0 comments on “Unexpected Culinary Adventures in Nuku Hiva
 

Unexpected Culinary Adventures in Nuku Hiva
 

Nuku Hiva

By Oceania Cruises Guest June S.

Nuku Hiva, filled with paradise valleys, sacred tikis, dramatic waterfalls and Robinson Crusoe beaches, is the kind of spectacular South Pacific island that seems too dreamy to be real. In fact, I didn’t think a place like this really existed until we arrived at the dock via tender and were greeted with tribal conch shell blowing, rhythmic chanting and locals in colorful traditional dress. It quickly became evident that Nuku Hiva, one of the largest and most isolated French Polynesian islands, did not receive many visitors and when they did – it was a very special event. Even better, I was set to experience otherworldly Nuku Hiva through a Culinary Discovery Tour led by Chef Instructor Noelle Barille and our local guide, Ani. I could go on for pages and days, but below are a few highlights from our tour, “Traditional Polynesian Culinary Experience.”

 

Traditional Underground Oven Demonstration
We took an incredibly picturesque drive to the Taipivai cultural site, nestled in the heart of Taipivai Valley, for this unique demonstration and to enjoy a traditional Polynesian lunch. The literary nerd in me delighted in the fact that this was the area where Herman Melville lived for three weeks with locals when he deserted his ship, and had experiences that eventually inspired his novel, Typee. Here, we learned how the Ahi Ma’a, the traditional underground oven covered with banana leaves, is opened after the food has been cooking over hot volcanic stones – in this case, for more than two days. This method of cooking imparts an earthy flavor to the food and is found throughout the South Pacific.

The Ubiquitous & Essential Breadfruit
We quickly learned that Uru, or breadfruit, is a Nuku Hivan staple and is one of the island’s essential trees. In fact, locals love building with breadfruit wood because it’s one of the few types of wood termites don’t like. Breadfruit makes its way into everything culinary on the island and can be prepared a variety of ways – fried, roasted, steamed, boiled, sliced into chips or mashed with coconut milk, which is called Ka’aku. Before lunch, we watched as one of the local women mashed the breadfruit and later had a chance to sample it with coconut milk.

 

Polynesian Goat Stew & Purple Bananas with Traditional Music
As a former vegetarian for many years, meat dishes are not typically the courses I’m most excited about, but the goat stew, cooked in coconut milk of course, was delicious – savory and not at all gamey. The roasted bananas, which turn a surprisingly vibrant shade of purple when roasted, were another favorite – they were tropically sweet with just a bit of tartness to balance it. The roast suckling pig was a hit with all as was the poisson cru, a fresh South Pacific-style ceviche. We enjoyed it all in characteristic island-style, to the relaxing beat of traditional Polynesian music thanks to a local band that cheerfully played throughout lunch.

Family Taro, Manioc & Honey Plantations
After lunch, Ani and Chef Noelle accompanied us to Ani’s uncle’s farm, which was lush and full of taro, manioc, sugarcane and many other crops. Amongst the dense tropical foliage, Ani’s uncle showed us how they don’t need any tools other than the taro stalk to help plant the next round of taro and manioc plants. We learned that each taro plant takes about 8 months to grow and that these root vegetables make up an essential part of the local diet. We also sampled fresh sugarcane and spotted a prized noni fruit tree. Next up was a honey farm in another village where we received an insider’s look at how local honey products are made and tasted the local floral honey – deliciously sweet with a tropical fragrance.

 

Needless to say, at the end of the day I was thrilled to have one more full day to continue exploring this incredible island in the middle of the deep blue South Pacific.

0 comments on “Dark ‘n’ Stormy: An Insider’s Look at Bermuda’s Classic Drink”

Dark ‘n’ Stormy: An Insider’s Look at Bermuda’s Classic Drink

What better island-style cocktail to enjoy while in Bermuda than a delightfully spicy and slightly sweet rum cocktail known as a Dark ‘n’ Stormy? With more than a 150-year history, Bermuda’s unofficial national drink is as storied as they come. Here’s a glimpse into the fascinating history of this classic cocktail, along with the Dark ‘n’ Stormy recipe of record.

Turbulent Beginnings
In 1806, a chartered English clipper, Mercury, set out from Gravesend, Kent, England bound for America. After 91 days of struggling at sea, they managed to make it ashore to Bermuda. The helmsman’s name was James Gosling. Of course, the Goslings eventually became one of the most important families on the island and entered the rum business in 1857. After much experimentation, the Goslings arrived at the distinctive rum formula that would be favored by many in the centuries to come. For many years, it was sold from the barrel and called “Old Rum” for its smooth taste. During World War I, the rum was bottled in discarded Champagne bottles from the British Officers Mess, but with the corks newly sealed in black wax. People began asking for the rum with the black seal and thus, the name chose itself. Much later, a creative interpretation gave rise to the well-known label image of the black seal balancing a barrel on its nose.

