During the recent Oceania Club Reunion Cruise onboard Marina, Executive Chef Tino Daab and his wonderful team treated a group of guests to an evening in La Reserve. As Blogger-at-Large for Oceania Cruises, I was privileged to join this group for a spectacular evening of fine food and wine.
La Reserve is an intimate dining venue in which fine wines from around the world are perfectly paired with a seven-course menu.
The custom-designed china and elegant place settings promised an evening to remember. Chef Steven Pegg explained to us the delicious courses and wine pairings that awaited us this evening.
My husband and I were joined by three other delightful couples at one of the tables in La Reserve. Pictured above (clockwise from left) are Mr. and Mrs. Ing, Mr. and Mrs. Rose, my husband and myself, and Mr. and Mrs. Maston.
Oceania Club Ambassador Matilda Jerosimic (front row, left) and Oceania Club Manager Nick DeSantis (second row, left) hosted another table that evening. Oceania Cruises Senior Vice President of Business Development Jeff Drew hosted a third table. La Reserve accommodates a maximum of 24 guests for an intimate and personalized dining experience.
Everything is in the details at La Reserve, beginning with the four different kinds of salt presented to start the evening, one from Oregon, Peru, France and Hawaii. Each had its own distinct flavor and color, ranging from white to pink to black. The Hawaiian salt was volcanic with an intense smoky flavor.
The amuse bouche was a Lobster and Mascarpone Pancake with Baby Carrot Emulsion and Rock Chive Cress. The flavors were exquisite, and this certainly whet our appetites for what was still to come.
The delicate Pommery Brut Rose Champagne paired perfectly with the lobster.
Mr. Leroy Maston displays one of our favorite courses – Cream of Porcini Soup with Sauteed Duck Foie Gras Bites and Freshly Baked Croutons topped with a Cappuccino Foam. This delicious soup was matched with the full flavored and well structured Cervaro Castello della Sala Chardonnay from Umbria, Italy. The chardonnay had just a hint of herbs in the background that paired perfectly with the aromas of the porcini cream.
Above you see the Seared Bay Scallops and Jamon Iberico Pata Negra over Tarbais Bean Cream, which was surprisingly paired with a red wine, the Valsanzo Vall Sanzo Crianza from Ribera Del Duero, Spain. This red had low alcohol and soft tannins that made it a great match for the delicate flavors of the scallops and bean cream.
The main course was a Slow-Braised Short Rib with Truffle Sauce and Gnocchi au Jus. It was prepared sous-vide, a cooking style that is ever growing in popularity, especially in high-end gourmet restaurants. The meat is vacuum sealed and cooked very slowly over a period of 72 hours at a temperature of about 149 degrees Fahrenheit. This allows the meat to cook in its own natural fats and to preserve the integrity of the flavors while creating an unbelievable succulence. It melted in your mouth, and the gnocchi was the perfect accompaniment.
The main course was paired with a Gordon Brothers Cabernet Sauvignon from Columbia Valley in Washington State, poured ever so carefully by the sommelier from an exquisite decanter. This cabernet had aromas of blackberry and a smooth, velvety texture that did not overpower the rich flavors of the beef.
For our cheese course we enjoyed an AOC Brie de Meaux on a freshly baked baguette with Raisin-Onion Compote and Quince Jelly, paired with The Hess Collection Allomi Vineyard Cabernet. This cabernet had hints of minerals in the mouth that complemented the cheese perfectly.
The evening concluded with a special surprise – a cake to celebrate the 60th anniversary of Mr. and Mrs. Finkenstadt.
Somehow we found room for both the Raspberry Caramelized Mille Feuille that was our final course of the evening and also the delicious anniversary cake, which the Finkenstadt’s so kindly shared with us all. This last treat was paired with a Loire Valley late-harvest chenin blanc from Chateau La Variere. The wine had a well-balanced sweetness and acidity that made it perfect for this dessert course.
Our evening in La Reserve will certainly be one of our most treasured memories from the Reunion Cruise. The food and wine were exceptional, the company delightful, and the staff commendable. If you are traveling onboard Marina or Riviera in the future, be sure to inquire about a fabulous evening of delectable cuisine and fine wines in La Reserve.