October 24, 2014

The Rise of Sake: Tasting Notes & Food Pairings

SakeAn ancient Japanese saying, “Sake never fights with food,” only begins to hint at its pairing power. Though an age-old Japanese tradition, the fermented rice libation has recently been garnering increasing international recognition for its food pairing potential – and not just with Japanese food. The variety of sake styles actually offer diverse flavor profiles, ranging from light, floral and smooth to fruity and full-bodied. One of the main factors that affects the flavor and mouthfeel of sake is how much the grain of rice is polished. More milling results in a fragrant, lighter sake, and less milling creates a fuller-bodied, bolder sake.

Sake2In general, there are five basic types of sake: Junmai-shu, Honjozo-shu, Ginjo-shu, Daiginjo-shu and Namazake. Here is just a sampling of the different types you might find on our sake menu at Red Ginger.

Ginjo Sake

Dewazakura “Oka” Cherry Bouquet

A favorite among enthusiasts, a lovely aroma and clean taste, floral rather than fruity, a touch of pear and hint of melon.

Food pairing: salads, sashimi, summer rolls, light-flavored food. Served chilled.

ChopsticksJunmai Sake

Akitabare “Koshiki Junzukuri” Northern Skies

Rich, subdued, rounded, mild texture and earthy aroma, a well-crafted traditional sake.

Food pairing: cheese, mushrooms, chicken, fried foods, meat pastry. Served chilled.

Daiginjo Sake

Akitabare “Suirakuten” Heaven of Tipsy Delight

Aged for two years after brewing, luscious, juicy melon andmuscat grape characteristics, nuanced and gentle, fascinating.

Food pairing: cheese, sautéed mushrooms, grilled chicken,grilled seafood, fried foods, meat pastry. Served chilled.

Red-gingerTry beginning your next meal on board Marina or Riviera with a glass of sake to open up your appetite. For those new to sake, Culinary Director Franck Garanger suggests starting out with a Junmai sake, the most traditional style of sake. Cheers, or as they say in Japanese, kanpie!

October 22, 2014

Discover Wondrous Destinations Even During a Day at Sea

LibraryJust as sailing aboard Oceania Cruises recalls the elegance of the Golden Age of Travel, our inspired English-style library is reminiscent of a charming English country estate where you can while away the hours in ultimate comfort. There is something magical about the dark, rich woods; plush wingback chairs; cozy fireplaces; and rows and rows of books lining the walls, each a new world waiting to be discovered.

On these shelves are more than 2,000 books and periodicals from which to choose, ranging from classic literature to destination guidebooks to bestselling mysteries. Renowned as publishers of fine books on the visual arts for nearly a century, Phaidon Press contributed some gorgeous coffee table books and other volumes that further enhance the inspiring ambiance.

For many who love travel, the e-book is one of the most exciting innovations in recent history, as we can now take an entire library with us in our suitcase. Still, there remains something visceral about the feel of a leather-bound, hardcover book in your hand, and something romantic about the flow of the printed words and the turning of the page. If anything, the proliferation of e-readers and tablets increases the dreamy aura surrounding printed books as they slowly become rarer, more classic and more antique. It is that dreaminess that our warm, elegant English-style library captures so perfectly, and that is why it is one of my favorite places on board the ship.

That being said, I’ve often read my tablet in the library, because this special place is as much about where you’re reading as what you’re reading. It’s simply the perfect environment in which to enjoy a good read and ready yourself for the next fascinating destination you’ll soon discover ashore.

I must admit that the library is also the ideal place to doze off. More than once I have literally dreamt of the places I was reading about – and the wonderful destinations I was then visiting in real life. Turns out, this isn’t by accident. Rumor has it that, when designing the library, Oceania Cruises founder Frank Del Rio insisted that no library has truly done its job until readers are so comfortable and content that they drift off into a blissful nap. Mission accomplished!

October 20, 2014

Cool Cocktails in the Caribbean

Cool Cocktails in the CaribbeanThere is something about the soft sands, sapphire waters and cool breezes of the Caribbean that goes perfectly with a fruity cocktail. When relaxing on a pristine beach in the warm Caribbean sunshine, even beer and wine drinkers may find themselves thinking, a cocktail with an umbrella in it sounds delightful!

The majority of the world’s rum is produced in the Caribbean, so many cocktails have been designed around this liquor. A product of sugar cane, rum has a sweetness that makes it the perfect complement to fruit juices. Some of the most popular drinks include:

Calypso Cooler: The secret to this cocktail is spiced rum combined with peach schnapps. Add orange juice and a splash of grenadine and serve over ice.

Paradise Quencher: This dark rum drink, typically served frozen, features an array of fruit juices: pineapple, passion fruit, cranberry and apricot.

