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Crystal raises its dining sophistication with molecular cuisine elements

Crystal raises its dining sophistication with molecular cuisine elements
Crystal Cruises introduced more than 100 dishes in the main dining rooms of its two ships that are inspired by molecular cuisine and make the most of new high-tech galley equipment, more local sourcing and the line's highly trained chefs.

Examples include a re-imagined Strawberries Romanoff comprised of a cotton candy dome that melts immediately when strawberry consommé is poured over it, revealing a flourless fresh berry-almond cake with vanilla anglaise hidden underneath. A scallop and tuna tartare is presented with flavored citrus foam, white miso soup poured over and olive oil 'caviar' balls that explode with cold flavor when bitten into.

'In recent years, seasoned diners’ palates have become increasingly more sophisticated, wanting more than grilled porterhouses and butter-drenched lobster tails for gourmet foodie experiences,' said Crystal's Toni Neumeister, vp hotel procurement and food and beverage operations.

The Crystal Dining Room now offers two menus. One side is a 'Modern' menu that always includes two appetizers, one soup, meat and fish or seafood entrées, two desserts and a course of cheeses curated by the line’s cheese sommeliers. On the other is a more traditional, 'Classic' multi-course menu featuring several appetizer, soup, salad, pasta, main course and side choices.

Both menus change daily, vegetarian selections are indicated throughout and diners can pick and choose among each side. The back of the 'Classic' menu has a more extensive selection of desserts, including the modern options and cheeses, plus additional sugar-free, frozen and baked selections.

The cornerstone of the new dining approach is augmentation of Crystal’s galleys. New Pacojets, immersion circulators, high emulsion blenders, dehydrators and smoke and spray guns have taken the line’s kitchens well beyond the traditional knife and stove.

Crystal chefs spent months studying food science to master such techniques as precision temperature cooking, spherification, ice filtration and hydrocolloid stabilization, using natural additives like gellan gum to alter ingredients’ consistencies. With these tools and skills, chefs can now transform raspberries into noodle-like ribbons, lemons into sugar-like 'snow,' spinach and beet root into pea-shaped balls, and lobster essence into an airy foam, without losing the flavors or textures that make these ingredients mouth-watering.

In addition, Crystal expanded its commitment to local sourcing, including seasonal, farm-driven ingredients. Provision masters work with local vendors to obtain fish, produce, dairy products, herbs and spices. The Crystal chefs have shaped dishes around market availability.

For a 'Modern' example, during a summertime sailing in Scandinavia, a slow-cooked Moss-Flavored Salmon might use wild-grown greens and fish bought fresh from a Helsinki market that morning.

On the 'Classic' side, traditional culinary delights of an itinerary’s destinations are featured in each region. For example, there might be fresh seafood paella in Barcelona, a chicken cacciatore in Italy and a feijoada in South America.

Neumeister engineered the changes, inspired by top restaurants such as Spain’s El Bulli and the UK’s Fat Duck. He brought in experts like former Fat Duck cxecutive and research and development chef Kyle Connaughton and Gerard Bertholon, the world’s top precision temperature cooking consultant who has, with his team at CREA, trained more than 40 Michelin three-star chefs (Thomas Keller, Heston Blumenthal and Daniel Boulud among them) in what many consider the most innovative cooking technique in the modern world.

After more than three years of research and development, plus sourcing, purchasing and redesigning on-board spaces, Crystal chefs then spent over a year in training, conceptualizing and holding 'menu summits' on board to create the new program.