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0 comments on “At the Table With Jacques Pépin”

At the Table With Jacques Pépin

Our Executive Culinary Director dishes on his French favorites, family culinary traditions, Julia Child & more.

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You recognize the classically trained French chef’s jovial face and charming accent from his beloved PBS cooking series, perhaps you’ve picked up his kitchen wisdom from numerous cookbooks, and you may have even sailed with him aboard one of our ships. A legendary master chef and our Executive Culinary Director, Jacques Pépin celebrated his 82nd birthday this year and continues to share his endless fount of culinary knowledge. We sat down with Jacques recently to find out his favorite French city for epicurean adventures, his take on Jacques Bistro and much more.

 

What is your favorite French city to visit, purely for food and wine?
It’s difficult to decide, but if I had to pick one, I would pick Saint-Malo. It is in Brittany and is an extraordinary, historic walled city to tour. The big varied seafood plates you can enjoy right on the water are hard to beat – it’s simply beautiful.

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How does the emphasis on culinary technique in the U.S. differ from that in France?
To start with, it used to be in France that you would spend 3 to 5 years as an apprentice without being paid, so you had a great deal of time to repeat and repeat and repeat so that you refined the techniques. In the U.S., there are so many other types of cuisine from around the world that are based on other techniques, so it’s a different world than it would be if training in France. Still in France, however, whenever I went somewhere to get a job, people would ask me or anyone, perhaps, to make an omelet. That was a guideline to finding out if you knew your technique.

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You had a close relationship with Julia Child – tell us something many may not know about her.

I met Julia in 1960, so I knew her for a half a century. Certainly many do not know that when we did our show together, we actually had no recipe. Usually, when you are doing a cooking show you have a recipe you will follow, but we would not and this made the cameraman kind of crazy. It took two years to put on the air because they had to edit it and craft the show around what we did afterward. Maybe that’s why the show looked very natural, it was truly improvised. We had a really good time.

 

Tell us about a family culinary tradition that is special to you.

We keep books filled with illustrated menus of big family dinners and special occasions. We have done it for over 50 years now. I have 12 large books of menus, a testimonial to our life in the last half-century. I can look in those books and see what Claudine had when she was four – she’s almost 50 now. It’s a great tradition to have because it creates a keepsake that keeps growing and evolving. We just added another last week.

How would you describe the concept behind The Bistro at the Grand Dining Room and the cuisine served there?
Like a bistro in France, it is defined by being unpretentious, a neighborhood type of restaurant where people know one another. It is usually small, kind of casual, serving old classic dishes, like a cassoulet, earthy and closer to home-style cooking than to haute cuisine.

What’s your favorite dish from Jacques Bistro? One of the classic bistro dishes, like escargots à la Bourguignonne (snails with Burgundy garlic butter) and a salade Niçoise.

What French dish can you not live without?
A good onion soup gratinée, my favorite!

0 comments on “Meet Raffaele Cinque, General Manager”

Meet Raffaele Cinque, General Manager

GM Raffaele Cinque.picRaffaele Cinque, General Manager
I come from Positano in the beautiful Amalfi coast of Italy.  More than 30 years ago, while I was working in St. Barts in the French West Indies as Executive Concierge in one of the best hotels on the Island, I started noticing the cruise ships that were coming into St. Barts.  Right then and there I knew that this is what I wanted to do in my life.

Onboard the Oceania ships I realized that I had found a home, a family and the life I always wanted.  I have made good friends for life that I can depend on.  I get to work with the best crew at sea.

During my time off, I spend quality time with my son Gianvito who is now 15 years old.  We travel together once a year in different places that I get to visit also onboard our ships.  I want my son to experience first-hand the beauty and diversity of our world.

What is your favorite port: It is difficult to choose my favorite port, the world is beautiful. If I need to choose one, it would be in Asia; Shanghai, Hong Kong and HCMC Saigon

Shanghai.  I feel it is the New York of Asia, a bustling, vibrant city full of energy with a skyline that comes out of a futuristic movie.  I like the food and the diversity of the city.

What to do in Shanghai
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Yuyuan Gardens 

Sculpted by a rich Ming Dynasty family between 1559 and 1577, the Yuyuan Gardens are an oasis of tranquility – unless you go on weekends when they’re likely to be mobbed. Scattered among the weeping willows, cherry trees and towering redwoods lie pools teaming with carp, expertly manicured lawns, voluptuous blooms and shady pavilions.

The Bund
It goes without saying that a nighttime stroll along The Bund, with the illuminated Pudong skyline as its backdrop, is a must while in Shanghai. From sundown to around 9:30pm, when the famous Oriental Pearl Tower switches off its lights, it can get a little busy, but there are plenty of bars to seek respite in along the way.

