Having provided some detailed information on the 2008 Food & Wine Cruise I thought I would go back in time and provide my observations, previously posted on Cruise Critic (and therefore in shorter form) regarding last year’s Food & Wine Cruise. It was fun looking pack and comparing the two.
I thought I would give a brief post on how things are going so far. It is amazing how Seabourn continues to outdo itself and come up with ways to make you say, “WOW”.
At the meeting with Wilhelm, the Hotel Manager, and Willy, the Executive Chef, to discuss just how the wine and food events were to happen, Chef Willy advised he had found some extraordinary cheeses in the market in Barcelona for our wine tasting/food paring event. Extraordinary was an understatement.
Then Chef Willy decided that on the morning of the wine tasting/food paring event that best thing to do was for him to take myself, the James Beard awarding winning restaurateur and his chef into Palamos to do some last minute shopping. We came away with some exceptional Spanish hams to supplement some special Spanish sausages Seabourn made available to us…along with some homemade(by the Chef) marinated anchovies!
We also picked up a really wonderful Torres red wine (Mas La Plana) while on the Torres winery tour in Tarragona and some more local sherry and wines for the tasting…asking which were what the locals drank.
But now it was the Sommelier’s (Ingo’s) chance to show off, taking our “modest” tasting to literally world class levels working with our expert to come up with surprising and, frankly, awe-inspiring parings with some very creative wines supplementing our selections. Listening to Ingo and our expert discussing the wines and paring was truly a privilege.
In the end we had a private tasting with 5 samplings of caviar (3 different ways!), six hams/sausages, four cheeses and anchovies pared with fourteen different wine tastings plus vodka in a frozen block of ice served in frozen glasses. And it was all presented in the perfect crystal for each wine with the food presented elegantly by four waiters on perfectly dressed tables…complete with grapes draping down from the windows in our ‘tasting room”.
Every one of us (I think including Wilhelm, Chef Willy and Ingo) left that “small, little” tasting knowing that we had just experienced a truly world-class event that James Beard himself would have been proud to have been a part of.
While, obviously, it would not have been possible without Seabourn’s assistance, it was Seabourn’s incredible talented staff, inability to say, “no” and remarkable intuitive service that created a memory of a lifetime…and some very fortunate and still smiling guests.
P.S. Reading this post it seems like it is a publicity release. The amazing things are (a) it isn’t; and, (b) it isn’t embellished. It really was better than I have explained!
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We had a phenomenal time! Each day Seabourn outdid itself complimenting our events…and even creating its own event for us.
Shopping with Chef Willy in Marseille was fantastic; walking the quay finding new fisherman arriving with their catch as others finished selling off theirs. Seabourn purchased some beautiful fish as did our chef for our private menu as well as for the ship’s guests and crew.
The next day…we did it again! In Le Lavandou Seabourn arranged a little surprise: a private guide to explain all of the local items in the market. Even after it was over the guide said she wanted to stay with us because we all were having so much fun. Chef Willy arranged for our chef and myself a tasting of sea cucumber; a truly once in a lifetime experience…because you taste it once and never in your lifetime will you want to try it again!
That evening our chef had a cooking demonstration blending local fish (Marseille) and shellfish (Le Lavandou) with chorizo (Palamos, Spain) to make a dish that seemed so simple, but was another WOW. Seabourn taped it and broadcast it on the ship’s TV for others to see. Ingo, the sommelier, did not stand by, however. He brought out a wonderful white and red wine – with the finest crystal, of course – to compliment the event.
But then Chef Willy and Ingo surprised us by announcing we would be having a Farewell Dinner. The menu was incredible, paired of course with wonderful wines:
– Pallimades tartar in a potato “sandwich” (a fish obtained on the quay in Marseille)
– Baby Potato with Crème Fresh and Caviar
– Foie Gras with Caramelized Apple
– Duck Consommé with Puff Pastry Shell (my personal favorite!)
– Veal Osso Bucco
– Our chef’s “Soup & Sandwich” (a special brioche with a secret filling all dipped into a chocolate soup).
By the way, did I mention we had a great time enjoying everything else about Seabourn, the ports and the wonderful guests we met on our cruise. Little extras like in St. Tropez there was a sailing regatta with over 100 classic sailboats, the real sailing “yachts” and some superyachts just seemed like icing on the cake. Heck, we didn’t even have a single rainy day or any seas worthy of mention.
I cannot imagine how this cruise could have been better. But with next year’s  Food & Wine cruise already being booked, I better figure out how pretty fast!