In this fourth installment discussing my cruise on the Crystal Serenity last month I wanted to focus on the special events Crystal had which truly impressed me and give good reason for those who truly love food and wine to “move up” from a premium cruise line or consider “moving over” from a luxury line.
During this cruise we were truly fortunate to have Kevin Zraly, the James Beard Lifetime Achievement Award recipient, wine director of Windows on the World, and author and teacher of the Windows on the World Wine Course onboard for some special “enrichment” as part of Crystal Food & Wine Cruise. Kevin held two very entertaining, high energy and informative wine tastings and, for 14 of us willing to pay, selected the wines for a truly spectacular Vintage Room dining experience.
|Kevin Zraly during one of his two wine tasting seminars|
during the Crystal Serenity’s Food & Wine Cruise
Unlike the “shtick” that Celebrity Cruises calls a wine tasting (that is really more of a sales pitch to purchase wine glasses while sucking down bad wine…and I really like Celebrity Cruises) or Oceania Cruises significantly extra cost wine tastings, Crystal Cruises provided truly high quality wines with a true master (not a ship sommelier) each lasting about an hour.
For the first of two tastings was of Italian wines. We arrived to a wonderful glass of Prosecco (unfortunately I have forgotten which one). This was followed by four wines:
- Soave Classico, La Rocca, Pieropan, Veneto 2011 – $32 a bottle
- Chardonnay, Rossj Bass, Langhe, Angelo Gaja, Piedmont 2014 – $88 a bottle
- Chianti Classico, Riserva, Marchese Antinori, Tuscany 2008 – $30 a bottle
- Brunello di Montalcino, Castello Banfi, Tuscany 2009 – $50 a bottle
However, his real impact was his personally preparing the seven course Vintage Room dining experience I was able to enjoy.
|Chef Fredric Castan|
Personally preparing our Vintage Room Food & Wine Experience
Crystal Cruises’ Vintage Room is a rarefied event where only 14 guests are served a specially pared dinner in, of course, The Vintage Room. Fortunately for me, with Kevin Zraly and Chef Fredric Castan onboard, this was not the “Classic” Vintage Room, but the “Ultimate Vintage Room”.
Now, this experience comes with a hefty price: $350 per person ($250 for the Classic). Before I explain the menu and wines, I received a study from Michelin earlier this week about what people are willing to pay for an “unsurpassed” meal. It varies by age group and location, but for Americans this is right on par with what a male from California would pay, but about triple what a 65+ year old woman from the Northeast would be willing to pay. In other words, you really have to want to do this for the experience…and I was looking forward to it for months.
Ultimate Vintage Room Menu
I was very excited to see this menu for a few reasons regarding the wine:
- The first wine (after our Billecart-Salmon Rose Champagne) was a Georg Breuer Reisling; and during my 2015 Goldring Travel Culinary & Cultural (Food & Wine) Cruise I had a private wine tasting at Georg Breuer with seven different wines…including the Nonnenberg Rheingau Reisling chosen for this dinner.
- One of my top five wines: Chateau de Beaucastel, Chateanuef-du-Pape was served with the cheese course (though I find the wine too delicious to drink with anything but itself!)
- My favorite port; Graham’s 30 Year Tawny Port finished up the evening
|Duo of Oysters Belon Green Apple Wasabi and Caviar|
Maine Lobster “Raviolis” of Turnips Sweet and Sour
|Slow Cooked Duck Breast|
|A decadent Roasted Cap of Rib-Eye with Bone Marrow|
|Chef Castan topping off the Chocolate Surprise|
Along with the menu comes an excellent written description of the wines and the vineyards, but trust me, after this meal reading is the last thing you are going to do!
- Sancerre, Le Mont, Fourcher Lebrun, Loire Valley 2013 – $20 a bottle
- Meursault, Theirry et Pascale Matro, Burgundy 2011 – $25 a bottle
- Nuits St. Georges, Dubois, Burgundy 2007 – $30 a bottle
- Connetable, Chateau Talbot, Bordeaux 2011 – $45 a bottle
|Crystal Serenity’s Hot Dog and Hamburger|
from the Trident Grill
Interested in booking a Crystal Cruise? Please give me a call:
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United Kingdom: 020 8133 3450
Australia: (07) 3102 4685
Everywhere Else: +1 732 578 8585
Or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.