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Inside Aussie Cuisine With Our Chefs

Kakadu plums, native pepperberries, bush tomatoes, emu and crocodile are just a few items that might be stocking the galley when we sail the land Down Under, Senior Culinary Director Eric Barale shared. What exactly defines Australian cuisine?

While the cuisine found among the islands of the South Pacific focuses on fresh seafood complemented by local fruits and vegetables, Australian cuisine is much more difficult to pinpoint. With a confluence of indigenous dishes, known as bush tucker, plus vast European and Asian influences, the cuisine takes on as many personalities as the continent itself.

Melting Pot of Global Flavors
From quondong and Anzac biscuits to meat pies and dim sum, Australian cuisine is a true melting pot of indigenous ingredients, homegrown creations and far-flung influences spanning centuries. During Australia’s gold rushes in the 1850s, an influx of European and American immigrants spurred the development of a coffee culture and British imports like meat pies and Cornish pasties. Chinese food was also introduced during this period, proliferating in the 1860s and 1870s, especially in the port cities – and now dim sum is nearly considered a national dish. Another wave of immigrants in the late 1940s after World War II introduced a much broader array of influences, ingredients and flavors from all over Europe, and in particular Italy and Greece. Meanwhile, a continual influx of immigrants from East and Southeast Asia has firmly solidified Australia’s reputation for excellent, authentic Asian cuisine.

Seafood, of course, has also long been popular in Aussie kitchens, especially native fish like barramundi and Tasmanian salmon. According to Barale, Moreton Bay bugs, a type of flat lobster-like crustacean, are a very typical Australian dish cooked on the barbecue.

“Perhaps not as well-known as shrimp on the barbecue or Pavlova, Moreton Bay bugs are delicious drizzled with a little olive oil or butter and cooked on the barbecue in their shell,” Barale said.

A Bite of Bush Tucker
Aboriginal Australians represent one of the oldest living cultures on Earth, and their influence on culinary traditions is still present today. In fact, Fleet Corporate Executive Chef Franck Garanger notes that Aboriginal influences are on the rise in the contemporary Aussie restaurant scene and that native Australian dishes, or bush tucker, are featured on board when sailing this region.

“As in other parts of the world there is a return to the indigenous culinary traditions for inspiration. We bring this to life on board with native dishes and traditional, local ingredients like akudjura which is a seasoning made from ground bush tomatoes and lemon myrtle which we use in sauces and dressing,” Garanger said.

Depending on the chef ’s inspiration, you might try Wildfire-Spiced Tasmanian Trout
on Paperbark-Smoked Kipfler Mash topped with Pineapple and Riberry Salsa or
perhaps something a bit more simple like Oysters Outback and a Sydney Salad with
emu prosciutto.

Regardless of what you choose, you’ll enjoy a delicious taste of Australia on board
our ships and ashore in sought-after destinations across this fascinating continent. Cheers, mate!

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Montevideo Culinary Experience: Asado & Artesana Winery

When many think of Uruguayan cuisine, one iconic element comes to mind: the asado,  or barbecue – with a glass of wine, of course. But this great culinary tradition is so much more than just barbecue and wine; it represents the whole country’s identity. Barbecue is one of the most strongly rooted customs in this region of South America and is a symbol of celebration, friendship and family.

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New: The Culinary Center Favorites Recipe Collection

We’re excited to announce that our new Culinary Center Favorites Recipe Collection is now available on both Marina and Riviera, along with other unique Culinary Center merchandise. Inspired by The Culinary Center’s global repertoire, our new recipe book features a colorful selection of the center’s top easy-to-follow recipes from around the world.

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Chef Spotlight: Alban Gjoka

One of the essential ingredients of our recipe for The Finest Cuisine at Sea™ is our talented and innovative culinary team. Our distinguished chefs are selected from the world’s best restaurants, and are the masters behind the magic of Oceania Cruises’ renowned cuisine. In recognition of the role of our culinary staff, we’ll be periodically spotlighting our Executive Chefs and other members of our extraordinary culinary staff. As a part of this series, we recently caught up with Senior Executive Chef Alban Gjoka for behind-the-scenes insight on some of the most prized ingredients on board, what he loves about Oceania Cruises and more.

