A touch of home, at sea.


This is an “at sea day”, and the walking continues – inside the ship now, since it’s so hot and humid, even early in the morning.

One of the (very minor) disadvantages to our cabin is that big gorgeous deck. It traps the heat, unless the wind is blowing, and since we’re as far aft as you can get, and have the entire ship between us and the moving air, that’s not easy to find. But this is where the wraparound comes in handy – the wind can almost always be found there. And if it’s not there, which is rare, then it is on the main part of the deck, and the wind, no matter how humid, is cooling. (And it’s humid!) It’s drier today than it was yesterday and the day before, but that’s because we’re out of the shadow of the tropical storm, finally. It headed north east, while we’re heading south eastish. But there’s more humidity than we have at home, even now. But we’ve been warned it’s going to get worse before it gets better, so I’d better get used to it!

I’m also learning about the drawbacks to cruising. And it’s nothing to do with the ship, the staff or the events and excursions. The staff is phenomenal – friendly, professional, caring and personable. The ship was commissioned in 2002 and some aging shows, but it’s still spotlessly clean, elegant and beautifully decorated, but comfortable. Big enough to wander on, not so big you feel as though you need a map and supplies to get around. Excursions – well, one so far, and the problems with that are things we have to tell the line about – they do, I’m sure, the best they can, and I’m sure they check up on the companies who put the excursions on. I’ll have more opinion after more excursions, I’m not going to let one so-so event cement an opinion about all the others.

No, the problem is with the other guests. By and large, I’m completely unimpressed with the people who are my fellow guests. Of the few we’ve spoken to, most can’t find anything good to say about anything, and a lot of them seem to want to hold the cruise lines responsible for absolutely everything that happens, whether that’s reasonable or not. There was a lot of grumbling about the rough seas at Cabo San Lucas. I got the impression that the captain and crew should somehow have been able to magically calm the waters (I have news for them – it’s not the Captain of the Zuiderdam who calms the storm!), or simply magic the storm out of existence. There are complaints that we aren’t stopping in a port every day (I’m not sure these people have looked at a map recently. There aren’t a lot of towns on the Baja peninsula to stop at!), and this isn’t the Mediterranean or the Baltic Sea where there are cities and towns much closer together. There are complaints about the internet access, even though it’s made very clear that connection is dependent on satellites, and is sporadic and subject to interruption and slow. Apparently, people don’t read signs or understand that we can’t have the best of all possible worlds. It’s not an issue for us, since we didn’t sign up for internet access. And hearing the complaints, I’m very glad we didn’t. Yes, some things haven’t been as we expected them, and some things have gone wrong, but we haven’t run aground, the power on the ship works, and there are no hurricanes threatening imminent destruction. Nobody’s fallen overboard, and of the illnesses and medical crises that have happened, they’ve been taken care of quickly, efficiently and quietly.  Perspective, folks, get some perspective.

Today was the Pacific Northwest Wine tasting. I was hoping for more Canadian wines, but we got one – a chardonnay from Mission Hill, two wines from Washington State and one from Oregon.

Again, two reds and two whites and some food pairings with this. We sat by ourselves this time, because we were late for the tasting, so no interesting people to talk with or about.

   Eroica-Riesling_NV-1400_store

 

The first wine we tasted was a 2013 Eroica Riesling from the Columbia Valley in Washington State. Al really liked this one, and I was impressed as well. It’s a pale, almost clear yellow-green, not aromatic at all, very delicate green apple scent with fresh citrus (limey) notes and a very little mineral scent. Medium body with citrusy flavour, a moderate finish. Works well with salads, smoked salmon, tuna, gazpacho and strawberry type fruits. It also worked well with the goat and creamy cheeses we had. The cellar master suggested that it be paired with simply prepared foods that don’t have cream or sauces in them.

 

 

 

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Next up was a 2012 Mission Hill Reserve Chardonnay from the Okanagan Valley, here in BC. I get points here because I recognized it as a chardonnay, not from the label on the sheet, but by the taste – first one I’ve been able to identify as “yes, that’s this type of wine.” Yay for me – I’m learning! It was nice – nothing to go out of our way for, but a nice one to have for meals and maybe on a hot day. It’s a darker yellow than the Riesling, but still very light, a medium scent with buttery and oaky notes, and a hint of cinnamon. Lovely and smooth on the palette, with some oaky flavours and a longer finish. It works with the cheddar we had, and, as I know from personal experience, with creamy sauces, pasta and poultry.

Chardonnay was (personal note here) the first wine that really taught me that food and wine could enhance one another. Deb and Glen Wright gave us (I can’t remember why – some favour we’d done for them, maybe) a bottle of Cupcake Chardonnay, and one night when we had dinner with the kids, I took it over. Mark had made his trademark Chicken Al Fredo, and it paired beautifully with it. The meal is a creamy pasta sauce, and I don’t usually like creamy sauces, but when I had it with the chardonnay, it was really, really nice and the two enhanced all the positive qualities of each other. Quite a revelation. So, I have a soft spot for chardonnays, and the Mission Hill was nice.

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The second last type we tried was a 2013 Willamette Pinot Noir from the Willamette Valley in Oregon. Pinot Noirs aren’t my favourite because they tend to be too thin, and I really like full bodied reds. But this wasn’t bad at all. It was a light to medium ruby with orangey/brick coloured edges, a liquorice and cherry odour, with a warm fruity flavour. Strong tannins on the finish, but nice. It’s good with fatty proteins. Cheeses worked well with it, but the acidic and sweet strawberry didn’t at all! It’s low acid, but high tannins, so maybe that’s why? Not sure.

 

 

 

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A 2012 Chateau St. Michelle Canoe Ridge Merlot from Horse heaven Hills in Washington State was a nice surprise. It was a medium dark ruby colour, lighter on the edges, which should mean it’s aging – but it’s only two years old. If I remember right (and if I don’t, please remind me), the aging with reds tends to move the colour from red/ruby/garnet to a more orangey/brown shade – so this may not be indicative of aging at all? Leather and tobacco notes is what the wine master said – I got the leather, but a plain smoky scent, not specifically tobacco. Dark berry as well. Full body – nice and full for my liking, with dark berries in the first seconds, then a smoky middle and a long finish. Medium tannins, so not overpoweringly dry but noticeable in a good way. It works with sweet, dry fruits. Surprisingly, Al likes it. This is the second merlot we’ve tried that he’s enjoyed. Most of the time, Merlot isn’t one he likes and we’ve tended to avoid them. I’m neutral on them – they’re nice, and I’ll happily drink them, but they’re not in my top three to five.

 

 

There must have been a number of British Columbians at the tasting because Cecilia, the Cellar Master, apologized for not having more Canadian wines both on the lists, and on the tasting – she said she hadn’t been able to get up to the wine country yet to do her exploring and tasting. I’m tempted to gather some of the wineries and send them to her for when she can get there.

Tomorrow we are in Huatulco, Mexico – we don’t have any excursions booked so we’ll be wandering around the town, seeing what there is to see. It’s a pier, with gangplank in this port, so no worries about crazy tender operators trying to sink the ship!

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