Finding the perfect gift, especially for a food fanatic, can be tricky. There’s a good chance they’ve been to most of the best restaurants in town and have all the kitchen gizmos and gadgets they could possibly need. But fear not—sometimes the best gift of all isn’t a thing they can unwrap but rather an experience they’ll never forget.
As the world becomes more and more accessible through technology and cheap travel, experience is less the exception and more the rule. From hospitality to restaurants, tech and even museums, different brands have been capitalizing on the growing demand for unique, exciting, and social media-friendly food and drink experiences—and we rounded up some of the most amazing offerings to gift your friends and family this holiday season!
Maggot-infested cheese? Bull testicle? Sheep eyeball? A disgusting meal is truly in the eye of the beholder, and this experience proves it. This roving exhibit started in Sweden and will run at the A+D Architecture and Design Museum in Los Angeles from December 9 through February 17, before moving on to other U.S. locations. The exhibit, created by psychologist Dr. Samuel West, features foods that may sound disgusting to you, but are delicacies in other cultures. Beyond expanding the idea of what’s acceptable to eat, the exhibit aims to educate patrons about alternative—and in some cases, eco-friendly—sources of protein. Visitors to the exhibit can see, smell, and even taste such items as Peruvian Frog Smoothies and Chinese Mouse Wine at the grand finale tasting bar (yikes—or yum?)!See It
How would you like to set sail on an intimate food journey with a James Beard-selected chef sharing his or her cooking and culinary know-how and ingredient-shopping secrets along the way? On six culinary-themed cruises throughout the year and across various regions, these chefs will be aboard a series of Windstar Cruises (official cruise partner of the James Beard Foundation), sharing their passion for local cultures and cuisine inspired by local ingredients. Most cruises are accompanied by a beverage expert (like a rum master in the Caribbean) as well. Fewer than 310 passengers per voyage ensures plenty of interaction and no lines. Specialty cruises run from as close as the Windward Islands to as far away as Tahiti!See It
Celebrating 110 years, Dukes of London is truly a stalwart of one of the great drinking cities of the world. The historic hotel bar is home to some of the world’s best (and most expensive) martinis, and upon request, guests can receive a special Martini Masterclass hosted by legendary barkeep Alessandro Palazzi, who has been creating cocktails there for over a decade! Palazzi will guide wannabe mixologists through the history and art of the martini, including the nuances involved in choosing an ideal gin or vodka, through to the perfect finishing garnishes. Guests enjoy canapes during their class; a minimum of four persons are required for booking.See It
The Kentucky Bourbon Trail is a freeform, often self-guided and days-long tour of the 13 bourbon distilleries in Kentucky. Each distillery, like Maker’s Mark, Jim Beam, Buffalo Trace, and more, all have their own tour, tasting, and experience, and one can technically do the trail in whatever order they want—but the only way to keep track of where you’ve been and where you haven’t (considering all that drinking) is with this sharp leather Kentucky Bourbon Trail passport. Personalized passports are available, too!See It
For the quaint of heart, you can gift a stay at a secluded waterfront cottage on Virginia’s Eastern Shore, where owner and local Pamela Barefoot will personally teach you how to catch and cook blue crabs from the dock that abuts the cozy home. For crabbing, Barefoot says the best season is June through September.See It
For the bacon-lover who can handle a knife (and isn’t squeamish), gift a butchering class like the one at Philadelphia’s Kensington Quarters (two locations), where the kitchen team shows amateurs expert techniques for carving the various cuts and how to cook them. The restaurant takes care of booze and food with an open bar as well as charcuterie and snacks. Folks even get sample cuts of pork to take home—a total steal at just $35 dollars per person. And don’t worry, this little piggy has already met his maker by the time you get there.See It
Ever craved a gentle giraffe kiss while you were noshing your morning eggs and toast? Of course you have! At this outrageously charming hybrid inn and animal sanctuary in Kenya, you can live the dream. As guests eat their morning breakfast, giraffes, who freely roam the grounds alongside other exotic animals, sidle up expecting attention—and snacks, of course. Just watch this video and immediately book a stay for a VERY special someone in your life.See It
This is a surprisingly little-known secret among folks living in and visiting Chicago—a city known for its tall buildings and deep pizza. At Skydeck Chicago, the towering observation deck atop 110-story Willis Tower, you can snag an incredible three-course, two-hour deep dish pizza dinner with sweeping (perhaps nauseating) views of the city and mouth-watering grub delivered by the iconic Giordano’s, who have been making the good stuff since 1974. Make sure to book well in advance as they generally have just four slots per night, and be sure the recipient isn’t afraid of heights!See It
Boozy Ice Cream Class in Harlem, $79
New York’s Tipsy Scoop has been making liquor-infused ice cream for some years now, much to the delight of, well, just about everyone, and now offers boozy ice cream making classes in their East Harlem production facility. At lively classes, held twice a week, you’ll learn how to make the more popular boozy ice cream flavors, like dark chocolate whiskey salted caramel and bourbon vanilla, as well as build ice cream sundaes—and of course, take home two of the pints you make in an insulated tote! Gift certificates available.See It
All the fun and know-how of a private cooking class from world-class chefs, in the privacy of your home or apartment. The Chef & The Dish brings Michelin-level culinary masters into your kitchen via video chat, from places as far away as Italy, Japan, Singapore, Spain, New Orleans, Turkey, Thailand, and more. Cost for classes for two starts at $299, plus $50 for each additional person, making a 4-person class as little as $100 per person.See It
For more great gift ideas, see our Gourmet Food and Drink Gift Guide, and our Best Kitchen Gadgets, Tools, and Appliances Gift Guide.
Related Video: DIY Holiday Gifts—Insta-infusions
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Header image courtesy of The Safari Collection.