Sherman's Food Adventures

Carnival Freedom Posh Dining Room Night #6

Our 6th dinner in the Posh main dining room was going to be our last as we had reservations for the steak house on the final night.  I have to say that overall, we have been impressed with the overall food quality and execution.  Sure, there were a few duds and some things could've been prepared better, but as a whole, considering the price I paid for the cruise, the food was more than acceptable.  Furthermore, the service we received was prompt, warm and attentive.  I would say it was on par with all of the other cruises we've taken on the other major lines.

It also happened to be the 2nd and final "cruise elegant" night, so the menu was more focused.  I started off with the Stuffed Mushrooms sporting spinach, romano cheese and fine herbs.  This was a considerable amount for an appie where the tender mushrooms were overflowing with filling.  Overall, this was a pleasant and aromatic dish, but lacking in seasoning.  My daughter went for her favorite being the New England Clam Chowder featuring potatoes and little necks.  Although this was more starchy than creamy, it was still thick and hearty.  There was a light brininess as well as equal parts savory and sweet.  The little necks were in abundance and super tender.

Viv ended up with the Chesapeake Crab Cake and it was consisted mostly of tender chunks of crab.  They were fluffy with some bounce texture while the rest of the cake was creamy and mildly seasoned.  The one fatal flaw was the exterior wasn't seared enough and/or coated with enough breading.  Hence, it was soft and mushy without any real textural contrast nor aromatic caramelization.

For our mains, I had the Teriyaki Salmon Filet with sesame rice cake and veggies.  This was quite good as the salmon was nicely seared while still flaky and moist on the inside.  There was enough tangy teriyaki glaze on the outside to flavor both the salmon and the accompanying rice cake.  Made with seasoned sushi rice, the rice cake was the perfect compliment to the teriyaki sauce as it was chewy and hearty.  Viv tried the Grilled Jumbo Shrimp with marinara sauce and mustard potatoes.  Despite sporting delicious and perfectly cooked shrimp (with a meaty sweet snap), the dish was confusing.  The individual components didn't seem to mesh very well with each other.

My daughter had the Fusili with mushroom cream and aged parmesan which looked more like a mushroom soup with pasta.  Overlooking the visuals, it did taste quite good though.  The lightly truffled mushroom cream was mildly seasoned, yet full of delicious earthiness.  Although sitting in too much sauce, the pasta remained somewhat al dente.  For my son, he decided on the Duo of Filet Mignon and Short Rib with string beans and a red wine sauce.  Fortunately, the short rib this time was tender and moist unlike the previous night.  As with all steaks so far, the filet mignon was a perfect medium-rare and super tender.  The red wine sauce was flavorful with a nicely reduced wine essence.

For dessert, I had the Grand Marnier Souffle with orange creme Anglaise.  I thought the anglaise was overly sweet where it took away from the souffle's inherent flavour.  I found it too eggy and dense though, hence it didn't rise enough.  Despite this, I enjoyed eating the parts without the anglaise as it was quite tasty and just sweet enough.  For Viv, she had the Amaretto Cake with almond chocolate cake served in a cup.  This was a light-tasting and aromatic dessert.  I thought it lacked impact as it wasn't even that sweet.  I can see how it would be appealing due to that fact as well.  We thought that the desserts, along with the savory dishes were some of the weakest as a meal so far.  Too bad as this was our last meal in the main dining room.

Carnival Freedom Posh Dining Room Night #5

Our last port for our 7-day Carnival Cruise aboard the Freedom was on the island of Roatan, Honduras.  Again, we weren't that well versed with the place and resorted to google for information.  Turns out that the mainland is fairly impoverished, so venturing out on your own is not advised.  As for the Roatan, the same rule doesn't necessarily apply.  However, we were a bit lazy and decided to make it a beach day instead.  Only a 10-minute walk from the ship, Mahogany Bay was a great place to just lounge around and enjoy the nice weather.  Upon our return, it was our 5th dinner of the cruise in the Posh main dining room.

On every menu, there was a featured item that was labelled "food you always wanted to try, but haven't yet dared".  Seems like I had been ordering that every night (but I've had it all before!).  This time around, it was Escagots Bourguignonne.  These were textbook being tender with a bite, while not chewy.  They were bathed in a good dose of butter and garlic.  Loved soaking up the sinful sauce with bread.  My son had the Fried Shrimp with roasted red pepper remoulade.  When they described them as shrimp, it was spot on as they were tiny.  But that made it almost like popcorn shrimp.  They were crispy with a cold-water crunch.  The dip wasn't really all that spicy, it was creamy with a tang.

