Saturday, May 5, 2012

The Great Silversea Cook-off

Today I spent the entire day at sea, cruising at a leisurely pace between Beijing and Shanghai, so that we would be able to navigate the narrow river into Shanghai over a delicious lunch and step off our boat, the Silver Shadow, in time for a stroll along the Bund and a bit of shopping before dinner.

But today was all about relaxation.

We had breakfast on the terrace of our ship’s Italian restaurant, called La Terrazza, where I had my usual carrot-green apple-and cucumber juice – which is probably the next best thing to having a bunch of Juju juices delivered to your home, when you’re out of town.

Carrots/green apples/ cucumber juice is my standard poison on  a Silversea cruise, along with cases of San Pelligrino and lots of ice, and champagne.


In fact, I just realized today how much of an impression my daily juice orders have made through all the cruises and the years.

While we were having a galley lunch with a couple from Australia who bred race horses for international competitions, one of the Filipino waiters approached me as I sat by myself since everyone else had gone into the galley for a second round.

He said: “You may not remember me, but I’ve been a waiter on three of your cruises now in the last twelve months. I was your waiter on your first night on the Silver Spirit (which is the larger and newer ship of Silversea), when you had dinner with some Singaporeans on the Bali to Manila cruise. And I was still your waiter on Silver Spirit when you took it from Lisbon to Barcelona three months later.”

And then here he was on the Silver Shadow sailing from Tokyo to Shanghai once again.

And he said that when he’d heard that someone was placing a standing order once again for carrots/ cucumber and green apples for juicing on a daily basis, he just knew it had to be me.


Anyway, just before lunch today, the crew set up two kitchen workstations in the ship’s auditorium and the four top chefs on the Silver Shadow paired themselves off into an Italian team and a French team for a cook-off. 

Both teams were randomly handed a bag of ingredients and they had 20 minutes to make something delicious – or at least something edible – while we all watched in amusement.

Frankly, I’m not one for watching live cooking demonstrations.

But this one was lots of fun because the two top chefs representing one from each team – a French chef named Jerome and a British chef named David – kept teasing each other while they cooked, and we all listened with great amusement.

Jerome and the French team

David's Italian team

Impressively, in spite of all the jokes and good-natured ribbing, the food turned out to be pretty good. We all got to taste it afterwards and for a 20-minute cooking thing out of nothing, it was certainly delicious.

Jerome did a very French twist on his bag of ingredients (scallops and beef) by making a very simply scallops carpaccio and a nice beef steak with some kind of sauce.

There was no garlic in his bag of ingredients, and he lamented this endlessly: “A French cook without his garlic is unthinkable,” he kept saying. Still, he produced a very tasty dish.

Meanwhile, David created a nice roasted lamb with a parmesan crust, and a sautéed fish dish. Many people actually liked this combination better, but I personally was partial to Jerome’s version.

At the end we were all asked to vote and of course it had all been lots of fun rather than serious competition; so without even talking about it, we all decided to award points to the two teams equally – they all won for delicious food and pretty fun entertainment at sea, enroute to Shanghai. 

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Life should not be measured by the number of breaths you take, 
but by the number of amazing places you visit 
that simply take your breath away.

Everywhere you want to be.
Arriving in Shanghai in style, 
and our boat is now parked next to the Bund.

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