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Sunday, March 29, 2015

Great eats at sea and in ports as cruise lines expand culinary options

   Out to Sea for March 28/15

   (c) By Jim and Barb Fox

   Making mofongo in Puerto Rico, savouring sweet malasadas in Hawaii, clam bakes in Maine and tamales at the Hotel California in Mexico are among culinary experiences for cruisers.

   Cruise lines are embracing “immersive culinary experiences” on land and at sea to learn more about countries visited, their people and cuisine.
Cruisers prepare their meal of monfongo during a shore excursion in San Juan. (Barbara Fox photo)
   Along with specialty restaurants onboard, there are visiting culinary experts, themed regional meals and special dining opportunities including “chef’s tables.”
   Holland America Line next month will begin “Sip, Savor and Sail” itineraries in the Caribbean, Europe and Alaska while Princess Cruises is adding destination-based menus.
   Carnival Cruise Line is launching Carnival Journeys partnering with local restaurants and chefs.
   Norwegian Escape, to begin sailing in November from Miami, will have culinary experiences including a Supper Club, brew house and bake shop.

   Eating like a local
   Shore excursions are increasingly including opportunities to experience culinary cultures and traditions.
Chef Javier Cotto explains Puerto Rico cooking during an excursion in San Juan. (Jim Fox photo)

   On a recent Caribbean cruise – after learning about Puerto Rico’s coffee and Bacardi rum operation – our tour group stopped for mojito cocktails at Airenumo restaurant.
   The experience was offered through Get Shopped shopping and culinary tours. getshoppedpr.com
   The treat that followed was creating our own lunch at the table led by Chef Javier Cotto.
   Attired in bright-blue aprons and white gloves, we received a wooden mortar and pestle to mash fried green plantains and mix them with broth and seasonings.
   We then formed a bowl with the mash and poured in the chicken and ingredients for a tasty cultural meal.
Keira Nagai of Hawaii Food Tours shows a box of Portuguese-style malasadas - airy fried dough confectionaries coated with sugar - that are specialties at Leonard's Bakery in Honolulu. (Jim Fox photo)
   Port tours often include culinary adventures such as one in Honolulu with Hawaii Food Tours.
   “Lunching with the Locals” sampled off-the-beaten path culinary delights including chicken bento boxes and malasadas, airy fried dough confectionaries coated with sugar.
Afternoon tea is served in the Heritage Court at the Fairmont Hamilton Princess in Bermuda. (Jim Fox photo)
   In Bermuda, have British-inspired afternoon tea served by waiters in shorts at the Fairmont Hamilton Princess hotel.
   While not confirming the legend of the Eagles’ song Hotel California, the establishment in Todos Santos, Baja California, serves traditional Mexican specialties during shore trips.

Cruise passengers in Mexico can have lunch at the Hotel California in Todos Santos. (Jim Fox photo)
   Sip, savour and enjoy
   Local chefs and beverage experts will enhance select voyages on Holland America ships.
   “Sip, Savor and Sail” itineraries will introduce cruisers to local cuisine, beverages and specially developed shore excursions.
   Guest chefs and local vintners, mixologists and brew masters will share their expertise and creations during demonstrations and tastings in the ship’s Culinary Arts Centre.
   The chefs will also host a Calypso Brunch in the fine-dining Pinnacle Grill, where there is also “An Evening at Le Cirque” and “A Taste of De Librije,” with menus from those famed restaurants.
Elegant dining is served in the Pinnacle Grill on Holland America ships. (Jim Fox photo)
   Princess began with Caribbean menu offerings on its newest ship, Regal Princess, to showcase regional culinary specialties that incorporate local produce, spices and seafood.
   “One of the joys of travel is experiencing the culinary specialties for which a destination is known,” said president Jan Swartz.
   Oceania Cruises offers guests with epicurean interests a chance to explore local food markets, vineyards, farms and restaurants with a chef from its Bon Appetit Culinary Centre.
   It has expanded its Culinary Discovery Tours to St. Lucia and Antigua where guests spend time in the kitchen with local chefs learning about the spices, fruits, vegetables and cooking customs that have influenced Caribbean cuisine.
   A culinary component is part of Carnival’s new program of 28 sailings of nine-to-15 days starting in the fall throughout the Caribbean, Bahamas, Central America, Hawaii and Mexico.
   Carnival Journeys feature “less-traveled, more exotic ports of call,” with local chefs providing on-board cooking demonstrations and hosting cruisers in their restaurants ashore.
   The cruise line has also teamed up with celebrity chef Guy Fieri for “the authentic appeal of a roadside burger shack.”
Guy's Burger Joint platter of great eats
   Guy’s Burger Joint is a cool poolside spot for custom-designed juicy burgers and hand-cut fries.
   Norwegian Cruise Line debuted its Ice Cream Bar on the Breakaway and Getaway ships with a variety of specialty treats.
   These include classic ice-cream parlour creations from floats, milkshakes and malted shakes to egg creams and sundaes, one serving three or four people.
   It includes nine scoops of ice cream topped with chocolate fudge, butterscotch and raspberry sauces, chocolate shavings, sprinkles, crumbled Oreos, sliced almonds, marshmallows, gummy bears, whipped cream and cherries.

   Need to know
   For cruise line website links and information on their culinary options, go to cruising.org


Jim and Barb Fox can be reached at outtosea50@hotmail.com
For more Out to Sea trip tips: http://outtoseatravel.blogspot.ca

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