Thursday, January 12, 2012

Life on board Pacific Pearl cruise ship. PART 2

Welcome to part 2 of Life on board the Pacific Pearl. And the first of our P&O competitions. Leave me a comment at the bottom of this post to enter.

From my post Part 1 you may have an idea of just how much FOOD there was everywhere! in addition to all of the eating establishments that we could eat in at no charge, if you needed to eat outside of the meal times, there were additional options. 

Such as Charlie's Cafe in the Atrium where Macarons were only $1 each and high hat cupcakes were $3. Grandma Kiwicakes and I did get a trio of Macarons to half between us, but we couldn't face all the frosting on the high hat cupcake - we were simply too well fed all cruise long. 

The Chocolate Cafe, I previously mentioned was a favourite haunt for DH to get a good coffee and use the internet.

The cookies here were enormous, I didn't try one. The Chocolate volcano peaked my interest. And after getting a copy of Holidays - the P&O cookbook and seeing the Chocolate volcano in there - Grandma Kiwicakes & I just had to try one.

We ventured in to the Chocolate Cafe one afternoon and ordered one each, Grandma Kiwicakes got a coffee and I got a hot chocolate (which was awesome), it was a little dark in there, so my photos aren't the best.

When you cut in to it, the centre oozes out warm & molten, the raspberry sauce provides the lava

When the charming waiter came to collect our plates he asked if we enjoyed them, I tilted my plate and said "can't you tell" he looked at me and said "but of course! - I just wanted to hear it from your lips"

The recipe is in the P&O Holidays cookbook and P&O provides the recipe on their blog which is as follows

Warm Chocolate Volcano, Chocolate Sauce, 6 Portions
  • 250 grams dark chocolate, chopped
  • 100 grams unsalted butter, cubed
  • 2 pieces eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 pieces egg yolks, at room temperature
  • 55 grams caster sugar
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, sifted
  • Unsweetened chocolate powder, to dust
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180 C. Brush 6 x 185 ml (6oz.) ramekins with melted butter. Place on a baking tray.
  2. Combine 2/3 of the chocolate and butter in a small sauce pan over low heat. Stir frequently until the chocolate and butter have melted and the mixture is smooth, remove from heat.
  3. Beat the whole eggs, egg yolks and sugar until thick and pale. Add the chocolate mixture and flour and use a large metal spoon or spatula to fold in until evenly combined.
  4. Divide the mixture evenly amongst the ramekins. Stick a small quantity of chocolate into the center. Bake for 12 minutes until puddings have risen almost to the top of the ramekins. There are slightly underdone.
  5. To serve, turn the puddings out onto serving plates. Dust with cocoa powder and serve with vanilla ice cream and dark chocolate sauce.
There are so many lovely recipes in this book, as I flicked through I saw recipes for main meals that myself Grandma Kiwicakes had for dinner. There is also a cocktail recipe for one of DH favourite cocktails from the cruise "Lychee Mojito", there's also the "Chilli Margarita" which I tried on the first night - gosh it sure packed a punch!

January 7th Was Grandma Kiwicakes birthday, we went to the Salt Grill for dinner. This restaurant carries an AU$40 per person surcharge, it was SO! worth it. I could not fault a single thing for my meal, which for me is rare, I can usually find something just not quite right - this food was exceptional!. Salt Grill has an amazing menu we had prawn toast tapa and a variety of sides to share, truffle mashed potato (exquisite), truffle parmesan french fries (not because I need fries with every meal, but for the simple reason I could not imagine what these could possibly be like) and a pear, rocket & blue cheese salad.

Both Grandma Kiwicakes & I opted for the lobster tortellini in coconut broth - which I snapped a photo of just moments after the waiter poured the coconut broth from a small jug.

DH& I opted for the eye fillet & Grandma Kiwicakes had the Scotch fillet for a main - the choices of sauces and mustards to accompany is exceptional. We all opted for steak, as our meal was towards the end of our cruise and we'd all been mainly eating seafood, chicken  & special creations for the week, we all agreed we'd like to try the Steak at Salt, because it is so highly regarded. It was certainly the best medium rare steak I can recall in my recent eating history.

DH piked on us for dessert. Grandma Kiwicakes & I never one to let the team down when it comes to dessert took our time choosing. Grandma Kiwicakes opted for the petit fours and generously allowed me to eat one line. From left to right (raspberry tart, pistachio marshmallow, chocolate nougat & turkish delight)

I opted for the Licorice parfait - it was exceptional!

