The Maitre D’ introduces the chef with a flourish. Flourishes are not his specialty. We have yet to discover what is!
The chef is a kindly looking man in his 50’s with a heavy German accent. I know, a kindly looking German is something new. His chef’s outfit is the whitest thing on the ship. Washed, starched and pressed within an inch of its life, it appears to have shrunk dramatically by the time he put it on. It is very tight. But when worn with a pair of black rubber gloves that finish above the wrist, as the chef is wearing, it is quite the look. Very Karl Lagerfeld He tells us his menu is designed to bring us tastes from around the world, with the wines to match. Each course will look like something it isn’t.
A tantalizing introduction.
As you know, dear readers, every evening should start with a glass of champagne, and I am happy to report that this one does. But we have very little time to enjoy it. The food starts arriving almost immediately. German precision is running the show, and every course flows effortlessly, one after the other, with hardly time to take a breath in between. It is an impressive performance. The servings are very small, but a little more time to savour them and the wine would have been appreciated.
In front of us is a wooden box, black of course, with a small drawer in it. We are given no clues, but on top of it sits an egg timer and some special salt.
The first course is a lollipop sitting in some candy floss
The sommelier comes round and pours the first glass of wine, the waiter lines up two more empty glasses behind it. Clearly the pouring of wine is going to be done with the same German precision
The chef explains that the lollipop is foie gras. He asks us to open the drawer and take out the tiny aerosol spray that is full of a tea coloured liquid. We are to spray the liquid all over the candy floss. As we do so the candy floss melts into the liquid and becomes a dipping sauce. An astounding start to the evening.
The church lady across from me starts tutting that foie gras should be banned, but she is using the vial to make the sauce. She continues to bemoan the fate of the poor goose, but it is hard to understand her as her mouth is full of that poor bird’s liver. She then eats Melvin’s because he doesn’t care for foie gras.
Next an ashtray is placed in front of us. It even has ash in it.
The chef arrives and stands at the head of the table with a large cigar box. He opens the box and clouds of deliciously aromatic smoke pour out. There is a spontaneous round of applause. The chef loves it.
He then goes round the table and places a half smoked cigar with more ash into the ash tray. The ash, he explains, is vegetable ash and edible, and the cigar is his take on a taco
It is my favorite course of the evening, and the largest amount of food we see on a single plate.
By this time the Australian church lady is trying to engage Jewels in a conversation. Jewels is not interested in anything she has to say, and makes that perfectly evident by turning away and ignoring her completely. I’m beginning to like her. Another diner asks Jewels what she does. Jewels has been waiting for this question all evening.
“I am a tax investigator. I investigate tax fraud” she says. That explains why she corrects everything Julian says. A certain level of discomfort settles over the table. Jewels is used to that reaction and sits there smiling. No one says a word until Melvin leans forward and says “I am a tax consultant specialising in tax avoidance”
OK, I should make nice to Melvin.
“Tax avoidance is legal” Jewels says rather officiously, ” fraud is not. I look for people who are committing tax fraud, and I am very good at it”. The confidence in her voice is mixed with enthusiasm and not a little vehemence. She is quite frightening and I am sure she always gets her man, and probably drags them off to jail herself.
I have gone off her again. She certainly knows how to kill an evening.
Fortunately the sommelier is pouring wine faster than anyone can drink it, and soon laughter returns to the table.
Each successive dish seems to top the last. A tall elongated glass dome is place in front of each of us. It is full of smoke and looks spectacular
On the count of three we all remove the dome, smoke pours out leaving behind a tiny succulent smoked rib
And on the evening goes. One course after the next, one wine after the next. Alcohol does what it does best, and the group loosens up. Cheers go up after each course, the chef is in his element. Laughter prevails.
The Fabulosity Meter hasn’t made so much noise in a very long time. It has indeed been a spectacular evening and a wonderful cruise