Saturday, October 3, 2015

Ina Garten's Coquilles St. Jacques from "Make It Ahead"


I am a huge fan of Ina Garten or as a friend of mine once said “What’s not to like?”  Ina makes great food accessible to even the most amateur cook.  This may be because Ina herself is a completely self-taught home cook.  She knows her audience.   Her recipes are timeless and her selection of them inspired and inspiring.  Her latest cookbook “Make it Ahead” (Clarkson Potter 2014) is her ninth.  The book is exactly what the title hints at.  All of its recipes can be put together hours before dinner guests arrive to relieve the host or hostess of having to do anything more than put food in the oven and take it out.  Ina points out that there are plenty of foods that benefit from ‘aging’ in the refrigerator so that the flavors mix and meld. The recipe I want to share with you today is a prime example.   It’s Ina’s take on this classic of French cooking: Scallops in a creamy sauce with just a hit of curry are cooked under a crust of bread crumbs and cheese.  Served in individual gratin dishes with a simple green salad and a glass of white wine make a perfect meal for company or just someone you love.   And as much as I love Ina, I love a good food story and this is one of the best.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Best Costco Rotisserie Chicken Recipes: Chicken Cheesesteaks with Peppers and BBQ Chicken French Bread Pizza with Smoked Mozzarella

Chicken Cheesesteaks with Peppers
BBQ Chicken French Bread Pizza with Smoked Mozzarella 
A bargain at $4.99 
Somewhere in the back of my mind, I recall reading that there’s a food site with over 400 recipes devoted to a single subject: they all use Costco rotisserie chicken.  It sounds plausible. 76 million of the $4.99 bird were sold in 2014 alone. I am incapable of going into Costco and coming out without one whether I’ve spent $240 or just run into the store to get this phenomenal bargain. At Costco, it actually costs less to buy a cooked chicken than it does to buy a raw one.  And, oh what chicken!  Juicy, beautifully browned and seasoned, and, since last March, they are even anti-biotic free.  Caveat emptor: “Seasoned” is code for the spicy brine which gives the chicken so much flavor…and, unfortunately, also its sodium content.   A 3 oz. portion comes in at 140 calories with 7 grams of fat, 2.5 grams of saturated fat, 5.6 grams of sugar, 19 grams of protein and 0 grams of carbohydrates or fiber.  Then there’s the sodium at 460 milligrams.  For comparison, the current guidelines suggest salt should be limited to 2300 milligrams a day.  I guess all bargains come with some deal with the devil.   And in this case, the deal is delicious.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Sicilian Caponata with Pine Nuts


Rebel Features communal tables as seen in
this overhead shot. 
“Dear Bon Appétit”, wrote Phyllis Follet of Cambridge, Massachusetts, “My husband and I celebrated our 44th
 Wedding Anniversary at Ribelle in Brookline, MA.  The caponata was astounding. Would the chef share the recipe?”  And Ribelle (1665 Beacon St., Brookline, MA 02445 Tel: (617)232-2322) did, of course, share it.  
I have only had Caponata several times but the dish left such a vivid impression, that I was delighted to find its recipe.  Caponata, an antipasto dish of eggplant and tomatoes is Sicillian, or at least has been claimed by Sicily ever since its documented appearance there in 1709.  But, hark, Sicily may not have invented the dish all by itself.  Set in the Mediterranean Sea, caponata likely came from Spain. There, in Catalunya ‘caponada’, a similar kind of relish, is made.  The Catalan word “capon” is used to describe “Capón de Galera”, a gazpacho or caponata-like dish served aboard ship. It’s believed that it served as a mariner's breakfast because of the large amount of vinegar used, which would have acted as a preservative.  But the chefs at Ribelle have taken quite a bit of license with Larousse’s description of caponata: “ A Sicilian specialty made of aubergines, celery and tomatoes….flavored with capers, olives and anchovy filets.”   Take heart, anchovy and olive haters, there’s none of that here!

