With the introduction of Holland America Line’s “On Location” program, onboard classes and demonstrations by local artists and professionals allow guests to familiarize themselves with the cultures they’ll be visiting around the world. “On Location” means that Holland America Line guests can learn to tango on the way to Argentina, take a cooking class taught by a Caribbean chef or taste fresh mussels off Canada’s Prince Edward Island.
On cruises that visit the Greek Isles, “On Location” is in full swing with port presentations, lectures on the country’s famous olive oil and cooking demonstrations on how to make moussaka or Greek Orzo and Shrimp Salad with Mustard Dill Vinaigrette. Join us and travel to Greece in this post about one of Europe’s most beautiful countries.
Flavors of Greece: Greek Orzo and Shrimp Salad with Mustard Dill Vinaigrette
3/4 pound orzo, cooked al dente
1 large cucumber, seeded, quartered lengthwise and sliced
3 green onions, thinly sliced
1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
1/4 cup chopped fresh dill, plus extra for garnish
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1/2 cup olive oil, plus additional for brushing shrimp
salt and freshly ground pepper
3/4 pound feta cheese, crumbled
16 medium shrimp, peeled and de-veined
Combine orzo, cucumber, green onions and tomatoes in a large bowl. Place dill, vinegar and mustard in a blender and blend until smooth. With the motor running, slowly add the olive oil and blend until emulsified. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Pour the vinaigrette over the orzo mixture and stir well to combine. Gently fold in the feta cheese.
Heat grill to high. Brush shrimp with oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill for approximately 2 minutes per side or until just cooked through. Divide orzo salad among 4 plates and top with 4 shrimp. Garnish with additional dill if desired.
Mediterranean residents have one of the healthiest diets in the world and olive oil plays a significant role. You’ll find it on nearly every table at meal time. Through “On Location” guests can attend an olive oil tasting and not only sample a variety of olive oils but learn about this Mediterranean staple. But if you’re not traveling to Greece with us in the near future, don’t worry. Here are some facts about olive oil you might not have known.
Olive oil is the pure oil obtained from the fruit of olive trees. No oil obtained using solvents, re-esterification processes or mixed with other vegetable oils qualifies under this description. There are many different kinds of olive varieties from which oil can be produced, and each brings a unique flavor and quality to the oil. It is the variety of olive, along with the maturity of the fruit, that contributes most to the flavor of the oil.
Olive oils described as “virgin” are those that have been obtained from the original fruit without having been synthetically treated. Once the olives have been picked, pressed, and washed, no other process has taken place other than decantation, centrifugation to extract the oil and filtration.
Extra virgin is the highest quality and most flavorful olive oil classification. In order for an oil to qualify as “extra virgin” the oil must also pass both an official chemical test in a laboratory and a sensory evaluation by a trained tasting panel recognized by the International Olive Council. The olive oil must be found to be free from defects while exhibiting some fruitiness.
Another staple in the Greek diet is moussaka. Through “On Location” guests can enjoy a cooking demonstration in the Culinary Arts Center and learn how to make this delicious dish. Most versions are based primarily on sautéed eggplant and tomato, usually with minced meat. The modern Greek version has three layers that are separately cooked before being combined together for the final baking: a bottom layer of sliced aubergines sautéed in olive oil; a middle layer of ground lamb lightly cooked with chopped or puréed tomatoes, onion, garlic and spices (cinnamon, allspice and black pepper); and a top layer of Béchamel sauce or savoury custard. Turkish musakka, on the other hand, is not layered. Instead, it is prepared with sautéed aubergines, green peppers, tomatoes, onions and minced meat.