Every traveler needs an around the world adventure. During a visit to the Bull & Bear fine dining restaurant in Orlando my taste buds were tantalized by dishes from several Waldorf Astoria hotels across the globe all in one evening. Each dish was its own visual and palate-pleasing work of art and was part of the culinary celebration called Food & Wine Weekends at the Waldorf Astoria Orlando and Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek. These weekends coincide with Epcot’s International Food & Wine Festival.
The Bull & Bear Experience
My delightfully delicious journey began with a table for one by a window overlooking the lawn, gorgeous swimming pool and an over-sized chess board. Below I spied two bunnies nibbling on the lawn and was assured rabbit is not on the menu.
I suppose I’m beginning this post with an ending by sharing the Bull & Bear dining experience. Throughout the course of the evening, which was about two to two-and-a-half hours, I was tended by at least five people including my server, sommelier who perfectly paired each dish with a wine fitting my preferences, and three other gentlemen who brought out my entrees, made sure I was hydrated and attempted to replenish my bread plate with the most delicious focaccia I can ever remember having. I have to say, the entire experience has me incredibly close to contacting an Orlando property management firm and seeing how soon I could move down here..
Here’s a tip if you’re planning on a seven-course meal, skip the bread and pace yourself. Fasting for a day or two will probably help, too.
Five restaurant staff ensuring I had a pleasant dining experience wasn’t because I was invited by the Waldorf Astoria Orlando and Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek to taste Food & Wine Weekends. It’s because they treat all guests like very important people. Looking around me I saw every other table being attended to with the same care and attention.
I had ordered “A Taste of Waldorf Astoria,” special to the culinary weekends, and while some around me also ordered it, others ordered magnificent dishes with some prepared table side and others arrived with tongues of flames. Don’t worry, the dish was supposed to be on fire and talk about creating a unique dining experience!
Around the World with A Taste of Waldorf Astoria
My taste buds were led on an international gastronomical journey from Rome to Dubai to Orlando through the “A Taste of Waldorf Astoria” menu. Seven celebrated dishes from Waldorf Astoria hotels across the globe are featured and this was a yummy way to taste new flavors I typically wouldn’t have ordered from a menu.
No need for a passport for this global journey. Following is a list of each course…
Waldorf Astoria Rome Cavalieri
Prime Beef Paper, Am Aranth Cracker, Beluga Caviar
The around the world adventure began with a first course from Rome. Two Am Aranth Crackers are a crunchy meringue covered in sesame seeds and the Prime Beef Paper is like prosciutto. Combined with the caviar, this starter was very light and was salty, savory and crunchy, my favorite food combinations. The herb chervil is served as a garnish and when included with the three other items it added an enjoyable anise-like flavor and new dimension.
Waldorf Astoria Ras al Khaimah
Velvet of Coral Lentils, Cumin Croutons with Lemon Essence
Recently I was told I need to incorporate more iron into my diet and my doctor told me lentils is one of the best ways to achieve this so I was very excited about this dish from Dubai. This lentil soup lived up to the “velvet” name as it was pureed to a silky, smooth texture and was full of flavor. The Cumin Croutons were small bits offering a perfect crunch. The dish is also vegan and I thought it was delectable. The accompanying garnish looked to be an edible violet and its deep purple contrasted nicely with the caramel-pink lentil color.
Trianon Palace Versailles
Ravioli of Langoustine and Lobster Steamed in Riesling Bisque and Lime Bouillabaisse
I was intrigued by this French-inspired dish because it was a bouillabaisse. In September I tasted bouillabaisse in the city it originated, Marseille, France. How did it compare? Magnificent! The ravioli was delicate and tender and the lobster melted in my mouth. The bouillabaisse was light and lovely and not overly fishy in taste.
The Roosevelt New Orleans
Filet of Red Snapper , Oyster Poche au Beurre Blanc, Maque Choux
This dish from the birthplace of jazz was scrumptious. Beyond the Red Snapper portion I’m not sure what that last part means in the menu description but by taste it was a creamy, buttery base with corn which burst with sweet flavor. The base was infused with plump oysters. It was pretty dang good.