Friday, September 25, 2015

Citrus-Brined Pork Loin with Peach Mustard and Corn Soufflé Stuffed Tomatoes

Bon Appetit's Citrus-Brined Pork Loin
Jeff's Corn Souffle Stuffed Tomatoes
Peach Mustard
Today,  I want to share two great dinner party recipes that we served this summer to great applause.  One is a pork loin from Bon Appetit that originally called for using the backyard grill.  It was a great success with a flavorful crust and meat that was tender to the bone.  Later in the season, when we were in the midst of a monsoon, I took it inside and roasted it to perfection in the oven.  So I think we can get away with calling this a year ‘round option for a great bone-in pork roast.   And if you’re one of those grillers who will stand outside in all but a blizzard, you can grill on.  With it, comes a recipe for peach mustard, a cross between a chutney and a mustard sauce. But the third component of the menu makes this meal far more seasonal.  It calls for using those still wonderful field tomatoes that are everywhere around here now, along with the last of the season’s corn. Put them together and this might be the perfect meal to serve this very weekend.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Blueberry Maple Granola

Gilding the Granola....with yogurt and a slice of plum

Dr, James Caleb Jackson,
Inventor of Granula
When our houseguests John and Mary showed up with homemade Granola as a house gift, I was hooked.  It was so far superior to any store-bought granola it amazed me. Crunchy, crisp, look at it, with its oats, nuts and raisins, it said "Healthy", its taste said anything but.   Now I am not claiming to be a daily consumer of granola. I have probably used the term “Crunchy Granola” to describe a certain Birkenstock  lifestyle  far more often than I’ve eaten the stuff.  But Mary and John's Granola set me on a mission to find a recipe for Granola of my own. (Mary's recipe is from an unknown website that rhymes with 'bitchin'.)  All summer long, I searched for this child of sixties, or so I thought. Granola and its cousin Granula, however,  were both registered trademarks dating back to the 19th century.  American Granula was the invention of a Dr. James Caleb Jackson at his eponymous Jackson Sanitarium in Dansville, NY, south of Rochester, NY, in 1863.  Its cousin, Muesli, was invented in Switzerland by Dr. Maximilian Bircher-Benner.  This Swiss physician and nutritionist prescribed his invention to patients at his hospital where he was an early proponent of a diet rich in fresh fruit and vegetables.  While both Granula and Muesli share their births in hospitals,  the difference between Granola and Muesli is that the former is baked until crisp whereas muesli is neither baked nor sweetened.  

Thursday, September 17, 2015

In Search of the Ultimate Tuna Melt (and Bread and Butter Pickles to go with it)


         Consider the Tuna Melt, that diner staple that combines tuna salad, a slice of bread and a heated layer of cheddar cheese.  I myself have consumed dozens and dozens of the open-faced sandwiches in a quest to find the perfect Tuna Melt.   And almost inevitably I am disappointed.  The tuna salad, a glutinous mass of canned tuna, mayonnaise, celery and occasionally onion, is hit or miss.  But the most common sin is that the tuna salad is often almost ice cold, while the cheese topping is barely warmed through.  But I’ve pressed on for years until I came across a recipe not just for what Bon Appetit magazine pronounced ‘the best they’ve tried’ but also for a bread and butter pickle the writers insisted was their essential accompaniment. Perhaps my disappointment came not from the sandwich but from not having the pickles to go with it?  Either way, the ringing endorsement of the Tuna Melt and Bread and Butter pickles created by the Palace Diner in Biddeford, Maine made me only too happy to rush to make it.  And while I was at it, to take a look at the Tuna Melt’s origins, some of them fact and some of them, well, if not fiction, shall we say, questionable?

