How’s The Food?

That’s one of the first questions our clients ask when we discuss a new-to-them river cruise line. Some clients are worried that there will only be “foreign” foods with too many sauces. Others are concerned that the selections will not be authentic regional dishes. Happily, the menus satisfy most guests. There will be a variety of choices but if they won’t suit, passengers can opt for one of the “always available” entrees which may include a fish, poultry or beef dinner.

To give you an idea of the food served, here are recipes from popular river cruise lines.

From Uniworld Boutique River Cruises:

Manhattan Transfer
From summer through fall, Bucharest’s markets present a parade of seasonal fruits. None is more Romanian than the sour cherry. The tasty berry garnishes this classic Manhattan made with rye whiskey and vermouth. You might try it in an Old Fashioned, too. Find this cocktail onboard the River Duchess on the Highlights of Eastern Europe itinerary or make it at home!

Manhattan

INGREDIENTS:
• 6cl (2.03 fl oz) straight rye whiskey
• 3cl (1.01 fl oz) sweet vermouth
• 2 dashes Angostura bitters
• 1 sour cherry
PREPARATION:
Build over ice in a mixing glass. Stir and strain into cocktail glass. Garnish with a sour cherry.

From AmaWaterways:

One of the most delicious aspects of traveling is to indulge in the incredible cuisine of the places you visit. Inspired by French velouté soups, this rich and flavorful cream of Chardonnay soup is made and paired with Chardonnay, of course. Leeks at the peak of their freshness and the bright sweetness of white grapes combine with butter and cream to create the perfect springtime comfort food. You can serve it as an appetizer or make it the star of the meal, served along with rustic French bread. Chardonnay Soup

CREAM OF CHARDONNAY SOUP

Try this recipe for Cream of Chardonnay Soup that’s often served onboard AmaWaterways ships. Chardonnay contributes the most richness of any dry white wine commonly used for cooking. For rich, creamy soups, wine can provide a welcome note of freshness and contrast – almost like a squeeze of lemon or an extra layer of flavor. The creamier a soup is, the more full-bodied a wine it can take.
INGREDIENTS:
3½ tablespoons of unsalted butter
½ cup onions, chopped
½ cup white leeks, chopped
1 cup white flour (or wheat flour)
2 cups Chardonnay
10 ½ cups vegetable stock
1 ½ cups of heavy cream
1 ½ cups of white grapes
½ cup of fresh parsley, chopped
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste

PREPARATION METHOD
• Wash produce thoroughly
• Chop onions and leeks into small cubes and set aside
• Peel white grapes, remove seeds and slice
• Wash parsley, chop and pat dry

Use a large pot on medium heat to sautéed onions and leeks with butter until golden, then gradually add in the flour to thicken. Pour 1 cup of Chardonnay and all of the vegetable stock. Season with salt and pepper and let the soup simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Strain soup through a mesh cloth and add in the rest of the Chardonnay. Add heavy cream to soup. Garnish with warm grapes and parsley before serving.

Makes 10 servings.

From Viking River Cruises:

French Gougères Cheese Appetizers

Gougères are among the most popular hors d’oeuvres in France. A traditional specialty of the Burgundy region, gougères are often made with Gruyère cheese. You can also use other cheeses (such as parmesan) to add an extra depth. Enjoy these with a glass (or two) of good French wine.
Ingredients
• 1½ C water
• ½ C unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
• 1 tsp (5 g) salt, divided
• 1½ C flour
• 6 lg eggs
• 1 C (130 g) grated Gruyère cheese, packed
• ½ C (90 g) good quality parmesan cheese, packed
• ½ tsp (2 g) fresh ground pepper
• ½ tsp (2.5 g) salt
Directions
Place one oven rack in top third and a second rack in bottom third of oven; preheat to 400°F (204°C). Line two rimmed baking sheets with lightly greased parchment paper. In a 3- or 4-qt saucepan over medium heat, bring water, butter, and half the salt to a simmer, stirring until butter melts. Add flour all at once, stirring rapidly with a wooden spoon until mixture forms a smooth, thick paste with no lumps. Remove pan from heat; allow mixture to cool until it feels just warm. Using a hand-held mixer, beat in one egg at a time until all are incorporated. Stir in cheese, pepper and remaining salt. Drop spoonfuls of dough 3 inches apart onto prepared baking sheets. Bake until dough is puffed and golden brown, about 30 minutes, swapping the position of baking pans halfway through.
• Prep time: 16 minutes.
• Cook time: 30 minutes.
• Makes 10 servings.

