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12 posts from September 2011

September 30, 2011

A Journey through Provence - Romance and Beauty Abound

Marseille
As Nautica and Insignia continue to cruise the Mediterranean Sea, both Oceania Cruises ships will be visiting the port of Marseille and the neighboring areas of Provence this fall. The skyline of Marseille is dominated by the landmark basilica, Notre Dame de la Garde, which overlooks the Old Port.

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A mere 12 miles to the east of Marseille is Cassis, a delightful fishing village that unites the sea with the French countryside. A journey through the lovely landscapes of Provence brings you to this vision enhanced by the scent of fresh herbs wafting through the air.

Cassis (6)Exploring the quaint village of Cassis, one finds an array of boutique shops featuring the modern fashions of the French Riviera, while additional stores focus on the regional and cultural charms of Provence.   

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  Cassis (4) Some of the most tempting "local charms" are the delicious pastries that beckon you from the windows of the many pâtisseries lining the streets. 

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Considering the delectable treats, fabulous shopping opportunities and beautiful scenery to be found in Provence, it comes as no surprise that this region has become a favorite destination of Oceania Cruises ships.

September 28, 2011

CHEF KELLY'S FAVORITE SPANISH MARKETS

 

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I have fallen in love with Spain and Spanish cuisine! My traditional cliché dishes of paella and sangria have been eclipsed by luscious Iberian ham, inventive tapas and smoky Basque fish stews. One of the best ways to explore Spanish cuisine is to visit food markets in cities like Valencia, Cádiz, Barcelona and Bilbao. These are only four of the many markets we have visited this summer, but I wanted to share some highlights with you.

IMG_1435 (Large)Franck Garanger, our Fleet Corporate Chef for Oceania Cruises, claims that the market in Valencia is the best in Spain. It is in a beautiful building with triple arches at the entrance. It is well lighted and the stalls are pristine. There are lovely little restaurants tucked away in the alcoves and alleyways that surround the market. I stopped in to one for lunch after a busy morning of shopping and feasted on a plate of fresh ham with almonds and Spanish olive oil and a salad of fresh tuna, tomato and melon, also with Spanish olive oil.

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The streets that surround the market in Valencia are so well integrated with the market that it makes lunch an imperative after a morning gathering fresh produce, cheeses and Iberian ham.

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No trip to the Basque country is complete without a visit to Bilbao. A short walk along the river from the Guggenheim finds you at a sleek, modern three-story market with stall after stall of meat and poultry vendors, produce merchants and cheese shops. 

IMG_1467 (Large)I love the quaint baskets of eggs here, and it reminds me of going out to my Aunt Edna's hen house and reaching under the warm hens for their eggs. It is nice to see eggs in a basket instead of a Styrofoam container. 

IMG_1468 (Large)At home, most butchers are hidden away behind a sliding glass window. Here you have the opportunity to interact directly with the butchers, and their cuts are on display for your inspection, whether you wish to do so or not.

IMG_1470 (Large)The bakeries in the Bilbao market are also special, everything being so warm and fresh you want to dive face first in to the warm, yeasty goodies.

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I wanted to take a stroll down to the old section of town for a coffee, and as often happens, I stumbled on to a fantastic find – a fish market that blew me sideways with the variety and quality of the fish. You may not be able to catch the magnitude of this from my photo, but the tuna here weighs about as much as the fishmonger!

 

 

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I headed down to the Plaza Nueva for a coffee and some tapas for lunch. 

IMG_1444 (Large)Being in the Mediterranean all summer has taught me to take things a little more slowly, and one of my new habits is to sit at a tableside café and have a coffee and tapas or a glass of wine and take it all in. I just sit and relax and enjoy watching people.

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A Spanish port we all love is Santander. I haven’t had the chance to visit the market yet, but I did manage to find a great seafood joint that specializes in sautéed calamari in a rich, smoky tomato broth. Yes, Spain is certainly a lot about fish. Still, I am currently enjoying the book Everything But the Squeal, in which John Barlow writes about the love of pork in the Galician region of northern Spain.

Another unique market is in Cádiz. A sleek, modern building with the fish market on the bottom floor, this is really a treasure.

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Our resident Spanish chef told me to hunt for the bright pink langoustines that are common in this region. 

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As usual, the abundance was such that I found several species of brightly colored langoustines, all of which looked fresh and fabulous. And not to be outdone by the fish market in Bilbao, the market here in Cádiz had its own version of "Tuna Godzilla," as you can see by this giant head in the middle of the market.  

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The eel and the scallops were bright and colorful and all displayed with such pride and care.

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It is difficult to capture the iridescence of many of the fish, but these mackerel looked like they had been swimming in the sea only minutes ago – such bright shades of shimmering grey and green. 

