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It just does not get any better than cruising the Mediterranean with 1,200 food and wine enthusiasts and Jacques Pépin! And that was the highlight cruise of the summer for me and the three incredible members of our culinary center team. Pictured above from left to right are Daniel, myself, Ralf and Putu. All of our classes were full every day, and despite the busy class schedule and demonstrations and book signings, our spirits were high and glasses full!

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One of my favorite classes is Modern Greece, and while we were not cruising in Greece, we decided to try some great new recipes from the Kolkarri cookbook (fabulous restaurant in San Francisco). You can see in the photos that we had everything from skordalia to spanikopita to tyrosalada. Lots of great flavors to try.

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Cheers and praise flowed about the watermelon and feta salad with a garnish of basil and toasted pine nuts. Some liked it with extra virgin olive oil, while others preferred honey.

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We put our palates to the test in the culinary center, and the Modern Greek class is no exception! One of my favorite mezzes is spanikopita – and here I am demonstrating it for the class.

IMG_2542 (Medium)My motto is “no fear of phyllo,” and we tossed it in the air and caught it to see exactly how strong it really was! Stuffed kalamata figs (with sage and feta, wrapped in prosciutto) are a big favorite as well – as you can see by the smiling faces below.

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What is it they say in Greece? Opa!!

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A class that always delights our guests is Simple Dinner Party. The signature dish of that class was inspired by Chef Pépin’s Fast Food My Way program and a salad served in the Terrace Café. (I just love the cold salads in the Terrace Café at lunch!) Everyone in the class is always so proud of the presentation of their delicious crab and shrimp salads, plated inside of cucumber slices and topped with greens.

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And what would a cruise in Italy be without an Indulging in Italy class? Here we make a delightful salad with roasted beets and sautéed mushrooms (properly caramelized – right, class?)

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The salad is served with a penne pasta with veal and mushroom cream sauce, plus tiramisu for dessert. My chefs in the culinary center give the boys in Toscana a run for their money!

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And finally, what would a trip that included stops in Valencia be without a paella class (or three in one cruise, to be exact)?

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We use the recipes of our dear Chef Steven Pegg, who has left the culinary center to take on new responsibilities as a Chef de Cuisine on Marina. (You may also remember him as the Chef of La Reserve and Privée.) We make one paella with seafood, and I make another one with fiduea (small egg noodles) and meats with a strong garlic aioli. We also make a tortilla, one of Spain’s most popular tapas, with piquillo peppers, potatoes and eggs.

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It looks here like a frittata, but it is really a Spanish tortilla. I also took the liberty of hosting an Iberico ham and Manchego cheese tasting with some Spanish sherry.

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We start our paella class with gazpacho, which I am demonstrating for the class above. Little did I know that my team had forgotten to attach the little lid on the top of the blender – good thing my big hands did the job for me! Great class and everyone mastered the technique!

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I did manage to get off the ship for a few meals – this one here is a favorite – a plate of Iberico ham in the port of Cadiz. I have learned to love this ham and a glass of crisp Spanish Albarino.

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I was also able to return to my favorite spot in Honfleur for a lunch of braised short ribs and a hearty local rosé.

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All together a fabulous sailing. Great guests. Great classes. Chef Pépin. Lots of food and wine and laughter and new friends… ahhh, magical Marina.




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