Wiener Zwiebelrostbraten Wiener Zwiebelrostbraten

Wiener Zwiebelrostbraten might not exactly roll off your tongue, but it will melt in your mouth. The name, pronounced VEE-ner TZVEE-bell-roast-brotten, literally means “Viennese roast beef with onions.” Very popular in Austria and Bavaria, this recipe enhances the beef flavor of the sirloin steaks through slow oven braising with that staple of Viennese cuisine, beef stock.

Ingredients
• 4 T butter
• 2 med onions, peeled & thinly sliced
• 1 tsp (2⅖ g) sweet Hungarian paprika
• 6 8-oz boneless beef sirloin steaks, pounded ¼-inch thick
• Salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste
• 3 T(44 ml) vegetable oil
• 4 C (946 ml) beef stock or consommé, fresh or canned, boiled down to 2 C (473 g)
• ½ C (60 g) sour cream
Directions
Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). In a large cast-iron skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Sauté onions until light brown, stirring often; add paprika; cook another minute. Remove onions from pan; set aside. Season steaks with salt and pepper. Add vegetable oil to same skillet and add steaks; brown on both sides. Turn off heat, add beef stock to skillet, arrange onions on top and cover. Bake until tender, about 2-2½ hours. To serve, place steaks on a pre-warmed serving platter with onions arranged on top. Cover loosely to keep warm. Return skillet with remaining liquid to high heat and bring to a boil. Stir in sour cream; immediately remove from heat and pour over steaks. Serve immediately.
Serving Suggestion
This dish is traditionally served with roast potatoes or buttered parsley potatoes; you can garnish with crispy fried onions if you like.
• Cook time: 2-2 1/2 hours
• Makes 6 servings.

From Uniworld Boutique River Cruises: Uniworld Desserts

Mrs. Tollman’s Signature Honeycomb Ice Cream

1 cup corn syrup
8 oz granulated sugar
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 tablespoon baking soda
1-quart premium vanilla ice cream

Dissolve the syrup, sugar, and vinegar over a medium heat. Turn the heat up high and boil until the syrup turns to a light caramel.
Take the pan off the heat and quickly stir in the baking soda, then pour the mix into a high-sided baking sheet that has been lined with parchment paper and greased with butter. Leave to cool and harden: do not refrigerate!
Once hardened, this brittle, crunchy slab becomes your honeycomb base.
Slightly soften the vanilla ice cream in a chilled ceramic bowl. Carefully break the honeycomb slab into various sizes, none more than 2cm square, and quickly fold half into the ice cream.
Pour the ice cream into a desired ice cream mold or back into the original ice cream container and freeze again.
Keep the remaining honeycomb in an air tight container for topping when serving.

Sound appealing? Want to plan a river cruise for 2017 or 2018? I would love to make this happen for you.

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  • or by phone – 800-372-1963
  • Avalon Waterways 2017 Preview

    In response to increased demand, Avalon Waterways has added new features, more active excursions, and expanded special interest theme cruises.

    Fresh Vegetables
    Avalon Fresh®

    Avalon Fresh® In 2017, Avalon raises the gastronomic bar by teaming up with two of Europe’s rising culinary stars, the Wrenkh brothers. They have collaborated to create an inspiring collection of nourishing menu items so delectable you won’t believe they’re healthy. The emphasis is on fresh, local ingredients sourced from small farms and producers combined with a dash of novelty. You’ll feel fantastic all day long. There are even gluten-free options.

