Aug 24, 2012






Food, food and even more food ………..


We woke up to grey skies and choppy seas. Hurricane Isaac had caught up with us. They had changed up the itinerary so we could get the most of our days and this sea day was not going to a nice one. We got up around 7am, showered and got dressed.

Then we headed to the Royal Palace for breakfast. Again! Yes, we love the place. And after signing in at the podium we were quickly led to nice table and our server handed us the menu. The assistant service quickly came by to ask about drinks and we both ordered some orange juice, Tom opted for coffee, while I asked for some tea. It didn’t take long for the drinks to be served and a server coming by with a box of teas to choose from. Most of them were herbal or decaf and it took some searching to find a “drinkable” tea. With drinks sorted we ordered our breakfast. Before we went there we had decided on just a quick small breakfast, but once seated, our plans went out the window.

Tom ordered his favourite, the Swiss Bircher Muesli, Muesli with raisins, shredded apples and yogurt and I did the same, I ordered my favourite, the Mornin' Tug Boat, fresh blend of strawberries, bananas, almonds, raisin granola and low-fat yogurt. Both were served within a minute and we started digging in our delicious “healthy” breakfast options. But then we lost it, as we both ordered the Traditional Eggs Benedict, a toasted English muffin with grilled Canadian bacon, served with poached egg topped with hollandaise sauce, grilled roma tomatoes and link sausages. As much as we loved our choice, it really filled us up. Once we were done we walked through the shops and then back to our stateroom. We stopped there for just a little while, and while we were just chilling in the room, the ship’s PA system came on and the captain explained that we were in for a rainy day as the would be in the outer bands of Isaac and that it would be a bit rocky, but there should not much discomfort for us guests. He wished everyone a day as enjoyable as possible and then the system just clicked a few times. We were sure the announcement was over, but it just came on again and it started like this, “This announcement is for crew only, crew only!” We looked at each other, laughed and continued to listen. Then the captain explained that he had just informed the guests that we would run into a little discomfort, but now to his crew he could announce the “whole” truth. It would be raining most of the days and it would be rather choppy, so everyone was to prepare for a lousy day. Tom and I burst into laughter.

It was too funny to hear both sides of the “truth”. Isn’t it sometimes the funniest thing when you push the wrong button.And once we had recovered from the news, we picked up the next set of Fish Extender gifts and went on our little tour all over the ship to hand them out. When we got back to our stateroom it was all done up and we had a little chat with Oana, who always had a huge smile and a few fun statements to mention. She thanked us for leaving chocolates for her all the time and mentioned that since she was sharing them she had found a lot of “new” friends. Back in our stateroom we chilled for a while, then going outside on the veranda to see the stormier sea. At 10.45 we started to get ready for the next ADR we had that day, lunch at Remy. We have been to Remy before, but for dinner, not lunch. And while the food was really good and the service outstanding, it was a bit over the top. We have yet to come across a restaurant in Europe that works that way.

 But we were sure it would be a nice, new experience for us to try lunch. So at 10 to 11am we signed in at the podium and were asked to wait in Meridian. There were a few other guests waiting as well and at exactly 11am we were asked to follow a greeter inside the restaurant. We were told about the wines they were offering and which were on display and then led into the wine room. All the guests filed up against the wall and we were all handed a glass of Champagne, a  crisp Cremant d’Alsace Blanc de Blancs, then the sommelier and the head chef came out to explain the Pata Negra, a ham which comes from a specially-raised pig and demonstrated how they used a hand-cranked machine to slice it paper-thin.

And while he was still explaining and cutting the ham, I looked around the room and noticed that the servers had filed up at one side as well. And I was more than happy to see that Mathieu was still there and one of them. And while the chef still cut and handed out the Pata Negra, Mathieu came over to greet us and all I wanted to know was, “Did she say YES?” (In February of that same year, Mathieu had been our server at a Remy dinner and had been excited to hear that we came from Austria, as his girlfriend was from Austria as well. He then told us that he planned to ask her to marry him, when she came to visit him two weeks later.

Everyone in HER travel party knew about it and they all knew that he planned to propose and to get married during the time she visited, all of them knew, and she was the only one not in the know.) All he did was showing us his hand with his wedding ring on. Needless to say that we did not pay any more attention to the chef and sommelier but stroke up a conversation about how things had been. Only after we noticed that the room had gone quiet, did we realize that all eyes were on us. So we stopped talking and Mathieu promised to come to our table to tell us ALL about his proposal, wedding and life on the ship.

