Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Christmas recap and blogiversary

So, I've had a bit of a hiatus from the blog. Have you noticed? There's no good reason for the looooong break other than I was bored and uninspired. Since October.

But now that Thanksgiving and Christmas have come and gone, I figured that I couldn't ignore the wonderful food and cooking that has been going on around me. Food is a key player during the holidays. Almost as big as presents and the tree.

I will take you back to Thanksgiving. This holiday was spent aboard the Crystal Serenity, so I had to do zero cooking, zero cleaning up, and 100% eating. Lovely!

Meals on either of the Crystal ships is an event. The food is mostly prepared with a French influence and technique - sauces, meats, veggies - but there is always a wide variety of dishes from which to choose. In addition to the dining room, there are two restaurants on board. One, called Prego, is the Italian restaurant with menu choices created by Pierro Selvaggio, of the Valentino restaurants. The other is Asian called Silk Road and The Sushi Bar. The menu features dishes created by Nobu, and sushi chefs trained by him.

With all these choices, what in the world did I eat? Some of the dishes I had are:
-pumpkin ravioli
-iced Malossol Caviar
-Pate de Foie Gras
-Pan-Fried Fillet of Atlantic Halibut
-Whole-Roasted Tom Turkey with all the trimmings
-bisque of Fresh Sweet Corn
-Tortiglioni Pasta with fresh tomato sauce, cream, Fontina, and parsley
-a wide selection of sushi rolls, sashimi, and delectable Waygu beef sashimi style
-Nobu Udon

These are just some of the things I had for dinner. Breakfast was usually at the Lido to make selections from the large and diverse breakfast buffet. Lunch was a meal that I don't recall eating very much. I guess I did, but it seems like we were usually doing something or off the ship at lunch time. We did partake in tea on the days we were at sea. Tea consisted of finger sandwiches - cucumber, cheese, beef, ham, egg salad - and lots of mini-pastries. And scones with cream and berries, of course. Tea was a favorite activity.

Besides mealtime and tea, there are also seemingly unlimited supplies of fresh fruit, cookies, ice cream, breads, charcuterie, and drinks.

To work off all this food, the ships have a 360 degree promenade deck, a gym, paddle tennis courts, and swimming pools.

We also ate one meal while off the ship. That was lunch in Grand Turk. We were fed by a real local lady - although she was American - at a dive-y beach bar & restaurant. It was a strange mix of food she presented us with, but it tasted good. I had the grilled chicken, beans & rice, conch fritter, and key lime pie. We also ate just caught, maybe still alive conch on a boat in Grand Cayman. Our guide pulled this conch right out of the ocean, popped it from it's gigantic shell, and cut it up for us to taste right there. It didn't really taste like much except salt. But not overly salty. The texture was smooth, not slimy, and slightly firm. Later, the guide cut up the rest of it and made a ceviche on the boat using hot sauce, limes, cilantro, and who knows what else. We were all snorkeling while he made it.

Upon reaching Key West, we of course, also had to have key lime pie. We partook of some at the Blond Giraffe. Delish!

After Key West, we were home and the gravy train stopped. It was back to the real world which meant cooking and cleaning up. I was not thrilled about this as I loved my week off from kitchen duty.

Since we've been back, I don't feel like I've made very interesting food. Or at least, nothing interesting enough to tell you about. I've done the requisite holiday baking, but again, it's pretty standard fare.

I did make something new that I will tell you about. Steve's dad loves turtle candy but it's one of the items his mom does not make at Christmas or ever. So Steve thought it would be a nice gift idea to make turtles for his dad. I had concerns about making them and then having them set properly and also not have all the caramel ooze out the sides and basically result in a big mess. So I found a recipe for tipsy turtle bark. It was easy as pie to make and set beautifully. I let it set up overnight and then cut it. I did taste the melted caramels with the rum and it's divine. How can these not turn out delicious?

One other thing to mention, this blog is now over a year old. Whatever that means.