Eating, drinking and being merry
Some of you may be wondering what one eats on a trip like this. (I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned the champagne already?)
After the Nobu experience on night one, we did bagels and coffee for breakfast, then had a light but nutritious lunch of self-composed salad (every ingredient under the sun) though other guests were seen queueing for soup, a carvery and curry with rice. Trickily, and to what end I know not, they lay out the dessert bar at the beginning of your obligatory recce – perhaps so you know how much room to leave for that miniature creme brulee, that tiny lime jelly, the mini chocolate roulade. We ate overlooking Auckland’s Hilton hotel, cleverly designed to look like a ship itself. I forewent the champagne, making friends instead with ginger ale.
Then at 3.30 we did high tea (see previous post), purposely not going overboard (pun acknowledged) so we would have room for whatever amuse-bouche Sebastian would bring us at 6pm, as the ship left port (in lieu of prawn cocktail, we opted for guacamole and corn chips).
Dinner was in the main Crystal Dining room, where guests are split into early (6.15) and late sittings (we young folk were automatically given the 8.30 slot). You are given several (maybe four?) options under Appetiser, Entree, Main, including low-this-and-that alternatives which all look delicious. I went for a chicken broth with one large cheese tortellini (delish) to get me started, then straight into an exquisite piece of herb-encrusted lemon sole on a dollop of prawn and sweetcorn risotto, with two mange tout (perhaps more aptly therefore “mange deux”) and a blanched, skinned cherry tomato. Heavenly. This was accompanied by a glass of pinot grigio (going easy after the Night Before). The Banker said her steak was so succulent you hardly needed to touch it with a knife before it melted on consumption. She drank a syrah/grenache blend.
At this point I should probably admit that I was raised on large portion sizes and to finish everything on the plate. My fish and risotto looked a little, well, modest when it was served, and as I thoroughly enjoyed every morsel for a moment there I wondered whether it would be the done thing to order another. Thank heavens I didn’t say this out loud, because given pause I rapidly realised I was indeed sated, and ready for just the tiniest wee sweet something to round things off.
The dessert menu is considerably longer. Overwhelmed by the promise of chocolate mousse roulades and blueberry crumbles and sugar-free banana loaf, I went for two scoops of ice cream (so that’s what cookie dough is all about), and a greedy attempt at an Austrian dessert wine “just because you can”.
Tonight we are booked into the other specialty restaurant, Prego. I love Italian more than anything, my favourite restaurant at home being called Prego, so once I have taken in the pre-dinner performance of Australia’s most talented pianist, I will be very ready to see how my shipboard equivalent compares. Oh, wait – that’s after Sebastian brings us our cheese plate to accompany the bottle of bubbles cooling in our fridge.