On Viking Sea’s pre-christening cruise last week, I went shopping with the chefs in Barcelona. The market-to-table experience is offered on select voyages and goes for $199 per person for up to 12 people. Worth it? I’ll let you be the judge.
We started our morning with a transfer from Viking Sea, docked at Barcelona’s World Trade Center, to the famed Mercat de Sant Josep de la Boqueria, or simply La Boqueria. With our small press group were chefs Ashley Duff and Gaetano Monteriso and a local guide. Our guide told us a lot about the history of the market and what was offered here. Plus, she was handy in translating between Spanish and English for the chefs.
We were in the market for about an hour. The chefs said they were impressed with the selection. Paying from a wad of cash in hand, the chefs purchased fresh vegetables and seafood, and even enough Jamón ibérico, priced at a jaw-dropping €179 per kilogram, for our group to enjoy before our dinner. We returned to the ship with several bags full of fresh goods.
In the early evening, after enjoying an afternoon on Viking Sea, we walked through Manfredi’s restaurant, one of the ship’s reservations-only dining venues, to reach the special show kitchen known as The Kitchen Table. We were greeted with glasses of Veuve-Clicquot champagne, a precursor to the select wines that would be expertly paired with each dish during the evening. Lorena Merlini, Viking Sea’s sommelier, did a great job at pairing the wines. Get to know her on your Viking cruise.
Viking provided full-length aprons that we were free to take home. After donning them, we stepped up and began to prepare starters, with hands-on guidance from the chefs. I learned quite a bit, such as how rubbing garlic and tomato on fresh baguettes infuses the bread, which is wonderful provided that you like garlic and tomato. I do.
What I also liked about the “cooking class” was that we were able to do as much or as little as we liked, and also the fact that the champagne continued to be poured.
The chefs prepared some beautiful dishes, including a gorgeous paella with the fresh seafood we had purchased at La Boqueria. The evening was a fun one, with some really great food.
Viking bills The Kitchen Table as “an unforgettable, one-of-a-kind opportunity to shop, cook and eat with the masters.” I couldn’t agree more. Worth $199 per person? If your experience turns out to be anything like ours, you’ll find it to be memorable and enjoyable, and it’s hard to price on that. Check out the photos in this post, and let me know what you think.
An avid traveler and an award-winning journalist, Ralph Grizzle produces articles, video and photos that are inspiring and informative, personal and passionate. A journalism graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Ralph has specialized in travel writing for more than two decades. To read more cruise and port reviews by Ralph Grizzle, visit his website at www.avidcruiser.com.