Get To Know: UltraLuxed Cruise Dining
Crystal Cruises has a way of taking what we consider part of the cruise experience and making it extra special. They do that as only a cruise line dedicated to ultraluxing everything they do can. We’ve seen ultraluxed cruise itineraries like sailings this summer between Dublin and London on Crystal Serenity, exploring the rolling green countryside; medieval monuments, castles and bustling pubs of Ireland and Scotland. Standard fare shore excursions are ultraluxed into Overland Adventures like a Gorilla Tracking Experience or Crystal Adventures that range from an immersive Game Of Thrones experience to visiting the Monaco Grand Prix. It should be no surprise that when Crystal set out to ultraluxe cruise dining that amazing results would ensue.
Not Too Shabby In The Past
From the industry’s first specialty restaurants and onboard herb gardens to the only place to find Nobu Matsuhisa cuisine at sea, Crystal Cruises has always been a culinary leader. They not only listen closely to their guests, but introduces product enhancements to them before they even ask. Such is the case with a main dining room experience that looks to be Michelin star bound.
“In recent years, seasoned diners’ palates have become increasingly more sophisticated, wanting more than grilled porterhouses and butter-drenched lobster tails for gourmet foodie experiences, ” notes Toni Neumeister Vice President of Hotel Procurement and Food and Beverage Operations.
Giving Culinary Staff The Right Tools For The Job
To enable Crystal’s highly-trained executive chefs to engage the doctrines of molecular gastronomy, new high-tech galley equipment was installed. Insuring fresh and varied ingredients, Crystal expanded their sourcing, bringing on board less from the semi-trucks we see lined up on embarkation day and more from local purveyors.
The result has been more than 100 new dishes showcasing modern epicurean artistry. Some examples:
- Strawberries Romanoff, re-imagined, comprised of Cotton Candy dome that melts immediately upon having strawberry consommé poured over it, revealing a flourless fresh berry-almond cake with vanilla anglaise hidden underneath;
- Shiraz-braised Oxtail Ragout served with an egg poached to silky perfection over almost an hour of slow cooking
- Scallop and Tuna Tartare with flavored citrus foam, white miso soup poured over, and olive oil “caviar” balls that explode with cold flavor when bitten into.
New Menu Design
The latest expansion may be Crystal’s biggest gastronomic change ever, but not one that casts aside tradition and passenger favorites, as reflected in a new menu design that changed daily and has vegetarian selections indicated throughout
- On the left side is a “Modern” menu that always includes two appetizers, one soup, meat and fish or seafood entrées, two desserts, and a course of cheeses curated by the line’s cheese sommeliers.
- On the right is a more traditional, “Classic” multi-course menu featuring several appetizer, soup, salad, pasta, main course, and side choices.
- On the back of the “Classic” menu is a more extensive selection of desserts, including the modern options and cheeses, plus additional sugar-free, frozen, and baked selections from the ships’ Executive Pastry Chefs.
Want to mix it up? Not a problem, with guests allowed to pick-and-choose among each side to create their ultimate feast
Ultraluxing Kitchens Into Creative Spaces
To enable ultraluxing the culinary experience, Crystal went far beyond a simple new menu rollout. While they probably still have flat-top grills, deep fryers and other kitchen equipment associated with feeding thousands in a single service, Crystal brought on board new equipment, some never before seen at sea.
A quick primer on new equipment in the kitchens of Crystal Cruises
- Pacojets – micro-purees deep-frozen foods into ultra-fine textures, without thawing.
- Immersion Circulators – uses prolonged cooking of food in sealed packages in a water bath at lower temperatures.
- High Emulsion Blenders – mix liquids not normally blendable.
- Dehydrators – speeds drying process of fresh ingredients.
- Smoke guns– Infuse foods with natural smoky flavors without the extra heat.
- Spray guns – spray everything from chocolate to melted butter, oil, chocolate, jelly, sauces and more.
Crystal chefs studied the science behind food then, using this new equipment became masters in techniques unknown to the kitchen staff on most cruise lines, including:
- Precision temperature cooking– “cooked to perfection” becomes more than a buzz phrase
- Spherification– the process of shaping a liquid into spheres which visually and texturally resemble caviar
- Ice Filtration– a way of removing nearly all the solids within a liquid, producing brilliant clarity
- Hydrocolloid Stabilization, using natural additives like gellan gum to alter ingredients’ consistencies.
And Then Comes The Magic
With these tools and skills, chefs can now transform rasberries into noodle-like ribbons, lemons into sugar-like “snow”, spinach and beet root into pea-shaped balls, and lobster essence into an airy foam, without losing the flavors or textures that make the ingredients so mouth-watering.
What does all this produce? See for yourself