Now that the chef had the full attention again we were to taste the ham and the champagne, which turned out pretty tricky with a glass in one hand and a plate in the other. We found a table to put the glass and tried the ham which was really wonderful and just melted in your mouth, then the chef invited us to try out the slicing machine. I think one or two people did try it, Tom and I didn’t. After our welcome in the wine room we were led to our tables and Tom and I got seated in a very nice booth at the window. Our server introduced himself, he was young and very nice, but somehow I don’t remember his name. We had opted for the Champagne pairing and so the sommelier came to our table as well to introduce himself.

With introductions out of the way it was time for food. We were handed a nice menu and told that this was a set menu. A little later we were served some Brioche style bread which came with butter and a small bowl of sea salt. Needless to say we had to try it and it was fresh and light. We enjoyed the view out the window, but soon realized that we were getting closer to Isaac. There was a huge grey wall coming towards us and once it got closer you could see the rain. All so quickly it reached the DREAM and it got darker in the restaurant with rain pouring down the windows in streams. Then our first course, the Gnocchi Chili, very light and fluffy potato gnocci with a wonderful scented foamy sauce

They were served with the Taittinger Prestige Rose, Disney’s signature pink champagne. Our next course was the Lobster Cannelloni, Caviar. And while we were enjoying this, Mathieu came over to ask, how our experience had been so far and to chat a little bit. He said that no one had told his wife to be of his plans and that she was very surprised, especially since most of the crew knew about it as well. They were then married during Nassau day, instead of Castaway Cay, but he said it was a wonderful experience. And then we asked how it felt for him, to know she was in Austria and he was here on the ship. Well, we were told that she was not in Austria, but here on the ship, the only Austrian cast member on board at the time, as hotel director, Andreas, was on vacation. She was working at Guest Services if we wanted to meet her. And then I remembered something, so I asked him if his wife’s name was Bettina. And yes, it was …….. she was the wonderful cast member who had sent us the Magical Moments certificate. We told Mathieu about it and he seemed to be as excited as we had been about it. With the Maitre d’ not being happy about Mathieu tending to other guests than his own he just asked if we would be back for dinner? And the answer was, yes, we would and we would make sure he would be our server again. We needed to finish up our course as they were already waiting with the next one, which was the Sea Bass, Egg, Thai. The presentation of this dish was awesome and the delicate flavours of the fish went so well with the egg mixture and Thai broth it was served with. With it our second Champagne tasting was served, the Pommery Gold ’04 Pop. It went perfectly well with the delicate fish course.

The next course was coming up in a timely manner, it was the Gascogne Pork Loin, Turnips. The pork was a similar breed as the Pata Negra and was sweet and tender and juicy and was served with a rich, slightly sweet sauce. To go with it there were a few round slices of turnips. The server explained that these were cooked very slowly for quite a while to bring out the sweetness of the turnip. He did not lie. These turnips were out of this world good, sweet, soft and the perfect thing to go with the pork loin. We gobbled up every last piece of this delicious course. And while the individual courses were small, they were more than enough to fill you up. But there was still dessert to come, the Duo Chocolate paired with Moet & Chandon Ice.

Now, I was a bit surprised to be served Champagne with ice, but it was the most wonderful thing. We both really loved it. And then there was the dessert. A plate with a square piece of chocolate mousse, encased in a crisp chocolate shell, covered in dark chocolate ganache with a piece of a gold leave in one corner. The server than poured warm hot chocolate all around it. It worked so well together, a heavenly dessert. And while we waited for our bill to arrive we were served another sweet treat. Homemade little chewy French cakes, homemade Marshmallows and two home made lollies. Even though we were so full, we tried the cake bites and Marshmallows and took the lollies with us. We said goodbye to our server after leaving him a nice tip and hugged Mathieu goodbye, promising him to come back for dinner. We hadn't brought any chocolates with us, so we quickly made our way down to our stateroom where we found Pirate headscarves and a little letter on the bed and then quickly filled two small bags with sweets and chocolate and headed back to Remy to hand them to our server and Mathieu. Mathieu promised to share, but we had something else in mind.

After having delivered a little extra treat we went back to our stateroom to dress in some more comfortable things and rest for a little while. And while we were still chilling there was an announcement made by the captain, that they had to cancel the Pirate Party, because of the rain. They were going ahead with the pirate menu in the dining rooms as preparations had already begun, but the party and fireworks would be the next day. It was still raining heavily, so we watched the weather forecast on TV and had a look at what they offered on TV, but after a while we got ready to head down to Guest Services again. And we were on a mission. A mission to find Bettina. So we walked down to the mid ship elevator and went down to deck 3 and over to the Guest Service deck. There were not many people in line and we quickly found someone, who we could ask if they knew Bettina and when she would be there. She was still off duty, but would be there in the evening on the light night shift. So, our next stop was Michelle’s stateroom. There had been a cabin crawl organized, but somehow I did not really get on with the TA who had organized it, so we backed out, but we were very interested in the layout of a handicapped accessible stateroom. So in the afternoon we knocked and Tracy welcomed us in. The stateroom seems huge at first sight, but given that they had a teenager in a wheelchair in there it instantly “shrunk” in size.