I also tried the Roasted Pumpkin Soup which was thick and creamy.  Normally, I'm not a huge fan of anything pumpkin due to the intense aroma.  This soup was balanced with just a touch of pumpkin essence.  It ate more like a roasted acorn squash soup which was nicely accented by all-spice and nutmeg.  The croutons on top soaked up all of the soup and were not longer crunchy, but that didn't matter much.  Lastly, Viv had the Chicken Pastelitos filled with chicken, peppers and onions.  The puffed pastry on the outside was buttery and flaky while the filling was moist and tender.  We thought it tasted mostly of peppers as there was plenty of them.

For my main, I had the Penne Maricos with shrimp, calamari, scallops, mussels and salmon in a lobster cream sauce.  I only had a bit because my son took it from me (as his dish wasn't very good).  I did get to sample it and the lobster cream was mildly seasoned being aromatic and sweet.  The seafood was pretty on point except for 2 of the scallops as they were a bit rubbery.  The pasta was just past al dente.  My son originally ordered the Braised Short Rib with potato and pea gratin and green beans.  However, it was pretty tough and dry.  Not sure if this was a one-off with the piece he got, but it wasn't very good.  The red wine sauce was tasty though being meaty with depth.

I ended up eating the extra dish we had ordered being the Pescado Asado Cubierto con Tostones.  It was essentially a lightly fried basa fillet covered in a mixture of plantain and breadcrumbs.   This was on point with flaky and moist fish that was well-seasoned and aromatic from the coating.  On top we found a mixture of black beans and corn which added texture and a bit of sweetness and earthiness to the dish.  My daughter decided on the Beef Lasagna with a thick layer of melted mozzarella on top and a tomato basil sauce.  This ate and looked more like a meatloaf than a lasagna, so it was texturally rather odd.  However, the meat was tender and lean while the sauce was tangy and bright.

Viv probably had the best dish of the night being the Chicken Milanese with charred lemon and green beans.  It consisted of a breaded and fried piece of chicken which was pretty good.  The meat was tender and moist while the breading was firmly crunchy.   Flavours were pretty subtle where the charred lemon was necessary to bring brightness to the dish.

Onto dessert, we had the Chocolate Panna Cotta with warm chocolate sauce.  This was a no sugar added dessert, but it ate quite well.  The panna cotta itself was a little stiff, but still silky and chocolaty. I'm not sure if it actually needed more chocolate sauce (which was good) as it didn't vary up the flavours much.  It would done well with a berry sauce with a contrasting tang.  We also got the Buttered Popcorn Pot de Creme.  This was interesting with the nutty popcorn aroma complimented by salted caramel.  Yes, this was fancy caramel corn atop a semi-sweet and silky custard.  As you can see, this was a decent meal with a few misses.  We were still enjoying our eats so far, no one can be perfect.

Carnival Freedom Posh Dining Room Night #4

When I had originally booked this cruise, I didn’t have much intel on Belize. I knew it was South of Mexico, but that was about it. After some Wikipedia, I found out that it used to be British Honduras and hence, their official language is English. I moved onto finding out what we could do with a day there and it was established the best thing to do was to book a tour out to the Mayan ruins of Altun Ha. It was a rather bumpy hour ride out to the ruins, but when we got there, it was well worth it. After another bumpy hour ride (with a van overheating added to the adventure), we made it back to the vessel just in time. That didn’t leave us much time to get to our 4th dinner at Posh.

For my appie, I went for the Braised Ox Tongue which was served on a crostini.  This was prepared properly where the ox tongue was super tender and succulent while still retaining some meatiness.  The braising liquid was flavorful where there was a balanced amount of saltiness and sweetness.  I liked this so much, I asked for another plate!   My son decided on the Cannelloni stuffed with cheese and spinach.  On the menu, the part about the spinach was left out, so once he dug into it, the horrors of greenery was shown on his face.  We ended up eating it and it was alright.  The pasta was a bit soft, but the filling was perfect where the spinach was not overdone.  On top, there was a considerable amount of melted cheese to go with the tangy tomato sauce.