Monday, September 14, 2015

If it's Meatless Monday, Zucchini Pappardelle Arrabiata with Corn, Chickpeas and Almonds ought to be on your table

"Zoodles" Pappardelle made from Zucchini

The summer season may be over but summer’s not. And for the next several weeks the farm stands will be brimming with great produce. Fall is actually a fairly long growing season and really only ends with the first frost.  Out here that will likely be deep in November.  So this dish is ideal for making right now and all the way into Fall.  First of all, it can incorporate pretty much whatever vegetable you fancy.  Secondly, it gives you something to do with that bumper crop of bumper crops, the Zucchini.  In this dish you turn Zucchini into what one recipe writer called “Zoodles”.  “Zoodles” are what you get when you take a vegetable peeler or a mandolin and thinly slice Zucchini into ribbons.  Your left with Zucchini that resemble pappardelle noodles in width and in the way you then use your Zoodles; as a substitute for pasta in this version of arrabiata sauce.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

And the Winner is...Brandied Apricot-Almond...Delight!

      In August, we published Andrew’s take on one of Martha Stewart’s many versions of the regrettably named “Slab Pie”.  I felt strongly that the nomenclature of this pie didn’t do justice to the results: the season’s best stone fruits under a blanket of flaky pastry in a size perfect for a crowd larger than any regular pie can serve. I am happy to tell you that many of our readers submitted some really thoughtful answers.  I so appreciated the time you took to submit your suggestions and, in some cases, the research you did before you wrote us.  I thought I’d share them all with you and explain how we got to the winning name.  We’re using it for this recipe for another wonderful stone fruit dessert from Fine Cooking Magazine…Brandied Apricot-Almond Delight.   So here are your suggestions in all their glorious inventiveness:

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

The 40th Hampton Classic and Andrew's Best Classic Recipes (Including a new one for Brownies that just can't be beat.)

Karen Polle rode "With Wings" to victory at the Hampton Classic Grand Prix
18 Year Old Victoria Colvin won our hearts! 

Last Sunday’s Grand Prix Day at the Hampton Classic was its 40th Anniversary. What started out as a truly local event has now become a major stop on the Equestrian circuit.  Participation can affect Olympic status for the riders.  Horses come from all over the world.   This year, there was horse and rider from Argentina and the winner of the $250,000 Grand Prix was Karen Polle, a Japanese citizen riding a Japanese horse called “With Wings”.   And of special interest to us was a very winning young rider named Victoria Colvin.  18 year old Victoria rode more than one dozen horses in the show.  On it’s last day before the Classic, Victoria won first, second, fourth and fifth places in the Hermes Junior /Amateur-Owner Hunter Classic.  Just before that she took home the championship ribbon in the East Coast Young Jumper Championship for 7 Year Olds.  Her horse was Austria 2, owned by Take The High Road LLC of New Jersey.  And why was she our personal favorite? Because she stayed at our house while pursuing her Hamptons Classic ribbons.  Well done, Victoria.  But Grand Prix Day isn’t just about the horses.  Not by a long shot.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Portobello Mushroom Burgers with Pesto, Mozzarella and Red Peppers and a great recipe for Walnut Spinach Pesto from Daniel Holzman

         I realize that Meatless Monday was yesterday but yesterday Andrew and I were busy getting back into our house after a week's absence for the Hampton Classic Horse Show.  We had a wonderful week staying with dear friends who opened their doors to us.  Or at least me.  The first part of the week, I was solo at a wonderful 3 generations family home.  Andrew joined me for the second part of the week with two of our nearest and dearest.  I think having houseguests makes you a better houseguest. Or at least I hope so.  I did quite a bit of cooking and Andrew excelled at desserts.  I did not put today's Portobello Mushroom Burgers on any menu this week but it would be a great item to keep in mind for this weekend's final blast of summer--the Labor Day Weekend. 

