Sunday, October 5, 2008

Goldring Travel's 2008 Food & Wine Cruise on the Seabourn Spirit: Travelogue Part III (The Food & Wine Tasting!)

Oh, the last day.  How I hate...and love...the last day. 
After a bit of a sleep-in it was up to the Veranda for a quick breakfast, a stop by the Purser's Desk to make sure things were organized for the Food & Wine Tasting and then off to the lounge to watch Jochem make his White Plum Tomato Soup and a dessert at 11:00 a.m.  He is a wonderful chef, very friendly and has a sparkle in his eye whenever someone shows interest by asking him a question.  He was, in a way, a "Guest Chef" as he was on the Seabourn Spirit only shortly and is heading to Miami to assist with ordering the various galley equipment needed on the Seabourn Odyssey.

After a quick break it was time for the Galley Market Lunch.  For those who are not familiar, the entire galley staff puts together a huge buffet of everything ranging from fondue to sushi, soft shell crabs to pasta, fried chicken to fish 'n chips with mushy peas, to...well you get the idea.  All of it is set out in the galley so you have the chance to explore the galley while you enjoy the wonderful foods.  That is followed by a beautiful dessert display laid out in the dining room. 

Then it was off to the forward hot tub to relax for a few minutes before making the final preparations for the Food & Wine Tasting. 

There were many on the Seabourn Spirit who were fascinated by my little private tasting as it is something that is exclusively a Goldring Travel event.  As there is much more to this event than just placing down some food and sharing some wine, it is something that I am very proud to be able to offer my clients.  For me the fun is tasting the wines, comparing them and then matching and mismatching them with the foods. 

While Chef Jochem did not provide as many personally created dishes as did Chef Willy on last year's cruise, he did a great job of finding very traditional Greek and Turkish items in the local shops...and if we had 50 people present we would have had leftovers! Thank you so much!  (BTW, the sort of nutty and chewy sweet which some of us loved and thought we had tasted in our youth was, as I later found out, pressed fig and dates with pistachios.)

We started out with a tasting of 16 different olive oils from the area as well as Croatia and some funky blends from California.  It was a lot of fun getting our group to get their noses working and to see their surprise that the flavors were so different from one oil to the next.

Now, for the wines.  We tasted a total of 9 wines; 8 I picked up along the way and 1 supplied by Seabourn.  Without boring you or turning this into a wine tasting class, we found that the "brand name" Turkish white was quite hot, too high in alcohol and, basically terrible.  We tasted two different 2007 Santorini whites finding one to be a truly wonderful, full wine while the other was just OK.  Our fourth white was a funky apple wine that, when pared with fruit was surprisingly good!

Ironically, since the Turkish white was so bad, we were quite suprised to find the biggest and richest nose to be found in a local wine from Sirince, Turkey...and that strangely it had almost no taste when sampled.  As if playing with us, a truly local wine from Sirince (absent any labels or foil...a house wine, if you will) had almost no nose, but was voted the best of all the wines for taste.  (As a fun experiment we nosed the first one and drank the second one...and many in our group then learned about the expertise needed to blend wines:  It worked!)  We also sampled a 1999 red from Katakalon, Greece which was a bit musty and a bit past its prime, but I thought it was quite good paired with the feta and goat cheeses.

Then it was dessert wines.  We sampled two that could not be any more different...and they both were from Santorini; one from 2004 and one from 2003.   The former had a light, fruity, aspect with lots of sugar while the latter drank like a tawny port. We agreed the 2003 was wonderful on its own, but the 2004 only came to life when drunk with some of the dessert items.

After two hours, it was time to...I hate to say it...pack.  Then it was off to yet another wonderful dinner.  All through the tasting everyone said they just couldn't eat anything more, that they would hardly eat any dinner, that maybe skipping dinner would be the thing to do.  Alas, I am sure you know that everyone could not resist any part of their final (for this cruise) Seabourn dinner.
Then, the biggest compliment of all, when I returned to my suite after dinner to put out my bags there was an envelop.  It contained confirmations for every single one of my guests confirmed for the 2009 Food & Wine Cruise on the Seabourn Spirit on September 26, 2009!