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Culinary Cruises: Haute Cuisine on the High Seas



 

Amid some negative headlines about cruises, the public has missed out on hearing about incredible culinary changes taking place on the high seas.


Foodies travel hundreds of miles to satisfy their culinary curiosity. What if I told you that without grabbing a cab you can dine at some of the finest restaurants the world has to offer?
Eat at a celebrity chef’s restaurant? How about an exclusive nine-course meal prepared by an executive chef for 20 guests only? If that tempts your taste buds, consider booking a cruise.
You might be surprised at what’s cooking on the ocean.

Cruising has become the new foodie heaven. It is now all about the total experience of dining.
The cruise industry as a whole has made huge strides in moving away from the “eating constantly” concept to more of an elegant dining atmosphere. In the past, cruise lines encouraged bigger,
bolder buffets for breakfasts and lunches, then forced passengers to pick a set dinner time for the week and eat while sitting with strangers. Well, the passengers demanded change, and the industry got on board.
 


Not Your Mama’s Buffet

However close the concepts might seem, dining and eating are not the same in execution. The higher-end cruise lines still provide a buffet; however, instead of colossal mounds of food, it is about well-prepared foods. Salads are created in front of you as you stand in line, and international cuisines are represented with imported cheeses and meats, as well as the more traditional dishes. The difference is in the preparation, and plating each small portion. The buffet option is always available, and frankly, when traveling with small children, it is a superb choice.
 

The Juicy Details

Recently, I had the opportunity to travel on three different cruise lines. Each had its own perspective on cuisine. All did a phenomenal job of bringing unique and intimate dining to passengers. I was the impressed with Norwegian Cruise Line’s Getaway ship. The Getaway is one of the newest “mega ships” based out of Miami, and cuisine is their No. 1 concern. In fact, they were the first to introduce the concept of Freestyle Dining.

Gone are the days when passengers are forced to dine at a particular time and table with people they may or may not know. Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) recognized that their passengers wanted more dining options and flexibility, so they switched to a straightforward concept: The Getaway offered 28 different dining options. Some restaurants are included in the price of the cruise while others had a nominal surcharge. This way, passengers could choose each night whether they might be in the mood for Italian or French, or would just prefer to sit topside enjoying a burger and beer. The option is theirs, and they welcome it.
 

Norwegian Cruise Line offers a more individualized approach to dining, with custom pastas, crepes and more. Photo courtesy George Contorakes


Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous

While on board the higher-end luxury ships, you will find that the high seas have lured some of the most famous restaurants in the world, as well as celebrity chefs. The Getaway plays host to Geoffrey Zakarian’s Ocean Blue restaurant. Here, you dine at sea while enjoying some of the most creative and delicious dishes fresh from the ocean.
  
Another exquisite dining experience is on board Holland America’s Eurodam. It offers an exclusive special evening when the ship transforms one of its existing restaurants into New York’s Le Cirque. The menu, china and flatware are all from the famed Manhattan eatery; even the art on the walls was changed to emulate what you would find in New York. The kitchen staff – trained by Le Cirque’s own chefs on their most popular dishes – provides a dining treat that makes you forget you’re at sea, as if you instead were dining in New York City among the rich and famous.
 

 Play with Your Food

Interactive specialty restaurants also have been added to cruise lines’ already outstanding restaurant options. While cruising with Celebrity onboard the Silhouette, we loved dining at the top of the ship. The Lawn Club Grill transforms the top of the vessel with a green grass exterior to make a quasi-park atmosphere with an intimate outdoor dining experience. We enjoyed making gourmet appetizer pizzas, which included tossing the dough and assembling the toppings. The main course included perfectly cooked steaks that melt in your mouth.
 

Grilled Delmonico steak with roasted shallots and watercress from the Ocean Blue Restaurant by Geoffrey Zakarian. Photo courtesy Delmonico steak ©John Montana


If you’re up for a culinary adventure, then don’t miss Qsine. This restaurant focuses on the world of food with dramatic presentations. Dishes range from sushi lollipops to a Mediterranean dollhouse filled with 12 compartments, each containing a unique dish. And the Rubik’s Cube dessert menu? A brilliant finish.