IMG_1499 (Large) After a morning at the market, we took a stroll into town, and while it was too early for lunch, we poked our heads into a "jamoneria," or ham shack, devoted to ham and sherry and beer – my kind of place! I made a mental note to spend more time there on our next visit. We walked though many shops with specialty olive oils and cheeses and wines... a very easy city for a stroll. Before too long the luncheon diners started to appear at the outdoor tables, and we wandered into a lovely restaurant and had a fish in that Basque tomato sauce made with the smoky Spanish paprika, pimentón. Like most restaurants in Spain, we enjoyed seeing the leg of ham displayed on the rack with a carving knife, knowing that our slices would be freshly carved.

In an earlier blog, you saw the many images of my favorite market in Spain, Santa Caterina in Barcelona. Perhaps it's not fair to have a favorite – but we share a common name so that gives me a little latitude. When you are next in Barcelona (which I hope is on a voyage with Oceania Cruises), don't skip this lovely market in the heart of the old city. 

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Even as I discover so many new things about Spanish cuisine and share them with our guests, I am fond of the classics that we hold dear. Paella, as I have learned, is something the Spanish are passionate about.

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In our classes in the Bon Appétit Culinary Center, we teach both seafood paella and meat fideau (made with the little semolina noodles). I am currently nose deep in a great new book, Paella, by Alberto Herraiz. On page 96, he has a recipe for paella with soft shell crabs, and on page 116, there is a mouthwatering recipe for paella with Iberian ham, spring vegetables and foie gras. So maybe paella isn’t so boring after all…

Bon appétit!

Chef Kelly

Executive Chef, Bon Appétit Culinary Center

 

 

 

September 27, 2011

MEET THE CREW: Desktop Publisher Jessica Domm

Jessica Domm - NYC
Jessica Domm loves her job. As a desktop publisher onboard Marina, Jessica says that even when she works long hours, she hardly notices the time passing. Her work is so enjoyable it doesn’t even feel like a “real job.” With her winning smile and boundless enthusiasm, one imagines she brings the same positive energy to all aspects of her life.

After graduating with a degree in graphic design from York University in Toronto, Jessica’s first job was doing system administrator inventory, which did not challenge her in the way she wished. As her uncle was a retired cruise captain, she decided to pursue the family business and apply for a job in the cruise industry. While she did not take advantage of her uncle’s industry connections, she did take his advice, as he recommended she try Oceania Cruises. She applied online, and two days before Christmas, she received the news that she would be starting onboard Regatta in January of 2010.

Was she excited? “I was terrified,” says Jessica. “I’d never been outside of Canada before. But I got on a plane and joined Regatta in Miami and never looked back. Best decision I ever made in my life.”

Jessica is responsible for all of the onboard printed materials, from newsletters to menus to embarkation information to posters. Besides enjoying her design work, Jessica also sings the praises of her coworkers. Jessica says one of the great pleasures of her job is the fantastic group of people with whom she gets to work.

Jessica had only been onboard for three weeks when her 26th birthday came around. To her surprise, everyone threw her a big party with cake and champagne. “The first thing I thought was, if I can’t be with my own family, I’m so glad I’m here with my Oceania Cruises family. It was fantastic. I never felt more like I belonged some place." 

Jessica Domm - Miami Jessica with Social Hostess Margaret Lynn Scoggins and Oceania Club Ambassador Per Orren

Of course, the work is not without its challenges. Jessica was chosen to be on the team for the inaugural sailings of Marina, and preparing a new ship for its maiden voyage was no easy task. The staff and crew had been living on the ship for two weeks before the first guests came onboard, and they were still putting the finishing touches on Marina as the first guest set foot on her decks.

“It was challenging,” says Jessica, “but looking back now, it was worth it. It was worth all those hours I spent in my office and all the work put into it. It really turned out well, and it’s something that we’re all very proud of.”

When she was approached about participating in Riviera’s debut in April 2012, what was Jessica’s response? “I’ll be there with bells on!” she exclaims. 

September 21, 2011

PAELLA CLASS IN THE BON APPETIT CULINARY CENTER

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What a pleasure it was to have Chef Anita Eisenhauer onboard Marina for a recent cruise. Chef Eisenhauer is an associate professor at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York. She was my Mediterranean Cuisines instructor when I attended the institute, so what a treat it was to have her join me to teach and review our curriculum for the Bon Appétit Culinary Center. 

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On this cruise Chef Eisenhauer and I taught one of the most popular classes at the Bon Appétit Culinary Center, Perfect Paella. We started the class with everyone contributing some fruit to our “bucket of sangria.” We used three bottles of white wine, three cans of ginger ale, apples and oranges, and “43” – a vanilla and orange brandy that was recommended to me in Barcelona. To that we added star anise and cinnamon sticks and cloves, and then let it “get happy” while we worked on our paella.

