Those of you that have been reading my blog likely know by now that food is the way to my heart. And I am always open to and appreciative of a good ethnic meal.
Luckily, I got to experience an authentic piece of Italy today, onboard an authentic (and gorgeous) Italian cruise ship — the Costa Mediterranea! My morning began with a nice frothy cup of cappuccino — and great service to go along with it. So good so far. After a three-hour walking tour of the ship, I had the privilege of having lunch onboard in one of the ship’s main dining rooms.
Like any good Italian meal, this meal started off with antipasti. Prosciutto crudo e Grana Padano con bruschetta al pomodoro. Translation: Raw ham and Grana Padano cheese with tomato “bruschetta.” (I had the privilege of walking through the galley of the Mediterranea earlier and saw the chefs carving the chunks of cheese out of a humongous cheese wheel, so had been mentally drooling and super eager to try this appetizer.)
The cheese and ham both had a bold flavor — my preferred taste profile — though I’d have to say I enjoyed the cheese more than the ham, and would give the cheese a fine and the ham an okay-fine. Compared to the cheese and ham, the crostini with bruschetta on the side just tasted like bread with tomatoes slapped on top, so I think I’d give that a below average. Good thing it was only a bite of the appetizer.
Next up, Linguine al pomodoro fresco e basilico. That’s linguine with fresh tomatoes and basil. Needless to say, Italians sure can cook their pasta! Perfect al-dente, my favorite. Slightly salty, slightly tangy tomatoes and sauce to taste ladled right on top. Look how fresh those tomatoes are! Delizioso! I’d rate this one a fine-good.
And now, the main course… Filetto di tilapia in padella. Pan-fried tilapia with toasted hazelnuts, garlic chips, spinach and Jerez vinegar. The fish had a very natural (seafood) flavor and was moist and tender without falling apart. Impressive. The bed of spinach on the bottom was also quite good. Not overcooked and mushy, and also a good, healthy serving size. I was a bit puzzled by the piece of potato underneath the fish, but since it looked kind of plain, I left it until the end of the meal and was too stuffed by then to eat it, so despite hating to waste food, had to send it away. Overall, fine-good!
Dessert was a serving of papaya mousse. Torta di mousse alla papaia. A relatively small helping of dessert — at least compared to other desserts I’ve had on cruise ships — but you know what? I tend to consume dessert in small doses anyway, so it was a perfect size for me! FYI, I’m usually not a fan of papaya, but the mousse had only a light hint of papaya, so I actually enjoyed it quite a bit. The mousse also had a light texture… bonus! I give this a fine-good.
Overall, I was pretty impressed with the food onboard the Costa Mediterranea. But now I kinda sorta want to book a cruise… too bad I don’t have enough accumulated vacation days yet…