He ended up trading appies with Viv and happily ate it.  Why?  Well, it was an order of Fry Jacks with beans and dipping sauces.  Think fry bread and you get the idea of this dish.  Nothing complex, but done right nonetheless.  It was crispy and warm while the inside was soft and airy.  The tangy dip was a nice compliment as it cut the heaviness of the fry bread.  Since he avoided the spinach, we made him order the Cream of Broccoli as well.  C'mon, cream of anything tastes good right?  In this case yes as he ate it without incident.  It was creamy and lightly seasoned, while not heavy.  As for the broccoli taste, it was kept to a minimum where he didn't even notice it much.  

For his main, he went for his latest obsession, BBQ Ribs with cheesy corn bread and baked beans.  Okay, we all know that these ribs were not the authentic central-Texas BBQ variety.  So let's get that out of the way first.  However, they were tender and fell-off-the-bone.  There was a lack of smokey charring BBQ flavor, but the liberal slather of tangy sweet BBQ sauce ensured there was enough impact.  For myself, I had the Southern Fried Chicken with mashed potatoes and broccoli.  This was actually pretty good with a firmly crunchy exterior.  It wasn't greasy and it was also seasoned enough.  The chicken itself was fairly tender and moist, even the white meat.  However, I would've liked to see them brine it so there would be more penetrating taste.

My daughter decided on the Roasted Beef Tenderloin with polenta.  Since it consisted of only one small piece, she went on to finishing it all.  I gave it a try and there was no mistaking why.  The meat was super soft and tender where it required very little effort to chew.  It was rested properly as the meat juices were still there.  There was a mild rub on the outside, hence the flavors were natural.  The jus did add some saltiness though.  Personally, I would've liked to see it more medium-rare as it wasn't appealing to look at.  Viv gave the Chili Rellano a try and it was stuffed with chicken.  The filling itself was quite good being moist and lightly spiced.  On the other hand, the pepper was a tad underdone, so it was a touch crunchy rather than being tender.

I added the Sausage and Pepper Linguine for good measure and it was probably one of the better dishes.  The linguine was perfect al dente and was coated in a zesty and tangy tomato sauce.  There was just enough of it for impact without drowning the pasta.  There was ample amount of sauce which was a touch peppery with some fennel.  I wasn't exactly hungry due to my main dish of fried chicken, but I ended up finishing the plate.

For dessert, the kid had the Smores Parfait which was layered with chocolate, graham crackers and marshmallow fluff.  Naturally, it was pretty sweet with all of the ingredients involved, however, it tasted like smores and that is all that mattered.  For myself, I had the Blin and Blanc which was like a bread pudding made with cake.  Hence it was pretty rich and filling.  I found the sauce poured on top to be very sweet which in my mind wasn't needed as the dessert was already sweet enough.  For this meal, it was mostly good with a few things that could've been better.  Yet up to this point, the food had been pretty consistent.

Carnival Freedom Posh Dining Room Night #3

The last time we visited Cozumel, it was 5 years ago and we docked away from the Downtown area.  Furthermore, we booked a taxi to take us to the Mayan ruins a little ways out.  Therefore, we really didn't "see" the city portion of Cozumel.  This time around, the pier was right in Downtown and we merely made a right hand turn out of the terminal.  Much like our Mexican cruise last December, the people were friendly, but also very aggressive in trying to sell us something.  Hey, people have to make a living right?  After a great day of sunshine and Margaritas, we settled in for dinner #3.

For starters, my daughter had the Seared Tuna with Romesco vinaigrette, cucumber salad as well as balsamic & parmesan pearls.  Thinly sliced, the tuna couldn't have been more perfectly prepared.  It was only lightly seared on the outside, hence the rest of the fish was rare and buttery.  The spice rub on the outside had a bit of a kick to it.  On top, the balsamic pearls added an appealing sweet tanginess.  My son didn't go far from his meatatarian ways and had the Baked Meatballs in a smoky tomato sauce.  These were lean and meaty while mildly seasoned.  I found the tomato sauce to be tangy and fresh-tasting with only the slightest amount of smoke. 

