Dish It Up
Five culinary masterpieces aboard Regent’s new Seven Seas Explorer
While most passengers are sleeping peacefully in their silken beds, I am tossing and turning, wondering how do I possibly narrow down the many outstanding dishes aboard Regent Seven Seas Cruises’ new Seven Seas Explorer to five top choices?
I have eaten my way from Deck 4 to Deck 11, and just about every deck in between, wherever I can find a snack, canapé, or sweet. I have marveled over the flakiness and buttery goodness of the croissant, the ripeness of honeydew — every single day — and how the barista brews espresso with foamy crema with the exactness of a surgeon. And that’s just for starters. And now, to the five most fabulous, must-try dishes aboard what’s billed as the “world’s most luxurious cruise ship” ever built.
Foie Gras Sliders
Prime 7 is where steak and seafood devotees retreat to wallow in the best that ocean and land offer. Foie Gras Sliders is the starter to order. You will find it is so delicious, you probably won’t want anything to follow. (But of course you will devour a prime bone-in ribeye or Alaskan king crab legs, anyway.) Guests receive two sliders, each freshly baked seeded brioche bun is stuffed with perfectly sautéed foie gras and richly caramelized mahogany-brown onion jam. The balance between the buttery brioche and the generous portions of foie is precise — each mouthful brings just the right amount of bread and liver in a flood of flavor. The plate is lightly coated with the most intense sauce — a velvety port wine truffle sauce — the sort you want to grab a spoon and sip. And then, with what’s left on the plate? Well, if you were home alone, you’d lick it clean.
Peking Duck Salad
In Pacific Rim, the Peking Duck Salad steals the show. The meat is lean and remarkably tender, without skin, and tossed with cashew nuts, watermelon “pearls,” and cucumber. Mint, coriander, and basil add an herbaceous edge to the delicate, slightly sweet dressing of hoisin and fish sauce. This salad is so refreshing, a perfect palate-cleanser before, perhaps, a spicy seafood curry or Korean-style barbecue lamb. Or, if you have over-indulged on this cruise — so very easy to do — it makes a light satisfying entree.
I’m not a vegetarian, but I will long for this entree way after the cruise is over. Compass Rose Restaurant serves a
vegetarian special that celebrates Provence in its fresh produce glory. This Vegetable Gateau, or cake, begins with a thin, golden uber-flaky puff pastry round. Topping the pastry is a duxelles of porcini mushroom, unctuous eggplant, paper-thin slices of zucchini, roasted tomatoes that taste fresh-plucked from the garden, and a luscious onion “jam” of impeccably sweet onions. Pungent goat cheese crumbles pop up throughout, adding a creamy textural contrast to the crispy pastry. Sprigs of thyme and a hint of rosemary up the flavor ante, too. And do I detect Maldon sea salt? This Vegetable Gateau is eye candy to behold, rich but not heavy, leaving you contentedly meat-free. Brush strokes of carrot and basil purees painted on the plate are just the, well, icing on this vegetarian cake.
Roasted Lobster with Scallop Mousseline
Regent Seven Seas Explorer serves lobster nearly everywhere, in every guise imaginable. But it is the roasted lobster in Chartreuse that is unforgettable. Think 180 degrees from stingy — there is so much lobster meat in this dish, it is almost impossible to finish. But, of course you do. The fresh lobster is served mounded into these pretty shapes that fall into thick pieces with the touch of a fork. It’s cooked to a picture-perfect red blush and the meat is so sweet, it tastes as if a chef infused it with sugar. The garnishes are genius — a small mousse of fresh scallop, skinny asparagus spears, fresh fava beans. The sauce almost steals the show: It’s a combination of fresh lobster stock, reduced to a seaworthy essence of shellfish, blended with almond milk. It never overpowers the lobster, and yet, enhances each and every bite. Be forewarned: After this, lobster anywhere else will probably never taste this good.
14-Layer Chocolate Cake
The showstopper dessert on board is the 14-Layer Chocolate Cake in Prime 7. This towering confection consists of multiple skinny layers of midnight black chocolate cake — moister than a jar of fancy face cream — frosted with a glistening dark chocolate icing. It’s so shiny, it nearly reflects your happy face. Despite the 14 layers, the cake never teeters or totters, maintaining its haughty shape through every forkful. That’s because the bottom seven layers are filled with ganache, and the top seven are spread with chocolate mousse. Such genius construction — culinary architecture if you will. This cake is not heavy or sugary; it’s light and dainty, yet the intense Callebaut chocolaty flavor delivers in every forkful. This, my friends, is perfection, a word I never use lightly.
— Janice Wald-Henderson