How about a seven-day cruise on a small but perfectly formed luxury cruise liner around the Mediterranean with Gourmet food and wine……yes please! You can read all about my accommodation and overview of the cruise here: Luxury Gourmet Cruise with Silversea, but for today, I would like to highlight the Relais & Chateaux aspect of my Silversea cruise; all Relais & Châteaux restaurants share the same mission – to deliver taste sensations and create unforgettable moments. With carefully selected products, high-precision techniques and expertly combined flavours, they take culinary art to a new level of excellence to offer the perfect dining experience in stunning surroundings, including the beautiful surroundings of the Silver Spirit, the Silversea ship that I was travelling on.
Throughout the year, in all corners of the globe, Relais & Châteaux Chefs present unique culinary events which elegantly marry ingredients and influences from diverse cultures and regions. We were treated to TWO amazing Gala Dinners and two cookery demonstrations by Relais & Châteaux chefs whilst on-board the cruise. Fabio Pisani is an Italian Chef who has worked in three Michelin star restaurants, he now works alongside his friend, Alessandro e Fabio, in Il Luogo di Aimo e Nadia in Milan, Italy; his style is light-hearted but is executed with immense passion. Fabio treated us to a wonderful cookery demonstration one morning where he made his recipe for Risotto Carnaroli with Zucchini Blossom, Burrata Cheese and Fresh White Truffles from Alba.
The next day, we were all invited to his special Gala Dinner in La Terrazza, where wines were paired by award-winning sommelier, Gennaro Buono. After a selection of canapés which were served with Trento Brut Riserva Lunelli 2006, a stunning fruity white sparkling wine, we were then asked to take our sears for the Gala menu. Marinated Lugurian Snapper with a Pistachio Mayonnaise and Green Celery garnish followed along with the paired wine, which was a superb Italian Gewürztraminer by Alto Adige from 2013. Scampi Tail with fresh Thyme, Baby Leaf Salad, Marinated Eggplant and Candied Tomato was next, served with another exciting Italian wine, Grechetto di Civitella d’Agliano Poggio della Costa 2014. This dry and greenish-yellow coloured white showcases a complex nose releasing floral, fruity and mineral scents which was expertly paired with the seafood course.
The tasty Risotto Fabio had cooked for us in his cookery demonstration then followed before the main course of Veal Sirloin Fassona in a Chamomile Crust with Tropea Onions and Carrots in Raspberry Vinegar. The EXCELLENT accompanying wine was Marche Rosso Kurni 2013, and it was quite the best red wine I have ever tasted – a rich and fruity red wine, it was low in tannins and high in layered flavours such as chocolate and cherries. Dessert was a playful dish of Cream of Yoghurt and Mascarpone with Coffee Biscuit, Bergamot Ricotta and Capers of Pantelleria in Honey. The meal then came to a culinary climax when we served some excellent dessert wine, Calusa Passito Sule 2008 with a platter of Silver gilded chocolate truffles! The use of copious amounts of Italian white truffles, Fabio’s innovative menu as well as the excellent wines was the highlight of the Gala evening for me!
Our next Gala evening and cookery demonstration was hosted by the very young and talented German Chef, Erik Arnecke of Hotel Die Sonne in Frankenberg, Germany. Erik likes to cook with local ingredients, ideally sourced from personally known suppliers in the region. Prepared with simplicity and to perfection and without any unnecessary fuss, his demonstration was for Raw Marinated Langostino with Rose, Avocado and Celery. His menu for the Gala Dinner was interesting with the above recipe being served as the fish course, and the main of Pot-Au-Feu of Potatoes with Perigord Truffles in a Nut Foam Butter with Egg Yolk and Spinach was delicious.
As well as the Gala Dinners and Gourmet Cookery demonstrations, we were all invited to a special Wine Tasting event hosted by the Guest Sommelier, Gennaro Buona, of Ristorante Il Pagliaccio in Rome. Winning Best Sommelier of Italy in 2012, he also has a clutch of other awards and is also a Salami Taster, Coffee Taster and Water Taster – obviously he has very refined taste-buds! His Gourmet Cruise Wine Tasting session was fun and informative and we all tasted FIVE wines – one white and four reds, and although I am not a lover of red wine, in general, there were at least two reds that I would be happy to imbibe in again. We started off with the white, Manna, a 2013 Riesling, Chardonnay, Traminer and Sauvignon Blanc grape wine that was aromatic and buttery. The reds that followed were: Barolo Cannusi 2011, I Sodi di S.Niccolo 2011, Salice Salentino Rosso Donna Lisa Riserva 2011 and Bolgheri Ornellaia 2012. I’m not a huge red drinker, as I said before, but I did like the Barolo Cannusi for its elegant and lightly oaked taste which was round and smooth.
Other highlights of my Gourmet Cruise included a Japanese Degustation (tasting) menu at one of the Premium restaurants on board, Seishin; we settled down at our table to watch the chef at work sculpting fresh sushi and sashimi, before we were introduced to the first few courses. The dishes came out in a steady stream, the food was authentic and the sashimi was of the highest calibre. Plate after plate of delectable food came out and my personal favourites were the clams in ponzu sauce, black cod with a miso-glaze and the astonishingly tender Wagu Kobe beef. The surcharge for this veritable Asian feast was a very reasonable US $40 which is about £25 or €35 for what was a menu of the highest quality and taste. You need to book in advance for this restaurant, but it was well worth it.
The other restaurant that I LOVED was the outdoor Black Rock Grill; simple bar snacks and poolside drinks by day, but at night the pre-heated volcanic hot rocks came out for fun self-cooking! I enjoyed TWO meals there, mainly due to my greed for more the prime US Rib-eye Steak and fresh lobster, as well as king size prawns. Served alongside are baked potatoes with sour cream and chives, coleslaw and a garlic butter sauce, as well as vegetable skewers and mushrooms, if you wish! Even though the restaurant is outside, it was never cold as there were outdoor heaters, and rugs too if you needed them; and, with the gentle swish of the ocean waves, a regular top up of wine or a cocktail, as well as the amazing food, it was a very relaxing and seductive place to eat. We all complimented the chefs both times too, well we would, wouldn’t we! (Have you worked it out yet?)
I hope this has given you a flavour of what to expect on a Silversea Gourmet Cruise – the cruise I travelled on in November was the last one for the 2015 season, but you can check out all the cruises for 2016 and beyond here: Destinations. I have ONE more post to share with you all, about all the destinations I visited, and the food I enjoyed there too…..from Rome to Barcelona, we stopped at five glorious Mediterranean towns and cities, where we enjoyed some pretty spectacular excursions. Karen
Disclaimer: I was the guest of Silversea Cruises; my return flights, transfers, 7 day cruise, on-board activities and Gala Dinners were paid for me as part of a media press trip. I was not asked to write a favourable review and all views and opinions remain my own. Karen Burns-Booth
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Sat: 09:00 – 13:00 GMT
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COMING NEXT TIME…………..