Saturday, July 12, 2008

Alaskan Grandeur

Ok, I know you all are going to think me the greatest living dork alive, but on the cruise, surrounded by ├ęclairs and napoleans and mousse and tartlettes, can you guess what I found to be the most delicious, scrumptious, going-back-for-thirds dessert?

Soft serve.

That's right, chocolate-vanilla swirl soft serve ice cream. I hadn't had it since I was 10 and at McDonald's (which probably accounts for the time it's been since my last taste) but this stuff was nectar from the gods. Creamy beyond belief, sweet, and with the right speed of melty-ness so I could dip my cookie in the leftover soup.

So I gained a little weight. Who's asking? :P

I did remember you guys though, and dragged myself from the ice cream machine long enough to visit several of their restaurants and take pictures of our meals. The two of us made quite a spectacle: we'd get our food, and the boyo would pick up his fork expectantly.

"NO! Don't touch it, give it here" I'd say as I pulled out my camera.

"Do you have to take pictures of my food? Can't you take pictures of yours?" he'd grumble.

"What, are you starving?" I'd retort.

And of course he wouldn't be due to the 3+ course meals we'd have 3 times a day, so he'd hand over his plate and roll his eyes while I posed it. More than one waiter eyed me askance as I would photo the dish before even tasting. Unfortunately I only remembered to bring the camera a couple of times but I think I got the best meals we had anyway.

So! Onward for a food-recap of our trip. What better way to start a vacation than with a cold mai tai, complete with cherry and umbrella?

I don't normally get to eat fish (the boyo doesn't like the stuff) but while at sea I indulged almost every night. Here we have seared swordfish (which was as smooth as butter) with braised-pork lentils - I was tempted to go back a second night!

My dessert for the night was a chocolate napolean: dense chocolate cake with something crispy throughout, layered with caramel mousse and topped with a chocolate disk. I may have been spoiled by all the soft-serve, but this dessert sort of missed the mark. It was cold when it was served, straight from the freezer, so I missed any subtlety of flavors in the density and chill overall. Still - chocolate, crisps, and caramel! It can't be all that bad.

I didn't grab the boyo's plate in time to photo his dinner, but I did snag his dessert! This strawberry cheesecake looks as though it's about to launch into space, but it must have been good, as he didn't save me a taste. That's ok though, I didn't save him one of mine either!

Even had I not been indulging in three full meals a day, there's no way I could have finished this veal chop on risotto. I tried though, oh how I tried. How many times can I compare meals to butter and still get away with it? Honestly though, the veal was tender and salty (I love salt) and the risotto was thick and creamy. After eating this I was sooo full.....

...but not too full for dessert! This was a gorgeous, gorgeous idea that I plan to duplicate immediately. The tort had a dense shortbread crust that encased a chocolate custard studded with apricots and walnuts. OMGGOOD!

The boyo may hate fish, but lobster he'll partake of. Besides my veal chop I also nibbled on his lobster ravioli which were floating in a pool of tomato-ey cream sauce. It was good, but not as good as mine!

Do you see a trend here? Cheesecake with strawberries and a branch of hard caramel - he definitely has his favorite dessert. Can't say I blame him though, I'd wavered between my tort and the cheesecake before choosing - chocolate always wins!

We got an unexpected knock at our cabin door one evening and the porter delivered this plate of chocolate-dipped strawberries. It was a gift! we were told, but the name on the card was not familiar at all. We called the kitchen and they told us, oops! wrong address, go ahead and keep them. Woot, free strawberries. Now, for the $20 they probably cost someone, they didn't look too nice (the strawberries were a bit tired) but even full as we perpetually were, they tasted fantastic. I'd never had chocolate strawberries before, but they're a new favorite now!

What cruise would be complete without a midnight chocolate buffet? Not this one, that's for sure! I didn't take pictures of the actual buffet because the crowd was incredible, but there were beautiful chocolate statues stationed between tables with big "Do Not Touch, Not For Eating" signs. But, but, but, chocolate! If it's not for eating, what good is it?

Ok, I didn't eat everything. But I tasted it all and I had some definite favorites. Clockwise from top, we have a chocolate-raspberry mousse cake (good), brownie coated in white chocolate ganache and nuts (blah), chocolate strawberry (awesome!), and a rum cake coated in chocolate (favorite!!!)

And for our second plate of midnight chocolate: at top is a milk/white chocolate mousse with a raspberry-chocolate decoration (decent), right is a dome of chocolate mousse on a chocolate cake base (decent), and left is a chocolate cake with white chocolate ganache pooled in the middle (meh). To be fair, I was very full at this point but my favorite of them all was by far the rum cake. Expect to see some of those in the future!

For those of you who are thinking "Ok, those are yummy-looking, but I see no evidence of Alaska: I think you lie!" I have proof! Non-food evidence can be found here. Now, I know that I took much longer to post this than I promised (a month! Yuck.) but I have excuses and compensation! I started my new job all of one day after we returned from the cruise and have been plugging away pell-mell since. But, I haven't stopped baking - in the next day or so I'll have posts of delicious, wonderful cheesecakes and then you all shall forgive me my absence and love me once more! :)