Monday, December 28, 2009

Dinner on the Scenic Diamond

Scenic Tours provide a fully catered river cruise from Amsterdam to Budapest along the Rhine and Danube. Indeed it is more than fully catered starting with early bird breakfast usually from 6.oo am, regular breakfast, around 7.30 am followed by morning tea, lunch. afternoon tea, dinner and late night snacks. The food is endless and accompanied at lunch and dinner by abundant wines of ordinary quality except when we had the pleasure of dining with Werney, the Cruise Director. On that occasion superior wines were served! After a visit to Cesky Krumlov, a delightful little very touristy Czech village we got a couple of bottles of their renowned smoky beer. The hops are smoked before the beer is brewed and it retains a powerful smoky bouquet and taste.
They were fairly mild beers with alcohol content around 5%, I thoroughly enjoyed them.
Dinner is generally a la carte with a small choice of appetizer, soup, main and dessert. It is table service. Waiters dress in dinner suits with bow ties and were considerably better dressed than their guests. Typical entrees were prawn cocktail

or a beef carpaccio.
Always attractively presented but invariably bland and forgettable. Two soups were generally on offer, one a vegetarian and the other with meat or fish. This lobster bisque was one of their better efforts.
Mains were fish, meat or vegetarian. Striped bass, which I fell in love with at Piperno in Rome, is known in Italy as Branzino. It is a very delicate tender and tasty fish that I have not seen in Australia. They did manage a tasty salmon with chili and tomato which was not seriously over cooked.
Unfortunately, perhaps because it was frozen, it could not be served lightly cooked and lost some of that superb taste of very fresh fish. Typical meat dishes were stuffed sirloin or tenderloin, which isknown as eye fillet in Australia, which was quite nice after adding appropriate amounts of salt and pepper.
Desserts included a variety of cakes,

mousses or jellies as well as the ever available ice cream. Everyone had the opportunity for one meal at their Portobello restaurant. This consisted of half a dozen small tables at the front and a little separated from the main the Crystal dining room. Here a five course degustation menu was served which was a moderately successful attempt at a better level of dining experience. Here the head waiter prepared a pasta for us.

On rare occasions a palate cleanser was offered.

The basic products were excellent and had they been handled better these .
dinners could have been equally excellent.

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