Day 3: 22 Sep 2021
I have been dreaming about what to write regarding the experience at Toscana onboard the Cruise Ship Marina with Oceania! Apparently, Toscana is a cruiser favorite and I definitely understand why. Upon arrival, our group was promptly seated, and a cart of various olive oils was brought to the table. Growing up in San Antonio, Texas I am used to table side guacamole, or queso flameado but I wasn’t quite sure what they were going to do with olive oil. After a few minutes, the server presented several types of olive oil and told us a brief description of each one. Similar to a wine presentation, we were offered tastes. I chose one that had a peppery flavor profile. We were provided with a basket of the most amazing bread (quickly becoming a common theme on this ship!) to dip in the little plates of olive oil. It was absolutely delicious and a perfect way to perk up our taste buds.
Next was the most important task, choosing the perfect wine. We started with a “warm up” wine, a 2012 Daou vineyards Cabernet from Paso Robles. It was a perfect way to start the evening and paired very nicely with the peppery olive oil and bread. The flavor was a little light for a cabernet and the tannins were mild. To me, it was more of a table wine. Reminiscent of a light Bordeaux blend with flavors of tobacco and a bit of earthiness. This is the kind of wine that gets the conversation started and helps the taste buds open up for the next course and with six people in our party, a bottle of wine was just enough for everyone to have a glass.
We ordered several appetizers to share. Calamari, Shrimp, Beef Carpaccio, and a Caprese. The calamari were okay, but nothing special to write home about. The shrimp was incredibly flavorful. Wrapped in prosciutto and served with some sort of sauteed cherry tomato sauce. It was amazing. The beef carpaccio was also a stand out and just melted in our mouths with sips of wine. Mmmm, and I haven’t even gotten to the best parts yet!
Someone in our group had ordered three different types of gnocchi and they were absolute pillows of heaven! Somewhere in between the gnocchi and a quick walk out to the deck to bask in the rays of the largest full moon any of us had ever seen, the second bottle of wine arrived. A 2014 William Hill Cabernet (from Napa) that opened up with notes of dark fruits, maybe a hint of clove and earthiness, with finishes of decent tannins. It was a great match for our current dishes but definitely left us wanting a little more.
Now it was time for the main courses and the next bottle of wine, a 2012 Masi Amarone della Valpolicella Classico Riserva Costasera. Now THIS was a big, bold red. Very fine, soft on the mouth with flavors of dark fruits and a hint of herb. This one had quite a bit of tannins and was an overall favorite for the table with a nice long finish.
For dinner I had the bone-in milk-fed veal chop pounded thin, with a very light breading. It was sauteed in what tasted like a very light olive oil. This dish came highly recommended from another cruiser, we met at happy hour, and it was wonderful. Reminded me of a milanesa.
We also had the Filetto di Branzino (pan seared sea bass), and this was absolutely delightful. My husband doesn’t really like cooked fish and I made him try this dish. Even Jake agreed it was wonderful and didn’t taste fishy at all. It was prepared in a sauce with lemons, capers, and chardonnay. Honestly, this was my favorite and I would definitely order this one again.
My husband ordered the Filet Mignon served with sauteed garlic spinach and polenta in a red wine sauce. The filet was prepared perfectly at medium rare.
Sofia ordered the lobster with pasta and this dish was a sight to behold. It was an entire lobster, which was deconstructed at the table for her. Tender, succulent, if you like lobster this dish is one you do not want to miss!
If you can’t tell, we share dishes in our family, and I highly recommend sharing as much as possible so that you can taste a little bit of everything!
Dessert was a trio of splendor (as if we had room), we were stuffed but somehow we were able to make it work! A good dessert really is a perfect finish for a fabulous dinner.
To sum this experience up, we had a wonderful time, trying new wines and a lot of very flavorful dishes. The stand out wine was the Masi, and we ordered this one several times during our cruise. The gnocchi were a work of art, and that fish was absolutely delightful, I definitely want to recreate the fish dish recipe! This was day three of our cruise and I was already understanding why people call this the cruise line for “foodies.”