My Cruise Vacation of Gastronomic Proportions

My ride during Oct. 4 - 11 on Carnival Cruise lines.
My ride during Oct. 4 – 11 on Carnival Cruise lines.

During the first week of October, I forsook my fall traditions – The Luke Bryan Farm Tour, the Georgia National Fair, Homecoming at Old Richland Baptist Church and the Georgia Southern University Homecoming football game – to sail the open seas on the Carnival Liberty. During my seven-day cruise vacation to the Western Caribbean, I didn’t write, cook, work or blog, but…I ate, and what a gastronomic experience it was. This was my second cruise, the first one I’d ever taken with Carnival Cruise lines, and while the food experience varied depending on location in the ship, dinner was the meal I anticipated most, brunch made my heart sing and late night dessert from room service was worth every calorie.

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Our table-mates were from Florida, Nebraska and Savannah, Georgia.

Allow me to introduce you to my new friends and table-mates for the week. From left: My good-looking boyfriend, Kurt, Brandon, Christina, David and Sarah. From right, that’s me, Christy, Scott, Will and Courtney. Y’all know my philosophy, good food and good company…that’s what it’s all about!

Life is good.
Living the good life in Cozumel, Mexico.

We made four stops during the week: 1) Cozumel, Mexico, 2) Belize, 3) Mahogany Bay/Roatan Island in Honduras and 4) Costa Maya, Mexico. In Cozumel, we lounged in hammocks under the palm trees and were serenaded by three natives and their guitars while eating the best guacamole ever in an entertaining little restaurant called Three Amigos.

In Belize, we sipped rum from a fresh coconut and took a 2-hour tour of the city and countryside. Our ferry-boat also broke down in the Atlantic-Caribbean Coast and we had to return to Belize and catch another ferry back to the ship. In Honduras, we swam in the ocean in the pouring rain, and I got my dad a souvenir–a rosewood guitar pick.

Now, this is vacation! Good times in Belize.
Now, this is vacation! Good times in Belize.

In Costa Maya, I tried a native beer called Sol (tasted similar to a Corona) and I bought my mom a hand-carved wind chime.

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Now, let’s get down to the food. Dinner time for us was 8:15 p.m. each evening. Throughout the week, I enjoyed most the lobster and grilled shrimp. My other favorites were Lobster Bisque, Shrimp Cocktail, Alligator Fritters and fresh fish. I ate a lot of seafood–after all we were on the ocean. Here’s a photo gallery of some of the plates and beverages I managed to capture photos of before scarfing them down.

Brunch was served only on days at sea in one of the most elegant dining rooms with big windows. On our first day of travel, we ordered spicy bloody marys and indulged in the French croissants with whipped butter.

One night, just for fun, we ordered cheesecake and chocolate cake from room service.

If you ever take a cruise with Carnival, I highly recommend spending your money on what will be one of the most exquisite and mind-blowing dining experiences you’ll ever have: “The Chef’s Table.” A private dinner with a seating of only 13, you’ll get a tour of the kitchen and one-on-one time with the Chef de Cuisine of the entire ship, along with unlimited wine. I regret to say that I didn’t have my camera on the Tuesday evening of our event, but I’m excited to share the menu we experienced and our group photo with you.

wpid-1014142059-1-1.jpgThe attention to detail, from the correct spelling of my name on both the menu and my place card to the presentation of the plates was absolutely stunning. Chef Singh is one amazingly talented and detail oriented chef. Every week, he and his team cook thousands of dishes for multiple nationalities representing countless cultures. I have so much respect for the man! I was introduced to so many new concepts and flavors. Air pillows and passion caviar anyone? I left completely inspired, really full and a little tipsy.

By far, the highlight of our cruise food experience.
By far, the highlight of our cruise food experience.

After all that food, we still managed to look this good. Thanks Carnival Cruise lines for a vacation to remember!

Owning the cruise ship in our red elegant evening attire.
Owning the cruise ship in our red elegant evening attire.

Savannah Food & Wine Festival to be An Epicurean Celebration of the Senses

Food&WineFestToday kicks off a week-long celebration of Savannah’s first ever Food & Wine Festival. I’m volunteering this Saturday, Nov. 16 during the main event, Taste of Savannah! Not only is the inaugural event being held in one of the most beautiful Southern cities in the world, but all of the proceeds benefit local charitable organizations.

Throughout the week of Nov. 11 – 17, festival attendees will enjoy dinners prepared by award-winning chefs and sample rare wines from around the world. Saturday’s Taste of Savannah features a Culinary Court, Artisan Market, Celebrity Chef Kitchen, Cookbook Author Signing Tent, a Silent Auction and more.

Check out the impressive line-up of local and celebrity chefs making special appearances during the seven-day festival

  • James Beard Foundation’s Hugh Acheson, Chris Hastings, Steven Satterfield and Elizabeth Terry
  • Food Network’s Extreme Chef winner, Anthony Lamas
  • Award-winning chefs Kent Rathbun from Dallas, TX and Shaun Doty from Atlanta, GA
  • Master Sommeliers Robert Jones and Michael McNeill
  • James Beard Foundation’s award-winning cookbook authors, The Lee Brothers from Charleston, SC
  • Artist, Thomas Arvid
  • Vintners, Rob Mondavi, Jr., with Michael Mondavi Family Estate and Joe Shirley, with Napa Cellars

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I’ll be helping out in The Local Palate Celebrity Chef tent at Ellis Square from Noon – 4 p.m. You can also catch me attending the River Street Wine Stroll this Friday night, and at the Official After Party at City Market on Saturday. Y’all stop by and see us! Fantastic food and spirits on the Georgia coast in November? Sounds like a plan to me!

For tickets and the most up-to-date information on Savannah’s inaugural food and wine festival, visit SavannahFoodAndWineFest.com.