Silversea’s New S.A.L.T. Culinary Program Immerses Guests in Their Destination
Until last week when I sailed a segment of Silver Moon’s Panama Canal voyage from Fort Lauderdale, the dishes I most closely associated with Mexico and the Caribbean were things like chicken wings, jalapeno poppers, nachos and other artery-cloggers I’d pluck off the grubby menus of places like Señor Frog’s.
Silversea’s Silver Moon has changed all that with S.A.L.T (Sea and Land Taste), an innovative and ambitious five-pronged program that immerses guests in the local cuisine, traditions and culinary heritage of a voyage’s destination–in my case, Honduras, Mexico, Costa Rica, and Panama.
S.A.L.T was designed by Silversea in collaboration with award-winning travel and food writer Adam Sachs, most recently Editor-in-Chief of the prestigious Saveur Magazine. “My mission for S.A.L.T,” states Sachs, “is simply to apply an endless curiosity and adventurous appetite to deep-dive explorations of the ingredients, cuisine and rituals of the countries and communities we visit.”
And that he does with a program that is, at once, educational, entertaining, fun and, above all, delicious!
–The S.A.L.T. Lab is an elaborate hands-on kitchen where guests whip up a local dish while receiving instruction and hearing the fascinating story of the ingredients and their place in the history of the region. Did you know, for example, that tamales didn’t suddenly pop up at your local Mexican take-out joint, but date back to 8000 B.C. and appear in South American cave drawings and hieroglyphics? And bravo to the S.A.L.T. Lab for selecting dishes that are simple enough for even novice cooks to prepare: the colors, textures and taste of my finished Tamal de Olla were inspiring!
–The S.A.L.T. Talks include entertaining and informative lectures that explore a region’s culinary focus and often include a cooking demonstration and discussion of the most suitable wine for the dish—samples and recipes included. On my sailing, Nicholas Gill, co-author of The Latin American Cookbook, took us on a culinary journey of dishes and ingredients that span Mexico’s tropical coasts to the icy islands at the foot of South America, skipping over the book’s chapter on insect recipes, thank God.
–The S.A.L.T. Bar celebrates the local cocktails, wines and beers found in the region and/or island or city where Silver Moon is right now. The perfect cozy spot for cocktails and pre-dinner conversation, if you sail Central America, ask bartender Andreas to whip you up the El Dorado, a delicious Columbian concoction that includes gold rum, coconut, mango, lemon, and vanilla, topped with a light and airy egg white froth.
–The S.A.L.T. Kitchen is a spacious, contemporary spot done in a restful blue and beige color scheme, with throw pillow-adorned banquettes and table seating. This is the jewel in the S.A.L.T. crown, celebrating local cuisine with elevated versions of destination-specific and regional favorites, the destination menu changing daily while the regional selections remain for as long as the ship is sailing the area. For me in Belize, that meant a moist and tasty yucca bread slathered with lime and garlic-infused butter followed by a rich and briny coconut and clam soup and a main course of hot and spicy jerked ground beef generously topped with crispy spiced potatoes. A crunchy coconut tart that rivalled the best macaroon I’ve ever tasted sweetly topped off a sumptuous meal. (Reservations suggested; no surcharge.)
–S.A.L.T. Ashore delivers guests to the destination’s chefs, markets and restaurants for experiences that truly capture a location’s culinary soul. In Roatan, Honduras, we travelled to Punta Gorda’s oceanfront Halisco Place Restaurant where, while sipping water from a freshly picked coconut, we witnessed the ancient process that creates crispy, cassava-based areba bread and learned of the medicinal qualities of local herbs like jack-ass root, which is reputed to cure cancer, diabetes and malaria and is currently being used to attack Covid. Later, beneath the restaurant’s cheerful yellow and orange wooden canopy, Chef Astel Samuel Raymond introduced us to Garifuna cuisine with a rich and savory coconut milk-based stew studded with bananas, dumplings, and shrimp before serving a delicious main course of deep-fried yellowtail which just hours ago was happily swimming in the sparking blue sea before us.
Maybe I’m getting ahead of myself here, something that’s easy to do when you’ve experienced the debut of a program as ground-breaking and multi-faceted as S.A.L.T. Because what makes the S.A.L.T Program even more exciting is that you’ll find it aboard Silver Moon, the most dazzling ship to debut this year!
Intimate Ship, Spacious Accommodations and Butlers for All!
Silver Moon, which debuted in June 2021, is the latest addition to Silversea Cruises’ elegant, ultra-luxury fleet. At 40,700 grt and a guest capacity of 596, this is an intimate all-suite ship with accommodations that range from the 333 square foot Vista Suite to the massive 1,055 square-foot Owner’s Suite. 96% of the ship’s 298 suites include private verandas, and in all categories, you’ll find marble bathrooms with a full line of high-end Bulgari toiletries, interactive wall-mounted flat-screen TV, beds outfitted with the finest Italian linens and a spacious walk-in closet. A butler, who is available to unpack your suitcase on request, service your in-suite bar or deliver and serve room service orders, is assigned to each suite. And you can expect a voyage-full of little surprises during your stay: From the bottle of champagne that greets guests at embarkation to the lovely Bulgari clutch/make-up bag stuffed with Covid essentials like masks, hand sanitizer and Bulgari hand cream to combat the drying effect of the sanitizer, a durable Silversea leather-trimmed tote bag, a stylish Silversea baseball cap and chocolates (sometimes individual and other times a delightful little box of them) each night.