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CHEF KELLY HOSTS JACQUES PÉPIN AT BALLYMALOE IN IRELAND

We thoroughly enjoyed this year’s Signature Sailing with Jacques Pépin – his cooking demonstrations, book signings and informal visits to the Bon Appétit Culinary Center. He is always eager to meet our students and see what’s cooking in our onboard culinary studio.

We especially enjoyed our call on Cobh, Ireland, where I hosted Jacques for a day at Ballymaloe Cookery School, the location of one of our newest Culinary Discovery ToursTM. Founded in 1983 by Darina Allen and Rory O’Connell, the Ballymaloe Cookery School is a bucket list destination for food enthusiasts. Allen is one of the leaders of the famed Slow Food movement in Ireland, dedicated to preserving biodiversity and artisan food production. Located on 100 acres, the school utilizes the vegetables, fruits and herbs from their organic gardens and greenhouses. They also maintain their own pigs, ducks, chickens and a small herd of Jersey cattle from which they make the most delicious buttermilk (perfect for Irish breads), yogurt, butter and cheeses.

Ballymaloe Cookery School

Ballymaloe Cookery School 2

Ballymaloe is a family affair, and Darina’s son-in-law manages a Slow Food consortium of farmers’ markets in County Cork. We began with a stroll through the lively morning market where Jacques and I checked out the local fishmonger and explored this week’s last harvest of berries and an impressive array of root vegetables.

Market 3 Market 1

Market 2

 

Then we were off to Ballymaloe, where the teaching kitchens were bustling with students and their cooking assignments. The school offers everything from a 12-week certificate program to 3-hour demonstration classes.

We were greeted by Darina’s son, Toby, our host for a tour of the cookery school gardens. Our tour began at the culinary herb garden (complete with a lady scarecrow) and Lydia’s Garden, a miniature Versailles. Jacques stopped to smell the herbs and noticed some snails in the hedgerow – so we had an impromptu lecture on snails. (What doesn’t Jacques Pépin know about food?!)

Garden 1

Garden 3

Garden 2

The bountiful greenhouses were brimming with tomatoes, squash, fruits, herbs and lettuces – all lovingly maintained. Behind the greenhouse are the perennial gardens, herbaceous borders, and the Shell House. In the Shell House, the entire surface – walls and ceiling – is decorated with shells in patterns that resemble the intricate and delicate mosaics of Turkey and the Middle East. It’s overwhelmingly beautiful and difficult to capture in a photograph – so you’ll have to come on a cruise with us to see it!

Greenhouse 1

Greenhouse 2  Greenhouse 3


Back Garden 2

Back Garden 1

Shell House 1

Shell House 2

JP and ChickensTo conclude our walking tour, we took the farm path that passes the chicken house, where happy chickens strolled around the yard and munched on the kitchen scraps from the morning’s cooking class. We also stopped into the dairy and were able to observe the mis en place for an upcoming demonstration on the making of yogurt, buttermilk, butter and cheese.

For lunch, we traveled to Ballymaloe House, an elegant restaurant and hotel owned and lovingly operated by the Allen family. There we met Myrtle Allen, the family matriarch who, with her husband, founded the culinary empire that is now Ballymaloe. We were also joined at lunch by Darina, who regaled us with stories of how her family developed this 100-acre farm into the celebrated establishment it is today.

DSC_6616Jacques had brought a few of his books to share with Darina, and she asked him to sign several of his books that she had in her personal library. It was so special to see these two teaching icons together in one place and enjoying each other’s company. I was often pinching myself because it was so amazing to be in the company of two of my idols and mentors, surrounded by the dreamlike setting of Ballymaloe.

The Signature Sailing with Jacques Pépin is always one of my favorites, and our visit to Ballymaloe will always be a cherished memory. Check the blog tomorrow for Darina’s recipe for blackberry vodka and in the coming weeks for the announcement of next year’s Jacques Pépin cruise! If you’ve ever sailed with us on a Jacques Pépin cruise, what was your fondest memory?