World on a Plate

Exploring culture. One plate at a time.

Month: April, 2006

Six Course Lunch on the Bay


On Monday I participated in one of my first industry activities, a tour of a cruise ship and a passenger dining experience…that is a gourmet six-course lunch in the main dining room. As I have never sailed on a cruise this was a bit of an adventure. I’m not here to give my personal preferences on this type of travel but merely to give a peek into lunch.

Cruise ship cuisine, due to market competition, been upgraded in the past few years. Norwegian Cruise Lines first embarked on this effort when it introduced specialty restaurants on its ships.  While the desire and ability may exist in the galley the challenge is the ingredients. According to a recent New York Times article, chefs need to know that they will have access to ingredients worldwide and that the quality of those ingredients will be consistent. Remember some of these ships can accommodate up to 1,800 people–it’s a small floating city.

Many celebrity chefs are at the helm, ok in the kitchen consulting–Jacques Pepin for Oceania; Charlie Palmer for Seabourn; Todd English is over at Cunard; Jacques Thorel for SilverSea and Nobu Matsuhisa for Crystal and the big coup was Carnival hiring 3-star Michelin chef Georges Blanc who is going to overhaul the whole dining experience from menus to training.  Celebrity, the line I was touring, has 2-star Michelin chef and noted cookbook author Michel Roux,  who designs the menu and wine lists, while also assisting with training the executive restaurant staff. He also frequently “mystery cruises” various ships to ensure that there is consistency in quality and performance. Menus are revised every six months. In addition there is a growing trend in cruising featuring a well-know chef who will teach or event’s such as Seabourn’s Great American Food & Wine Festival on the open sea.
Here is the lunch menu. Overall the man was pretty good. Standouts were the artfully-plated and perfectly cooked duck and a well prepared plum sauce; a thyme-infused sherbet and the iced chocolate terrine which although I couldn’t figure out was iced nor terrine about it (more of a mousse, really) I had absolutely no shame in finishing. But seriously who could eat this way for 11 days?



Oriental Duck in Ginger Spiced Pancake with Plum Sauce and Pickled Cucumber


Double Beef Oxtail Consomme with a Pot au Feu Garnish


Meli-Melo of Mesculun Mulberry Oak Balsamic Vinaigrette


Thyme and Lime Sherbet


Mille-Feuliles of Halibut and Crisp Potatoes Mousseline of Green Asparagus


Iced Chocolate Terrine, Orange Caramel Sauce



Eating Alone – Poetry Repast

    Eating Alone

I’ve pulled the last of the year’s young onions.
The garden is bare now. The ground is cold,
brown and old. What is left of the day flames
in the maples at the corner of my
eye. I turn, a cardinal vanishes.
By the cellar door, I wash the onions,
then drink from the icy metal spigot.

Once, years back, I walked beside my father
among the windfall pears. I can’t recall
our words. We may have strolled in silence. But
I still see him bend that way-left hand braced
on knee, creaky-to lift and hold to my
eye a rotten pear. In it, a hornet
spun crazily, glazed in slow, glistening juice.

It was my father I saw this morning
waving to me from the trees. I almost
called to him, until I came close enough
to see the shovel, leaning where I had
left it, in the flickering, deep green shade.

White rice steaming, almost done. Sweet green peas
fried in onions. Shrimp braised in sesame
oil and garlic. And my own loneliness.
What more could I, a young man, want.

Li-Young Lee

Read the rest of this entry »

5 or < | Peanut Butter Pound Cake


It appears that I have a growing penchant for all things peanut butter. I knew it was there. I just didn’t the degree until I offered this elegant cake up for breakfast with coffee to S&K while overnighting in Sonoma. They both asked what my thing was with peanut butter. I think it’s a pretty classic, versatile and perfect food–and I’m not alone. Here in America it’s considered a pantry staple as it appears in 75% of our shelves. Recent reports state that consumption of this spread has increased more than 10 per cent since 2001, with Americans eating an average of three pounds a year. It’s also high in fiber, protein and low in saturated fat.

Other PB recipes on this site there’s the recent award to Della Fattoria for their Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookie, Gourmet Cook the Cover winner Black & Tans; the very elegant Chocolate Peanut Butter Terrine, and another 5 or <  Peanut Butter Cookies, and finally a favorite snack mentioned here is Nutella and peanut butter. I also have a Thai sesame noodle recipe that I’ll need to share soon.

This is a recipe developed by teacher and columnist of the SF Chronicle’s "The Baker", Flo Braker that appears in the 1997 San Francisco Chronicle Cookbook.  This collection is  a two-volume set and I really wish they would get their act together and publish a third volume as it so perfectly encapsulates San Francisco and it’s food or as Publisher’s Weekly so says, "ethnically influenced, well-constructed recipes from the agricultural and culinary Eden of Northern California."

Peanut Butter Pound Cake

Imagedb_4 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter

1 1/2 cups sugar

1/2 cup creamy peanut butter

5 large eggs

2 cups unsifted all-purpose flour

Adjust oven rack to be in the lower third of the oven; preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 9" x 5" loaf pan.

Using an electric mixer, cream the butter until light; add the sugar and beat until fluffy.  Add the peanut butter and beat until fluffy.  Add the eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Blend in the flour in 2 additions, mixing until thoroughly combined.  Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan and spread evenly.

Bake for 65 minutes, or until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Note:  I found the flavor of the peanut butter to be more pronounced the next day.  So, plan ahead!