Monday, February 6, 2017

SHARE by Curtis Stone: Top Chef Dining on the High Seas

Whether you're a food lover who has followed Curtis Stone from his first incredible tasting-menu based restaurant Maude, to the debut of his meat-focused restaurant / premium butchery Gwen, or a wanderer who looks for quality in all  your travel experiences, SHARE by Curtis Stone should be on your radar as one of the most exciting things to alight the cruise industry.

In exclusive partnership with Princess Cruises, SHARE is a fine-dining concept that represents the respected chef Curtis' first restaurant at sea. 

Bringing together chef Curtis' love of food, travel and the ocean, SHARE serves a 6-course dinner that is a game changer for the cruise industry: a top chef designed menu full of fresh ingredients and flavors reflecting some of the ports along the ship's itineraries - in a sunlit, spacious, chic space - in contrast with the typical hi-low options typical to a cruise ship where you either have cafeteria style buffet dining or over-the-top opulence - that is tasteful and would make any foodie feel at home.

Chef Curtis also made the dining room feel more cozy / intimate with eclectic personal touches including souvenirs from his own travels.

And the best part?  The meal costs only $39 per person, and offers several options per course to accommodate different tastes.

We were excited to get a preview of the new menu, on a day when the Ruby Princess was docked at San Pedro en route to Santa Barbara.  

course one STARTER: Charcuterie whole 18-month aged San Daniele prosciutto sliced thinly with pickled onions and Castelvetrano Olives. On a regular night, cruise ship travelers would get a choice of fennel infused finocchiona, garlic dusted Hungarian salami, or spicy soppressata.  We got to try all three, and I loved them all - but the main attraction was definitely that flavor packed, incredibly smooth and perfectly sliced prosciutto.

The other option that would suit non-meat eaters: Pantaleo cheese with accompaniments
course two SALAD: Little Gem baby romaine leaf salad tossed in a caraway buttermilk dressing complementing grapefruit and nasturtium flowers.  This was edible art, with gorgeous colors, super fresh ingredients and a perfect balance of textures and bright flavors: savory, tart, and sweet - I loved it even as someone who is not typically a fan of salads.

course two SALAD (alternate option): Lemon Poached Prawns paired with a turnip cream, crispy brioche and finished with raw radishes.  This one was unanimously a showstopper for all our fellow diners: the prawns were perfectly cooked, with beautiful structure and spring. Counterbalanced by crisp pieces of brioche lightly garnishing the dish like butterfly wings, and soft clean crunch of radish.  This dish was not just 'good for a cruise ship', I would happily order it at any restaurant on-shore.

course three PASTA Ricotta Cavatelli highlighting roasted sunchokes, pickled beets and brussels sprouts leaves. SHARE offers handmade pasta dishes and this one is a decadent one again with beautiful plating - the red beets can be swirled into the cream sauce to turn it a lovely magenta color.  Nice control here of savory, acid, sweet and subtle bitterness.

course three PASTA (alternate option): Pork Ravioli a green curry filling coated in a lemongrass cream and topped with crunchy chicharrones. This was a creative and playful dish that takes Thai flavors into a classically Italian dish - something unexpected especially for cruise dining.

course four SEA Butter Poached Lobster Tail resting on roasted potatoes and crispy pancetta covered in a white onion soubiseWe tried to order different dishes per course in order to sample more, but couldn't resist the poached lobster tail, which was delicately poached and the simplicity yet subtly sophisticated sauce let the freshness of the lobster take center stage.

If we ever get the chance to take a Princess Cruise, we'd love to check out the other options in the "Sea" course: from day boat scallops with sesame and chickpea puree and Za'atar spice mix, steelhead trout in white wine beurre blanc, or white corn veloute.

course five LAND Strip Loin Steak a charred and sliced New York steak on top of a sunchoke puree, braised leeks and crispy onions. 

course five LAND (alternate option): Lamb Loin paired with harissa scented couscous coated in spiced almonds and lime yogurt.  I don't recall seeing lamb loin on many menus, so it was a treat to taste this on chef Curtis' menu.  Makes sense that even the Land section of the meal is exciting, since he just opened the meat-centric restaurant Gwen not too long ago, and can make use of well sourced premium cuts of less ordinary proteins.

course six DESSERT Dark Chocolate Cremeux a chocolate hazelnut custard with crispy mousse and a burnt vanilla bean ice cream.  This was the best of three desserts we tasted - so good we almost licked the plate.

Other options were citron tart and toffee cheesecake 

Overall, love that on Princess Cruises we now have the ability not to simply 'make do' with dining available but to actually look forward to dinner.

Satiated after our lovely meal, we took a quick tour around the ship before it starts its voyage up the coast.

There was the gorgeous atrium...a casino area, a full on theater for nightly entertainment.

And of course, pools on top deck for travelers to have a great hang out while enjoying sun and sea - they also have giant screens in the pool area for movie nights under the stars, as well as concerts.

The visit definitely made me want to work on planning my next vacation - with the rate 2017 is going already, we're all going to need to get some quality R&R.

*Disclaimer: this meal was hosted.


SHARE by Curtis Stone
On board Princess Cruises: Ruby Princess, Emerald Princess and Sun Princess
Ph:  1-800-774-6237


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