My husband and I just returned from a weekend at the Stonewall Resort, we attended the Culinary Classic. Overall, it was a very nice event. We have attended culinary weekends at a couple of other resorts over the past 6 years and some things we liked better at the Stonewall and others, less. First of all, the room was very nice and clean. We stayed in a king sized suite overlooking the lake. It was comfortable, roomy and had a great view.
Friday evening was the kick off with a Dine Around Event. We enjoyed this event very much, had never participated in one at the other places we have been. There were different groups preparing different foods and desserts, there was beer and wine included. You could eat as much or little as you wanted and most items were very good. They had a singer for entertainment and it was difficult to hear him over the noise of the crowd. Also, the PA system was not loud enough to hear those who spoke.
On Saturday, the day started with a breakfast buffet in the Stillwaters Restaurant. Even though we had made reservations, they were not in the system and the place was quite busy at 9am so we had a short wait for a table. The food was typical breakfast buffet fare but was temperature appropriate and there were plenty of choices, including made to order omelets. The bacon was real bacon, not that paper thin stuff and the oatmeal was very good also. Service was also good.
We then attended a demonstration on smoking meats in one of the meeting rooms. The chef was very informative and you got to taste a smoked beef brisket sample and make a rub to take home. The second demonstration we attended was on making sauces. The chef was also very informative and we got to sample several sauces served over bite sized pieces of chicken, steak and scallops. The down side was that there was not enough room, people were standing and there was a rude group of people towards the back that were talking during the presentation and it was very difficult to hear at times. Perhaps a microphone would have solved that issue. Also, staff should have brought in more chairs.
The other event was wine tasting, which we did not go to. There was also an ice carving demonstration outside on the patio that we watched through the window as we ate breakfast but it was not very long or impressive. That was all of the demonstrations offered all in the morning. We would have liked to have seen more demonstrations, along with recipes. At a resort about an hour north, you receive a booklet with the bios of all of the chefs and all of the recipes for the foods served over the weekend. Maybe Stonewall could do that next year?
The afternoon events were a Throwdown cooking competition, like an Iron Chef competition and as it was taking place, the Man vs Food competition was also in full swing, both in the same ballroom. I found the high level of noise and people standing all around very annoying. Even though they had video guys with cameras projecting the events on a large screen on the far wall, it was difficult to see and impossible to hear. At the other food and wine festival we attend in January about an hour north of Stonewall, their event takes place up on a stage in the ballroom with mirrors overhead and large monitors placed below so that everyone can see and hear. The chairs are in rows, with no tables. I found the events at Stonewall to be too noisy and was frustrated. I could not even tell you what the chefs made, what the scores were or who won due to the chaotic nature of the events.
As for the Man vs Food, my husband was chosen to participate and I could not see him unless I went right up to the table in front of him. All of the commentary for both events was conflicting and difficult to follow. My husband actually won this event and received a certificate for a free overnight stay!
On a positive note, they offered a bread and soup bar during these events and it was very good. There was a variety of soups, breads and crackers available for lunch. They also had cold beverages.
There was a break in the afternoon and then a manager's reception in the lobby at 6:30. All they served was champagne, beer and one type of hors D oeuvres, some type of small meatball with cheese on it! That was very disappointing. At the other food and wine festival we attend they offer many delicious appetizers before going in to the gala dinner.
The main event was a four course dinner on Saturday evening. The ballroom was decorated in a Spanish type theme and they had live music to go with that theme. The first course was an oriental inspired soup which I did not care for. The second course was a hand made breaded crab cake topped with various greens and it was very good. The third and main course was veal roast slices, breaded veal sweetbreads, mashed Yukon Gold potatoes served in a square and peas served three ways- mashed peas, whole peas and pea tendrils. I did not like that course at all. The final course/dessert was a chocolate cup with mousse, meringue and a drizzle of raspberry syrup, it was very good. Each course was paired with a different wine, I liked 3 out of the 4 wines chosen. Overall, my husband and were very disappointed with the dinner. I understand that it would be difficult to please everyone but nothing was outstanding, in our opinion.
On Sunday morning the breakfast buffet was included again and they had a different variety of foods to choose from and it was good.
Overall, we enjoyed the Culinary Classic at the Stonewall Resort and will probably attend again next year. However, I would suggest to the management that they consider some of the comments and suggestions I have made for any future events. There needs to be more crowd control, a better sound and video system and more cooking demonstrations as well as offering the recipes for the things made. Also, a small market would be nice with local businesses selling their wares, such as sauces, jellies and jams, wines, crafts, etc.
Finally, we found all of the staff to be very friendly and helpful. We received a very nice gift basket delivered to our room after the dinner on Saturday. It is has a bottle of wine, various sauces, mustards, ketchup, a parsley growing kit, a cutting board, a grater, a can of microbrewery beer, rice wine vinegar, a magazine and other items.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Stonewall Resort combines the pristine surroundings of Stonewall Jackson Lake with all the comforts of home. Here, in the midst of lush, rolling hills and tranquil lake waters, the beautiful Adirondack-style lodge offers a refreshing perspective, state-of-the-art conference facilities and a luxury resort experience. From the resort's own Mtn. Laurel Spa, 374-slip boat marina and award-winning Arnold Palmer Signature Golf Course, guests can enjoy a wide range of recreational activities. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Stonewall Hotel Roanoke
- Stonewall Resort Roanoke