If you've been in one of our classes, you know the “anatomy of an onion” demonstration. Here is Chef Eisenhauer taking the reins on that demonstration – complete with the “top hat” of the onion on her head! 

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I was right there beside her – just in case she needed any help – but like a true champion, she got it right the first time. If only her students at the culinary institute could see her doing this. They would not believe it! 

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Chef then began the first step in paella, making the sofrito, a combination of garlic, onion and other aromatic ingredients used as a base in many Spanish dishes.

IMG_2601You can see by the looks on our students’ faces just how seriously they take their paella cookery. One of our favorite guests this cruise was Lisa, who traveled with Chef Eisenhauer and her friend, Moy. Lisa had more energy than most of us and was a champion eater with a discriminating palate!

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In addition to the seafood paella the class made, we also sampled meat fiduea and garlic aioli, which was a big hit. 

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There were so many proud moments in our paella class, including the flipping of the tortilla!

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Bravo to all our tapas chefs! 

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Now that we had mastered one of Spain’s most famous dishes, it was time to explore ashore in the lovely towns along the Spanish coast. We called on the port of Cádiz, which serves as a gateway to Seville. 

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Cádiz is also a charming village in its own right. How lucky we were to come across the Mercado Andalusi held in and around the narrow cobblestone streets.

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There were hundreds of merchants with unique offerings, but the one that struck my fancy was a man on a bicycle operating a carousel of hand-carved wooden animals.  

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There were a plethora of stands with honey and artisanal cheeses and homemade chutneys. It was a festive Saturday night in this lively and charming port in Spain.

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Our guests enjoyed meeting Chef Eisenhauer during our travels in Spain, and I was happy to spend time with one of my favorite people and such a talented chef. Thanks Anita – we miss you already! 

 

 

September 20, 2011

AN EXQUISITE LUNCH IN SAINT-MALO WITH CHEF KELLY

St. Malo Panorama
Saint-Malo is a quaint, walled city in Brittany situated in the Northwest region of France along the English Channel. It is a favorite destination of my students in the Bon Appétit Culinary Center because it is known as the city in France with more seafood restaurants per capita than any other! I had previously visited Saint-Malo with Chef Christine Brown, who came onboard Marina as a guest chef with a group from Torrance, California, where Christine's namesake restaurant is located. Christine and I hit it off immediately (as most female chefs do in our male-dominated profession), and we spent the better part of our day in Saint-Malo trying their famous buckwheat crepes and mussels with frites. We also sampled some cider, for which the region is also quite well known.

On this trip I decided to find a restaurant that the locals frequent, far away from the bustle of this summer's busy tourist trade. I stumbled into a restaurant I was anxious to try, but discovered that they only serve dinner. However, as the chef and owner were having their lunch, I asked for their recommendation of where I might find some great fish. Without hesitation, they pointed me to Le Chalut, which was tucked away along a back street, far from the busy crowds. 

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No one in the restaurant looked like a tourist, and the staff definitely spoke no English. Perfect. After settling in and ordering a half bottle of a dry white wine from Loire, I was able to communicate to my hostess that I was a chef and to request that her chef please make me a lunch of his choosing. Her eyes lit up and away she went to the kitchen. A few minutes later she returned with the first offering, an amuse bouche of two white fish, a terrine of salmon with roe and a perfectly grilled cherry tomato.

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A basket of hot baguettes and local butter arrived, and I was absolutely delighted! As many of our Bon Appétit Culinary Center guests have heard me say, you can tell immediately whether a restaurant is worthy by the bread the chef chooses to place in the basket and the quality of butter or olive oil that is served with it. Bread has gotten a bum rap in recent years, which is unfortunate. Great bread is a testament to the love and care of a talented baker.

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Out came the next course, and I was again supremely impressed by the local scallops topped with a thin slice of truffle on a sauce of herbs and butter with fresh white beans. A side of mixed baby greens tossed in a tarragon-infused white wine vinaigrette was like a nose-dive into grandmother’s garden. Incredible.

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Then the entrée arrived – sautéed sole in a tomato-infused fish stock topped with fresh asparagus, all cooked to perfection and perfectly seasoned. As a side, Chef sent out roasted white potatoes in a cinnamon-infused butter. The potatoes were caramelized – soft and heavenly in the butter sauce. 

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With absolutely no room for dessert (although the selection looked magnificent), I was treated to a plate of pastries and a digestif.

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During my travels onboard Marina, I’ve enjoyed many memorable meals ashore, but few truly stand out above all the rest. This was one of those unforgettable lunches – a skilled chef, a fabulous setting, fresh ingredients and an attentive server.

