By Linda O’Keefe
Hello from the high seas somewhere between the Bahamas and Tortola! Tim and I had a beautiful day yesterday on a self-guided tour of Half Moon Cay, Holland America’s private island in the Bahamas. Half Moon Cay has one of the most beautiful beaches I’ve ever seen.
The crescent shaped white sand beach was like a Cheshire Cat smile against the brilliant blue green of the Caribbean Sea. HAL has done a great job with the beach facilities from private cabanas to tropical mist huts and foot showers along with the usual lounge chairs and hammocks.
Kids can enjoy a playground area with the usual slides and swings but also mini wooden pirate ships outfitted even with a ship’s wheel. I overheard one little girl telling her grandfather (or father?) “We can’t leave until we go on everything here”.
After our rough start, things seem to be settling down. Except for the seas. We all look like drunken sailors as we attempt to maneuver the long hallways.\
I took in a cooking exhibition this morning with Chef Das who previewed the new Evening at Le Cirque by preparing a lobster salad and a crème brulee from the menu of the famous New York restaurant. The Evening at Le Cirque is a brand new addition to the fine dining in the Pinnacle Grill, not debuting on any HAL ship until Nov. 21–and lucky for us–the Maasdam is the first to introduce the experience.
With a 3-star Michelin rating, experts rank Le Cirque as one of the world’s best restaurants in the world, so this should be fun! Plans call for HAL to have this available on all its ships by the end of December. Evening at Le Cirque is supposed to be featured at least once on every cruise. In addition to serving food from Le Cirque’s menu, the Pinnacle will be redecorated with artwork from the New York restaurant.
As Chef Das prepares the lobster salad and crème brulee, he seems to glide as he puts everything together. Wonder if I could move so effortlessly? Maybe if I, too, had everything already cooked, sitting there waiting for me to whisk the final sauce and put together a magnificent presentation.
The best part of the demonstration was when Chef Das whipped out a propane torch to brown the top of the brulee. Then we were served tiny ramekins of the crème brulee, thank you very much, and it was amazing. Each spoonful was a delicate but firm vanilla cream that fused with the crunchy caramelized topping to create that famous brulee burst of flavor.
Assistants handed out cards with the recipe for each item. Unfortunately, the lobster salad would be expensive to make at home due to all the special vinegars and oils used that I don’t have on hand in my pantry. One especially useful tidbit I learned was not to use cold pressed extra virgin olive oil in cooking but only for salads because it burns too easily and tastes rancid.
A great day and look forward to tomorrow in Tortola.