    Maintaining you healthy lifestyle while on vacation is easy with a state-of-the-art Fitness Center, free bicycles available for use in select ports, and complimentary Nordic walking sticks to put an extra spring in your step. To relax at the end of an active day, try a little salus per aquam (health from water) soak in the Sky Deck’s rejuvenating whirlpool.

    Active Discovery On The Danube. Avalon Waterways® has introduced a new itinerary focused on active-themed excursions. Bike, hike, or canoe along the Danube. Learn how to milk cows and mow grass with a scythe. Explore an ice cave, take an archery lesson, descend into an underground salt mine.

    Archery
    Take an Archery lesson

    Ascend a mountain during a guided climb. Play nine holes of golf, learn some of the local language, prepare regional delicacies at a hands-on cooking class.
    Golf
    Play nine holes of golf.
    Connect with the locals in every port. You choose the interactive activities that appeal to you most.


    Your Passions. Food. Wine. History. Art. An active lifestyle. Whatever you’re enthusiastic about, Avalon Special Interest Cruises help you experience your destination from the point of view that interests you most~along with others who share your passion. Profit from onboard presentations by topic experts and exceptional activities on shore, all at no extra cost!

    Beer Flights
    Beer Tasting Theme Cruise

    Sheet Music
    Music Theme Cruise
    2017 Special Interest Cruises include: Wine Appreciation, Culinary, Beer Tasting, Jazz, Music, Art and Impressionist, WWII History, Jewish Heritage and Festive time.

    If you are considering an Avalon Waterways® river cruise, please feel free to send me an email or call me so we can discuss your vacation plans in detail.

    Need more information? We service many of our clients entirely through email:

  • Click Here To Email Us

  • or by phone – 800-372-1963

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  • River Cruise Recipes

    At this festive time of year, many river cruise lines share the best-loved holiday recipes of their passengers. Here are a few of our favorites.

    From Viking River Cruises:

    VIENNESE HOT CHOCOLATE
    This recipe comes to us from Reiner Marks, who prepared this drink aboard Viking River Cruises ships in Europe many times. Reiner has fond memories of how much our guests enjoyed the drink, which he says “tastes delicious.” Enjoy! Viennese Hot Chocolate

    Ingredients
    3 C of low-fat milk
    7 oz premium dark chocolate, grated
    1 T granulated sugar
    1 C heavy cream, chilled
    1/2 tsp vanilla extract
    1 T confectioner’s sugar

    Garnish
    Cocoa powder or chocolate shavings

    Directions
    In a sauce pan, gently heat 1 C of milk with grated chocolate. Simmer over low heat until all chocolate has dissolved. Combine remaining milk and granulated sugar in another saucepan and gently heat, whisking until all sugar has dissolved. Add chocolate mix to sugared milk and continue simmering over low. In a bowl, whisk heavy cream and vanilla together on high slowly adding confectioner’s sugar until peaks form. Remove hot chocolate from heat and divide into cups. Place a generous dollop of whipped cream on top of each. Garnish with a pinch of cocoa powder or sprinkle with chocolate shavings and serve.

    Makes 4-6 servings, depending on mug size.

    GLÜHWEIN (HOT MULLED WINE)
    Around the Christmas season, public houses in nearly every European town offer mulled wine as a delicious antidote to the season’s chill. To warm up on a stormy evening or put yourself in a celebratory mood, you can make your own glühwein at home.

    Ingredients
    4 qts dry red wine (e.g., zinfandel, pinot, burgundy)
    1 C white sugar (more to taste)
    1 pt brandy
    12 whole cloves
    1/8 tsp allspice
    1/8 tsp mace
    1 qt dry white wine
    1 orange
    1 lemon

    Garnish
    6 cinnamon sticks
    1 orange, sliced

    Directions
    Pour red wine into a 3-gal pot (or larger) and begin gentle heating. Add sugar and spices. Stir until sugar is dissolved. Add brandy and white wine, slices of 1 orange and the lemon. Steep for 1 hour over low heat. Serve hot and garnish with orange slices or a cinnamon stick.

