Quantum of the Seas, Royal Caribbean’s newest ship, is a food connoisseur’s paradise. If you think that cruising entails mediocre food in mass quantities, you couldn’t be more wrong. Launching 32 individual restaurant concepts headed by Michelin star and James Beard award winning chefs, this cruise ship is at the top of the culinary game. Such chefs include Jamie Oliver, Devin Alexander, and Michael Schwartz.
One of my new favorite restaurants is called Wonderland, and it just happens to be on Quantum of the Seas. Developed by culinary expert Cornelius Gallagher, Wonderland combines innovative techniques with the finest quality ingredients to create an entertaining and incredible dining experience. Gallagher, currently the Director of Food and Beverage at Royal Caribbean International, has had an unbelievable amount of culinary experience around the world. He has worked in Bouley Restaurant, ranked #1 in America; El Bulli Restaurant in Spain, ranked #1 in the world; Oceana, one of the most famous restaurants in Manhattan as well as many other 3 Michelin star and New York Times four-star restaurants. This high profile chef describes Wonderland as near and dear to his heart.
A major part of the Wonderland experience is the focus on molecular gastronomy: a type of cooking that focuses on the chemical and physical transformations of ingredients. The menu is split up into six different sections: Sun, Ice, Fire, Sea, Earth and Dreams. Each section is tied together through a creative relation to the section heading. For example: Sun is described as radiant vegetables playfully reinvented, whereas Sea is described as Oceanic inspirations from the tide of the imagination. The menu is comprised of small bites as well as large plates, depending on the conception of the dish. Created using extremely innovative techniques, each dish is more surprising than the last.
Gallagher was kind enough to take the time to explain the concept of Wonderland and present six of his favorite dishes, shown below.
- Buffalo Chicken Eggs:
Deviled eggs are a rising trend, but these definitely stand out as unique. Boiled half eggs are filled with a mixture of egg yolk, mayo, Tabasco, and Roquefort blue cheese. They are then topped with a single drop of Sriracha sauce, green onions, tempura and powdered blue cheese. The eggs come out on a black plate with a nice clear cover. As it is presented, the lid comes off and the eggs release a wonderful plume of thick smoke.
- Sashimi of Red and White Tuna:
I have never seen a sushi dish as innovative as this one. The base is made of perfectly de-boned, flattened red tuna: extremely smooth. A roulade of hamachi is filled with pea shoots, Greek yogurt, bean sprouts, mustard oil, and yuzu, and is rolled with scallion ashes. The dish is topped off with piquillo pepper, toasted mustard seed, chive and yuzu relish: truly a masterpiece.
- Slow Cooked Baby Beets:
This dish uses a combination of golden baby, red baby, and striped beets, which are gently poached and then chilled. The beets lay on top of a concoction of Sriracha yogurt, and are sprinkled with sugar toasted almonds, dill sprigs, and smoky sea salt. The flavor combination is quite extraordinary.
- Baby Vegetables in the Garden:
Don’t worry: you won’t actually have to eat real soil. This beautiful veggie garden sits on top of dark pumpernickel, barley malt, pumpkin seed oil and truffle oil, which delightfully contrast the sweet taste of the vegetables. Surrounding the garden are a few pebbles, made out of chicken liver mousse rolled in Hershey’s cocoa: seriously delicious. The garden is topped off with a zesty dressing of crème fraiche, lemon, and yuzu.
5. Terroir Beef:
This dish is a winner. A huge chunk of short rib is braised on the bone. Surrounding the beef are “river stone” potatoes: they look like beautiful rocks, but they are really just scrumptious potatoes. Fingerling potatoes are coated and baked in Kaolin, lactose and squid ink to create the illusion. Incredibly soft garlic cloves, fiddleheads and chapelure (toasted Japanese breadcrumb flakes) mixed with thyme, rosemary and shallots surround the beef. Horseradish cream and a bordelaise (sauce of wine, bone marrow and demi-glace) top off the beef.
6: Key Lime Lollipops:
Although the Warm Molten Chocolate Cake with Nitro Pistachio Ice Cream, Boston Cream Pie Maze, and the rest of the desserts are fantastic, the Key Lime Pie Lollipops take the prize. The lollipop base is created with the softest Key lime mousse I have ever had. Alongside the lollipop is “glass” made from strawberries. Clouds of strawberry foam, rocks of buttery graham cracker, and shiny raspberry gel top the wondrous dessert.
Location: Quantum of the Seas, Royal Caribbean’s newest cruise ship
Disclosure: Julie Goldstein is the Daughter of Adam Goldstein, the President and COO of Royal Caribbean.