As I wandered back to the ship, I passed by one pastry shop after another, marveling at the baguettes and delicate pastries in the windows and behind the glass counters. One window demanded to be captured in the photograph here. (IMG 1401) 

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These are meringues – egg whites and sugar whipped into airy clouds of sweet decadence – and they were the size of softballs. Alas, they were not to be enjoyed by me, but I bought 24 for my students in our French and Fabulous class today. The verdict? FABULOUS, of course!

Bon appétit!  

Chef Kelly

Executive Chef, Bon Appétit Culinary Center

 

 

September 16, 2011

TASTE THE WORLD: The Food and Flavors of Oceania Cruises

Taste the World Cookbook
Fans of the exquisite cuisine served onboard Oceania Cruises ships will be thrilled to know that they can now try many of these fabulous recipes in their own homes! Taste the World, the culinary lifestyle book from Oceania Cruises, is now available on Amazon.com. Not only does it contain numerous recipes featured onboard Oceania Cruises ships, but it also includes fascinating stories from the chefs and staff, as well as a look behind the scenes during a full day and night of culinary wizardry in the onboard galleys. 

Those less experienced in the culinary arts need not be intimidated by the vast array of recipes featured in Taste the World. As Blogger-at-Large for Oceania Cruises, I felt compelled to try a few of the recipes at home myself, and I can attest to the fact that even a novice in the kitchen can successfully prepare these dishes. And if you aren't currently onboard savoring the luxuries of an Oceania Cruise, this is the perfect way to enjoy the Oceania Cruises experience at home!

On the back cover of the book is a picture of Jacques Pépin and members of the Oceania Cruises culinary team shopping in a seafood market. My husband and I decided to begin our culinary journey in similar fashion and compiled a list of interesting recipes revolving around the sea.

We discovered so many delectable options that we initially had a seven-course meal on our hands. Lacking a professional chef's kitchen, we decided it would be wise to scale our choices down to three.

Tuna Tartare Recipe1
On page 125 we selected the Sesame-Seared Tuna with Vegetable Tartare. You can see from the photo above that we had our work cut out for us. We turned the page to find Tiger Prawns with Sauce Remoulade along with a recipe for Court Bouillon. And on page 224, we decided on the Pan-Seared Scallops with Cauliflower Mousseline.

Any chef would have been proud as we compiled our prep and shopping lists. Since my husband and I are landlocked, finding a seaside market is not an option, but we did very well with a local purveyor. As the shop was quaint in size and selection, we did need to finish our shopping at another store but were able to secure the necessary ingredients in a timely fashion.

As we began our culinary soiree, my husband noted that he was missing the chef’s hat that he had worn during our class at the Bon Appétit Culinary Center onboard Marina. His next realization was that he had forgotten the first rule we had learned in that class:  Always have a glass of wine in hand when you begin cooking. We quickly resolved these issues, and once everything was in order, we started preparing for our feast.

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The next couple of hours focused on prepping all of the necessary ingredients and, and in accordance with what we had learned from Chef Kelly at the Bon Appétit Culinary Center, we prepared our “mis-en-place." Soon the vegetable tartare rolls were laid out on their plates while the shrimp danced in the bouillon before going into an ice bath.

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We coordinated our steps and were able to move about the kitchen without getting in each other’s way. We soon found ourselves wrapping up the cooking process and just a few minutes away from enjoying our dinner. 

The results were in...

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Tiger Prawns with Sauce Remoulade

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Pan-Seared Scallops with Cauliflower Mousseline

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Sesame-Seared Tuna with Vegetable Tartare

While our presentation wasn't exactly up to Oceania Cruises standards, we were quite pleased with how closely our tuna resembled the photo in the book. We paired the food with a sauvignon blanc and sat down to enjoy our dinner and reflect on the process. We agreed the day had been great fun, and now it was time to relax while enjoying the fruits of our labor. Each dish was delicious!

We plan to revisit Taste the World again very soon. Of course, we are also looking forward to returning to Oceania Cruises ships where the talented chefs will prepare these fantastic dishes for us!

 

September 15, 2011

Nautica Sails to Charming Mykonos

If you have yet to visit the world-famous island of Mykonos, you might consider a voyage with Oceania Cruises through the Greek Islands. A favorite playground of the international jet-set, Mykonos will serve as host to Nautica once again next week (for a return engagement) and to Marina and Insignia this fall. Last week Nautica played peekaboo with our photographer as the ship's guests were able to explore this 33-square-mile island on a gorgeous, sunny day.

Nautica Peekaboo
Mere moments from the ship, sunseekers chose to enjoy one of the white sandy beaches of Mykonos as Nautica watched from the dock near Mykonos Town, also known as Chora in Greek.

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Beach

The design of a water source in town is as enchanting as the deep blue waters of the Aegean Sea, and the island's architecture boldly stands out against the vivid blue of the soaring skies.

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  White Church

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Add some color to the whitewashed architecture equation, and Mykonos delivers memorable postcard-perfect pictures.

