Fort Lauderdale, FL: Dine in a Gingerbread House
Fans of the fairytale Hansel and Gretel can head to the Ritz Carlton from Dec 2 to December 23 to dine in a life-size gingerbread mansion. Located in the hotel’s lobby, the structure is made from 1,000 pounds of dough fashioned into shingles and bricks and whimsically decorated with royal icing and baubles.
Guests can request to indulge in breakfast, brunch, or dinner inside the house. The meal will be prepared by the hotel’s signature restaurant, Burlock Coast’s, executive chef Paula DeSilva (who notably competed on Hell’s Kitchen with Gordon Ramsey). With the scent of clove and cinnamon in the air, the meal is destined to be festive and sweet. 1 N. Fort Lauderdale Beach Blvd; 954-465-2300.
San Francisco: Trailblazer Tavern
On December 3, chef Michael Mina will team up with renowned Hawaiian chefs Michelle Karr-Ueoka and Wade Ueoka (MW Restaurant) to open a Hawaiian-inspired restaurant on the mainland. Located in San Francisco’s burgeoning East Cut neighborhood, and spanning 7,000 lushly foliaged square feet, the restaurant will offer elevated Hawaiian comfort cuisine influenced by global flavors.
Trailblazer Tavern’s menu will include ahi poke nachos with avocado salsa, unagi and butterfish arancini, miso honey glazed butterfish with Chinese cabbage, and a Hawaiian style stew with oxtail, corned beef, pork belly, and peanut risotto. For dessert, whimsical sweets like malasada (Portuguese doughnut) bread pudding with banana Kinako ice cream and miso apple cream, and shave ice made with Vietnamese coffee ice cream and rum panna cotta will reign. 350 Mission St; 415-625-5445.
Laguna Beach, CA: Joseph Phelps Wine Dinner
On December 7, the iconic Joseph Phelps Vineyard will host a special event in partnership with the team of chefs at Montage Laguna Beach. The evening will begin with passed hors d’ourvres like foie gras torchon on brioche crostini with huckleberry compote and grilled lobster tacos with salsa verde. A five-course dinner continues with seared diver scallops with citrus-fennel relish and dry-aged strip steak with salt-roasted celeriac, maitake mushrooms, braised pine nuts, and bone marrow bordelaise. Each of the dishes will be paired with a Joseph Phelps’ vintage. 30801 S Coast Hwy; 866-271-6953.
New Zealand: Chef Ernesto Iaccarino at Helena Bay Lodge
From December 8-16, guests at the luxury villa (located on its own private cove on North Island) can join Michelin-starred chef Ernesto Iaccarino for a menagerie of special meals and culinary programs. The Ristorante Don Alfonso 1890 chef will lead tours to an 800-acre farm where participants can help forage fresh ingredients. He will also teach a hands-on cooking class, accompany guests on a fishing excursion where they catch their own dinner, and offer a multi-course barbecue dinner on the properties new beach pavilion.
During the week, chef Iaccarino will also partner with Helena Bay Lodge’s head chef Michele Martino to create 3 and 5-course degustation menus. The menu will be influenced by both seasonal produce and also the playful, collaborative spirit between the two chefs. 1948 Russell Rd; 64-9/433-6006.