French Kiss
Shanghai’s former French Concession, operating with impunity from Chinese laws between 1849 and 1943, is one of the most attractive parts of the modern-day city. With its wide tree-lined streets, much of its original European architecture and some fantastic international restaurants and boutique shops, it’s an agreeable place to while away your time and your spending money.

My Favorite Restaurants
Lost Heaven is a Shanghai expat and visitor favorite, serving up scrumptious “Yunnan folk cuisine” via recipes from minority tribes living in the southwestern Chinese province. The interior of the restaurant – with its smorgasbord of photographs, art, crafts and writings – is a real selling point, as is the open-air rooftop bar when the weather permits. Try the Burmese-style Shrimp Salad and the Ancient Trail Crispy Chicken.
http://lostheaven.com.cn/

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Dreamy Dumplings

Although Shanghai is now dripping in five-star international eateries, the small-scale local restaurants still hold their own. Shanghai’s most iconic food stuff is the addictive soup dumplings known as Xiao Long Bao. These little parcels of comfort can be found in hole-in-the-wall restaurants all over the city, but you can’t go wrong at the longstanding Jia Jia Tang Bao in People’s Square. Jia Jia Tang, 90 Huanghe Rd, Huangpu District.

Hong Kong
It’s been said that life in Hong Kong transcends cultural and culinary borders and once you experience the thrilling, dynamic lifestyle you’ll probably agree. Spend an evening sampling the foodie delights of Temple Street Night Market, climb Victoria Peak, place your bet at Happy Valley Race Course, or simply enjoy one of the world’s most stunning skylines as you stroll Tsim Sha Tsui East Promenade. Hong Kong’s hip bars and restaurants are cutting edge, the shopping is legendary, and the museums will carry you to another time and place.

HONG KONG: DIM SUM CAPITAL
Eating dim sum is one of the most authentic ways to experience Hong Kong and its rich culinary culture. Here are some of the best places in the city to enjoy it.

Mott 32
The word on Mott 32 is that it’s the best modern dim sum joint in town. It has consistently been voted one of Hong Kong’s top restaurants since it opened in 2014. The speakeasy-style underground Art Deco space is a real treat for the eyes as well as the taste buds. The stunning design provides the perfect backdrop for exquisite dishes like barbeque Iberico pork with yellow mountain honey and Shanghainese soup dumplings of Kurobuta pork, crab and caviar.

Standard Chartered Bank Building, 4-4A Des Voeux Rd, Central, Hong Kong
mott32.com 

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Yan Toh Heen

This elegant two-Michelin-starred restaurant enjoys an unbeatable location overlooking Victoria Harbor. And while the view is outstanding, the food is even better. Kick things off with the trio of superior dumplings: steamed scallop with black truffles and vegetables, steamed lobster and bird’s nest with gold leaf and steamed king crab leg dumpling, before moving on to delicacies like the delightful steamed grouper, prawn and scallop dumpling.

InterContinental Hotel Hong Kong, 18 Salisbury Road, Kowloon, Hong Kong
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T´ang Court
As one of only three Cantonese restaurants in the world to have been awarded the Michelin Guide’s coveted three-star status, T’ang Court is the jewel in the crown of Hong Kong’s stylish Langham Hotel. And like all good Cantonese restaurants, it serves its own, exclusive brand of dim sum. Don’t miss the pan-fried rice flour rolls with spicy sauce  or the baked pastries filled with whole abalone and fish maw.

Langham Hotel, 8 Peking Road, Tsim Sha Tsui.
langhamhotels.com

dim sumTim Ho Wan
This hole-in-the-wall joint in Hong Kong’s working-class Mong Kok neighborhood defied the odds to become “the world’s cheapest Michelin-star restaurant,” and is now one of the city’s must-visit spots. The world-famous, mouthwatering barbeque pork buns are best described as life-changing, while other favorites include the steamed pork and shrimp dumpling and the beef balls with bean curd.

G/F, 9-11 Fuk Wing Street, Sham Shui Po, Kowloon
timhowan.com

shutterstock_149193416Fook Lam Moon
Nowhere does authentic Cantonese dim sum better than Fook Lam Moon, and with its flawlessly executed dishes and outstanding service, it’s easy to see why it is consistently listed as one Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants. The barbeque char siu pork is the best we’ve ever tasted, while the steamed rice rolls with shrimp paste and bean curd are to die for.
Newman House, 35-45 Johnston Road, Wan Chai, Hong Kong
fooklammoon-grp.com

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HCMC Saigon

Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam is perhaps a little chaotic, but also fantastic.
Visit the Ben Thanh market (Chợ, Lê Lợi, Quận 1, Hồ Chí Minh), where you can buy everything between heaven and earth. Sit in an outdoor restaurant and eat whole grilled fish. The Hotel des Arts Saigon has a magical rooftop terrace with panoramic views of the whole city. They have cool music, drinks or iced coffee, which they are particularly good at. If you are in Vietnam, you should definitely drop in.

