Cruising is as much about eating as ocean views. But today's upscale lines pride themselves on gourmet eats, even tapping celebrity chefs to oversee their dining options (hence "cruise bloat").
Norwegian Cruise Line's newest ship, the Breakaway, is due to set sail in April 2013, and with 17 different dining options, eating is bound to be one of the ship's most popular pastimes. This 4,000 passenger ocean liner will sail from New York City to Bermuda in the summer and from the Bahamas to Florida and the Caribbean in the winter. The ship will even be home to Ocean Blue, a new venture by Food Network star Geoffrey Zakarian.
Last night, a group of South Florida foodies were invited to taste test items from the Breakaway's menu. As only the second group to grace the gleaming new test kitchen at Norwegian's corporate headquarters (second only to Mr. Zakarian's crew), we were treated to an extensive array of eats.
Hosted by #foodiechats, a Monday night Tweetup for food lovers everywhere, the group was a conglomeration of bloggers, journalists, PR folks and avid Tweeters. Each time a course arrived, 20-some-odd smartphones open to Instagram hovered around the food. As one attendee Tweeted: "Tweetups rock because they're the only social situation where it's rude to NOT be on your phone. Right, @steveGOgreen? #Foodiechats"
We sampled a whole array of courses, including:
A delicate vodka and mango pearl with pineapple and jalapeño salsa.
Tangy salmon tartare with honey mustard dressing, red bell pepper and cucumber salad.
Crunchy fried calamari with a parmesan cheese crust.
Sweet, flavorful crab cakes with grilled portobello and spicy remoulade.
An insane Willy Wonka-style dessert spread.
Guests Tweeted the answers to #foodiechat's questions (including "What's your favorite thing to dip in chocolate?" and "How do you like your pasta?") while balancing glasses of wine and plates piled high with food.
The standouts, by far, were the sweet, creamy crab cakes (one of their signature items); the exquisitely delicate seared seabass with pineapple mango salsa & jalapeño cream.and the chocolate madness that was the dessert table. There were peanut butter cake pops, mini M&M chocolate bars, orange creme truffles, pecan peanut brittle and other indulgences. So much, in fact, that we all left with to-go boxes chock full of chocolate.
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The evening was an indulgent introduction to what's sure to be a gluttonous ride on the high seas. If last night was any indication, the Breakaway's passengers can expect to head home five pounds heavier. And happier.
You can check out a play by play of last night's event on Twitter by searching the hashtags #foodiechats and #norwegianbreakaway.