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Peach Cherry Slab Pie adapted from Martha Stewart

I must confess that I am more than a little put off by the name of this remarkable pie.  I mean really?  “Slab” as in cold, stone slab or “slab of meat” both of which are less than appetizing and have little or nothing to do with the flaky pastry that surrounds the ripe, rich stone fruits that make up the filling in this crowd-pleasing dessert.  And unlike a traditional 9 inch pie, this one does feed a crowd. This recipe will give you 16 servings of pie when cut into squares that are particularly appealing topped with iced or whipped cream.  Darned if I could find the origins of this particular pie incarnation, although our friends at Food 52 tell us Martha Stewart has made so many variations of the pie that she ‘might have originated the whole genre’.  
I somehow doubt that because in researching slab pies, the writer of a blog named “Dueling Margaritas” wrote that her grandfather, a baker and father of 11, made slab pies in the 1940s long before Martha was old enough to hold a rolling pin. 

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

An authenthic Gazpacho recipe from David Rosengarten

         Whatever happened to David Rosengarten?  You may remember the marvelously low-key television chef who preceded the food network rampage that made stars out of everyone from Bobby Flay to Giada di Laurentis.  David’s show “Taste” was a wonderful learning experience as David deep-dived into his subject matter with such thoroughness and thoughtfulness that you came away feeling you had some expertise in whatever food David was extolling on that particular day. 

Friday, August 21, 2015

Watermelon Salsa served 2 ways: In Fish Tacos and a Blackened Swordfish Salad

         For the last few summers, one of our salads of choice has been the Watermelon and Tomato rendition first published here in July 2010:  Nothing says 'cool off' like watermelon and this salad combines the sweetness of the fruit with the tang of ripe tomatoes, a jolt of red onion and a splash of red wine vinegar.  It’s a perfect accompaniment to almost anything grilled, truly a dish that has summer written all over it.  So when I spotted a recipe for Fish Tacos with Watermelon Salsa, I couldn’t wait to try it.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Chili-Lime Crab Salad with Tomato and Avocado

       This post was first published 5 years ago this week.   Since the temperature in the East won't go under 90 for the next four days, it seemed a perfectly appropriate time to re-publish it.  It requires no cooking at all, takes under 30 minutes to get on the table and the taste?  Lime makes this the most refreshing of dishes.  You can serve this tonight which is likely to be one of those nights when the heat practically begs you to eat light. There was one comment made about this recipe which was that Scott Conant, a judge on Chopped on the Food Network, is adamant that red onion must be cooked before it is ever used.  You can get around this rule by soaking the diced onion in cold water for 15 minutes. This will greatly reduce any harsh onion flavor.  Even if it won't pass Chef Conant's sniff test.  So here it is, Chili-Lime Crab Salad with Tomato and Avocado.

       When I was in Paris on a business trip and we had a little time off, I wentto the Atelier des Chefs cooking school for a lesson.  There are actually six locations around the city where you can take a class that lasts anywhere from an hour to 3 hours.  I chose to go the school itself on Rue Penthievre which is right behind the Place de la Madelaine.  It was a great class, all in French, and all female with one glaring exception…L’homme Americain.  I  had the good fortune to have been born in Montreal where you learn French from a very early age and it's stood me in good stead all these years.  So I was very at home at the school.  Included among the students was a beautiful young girl and her equally elegant “Grandmere”.   Apparently it was the “Grandmere” who had received the classes as a Christmas gift and not, as I’d imagined, the pretty young bride!  I guess you really are never too old to learn.  