Nautical Appeal
It was kismet then that ginger beer also happened to be produced on Bermuda by the British Royal Navy – perhaps due to ginger’s effectiveness at easing seasickness. As the story goes, one evening a bartender at the Royal Navy Officer’s Club decided to add a splash of Gosling’s new rum to their spicy homemade ginger beer. Legend has it that a sailor supposedly sipped it and remarked that the color of the drink looked like “the color of a cloud only a fool or a dead man would sail under.” And here the Dark ‘n’ Stormy was born – a favorite of all those in the global boating and sailing community and sea lovers ever since.
This Bermudian cocktail has been trademarked by Gosling’s Black Seal Rum – and yes, there are many wrong ways to make a Dark ‘n’ Stormy. Below is the original Gosling’s recipe, made with their legendary barrel-aged blended Caribbean rum that started it all.

 

Gosling’s Dark ‘n’ Stormy
1.5 ounces Gosling’s Black Seal Rum
4 to 5 ounces ginger beer

In a highball glass filled with ice, add the ginger beer and top with rum for the classic stormy look. Garnish with a lime wedge and enjoy – preferably while out on the water. Cheers!

0 comments on “7 Alaskan Icons Not to Miss
 

7 Alaskan Icons Not to Miss
 

Unlike anywhere else on the planet, Alaska brims with sprawling wilderness, dramatic glaciers and vibrant native heritage. A voyage to this corner of the world calls out to your adventurous spirit and encourages you to get to know a fascinating and truly wild side of North America. What to do when you finally get to America’s last frontier? Our Destination Specialists share the top 7 icons you shouldn’t miss.

1. Hubbard Glacier | North America’s largest tidewater glacier, the majestic Hubbard Glacier is 76 miles long and about 7 miles wide. The ice you see at the terminal face is approximately 450 years old, over 2000 feet thick at some locations and will leave you speechless. Cruise Hubbard Glacier this summer.

2. Totem Poles | Colorful totems reflect the native heritage of the Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian people, illustrating family lineage and sacred cultural heritage. In Ketchikan, you can visit the Totem Heritage Center, which is a national landmark housing 33 totems preserved from abandoned Tlingit and Haida villages, while Sitka offers an impressive collection of totems near its visitor center and along the walking trail.

3. Bald Eagles | America’s most iconic and majestic symbol, bald eagles are abundant in Alaska with the population estimated to be at 30,000. The Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve near Haines is a particularly good spot as well as along the banks of the Stikine River near Wrangell.

4. Historic Gold Mine Towns | Skagway is a very well-preserved gold rush town – check out The Chilkoot Trail just outside of town, which is the centerpiece of the town’s gold rush history. You can also ride a train along the White Pass and Yukon Railway, which is known as Alaska’s Gold Rush Train and offers a glimpse into the 19th century miner landscape. Alaska’s gold mining past is alive in Juneau as well – retrace the historic route taken by Joe Juneau and Richard Harris in their search for gold, visit Last Chance Basin and try your hand at panning for gold in Gold Creek.

5. Inside Passage | One of the most stunning locations in the world, this protected passage is calm and filled with everything from snowcapped mountains and calving glaciers to wildflowers and plenty of wildlife every summer. You can even spot migrating whales. Explore the Inside Passage with us.

6. Russian Culture in Sitka | Once the capital of Russian America, Sitka was a booming West Coast center for trade, diplomacy and the arts during the early 1800s. You can soak up the Russian influence with a scenic walking tour of the city, stopping at St. Michael’s Russian Orthodox Cathedral, the Russian Bishop’s House and the Russian Orthodox Cemetery as well as many historic houses that showcase a Russian influence.

7. Denali | Alaska is home to 17 of our nation’s 20 highest peaks, including the majestic Denali, which is North America’s tallest peak. Explore this icon in comfort on our 4-day pre- or post-cruise Denali land tour.

We look forward to seeing you in Alaska this summer!

1 comment on “10 New England Chef-Favorites
 

10 New England Chef-Favorites
 

So many choices, so little time – that’s the quandary always faced when dining out in New England. Since Chef Instructor Annie B. Copps is a proud Boston native and her recommendations last time around were so popular, we sat down with her again to get the scoop on more of her favorites. A talented and passionate chef, Annie studied under Jacques Pépin at Boston University and has worked amongst such Boston culinary elite as Julia Childs and Todd English. Now she delights in sharing her culinary expertise in The Culinary Center on board Marina and Riviera.

Read on for some New England culinary inspiration with a few of Chef Annie’s favorite choices in New York, Newport and Boston.

