Hey kids! Hope the past week and a half has been kind to all of you. It certainly was. For 7 nights I was spoiled rotten on the Carnival Valor. Long story short, had a fabulous time. Let’s see, the non-food highlights: spending time with my lovely Grandma, Aunt and cousin, running down the street in Georgetown in a bikini and towel, going to Hell and back, holding a baby turtle, drinking a margarita in the ocean off the coast of Honduras, having the time to read a book for pleasure, kayaking/paddle-boating/water-trampolining on the island where they film the Corona commercials, drinking way too much rum-punch on said island…and above all else, eating more food than was healthy or reasonable. Truly. I was a big fat oinker on this trip.
And it was fabulous.
Every night at dinner, we had the option to pretty much order as much of every item offered as we pleased. So if there was something that looked interesting, I went for it. And you know, I’m happy I did. Not only because of the obligatory vacation rule, “do as you please” but because I was regularly surprised by the thoughtfulness and quality of the food. The Chef de Cuisine on that particular ship is doing his job well. And moreover, he is making sure all of his sous chefs are as well. I was consistently impressed.
Before I left, I did some research. It seems there are a lot of people out there who have been on that same ship and found the food horrible. Personally, for the most part, I have no freaking idea what they’re complaining about. The kitchen staff on that cruise ship has an incredibly difficult task ahead of them every day. They have to feed 3,600 people, daily. This means the buffet, the snack bars, and 2 huge, multi-level dining rooms. So for the quality to be anything above satisfactory is mind-boggling to me.
So…for the greatest hits of my culinary journey on the Carnival Valor, away we go:
|Carnival’s Signature Dessert, the Warm Melting Chocolate Cake|
|Puff pastry sheets with custard in between and caramelized apples|
|Fruit from room service, the attention to detail is what surprised me|
|A Tastee Pattie from Grand Cayman, filled with spicy chicken. Kind of like an Empanada.|
|Prosciutto and melon rounds. Beautiful presentation.|
|Braised Short Ribs with green beans, fried eggplant and fried rice with fresh ginger|
And on July 27 we had the pleasure of attending the Chef’s Table. This experience included a private galley tour with the Chef de Cuisine, Mathew Gregory, champagne and appetizers (Ahi Tartar on Wasabi Crisp, Duck Pot Sticker, Steak Taco and Avocado Cheesecake) in the galley, and a 7-course meal prepared by the Chef in a private room off the main dining room. It was…the best meal of my life. Truly. All of the dishes were thoughtful and complete. The contrasts of flavors and textures was perfect.
|Norweigan Salmon Tartar
with Avocado Mousse and Salmon Caviar
|Fire Roasted Tomato & Poblano Chili Bisque
with grilled corn and cilantro drizzle
|Rock Shrimps & Apple Beignets
with tapioca crunch and garlic-lemon aioli
|Chopped Mediterranean Salad
with Shaved Squash and Feta Crumbles
|Fillet of Chilean Sea Bass,
with wine-stewed shallots & chives vinaigrette,
leeks emulsion and peas risotto
|Aged Filet Mignon
on a bed of onion streusel
with homemade 3-pepper mustards
(also included creamed potatoes and broccoli)
|Raspberry Sorbet, Almond Cake, various sauces.
Was accompanied by the melting cake and ice cream!
Just a note: please excuse for awful photography. I’m learning, but it’s a slow process. And my camera is not really made for food-photography. So bear with me. It’ll get better, I promise.