Ovation of the Seas – Chefs Table

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I’m typing while floating off the west coast of Australia.  On a cruise ship. And not just any ship – the luxurious Ovation of the Seas, a four-year-old cruise ship on the Royal Caribbean line.

We’re on our family honeymoon (yep, the WHOLE family including in-laws).  We boarded the ship in Singapore on a 14-day repositioning cruise. This means the ship is headed for Australia where it will run a series of cruises in our neighbourhood until next April.  After then, it will head to Hawaii then onto Alaska.

Ovation of the Seas is slightly unusual in that it literally travels around the world rather than being based in just one location.  It has visited around 70 countries already in the last four years and was based out of China in the last season.  So if you want to enjoy the ship while it is still in Australia, now is the time to go for it.

As a special honeymoon treat, my Neil booked us a Chef’s Table dinner (USD$95 a head).  This is a private dining room set in the back of the Chops Grille restaurant on board.  The highlight is not just enjoying fine dining paired with some amazing wines, but the opportunity to meet Chef Prasath.

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Being a frugalista, I wondered if it would be worth it – especially as the three-course meal at American Icon that we are enjoying every night is already good.  But this is a special event for special occasions – if you have an anniversary, birthday or enjoying a honeymoon like we are, then this is something special.

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On arrival at Chef’s Table, we were greeted by our Croatian maitre d’, Drazen, who gave us a complimentary kir royale (prosecco with crème de cassis liqueur). I love a good kir royale so I was immediately in a good mood.

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The first course was finely sliced scallop carpaccio with yuzu vinaigrette and crispy quinoa. (Note: this dish is an Instagrammers nightmare with its white on white presentation – my photos look blah!) I almost didn’t recognise the quinoa as it looked more like chia seeds.  The light dish was served with a Sancerre Sauvignon Blanc from France.  From the Louvre Valley, Sancerre has been one of the top five producers of Sauvignon Blanc from many years. I find it interesting to compare with New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs: this was lighter with more of a passion fruit fragrance.

The smoked tomato soup was presented at the table in a china teapot and poured onto crème fraiche, croutons and parmesan.  It was a surprisingly strong and rich flavour and paired well with the bold wine.  Mer Doleil, Cardonnay Rserva was from the Santa Lucia Highlands in California.  It had been aged in oak for 16 months yet it had not assumed a strong oak flavour. Instead, it was strong, fruity, yet not too sweet, complex and sophisticated. I liked this wine, and so did our maitre d’, who declared it was his favourite of all the wines he had chosen.

Who doesn’t love lobster tails?  Here, Chef Prasath went tropical serving it with a strong mango and vanilla dressing combining it with hearts of palm and pineapple.  This was an interesting choice and as we were not long out of Singapore at the time I thought it was fitting.  It was paired with a dry white wine from Burgundy- Domaine William Fevre Chamblis premier Cru Chardonnay.  I felt this wine didn’t quite manage to cut through the sweetness of the mango – almost, but not quite.

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Our maitre d’ strongly recommended the grilled filet mignon with truffle potato puree, asparagus and bordelaise sauce for the main.  Neil ordered this, as did everyone else at the table. Of course, I got to taste his. It was a stand out dish – definitely order it if you are doing the Chef’s Table. The beef is HUGE, tender and nicely done. It was paired with a Honig, Cabernet Sauvignon from the Napa Valley, California.  The name, Honig, is German for honey and the winery owners also keep bees. And they have a commitment to environmental principles. Nice wine, nice steak.

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酒在水晶玻璃里面。The wine being decanted in beautiful crystal.  We were looked after in style.
filet mignon
牛排好吃。一定要点这个;不选择其它的。This filet mignon is a must – don’t muck around even thinking of ordering anything else. (P.S. Mood lighting was a challenge – and this photo doesn’t show just how large the steak was.)

Wanting to be different, I ordered the homemade truffle tagliatelle. To be honest, I was disappointed as the filet mignon was much better. The pasta was swimming in butter and oil.  Admittedly the description did say it contained butter, but I didn’t expect so much.  We try to follow Heart Foundation guidelines following Neil’s heart attack last December; I found this overwhelming and unhealthy. It was paired with a Tuscan wine – Luce della Vite “Lucente”. I loved the label and was excited to try this, but I felt it was too strong and heavy even for such a rich dish.  (Note: Neil said to me afterwards, well duh, if they are recommended the filet mignon then you should have ordered that – it was a great dish.)

手做的意大利面. Homemade tagliatelle with truffle, nutmeg and lots of cream and butter.
手做的意大利面. Homemade tagliatelle with truffle, nutmeg and lots of cream and butter.

Dessert was a rich Valrhona Chocolate dessert with salted caramel dulce de leche gelato. I would have been satisfied just with the gelato – it was among the best gelato I have eaten.  The slight saltiness was a nice balance to the richness, and it matched the heaviness of the chocolate fudge.  Although full, I savoured every mouthful.

chocolate
巧克力甜点。冰淇淋超好吃。Delicious valhora chocolate bar with dulce de leche salted caramal gelato. Yum!

The final dish was a decadent chocolate martini. Yes, please!  This was fabulous.

After this, we were fully full.  I am finding that it is easy to overindulge on a cruise.  The food is so good, and the service is fabulous, and I do like fine dining …  Thankfully, we partied off many of the calories afterwards at a silent disco.  Silent? Yup.  We wore earphones and danced and sang and had lots of fun.  When we took our earphones off, we looked around and all we saw were people acting silly. Which was half of the fun.

I’m currently cruising on Ovation of the Seas on our family honeymoon.  This blog post was not sponsored and represents my own views.

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