WOW!

Some Great… “Qsine” on the Celebrity Silhouette

If you’ve been a reader of this [travel] blog for sometime, I may have convinced you about the benefits of cruising.  You might even think that I’m lobbying for a job with one of the major cruise companies… and seeing as how I’ll need to resume gainful employment sooner rather than later, you may just be right.  If I haven’t yet convinced you to book your next vacation on a massive floating wonderland, let me quickly state my case once again.  Cruising offers you the opportunity to be pampered day and night while visiting far-off locales in multiple countries without unpacking more than once.  You can soak up culture, splurge on shopping, enjoy theatre, gamble in the casino, relax in the spa or simply sit in your room and enjoy room service while taking in the most magical of views.

Julia is no stranger to being pampered.  It scares me that two year old now hands me the phone and tells me to "order dinner"
Julia is no stranger to being pampered. It scares me that my two year old now hands me the phone and tells me to “order dinner”

On top of all that, you will enjoy delectable cuisine any time of day or night.  In my opinion (which, I’ve found is more fact than opinion since I’m right 98.8% of the time… just ask Jen), one of the best things about cruising is the food.  I once read that the weight gain for your average cruise-goer can be up to a pound a day (do the math for a two week cruise).  If the food can be the star of the show, truth be told – it can also be the downfall of your vacation if you’re served meals that are no better than bad banquet food (and you thought you had a lousy meal at Moritz Rosenstien’s bar mitzvah?).  That is why careful research about your cruise line (and more importantly, the specific cruise ship) is of the utmost importance.  We  chose our most recent Mediterranean cruise on one of Celebrity Cruises newest ships, the Silhouette based on the itinerary and overwhelmingly positive reviews of the food.  We were not disappointed.

"Tell me more, Greg"
“Tell me more, Dad. Give me the ins and outs of it all!”

It works like this; your per person cruise fare includes all the food in most of the ship’s restaurants.  It will not include alcohol or soda, but you can purchase these “extras” with a drink package or à la carte as you go.  Most ships have one or two main dining halls, where you can opt to eat your sit-down breakfast and dinner, paired at tables with other guests or by yourself (the choice is yours).  This is where you will have your “fixed” dining time for dinner, although it is entirely up to you if you want to show up.  Some cruise lines (Norwegian Cruise Lines) opt for a “freestyle” type of dining, so you just show up whenever you want.  Nowadays, even the “fixed” dining times are fairly flexible on most ships.  If you don’t want to slip out of your wife-beater and into a collared shirt, you’ll want to meander to the buffet on the upper level of the ship.  Here you can serve yourself breakfast, lunch and dinner from the vast array of options (anything from contemporary American to Indian).  At peak meal times you’d better have a “table-holder” and a “food-runner” who is not afraid to throw bows“; it does get crowded.  Don’t let any of those little old blue hairs fool you – they get serious about being next in line at the omelet station!  Finally, you’ll have another casual restaurant near the pool deck – a pizza and/or burger joint.  This is the basic formula for most cruise ships.  Beyond that, larger ships have a few extra “free” options and then their “specialty dining” options.

In the main dining room where, on the last night they featured a party to introduce the entire staff
In the main dining room where, on the last night they had a party to introduce the entire staff

The specialty dining restaurants usually range from $15/per person to $50/per person (not including gratuity).  We found that on our Holland America cruise last summer onboard the Nieuw Amsterdam, their specialty dining was a steal.  For $60 total (including tip), we ate at the Pinnacle Grill, a fabulous steak house – a meal that would easily approach $300 in any major city (that story is at the bottom of this post).  On our next cruise this past winter on board the Silhouette, our ship offered more dining options, but at more of a premium.  At $110+ per meal ($45/pp plus tip) we knew that we wouldn’t be able to enjoy all their fabulous specialty dining options – many of which feature James Beard chefs (Qsine, Blu, Murano, Tuscan Grill, Lawn Club, Bistro on Five and Bacio Gelateria).  We had to choose carefully among them… and I think we nailed it!

The chef's are like rock stars.  Here, our Executive Chef (Anthony R. Wilson) ascends through the stage floor like he's Mick Jagger
The chef’s are like rock stars. Here, our Executive Chef (Anthony R. Wilson) ascends through the stage floor like he’s Mick Jagger
Julia was quite literally knocked off her seat at the spectacle
Julia was quite literally knocked off her seat at the spectacle

Since this is not only a travel blog but also a food blog (identity crisis, much?), I have used this post to feature two of the “specialty dining” restaurants on the Silhouette.  This post is dedicated to two fabulous (is there a stronger word than fabulous?  If so… insert it please) meals that we enjoyed at Qsine and Murano.   I have included a description of each restaurant, copied directly from the company website.

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Qsine® offers a culinary journey that delivers elements of surprise and delight. Our James Beard featured Master Chef created Qsine to give you something you’ve never experienced before—on land or at sea. Leave any preconceived notions behind. Dig in and try new things. It’s time your palate got a wakeup call. Our iPad® menus make your dining experience even more fun and interactive.