Red Door & Dome

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The town's pathways twist about and create a pleasurable maze for any explorer seeking Mykonos' charm. The island is an Oceania Cruises favorite with its historic windmills, affection for its pelican friends, and club atmosphere that draws thousands who want to dance the day and night away. If your ship has a late departure, be sure to watch the sunset from a local pub...it's magical.

September 14, 2011

LOCAL CHEF SHARES HIS SECRETS IN LIGURIA, ITALY

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When we teach Italian cuisine in the Bon Appétit Culinary Center, I try to focus on the regionality of the ingredients and techniques of the many areas of this food-fabulous country. Today in Liguria was no exception.

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We began our tour in Portofino, the charming and colorful village with brightly colored multi-story buildings that hug the tiny harbor. The story goes that these buildings were intentionally constructed close to one another so the women and children could escape the ravages of pirates when their men were away fishing. Hard to believe that such beauty comes from necessity. 

After a short ferry ride to Santa Margherita, we had the chance to take a short stroll through the daily open market.

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It was small, but everything was so fresh and inviting. I had to try the small eggplants, which I was told to hollow out and cook in olive oil, then stuff with the inside eggplant meat, cheeses, meats and herbs. Again this reminds me of how lucky we are to have the culinary center on the ship to try out impromptu recipes!

 

IMG_2869 (Large) Santa Margherita is known for the beautifully painted facades on the buildings. Some of the window frames are painted on in the same style as the real window frames, causing one to look closely to try to determine which are real and which are painted. It is a beautiful seaside town, and with the heat today, we could tell that children and adults alike were planning to spend the day on the small beach here, soaking up the sun and final days of summer.

From Santa Margherita, we took a short bus ride to the town of Recco for a pasta lesson and luncheon. In Liguria, there is a particular focaccia that is a specialty of that region (and the city of Recco) and is worth the pilgrimage to this modern little suburb, which makes up in personality what it lacks in charm. The pesto of this region is also quite unique, due largely to the sweet Ligurian basil that is grown here. 


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We pull up to the fourth generation restaurant that hosts our tours and are greeted by the family Labrador and one of the twin brothers who now manage the family restaurant and hotel. Marco, the chef who has been making pasta for 30 years, greets us and asks us to take a seat as he begins his demonstration. Marco is a gentle soul, who speaks very little English but talks with his eyes and his hands, as we try to follow along with this obvious master craftsman. He starts with fritter batter and zucchini, telling us that when this is done, it will go in the fryer to make some welcome treats for us. And true to his promise, a few short minutes later he is pouring us some sparkling wine, and we are enjoying these hot, salty “friscieu.”

 

 

 

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Next, Chef Marco makes pasta and rolls it out with his manual pasta maker with ease and a sheepish grin that suggests, "You, too, could do this with 30 years of practice!" Everyone gets a chance to get in the game. Here is one of our guests doing an admirable job of rolling pasta. 

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The next step is the ravioli, the filling for which he shoots from a pastry bag at lightening speed. 

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Susie Heller, the famed chef and culinary producer (think of the French Laundry and Bouchon cookbooks) and personal media manager for Jacques Pépin and Julia Child, accompanied us on the trip. Here is Susie with her Leica camera trying to catch Marco's quick hands. She decides to go from photo stills to the video function on her camera. Smart move, Chef Susie!

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With some of the remaining dough, Chef Marco shows us how to hand-cut pasta into angel hair, fettuccine and pappardelle. He looks at us and says, "Easy!” – which we think he must have mixed up with some other English word (i.e. “practice”).

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Next comes the ultimate humiliation – trofie. This is a pea-sized ball of dough that you roll out to make a twisted pasta, as you see below. The last time I visited with Chef Marco, I did about as well as I did on this visit. He does know I am a chef; I am just not sure if he believes it or not. Feeling humiliated at not being able to make a respectable trofie, I am pulled aside by one of the daughters who confides in me that there is a woman who makes trofie for the restaurant, and she is the only one in town who has mastered this pasta-making technique to Chef Marco's level. And she has been doing it for 50 years! I think I feel better... 

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Chef Marco then makes pesto for us by hand with a mortar and pestle, and we all marvel at how the basil is so delicate and sweet.

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Ligurian basil leaves are quite small by comparison to Genovese basil. (Genoa is a neighbor about 30 miles from Recco.) It's really all about terroir... 

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Lastly, Chef Marco is to make the focaccia that he and his restaurant and his town are famous for. He takes a kilo of Manitoba flour and 400 grams of water (and a pinch of olive oil and salt) and makes a masterpiece of dough that stretches out as thinly as paper and the size of Montana (under his skilled hands).

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Chef asks for volunteers to stretch out another ball or two of dough. Three of our guests have a go at it – all tearing a hole in the paper-thin dough within seconds.

