November 16, 2018
Oceania Cruise line is well-known for its culinary prowess in the dining room. What you might not know is that they started the at-sea culinary class revolution, which is now in full swing on the high seas with most cruises in the luxury category offering several options for learning about local cuisine geared toward your itinerary.
Our cruise from Barcelona to Miami offered several culinary classes held in their state-of-the-art culinary demonstration-teaching center. Given our embarkation location and the cruise being a transatlantic crossing, you’d not be surprised to see courses on Spanish cuisine and the bounties of the seas.
We booked ahead – well before our departure – the Viva España and If It Swims courses; highly recommended as these courses are becoming very, very popular.
At the Viva España course we prepared –
Patatas Bravas with Smoky Paprika Aioli (recipe below)
Pan Con Tomate
We were served Sangria Blanca as well.
At the If It Swims course we prepared –
Pesce All’Acqua Pazza (fish in crazy water)
Salmon Wraps A la Canyon Ranch
Fish Tacos with Asian Slaw and Sriracha Crema
Chef Kellie prepared Aquavit-cured Gravlax for us and served a good white wine.
These classes were offered in the shop's Culinary Center. This is a onboard cooking classroom offers two classes each day while at sea with a variety of topics throughout the cruise. At some ports, they offer shore side shopping trips to local market.
The classes are well run and fun. On Riviera, they're headed up by Chef Kellie Evans, formerly an associate food editor at Saveur Magazine. She commands a staff of 3 or 4 assistants. As a team they make the sessions fun, informative, and easy. Most of the tedious tasks of preparing your mise en place (all the cutting, chopping, and measuring) is taken care of by the staff. If there's a special technique that called for there will be a demonstration before you get to try it for yourself. You get to do all the cooking, assembling, and plating - and eating! - yourself. And the best part: they also do all the cleanup afterwards!
After the orientation to our workstations and introduction to what we'll be cooking, everyone comes to the front demonstration station where Chef explains a little about the dish, the ingredients, and the techniques involved as she shows how it's done. The we all go back to our own stations and try to replicate what she just did. The staff comes around to make sure we're on track and answer questions.
When one step or dish is done, we move back up to the front to learn about the next step. We're back and forth as we progress through all of the dishes in the course. Eating as we go.
Each session last for 2 hours, but the time goes by far too quickly.
Read more about The Culinary Center here: https://www.oceaniacruises.com/ships/riviera/life-on-board/culinary-center/
This recipe below is from the Viva España class. We made this Patatas Brava dish as well as the obligatory tapas Pan Con Tomate, and Paella. All while enjoying Sangria Blanca. Look for some more of these recipes in coming weeks.
- 2 cloves garlic
- 2 egg yolks
- 1 cup olive oil extra virgin
- 2 each paquillo peppers
- 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
- 1 tbsp Spanish smoked paprika
- 1 Dash hot sauce Tabasco or Cholula
- 1 Splash Aged Sherry Vinegar
- 2 lbs Russet potatoes peeled
- 2 cups olive oil
- kosher salt to taste
- Make a smooth paste of the garlic by smashing it with the flat edge of a chef knife.
- Whisk the egg yolks in a medium sized bowl until just pale. This should only take about 1 mimute.
- While still whisking the eggs, begin adding the olive oil in a small, consistent, stream as an emulsion forms.
- As the emulsion reaches the consistency of a thinner mayonnaise, stir in the mashed garlic, lemon juice, paprika and hot sauce.
- Set aside.
- Cut the potatoes to about 1 1/2 inch (under 4 cm) cubes. Cover with water. These will need to sit for at least two hours before draining allowed to dry.
- Heat the remaining olive oil in a heavy-bottom pan on medium heat until 375 degrees F (163 C). Add the potatoes and cook until lightly browned.
- Remove potatoes from the oil and transfer to paper towels to drain. Let rest 20 minutes. Meanwhile, raise the temperature of the oil to 375 degrees F (191 C). Fry the potatoes again until crisp and lightly brown.
- Transfer to fresh paper towels to drain. Sprinkle with kosher salt while still hot.
Finish and Serve
- Divide the potatoes into 4 servings or in a larger bowl to serve "family style." Drizzle with the aioli. For extra flair, put a poached egg on top.