"Popcorn" Fish n' Chips - Boddingtons Battered Codfish & Chips, Malt Vinegar or Aioli
“Popcorn” Fish n’ Chips – Boddingtons Battered Codfish & Chips, Malt Vinegar or Aioli
Sushi Lollipops - Nigiri Sushi, Soy Center, Wasabi Mayo & Pickled Ginger-Radish Salad
Sushi Lollipops – Nigiri Sushi, Soy Center, Wasabi Mayo & Pickled Ginger-Radish Salad
Disco Shrimp - Bouillon Poached Tiger Shrimp, Avocado, Tomato & Celery, with Cocktail Aioli and Crunchy Toppings
Disco Shrimp – Bouillon Poached Tiger Shrimp, Avocado, Tomato & Celery, with Cocktail Aioli and Crunchy Toppings
Lava Crab - Alaskan King Crab, Sweet Yellow Corn & Scallions, Kataifi with Old-Bay Lobster Sauce
Lava Crab – Alaskan King Crab, Sweet Yellow Corn & Scallions, Kataifi with Old-Bay Lobster Sauce
Lobster Escargot - Lobster & Escargot Fritters with Parsley-Garlic Butter Sauce
Lobster Escargot – Lobster & Escargot Fritters with Parsley-Garlic Butter Sauce
Slider Party - Grilled Angus Beef Patties, Aged Wisconsin Cheddar, "Qsine Slider Sauce", Brioche Buns & Garnishes...
Slider Party – Grilled Angus Beef Patties, Aged Wisconsin Cheddar, “Qsine Slider Sauce”, Brioche Buns & Garnishes…
Taco "Royale" - Black Angus Sirloin Steak, Unordinary Tacos, Caramelized Onion-Poblano & Mortar Pestle Guacamole
Taco “Royale” – Black Angus Sirloin Steak, Unordinary Tacos, Caramelized Onion-Poblano & Mortar Pestle Guacamole
Julia needed a chefs hat to properly mix the guacamole
Julia needed a chefs hat to properly mix the guacamole
Painter's Mignon - Filet Mignon with palatable pleasers
Painter’s Mignon – Filet Mignon with palatable pleasers
You can use the "surprise" puzzle box to select your dessert
You can use the “surprise” puzzle box to select your dessert
Or they'll just show up with candied lollipops to tease your senses
Or they’ll just show up with candied lollipops to tease your senses

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Impeccable service, classic design, world-class cuisine and comfortable sophistication are celebrated to the utmost in Murano. Experience tableside lobster presentation, an expansive selection of artisanal cheeses from around the world, or the extensive American and French wine list.

Charming and timeless, Murano transports you, through palate and décor, to a modern and sophisticated level of dining.

Jen and I are all aglow while attending an adult dinner without kids forks and sippy cups
Jen and I are all aglow while attending an adult dinner without kids forks and sippy cups
The lobster bisque had a wonderful table side presentation
The lobster bisque had a wonderful table side presentation
Creamy Maine Lobster Bisque - Leek and Shallot Flan, Cognac Cream, Crispy Sweet Yellow Corn Beignets
Creamy Maine Lobster Bisque – Leek and Shallot Flan, Cognac Cream, Crispy Sweet Yellow Corn Beignets
Pork Belly - Parsnip Purée, Caramelized Apples, Calvados Jus
Pork Belly – Parsnip Purée, Caramelized Apples, Calvados Jus
Warm Goat Cheese Soufflé - Smoked Tomato Coulis, Parmesan Cream, Basil Pesto
Warm Goat Cheese Soufflé – Smoked Tomato Coulis, Parmesan Cream, Basil Pesto
Smoked Salmon & Peekytoe Crab Parfait - Layered with Avocado, Salmon Caviar, Crème Fraîche, Petite Greens
Smoked Salmon & Peekytoe Crab Parfait – Layered with Avocado, Salmon Caviar, Crème Fraîche, Petite Greens
Jen's lobster was prepared table side - this poor guy almost never left the side of our table with all of his various preparations
Jen’s lobster was prepared table side – this poor guy almost never left the side of our table with all of his various preparations
Some of the ingredients mixed in to her lobster dish
Some of the ingredients mixed in to her lobster dish
Greg's Herb Crusted Lamb Rack - Pea Purée, Tomato Confit, Baby Carrots, Spice Meatball, Garlic Jus
Greg’s Herb Crusted Lamb Rack – Pea Purée, Tomato Confit, Baby Carrots, Spice Meatball, Garlic Jus
Jen's Murano Lobster - Cognac Flambéed Warm Water Lobster Tail, Fresh Basil, Applewood Smoked Bacon, Dijon-Cream
Jen’s Murano Lobster – Cognac Flambéed Warm Water Lobster Tail, Fresh Basil, Applewood Smoked Bacon, Dijon-Cream
A Fine Selection of Artisan Cheeses served with Pain de Campagne and Dry Fruits
A Fine Selection of Artisan Cheeses served with Pain de Campagne and Dry Fruits
My cheese plate
My cheese plate
WOW!
WOW!
Caramel and White Coffee Ice Cream, Dolce, Far Niente, Napa Valley
Caramel and White Coffee Ice Cream, Dolce, Far Niente, Napa Valley
Grand Marnier Soufflé Crème Anglaise á la Gousse Tahitienne
Grand Marnier Soufflé – Crème Anglaise á la Gousse Tahitienne
Crepe with fresh fruit topping prepared table side
Crêpe with fresh fruit topping prepared table side

We were drawn in by the fun food-play in Qsine and the ability to order our meal on iPads.  The food and ambiance did not disappoint. We thoroughly enjoyed our meal at Murano because we had a built in surprise.  My parents wanted to give Jen this meal for her birthday and even included four hours of “in-room” babysitting for Julia, which was even sweeter than the restaurant’s jaw dropping desserts.  And in case you were counting, yes – that was four appetizers and three desserts in Murano (and countless dishes in Qsine).  I mean, once you pay the price of admission… it’s all included, after all!

I hope you enjoyed taking another culinary voyage with me (this time on the high seas).  I hope your taste buds were satisfied.  Tune back in soon when we conclude our cruise with visits to Montenegro, Croatia, Sicily and Naples.  Ciao tutti!

This Will Get Your "Kotor" Running!
Let's Set Sail Together Again (Corfu, Greece)!

Please let me know your thoughts!