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“Guess we’d better keep our day jobs!” was the rally cry from these troops. The focaccia dough is placed on a large copper pan, then topped with fresh stracchino cheese and another layer of dough.   IMG_1556 (Large)

The final product is something to behold and needs to be enjoyed immediately out of the oven. (Who are we to argue with tradition?) 

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After all that work with Chef Marco in the kitchen, we sat for a delightful lunch in the family restaurant. Primi was the ravioli with a delicate walnut sauce. 

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was the trofie with pesto, green beans and potato, a specialty of this region.

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The main course was a fresh-caught snapper with olives and a light butter sauce. 

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Jacques Pépin says that his favorite meals are not defined by the food per se, but by the food AND the company with whom one enjoys the meal. Nothing could have been truer for me. I met a lovely couple on this tour, Neil and Karen, who own a wine storage business in Napa. 

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They accompanied Chef Susie and me on this tour, and the joy of meeting my friend, Chef Marco, and sharing his passion for pasta making (and pasta eating) was a blessing.

Enjoying great food and wine is what we are all about at Oceania Cruises. Sharing our passion for the culinary and wine world with our guests and friends makes days like this one, on the Ligurian coast, memorable treasures.

Bon appétit!  

Chef Kelly

Executive Chef, Bon Appétit Culinary Center

 

 

September 13, 2011

CHEF KELLY EXPLORES CANNES

You, too, can cook like Paul Bocuse!

Sometimes in my travels, I run across things that I simply must share with the Bon Appétit Culinary Center community. Last week as the final days of summer came to a close on the French Riviera, I took a stroll through Cannes, a sparkling city by the sea, famed for its film festival and beach life.

IMG_1539 (Large) This famous building mural in Cannes celebrates the film festival. It reminds me that one of America's greatest exports is our entertainment. As I studied the mural, my eyes caught a billboard advertising Le Bonne Cuisine, authored by none other than Paul Bocuse. 

IMG_1538 (Large)Chef Bocuse is considered one of the greatest chefs of his generation, and I recently managed the kitchen competition day for the Bocuse d’Or competition for the U.S. representative. Seeing him in an ad for his cookbooks made me smile, thinking about the cruise I spent with Chef Jacques Pépin that week and how I marvel at a master who shares his talents by teaching them to others. The generosity of a master who shares through teaching, well, it's something that you don't see a lot of in the culinary world.

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I hopped into a small bistro to have a plate of oysters and was not disappointed. I asked for the Belons and found out they were not in season. But not to worry – these local beauties did the trick! I followed them with some mussels and frites and a glass of Provence rosé. IMG_1536 (Large)
This evening I was alone, no friends or guest chefs to accompany the meal. So I broke out my new book, the Fishmongers Manual (a fabulous fabrication Bible) and settled in for a feast – Cannes style.

Bon appétit!    

– CHEF KELLY

 

 

September 12, 2011

Jacques Pepin Named Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters by BU

Don Horner, one of Oceania Cruises' loyal guests and a graduate of Boston University's Metropolitan College (MET), recently shared on Cruise Critic his pleasure in learning that Jacques Pépin was awarded an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Boston University.

Please enjoy the article below from the Boston University website, which describes the honor bestowed on Pépin and the many achievements of the famed master chef:

Jacques The acclaimed chef, author, and television personality is being recognized for his contributions to the University, including his role as co-founder (with Julia Child) of the MET master’s program in gastronomy and the certificate program in the culinary arts, which established the tradition of integrating hands-on culinary experience with the serious academic study of cuisine in society. Pépin, who has been a part-time faculty member at MET since 1983, has taught hundreds of Boston University students. He has additionally drawn over ten thousand residents of greater Boston to the University by hosting informal seminars, demonstrations, discussions, and special cooking events through MET’s Lifelong Learning programs. In 2005, MET honored Pépin with the Roger Deveau Memorial Outstanding Part-Time Faculty Award.

Rebecca Alssid, director of Lifelong Learning at MET, says longtime friend and colleague Pépin “epitomizes the best of what a teacher, an artist, and humanist ought to be. He is recognized throughout the world for his culinary skill, his warmth of spirit, and his generosity as an educator and a person.”

Pépin’s career began with his exposure to cooking as a child in his parents’ restaurant, Le Pélican, in Bourg-en-Bresse, France. His training includes a formal apprenticeship at the distinguished Grand Hôtel de l’Europe and training under Lucien Diat at the Hôtel Plaza Athénée in Paris. Pépin served as personal chef to three French heads of State; honors conferred by the government of France include Chevalier de L’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, Chevalier de L’Ordre du Mérite Agricole, and in 2004, the National Order of the Legion of Honour. He earned his master’s degree in eighteenth-century French literature from Columbia University.

