Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Cruising - The Chef's Table

I've been gone for a week and I have TONS of stories and recipes to share, but first I want to finish my series of posts about cruising to the Bahamas...

I saved the best for last.  This is my fourth and final post about our cruise to the Bahamas.  (Check out the rest of this series here, here and here.)

It's already established that my I love to cook, I love to cruise and I appreciate and enjoy great food.  Since I'm a major cruise enthusiast, I joined Cruise Critic, a website just for cruise lovers like me.  You can thoroughly research any ship, cruise line or excursion with the help of this site.  I'm a researcher, so I read as much as possible about our trip before we left home.  In my research I learned about a new opportunity offered on all Carnival cruise ships:  The Chef's Table.

Like the steakhouse, The Chef's Table is an upgraded dining experience.  For $75 (per person) we had the opportunity to enjoy a seven course meal hosted by the head chef on the Carnival Pride.  The experience lasted nearly four hours.  It began with drinks and appetizers in the ship's galley (kitchen) during the dinner hour followed by seven courses served in a private dining room.  We enjoyed this special experience with just five other couples.  It was really special and we agree that it's the best meal we've eaten in 2011.  When I thought of a Carnival cruise, I pictured a family cruise with typical food and a casual atmosphere... this dining experience exceeded my expectations.  I couldn't believe I was on a Carnival ship!

I couldn't take any photos of during our galley tour, but we met in one of the lounges on the ship and we were taken behind the scenes to see the cooks and servers preparing meals for the dinner rush.  We had sparkling wine and several appetizers while we met different members of the chef's team.  After the tour and appetizers we moved on to our dinner table...

Our "private dining room" was actually the dance floor in the night club!  Other ships choose different venues for The Chef's Table, but it's always some special alternate place on the ship.  I loved the way the floor glowed throughout the meal.  It was really interesting and special to have a sophisticated meal in a place that's usually full of people and loud music.

Details, details!  I loved the place cards!  Even our servers knew our names from the moment we walked in the room.

You'll notice that I'm not in any of these pictures.  I was too busy trying to be discrete with my photography to ask anyone to take a photo of me.  Just know that I looked very nice in a black maxi dress and sandals and that I had a great time.

Once we were seated we started with salmon tartare...

Yes, I ate raw salmon and banana puree.  Together.  And it was good... seriously.

Next we had a roasted red pepper soup with corn.  First they bring out a bowl with the roasted corn...

Then they top it with the roasted red pepper soup...

Next we had shrimp fritters...

Who doesn't like fried shrimp?

We also had salmon topped with a lobster froth...

I may be forgetting a few courses... just know that it was a lot of different dishes!

Filet mignon, cooked to order, of course...

And just when you thought it couldn't get any more indulgent... dessert!

A raspberry sorbet topped with a strip of chewy coconut candy... a vanilla cake encased in a cage made of sugar.  (These aren't the technical names for the dishes, it's just how I remember them.)

So that sums up our four-hour (!) dinner experience.  We also received a group photo of the table with the chef and a cookbook.  If you have an adventurous palate I think it's well worth the price.  It was definitely a highlight of our vacation.

Has anyone else ever indulged in a ridiculously elaborate dining experience?  What's the best meal you've had in 2011?


  1. I didn't even know this was an option! When we book our cruise(because you have convinced me I must!), I will inquire about the Chef's table :) As for the best meal I've had in 2011, definitely our anniversary dinner at the Washington Inn in Cape May! We always splurge on a nice meal for our anniversary :)

  2. Wow, you have really turned my opinion on cruises. It's now something I must try! Btw, the look on E's face when they brought out the dessert was priceless. Totally made me laugh, and I really needed it.

  3. Thank you for posting these wonderful pictures and describing what we should expect!

  4. Your blog post was very helpful because we will be on our way in two weeks on Nov 24th!! I signed my husband, teenage son, and myself up for this and we are so excited! Great post. Ericasrunningjourney.blogspot.com


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