Location: Verandah Restaurant, Cunard Queen Victoria
Host(s): Vellen Mootoosamy, Chief Sommelier, James Abilash Executive Chef and Maya Todorova, Head Waitress.
Dinner Price: $250/person and Lunch $80
Comments: We love wine tasting, but pairing wine with good food is really a treat. On our recent cruise around South America on Cunard’s Queen Victoria we had the opportunity to have both a wine paring dinner and wine paring lunch in the Verandah Restaurant hosted by the Chief Sommelier Vellen Mootoosamy, Executive Chef James Abilash and the very special Verandah Restaurant Head Waitress Maya Todorova . Several years ago we attended a wine-pairing dinner hosted by Chef Abilash and another sommelier (see Wine Pairing Dinner On A Cruse Ship: Cunard Queen Elizabeth) that we thought was outstanding. The lunch wines were all from Italy and primarily from the lower end ($50-90) of the ships wine list. The dinner wines were from around the world, but from the higher end of the ships wine list ($90-230). The dinner consisted of nine courses paired with eight wines; the lunch was five courses with eight wines.
One very interesting thing to come out of these dinners was our comment on serving white wines very cold resulted in a change. While we were on this round South America trip we had several wine pairing and tasting events with Chief Sommelier, Vellen Mootoosamy and consistently he served the white wines very cold. Not being shy we asked why he served the white wines so cold. He said he thought most of passengers were used to and expected them to be cold. We accepted that answer, but noticed at later events the white wines were served with just a slight chill. We thought this resulted in them having stronger aromas and increased flavors. It was also interesting to note that when they were served with just a slight chill nobody complained they were not cold enough!!!
Wine: Les Clans, Chateau d’Esclans, Provence
Salad of Rock Lobster and Pacific Sea Scallop with Caviar
Wine: Veuve Clicquot La Grande Dame
Globe Artichoke Veloute with Norwegian King Crab
Wine: Sancerre, Grande Cuvee, Comte Lafond
Pan Seared Lafitte Strasbourg Foie Gras with Raspberry Port Jello
Wine: Klein Constanti, Muscat, Vin de Constance, Natural Sweet Wine, South Africa
North East Atlantic Dover Sole Fillet with White Grapes, Gratinated with a light Saffron Sabayon
Wine: Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru, Domaine Bonneau Du Martray
Brookfield Veal Confit Ravioli with Morel Mushroom infused Burro Fuso
Wine: Clos de Vougeot Vieilles Vignes Grand Cru, Chateau de la Tour
Fillet of Beef with Potato Rosti and Wild Mushroom Emulsion
Chateau Clerc Milon, 5ee Cru Classe
Valrhona Dark Chocolate Mousse with White Chocolate Fallen Cake and Clotted Cream Ice Cream
Wine: Warre 1970
Wine: Prosecco Special Cuvee
Atlantic Monkfish Fillet wrapped in Serrano Ham with Sweet Roasted Tomato Sauce, Herb Couscous and Petits Poos a la Francaise
Wine: Arneis, Cantine Giacomo ascheri, Piedmont and
Rjgialla, La Tuella, Friuli Colli Orientali
Breast of Guinea Fowl in Madeira Cream Sauce with Baked Tartifette Potatoes
Wine: Taurasi, Feudi di San Gregorio, Campania;
Passopisciaro, Andrea Franchetti, IGT Sicilly
Beef Fillet with Buttered Fondant Potato Caramelized Shallots, Bone Marrow Crumb and Whisky Sauce
Wine: La Grola, Allegrini, Vento;
Chianti Rufina Fattoria di Basciano
Duo of Ricotta Cheese Cake and Bartlett Pear Crumble
Wine: Moscato d’Asti DOCG, Fratelli Antonio e Raimondo
Each wine was paired well with the food and Sommelier Mootoosamy explained his reasons for each pairing and than asked participants for their opinions and thoughts after each course. We found the most interesting pairing to be one we would not have served. It was the Pan Seared Lafitte Strasbourg Foie Gras with Raspberry Port Jello paired with the Klein Constanti, Muscat, Vin de Constance, from South Africa. The sauteed foie gras was juicy, rich and luscious, but the acidity in the wine completely cleared the palate. We also would not have served this sweet wine in the middle of the dinner, but it worked very well with both the timing and pairing.
The whole pairing experience was unique and enjoyable. The restaurant ambience was quiet and relaxed with a harpist playing in the background. The food portions were VERY GENEROUS and by the end of the meal a bit overwhelming (remember no doggy bags on a cruise ship). The wine pourings were very adequate and were about an eighth of a bottle or more. Needless to say we found both of these wine pairings enjoyable and educational, the food was memorable and we would STRONGLY RECOMMEND these events to anyone on a Cunard cruise.