A couple of weeks ago, my husband, Martin, and I sailed on a 12-day cruise to Scandinavia. The ship we sailed on is Silhouette. It belongs to Celebrity Cruises, an American company registered in Malta.
We expected to sample some Scandinavian fare during the trip, but there was almost none offered on the ship. Because the ship departed from Southhampton, England, around 90 percent of the people aboard were from the UK, some from as far as Australia and New Zealand. Consequently, some of the food was British (Yorkshire pudding was offered every night at dinner). Some was Indonesian or Philippine to reflect the main nationalities of the crew. Mostly, however, I would characterize it as French bistro fare.
Although the lack of Scandinavian food was disappointing, there were, nevertheless, many wonderful meals, both tasty and beautifully presented. Here are some dishes that stood out for me:
My favorite appetizer were these crispy salt cod bacalao croquettes accompanied by a tangy sun-dried tomato aioli. They were light and crunchy and a little salty, a great way to start a meal.
If one did not like the appetizers offered that day, one could always choose from four that were always available. One I chose often was a shrimp cocktail. Invariably, the shrimp were firm and fresh-tasting and always accompanied by a tangy cocktail sauce redolent with horseradish. Another nightly offering that I especially liked was a hearty onion soup.
There was at least one fish entree every night. Without exception all were very good. Here are my top four:
First, cobia with barbecue sauce, haricots vert, and mashed potatoes with corn. The cobia was very firm, juicy and moist, with a light buttery flavor. The addition of corn to the mashed potatoes was new to me and I liked the combination.
Second, a seared bronzino with lentils, parsnip puree, spinach, and pomegranate seeds. The fish was mild, flaky, slightly sweet, and lemony.
The third was a broiled barramundi (Australian sea bass) with sautéed potatoes atop a sauce of fennel, sun-dried tomatoes, and red peppers. The fish was flavorful and reminded me of wild cod. The sauce was sweet-sour and wonderful.
Finally, the fourth fish entree that I loved, was a terrific pasta with shrimp and peppers.
There was always fowl on the menu, as well. Here are three highlights:
Lunch on the first day was a wonderful teriyaki duck breast with jasmine rice, bok choy, and mushrooms. The duck was tender, the mushrooms succulent, and the rice perfectly cooked. I remember thinking, if this is the caliber of the meals on board, we’re in for quite a treat.
Another was chicken Kiev - herb and garlic-stuffed chicken breasts with creamy mashed potatoes, green beans, and carrots. There was also a terrific coq au vin - braised in
Desserts were especially spectacular looking, as well as delicious. It’s hard to decide on favorites, as all were outstanding. Here are eight typical offerings:
A phyllo dough tulip with a fresh crunchy dough.
A chocolate mousse with plenty of chocolate chips on top and a surprise - fresh strawberries on the bottom. This was so good that I resolved that every time I make a chocolate mousse, going forward, there’ll be fresh berries on the bottom.
A white chocolate macadamia pastry with macadamia ganache and white chocolate mousse - so good!
A light, ethereal key lime pie.
A beautiful baked Alaska.
A strawberry angel food cake with mango coulis - light, moist, and flavorful.
A croustade with praline and chocolate mousse. Basically, a biscuit with dark ganache. Inside it had a crunchy layer of white chocolate, and praline, topped with chocolate mousse. There was a swath of caramel sauce on the plate.
And last, but certainly not least, a yummy bittersweet chocolate fondant with caramelized banana, candied almonds, and raspberry coulis.
It’s incredible to think that the kitchen crew prepared all these wonderful meals for over 3,000 passengers every day, for lunch and dinner. But, although it was superb food, it was not Scandinavian. So, on port days, we often opted to have lunch on shore. More on that in my next blog.