Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Alaska Day 6: College Fjord

We woke up at College Fjord of the Prince William Sound this morning. A fjord is an inlet in a valley that was carved by glacial activity. This fjord was discovered by a scientific expedition team that was launched by a railroad magnate Edward Harriman. He named the glaciers after the colleges attended by his team of scientists (Harvard, Yale, Columbia glaciers).
It was damp, windy, and cold on the deck so we did most of our viewing in the Crow's Nest.
After we left College Fjord, we took a behind the scenes kitchen tour. I was surprised to see that such a tiny kitchen could serve thousands of guests on board.
After the tour, we had another disappointing meal. The chilled anjou pear soup was good, but the sweetness of the soup was a bit much by the last drop. I had decided then and there that it would be my last fruit soup for the rest of the cruise. It was my fault for ordering the salmon souffle. I don't know what made me think that a fish in the form of a souffle could be tasty. I guess my tastebuds were confused: fruit soup and fish dessert...hmm. For dessert, I had the literally inedible chocolate profiteroles. The menu described it as "feather light cream puffs." They were unfortunately hard as rocks because they were served frozen. I couldn't even cut into them.
After lunch we explored the ship and attended the Royal Dutch High Tea to see if we can get a bite edible sweets. I quickly came to the realization that the pastry chefs need to expand their dessert repertoire and venture beyond the Luby's-style mass produced Jell-O cake variations.
Column in the atrium
Jewelry store
Afternoon tea
We spent the rest of the day playing the slots in the casino. We sucked.
Soon enough, it was time to eat again. Tonight was the first formal dinner. I goaded mom into bringing her St. John's admiral-style suit even though it weighed more than my entire ship wardrobe. Where else is she going to wear it?
Dinner was fantastic. It seems they worked out the kinks and finally delivered a fantastic meal. I started with the millefeuille of pate de canard with grilled pears orange and lingonberry confute, which was just perfect. The creaminess of the pate blended well with the crispy-butteriness of the pastry, and the fruit flavors tamed the richness of the pate. My next dish was a perfectly dressed salad of spinach and frisee with key lime and passion fruit vinaigrette. Because my bourbon sauce experience on the McKinley Explorer was quite pleasant, I thought I should give it another try with the bourbon glazed black cod with grilled fennel and cumin and thyme rice pilaf. Alas, another lesson learned. Never take the risk with bourbon sauces; it's too sweet 98% of the time. After my overly sweet entree and successive dessert disappointments, I ordered a cheese plate to finish the meal off.
Mom had the insignificant brioche with scallops and bay shrimp in dill sauce to start. Our dining steward felt bad that mom didn't eat the brioche part of her dish so he brought over some cocktail shrimp. She then ordered a very flavorful smoked chicken and corn soup followed by the steamed Alaskan king crab legs in fish broth, which was pretty awesome. Mom didn't give up entirely on their desserts and opted for a mango sorbet, which turned out just a mass of ice with artificial flavoring. Avoid sweets on the Holland America Line!
After dinner, we went to watch the Volendam Broadway style production, "Gold," in the Frans Hals theatre. I like cheesy shows, so this was quite enjoyable and didn't feel amateurish.
We were greeted by a towel stingray when we returned to our cabin.

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