The creativity in each and every dish is delightful. NCL also offered their take on an authentic Brazilian Steakhouse called Moderno Churrascaria. There, we turned our cards over to green and dined on perfectly seared and roasted meats cut freshly from a hot skewer, or a fish filet cooked in a banana leaf. The salad bar was filled with typical Brazilian dishes, including a freshly prepared ceviche. Each meal was memorable because of the phenomenal presentation, as well as the fun atmosphere they created.
 

For the DIY Crowd  

Cooking classes at sea are also a new addition to activities on many ships. Some have seminars provided by their chefs, wine tastings and even napkin folding instructions. NCL has taken the seminar approach a step further by providing “hands on” pastry decorating classes sponsored by The Cake Boss. Each participant receives his or her own set of cupcakes or an entire cake to decorate, depending on the class that day, which is taught by the executive pastry chef. They show a variety of techniques ranging from working with fondant to using pastry bags and decorating tips.

Perhaps most impressive was that each class focused on a different decorating concept. One class was all about cupcakes; another taught us how to make an ocean-inspired cake out of fondant. I was truly amazed at the excellent instruction, but better yet were the delicious confections we took back to the stateroom.
 

The cake-decorating class provides sweet results. Photo courtesy Caryn Ros


Best of the Best

If you consider yourself a serious foodie, then you won’t want to miss NCL’s The Chefs Table. This event is only offered one night for the first 20 people who have pre-reserved the dining experience. Your evening begins by being escorted to The Haven, an ultra-private dining room where the chef prepares a two and one-half hour, nine-course meal, including wine pairings for each course. It’s unlike anything you’ve ever experienced at sea.

The executive chef plays host by introducing each dish. During our experience, he even offered to send us recipes to our stateroom so we could take home memories from this great night. The dishes ranged from molecular gastronomy creations to simple, elegant, savory tarts. I highly recommend signing up early and experiencing this incredible evening while onboard an NCL cruise. 




 

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Calendar

November 2018

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Sponsor: Artspace at Untitled
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Where:
Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art
600 Museum Way
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View map »


Telephone: 479.418.5700
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The National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum is proud to host an exhibition by members of the Traditional Cowboy Arts Association (TCAA).   The Traditional Cowboy Arts Association...

Cost: 12.50

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Heard Natural Science Museum & Wildlife Sanctuary
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Sponsor: Heard Natural Science Museum & Wildlife Sanctuary
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Cost: Free

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Cost: Free

Where:
Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art
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Telephone: 479.418.5700
Website »

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The National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum is proud to host an exhibition by members of the Traditional Cowboy Arts Association (TCAA).   The Traditional Cowboy Arts Association...

Cost: 12.50

Where:
National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
1700 Northeast 63rd Street
Oklahoma City, OK  73111
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Telephone: 405.478.2250
Contact Name: Jenni Shrum
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Heard Natural Science Museum & Wildlife Sanctuary
1 Nature Place
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View map »


Sponsor: Heard Natural Science Museum & Wildlife Sanctuary
Telephone: 972.562.5566
Contact Name: Stephanie Jennings
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Cost: 12.50

Where:
National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
1700 Northeast 63rd Street
Oklahoma City, OK  73111
View map »


Telephone: 405.478.2250
Contact Name: Jenni Shrum
Website »

More information

Don’t miss this timely exhibition charting the development of contemporary Indigenous art from the US and Canada. Presenting over 80 artworks including paintings, photography, video,...

Cost: Free

Where:
Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art
600 Museum Way
Bentonville, AR  72712
View map »


Telephone: 479.418.5700
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Where:
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Heard Natural Science Museum & Wildlife Sanctuary
1 Nature Place
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View map »


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Telephone: 972.562.5566
Contact Name: Stephanie Jennings
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More information

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Cost: 12.50

Where:
National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
1700 Northeast 63rd Street
Oklahoma City, OK  73111
View map »


Telephone: 405.478.2250
Contact Name: Jenni Shrum
Website »

More information

Don’t miss this timely exhibition charting the development of contemporary Indigenous art from the US and Canada. Presenting over 80 artworks including paintings, photography, video,...