Viv decided on the Braised Rabbit served in a puff pasty shell.  This was a nice little bite that consisted of hollowed-out puff pastry stuffed with tender rabbit that was in a rich sauce.  It exhibited strong hits of red wine in a reduced sauce with tanginess and a background sweetness.  To top it all off, the pastry was baked properly where it was not undercooked, thus, it was flaky throughout.  For myself, I went for the Tortilla Soup with Braised Chicken.  Unlike the soup I had in San Antonio, this version was zesty and spicy.  There was a nice consistency to the soup where it was smooth and slightly thick.  In addition to the zestiness, there was a pleasant tang too.  

For my main, I decided on the Rosemary Lamb Shank with roasted cauliflower and root veggies.  This was pretty good where the lamb was tender and gelatinous throughout.  I liked that they had removed the bone as it made eating it much easier.  It was dressed in a light curry sauce which was pretty mild in terms of taste and spice.  Loved the copious amount of fresh rosemary as it added a nice woodsiness.  The root veggies were texturally on point by not being overdone.  Viv opted for the Steak Tacos with pico de gallo, cilantro and avocado-arbol chili.  The made-to-order steak was served hot and nicely charred.  Most pieces were tender, except for 2 strips.  Other than that, they were solid tacos.

My son went for the Veal Parmesan atop spaghetti.  This was a rather large piece of veal that was aggressively breaded.  It was good though where the veal was tender and remained moist.  The breading was buttery and crunchy staying that way throughout the meal.  Underneath, the spaghetti was fairly al dente and was tossed in a tangy and slightly sweet tomato sauce.  For my daughter, she had the Seared Tilapia with a caper and parsley butter, succotash and whipped potatoes.  Nicely seared until golden brown, the fish remained moist and flaky.  It was well-flavored by the buttery and slightly salty sauce.  Not sure how whipped potatoes went with this dish, but it was creamy and light nonetheless.

For dessert, I had the Tres Leches Cake with cocoa meringue, chocolate cream and finished with chilled dark chocolate soup.  Okay, I've never had a tres leche cake like this before, but it was good though.  The moist cake was soaked in a chocolaty sweet milk (maybe a touch too sweet) that didn't make it mushy.  I found the meringue on top to be interesting, but it did provide a textural crunch to the soft cake.  Viv decided on the sugar-free Praline Cake with grated meringue and chia seed crumble.  If on one told us this was sugar free, we wouldn't have known.  The cake was uncharacteristically soft and moist for a sugar-free version.  Furthermore, it was just sweet enough.  Once again, a pretty good meal.  Liked how the proteins were prepared this time around.

El Coctelito

Last time we were in Cozumel, we didn't get to check out the town very much as we made our way to the Mayan ruins.  This time, we docked closer to Downtown, so it was an easy walk through the marketplace and then subsequently onto the main thoroughfare.  Originally, we had planned to visit La Choza, but after trying to figure out where we were, it turned out that I had the wrong address.  The kids were pretty hungry, so we didn't feel like walking 8 blocks.  Therefore, we settled on the closest place from where we were standing in El Coctelito.

Viv and I decided that drinks were in order since we had walked all the way from the dock to nearly the end of the strip.  I went for the fruity Mango Margarita while Viv had the classic Lime.  These were blended fairly smooth while being not overly sweet.  The fruit flavour was a tad weak as well as the booze.  It wasn't very strong to say the least.  Since Viv was only thirsty and not super hungry, she shared the Beef Nachos.  These featured fresh tortilla chips topped with strips of steak and plenty of cheese.  As expected, this ate a whole lot more hearty than plain nachos with crunchy chips and fairly tender beef.  They actually didn't finish it and I had to some of it.

For myself I had the Guajillo Sauce Octopus served with rice and veggies.  This was a whole lot better than I expected.  Each little nugget had a tender bite that was just the right amount of chewiness.  There was a definite spice that was both smoky and impactful.  However, it wasn't too spicy, so I could definitely taste the layers of flavor.  Wasn't overly excited with the veggies though.  As for my daughter, she went simple with the kid's menu Chicken Quesadilla.  As you can see, there was nothing super exciting about the presentation.  However, it did the job with a decent amount of cheese and tender chicken tucked inside a soft tortilla.  From the small sampling of the menu, we concluded that although El Coctelito was not exactly the place we would normally dine at when in Mexico, it did the job considering its location.

The Good:
- Awesome water view
- Okay quality of food for the price
- Decent service

The Bad:
- Touristy (but okay for that purpose)
- Drinks were a bit weak