Pépin’s involvement with MET and BU reflects his accomplished background and his enduring commitment to culinary education. In addition to his many contributions to newspapers and magazines, Pépin has published twenty-six books and hosted eleven public television series, including the recent Jacques Pépin: More Fast Food My Way, which is the companion piece to the book of the same title.

Pépin has established a teaching legacy at MET that approaches cuisine from a perspective in which creativity is enabled by skillfulness, and intellectual curiosity is enabled by practicality. Under his guidance, MET’s gastronomy degree and culinary arts certificate have developed into highly regarded academic and professional credentials.

In response to BU’s announcement of the award, Pépin remarked: “It is a great honor and I am humbled, gratified, and very happy. It validates the work of chefs and the importance of cooking, dining, and sharing food with family and friends. Julia would be very proud.”

Read more about Jacques Pépin’s honorary doctorate on BU Today.

 

 

September 9, 2011

Mercat de Santa Caterina, Barcelona: Chef Kelly's Favorite Market in Spain

IMG_2712 (Medium)Without a doubt, Barcelona is one of my favorite places. The city's signature architecture, the cadence of life here and the love of food, sport and art in Spain…is there a more intoxicating recipe for a great destination? 

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One of the reasons we built the Bon Appétit Culinary Center on Marina (and on Riviera, which debuts next year) was to take advantage of the markets in so many ports we visit around the world. I have spent the summer visiting many of these markets and developing our 2012 Market Tours program. In a nutshell, we visit markets and culinary points-of-interest with 24 students and then return to the culinary center to cook the cuisine and dishes we have gathered on our voyage that day. We launched our first market tour in Corfu, Greece, and our second in Barcelona. I am targeting about 15 to 20 market tours for 2012, so I hope to see many of you on those fun excursions with us in the future!

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We began our Barcelona Market Tour with a private visit to the workshop of Carles Mampel, undoubtedly the “rock star” pastry chef of Barcelona. His chocolate line, bubo, is sold in his three locations throughout the city.  

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What a treat it was for us to have Chef Bruno, Marina's pastry chef, along with us. 

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We were treated to two demonstrations, one a “weekend cake” that is common to the Catalan region, where Barcelona resides. It is similar to an American pound cake with an iced glazed frosting. 

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The second was a parfait of coffee cream and hazelnut streusel and a vanilla tonka mousse. They boxed up the parfait, and we kept it cold for our tapas lunch later that day! 

 

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We also watched the pastry chefs put the final touches on many confections.

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The precision with which they work and the beauty of these pastries are amazing – so beautiful you feel like you would not want to eat them! Such whimsical and festive confections...obviously made with a lot of love and attention to detail by the chefs who hosted us. 

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By the way, if you are wondering what tonka is, it's a pea that has the intense aroma of vanilla, and it is used to flavor soaps and cosmetics as well as confections.

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We piled back in the bus for our 15-minute drive back to the city and our visit to the fresh food market often referred to as “the flying carpet building” of Barcelona. The Santa Caterina Market is the building that started the revival of the Gothic Quarter of Barcelona. It's located three blocks from the Barcelona Cathedral. Its distinct roof of bright colors and agitated forms makes this a market to see for both its architectural and culinary uniqueness.  

IMG_1136 (Medium) IMG_1163 (Medium) The renovation was completed in 2005, and it is the favorite destination market for “those in the know” living in and visiting Barcelona. The stalls have brightly colored heirloom vegetables, fresh fish, specialty butchers, candy makers and many avant-garde food boutiques.

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We had arranged for a private olive oil tasting in a room atop the market. Our host was the co-owner of Olisoliva.  

IMG_2680 (Medium) We tasted five olive oils, from mild to strong, and all Spanish (of course!). We then broke into small groups and walked through the markets, checking out the produce and Iberico ham. Some of us bought olive oil and others produce. What fun it is knowing we can take things back to the culinary center to use in our paella class this afternoon!

After our walk through the markets, we took a short bus ride to Paco Meralgo, a trendy tapas restaurant in Barcelona. Tapas are a progression of dishes meant to be eaten with friends and brought in succession, one after another.  

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Our first tapa was a typical Catalan toasted bread rubbed with garlic, olive and tomato. After that delicious start, the dishes kept landing on the tables (as well as a crisp, surprising Catalan Chardonnay). Bombas (baked potato balls filled with cheese and meat), Croquetes de Pollastre (chicken and ham croquettes), Bunyols de Bacalla (cod fish cakes), Pajaritos de la Huerta (tempura onions with Romesco sauce) and the undisputed favorite, Calamarcets a la Llauna amb Ganxet (squid with white beans). It was a FEAST, which we devoured in true Barcelonian style – with lots of laughter and friendship. It is so special to meet new friends on our cruises, and sitting around a table with great food and wine is the best way to do that!   

