Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Solstice Buffet

The lunch buffet happened again today.

As Moiya, David, Wyona, Greg and I chatted and ate, Wyona said that she had been off at the Captain’s Club for the morning, trying to book another cruise, this time a back to back one leaving Vancouver, going down the west coast, across to Hawaii, through Polynesia, and over to Australia.

She said, “Arta, don’t you want to come with us.”

“Please, I beg you, don’t make me think about it. I am so full from this buffet that I couldn’t make a rational answer to your question. I am just in no position to think right now.” “Well, hold onto the idea. The cruise doesn’t leave until Sept 25, 2013, and you can cancel 75 days before hand with no penalty.” All of the energy I had was being used in the Grand Epernay Dining room. I didn’t know how to work the buffet. In the end, I spent the first half hour, just walking around it, no plate in hand, taking pictures, just enjoying the visual feast. Then I ate for a while. And when I was full and the other left to go somewhere else, I walked around the buffet for another hour, this time, watching the crowd that came a little later, as they ordered their crepes, or watched while their omelettes were cooked. Since back to back cruises offer the same experiences, at least along the line of food, I have to think about what I saw that was different.

 For one thing, the round of parmesan cheese must have been 18” in diameter and 12” high. When I asked if it was real, or just a decoration, the server said, “Yes, this is the biggest one that I can carry. The others are bigger and have to be rolled.”

 Only two or three inches of the round had been scooped out, and was now holding the cheese that was put on top of the Caesar salad station.

Another highlight for me was the train that ran around the fruit table.

 Can you imagine a huge buffet table covered with fruit, and a small electric train running around its perimeter. “Cute. This is the first time the train has been running.”

“Yes,” said the head waiter back to her. “I got it working for this buffet. What I had to do was call in the electrician and now it works perfectly.”

I took my food from the Middle Eastern selection after admiring the decorations on its table for a long time. I can’t say that I have ever seen a table where the spotlightt was on a 20 pound bag of jasmine rice, and where the lemons and olives that were artfully spread along the perimeter of the table were sprinkled with sumac.

I selected the biryani lamb and some curried chicken.

On writing this, it is hard for me to know why, since the sushi table was exquisite, the shrimp cocktail line up was long, people waiting patiently at the crepe table.

 I was alone, a long table just for me.

The truth is, just about every day I am taking the lamb selection from the menu – the lamb shank, lamb pork chops, lamb curry – the cut changes every day. “How do you know the difference between the mint jelly and the mint sauce,” Moiya asked me.

 I had to tell her that anyone who has been eating lamb for as many days as I have gets to know all of the condiments that go with lamb. We all have our food favorites.

Greg likes the afternoon tea time – which all of us accompanied him to this afternoon. I went to check it out yesterday, after Wyona told me that Greg always slips up to the Ocean View Cafe, where there is a one hour window for tea and snacks.

The honey glazed raisin soda biscuits sit beside the strawberry jam and the whipped cream. Greg is not the only one on the boat who is living up for that sweet.

Others of us like the crust less brown triangle sandwich that is filled with fine slices of ham, mayonnaise and a piece of pineapple. “This is good. Really good,” said Moiya.

I just think it is a miracle that any of us can eat anything after the 10 am buffet. But it is 4 pm and possible to be enticed by one-bite open faced salmon sandwiches and chicken croissants, even if when we finish, dinner is only one hour away.

Dave Wood has been wanting Moiya to take a car trip with him, either up to Alaska, or fly to Australia and drive the roads there.

“If you plan the hotels for the night and the meals during the daytime,” she replies. “And no! A truck with a couple of sleeping bags just won’t do the trick for me.

We are seeing fabulous sites on land, enjoying great entertainment on the boat, eating well ... and best of all, enjoying each other’s company during three meals a day.

 That last point is the best one of the whole cruise.


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