Cocktail with a view  – Hotel des Arts Saigon
76-78 Nguyễn Thị Minh Khai, Bến Nghé, Quận 3, Hồ Chí Minh 70000, Vietnam

My recommendations for HCMC Saigon are:
Ngon Restaurant
(My favorite restaurant in town! / Great local choices / street food in style)
160 Pasteur Street
ASHIMA
mushroom restaurant, 35 A Nguyen Dinh Chieu, Phuong Da kao, Ho chi Minh city.

What advice would you have for our crew?
I would tell them that respecting each other, having the right attitude, and starting each day with a smile are important tools for growth.  In the hospitality industry, a smile and a positive attitude go a long way!

What is it that you enjoy most about your job?
What I enjoy most is interacting with our guests.  I meet lovely people from all around the world and it feels great delivering the Oceania Your World Service to create loyal guests.  I like to go around the ship and every time our guests are raving about our crew and our product, it gives me a sense of pride and is very rewarding.  I feel successful when our crew are happy and this is something you can feel onboard.  I have an open door policy with our crewmembers and enjoy organizing crew activities.  “Happy crew, happy guest” is my motto.

0 comments on “Food of the Gods: Divine Greek Ingredients”

Food of the Gods: Divine Greek Ingredients

By Restaurant Manager Georgios Korakianitis

With influences from Turkey to Italy, Greece has a vast and unique culinary landscape that has captivated a global audience.

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In Greece, bread, olives, and olive oil are the pillars of the Greek table wherever you travel, from an upscale restaurant in Athens to a farmhouse on Crete. You’ll have a hard time finding a family gathered around a table without this trio, not to mention a fresh bottle of wine.

shutterstock_453639187.jpgWhat many travelers do not realize is that Greek cuisine not only features many typical Middle Eastern foods, but is also strongly influenced by Rome, tracing back to when the Romans conquered Greece in the 2nd century. So you’ll see plenty of pasta and sauces alongside yogurt, rice and rich sweets made from nuts, honey and sesame seeds. Arab influences have also left their mark on the southern region of Greece, which means you’ll see spices such as cumin, cinnamon, allspice and cloves in the dishes. Greek coffee, of course, traces its roots to Turkey, while potatoes and tomatoes were brought from the New World after European explorers landed in the Americas. In Greece using local ingredients isn’t a trend, it’s simply how we cook – we use what is in season and what is available in our region.

Every Greek meal is fresh and inviting, but it also takes you on a journey through Greece’s history and thousands of years of growing, cooking and eating. As you will discover once you sit down to eat in Greece, no meal is ever “just a meal” – our celebration of life and dining is one in the same. So I invite you to discover more about just a few of the many Greek ingredients featured on board that capture the essence of our joyful and timeless cuisine.

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Feta Cheese
The national cheese of Greece, feta can only be produced in Greece – and only in specific regions such as the Peloponnese, Lesvos and mainland Greece – due to its Protected Designation of Origin. By law, feta is produced from either 100% sheep’s milk or a combination of sheep’s and goat’s milk. It’s the crowning centerpiece on any Greek salad and is a key ingredient in traditional dishes such as spanakopita, feta saganaki – a delicious filo-wrapped feta drenched in honey and coated in sesame.

shutterstock_309018044Kalamata Olives
This king of Greek table olives is favored around the world. The almond-shaped, deep purple olive is noted for its rich tangy flavor that is often smoky or has hints of wine. Kalamata olives are typically left on the tree to mature a bit longer and are only harvested once their color begins to turn dark. They are usually stored in olive oil or vinegar, and are typical in Greek salads and make a great tapenade.


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Caper Leaves
Very difficult to find outside of Greece, caper leaves are typically pickled or boiled and then preserved in jars with brine, similar to caper berries. In fact, when our ships leave Greece, we purchase enough caper leaves to last until the ship is planning to return. Our chefs like to use them in fish dishes and salads such as the heirloom tomato salad.


shutterstock_651493825Capers
A bold and briny ingredient, capers are picked, cured and sorted according to size. Harvesting capers is an arduous process since they can only be picked by hand every spring. They are ideal for garnishing and add a punch of flavor to sauces, salads, pasta dishes, fish and lamb. We use them most often on board in with our featured Greek fish at the Chef’s Greek Market Dinner, as well as in a variety of pasta dishes and salads.