Cost: Free

Where:
Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art
600 Museum Way
Bentonville, AR  72712
View map »


Telephone: 479.418.5700
Website »

More information

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Sponsor: OSU Symphony Orchestra
Telephone: 405.744.6133
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Where:
Civic Center Music Hall-Thelma Gaylord Theater
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Sponsor: OKC Broadway
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Where:
Heard Natural Science Museum & Wildlife Sanctuary
1 Nature Place
McKinney, TX  75069
View map »


Sponsor: Heard Natural Science Museum & Wildlife Sanctuary
Telephone: 972.562.5566
Contact Name: Stephanie Jennings
Website »

More information

Don’t miss this timely exhibition charting the development of contemporary Indigenous art from the US and Canada. Presenting over 80 artworks including paintings, photography, video,...

Cost: Free

Where:
Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art
600 Museum Way
Bentonville, AR  72712
View map »


Telephone: 479.418.5700
Website »

More information

The National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum is proud to host an exhibition by members of the Traditional Cowboy Arts Association (TCAA).   The Traditional Cowboy Arts Association...

Cost: 12.50

Where:
National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
1700 Northeast 63rd Street
Oklahoma City, OK  73111
View map »


Telephone: 405.478.2250
Contact Name: Jenni Shrum
Website »

More information

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Cost: Free

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Cost: $5 - $15

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OKC Improv
1757 N.W. 16th St.
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Sponsor: OKC Improv
Telephone: 405.456.9858
Contact Name: Kate McLain-Snipes
Website »

More information

The ultimate love story continues in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s spellbinding sequel to The Phantom of the Opera. The year is 1907. It is 10 years after his disappearance from the Paris...

Where:
Civic Center Music Hall-Thelma Gaylord Theater
201 N Walker
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View map »


Sponsor: OKC Broadway
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Visitors to Heard Natural Science Museum & Wildlife Sanctuary will be able to let their imaginations run wild as they travel back in time with life-size animatronic dinosaurs along a half-mile...

Where:
Heard Natural Science Museum & Wildlife Sanctuary
1 Nature Place
McKinney, TX  75069
View map »


Sponsor: Heard Natural Science Museum & Wildlife Sanctuary
Telephone: 972.562.5566
Contact Name: Stephanie Jennings
Website »

More information

The National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum is proud to host an exhibition by members of the Traditional Cowboy Arts Association (TCAA).   The Traditional Cowboy Arts Association...

Cost: 12.50

Where:
National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
1700 Northeast 63rd Street
Oklahoma City, OK  73111
View map »


Telephone: 405.478.2250
Contact Name: Jenni Shrum
Website »

More information

Don’t miss this timely exhibition charting the development of contemporary Indigenous art from the US and Canada. Presenting over 80 artworks including paintings, photography, video,...

Cost: Free

Where:
Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art
600 Museum Way
Bentonville, AR  72712
View map »


Telephone: 479.418.5700
Website »

More information

In honor of Yellow Submarine's 50th anniversary - as one of its animators, as well as the director of the 1960's Saturday morning Beatles cartoon series - Ron Campbell will make a rare...

Cost: Free

Where:
Framed in the Village
10631 North May Avenue
Oklahoma City, OK  73120
View map »


Sponsor: Rock art show
Telephone: 610.389.1807
Contact Name: Scott Segelbaum
Website »

More information

Join us for a holiday card-making workshop with our Fall Artist in Residence, Allie D. Caesar. Allie has just returned from an almost decade-long professional practice as both a printer and artist...

Cost: $40

Where:
Artspace at Untitled
1 NE 3rd Street
Oklahoma City, OK  73104
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Sponsor: Artspace at Untitled
Telephone: 405.815.9995
Contact Name: Meredith Zerby
Website »

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Come enjoy live, local comedy in Oklahoma City's Plaza District. Shows are Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 and 9:30 p.m., and the 2nd Saturday of every month also has a family -friendly show...

Cost: $5 - $15

Where:
OKC Improv
1757 N.W. 16th St.
Oklahoma City, OK  73106
View map »


Sponsor: OKC Improv
Telephone: 405.456.9858
Contact Name: Kate McLain-Snipes
Website »

More information

The ultimate love story continues in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s spellbinding sequel to The Phantom of the Opera. The year is 1907. It is 10 years after his disappearance from the Paris...

Where:
Civic Center Music Hall-Thelma Gaylord Theater
201 N Walker
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Sponsor: OKC Broadway
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...
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