A Master Class with Eric Lanlard:
Art, Cooking and Dining
Regular travellers of cruise liners expect only the best food and drink when on board ship – from full English breakfasts (with toast and marmalade), tempting afternoon teas, light salads and snacks to five course silver service dinners; but now discerning travellers can also COOK as well as dine on board, and not only with an experienced and talented team of cookery school teachers, but also with famous celebrity chefs too. Such was the experience I had when I was recently on board P & O Cruises newest ship, Britannia.
As well as numerous bars serving beer, wine and gin, there are cosy cafés, Continental bistros, self-service cafeterias and elegant restaurants with crisp white linen, gleaming glasses and shiny silverware on Britannia; and, in addition to these wide range of eateries, this beautiful ship also boasts a well-equipped and modern cookery school – The Cookery Club – which offers numerous courses throughout the voyage with resident chefs Lizzie and Rob, as well as special Master Classes with a select team of “Food Heroes” which comprise several well-known chef personalities.
So, in addition to learning how to whip up several plates of tapas, you can also book in to selected cookery classes with “Cake Boy” Eric Lanlard, Marco Pierre White, Atul Kochar or James Martin, who is the face of The Cookery Club on P & O Cruise’s new ship Britannia. In addition to these celebrity chefs, wine expert Olly Smith has selected a wide range of great wines for you to enjoy whilst Charlie Turnbul, an international cheese expert and judge, has chosen the finest British and artisan cheeses for passengers to enjoy on board, as I did in the Market Café when I was on board.
The emphasis on Britannia, as well as travel, entertainment, comfort and luxury, is definitely all about good food and wine, and if you do tire of eating and drinking what’s on offer, then you can pop up to Deck 17 and learn how to prepare and cook it instead! The Cookery Club is like no cookery school you will have encountered before – bristling with stainless steel, state-of-the-art digital tutorials which are projected on to a large screen on the wall, it is extremely well-equipped with all mod-cons including an army of shiny new Kitchen Aid machines and individual sinks and hobs; it’s also a room with a view, with one long window overlooking the sea to the one side, and a separate dining area to one side.
I was lucky enough to attend TWO events in the Cookery Club on my recent cruise – one was a specially hosted dinner, prepared, cooked and hosted by Eric Lanlard, and the other event was one of his Master Classes, where I learned to make West Indian Chocolate Tarts, Gingerbread Chocolate Soufflés and Fig, Lardon and Dolcelatte tarts with Walnut Pastry. Eric was our gracious host for the formal Black Tie dinner, which comprised champagne on arrival, Crab and Filo Pies, a modern twist on Duck a l ’Orange and mini Frasier gateaux.
The Master Class was informative and fun, and Eric’s expertise and sense of humour was an invaluable teaching tool which aided us all to prepare and bake perfect sweet (and savoury) tarts as well as a rather impressive soufflé. After we had toiled away all morning, we all sat down to enjoy the fruits of our labours. It was a “hands on” class with Eric helping us if we got into a bit of a pickle! The class was just the right size, with 14 of us lining up to watch the French master at work – the work stations were large, certainly big enough for several of us to work in pairs and there were plenty of support staff to clear away as we dusted flour, melted chocolate and whisked eggs.
The hosted dinner and Master Class were the highlights of my cruise, and if like me, you fancy a more “hand on” cruise, with wine tasting, cookery classes and cheese tasting as well as shore excursions, then the Britannia is the ship for you. There are plenty of restaurants to choose from, and also several opportunities to cook alongside one of the resident “Food Heroes” – I even have it on good authority that Mary Berry will be joining the Britannia later this year, so no soggy bottoms allowed in her classes or demos then! Cruise liners aren’t just about eating and drinking nowadays, nice though that is, they also provide unique opportunities to learn new cookery skills whilst sailing on the high seas.
Please pop back later this week to read all about my dining and wine tasting experiences on board Britannia too.
Also – I have THREE wonderful KitchenAid® Artisan® Series 4.8L Tilt-Head Stand Mixers in assorted colours to offer VERY soon for a special Giveaway!
I was the guest of P and O Cruises who paid for my travel to Cadiz, a three-day cruise, cookery and wine classes and all my food whilst on board Britannia; all views are my own and are not representative of P and O Cruises, any of their employees or third-party agents.
Fig, Lardon and Dolcelatte tarts
Eric Lanlard’s delicious fig, lardon and dolcelatte Tart recipe from his “Tart It Up” book and as made in the Cookery Club on board P and O Cruises Britannia
250g Plain white flour
Pinch of salt
75g Walnuts chopped
150g Butter (unsalted) chilled, cut into pieces.
1 Egg yolk (free range)
1tbsp cold water
8 Figs cut into quarters
2tsp Olive oil
150g Mascarpone cheese
2 Eggs (free range) beaten
2tsp Thyme leaves
Pinch of salt
Pinch of pepper
150g Dolcelatte cheese
STEP 1: Lightly grease a 24 x 7 x 3cm (9 x 3 x 1.in) deep tart tin, or a tin of similar dimensions. (NOTE: We made the tart recipe in individual tins – the recipe yields about 6 to 8 small tarts)
STEP 2: To make the pastry place the flour, salt and chopped walnuts in a bowl and rub in the chilled butter
until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.
STEP 3: Stir in the egg yolk, then gradually add enough of the chilled water until the mixture comes together to
form a firm dough. Add the water a little at a time, to prevent the mixture from becoming too sticky.
STEP 4: Roll the dough out on a floured surface and line the tin. Chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
STEP 5: Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 200°C (fan 180°C, gas mark 6). Once chilled prick the pastry all over
with a fork, cover with a sheet of greaseproof paper and fill the tin with baking beans. (NOTE: We lined the tarts with microwaveable cling film and baked them blind with rice) Blind bake for 20
minutes, then remove the paper and beans and bake for a further 10 minutes, or until the pastry begins
to turn golden.
STEP 6: Arrange the figs in circles, to cover the base of the tart tin. (NOTE: We placed them upright – see photo – around the edge of the tarts) Put into the oven and cook for 10–12
minutes, or until they begin to soften.
STEP 7: Heat the oil in a frying pan and lightly fry the lardons until they just begin to colour. Remove from the
heat and set aside.
STEP 8: Place the mascarpone in a medium-sized bowl and stir to soften, then add the beaten eggs and milk
and stir until you have a smooth mixture. Season with a little salt and pepper and add the chopped
STEP 9: Scatter the cooked lardons and the crumbled dolcelatte over the top of the softened figs, then pour
over the mascarpone and egg mixture. Bake in the oven for 20–25 minutes, (NOTE: We baked individual small tarts for 20 minutes) or until the filling is set and
STEP 10: Serve at room temperature, with some lightly dressed salad leaves.
(Including some of the Art and Décor installed throughout the ship)