S.A.L.T. is the acronym for Silversea Cruise’s extraordinary new culinary program. It stands for “Sea And Land Taste.” And our latest sampling of what’s on offer assures us it will be a huge favorite of culinary-inclined cruisers. Food and Wine Travel Writer Monte Mathews reports from Silver Muse.
S.A.L.T. is the invention of Adam Sachs, former editor of Saveur Magazine and a three-time James Beard Award-Winning Food Writer. Sachs is putting together an unrivaled culinary program set to launch on Silversea’s latest ship, Silver Moon. The sister ship to the line’s flagship Silver Muse, Silver Moon will be home to the largest hands-on cooking school Silversea has ever launched. And it’s not just a cooking school. The space has areas designated for In-depth Wine Tastings, Mixology Classes as well as accommodating the guest chefs and food authorities who will teach, speak and share meals with Silversea’s Culinary-minded passengers. And S.A.L.T will hardly be limited to the luxurious confines of Silver Moon. Ashore, each port will offer unmatched opportunities for culinary exploration, local cooking classes and meals in settings ranging from out of the way to out of this world.
The idea of S.A.L.T. is to travel the world in culinary exploration. Passengers will be immersed in the food culture of every port the ship visits. A voyage anywhere in the world will allow passengers to make culinary discoveries with an on-board authority. Lectures and lessons and hands-on cooking classes culminate in meals shared with like-minded passengers. Ashore, Silversea’s S.A.L.T. participants will be led on food adventures that only an Anthony Bourdain – or an Adam Sachs – could know about.
A recent sampling of S.A.L.T took a group of food writers on a seven-day sailing from Bali to Borneo and finally to the Philippines. In Bali, an authentic Indonesian dinner welcomed us ashore while aboard ship, Maya Kerthyasa, an expert on Balinese cuisine, introduced us to her 95-year-old grandmother’s recipes and immersed us in the extraordinary food culture of her native Bali. Hands-on cooking classes followed, and a shared tasting brought the group together for an unforgettable meal.
All the while, Silver Muse’s eight on-board restaurants served memorable meals ranging from Haute French Cuisine at La Dame, to complete Asian menus at Indochine, meticulously presented Japanese Kaiseki and a complete menu of Thin Crust Pizza at the outdoor Spaccanapoli.
In Borneo, our S.A.L.T. day began with a visit to a local restaurant so under the radar that there was not a tourist in site. At the aptly named “Good Taste” restaurant, we ate Bak Kuh Teh, the Malaysian breakfast of meaty pork ribs in a complex broth of herbs and spices. Off to the Central Market we went, enthralled by the ingredients selected there by Silver Muse’s Executive Chef, Anne-Mari Cornelius who would later use them in a Malaysian lunch menu exclusively for S.A.L.T. passengers. A cooking class by one of Borneo’s premiere chefs, Linn Ngui followed by lunch, rounded out our visit. But because life is not all about food, we made our way to two of Borneo’s famous Conservation Centers: one for Orangutans, the other for Sun Bears. We did, however, time our visit to coincide with feeding times.
Next stop the Philippines. While Maya Kerthyasa bid us adieu, we were to be met by Nicole Ponseca, a San Diego-born Filipina who is determined to see the cuisine of her nationality achieve its rightful place at the world table. The owner of New Yorker’s “Jeepney Restaurant,” Ponseca presented us with her seminal cookbook “I am Filipino, and this is how we cook” (Artisan Books 2018).
For his part, Sachs intends to find the kind of talent and commitment that both these young women brought to S.A.L.T. everywhere the ship sails. So, passengers can expect the same depth of culinary experience whether they are in Sri Lanka or St. Lucia.
Our S.A.L.T. adventure continued on remote Romblon Island, one of the 7640 islands that make up the Philippines. There we went on an island adventure no ordinary tourist could imagine. At the end of an unforgettable journey on the “Tricycles” the islanders fashion out of motorbikes with passenger cabins attached, we came to a family compound where the matriarch made a dish consisting of live freshwater shrimp and coconut right before our eyes.
The next day we reached Manila and in a final meal labelled “A Welcoming Feast,” we were hosted by the founders of Manila’s Center for Culinary Arts, the country’s pre-eminent culinary school. The Chef for this banquet was one Sau del Rosario, one of the country’s most famous chefs, a TV personality to rival Ina Garten. But what else would we expect from this extraordinary offering from Silversea. Unfortunately, we’ll have to wait until 2020 until S.A.L.T. is in place. But it might be a good idea to book now.
Monte Mathews is a Food Wine and Travel Writer based in New York City. Born in Montreal, Canada, Monte has been an Avid Cruiser since his first Transatlantic voyage at age 6. Monte has now traveled to six continents, visited 44 countries and is fluent in three languages. His passion is for Culinary Travel of all kinds but he is happiest aboard ship. Monte is the voice behind the popular blog “Chewing The Fat.” His cruise travels feed right into his blog’s tagline: “If I can cook it, you can cook it and I’ll travel the world to bring back home to you.” Monte’s blog can be found at www.chewingthefat.us.com.