Silversea brings in-depth flavor to culinary tourism

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A roast suckling pig is carved in Bali and served to guests on a Silversea expedition.
A roast suckling pig is carved in Bali and served to guests on a Silversea expedition. Photo Credit: Tom Stieghorst

ABOARD THE SILVER MUSE -- Silversea Cruises is developing a wide-ranging culinary program that it plans to install on its newer class of ship, beginning with the delivery of the Silver Moon in 2020.

The concept will spotlight regional foods in areas in which the ships sail and will offer a mix of complementary land-based excursions and shipboard activities.

It will include the creation of a restaurant that carries the name of the program -- Sea and Land Taste, or SALT -- in the space currently occupied on the Silver Moon's sister ship, the Silver Muse, by the pan-Asian Indochine.

Barbara Muckermann, Silversea's chief marketing officer, said the program has been under consideration for about two years and stemmed from a re-evaluation of what the line's appeal would be to luxury customers.

"There's a limit to how much champagne and caviar you can give," Muckermann said. "That kind of luxury has a peak. [Providing] experiences does not."

Muckermann gave a preview of what SALT might offer on a cruise segment from Indonesia to the Philippines on the Silver Muse. It included an excursion to a remote farm in the central highlands of Bali.

There, journalists trekked through rice paddies amid the lowing of cows and the quacking of domestic ducks, observing firsthand the origins of many of the ingredients of Balinese cuisine.

They were offered honey from a beehive split open by a farmer and tasted a toffee-like sugar produced by boiling palm sap that is harvested daily 20 feet off the jungle floor using traditional techniques.

Silversea's SALTy culinary program

At the end of the hike, they were served lunch in a jungle clearing from a food truck operated by the renowned Locavore restaurant in nearby Ubud. The menu included roast pig and artisanal sausages and sampling cocktails made with Balinese ingredients.

"This stuff is the next frontier in a sophisticated approach to destination," Muckermann said.

She said the idea is to bring the destination alive for guests through the exploration of food.

To complement land excursions, Silversea will offer regional menus, typically for breakfast, lunch and dinner, in the SALT restaurant. There will be food lectures, cooking classes and demonstrations by guest local chefs and food experts, most of which will be included in the cost of the cruise.

Muckermann said SALT will answer the question, "If this is a destination, what is the story of that destination?"

A SALT food lab will be created on the Silver Moon, taking the place of the French restaurant La Dame, which will be moved to the back of the ship where the Arts Cafe would be situated. The Arts Cafe will move next door, supplanting the Connoisseur's Corner smoking lounge.

SALT will definitely be installed on the Silver Dawn, due in 2021, and probably on the Silver Muse but not on older, smaller Silversea vessels with fewer specialty dining venues.

To design the details of the program, Silversea has hired Adam Sachs, until last year the editor-in-chief of Saveur magazine. Sachs said his plan is for SALT to accommodate both the most and least traditional cruisers.

"So, if you're the most involved, engaged, food-minded traveler, there's something for you here you won't find anywhere else in the category," he said. "And if you're more conservative and you like what Silversea now delivers, you'll still find something to taste along the way and go home with a story to tell your friends about."

Muckermann said some regions lend themselves more readily to SALT and will get a deeper treatment, while others, such as Antarctica, are less food-rich and will have a shallower SALT program. 

"But that layer will always be there," she said.

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