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FOOD LOVERS


Mediterranean A taste


of the Princess Cruises are justly proud of their reputation for culinary excellence.


Gary Buchanan explores the variety of the Med on a voyage guaranteed to delight the most fastidious of food-lovers


A


s I embarked Grand Princess at Southampton for a 14-night cruise to the Mediterranean I was looking forward to a tour de force in food and wine – and for good reason. Princess Cruises’ passion for culinary arts is best expressed by its ‘CHEF’ motto, which stands for Culinary Heritage of Excellence in Food. This underscores the line’s long tradition of employing world-class chefs who create exceptional dishes using only the finest ingredients. This might sound a bold claim but the entire Princess Cruises’ fleet has been inducted into the prestigious Chaîne des Rôtisseurs gastronomic society – an accolade that isn’t bestowed without very good reason. I was curious to see how they set such high culinary standards when catering en masse on board ship. And thanks to the ‘Ultimate Ship Tour’ I was able to find out for myself. The tour allowed me to access nearly all areas of the ship for a glimpse of life below decks. Whilst it costs $150 for this three-hour sneak-peek, a maximum of 12 passengers get to see behind the scenes and watch some of the 224 chefs and crew at work in the 28,000-square-foot galleys that are spread across two decks.


Our guide through this labyrinth that included a garde-manger, butcher’s shop, and bakery was Executive chef David McDonald Greves. This charismatic South African explained that while the culinary executive team at Princess HQ in LA create recipes and menus, he does estimate daily requirements and makes orders for locally sourced produce. I asked how he copes with ensuring food


38 | APRIL/MAY 2012


is at its freshest and he explained that on a 14-night Mediterranean cruise supplies are brought on board in Southampton and again seven days later in Civitavecchia (for Rome).


the entire fleet


has been inducted into the prestigious chaîne des rÔtisseurs


This particular ‘back stage’ tour also included visits to the ship’s navigation bridge, engine control room, medical centre, print shop, photo lab, funnel, laundry and dressing room where the cast of the production shows get changed before their performances. Princess Cruises believe in imparting appreciation of fine cuisine to passengers at an early age. Youngsters on board all Princess ships can sign up for the Youth Centre Programme and take part in ‘Junior Chefs at Sea’. They have the opportunity to go behind the scenes into the galley for a masterclass as well as participate fun tasks such as cake decoration. Their work is


judged by one of the chefs and the kids receive an apron, chef’s hat and commemorative photograph. These sessions cost $25 per child.


FOOD FIT FOR A KING


That night we dined in the Crown Grill. The menu included aged Australian sterling silver steaks and chops. I had a black tiger prawn and papaya salpicon, mustard seed aioli and an Anna potato salad; an eight-ounce filet mignon seasoned with rock salts accompanied by creamed spinach and sautéed mushrooms; followed by an indulgent molten Dutch chocolate fudge obsession. It was worth every cent of the $25 supplement. The sybaritic mood prevailed in Barcelona where we arranged a private tour to the Freixenet Caves.


8 CRUISE-INTERNATIONAL.COM


PHOTOS: PRINCESS CRUISES/ISTOCK


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