Dinner with Eight of my new Best Friends, July 30, 2019

If you are a follower of my blog then you know I don’t usually talk about or take photos of food. I am making an exception to my rule to talk about our dinner at the Chef’s Table. We made a reservation for the Table shortly after boarding. We thought it would be a pleasant evening, a different venue and a chance to meet new people.

We started at 6:15 pm in the Schooner Bar with an Aristocrat, a cocktail that was really good and so secret one can only get them in the Schooner and then only by telling the bartender, “I would like one of the cocktails made for the Chef’s dinner, you know, the secret recipe.” We were joined in the Schooner by Bruce and Judy from Long Island; very nice people.

At a little after 6:30 we were escorted into a private room in the back of Chops, Royal Caribbean’s steakhouse restaurant, by Oleksandr, our Ukrainian host. There were ten of us, all anxious to try something new. Two others who made a reservation, a couple of ladies, were no shows but that really didn’t matter and I can honestly say they weren’t missed.

Here is a photo of Oleksandr as he was explaining the adventure that awaited us.

After we were seated Oleksandr took photos of the table with everyone’s cell phones including mine. In addition to Bruce and Judy, we were joined by three couples from California who were traveling together. And, before we knew it we were all engaged in conversation and learning little tidbits about each other.

Dinner was five courses followed by dessert, each paired with an appropriate wine. The table was certainly set for action.

Our first course was Scallop Carpaccio with yuzu vinaigrette and crispy quinoa accompanied with a Pinot Grigio.

The second course of our five course meal was Smoked Tomato Soup with garlic focaccia croutons and shaved parmesan cheese accompanied with blend of Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon from Napa Valley. Here is a photo of Oleksandr pouring the soup from a hot pot.

The third course, and one of the highlights of the meal, was a Maine Lobster Salad with hearts of palm, pineapple, and cilantro with a vanilla dressing.

Next was a wonderful filet of Roasted Branzino with grilled zucchini and peppers along with a lemon confit and a pesto sauce. The wine selection was a chablis.

Last, but certainly not least, was a tender Grilled Filet Mignon with truffle potato puree and asparagus accompanied by a Bordelaise sauce. The wine was described as a Red Blend from Alexander Valley, California.

Dessert was a Peanut Butter Ganache with Valrhona Chocolate Mousse and Salted Caramel Gelato.

So, you ask, what was served as an after dinner drink? The menu called for a Salted Caramel Espresso Martini but we were able to prevail on Oleksandr to hunt down a bottle of Port. As he poured for the table, JoAnn and I told our companions about our favorite toast which we learned a couple of years ago on the Viking Ocean Star, during our trip “Into the Midnight Sun.”

On that trip we met two musicians, a pianist and a guitar player. They taught us the Hungarian toast for “cheers” which is “Egeszsegere.” Phonectically it sounds, more or less, like “eddie she ga dre” and before we knew it all ten of us were toasting each others’ health with “Egeszsegere!”

Oh, I almost forgot, we were taught in Prague that after the toast, and before drinking, you must return your glass to the table to confirm the toast. We call that “Prague rules” and after our collective toast, you could hear all ten of us joyfully calling out, “Prague rules” followed by glasses tapping the table in unison and the sound of sipping that lovely Port.

We came together as strangers but left as friends. Excellent feast and a wonderful experience.

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