From a grand luxury cruise down to a cool coffee machine, these are the gourmet experiences you must try in 2023:
1. Adventures by Disney Rhine River Cruise: Food & Wine
This year, The Walt Disney Company celebrates its 100th anniversary. For the ultimate Disney lover who’s already dined at Disneyland’s 21 Royal, Napa Rose and Club 33, there’s another enticing dining experience that awaits.
Adventures by Disney offers vacations along the Rhine, Danube and the Seine. These itineraries are created in partnership with luxury river cruise operator AmaWaterways. The most enticing is the Adventures by Disney Rhine River Cruise: Food & Wine getaway, which is an adults-only epicurean adventure that transports guests to France and Germany.
A team of up to six Disney-trained Adventure Guides double as hosts in each destination where Disney storytelling intertwines with cultural immersion. Think: wine tasting at the Cave Historique Des Hospices in Strasbourg, France, followed by lunch onboard highlighting Strasbourg cuisine, which is influenced by French and German cultures.
The experience also is educational. Guests can learn how to make French macarons from a local chef on board the ship or discover wine caves in the medieval basements of Cave Historique Des Hospices, a hospital founded in 1395. The space also is a wine museum, which features 40 ancient wine barrels marking the region’s history – the oldest dating back to 1472. The experience culminates with tasting fine Alsatian varietals bottled in the caves.
Then, the vacation extends to Germany.
In Rüdesheim, Germany, guests bike through the quaint town and its surrounding wine country, which is the birthplace of pinot noir and Riesling. Other optional excursions include a tasting at Adolf Störzel Vineyards, where they’ll walk the rows of grapes before tasting wine accompanied by soft pretzels. A Rüdesheim gondola ride to the Niederwald Monument highlights the panoramic views of Old Town, wine country and the Rhine River. The experience continues with exploring Rüdesheim and savoring a cup of the famous local coffee or hot chocolate.
Since it’s a Disney vacation, the experience wouldn’t be complete without that magical castle moment. So the excursion also includes an evening castle cruise through Rhine Gorge. That night, guests learn about the history of 30 castles and participate in a Rüdesheimer coffee demonstration/tasting on the sun deck.
Specialty sailings are adult-exclusive departures (ages 18 and older).
2. Desserts at Ryla
Ryla, the Hermosa Beach hotspot, hosts thought-provoking Koji fermenting events, showcasing a combination of Japanese-Taiwanese-American flavors by Ray Hayashi. The food at Ryla is unpretentious but thoughtfully sourced. Think: Perigord black truffle fried rice and Hokkaido scallop sashimi with meyer lemon, satsuma mandarin and bonito crème fraîche.
The desserts at Ryla really stand out – especially the matcha tiramisu, a delicate mascarpone layered take on the Italian classic served in a wooden sake vessel and dusted with matcha powder.
3. Alcohol-free cocktails at Knife Pleat
Knife Pleat is known for chef Tony Esnault’s exquisitely executed French food. That’s what garnered the South Coast Plaza restaurant a Michelin star. However, the new interesting addition to Knife Pleat’s menu is found on the cocktail list.
The cocktails, which launched in January, are made with alcohol-free tequila and gin. The spirits are infused with herbs and botanicals in-house. The drinks aren’t simply fruit juices splashed with soda water, they’re actually well-crafted like a real cocktail. The alcohol-free Greyhound margarita splashed with grapefruit tastes like tequila.
“Well, technically, it is tequila,” explains our server. “The only difference is it’s not fermented. So that’s why it’s alcohol-free.”
4. Sake tasting at Ototo
Even though the unassuming Echo Park location is easy to overlook, Ototo’s sake on draft and travel guide-like menu allows guests to imbibe the flavors of several regions in Japan. The servers describe the sake as a sommelier would speak about a wine. The experience is informative yet approachable. Sake shouldn’t be scary. It’s celebratory and ceremonial. Locals saddle up to the bar and neighborhood regulars occupy small tables. At Ototo, the sake is paired with izakaya-style fare such as okonomiyaki and karaage chicken.
Addison is Southern California’s first and only three-Michelin-star restaurant. Crowned with its third star this year, the restaurant is the pinnacle of fine dining in the region. Located on the grounds of the Fairmont Grand Del Mar in San Diego County, Addison is worth the drive.
Chef William Bradley is an avid food historian and activist. He cares a lot about where our food comes from, what it does to our bodies and how it ultimately affects our planet. The nine-course menu changes with the season and highlights local purveyors. Bradley is also quick to credit “artisans” – chef de cuisine Jonathan Brambila, sous chef Miguel Baez, director of service Sean McGinness, wine director Dan Chapman – who make a meal at Addison possible.
6. Sugar Lab
The Los Angeles-based Sugar Lab prints customizable powdered sugar 3D sculptures. Pumpkin spice latte chocolates shaped like coffee cups and nutty Hojicha-flavored milk chocolate “sushi rolls” are giftable. Boxes of edible sugar sculptures are easy to send. The personalized bites are popular for weddings and company parties.
Also, Sugar Lab launches limited savories including a series of 3D printed bouillon shaped like Cup Ramen, a kimchi jar and a Korean-style corn dog.
7. Automatic cold brew machine from Shine Kitchen Co.
Coffee is expensive. With prices rising on everything edible, many consumers have cut back on their caffeine habit, starting with their daily visits to coffee shops. Shine Kitchen Co. hopes to capture some of these discerning consumers. Already known for its cold-press juicers and spiralizers, the appliance maker this year released a cold-brew coffee machine. The zero-heat machine can brew up to 40 ounces of cold brew coffee in 10-20 minutes, and its BPA-free glass carafe contains an additional filter that improves flavor.
8. The best burger in L.A.
It seems so basic, but we Southern Californians love a good burger. The chef-and-critic-favorite burger of the moment is served at Moo’s Craft Barbecue. The husband-and-wife-owned barbecue restaurant began as a backyard operation in 2017 and is now a Michelin-recognized eatery. Most visitors order the large meat platters, but Los Angeles foodies order the burger – before they sell out.