    Gluhwein - Hot Mulled Wine Cook time: 1 hour

    Makes 12-15 servings.
    Continue reading River Cruise Recipes

    Top 10 Reasons To Take A Christmas Markets River Cruise

    In late fall and early winter, river cruise lines end their annual season by delivering the magical yuletide traditions and pageantry of the famous Christmas markets of Europe. A totally different experience than the same itineraries in the peak summer season, the villages and hamlets along the rivers take on a festive atmosphere as cruisers meander through time-honored marketplaces originally developed hundreds of years ago to celebrate the beginning of Advent.

    AmaWaterways Christmas Markets
    AmaWaterways Christmas Markets

    Even though the weather is cooler, there are compelling reasons to take a holiday markets river cruise:

    1. Commemorate All Things Christmas
    Embrace the holiday spirit in Europe with the smells of freshly baked gingerbread, trees radiant with twinkling lights, and a warm mug of mulled glühwein in hand as you wander quaint booths filled with distinctive gifts.

    Gingerbread Houses are a cornerstone of Christmas festivities. Watch the creation of a perfect Gingerbread house for your holiday with Viking‘s pastry chef, Joanna Hajn.

    2. Reminiscing Memories
    Experience the sparkle and spectacle of timeless traditions. Recapture all the joy of your most cherished childhood memories in towns where many holiday traditions originated. AmaWaterways Christmas Markets

    Continue reading Top 10 Reasons To Take A Christmas Markets River Cruise

    Savor The Holidays

    This holiday season, we’ve gathered traditional recipes together from Viking River Cruises for your family to enjoy. Almost every culture has its own festive foods to celebrate the holidays. These treasured favorites are passed from generation to generation.

    LEBKUCHEN

    LEBKUCHEN
    LEBKUCHEN, traditional German Christmas cookies

    Spiced and nutty in flavor, these traditional German Christmas cookies taste like soft gingerbread. The best-known are Nürnberger Lebkuchen, which are often presented in ornately decorated tins or boxes. Sometimes, Lebkuchen are baked and decorated as ornaments.

    INGREDIENTS
    Cookies:
    1/2 C honey
    1/2 C molasses
    3/4 C brown sugar, packed
    1 egg
    1 T lemon juice
    1 tsp lemon zest
    2 3/4 C flour, additional for dusting
    1/2 tsp baking soda
    1 tsp ground cinnamon
    1 tsp ground cloves
    1 tsp ground allspice
    1 tsp ground nutmeg
    1/3 C candied citron, diced
    1/3 C hazelnuts, chopped

    Icing:
    1 C sugar
    1/2 C water or milk
    1/4 C confectioner’s sugar

    GARNISH
    Almonds, slivered
    Candied citron
    Melted chocolate

    DIRECTIONS
    Cookies:
    Combine honey and molasses in a medium saucepan; bring to a boil. Remove from heat; stir in brown sugar, egg, lemon juice and lemon zest. In a large bowl, combine flour, baking soda and all spices. Add the molasses mixture and mix well. Stir in citron and hazelnuts. Cover and chill overnight.

    Preheat oven to 350°F (167°C). Dust flour on a hard surface, roll out a small amount of the chilled dough to 1/4-inch thickness. If dough is sticky, use more flour when rolling. Using a cookie cutter or a glass, cut round cookies out and place them on a greased cookie sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes. While baking, make icing. Place baked cookies on a cooling rack and brush with icing while still hot. You can decorate with slivers of nuts or candied citron or other dried fruit. Or if you prefer, you can drizzle with melted chocolate. Store in a sealed container with a wedge of apple or orange to retain moistness.

    Icing:
    Heat sugar and water or milk with vanilla in a small saucepan, but do not boil. Remove from heat and stir in confectioner’s sugar. If icing becomes crystallized, reheat and add water or milk as needed.

    Cook time: 10-12 minutes.
    Makes 8-10 servings.

