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Bart Basi

Cruise Selection - Good Food Critical

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11 hours ago, navybankerteacher said:

I have to wonde: where do all the gourmets, who are so dismissive of cruise ship meals, eat out when ashore?   It strikes me as strongly probable that the people who frequent mass market cruise ships are likely to be the same people who frequent land based mass market restaurants.  I have never found any mass market restaurant to provide meals (or service) equal to what is provided in mass market seagoing MDR’s (NCL excluded).

 

How are the Olive Gardens, Red Lobsters, Ponderosas, Long John Silvers, Bertuccis, etc. (not to mention McDonalds, Burger King, Wendy’s, IHOP’s, Denny’s, etc.) able to attract the obvious millions of customers who daily keep them in business - in spite of the fact that those millions eating ashore have other options (bag lunches, eating at home, etc.) — those millions obviously including the gourmets who find cruise ship food so unsatisfactory - yet still flock in their millions to those shoreside establishments?

Not sure we want to go there because it might not be good for the cruise lines.  For example, if I go to IHOP and order pancakes or waffles they will come fresh, hot, and good.  Get waffles on most cruise ships and they have been sitting on a steam table  and are not so good.  And it is the same with Pancakes.  If I go into a Waffle Shop and order an omelet the cook will crack some real eggs and make a decent omelet.  On most ships they now refuse to use real eggs, but will ladle some  slop that is called pasteurized commercial eggs and comes out of a large mild carton.  On our last HAL cruise, I actually asked the cook (in the Lido) if he could make me a 3 egg omelet with real eggs and he quietly told me no.  They did have real eggs but could only use them for things like over easy or soft boiled eggs.  Omelets and scrambled eggs were to be made from the slop out of mild cartons.  But this is not about HAL (as good as any line) because it is the same on most lines.  

 

It is not about being a gourmet, but about even getting basic cuisine.  The quality of beef we buy to cook at home is far superior then what we get on most cruise lines...even in their extra cost alternative restaurants.   This is not about being a "gourmet" but simply wanting a decent steak, lamb chops, etc.  What is now served as "lobster tail" on many ships would be akin to a nearby diner (to where we live) that serve 2 lobster tails with all the sides for $19.99.  And their lobster tails are pretty decent cold water tails.

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9 hours ago, Bart Basi said:

Hi,

 

So navybankerteacher raised a good question when they asked (I'm going to paraphrase) - where do foodies go out to eat?.

 

This is a question I some insight into, but I'd like to tell you a bit about me so you can understand how I have come to form my opinion.  I live in a small university town, where the total metropolitan area is around 235,000 people (i'm extrapolating from 2010 census data). As a university town, in spite of our geographical location we have a very large population from the east and west coasts along with large numbers of people from Europe and Asia.

 

In this town my wife owns a gourmet grocery store.  By gourmet we carry whole fresh grade A Foie Gras, Duck Confit, Iberico de Bellota, we fly in Grade 1+ Sushi/Sashimi Grade Tuna from Japan, Loup de Mer from France, Dunbarton Blue, Black Truffle Gouda, 3-8 year old parmigiano reggiano, we make fresh pasta in house, we carry an exclusive curated selection of wine and spirits.  Therefore, the gourmet's/foodies who live here tend to shop at my wife's store.

 

We don't make much money running the business, but we really love sharing the finest food on earth with people.  We also know most people in town do not shop with us.  The idea of paying $125.00/lb for ham is insane to many people.  We understand that, but - the idea of paying $6.00 for 6 slices of this amazing spanish ham, spending $4.00 on a quarter pound of Cabrales (An incredible Spanish blue) and $4.00 for a fresh french baguette give's you an amazing lunch for 2 for less than $15.00.  

 

And yet - only about 20% of the people who live here shop with my wife.

 

 

 

 

Bart

 

 

Interesting -- thanks.   One of the things that struck me is if you are in a college town, it is likely most students cannot afford you gourmet store.  Having 20% of the population as customers to a gourmet specialty store is going to be pretty darn good -- congrats!   

 

I am pretty basic.  Give me fresh ingredients of reasonable quality that are prepared well and I'm a happy camper.   

 

PS: I like pancakes at IHOP.  Not the fancy ones with whip cream, etc.  Just plain old hot cakes.  

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I think the last time I was in  fast food restaurant was in 1982.

 

The food may taste good but once you swallow it does you no good.

 

 

 

 

 

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21 hours ago, cruisemom42 said:

Many others who post about food are complaining more about the degradation of quality from previous levels than about a desire for truly gourmet food.

