So this evening proved just as fun as the day. Jeremy and I headed out for dinner a bit early so that we could stop at the martini ice bar on deck 4. Jeremy ordered a lime martini and I (unknowing what was in store) ordered the martini tasting. Jeremy got his drink first then the two bar tenders went to work setting up and mixing my drinks. They laid down napkins on the ice bar, then placed four cocktail glasses upside down of varying heights as well as a tall bottle of Stolichnaya vodka and balanced little tasting sized martini glasses on the top of each, along with one on the bar, for a total of six different flavors. Once that was set up the other bartender Ali came over with six cocktail shakers stacked on top of each other and he poured all six drinks at once, it was quite the spectacle and lots of folks oohed and aahed as he was pouring. The drinks were a classic martini with olives (honestly my least favorite, I prefer them dirty), an appletini (which was the first drink I had on my 21st birthday), a peartini, a raspberrytini with chambord (a favorite), a citrus martini (also very tasty), and a sunset martini (was tropical flavored with a splash of grenadine). Unfortunately we only had 15 minutes before we were supposed to be at dinner so I didn’t really get to savor each drink (and ended up kind of doing the last sips as shots) but they were all very tasty and it was a fun “show bar” experience since they were twirling bottles and flipping cocktail shakers.
So we headed down to the Olympic restaurant which is where our invitation (that we finally received late the night before) instructed us to go. We were warmly welcomed by the maitre’d and the director of food and beverage for the ship and taken into the specialty wine room/cellar where a friendly sommelier served us a very tasty champagne with sliced strawberries and we waited for the other guests to arrive. Not long after Erin, the officer in charge of revenue on the ship and our host for the evening, arrived along with a friendly young couple from North Carolina, Derrick and Nicci, who both work in the anesthesiology unit at Duke hospital. Shortly after three folks arrived, a deaf couple from the Bay area and their interpreter who were celebrating their 30th wedding anniversary. After chatting and introductions we finished our champagne (after Jeremy made a quick shirt change, it was really hot in the cellar room) and were led into the ships galley.
Our table was situated right in front of the chef’s office in between the dish washing area, the bread area and the appetizer stations. There were folks furiously working away the entire time we were in there, and 600 meals were served while we were down there and you would never have known. So we chatted away about what we all did for a living, traveling, and commenting on our surroundings including the head chef who was busily preparing our meals behind us at a temporary cooking station.
The first course was a choice between a warm goat cheese soufflé and a smoked salmon and peekitoe crab parfait layered with avocado, two kinds of salmon caviar, creme fraiche and petite greens. Jeremy and I each chose a different option so we could taste and split both. The parfait was very tasty but the goat cheese soufflé was the winner of that course, savory and fluffy with herbs and a strong goat cheese flavor, so good.
The second course options (again we got one of each) were a cioppino, a rustic San Francisco seafood stew with garlic, tomato and herb crostini, or insalata di arugula with fried bocconcini mozzarella, toasted pine nuts, crisp shallots, sundried tomato vinaigrette and balsamic syrup. The stew won this course, it had great tomato flavor as well as a deep seafood stock and it was Jeremy’s favorite as well even though he doesn’t generally like tomato based soups. We were served an intermezzo course of mango sorbet with a blackberry and chocolate curl to cleanse our palates then moved on to the main course.
We had the option of a Loup de Mer, grilled Mediterranean Sea bass, red pepper melange, crispy eggplant, balsamic syrup and sauce nicoise, or steak Diane. Jeremy and I both chose the steak and were not disappointed (per usual all of the steak we have had on the ship has been top notch, all sourced apparently from Colorado). The steak was perfectly cooked, with a flavorful wine sauce and served with mashed potatoes and vegetables artfully arranged on the plate.
The fourth course was a cheese course where we had a Brie, two smellier cheeses, and a firm mild cheddar along with pain de champagne and dried fruits. The Brie was probably my favorite of the cheeses, one of the soft smellier cheeses was a bit too smelly for my taste.
We finished with dessert, either a floating island with chocolate cream sauce or crepe ballon rouge with balsamic strawberries, vanilla ice cream and Chambourcin sauce.
Both Jeremy and I chose the crepe and were very pleased with our choice, the sauce had a bit of black pepper in it that went fantastically with the strawberries and smooth vanilla ice cream that filled the crepe.
The sommelier and servers kept our wine and water glasses full the whole time with some very tasty wines as well as flat (and then later upon Jeremy’s request) sparking water.
After getting probably 15 minutes to chat with the chef (who said he normally does not get the chance to chat, so that was a nice treat) we ended a great dinner, the ladies were given single red roses, and we were escorted up the escalators to the main floor (we also were escorted up any time we needed to use the restroom). We decided to join Derrick and Nicci for a drink at the martini bar before heading to the room and that was quite fun. They are well aquainted with a lot of the bar tenders on the ship so it was like coming to a local bar with them. We chatted about our pets, cruising, and random other things while sipping a Bloody Mary martini (me) and an apple martini (Jeremy). We then walked with them to the casino as they had some “match money” to play and we watched them play their game of choice, roulette for a few minutes (until they ran out of the match money as they’re “not gambling people”, they came out $11 ahead though after a $20 investment, so not bad), and then parted ways to gratefully head to bed. What a great day.