Oceania - a Wave of New Cuisine

| Thursday, 21 Feb. 2013

The beautiful new Marina by Oceania

Oceania Cruises, a culinary trendsetter, makes news again by instituting sweeping changes to the main dining room menu. A whopping 85 new dishes are in place in the Grand Dining Room on Riviera, the line's newest ship. By the end of April, the entire fleet should feature this fare.

Most upper-premium (Oceania Cruises' category, although its cuisine is luxury-class) and six-star lines rarely make vast menu changes. In fact, they rarely make any changes. That's because it's difficult. Each redo involves multiple components; ingredients, purveyors, budgets, cook training to consistently execute and plate the new cuisine, rearranging galley set-ups, equipment and educating servers in explanations and presentations. And new dishes must be rolled out on each ship of a cruise company and be prepared exactly the same.

Are you aware of Oceania Cuisine? Tell us here: Oceania Cruise Forum

Because of these monumental challenges, a cruise line usually doesn't fix what isn't broken. Plus, many repeat guests enjoy eating the same food on their next sail. (Although that latter concept is changing; loyalty means less than price these days, plus aging baby boomers are more gastronomically adventurous than their parents' generation.)

When menu changes do occur, they are usually in specialty restaurants, which are most ships' culinary calling cards. That's where lines focus on upping their gastronomic wow factor. On many ships, guests tend to dine in the main restaurant simply because it's easier (no need for reservations) or the food is simpler or more classic.

But on Oceania, the main dining room has always been destination dining. Let me be clear; the changes to the Grand Dining Room are not because the old menu was failing. Quite the opposite. The head honchos of this line are passionate about serving cuisine rivaling the best restaurants ashore. This is no public relations gimmick. When I sailed on Marina, I marveled over the quality ingredients, preparation and the way the kitchen captured au courant culinary trends. This line simply wants to not just keep up with the times, but rather, stay ahead of them.

Oceania Cruises is fortunate to have a big weapon - Franck Garanger as fleet corporate chef. This top toque is as talented as any Michelin-starred chef onshore. (His background is most illustrious.) To create the new cuisine, Garanger spent eight months leading a strong culinary team in designing and testing dishes.

Are you aware of Oceania Cuisine? Tell us here: Oceania Cruise Forum

Warm Duck Pate in Puff Pastry with Port Wine Sauce

So what's on the new menus? Here's a sampling: Roast Segovian (Spanish town renowned for roast pork) Suckling Pig with Rosemary Fingerling Potatoes; per Scallops over Orange-Braised Enpe with Vanilla Vinaigrette Salad; Warm Duck Pate in Puff Pastry with Port Wine Sauce; Steamed Maine Lobster on Castilla-La Mancha (region in center of the Iberian peninsula) Saffron Rice.

Sreamed Maine Lobster on Castilla-La Mancha

With some 85 new dishes, Oceania once again proves that when it comes to cuisine, cutting-edge and out-to-sea can go hand-in-hand. ( oceaniacruises.com)

Are you aware of Oceania Cuisine? Tell us here: Oceania Cruise Forum

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