Waldorf Shanghai on the Bund
Lake Meadow Organic Chicken, Crispy Millet, Green Papaya Chutney, Green Curry
This entree was totally unexpected. Since this dish hailed from China, I was expecting something fried and heavy. What I tasted was fresh and tender. Heat from the green curry paired nicely with the sweetness of the green papaya chutney which was served off to the side so I could control the amount of sweetness.
Waldorf Astoria Orlando
Pinot Braised Bison Ribs, Parsnips Three Ways, Suc de Cuisson
Circling back to Orlando, this was the sixth course and not what I was expecting from the Florida restaurant. Oh how I wish I had fasted for a week before reaching this beautiful, tender bison rib which was braised for nearly eight hours. Just as delightful was the trio of parsnip sidekicks. It was explained that parsnips, which I LOVE, cleanse the palate. They were served pureed, crisp like bacon and sauteed in olive oil.
Waldorf Astoria Berlin
Holy cow! Can’t believe I made it to dessert. Well, this was my FIRST dessert of the evening. This finale from Germany was a pair of beautifully fried, sweet pastries like beignets served warm and smelled heavenly. They’re filled with a slightly tart raspberry-like jam and a dollop of cream which was a perfect contrast to the pastry’s sweetness.
But wait, there’s more…
Bar du Chocolat
The official A Taste of Waldorf Astoria ends with Berliner Pfannkuchen but if you’re a serious chocolate lover or just have a sweet tooth, stop by Bar du Chocolat in Peacock Alley on the Waldorf Astoria’s Lobby Level. Even if you’re not into sweets, take the time to admire the artistic creations of the hotel’s talented pastry team. There’s something for adults and kids. Don’t worry if your tummy is full from your Bear & Bull dinner, you can easily grab some chocolately goodness to go.
Food & Wine Weekends at the Waldorf Astoria & Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek
The third annual Food & Wine Weekends at the Waldorf Astoria Orlando and Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek began September 27 and runs for seven weekends through November 9, 2013. Foodies visiting Epcot for the International Food & Wine Festival will find either one of these properties the perfect place to stay. Since they are sister properties, guests staying at one of the resorts can enjoy most amenities at both properties.
Friday and Saturday evenings during the Food & Wine Festival, at the Waldorf Astoria guests can indulge in A Taste of Waldorf Astoria at Bull & Bear, Bar du Chocolat and champagne tasting, Astoria After Dark (children’s program including dinner allowing parents some adult time) and live entertainment in the resort’s Peacock Alley. Royal Tea is served Sunday afternoon.
During Food & Wine Weekends the Hilton is offering Pea Ringu – The Art of Sushi Pairing, Il Cibo Della Vita at La Luce, Chef Donna Scala’s restaurant. A new tasting menu and wine pairing is presented each weekend through November 9.
All dining areas are open to the public and you don’t need to be an overnight guest to enjoy them. Although, during my stay I encountered many locals from within an hour’s drive who were vacationing at one of the resorts for the weekend. If you can’t attend a Food & Wine Weekend you can still enjoy an incredibly luscious meal at Bull & Bear year-round.
Nuts & Bolts About Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek and Waldorf Astoria Orlando
Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek and Waldorf Astoria Orlando are surrounded by Walt Disney World Resort so it makes it easy to hop on a nearby free shuttle to visit the park of your choice. A 482-acre nature preserve surrounds the resort making it a quiet retreat from the thrill of Central Florida’s theme parks. I’m a Hilton Honors member so these resorts also appeal to me because I can earn points for future free stays or upgrades. Plus, I appreciate the recognition I receive as a Hilton Honors member.
Waldorf Astoria Orlando
14200 Bonnet Creek Resort Lane
Orlando Fla. 32821
Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek
14100 Bonnet Creek Resort Lane
Orlando, Fla. 32821