All-Inclusive…and Soon To Be More So! Like all ships in the Silversea fleet, Silver Moon is an all-inclusive experience with gratuities, all beverages, and most specialty restaurants complimentary on each sailing. And things get even better this spring aboard the line’s classic cruise ships: Beginning in March, Silversea includes in fares international round trip economy flights, pre- and post-cruise hotel stays, private limousine transfers to and from a guest’s airport (within 50 miles) and offers at least one complimentary shore excursion at each port.
Veteran Silversea guests will find much of Silver Moon familiar, from the architecturally-stunning, plushly-carpeted double staircase that ascends through midship (on my holiday sailing, adorned with pine garland, Christmas stockings and ornaments) to favorite cocktail destinations like the Panorama Lounge and Dolce Vida and the breathtaking sunsets viewed from The Observation Lounge/Library high atop the ship on deck 11. They’ll know that the quirky Arts Café is where they’ll head for a particularly early morning coffee, a sweet, sandwich or snack at any time of the day. Cigar lovers will appreciate an expanded Connoisseur’s Club which, aboard Silver Moon, includes the traditional clubby space filled with overstuffed leather easy chairs plus a new sheltered outdoor area.
Those who’ve sailed Silver Moon’s sister ship, Silver Muse, may already be familiar with the enormous size of Silver Moon’s swimming pool (you can actually swim laps) but those who have not will be astonished that a ship as intimate as Silver Moon could feature a pool three times the size of that found on most megaships!
No matter which ship a Silversea veteran has sailed, they’ll be very familiar with the extraordinary service aboard Silver Moon…and newbies will be dazzled!
A World of Dining:
Perhaps we shouldn’t be all that astonished by the innovation of Silver Moon’s S.A.L.T Program—it’s not surprising that a line that is known for the excellence of its on-board dining should add a new and exciting twist to its culinary options. S.A.L.T. is certainly shaking up Silver Moon’s dining scene but fans of other, more traditional Silversea dining venues, will be delighted to find many of their favorites still on board!
The light-filled Atlantide, Silver Moon’s main dining room, celebrates continental cuisine with the freshest seafood, tender steaks, sweetly-glazed duck and more. And every night caviar is available as an appetizer. (Caviar is even available through room service aboard Silver Moon!)
In the evenings, a generous antipasti platter of meats, cheeses and bruschetta and a basket brimming with savory breads greet guests at the indoor/outdoor La Terrazza. This romantic and popular Italian eatery is the place to go for tender fresh pastas under a blizzard of shredded parmesan, or a perfectly-charred veal chop alongside a rich and flavorful sauce with, perhaps, a strawberry-and-whipped cream- filled rum cake wrapped in a dark chocolate collar for dessert.
Dinner and a show? The Silver Note and its live (though unintrusive) blues or jazz backdrop is the perfect setting for those looking for inventive “small plate” meals that are as artistic as they are delicious: From buttered lobster tail to a vivid artist’s palette of bite-sized vegetables and seafood and a small, asparagus-topped sliced glazed duck dish. Start your evening at the intimate Silver Note Bar at the entrance to the supper club.
Fine Asian-inspired cuisine is the theme at the sophisticated Kaiseki (surcharge $40 at dinner; complimentary at lunch). Think entrees like tender black cod and the freshest sushi and sashimi against an experience that emphasizes meticulous preparation, drama and traditions.
For something more casual, head to The Grill and its Hot Rocks, a poolside dining experience that allows guests to grill their own meat or fish selections at their table under the stars, atop volcanic rock heated to a temperature of 400 degrees. Apprehensive? Let the chef do it for you…though you’ll miss all the fun!
An even more casual option may be found at the outdoor Spaccanapoli where, at dinner, 15 varieties of luscious pizza are available alongside an appetizer plate of briny olives, sweet marinated tomatoes and pungent chunks of parmesan reggiano.
And for that special occasion, it’s La Dame, Silver Moon’s ultimate French-inspired fine dining experience ($60 surcharge). Amid romantic lighting and tables set with crisp linens and sparkling crystal, guests are surrounded by magnificent panels of hand-crafted Lalique as each memorable course is impeccably served. Caviar to begin, perhaps, followed by a creamy and earthy mushroom soup and a refreshing intermezzo–lemon sorbet topped with the thinnest slice of candied lemon. What follows might be a luscious portion of Chilean sea bass slathered in a buttery, parsley-studded sauce and resting atop a rainbow of perfectly braised vegetables, and a Grand Marnier souffle dessert, its delectable vanilla sauce sensuously drizzled tableside by the attentive server. A tray of rich and decadent chocolate truffles concludes this amazing dining experience.
Silver Moon certainly continues the elegance and comfort that Silversea is famous for. And with its myriad extraordinary dining options and the addition of the innovative S.A.L.T. Program, there’s no question: sophisticated travelers are going to eat it right up.
Photos credit Silversea and Judi Cuervo
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