Bahama Mama: With dark rum, light rum and the particularly potent 151-proof rum, this is the rummiest of rum drinks. There are many variations on this popular cocktail, but it typically includes coffee liqueur, pineapple juice and lemon juice, served on the rocks.

A Day at the Beach: For those who prefer vodka to rum, this sweet and fruity tropical drink makes the perfect alternative. It mixes vodka with peach schnapps and amaretto, plus orange and cranberry juice, and is served on the rocks.

Happily, all of these cocktails are available in the bars and lounges on Oceania Cruises’ ships, so you can also enjoy them on board as you cruise the Caribbean. If these drinks are a bit too sweet for you, then Oceania Cruises’ signature cocktail is the perfect alternative. Made with vodka instead of rum, the Big O Martini is not as sweet but still has the fruity spirit of Caribbean cocktails. The “O” stands for Oceania Cruises of course, but it could also stand for orange.

I confess that the Big O Martini is one of my favorite drinks, whether we’re cruising the Caribbean or the Baltic! Here is the recipe if you’d like to give it a try:

For each Big O Martini, fill a shaker with ice, 2 ½ ounces Grey Goose Orange Vodka, ½ ounce Cointreau, ½ ounce freshly squeezed orange juice, ½ ounce cranberry juice, and a splash (about ¼ ounce) of freshly squeezed lime juice. Stir and then strain into a martini glass, preferably chilled.

October 17, 2014

Limited Time Offer: Extend Your Stay with Exclusive $99 Hotel Special

Imagine that you’ve just enjoyed an unforgettable voyage sailing from New Zealand to French Polynesia, and as you sail towards Tahiti to disembark, you still have the pleasure of lingering another night in this enchanting part of the world. Now you can explore the captivating cities in which your itinerary begins or ends even more with our special limited time $99 hotel offer. Featuring both Beijing and Papeete, this special hotel offer is available on a number of our extraordinary South Pacific and Asia itineraries, highlighted below. 

Beijing: Crowne Plaza Beijing Lido

Crowne Plaza BeijingCrowne Plaza Beijing Lido is ideally located at Chaoyang district in the center of the Lido area, famous for its up-market residents, and renowned restaurants & bars. All of the hotel guestrooms feature oversized bathrooms, a flat-screen TV, satellite channels and high-speed Internet access. The Crowne Plaza Beijing Lido also features an onsite restaurant, Matrix which serves both Asian and western dishes; a bar and lounge to enjoy cocktails and nightly entertainment; an indoor heated pool; a fitness center and free Wi-Fi throughout. In addition, the hotel is only a 20 minutes’ drive from Beijing International Airport.

Crowne Plaza BeijingDuring your stay at Crowne Plaza Beijing Lido, easily explore other parts of the city with the nearby Metro and readily available taxis. Perhaps delve deeper into Beijing with a tour of the Forbidden City, and afterwards rent a rowboat to discover Beihai (North Lake) Park, once part of the emperors’ vast gardens. The next day, you might visit the National Museum of China or head to historical Nanluoguxiang in the Gulou (Drum and BellTower) district to explore its narrow streets filled with intriguing shops, galleries and cafés.

2-night stay for $99 per guest, including transfers and breakfast:

Post-Cruise: Nautica’s Asian Interlude, February 21, 2015

Pre-Cruise: Nautica’s Emperors & Empires, March 10, 2015

Book early; space is limited!

Papeete: Radisson Plaza Resort

Radisson Plaza ResortLinger in Tahiti longer at the tranquil Radisson Plaza Resort, located on the gorgeous half-mile long Lafayette Beach in historic Matavai Bay. The hotel offers upscale luxury, spectacular oceanfront views, unparalleled resort services and lush, tropical surroundings.  All rooms feature balconies with stunning views of the Pacific Ocean, along with luxurious and contemporary furnishings. A full range of resort amenities is available, including a waterfront restaurant with nightly entertainment, an infinity swimming pool, an award-winning spa, convenient beach access, a fitness center, complimentary shuttle to Papeete city center and complimentary high-speed Internet access.

Radisson Plaza ResortWith its stunning location on historic Matavai Bay, this destination resort offers easy access to a wide range of activities and attractions, and endless possibilities for relaxation. Use your extra time to tour the ancient restored temple of Arahurahu Marae, visit the Paul Gaugin museum or discover the gorgeous island landscapes on an exciting safari. Or perhaps simply enjoy the Polynesian breeze on the glittering shore just beyond your hotel doors.

1-night stay for $99 per room, including transfers and breakfast:

Post Cruise: Marina’s Pacific Serenade, December 17, 2014

Post-Cruise: Marina’s South Pacific Marvels, February 28, 2015

Pre-Cruise: Marina’s Picturesque Polynesia, January 14, 2015

Pre-Cruise: Marina’s South Pacific Pearls, January 24, 2015

Book early; space is limited!