 

 

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So as not to forget the pastry demonstration earlier in the day, we whipped out the cold parfaits and ended the meal with a yummy confection.

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All of the chefs and staff from the Bon Appétit Culinary Center attend our market tours, so here are our guests making merry with Ralf, Putu and Daniel.  

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We were also blessed to have our guest master chef, Anita Eisenhauer, on the tour with us. She teaches Mediterranean cuisine at the Culinary Institute of America and is a dear friend of mine. It was great having her with us for this tour, and we hope to get her back on Marina soon!

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After a short siesta, we all met back in the culinary center for a paella class. First up was making a sangria. Everyone helped to contribute fruit by practicing their knife cuts.  

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Each team made a seafood paella, and I made a meat paella with aioli. Despite the tapas lunch, we all had an appetite to test both paellas.

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It could not have been a more festive day. Good food, new friends, special places and fine wine. We owe a lot to our guide, Yvan, who arranged an insider's look at Barcelona that few tourists could ever command.   

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People often ask me if I miss living “on land like a normal person” (Haha!). I can honestly say that it is days like today on Marina that make this the greatest job on earth. The upside of being a cruise gypsy is spending the day with interesting, inquisitive food enthusiasts like we had on our Barcelona Market Tour.

 

 

September 7, 2011

ATOP THE WORLD IN NICE AND EZE

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It seems like this summer has been one stunning market after another: Helsinki, Valencia, Tallinn, Venice, Barcelona, Belfast, Corfu.... But one is hard pressed to find a market with more history or personality than in Nice. It was a beautiful day, so the colors of Nice were at their most pronounced. The water was bright blue and the buildings a sunny palate of greens, yellows, blues and oranges. IMG_2749 (Large)

We started down one narrow street with our charming guide and then turned a corner to an explosion of vegetables and flowers and fruits! Local shoppers and tourist picnickers alike were filling their baskets with fresh figs, baguettes, olives and cheeses.

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The melons were so ripe you could smell them just walking by, and I could not stuff enough zucchini blossoms in my bag to take back to the culinary center. 

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I am always struck by how beautiful the colors of nature are. The red and white of these radishes with their green leaves is just stunning. Is there anything better than thinly sliced radishes with a little sea salt?

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The artichokes this summer have been abundant – from our first sighting in Corfu to here in Nice the last weekend in August.

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The shallots were the size of small potatoes, and the garlic was fresh and fragrant.

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No wonder the food in the south of France is so fabulous....

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I love the little sugar candies that you find in the stalls and shops in Nice. I stopped into one corner shop and found these jellied fruits that looked more like works of art than candies! 

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In our French and Fabulous class, we make a pissaladerie, so when I stumbled across this onion and anchovy treat, I had to try it and compare to the Oceania Cruises recipe in the Taste the World cookbook.

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And I may be prejudiced, but I think ours in the BEST! Our corporate executive chefs, Franck Garanger and Eric Barale, know how to do crust!!!!

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IMG_2806 (Large) After a fun few hours in Nice, we returned to the bus and took the drive up to Eze. It was such a gorgeous day. We were all giddy at the fabulous sailboats and “lifestyles of the rich and famous” cache of the south of France this time of year. On our climb to Eze, our guide pointed out a villa overlooking the Cap Ferrat that was sold for 500 million Euro ($724 million) to a Russian industrialist. We were hoping to be invited to lunch, but I guess they misplaced our invitation.

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So we were happy to travel on and find our lunch spots in Eze. Who wants to eat borsch when we can snack on Salade Niçoise? That was what I selected, and it was delightful.

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If you ever get to Eze, I recommend lunch or dinner at one of the two fabulous restaurants in this hilltop village. It is well worth the climb, as you can imagine from this shot I was able to take from the Chateau Eza dining balcony.

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As I found out, reservations are required, so we shall dine there another time!

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As we came back down the hilltop, we were able to catch a glimpse of Marina, glistening in the Mediterranean sun and blue sea. As our Chairman and CEO Frank Del Rio said when we christened her, she is an “elegant lady of the sea.” How excited we are to see her sister, Riviera, when she arrives next year!

IMG_2848 (Large) On a final note, no day is ever complete without my carrying some treasure back to the ship. Usually, as my students can attest, it is olive oil or pastries or wines. But today, I found a first edition Larousse Gastronomique in the market in Nice. It was published in 1938 (which I think makes it a first edition), and the original owner had menu cards from a hotel in Nice that he or she had left as an additional treasure for me to find. Of course, it is in French, but that isn't stopping me from enjoying this Bible of culinary wisdom. It is always fun to wander through markets – and especially when you come across a treasure like I did today! I wasn't the only one though. We all came back with bags slightly heavier than we started with on this magical day in Nice and Eze.

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