 

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Filo Dough
Filo dough is an unleavened tissue-thin dough that is stretched or rolled so thin you can see through it. This type of dough is very versatile since it can be layered, filled, folded, rolled and even turned into cups, flowers or spirals. On board, we use filo in various Greek recipes such as baklava and spanakopita, as well as dishes such as strudel, pastilla and tartlets. Filo-based pastries are made by layering many sheets of filo brushed with olive oil or butter, filling it and then baking.

Recommended Greek Beverage

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Santorini, Greece
Cellar Master’s Notes:
A dry white wine, Assyrtiko is unique to the Mediterranean in that it achieves ripeness while maintaining high acidity. The wine is light in color with greenish tints. On the palate a fresh fruitiness is apparent with the development of a pleasant acidity and minerality, the latter derived from the unique character of the geology. Best served chilled, between 46° to 50°F.

Pairing Suggestions: Fish, seafood, a range of salads and traditional Mediterranean vegetarian casseroles.

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Metaxa 5 Stars
Cellar Master’s Notes:
Metaxa is a Greek brandy which is sweetened, usually darkened with caramel. It was created in 1888 by Spyros. Due to his amber color and quality, Metaxa is named “the smoothest amber spirit under the sun”. There are notes of bitter orange, rose, apricot and violet on the nose. The palate is balanced with notes of peach, raisin and light oak.

Pairing Suggestions: Chocolate, coffee desserts, fruit cake or a mild double cream cheese.


shutterstock_240440188Ouzo by Metaxa
Cellar Master’s Notes:
This ouzo is distilled in small, traditional copper stills according to a time-honored recipe from Asia Minor. Served with water or ice, the crystal clear liquid turns milky white, a magic transformation that is typical for this aperitif. Enjoy it straight up as an aperitif with ice and water or on the rocks. Spices such as star anise and mastic are combined in a unique mix which gives Ouzo by Metaxa its distinctive, rich aroma and a taste that is full and balanced.

Pairing Suggestions: In Greece, ouzo is typically accompanied by meze dishes, so try it with grilled squid, Kalamata olives or feta cheese and grilled bread.

Bon Appétit!

0 comments on “Il Modo Italiano
A Guide to Italian Dining Courses”

Il Modo Italiano
A Guide to Italian Dining Courses

Glancing at a menu in Italy nearly always inspires visions of grand dinners with mouthwatering specialties cascading out of a rustic and homey kitchen: carpaccio di manzo, involtini di melanze alla chiotta, gnocchi al pesto, risotto all’ aragosta, insalatine di campo, osso buco alla Milanese and on it goes. When you travel in Italy, you quickly discover that there is a very specific structure to dining that has been cultivated over the centuries – it’s not simply salad, pasta and check, please. You’ll notice this same elaborate and leisurely mode of dining and savoring is encouraged in our beloved Italian restaurant, Toscana, on board our ships. And why not? The best way to further immerse yourself in Italian culture is to dine as the Italians do. Here’s our chef’s guide to the traditional Italian dining courses that you’re likely to find at ristorantes and trattorias across Italy.

 

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Aperitivo

The aperitivo is the sweet introduction to your dining experience. It may be a bit of bubbly like the French aperitif – perhaps prosecco or sparkling wine. This course is also a small savory dish, such as olives, nuts or cheese for diners to enjoy while they peruse the menu. At Toscana, you’ve likely become familiar with the addictive crystalline chunks of aged Parmigiano-Reggiano carved from the large wheel of cheese sitting on the display table. Another Italian touch that appears at your table in Toscana shortly after the cheese is the beloved bread basket. All of the items, from grissini (breadsticks) and crispy flatbread to the small round Parmesan rolls on a skewer and potato focaccia topped with a rosette of onion and tomato, are made from scratch and freshly baked just before service.

 

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Antipasti

Translating literally as “just before the meal” in Italian, this is akin to an appetizer. Typical options often include a charcuterie plate, a cheese plate, bruschetta or crostini and small seafood dishes such as calamari and sautéed jumbo shrimp. More extensive dinner menus might have the antipasti menu items divided into two sections: antipasti freddi (cold options) and antipasti caldi (hot options).

