. This is a big plus in our Florida weather!
Culinary Experiences Galore during Food and Wine Weekends!
Descriptions of the various events as per the hotel’s websites are listed below as well as photos of the dishes sampled during the preview and during my subsequent visit.
The Taste of Bull & Bear
Held on Friday and Saturday, 6pm – 10pm, at Bull & Bear. Experience an exclusive tasting four-course menu comprised of exquisite food and wine pairings – prepared by the illustrious chefs of Waldorf Astoria Orlando. Reservations recommended, please refer to, “The Taste of Bull & Bear,” when making a reservation. Call 407-597-5413. View Dinner and Wine Pairing Menu
The Romesco Butter Crusted Scallop with Italian Beans, Roasted Chanterelles Ragout and Squid Ink Lace was exquisite. The best scallop I’ve ever had as the Romesco crust gave the sweet tender scallop a nice punch of vibrant flavors.
You can’t visit Bull & Bear and not have one of their fabulous steaks! We sampled Carved Beef Filet Rossini with Potato Pave and foie gras. Yes. It was as good as it sounds.
The Taste of La Luce
Held on Friday and Saturday, 6pm – 11pm,at La Luce at Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek. Enjoy an exclusive four-course menu with recommended wine pairing featuring the best of La Luce. Menu may be paired with wine flights for an additional fee. Reservations recommended, please refer to, “The Taste of La Luce,” when making a reservation. Call 407-597-3600. View Dinner Menu
I sampled the Roasted Bell Pepper Tower with Fried Robiola, and Black Olive Tapenade and Stuffed Conchiglioni Pasta with Ricotta, Short Rib, Reggiano, and Bẻchamel. A decadent experience!
The Art of Sushi Pairing
Held on Friday and Saturday, 5pm – 10pm, at Zeta Bar & Sushi Lounge at Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek. Guests can enjoy an exciting epicurean journey at Zeta Bar & Sushi Lounge, exploring perfect pairings of sake or beer with favorite sushi dishes. ($) View Dinner Menu
A tasty starter, Tuna Nacho with Seared Ahi Tuna Sashimi, Avocado, Spicy Mayo, Masago, Cilantro, and Wasabi Scented Nori Chips.
Green Chicken Curry with Coconut Curry Chicken, Lemongrass, Ginger, Thai Chili, Cilantro, Thai Basil, Toasted Pine Nuts, Steamed White Rice was one of the most surprising dishes. The perfect amount of heat and creaminess in a very comforting dish.
Sushi rolls like Alaskan Roll with Salmon, Avocado, Sliced Lemon, Crab Salad, Wasabi Caviar were fresh and full of flavor.
Held on Saturday 4:30pm – 5:30pm, at Peacock Alley in Waldorf Astoria Orlando. Muddle, mix and sample! Guests partake in an interactive experience creating their very own specialty cocktails.
I had the opportunity to prepare “The Bull, The Bear and The Mule” cocktail with St Augustine Vodka, Buffalo Trace Bourbon, Barenjager Honey, and Homemade Ginger Syrup. A fun experience to have pre-dinner!
Sip, Swirl & Savor – A Wine Tasting Experience
Held on Friday and Saturday select weekends, 5pm – 7pm, outside of La Luce at Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek. Before dinner, sample an array of wines which will be offered as a complement to The Taste of La Luce dinner menu. Regardless of your wine knowledge, this is a wonderful opportunity to learn more from an experienced sommelier.
I sampled the Pieropan Soave Classico and the Masseria Sasseo Primitivo from Puglia and enjoyed both.
Bar du Chocolat and Champagne Tasting
Held Friday and Saturday, 6:30pm – 10:30pm, at Peacock Alley in Waldorf Astoria Orlando. A decadent selection of à la carte chocolate treats hand-crafted by Waldorf Astoria Orlando’s world-class pastry team. A selection of champagnes are available, as well. Highlights include chocolate truffles, exotic chocolate cakes and bowls of beautiful bon-bons. Select Weekends.
A variety of chocolate treats are on display like Valhrona Chocolate and Argan Oil cake, Chocolate Éclair, Chocolate Mille Feuille, Chocolate Ganache in Egg Shell, Coffee Expresso Cake and plenty of truffles. This is a chocolate lovers dream!
Held Friday & Saturday, 6pm – 10pm, MYTH Bar at Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek. Whether indulging in a pre or post-dinner treat, guest can visit the Macaron Bar to try an assortment of flavors, hand-made by the resort’s world-class pastry team. Select Weekends.
The Mexican Chocolate, Lemon and Raspberry Macarons were delightful!
Craft Beer Experience
Held Friday & Saturday select weekends, MYTH Bar at Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek. The resort has teamed up with local breweries to bring this interactive experience to guests. Enjoy a selection of craft beers each weekend.
Held Nightly, Peacock Alley at Waldorf Astoria Orlando
Royal Tea – A Waldorf Astoria Tradition
Held Sundays, 2pm – 4pm, at Peacock Alley in Waldorf Astoria Orlando. Treasure time together as you savor finely-prepared tea sandwiches and house-made pastries, while sipping premium hot tea and listening to live piano music. Add a glass of champagne for a “Grand Royal Tea.” Reservations are required 24 hours in advance. Please see Concierge or call 407-597-5450.
Astoria After Dark
Held Friday and Saturday, 6pm – 10pm, WA Kids Club. 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 Food & Wine Weekend activities.
Waldorf Astoria® Spa Tuscany Wine Special
Held Daily, Waldorf Astoria Spa. Experience the powerful antioxidants of red wine powder, red grape seed extract, crushed grape seeds and pure grape seed oil as you indulge in an extravagant Tuscany Wine Wrap or Pedicure. To book an appointment at Waldorf Astoria Spa please call 407-597-5360.
In addition to all the foodie happenings, it was also fun to check out the old photos and artifacts on display in the lobby of the Waldorf Astoria showing iconic moments and legendary personalities from its famed flagship property in New York City. Pictures of Queen Elizabeth II, Winston Churchill, John F. Kennedy, and Ella Fitzgerald at various events showcase the nostalgia and caliber of this legendary brand.
Have you experienced the Food & Wine Weekends at Waldorf Astoria and Hilton Bonnet Creek? Which event sounds most tempting to you?
If an indulgent foodie weekend at the legendary Waldorf Astoria is on your ‘someday list’ I hope you will make reservations and go! I finally got the chance to cross off dinner at the iconic Bull & Bear Steakhouse from my list and #MakeSomedayHappen. Stay tuned for my full recap of that amazing evening.
For more information and reservations, visit their website and follow along on social media using hashtags #foodandwineweekends, #WAOFoodie, and #HBCFoodie.
Disclosure: I attended the Food and Wine Weekends media preview event as a guest of Waldorf Astoria Orlando and Hilton Bonnet Creek. No other form of compensation was provided and there was no obligation to write this post. As always, I only share food, wine and travel experiences worth celebrating and all opinions are my own.