 

Or, a desire for truly good food.....whether or not it's "gourmet" food.  Really good food can come from a diner or a top chef, it can come from 3 ingredients and one pot, or from a dozen ingredients and 3 different cooking methods.  Really good food isn't always gourmet, but it's always good.  And, yes, that's subjective -- what's good to me might be only "meh" to someone else, not because their tastes are somehow more refined or gourmet, just that they have a taste palette different from mine. 

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12 hours ago, lenquixote66 said:

The food may taste good

For me, it's the smell......I think it always smells good (fat, salt, and heat are a great combo), but I've learned that it always smells better than it tastes.  Especially donuts. 

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On 1/27/2019 at 5:19 AM, Sue's Mom said:

One dinner option with our last RC cruise was cottage pie (stewed minced beef topped with browned mashed potato), which is a very low budget meal in the U.K.  So disappointing.

 

Yes, it is a low budget meal.  But I get it because it isn't something you see in Mississippi.

 

On 1/28/2019 at 8:11 AM, Bart Basi said:

spending $4.00 on a quarter pound of Cabrales (An incredible Spanish blue)

 

I am always on a search for excellent blue cheese.  $4 for a quarter pound is quite reasonable.  I pay $16 a pound for Murray's gorgonzola.  Always loved Maytag and used to get it shipped in regularly.

 

Never waste my time eating a steak on a cruise.  I can do one much better at home.

 

 

 

 

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On 1/28/2019 at 11:06 AM, Hlitner said:

Not sure we want to go there because it might not be good for the cruise lines.  For example, if I go to IHOP and order pancakes or waffles they will come fresh, hot, and good.  Get waffles on most cruise ships and they have been sitting on a steam table  and are not so good.  And it is the same with Pancakes.  If I go into a Waffle Shop and order an omelet the cook will crack some real eggs and make a decent omelet.  On most ships they now refuse to use real eggs, but will ladle some  slop that is called pasteurized commercial eggs and comes out of a large mild carton.  On our last HAL cruise, I actually asked the cook (in the Lido) if he could make me a 3 egg omelet with real eggs and he quietly told me no.  They did have real eggs but could only use them for things like over easy or soft boiled eggs.  Omelets and scrambled eggs were to be made from the slop out of mild cartons.  But this is not about HAL (as good as any line) because it is the same on most lines.  

 

It is not about being a gourmet, but about even getting basic cuisine.  The quality of beef we buy to cook at home is far superior then what we get on most cruise lines...even in their extra cost alternative restaurants.   This is not about being a "gourmet" but simply wanting a decent steak, lamb chops, etc.  What is now served as "lobster tail" on many ships would be akin to a nearby diner (to where we live) that serve 2 lobster tails with all the sides for $19.99.  And their lobster tails are pretty decent cold water tails.

 

With respect to eggs, this is one area where Carnival surprisingly does a good job.  Their omelet station uses real eggs, and at Blue Iguana I was able to get my Huevos Rancheros with the eggs mixed and fried over-medium (I don't like dippy eggs).  

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48 minutes ago, pacruise804 said:

 

With respect to eggs, this is one area where Carnival surprisingly does a good job.  Their omelet station uses real eggs, and at Blue Iguana I was able to get my Huevos Rancheros with the eggs mixed and fried over-medium (I don't like dippy eggs).  

We have done a few Carnival cruises and always found their buffet pretty decent.  I did not know they are still using real eggs, which is kind of interesting since Princess and HAL (both owned by CCL) do not generally use real eggs for either omelets or scrambled eggs.   HAL has really gone from one extreme to the other.  They used to use real eggs for omelets, had a really nice Eggs Benedict station (with many options) and also had Fresh Squeezed OJ (for free) at the Lido.  Now, they use pasteurized eggs for many things, the Fresh Squeeze OJ is history, and the Eggs Benedict options have been cut-back.

 

Hank

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32 minutes ago, Hlitner said:

We have done a few Carnival cruises and always found their buffet pretty decent.  I did not know they are still using real eggs, which is kind of interesting since Princess and HAL (both owned by CCL) do not generally use real eggs for either omelets or scrambled eggs.   HAL has really gone from one extreme to the other.  They used to use real eggs for omelets, had a really nice Eggs Benedict station (with many options) and also had Fresh Squeezed OJ (for free) at the Lido.  Now, they use pasteurized eggs for many things, the Fresh Squeeze OJ is history, and the Eggs Benedict options have been cut-back.

 

Hank

Agreed - HAL’s Lido breakfasts have shown the most dramatic and obvious decline: fresh squeezed orange juice, whole eggs and decent eggs Benedict sauce, etc. being replaced. The only option is to go for the basics:  eggs over, select your own reasonable bacon or properly  cooked sausage, they can’t muck up toast , and their cranberry juice ( nobody ever served that fresh squeezed) is pretty good. Of course, bring you’re own tea bags.

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