Goldring Travel’s 2019 Culinary & Cultural Cruise -Part IV (Newcastle upon Tyne, Thomas Keller and Complimentary Wines)

As the Goldring Travel 2019 Culinary & Cultural Cruise on the Seabourn Ovation continues sailing southward toward England, we were able to enjoy a delightful sea day…and another Goldring Travel special event:  A Norwegian Cocktail Party in a Penthouse Spa Suite; which has become an annual event…OK, maybe not the Norwegian part!

Reindeer & Pork Pate, Moose Sausage, Reindeer Sausage, Caviar and Salmon, Crab Balls and Quiche

Wines, Spirits and Norwegian Liqueurs

Chocolate Covered Norwegian Strawberries

Working with Seabourn Ovation’s Executive Chef, Bert Muhle, I purchased a few Norwegian culinary items to experience.  Reindeer and Pork Pate, Reindeer sausage and Moose sausage (both of which are really salamis of a sort) as well as two liquors, one made from crowberries (found only in the Nordic region) and one made with anise (a favorite Nordic flavor), carraway, and other seeds and herbs).

The pate was, according to all, the most delicious pate anyone had. Rich and flavorful without being heavy or fatty. Chef Bert paired the reindeer sausage with a touch of wasabi and it was both surprising and delectable.

Reindeer and Pork Pate
Reindeer sausage (salami) with wasabi

The crowberry liquor, Kreking Frost, was a hit both on the rocks and with champagne. While it looked very similar to Chambord it actually was a bit tart and not sweet along with a cleaner feel and taste.

The herbal liquor, Vianvang Dram, was a favorite of mine…which I later nicely paired with a lovely Cuban cigar generously provided by one of my guests!  It is the creation of a locally famous Norwegian chef, Brimis Kjoken.

The final Norwegian taste were two types of hard cider; apple and berry.

It was, as usual, a one-hour cocktail party that lasted 2.5 hours, with everyone enjoying both the spacious Penthouse Spa Suite and its huge deck overlooking the stern with its shelter from the wind and hints of sunshine…and each other!

The next day was our second special off-ship event: A visit to Alnwick (pronounced Ann-ick) Castle and Gardens followed by a gourmet British pub lunch…and, yes, there is such a thing!

Alnwick Castle

Our visit to Alnwick started with a visit to The Poison Garden; a rather kitschy “dangerous” garden filled with poisonous plants kept behind a locked iron gate with all sorts of warnings.  (I noticed that there is but a low decorative fence adjacent to it, but I went along with the experience.)  Regardless, it was enjoyed by all; if not just for the safety information and the first aid kit strapped to our guide.

Afterward, we were given time to enjoy the gardens before heading to the Alnwick Castle.

Alnwick Castle was the setting for a number of scenes in the Harry Potter movies so the location of various shoots were pointed out.  I found it interesting that, as most of my clients had children long before the movies came to be, they had no real context. I found it even more interesting that having watched the movies with my children my mind has become a blur as to which character is which and what happened in which movie.  (I won’t say it is like childbirth – they say that if women recalled all the pain she would only have one child – but I think it may be a man’s version of same (as we generally are far less able to handle pain! Hahaha)

I did not rent a broom and I did not play Quiddich

Unfortunately, we were not able to photograph any of the interiors of the Castle, but it was impressive.

It was then time for our Gourmet British Pub Lunch (our second cuisine after Norwegian) in the Treehouse Restaurant also found on the grounds of the Castle and Garden. I worked with the restaurant’s chef to create an interesting and varied menu. 

Goldring Travel’s guests were greeted with a British sparkling wine:  Greyfriars, Cuvée Brut, NV.  While it is not the best of British sparkling wines, it adds a bit of festivity while setting our culinary focus on British cuisine.

That enjoyed, I switched to a British Stout that was quite enjoyable.

Beet & Goat Cheese Salad

Starters were

  • Beetroot, Goat Cheese, Leaf and Pumpkin Seed Salad
  • Leek and Potato Soup
  • Smoked Salmon, Horseradish and Pickled Cucumber with Crumpet Bread

Chicken Pie
(It actually was filled with chicken;
fortunately not what one expected!)

Mains were

  • Alnwick Chicken Pie with Creamed Potatoes and Heritage Carrots
  • Free-Range Pork Belly with Roasted Potatoes, Wilted Kale and Apple & Ale Sauces
  • Aubergine Curry

Bakewell Tart with delicious Ice Cream

Desserts were

  • Bakewell Tart
  • Bitter Chocolate Mouse
  • Panna Cotta with Brambles, Granola and Cinnamon Shortbread

With our event concluded it was time to return to the Seabourn Ovation to begin our sailing to our third Culinary & Cultural focus: Scotland!

But, alas, one does not join a Goldring Travel Culinary & Cultural Cruise for its special events.  Seabourn has some pretty wonderful experiences itself!  So it is time to reflect upon my second The Grill by Thomas Keller dining experience.  After my first experience was, of course, The Chicken, this time I wanted a slightly lighter dining experience. 

It was, as always, a wonderful experience…highlighted by my evening being overseen by the Maitre D’, Franchesca.  I met Franchesca during her first contract I knew right then and there she was something special; the essence of Seabourn.  Watching over the years rise to this position give me pride.  When she becomes Hotel Director I will be fulfilled!

I started with the Jumbo Lump Crab & Artichoke Dip, followed by the best Lobster Thermador; especially because the lobster is not smothered with sauce, but rather is floated on top of it.  In the end, I could not help myself and finished with my second Ice Cream Sundae of the cruise.

Thomas Keller’s Lobster Thermador


Thomas Keller’s Ice Cream Sundae

And this brings me to Seabourn’s Complimentary Wines.  It has been, in my opinion, Vastly Improved!!!!  While the wines are subject to availability, I have enjoyed the more diverse and international alternatives; especially because I am not a fan of many California wines…but there are enough to satisfy those that do.

My favorite whites include the White Bordeaux (Clarence Dillon Clarendale), French Chardonnay (Louis Latour Grande Ardech) and Albarino (Lolo).  My old standby, Gavi (La Scola) remains and an Austrian Reisling is a nice option as well.

On the red side, there is a very interesting Peruvian Intipalka Valle del Sol, Malbec (Trevento) and a Tempranillo (Bodegas Lan). A Willamette Valley Pinot Noir (Cardwell Hill) and a Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon (Nine Hats) are good West Coast USA options.

There are also two decent rose (true Vins de Provence) along with the (horrific) Beringer White Zinfandel that, for some reason, remains popular.

As for the new standard pour champagne, Montaudon Brut, it is – to my palate – a nice upgrade with a fresher, lighter, profile.

Next up:  Scotland!

If you are interested in a Seabourn, or any other, cruise, give me a call, drop me an email or send me a Facebook message!

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