Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Carnival Pride Food

As most people who cruise know, it's all about the food. What amazes me is how easily one gets used to room service, round the clock pizza and ice cream, and minimum of 3 courses for dinner.

Room service: We only had room service in the morning, it was a limited but adequate selection of breakfast choices. We had the same order each day, a pot of coffee, bagels with cream cheese and smoked salmon, a banana, and cereal with milk. Even though it was delivered according to our pre-selected time frame it always seemed to come a little too early. Each night we were sure to leave out a few dollars for a tip, so we wouldn't have to fumble around in the morning. The best part was enjoying the food out on the balcony watching the waves.

Breakfast buffet: I enjoyed the breakfast buffet. There were several stations with pre-cooked favorites including sausage, bacon, pancakes, waffles, scrambled eggs, potatoes, toast and bagels. There was an omlete station but it always had a line, so I never waited. I made my favorite - crispy bacon sandwiched between wheat toast. On the last morning I had a flash of brilliance and wrapped a pancake around a piece of sausage - pure breakfast delight!

Lunch: There were several lunch options, the main dining room offered menu service, Mermaid's Grill (the casual restaurant) offered 4 stations of choices including a rotating selection with an international menu, and there was usually a grill by the pool with hotdogs, hamburgers, and french fries. I only ate in the main dining room once and that time I brought my own food and just sat with the rest of the group. The menu was very nice and the food looked fabulous - the only complaint was the waiter who was less than helpful. Mermaid's Grill offered an Asian station, a made-to-order sandwich station, generic buffet food station, the international menu of the day, a salad bar, and a dessert bar. I never tried the Asian, but did hear it was good. I never tried the generic buffet station either, usually there was a baked pasta, a baked fish, maybe some kind of chicken in sauce - it was fine, but just didn't appeal to me. The sandwich bar had a great roasted pepper, arugula, and fresh mozzarella sandwich that was delicious. Definitely one of my favorite lunch items. The international station featured Greek food one day and offered a delicious tofu pita sandwich with cucumber, red onion, and a green sauce that I would love to re-create. The grill by the pool had fresh cooked hotdogs and hamburgers with a nice selections of topping including chili and grilled onions. I'll take a good chili dog for lunch any day! And finally my favorite lunch and late night snack food were the french fries - the ship had the best fries, thin and crispy on the outside, but soft on the inside with lots of salt. At lunch you could even get a side of ranch dressing from the salad bar for the ultimate indulgence of a dipping sauce.

Dinner: Every night, except for our last night on the ship, we ate in the main dining room. We had an awesome round table for 10. Our waiter was Manuel; he did a great job accommodating our large group. (He even took this photo and spent one night folding napkins in to shapes to entertain the kids. OK, the adults enjoyed the napkin tricks too.)

Dinner had starters, first course, main course and dessert. We usually each had a starter and a first course and dinner and dessert. Most of the time there was one item I wanted for a main course, but several items I wanted for starters/first course. The only disappointing meal I had was the first night. I had a horrible headache that would not go away - I even thought I might be seasick. I ordered a tilapia that was covered in an olive tapenade and sitting on a bed of asparagus covered in hollandaise. The fish was dry and both the olive tapenade and the hollandaise sauce were too heavy for the delicate white fish. I had about two bites and called it done. (Melissa had fish later in the week and it was dry as well - probably too hard to cook it well in such a huge kitchen.) I ended up eating late night at the grill and enjoying grilled chicken with mushrooms and chili fries. Dinner definitely improved - the next night was formal night and they offered a fabulous lobster tail. It was served with grilled shrimp and a side of mushroom risotto. Each section of the menu offered a featured item from the Carnival executive chef - we quickly learned those were generally the best items on the menu.

Another tasty starter were the stuffed mushrooms served with a cheese straw - yum!

Dessert: My favorite part of the meal. They always had about 4 dessert choices along with ice cream and cheese. You can also get a cappuccino for free after eating in the main dining room - usually they charge for the fancy coffee drinks, I definitely took advantage of my free cappuccino every night with dessert. Surprisingly some of my favorite desserts were the sugar free selections. One night it was an orange cake with cream frosting that tasted like a Creamsicle. Another night it was banana cake and then a lemon cake.

The dessert plating was always very fancy, with extra sauces and chocolate swirls. Two of the most delicious desserts were the warm fig cake with a super creamy white chocolate mousse on the side.

And this apple tart - it had a layer of creamy vanilla mousse and a layer of chopped apples with warm caramel sauce on the side. I love the crunchy puff pasty mixed with the smooth mousse.

David's Supper Club: The last night of the cruise the adults ate at David's Supper Club. There is an additional fee to eat here, but it was completely worth the expense. The food was definitely fine dining - lobster bisque, surf and turf, lobster tails, escargot. Just look at the proteins:

Michael and I both had the surf and turf - the plating was fabulous. It was a big square plate with four smaller plates. One had the lobster tail, one had the filet mignon, one had a large pumpkin ravioli, and the one had an asparagus puree wrapped in pastry and fried. Everything was delicious and the service was impeccable.

Grand Buffet: Well I didn't make it to the big midnight buffet, but Michael and Bex took photos. The displays are impressive but it maybe looks better than it tastes....

How cute are these deviled eggs?

I would love to learn how to make something like this - it's all fruit and veges!

And what better way to end than with an amazing dessert display. How about this for the next Oscar party?