Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Cunard Adventure, Part V

I have figured out how to dine very well on the QMII: pretend that it's 1950 and order accordingly. Last night at dinner I succumbed to traditional fare to very happy results. I ordered prime rib (which I have not eaten in years), which was absolutely superb. It was accompanied, of course, by the requisite baked potato and horseradish. Initially I refused dessert given previous disappointments, but the waiter talked me into peach flambe.

Now who on earth serves peach flambe or baked Alaska anymore? Well, they do on the QMII--and it's fantastic. The French server who prepared the dessert table side described the ingredients as she went along: fresh peaches, fresh raspberry puree, a bit of simple syrup, and peach liqueur, accompanied by a dollop of homemade vanilla ice cream. She pointed out that "no one in Paris makes these kinds of desserts any longer," adding dismissively (with a Gallic wave of the hand), "it's all that nouvelle nonsense now." It's clear that her culinary sympathies inclined toward Escoffier, not Michel Richard.

Last night was clearly a Mad Men moment: me in a navy sheath and pearls; Rod in a smart dark suit; and both of us eating prodigious quantities of red meat washed down with red wine (I did at least forgo the pre-dinner martini). Forget healthy eating; ignore post-1980s nouvelle cuisine. Basically, any dish you would have seen in a 1950s or 60s cookbook will be superbly done on the QMII. More contemporary dishes? Not so much.

After dinner we went to the ballroom and danced to a live orchestra, happily fox-trotting, waltzing, and cha-chaing until 1.00 a.m. We went to bed blissfully content, and I had some insight into why all those characters on Mad Men seem to be having so much fun. All I needed was a cigarette holder and undulating trails of smoke.

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