October 15, 2014

Spa Experience: Guest Shares How to Ease Jet Lag

Canyon Ranch SpaClubI’m so passionate about traveling but with long trips jet lag can be really frustrating. The destination is always worth it, but when you arrive you really just want to press a reset button and feel normal again. When I sail with Oceania Cruises, jet lag solutions are simple. On my last cruise in August from Venice to Rome, I knew I’d have a long flight from LA, so I pre-booked a special treatment at the onboard spa. The Canyon Ranch Spa has several types of treatments that actually help your body recover more quickly from jet lag – I chose the Revitalizing Ritual – it’s designed to reactivate sluggish circulation, boost energy, reduce swelling and encourage muscle relaxation.

Canyon Ranch Spa TerraceThe spa is completely relaxing and the service is incredible. Everyone I encountered was knowledgeable and friendly, and I started unwinding the moment I checked in with the front desk. The Revitalizing Ritual lasted about 80 minutes…and was worth every second. My massage started with smelling beautiful flower oils that helped my mind relax, erasing the frustrations of my long flight. Then I could actually feel the circulation in my legs being restored when my massage therapist applied sea algae and a warming gingergrass scrub. Next, she polished my skin and hydrated it with fragrant rose water. Then she began an energizing and therapeutic shiatsu massage with a special lime silk oil that completely loosened the knots in my neck and shoulders from the flight. By the end of the ritual I felt so relaxed I could feel myself melting into the massage table as she smoothed a plum cream on my skin.

After my Canyon Ranch treatment, I joined everyone on the Sun deck as we sailed away from Venice, feeling amazingly relaxed and energized – and completely ready to enjoy the memorable days ahead.

-Guest sailing on Riviera; August 15, 2014

On your next voyage, book one of these top Canyon Ranch SpaClub® treatments so you can slip into relaxed vacation mode right from day one.

1. Detoxifying Ritual - 80 minutes
Retreat into a ritual of steam and deep detox through a therapeutic transformation in this six-step healing massage ritual. Enjoy a refreshing cleanse of Moroccan mint tea and silt, followed by an invigorating scrub with a blend of coffee, olive stones and fresh lemons. Relax as you are wrapped in rich rhassoul clay to draw deep impurities out of the body. Recharge with quince and orange blossoms, and increase circulation with a Turkish massage using the curative essences of cardamom, jasmine, bergamot, amber and clove. Finally, enjoy a soothing layer of shea butter and figs to protect, heal and restore.

2. Organic Mermaid’s Purse Wrap - 50 minutes
Immediately notice rejuvenated skin with this hydrating and detoxifying treatment for tired, dry or dull skin. By stimulating blood flow, this nourishing wrap encourages the body to renew itself at the cellular level for long-term results.

3. Organic Liquid Seaweed Wrap - 50 minutes
This refreshing and detoxifying wrap features organic muslin soaked in pure seaweed extracts, cold-pressed within one hour of harvesting on the wild Northwest Coast of Ireland. Seaweed offers many nutritive and healing benefits, including detoxification, metabolism boosting and a natural anti-aging boost. This wrap delivers an immediate and noticeable plumping and toning of the skin, making your skin look refreshed and supple.

4. Euphoric Coffee Scrub - 50 minutes
Wake up with this invigorating scrub. Exfoliate, tone and come alive with a vitalizing scrub that blends coffee, black olive, crushed almond, neroli, orange and lemon peel and fresh lemon juice. Enjoy a soothing finish with a light application of cardamom oil.

5. Tension-Zone Massage - 50 minutes
Stiff shoulders and neck from a long flight? Let it all melt away this concentrated de-stresser. A full palette of sophisticated touch techniques reduces tension where it lives – your head, neck, shoulders and back. Sleep soundly and say goodbye to nagging headaches so you can fully embrace your vacation.

Canyon Stone Massage6. Canyon Stone Massage - 80 minutes
During this classic massage, your therapist uses smooth, rounded basalt stones that are gently heated to encourage relaxation. The weight and radiant heat of the stones, combined with a calming essential oil, penetrates muscle tissue and induces deep relaxation without overheating, persuading even the tightest muscles and knots to relax and unwind.

One final tip: if you select a Canyon Ranch massage, be sure to enhance it with a Peppermint Scalp Refresher. This awakening aromatherapy scalp treatment is perfect for banishing jet lag. The refreshing blend of essential oils on your scalp stimulates circulation from head to toe, and is both invigorating and relaxing. Finish off your afternoon at the spa by relaxing on the private Canyon Ranch Spa Terrace or stepping into the steam room to ease stiff joints.

For more details on Canyon Ranch SpaClub treatments, visit OceaniaCruises.com/ships/lifestyle and select the ship of your choice to view specific offerings. To make an appointment, simply call Canyon Ranch at 877-329-1924 up to 60 days prior to sailing. We look forward to welcoming you at the Canyon Ranch SpaClub on board your next voyage!