The ultimate wining and dining experience while cruising on the Queen Mary 2 is at the celebrity chef restaurant Todd English. So, we saved the best until last during the recent circumnavigation of Australia. Our last evening on board started sitting at the Todd English bar with a delicious and informative sommelier wine tasting by Domino de Four and Tony Popescu: Champagne Veuve Clicquot, Vintage Riche Reserve, France; Clos Poggiale, Vermentino, Vin de Corse, France; Le Cuploe, IGT, Tenuta di Trinoro, Italy. Food and wine pairing with our amuse-bouche was a delightful start to the evening.
Clos Poggiale, Vermentino, Vin de Corse was my favourite of the trio.
During the early 60s, the Skalli family discovered a plot oaf land on a flank of the Corsican mountains aptly called Clos Poggiale (‘high point’ in Corsican). Perched on a small hill, it lay shimmering in the bright sunlight, the blue Mediterranean stretching out below. There, in the heart of the pungent maquis, where olive fragrances intermingle with those of myrtle, rockrose and arbutus, nature has fulfilled the conditions for producing a great wine. Granite and red clay soils force the vines to exceed expectations in grape quality and flavour, generous sunlight and heat is tempered by the nocturnal coolness from the neighbouring mountains. The traditional Syrah, Niellucio (Corsican name of the San Giovese) and Vermentino vines spread their roots and flourish in this chosen, A)C-classified soil to give wines full of charm and nuance. Bunches are stringently selected, each variety is vinified separately to allow this unique micro-terroir to work its wizardry and produce a most exceptional wine. Each vintage of Clos Poggiale reveals its astonishing, multifaceted personality characterised by full-bodied, fruit roundness and vigour.
Seated in the Todd English dining room, it was difficult to make choices from an incredible Italian style menu. Yet, when a chef creates a signature named love letters, Todd’s Truffled Potato Love Letters to be exact, this diner was not left any choice. Kismet had already been determined.
Around me, beside me, across from me, others feasted on choices such as Artichoke Alla Guidea, Wild Mushroom and Asparagus Flatbread, Paella, Rack of Lamb and Iced Coffee Tiramisu.
My main (entrée) and dessert selections were Pan Seared Diver Scallops, Braised Oxtail, Artichoke, Grapefruit, Celery Root, Tomato Anchovy Vinaigrette and Wild Maine Berry Cobbler, both beautifully crafted and classically presented and delightfully delicious.
While passengers can dine at Todd English for a small surcharge, there are lots of other dining options on board the Queen Mary 2 already included in the price. The ship’s culinary brigade consists of 150 chefs under the supervision of Executive Chef Klaus Kremer. The magnitude of the operation is amazing. On a typical six day Transatlantic Crossing 50 tons of fresh fruit and vegetables, 12 tons of meat, 8 tons of poultry, 13 tons of fish and seafood, 2 tons of cheese and dairy products are consumed. When Chef Kremer showed us around the galley it was surprising and impressive, given the size of all this, that everything, every dish, every sauce, is prepared from scratch.
Some of our other meals were buffet, some were seated in the a la carte Britannica Restaurant, which dishes up a phenomenal 1200 meals per seating. Passengers from other levels were able to dine at the Queens and Princess Grills.
Afternoon tea in the Queens Room pampered us with silver teapots and white gloves.
And of course there are bars, and there was drinking. You know me, I like a whisky, a cocktail or two, and I found a favourite bar. Perhaps my favourite discovery on this cruising adventure however, was finding the Cigar Room.
On board entertainment has something for everyone from the casino and bingo, to the five pools and the spa (yep you guessed it – I couldn’t resist treating myself to a mani and pedi) through to theatres, the largest library afloat and the only planetarium at sea.
This trip was the second time the Queen Mary 2 has circumnavigated Australia. The next time the luxury cruise ship is close to our shores will be for the second New Zealand circumnavigation in March 2015.The largest ship to visit New Zealand waters will call at Milford Sound, Akaroa, Wellington, Auckland and the Bay Of Islands.