Our lovely cabin steward Melroy put up balloons for Grandma Kiwicakes. The kids were thrilled about this, as they had seen balloons all over doors around the ship, in the week leading up to Grandma's birthday and were hoping some were coming our way.

Before I left NZ, I had arranged for a cheesecake & bubbles to be delivered to Grandma Kiwicake's cabin. Perhaps if I had truly fathomed how much food is available on board I might not have done this - however it was inexpensive to organise at only $30NZ for both cake & bubbles. It was delivered at 12 noon as requested, but afterwards Grandma Kiwicake's was too full to eat any lunch. The cake although cheesecake, was not cheesecake as we know it - it had a very thin top and bottom layer of light as air sponge and then the cheesecake filling was light as air. All of this meant we could eat a really big piece (and seconds) The roses on top were marzipan, my favourite!.

It wasn't all food food food, I promise!. I did a premium wine tasting event which was well attended by other passengers. Poor DH agreed to join me, right after he'd just attended a 1 hour whiskey tasting.

We sampled 6 different wines, 1 pinot noir red bubbly 2 whites & 3 reds. Each wine was presented by a different member of P&O's staff.

We received a snazzy little book, that gave wine notes & other interesting facts & figures. The regular wine tasting (which I missed earlier in the cruise) was $16 and premium wine tasting was $22.

In Part 1 I introduced you to Armando, he is a highly skilled carver. I was thrilled to find he was holding an ice carving demo on the upper deck. I was surprised to find that a beautiful swan only takes him 15 minutes to carve.

These are his tools

The water is set with ammonia & gelatine, to make it clear and to prevent it from breaking easily, during the carving process.

As part of the ship's entertainment, there is a Pacific Cirque on board, these acrobats perform high rise acts out on the open decks. As well as indoors int he atrium and theatre. One evening I took the kids along to an aprx 30 minute laser light show, featuring Pacific Cirque in the Atrium area (reception).

If you look closely, you'll see an acrobat up the silken drop

It was not an easy feat to get the laser lights to show up in a photo. I took many photos, these meagre offerings were the best of them

Another of Armando's ice carvings featured on a lighted stand during the laser light show.

Tune in a little later for Part 3 (life in the galley kitchen)

COMPETITION: (Drawn Thursday January 19th 2012)
To win your very own copy of "holidays" - the award winning travel book from P&O. Simply leave me a comment below. Tell me have you been on a cruise?, where did you go?. Or if you haven't - where would you like to go? Make sure I have a way to contact you if you are the winner.

P&O Says this about this stunning book:
Featuring more than 60 delicious recipes from the Australian cruise line’s culinary team, the cookbook is a celebration of the transformation of P&O Cruises’ food and wine offering.

Following a massive overhaul three years ago, the cruise line’s fleet now features a contemporary menu specifically designed for the Australian palate and built around Australian and New Zealand produce and local wines.

The emphasis on freshness and flavour is evident throughout holidays, with recipes ranging from macadamia nut pancakes with mango and maple syrup to wagyu burgers and spatchcock with eggplant salad.

holidays also offers delicious desserts – from amaretti baked peaches to apple tarte tatin - alongside cocktail and canapĂ© options such as lychee mojitos and mustard and sesame seared tuna loin with wasabi.
P&O Cruises Corporate Executive Chef Uwe Stiefel said the holidays collection featured the cruise line’s signature dishes and passenger favourites.

“Australians and New Zealanders love their food – they love to try different tastes and they love to eat well on their holidays so our cuisine is a very important part of the cruise experience,” Uwe said.

“Each of our four ships has more than 90 chefs, patissiers and bakers onboard who take delivery of close to 100 tonnes of produce every cruise and work around the clock to deliver delicious meals to everyone on board. The results are in this cookbook.”

With multiple restaurants offering an array of food from breakfast until late each day, Uwe’s team oversees more than 16,000 recipes.

“It was hard to choose 60 for our book, but we have selected an array of our passengers’ top dishes so that people can now enjoy our food at home as well as onboard our ships.”

Passenger favourites included in holidays include pork belly with scallops and red pepper pesto, coral trout with lentil salad and butter sauce, and cookies and cream cheesecake.

“The recipes are delicious but they are also easy to prepare– after all if you’re on holidays you don’t want to spend all your time in the kitchen!” Uwe said.

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