All photos by Jason Leppert
Viking Ocean Cruises' new Viking Sea - sister ship to the successful Viking Star launched last year - is currently sailing in the Mediterranean ahead of its official christening and naming ceremony, and we're onboard to preview all the beautiful ship has to offer its guests, including the wonderful Kitchen Table dining experience.
The cuisine onboard Viking Ocean Cruises is something special, luxury quality food without any pretense, served in a casual setting. From the main dining room and buffet to a pair of specialty restaurants, all of which are available at no extra charge, fine culinary arts are excellently represented. Only The Kitchen Table costs extra but is well worth the $199 premium as it consists of equal parts specialty shore excursion, interactive cooking demonstration and fantastic meal.
The executive chefs onboard relish the opportunity to take guests out to local markets, especially in Barcelona, Spain, where the selection of fresh produce and proteins is abundant. We spent the morning discovering fruits and vegetables that were new to us and, in the case of the nispero fruit, new to one of the chefs even. Later in the evening it made for a perfectly balanced tart sorbet we had the pleasure of enjoying as a palate cleaner.
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We also picked up a bundle of fresh seafood, chorizo and prosciutto, olives, cheese, paprika, salt and more. The colors of the market were mesmerizing, a truth perhaps accentuated after a glass of sparkling Cava wine that we toasted with upon concluding our shopping spree.
Back onboard at dinner time, our group and chefs joined together again in a specialty dining room nestled in between the specialty restaurants' galleys - reminiscent of an Apple Store, complete with gleaming white glossy surfaces and digital displays that mirrored the cooking demos below. In the center is a communal table, and off to one side is a counter with sinks, where we prepared Spanish tapas.
Willy Wonka would feel right at home in the room as its glass surrounds can be electrically switched on or off between transparent and opaque, and a final showcase counter is positioned in front of such a glass view into the adjacent galley. Here the chefs and some guests prepared tasty tuna tacos, perched in a bed of guacamole, and our seafood paella entree as well. They even went out of their way to make a delicious vegan variety for one of our travel mates.
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When it came to dine, the flavors were local and explosive, the hallmark of this experience that brings the destination to life through fresh food. The tapas to start were delectable and other courses, like razor clam ceviche, led perfectly to the paella that tasted of the regional sea from which its components originated. And of course, no one went wrong with a sampler of four desserts arranged left to right with churros, a cheesecake, fruit minestrone and creme catalan.
In short, the Kitchen Table experience is highly recommended for foodies who appreciate great destination-inspired food and excellent paired wines as well.
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