    Continue reading Savor The Holidays

    Convertible Caravans of Europe ~ An Authentic Vacation Experience

    We’ve just become aware of a new variation on vacation packages: Convertible Caravans of Europe! No, it’s not tent camping. It’s not even touring in convertibles~although that is an option. It’s a collection of independent travelers brought together to tour some of the most scenic parts of Europe driving in a private car at their own pace. Created for those who want to explore in safety, comfort, and in the company of like-minded explorers. Special interest itineraries~for Golfers (and non-golfing companions,) Mancations (fast paced men-only itineraries,) Classic, MYWay (custom tailored itineraries,) Soft Caravans for those with special needs, and my favorite ~ itineraries for foodies! These are small group trips with a minimum and maximum number of participants based on the program. Check out the possibilities and picture yourself touring Europe in a whole new way.

    Convertible Caravans of Europe

    If you are considering an Convertible Caravans of Europe holiday, please feel free to send me an email or call me so we can discuss your vacation plans in detail.

    Need more information? We service many of our clients entirely through email:

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  • or by phone – 800-372-1963

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  • WORLD OF VIKING: A CULINARY JOURNEY


    Viking River Cruises Special Offers

    While river cruising is still relatively new to the U.S. market, it has become one of the fastest growing segments of the travel industry. Viking River Cruises has grown its market share to a whopping 45% of the river cruise lines promoted to North Americans.
    Their advertising in print media, through direct mail and most notably through PBS Masterpiece® sponsorship during Downton Abbey has stimulated awareness of river cruising and its opportunities for unique cultural experiences that reveal the history, culinary traditions and character of each destination.

    With the increased popularity of river cruising, Viking has responded to the culinary demand for fine-dining experiences, local specialties, culinary demonstrations and wine tastings and cuisine focused shore experiences.

    Viking River Cruises premieres “Episode 5 – A Culinary Journey” on Downton Abbey on Masterpiece® with this introduction:

    “It’s been said that the best way to know a culture is through food. Food and wine are the windows into the traditions that form the essence of a country. It’s a way to experience the heart of faraway lands. And, it’s Viking’s privilege to share the world’s food stories with you. Viking Cruises proud sponsor of Masterpiece®.”

    Continue reading WORLD OF VIKING: A CULINARY JOURNEY

    EAT LIKE A ROMAN

    Representatives of travel suppliers are a valuable source of insider tips that can be passed along to our clients. Fran Gellar of Fran Gellar & Associates regularly shares suggestions for authentic travel experiences. You’ll want to keep these pointers from Fran in mind when planning a trip to Rome.

    Rome

    Been to Rome before and ready to discover the less touristy areas? Try the Monti district. The Bettoja Hotel group, Via Cavour, situated on the top of the “Monti” on Edquilino Hill, has grown through five generations of Bettojas to establish itself as the oldest and among the largest family owned hotel groups in Italy offering value, fine food and service. If you are staying at the Bettoja Hotels, you don’t have to walk far. They are in the Monti. Arguably more Roman than Piazza Navonna and CampoFiori, (NYTIMES, 2/2011) and the hottest “hood” in Rome (intelligenttraveler, 3/13) the old Monti neighborhood is the new place to be for Romans. Just up the hill from the Coliseum and tucked between the Roman Forum and the Quirinale Palace, this neighborhood has emerged as the place to see and be seen. Called the artistic village in the middle of Rome, it’s winding, well-kept cobblestone streets are home to some of Rome’s best locali (hangouts) as well as eclectic shops, endless gems of architecture, craft, fashion and restaurants, The Monti is full of piazzas, and surprises for enjoying everyday life.

    Winter is a wonderful time to experience Rome. The weather is cool, not cold. The “go to” tourist spots are pleasurable with the viewing open and relaxed. The streets are easier to navigate promoting casual strolls and impromptu stops for some serious window shopping. Winter is the time for Romans to reconnect and discover the new “in” places. If you are coming to Rome this winter here are a few tips and must-sees:

    For the Roman, food is a religion and most visitors are quickly converted. However, it is hard to keep track of all the good restaurants and trattorias. We found the system. Pick a district and try several in that locations. Here are a few new finds in the Monti district:

    Urbana 47: Specializes in organic, seasonal fare like vegetable polpette with sweet pecorino, sheep’s milk yogurt, and ravioli with pumpkin and amaretto. The decor is warmly retro. Brunch from 9 a.m on Sundays, daily aperitivo from 6 p.m. The restaurant stays open for dinner until after midnight. Via Urbana, 47

    Continue reading EAT LIKE A ROMAN

    Chocolate Connoisseurs Cruise

    Someone once said, “Chocolate doesn’t make the world go around … but it certainly makes the ride worthwhile!” Well stated, don’t you agree? For all chocoholics,
    AmaWaterways® presents the first-ever 2014 Chocolate Cruise with guest host Norman Love!

