Unique Dining Experiences

Taste Beers from around the World at Disneyland's CA Adventures

If you're headed to Disneyland's California Adventures this month, be sure to enjoy some of the events at Disney's California Food and Wine Festival. I didn't make it to the numerous wine seminars (only $1 for seminar and tastings) or free celebrity chef cooking demonstrations, but I did stop by the Festival Beer Walk. You can taste four different wines or beers for $10. The only "beer tasting" I had ever done was sitting at Gordon Biersch with a friendly bartender. At the beer walk, I learned about how hops give beer a distinct flavor. Typically, the only beers I drink are citrus-flavored Corona type beers, but my taste buds were awakened to a whole new world of beer flavors and textures.

One of my favorite beers from the tasting was Karl Strauss' Red Trolley Ale. The beer is brewed with caramelized malts to give it a toffee flavor. It was originally crafted as a holiday beer, but is available year-round due to its popularity. I think this beer would pair great with a chocolatey/coffee dessert, like Tiramisu.

There really is nothing like enjoying a cold beer after the Tower of Terror and right before Soarin' Over California..

Dining in the Dark

Dining in the Dark is a new craze that is gaining popularity. This concept forces us to put all of our prejudices based on sight aside. The night is a sensory adventure! After about 20 or 30 minutes, I really noticed that my other senses were heightened.You will hear the wine being poured into a glass like never before... Also, I smelled everything. It's often considered "gauche" to smell your food, but You taste with your nose. If you don't smell food or wine, you're not getting the full flavor.

The first course was a seared scallop in curry, paired with a Napa Valley Chardonnay. The scallop was rather large, and not being able to see, I ended up with the entire scallop on my fork--and I ate the the entire scallop in one bite. I also had to use my sense of touch. Using your fingers can be helpful in finding the food on your plate!

The second course was seared polenta and a roasted tomato, with a Rose wine. The seared polenta was so delicious that I will be making polenta this weekend! The third course was duck, paired with a Rhone varietal from Avignon, France. I have actually been to Avignon and drank wine--and I'm not sure how but for some reason I thought this might have been a Rhone Valley red. I was really surprised when the sommelier told me that I was correct. I think I may have some wine intelligence after 5+ years of wine tasting! The last course was panna cotta, paired with a Canadian dessert wine. I had actually had this wine a couple of years prior and recognized it as a Canadian varietal.

Overall, this was a very enlightening experience. I felt like I appreciated the food so much more without being able to see it. I ate things that I would have otherwise avoided. The ambiance was very casual and relaxed. At one point, I was about to knock my entire plate of food on my lap, and someone working there prevented it.

The price was reasonable ($45). Several venues offer this experience under slightly different circumstances (pitch black rooms instead of blind folds). I thought the blind fold was ideal because I was able to shut my eyes and relax--instead of straining to see in total darkness. You can check out the place I went to last night at http://www.themustbar.com and look under the "events" tab. The staff was incredibly friendly. The sommelier was very knowledgeable, and the chef was passionate about his food. It was refreshing to have such an interactive experience with the chef and sommelier. Don't worry--I didn't spoil the menu for you because it changes for each tasting.