Travel blogger Geoff Edwards recently sailed aboard Nieuw Amsterdam from Fort Lauderdale to the Eastern Caribbean. To read more about Geoff’s experience on Nieuw Amsterdam, click HERE.
A Day At Sea:
Most of the day we sailed along the south side of Cuba. “The Culinary Arts Center program, presented by Food & Wine magazine, is a groundbreaking program that integrates guests’ love for fine food and wine with an unique and entertaining experience.” Michael checked out “Three Chefs Demo” and also attended Caribbean Heat. The Culinary Arts Center Program takes place in a large (200 plus seating) room with a stage, state-of-the-art demonstration kitchen, plus multiple large screens providing close ups of the food preparation.
The classes I attended were only a sampling as there were sometimes three a day hosted by the chefs of the different dining rooms and Laurie, The Party Planner. Provided free of charge they lasted approximately one hour each. Recipe cards were passed out and at times samples were available for tasting. Fortunately, the recipes were in cups and ounces vs. grams and pints, except the hugely popular traditional Dutch “Bread Pudding” dessert recipe. But immediately upon arriving home, trusty “Google” at hand, I was able to translate and cook this dish with my granddaughters. I told their mother, with 19 egg yolks, it was healthy. The kids each had three helpings; their dad, two. I, on the other hand, had it every day for lunch aboard the Nieuw Amsterdam.
The recipes revolved around three main courses: Veal Milanese from Canaletto; Penang Red Curry Coconut Chicken from Tamarind; and Filet Mignon and Shrimp, or famously “Land and Sea” from the Pinnacle Grill. While 23 different ingredients already measured and chopped for the Curry and Veal dishes make the cooking look easy, someone has got to measure and chop behind the scenes. That afternoon, I went back for more and watched as Kim, from the Pinnacle Grill, amazed us with Cubano Grilled Pork with Picadillo Olive Salsa.
It seems there is a magic number of over 23 ingredients or more that goes into making each demonstration entertaining, beautiful, delicious, and challenging.
“Best Ever Fish Tacos” cooking class:
Again, at least 25 ingredients necessary, but a smaller audience this time enabling us, with Laurie, the Party Planner, to gather around the cooking surface/work table, and ask questions during the process. It is fun to see the demonstration unfold as if you are all in your own kitchen. Nothing is written in stone, and if there isn’t an ingredient available, it is either improvised or a substitution is supplied, and great tips learned! I took a picture of the huge, five pound, bag of Crushed Chili Pepper flakes for Geoff to drool over; he likes it hotter than hot!
Only 2 teaspoons are required for the recipe, however! The ship has a lot of mouths to feed!
Caribbean Heat, “Sofrito Mashed Potatoes” cooking class:
The least amount of ingredients, only 15, but then it is mashed potatoes. Since it includes vegetables of red and green bell peppers, sautéed with tomato sauce and cream, technically you don’t need another dish. Only two pans to clean, and it looked delicious. I actually would try this at home!
Later, as the sun set, and the skies grayed, Cuba receded, and we dressed for dinner.
Dinner for us was in the Pinnacle Grill, a very upper-end restaurant.
The lobster bisque had a slightly unfamiliar taste. It was laced gently with aged cognac. No wonder it’s smiling. The crab cakes were wonderful, but I’d hesitate to recommend the chef’s favorite; lobster mac and cheese.
Each night when we get back to the cabin there is a towel animal displayed. They don’t have the ingenuity of the Carnival creatures; actually they are a bit lame. But I loved this one. I named him Ralph.