During the early morning update from Edie for the entire press group, I realized that since I had been sitting next to her the night before as a “slightly less cruise experienced” reporter than myself asked her somewhat banal questions all night (“if you were going to start a cruise line to day – what would you do differently?”) I realized I had already heard everything the night before that she was prepared to report to us today – which I have already written here; the destination immersion and how their market research had shown them that people did not want to be nickel & dimed to death – especially with the new economy. It was refreshing to hear someone else as aware as I am of the date September 28, 2008, the date when Sec Paulsen told Congress we needed $780 Billion that day or else the world economy would collapse.
That afternoon we were treated to a private cooking demonstration by two chefs, and we learned that there are 54 cooks onboard this smaller vessel which only carries 680 people. They prepared a crab and lobster “haystack” and a special filet of beef, finishing with a chocolate dessert where they paint the plate with chocolate using a paintbrush. Pictures will come soon.
That night we ate in the Prime C Grill. I don’t even know where to start with this dinner, but I have to say it was the most delicious dinner I recall ever having on a cruise ship – or possibly anywhere.
I don’t actually remember the appetizer as I type in the middle of the night. But the filet mignon, a very generous 12 oz piece of prime Angus beef from America, was cooked to perfection. I ordered it medium-rare, to which my waiter replied “yes sir, mostly red with just a hint of red.” I stupidly corrected him and said “not too bloody, on the pink side,” to which he said “just a hint of red juice, sir.”
In other words, he was telling me how it was going to be prepared and that I should trust him, and he was right. When it arrive the first cut with knife required just three strokes and I was through it – like butter, almost literally. I out it in my mouth and it was not the least bit chewy. Instead it had that so rare texture you get in beef and even lobster at times where it sort of flakes and eviscerates in your mouth, the pieces getting infinitesimally smaller with each bite, so that with three bites it has completely melted and is filling your mouth with flavor.
Every single bite of that filet was that way, and it was delightful. I had no problem eating the entire filet bite after bite. Alongside it was spicy Israeli couscous and garlic mashed potatoes. For dessert I had a coconut crème Brule and also a chocolate fondue with pieces of banana, brownie and apple to dip in the not melted chocolate. I finished that as well.
I had no idea how stuffed I was until I got in bed and realized my stomach was pouching out. I cannot remember when I had food so good that I ate beyond the point of physical comfort. But it was not as if I did not realize at the time I was eating it how good the meal was. I said “that was the best meal I have ever had” to the entire table” before we left that night. But even now I am just amazed at how much I enjoyed it.
Even better, on these Azamara ships they tell us that there is never any problem getting into these specialty restaurants. You can eat in here anytime you want to. Suite guests are complimentary while regular passengers pay $15 per person (not much by modern standards). That was not the case on either Renaissance or Oceania when I cruised on those lines, where they were more courteous about not charging the cover charge, but it was much harder to get a reservation usually requiring at least two or three days in advance.
There is another alternative restaurant onboard we will try in a few days, and I will report on that one when we do. Look for my latest batch of pictures to come online sometime Monday afternoon.