    AmaWaterways Chocolate Cruise
    Norman Love, the Chef, President and Founder of Norman Love Confections & Artisan Gelato

    Some of the most extraordinary chocolate confections made today are created with bygone European methods. So what better place to celebrate the fine art of chocolate-making than on an indulgent Danube River cruises through the heart of Europe? AmaWaterways® first-ever Chocolate Cruise will set sail on April 25, 2014, aboard the AmaCerto with award-winning guest host Norman Love, the Chef, President and Founder of Norman Love Confections & Artisan Gelato. Chocolate lovers booked on this truly extravagant seven-night cruise from Vilshofen to Budapest will enjoy private chocolate-making demonstrations and tastings, chocolate-themed shore excursions, educational seminars on chocolate, and a chocolate mini-buffet extravaganza.

    EXCLUSIVE CHOCOLATE CRUISE FEATURES:

  • Norman Love will share his knowledge & love of chocolate
  • Special Norman Love Confections Desserts
  • Chocolate Mini-buffet Extravaganza
  • Culinary Delights – Bites & Sights
  • “Sachertorte & Schlumberger Cellar Tour”
  • Educational Seminars on Chocolate
  • 3 Private Chocolate-making Demonstrations
  • Decadent Chocolate Tastings
  • The Romantic Danube itinerary, priced from $3,099 per person, double occupancy, cruise only, is a 7-night cruise beginning in Vilshofen, Germany and sailing to Budapest, Hungary. The U.S. departure date is Apr. 25, 2014. Ports-of-call include Passau, Linz, Melk, Krems, Vienna, and Bratislava. Optional 3-night land program in Prague for $750 per person. Shore excursion options are included in every port.

    If you are considering the Chocolate Connoisseurs Cruise river cruise, please feel free to send me an email or call me so we can discuss your vacation plans in detail.

    Need more information? We service many of our clients entirely through email:

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  • or by phone – 800-372-1963

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  • Going To Europe This Summer? Enjoy A Unique And Fulfilling Tour!

    Looking to add some sparkle to your vacation? Customize your trip with a European Culinary Experience sightseeing tour – from just $25 per person!

    Need more information? We service many of our clients entirely through email:

    • Click Here To Email Us
    • or by phone – 800-372-1963

      Here’s a taste of the possibilities:
      Austria: Salzburg Candlelight Dinner & Concert at Fortress $71
      Vienna Vienna Heurigen Show $96

      Belgium: Brussels Gourmet Evening Tour $111

      France: Paris Behind the Scenes Bakery Tour $31
      Gastronomy Tour in Montmartre District $125

      Greece: Athens Greek Cooking Lesson $95

      Ireland: Dublin Merry Ploughboy Dinner Show $77

      Italy: Rome Pizza Making & Meal $111

      Florence Handmade Pasta-Cooking Course & Lunch $70
      Venice Falling in Love in Venice – Gondola Tour & dinner for couples $160

      Portugal: Lisbon Lisbon by Night with Fado Dinner show $109

      Russia: Moscow Vodka Tasting Tour $128

      Spain: Barcelona Gourmet Walking Tour $28

      Turkey: Istanbul Cooking Lesson $83

      United Kingdom:
      London Afternoon Tea at the Sherlock Holmes $25

      From Prices are per person; can be changed or modified at any time, and subject to currency fluctuation. Valid through December 31, 2013. Tours and activities are subject to availability at time of booking; may be discontinued without notice. From prices shown are in US Dollars.

      Vienna Sacher Torte