We shared some time and thoughts about the cruise until it was time for us to head back to the shops and for Michelle and Angelina to get in line for the character meet and greet. We made it just in time for Angelina to meet with Minnie and Chip and Dale. And after all that fun and play it was finally time to get back to our stateroom and get ready for dinner at Palo. And after a little rest we changed into our Palo attire and then went up to the restaurant. Again, after signing in we were asked to wait at Meridian before we were led into the restaurant. We were seated in one of the booths there were a bit back from the windows and while we were still getting comfortable there, our server, Antonio, came by to introduce himself and hand us a menu.

He then took our order for drinks, water and a Diet Coke. Antonio quickly returned with our drinks and took our dinner order, then returned with the Antipasti cart to prepare a plate with Prosciutto, bresaola, parmesan reggiano, marinated olives, marinated red peppers and artichokes, then drizzled it with aged balsamic. He also brought out the bread basket, Grissini sticks and Focaccia bread.

There was some photo taking and then we started to nibble away. Those antipasti are really wonderful. We had not even finished half of our antipasti when our starters arrived at the table. Tom had ordered the Cioppino, an Italian tomato fish stew with a calamari, clams, shrimp and halibut, scented with garlic and basil. My choice was a lot simpler, I had ordered their modern interpretation of Mozzarella and Plum Tomatoes with Balsamic Dressing. Both were really good and we still nibbled on the antipasti as well. When Antonio came to take away the plates we talked a little about his home town in Italy and how he liked it on the DREAM. This was his first season and he was quite pleased. Soon after he came back with the palate cleanser, Lime sorbet. It was cold and tart and so refreshing. Right after that our main courses were served. Again, Tom had found something unusual that tickled his fancy on the menu. He had ordered the Pan-seared Calves Liver Mele e Cipolle, on polenta cake with caramelized apples and onions, garnished with air-dried prosciutto. And again I had gone the safe route. I had ordered the Beef Tenderloin "Palo", which was served with Palo signature Barolo red wine sauce and their gorgonzola sauce. Antonio had suggested to try it with both sauces and they had divided the plate with a line of balsamic reduction. To say we enjoyed our main courses does not do them justice, they were so good. Tom’s liver was still pink and not chewy at all, while the tenderloin could have been cut with a fork.

We were both pretty full, but Antonio insisted on us having dessert and you cannot let your server down, can you? So we both ordered the Chocolate Soufflé, with Vanilla Bean and Chocolate Sauce. Best soufflé on the planet! So rich, but then so creamy and wonderful, and with both sauces being added even better, if that is possible. Once we were done, we signed the bill after leaving Antonio a nice tip and slowly crawled back to our stateroom. We got changed and rested for a while and then went down to guest services to find Bettina. We got in line, and when we were close enough to read the name tags we saw that she WAS there and let people go ahead of us, so we would get the “right” cast member. Finally it was our turn to head over to her and we were stunned when she greeted us in German. It took us a few moments to get over the shock that she had thrown my nicely planned out conversation out the window, but soon we laughed and she told us how she went through the guest list to find any Austrians on there. We were the only ones on that particular cruise and she was happy to see us.

We thanked her for the Magical Moments Certificate and told her that we had had lunch at Remy and run into her husband. Well, what do you know, she already knew about it. She was laughing when she told us that he had been as excited as he had been to see us again. And she went on to tell us about her engagement on the DREAM and how everyone seemed to have known apart from her. She was so shocked that she craved something sweet when she got back to her stateroom and Mathieu had given her some of our chocolate and wafer biscuits, so we were somehow part of her engagement party. She went on to tell us about their wedding on their Nassau day and that she was pretty happy to work on the ship now, even though, she and Mathieu would not return after their contract. It was sad to hear, but very understandable. We talked about 10 minutes, then she thanked us for the sweets Mathieu had brought back to their cabin and we handed her another little bag full of Austrian candy and chocolate, which made her very happy. We told her to be back later in the cruise and that we would be on board for the next cruise as well before we said our goodbyes and left her to her night shift, while we made our way up to our stateroom to just fall into bed for a good night’s sleep!