 

New York

Carmine’s
This big, loud Italian spot in Times Square dishes up big portions of all the classic pasta dishes – you can’t go wrong.

The Modern
The restaurant at Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) is one of my favorites – it leans towards French, but the food is creative and well, “modern.”

The Union Square Market
Leading the revolution of reinvigorating the concept of local farmer’s markets in the city, this market remains a beautiful and vibrant community gathering place.

 

Newport

Castle Hill Inn
Few things are better than the outstanding view from The Lawn at Castle Hill, from which you can see boats of all shapes and sizes sail pass while enjoying classic clam chowder or a refreshing glass of rosé.

Mamma Luisa
The name and the décor suggest an old-fashioned Italian dining experience. Don’t be fooled –there are certainly pasta classics, and they’re perfectly executed, but the kitchen also creates updated plates with a terrific Italian wine list to match.

Midtown Oyster Bar
This classic spot offers three floors of simple but thoughtful seafood-centric foods with a consistently wide range of New England oyster options, from Maine to Connecticut.

 

Boston

Faneuil Hall Marketplace
Not far from the North End is Faneuil Hall Marketplace, a historic building morphed into a food hall and crafts market, plus the newly built Boston Public Market, which is an excellent food and dining spot dedicated to local food producers.

Nebo
Sisters Christine and Carla have a mega-hit Italian restaurant that is a popular spot for the neighborhood – it’s hard to beat and there’s a serious after-work bar scene.

Sportello and Menton
Award-winning chef Barbara Lynch has seven or more dining spots throughout Boston. Sportello and Menton showcase her ability to create beautiful and delicious food at each end of the spectrum. Sportello is casual Italian food served at a long counter, while Menton is a magnificent culinary experience that requires your full attention and all senses.

We look forward to seeing you in New England this spring and summer!

1 comment on “New Innovative Gourmet Menus at The Grand Dining Room”

New Innovative Gourmet Menus at The Grand Dining Room

Grand Dining Room

While The Grand Dining Room has become known for its exquisite European-inspired culinary creations, we’re thrilled to unveil a sweeping re-inspiration of our dinner menus, which now offer you the ultimate fine dining experience at sea. The menus feature an incredible spectrum of world flavors as well as an all-new Executive Chef’s Food & Wine Pairing, available every evening and featuring the chef’s selection of exquisite dishes specifically curated for their complementary and contrasting flavors. Another highlight of the menus is the new “Global Cuisine” tasting menu each evening – these are bolder and more adventurous ethnic dishes – perfect for the traveler with a spirit for spice.

The Ultimate in Dining Choice, Flexibility, and Customization at Sea
Each evening in the Grand Dining Room, you will be treated to more than two dozen dishes to choose from – six appetizers, three soups, four salads, nine main courses, and nine side dishes. Every menu incorporates our acclaimed and imaginative vegetarian dishes along with our Canyon Ranch Balanced Selections that follow their mantra for indulgent, yet healthy living. All in all, the menus offer you more than 800 dishes.

Hundreds of New Dishes Accompany Time-Honored Favorites
Whether you are sailing for the first time with Oceania Cruises or the 50th, you will delight at the diversity of selections with fresh and bold flavors, in addition to classic dishes that have been favorites ashore and at sea, for years or decades. Scintillating new additions such as herb-crusted cornish hen diavolo, Palermo-style grilled swordfish, smoked ricotta risotto, and Paul Bocuse’s Alaskan halibut Viennoise, accompany time-honored favorites such as Jacques Pepin’s quartet of beef bourguignon, salmon supreme, steak frites and herb-crusted rotisserie chicken. Other classics being reprised include involtini di melanzane alla parmigiana, traditional coq au vin, golden-friend wiener schnitzel, and dover sole meuniere.

Perfect Pairings for a Perfect Evening
Of course, if you’re looking for a more adventurous dining experience, a special evening, or just something with a healthy bend, you will want to experience one of our three new tasting menus. Reflecting our globe-trotting adventures, the new menus feature a Global Cuisine tasting every evening that focuses on a particular region, specific country, or particular cooking style – Asia, France, Cuba, India, United States, Spain, Thailand, Morocco, Polynesian, Greek, South America and Japan. If you’re seeking a healthy-living choice, Balanced Selection offers four courses of mouth-watering lighter options. The Food & Wine Pairing menu invites you to try four courses selected by our master chefs, each expertly paired with a different wine selected by our head sommelier, presenting a perfectly-paired gourmet tasting menu each evening.

These new menus are currently available onboard Riviera and will be introduced aboard Sirena in May, Insignia in June, Nautica and Marina in July, and Regatta in August. We look forward to welcoming you to The Grand Dining Room for a gourmet dining experience to remember!