food review

sole in lemon butter I thought that on this dance cruise I would experiment with the structure of the Travelblogue with respect to the Sipping and Supping aspect of my posts.  Instead of interspersing the food talk and pictures with my dance and travel experiences, I plan to keep a Culinary Sampling of the meals, mainly dinner, aboard the Queen Mary 2 on this trip.

Since my firm resolution on this trip was not to gain a pound, and to lose inches by virtue of all the hip and core work I would be doing during my Dance Boot Camp, my culinary choices obviously represent a somewhat slanted view of the range of dishes provided at each meal - my sample is appetizer rich and dessert poor. But here goes:

the sushi lollipopsThere are a number of specialty restaurants, cafes and a bistro on the Eclipse. The one I knew we just could not miss was  Qsine. As it turned out, the time went by so fast we did not make it to dinner in either Murano or the Tuscan Grille though I heard glowing comments about the food from other diners. We did get to the Champagne Tea in Murano on the last afternoon of the cruise.

But I am glad we made a point of trying Qsine. The dinner at Qsine was definitely the most interesting and innovative dining that I have enjoyed in any specialty restaurants aboard during my recent cruising experiences. The variety of tastes and textures was simply fantastic and the novel way each dish was presented was exciting to see.

This 7 day visit to Cozumel was not originally on my travel agenda for 2012.   My travel plans for the first six months of the year were aimed more at making up for the year of ballroom dance that I had lost with my severe back pain that culminated in emergency spine surgery.  So I had planned to start the New Year in the South Pacific taking a dance cruise on the Ocean Princess.  Shortly after getting back from that, I had to head off to New York for an exciting family event  - and the added bonus of a theatre and restaurant blitz.

But a chance call from the timeshare exchange that I use, offering a great priced cruise and resort deal, caught me in a reckless moment and before I knew it I was signed up for a 7 day stay at a resort in Cozumel, to be followed by a 7 night Caribbean cruise.

Although I have stayed in Cancun and several times in Playa del Carmen, I had never stayed on the island of Cozumel. The map shows the beaches of Cozumel as well as San Gervasio, the local Mayan ruins. The hotel we were booked into was located at Playa La Ceiba - and called El  Cid La Ceiba Beach Hotel.

lobster cevicheHaru
205 West 43rd Street,
New York, NY
Ph: (212) -398 9810 or Reserve Online

Haru is so conveniently located for pre-theatre meals, particularly round the Times Square theatre district, that on this trip I actually dined there twice. 

the ebi and vegtable tempuraOn the first visit we were seated at a table in the window alcove. I liked that as it was  a bit secluded from the main activity in the restaurant.

We had just come from seeing Bob, a SITI Company production, and after dinner we were going to see Mary Poppins just around the corner at the New Amsterdam Theatre. With seeing two such different genres of theatre in one day there was so much food for thought that real food initially took second place to conversation.

charcuterie platterAlobar
46-42 Vernon Blvd,
Long Island City, NY
Ph: (718)  752-6000 or Reserve Online

Alobar on Urbanspoon

octopus saladAfter finishing up our shopping in Manhattan we caught the 7 train across to Long Island City. For dinner we decided to try one of the nearby restaurants that had been on my son's "to visit list."

We decided to share a salad, and then also share a large charcuterie and large cheese platter.cheese platter

After some debate we decided to try the evening's special salad of grilled octopus with shaved lardon on a bed of arugula with pine nuts and a malt vinegar and olive oil dressing. We enjoyed the salad though the dressing was not especially exciting.

the spicy roll combination platterInakaya
620 8th Avenue,
New York, NY
Ph: (212) 354-2195 or Reserve Online

Inakaya on Urbanspoon

the chef uses a paddle to reach over the barThis was my first day in Manhattan on this trip, having arrived really late the previous evening.  I met my son to get a number of shopping tasks done. On our way from my hotel we passed Inakaya, and decided to stop in for lunch. The place was full but there was room at the sushi bar.

the salmon, yellowtail and eel combination roll platterI liked the design of the restaurant. It is open with high ceilings and an unusually wide and comfortable sushi bar. As you can the chef has to use a paddle to hand dishes or a bottle of sake across to the patron.

Since this restaurant's specialty is Robata, Japanese barbecue, we had to try one of their Robata dishes so we chose to share one of their specials for the day: the US Kobe Beef duo featuring sirloin and tenderloin on skewers. The meat was incredibly tender and the dish came with grilled vegetables.

chicken livers in MarsalaLa Buca
4025 MacDonald Street
Vancouver
Ph: (604) 730.6988

La Buca on Urbanspoon

potato, truffle and marscapone ravioliLa Buca is a little gem of a Italian restaurant in the neighborhood of Arbutus Ridge. Although I have been a fan of Andrey Durbach's food since way back when he had Etoile on Hornby Street, I somehow had not yet got to La Buca for dinner. Tasting some of the delicious hors d'oeuvres that he prepared for a  Blackbird Theatre fundraiser earlier in the summer reminded me of this and so prior to seeing a show out at the Frederick Wood theatre at UBC, I made a reservation for an early dinner.

The Kaboom Box on Urbanspoon

Oyster Po'Boy at Kaboom BoxThis made-in BC version of an Oyster Po'Boy is a winner. Earlier this year I joined Vancouver Foodie Tour operator, Michelle Ng on a tour of  some of the gourmet street carts that have sprung up with the encouragement of the city's program to enhance curbside food offerings. One of the vendors we visited on the  Vancouver Foodie Tours Tastes Curbside Kitchen Food tour was Kaboom Box.

Served out of their bright red truck located at Robson and Granville Street, their menu also includes a smoked salmon sandwich, veggie and venison burgers, fish and chips and a BC version of poutine. Poutine  is a staple way of serving French fries that originated in Quebec. The fries are topped with cheese curds and usually some form of gravy. Kaboom Box make it with a gravy from local mushrooms. 

the 12 oz Prime RibMike Ditka's Restaurant
100 Chestnut St.,
Chicago
Ph: (312) 587-8989 or Reserve Online at OpenTable

Mike Ditka's Restaurant on Urbanspoon

For our second dinner of the "Chicago for the Regular Guys" weekend, we had the choice of several restaurants. Most of the group chose Ditka's restaurant.

Our group piled into taxis in groups of 4 and converged on the restaurant in time for our reservations at 8 PM. One table had an earlier reservation and they were already seated but when we arrived the place was absolutely packed and we had to wait for two tables to be set.  

en route to PembertonAlthough I have been luxuriating in deep, sound sleeps, my internal clock keeps waking me up at 6:30. The first thing on my mind is a steaming hot cup of coffee and cream, and luckily the kitchenette comes with a coffee maker and a daily supply of filter coffee. We brought the cream.

On this fifth day of my stay at the Westin, the sun streamed in through the shutters. The predicted weather was sunshine with a high around 20ºC and this was definitely the right day to visit the outdoor pools of Spa Scandinave.

the hydrotherapy area seen from the lodgeWe decided to go there a bit later in the morning and left at 11:30 to drive there.

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