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Primi

Primi dishes are the first heavier course of a traditional Italian meal and generally do not include meat, though it depends on the restaurant – oftentimes pasta dishes can be the exception. Soup, risotto, gnocchi, tortelloni, fettuccine and lasagna are all traditional. Truffles, seafood, rich cheeses and other fine ingredients often grace these dishes.

 

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This course often features the richer meat, poultry and seafood dishes. Depending upon the Italian region you are visiting, you may see chicken, beef, lamb, pork, fish, shrimp and lobster prepared in a variety of ways. In general, you’ll see many more seafood options in the south and more rustic meat dishes in the north.

 

 

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Contorni

These dishes are accompaniments, or side dishes, served alongside the secondi dishes. Typical contorni dishes include different types of vegetables prepared simply, such as sautéed asparagus, mushrooms with garlic or grilled mixed vegetables. They are purposefully served on a different plate than the meat or seafood in order to preserve the distinct flavors of each dish.

 

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Insalata

Though you can request it arrive prior to your main dish, salads in Italy typically follow the secondi course. These are usually light and fresh to cleanse the palate – for example, an insalata mista: greens with tomatoes, cucumbers and a balsamic dressing.

 

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Dolce

If you have room, it’s time for dessert. Tiramisù, panna cotta, cannoli and gelato are all classic Italian desserts, but you’ll likely see some regional specialties on the menu as well, such as seadas in Sardinia and sfogliatelle in Naples. In some cases, especially holidays and formal celebrations, there may be a formaggi e frutta course that precedes dessert. Italians also often enjoy a strong espresso following dessert. A final crowning touch is the digestivo, a digestive alcoholic beverage – usually local to the region such as limoncello, amaro or grappa, which encourages digestion.

Ready to dine the Italian way? Buon appetito!

0 comments on “The Art of Traveling Deeply The Allure of Country – Intensive Voyages”

The Art of Traveling Deeply The Allure of Country – Intensive Voyages

Imagine a voyage that brings you Italy the way it was meant to be experienced: savored slowly like a multi-course feast in nonna’s trattoria where time seems to stop and every morsel carries with it the sensuous beauty of the local culture, history, art – and timeless way of life. Imagine beginning with the magnificence of Venice and sailing south to explore the green emeralds of Le Marche and Umbria before reaching Puglia, the sun-drenched heel of Italy known for its crowd-free dramatic scenery, olive oil and burrata. You’d sail around to siesta-loving Calabria, soaking up the pure Italian charm and a candid look at la dolce vita, before reaching soulful Sicily, the unforgettable Amalfi Coast, and the famed Italian Riviera.

 

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One Country, One Voyage
With our immersive country-intensive voyages in Italy and Spain, you are invited to explore the Mediterranean in an entirely new way. These carefully crafted journeys are perfect for seasoned travel connoisseurs who are seeking an in-depth, focused itinerary filled with enriching experiences. After visiting a certain region or destination on another cruise, you might be yearning for a more intensive exploration and the chance to connect with the local life more deeply. Spending more time in one country on these voyages enables you to do just that – strike off the beaten path and experience the local culture in entirely new, meaningful and memorable ways.

 

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In-Depth For a True Sense of Place
When you have 10 days in Italy and only Italy, you can see the best of Sicily and Venice, but you will also have time to wander among the medieval beauty of lesser-known Orvieto and perhaps strike up a conversation with some local artisans. Other boutique ports such as castle-dotted Crotone and beach-blessed Elba are also easily within reach, painting a more colorful and holistic portrait of Italy.

 

 

shutterstock_603917135During a voyage sailing along the sunny eastern coast of Spain, you’ll have time to visit the UNESCO-protected Alcázar in Seville and dine on seaside paella in Valencia, but there will be plenty of opportunities to delve more deeply into the nuances and local secrets that make the Spanish lifestyle so charming. Explore unspoiled hideaways like the whitewashed village of Ronda, Cabo de Gata-Nijar, a stunning and vast nature reserve near Almeria and the UNESCO-protected oasis of date palms in enchanting Elche.

In 2019, enjoy a different, deeper kind of travel on one of these country-intensive voyages. Whichever you choose, you’ll experience travel discoveries and genuine encounters that truly capture the spirit of the destination.

Inspiring Italy | Venice to Monte Carlo

10 days aboard Sirena | August 6, 2019 and September 2, 2019

Spanish Silhouettes | Barcelona to Barcelona

10 days aboard RivieraJune 6, 2019

Wines & Artistry | Barcelona to London

10 days aboard Nautica | June 23, 2020

Fjords of Norway | Oslo to London

12 days aboard Marina | July 16, 2020

Italy & The Ionian | Venice to Monte Carlo

10 days aboard Riviera | August 12, 2020