I was told they had sessions in English and in fact, I was asked by my instructor if I’d help her with some phrases for a class she was giving that night.  But on their website, , I can’t find any reference to them. But if you are familiar with what used to be called “Montreal Kitchen French”, you’ll get along just fine.  It’s all about watching and mimicking which doesn’t exactly require a LaRousse to do.   This is all a very roundabout way of getting to my purchase from their kitchen shop.   There was sale on stainless steel rings, the ones that make perfect rounds on the plate and make everything look remarkably professional.  Needless to say, I had to immediately buy 6 of them.  When I got home to Bridgehampton, they went into a drawer and hadn’t emerged ever until I found the perfect way to use them…in this wonderful salad!  And if you happen to be without your Matfer Bourgeat rings, you can still make it.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Summer Steak and Grilled Vegetable Salad from Pat LaFrieda

Pat LaFrieda, New York's Butcher
Quick!  Name a famous butcher!  Well, if you’re from New York, the first name you would likely come up with would be that of Pat LaFrieda, a third generation butcher whose LaFrieda Meats supplies, among other places, the enormously popular Shake Shack with their particular blend of hamburger meat.  (It’s a top-secret formula so you won’t find it here or anywhere else).   Recently, Pat LaFrieda wrote a complete article about Skirt Steak on the grill for Fine Cooking Magazine.  Skirt steak, Mr. LaFrieda said, has been his favorite cut of beef for as long as he can remember.  Since he started working with his father when he was ten and took over the business entirely twenty-one years ago, he’s had plenty of chances to change his mind. But no, he believes that skirt steak packs the most flavor and tells us he grills it about every week in the summer.  And with it, he serves as much great seasonal produce as he can find.  Hence, this recipe for a steak salad extraordinaire, and one that I wanted to pass on to you before another day in summer passes.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Sesame Chicken Salad with Spinach, Cucumber and Cilantro from Tyler Florence

We were having friends for lunch over the weekend and I wanted to make Chicken Salad.  For the recipe I took out three contenders. Patricia Well’s “The Paris Cookbook” (Harper Collins 2001) had one that would have put us right in the heart of St. Germain de Pres with a recipe from Le Bonaparte restaurant there.   Wolfgang Puck would have sent us to Santa Monica and the famous Chinois Chicken Salad but we’ve already visited there (See and though we loved the salad, Andrew wanted to try something new.  And once again, Tyler Florence and his “Tyler’s Ultimate”  (Clarkson Potter 2006) won out.  This is an Asian inspired recipe that hits all the Asian flavor parameters—spicy, salty, sour and sweet.   It looks lovely too and terribly healthy if you ignore  the fact that you basically fry the panko sesame seed crusted chicken, which I am perfectly capable of doing.  

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Blueberry Crostata with Lemon Ice Cream

Photo Courtesy of Fine Cooking Magazine. All rights reserved.


Once again, I am sharing one of Andrew’s great summer desserts.   Surely one of summer’s great pleasures are its fruits and berries, especially when they are local.   And what can compare to any fruit dessert coupled with ice cream, especially when it is homemade.  I like to think that Andrew ought to be getting a cut out of the sales of Cuisinart Ice Cream Makers he has recommended to friends.  At $60, you can’t imagine how much pleasure you’ll bring to summer when you buy one.  It’s the best possible rainy-day activity for young children.  It’s not a bad one for grown-ups either.  And the creamy perfection of pure, simple homemade ice cream makes anything else taste somehow not as good, and truly store-bought.  

Monday, August 3, 2015

Well over 1 Million Visitors and what's our most popular post of all time? Our 600th Post ! Thomas Keller’s recipe for Santa Maria-style Tri-Tip Roast Beef

Chef Thomas Keller 
Today marks a milestone in the history of Chewing the Fat.  Since we started this blog almost 6 years ago on the 30th of October, we've seen our readership grow from a few faithful friends to over 37,000 page views last month alone.  And today marks our 600th post! What better way to celebrate than to revisit our most popular recipe ever.  It's from Thomas Keller and it tops the best-read list with 17,514 page views.  In many ways, it  epitomizes what I try to do here every week: Tell a story, share a food discovery and along the way entertain our readers.  That's why I think this post bears repeating today.  So here's to Chewing the Fat and here's to you my dear readers.  
         When Trader Joe’s came to our neighborhood, it brought plenty of California with it.  Among the items was something called a Tri-Tip Roast of beef.  I’d never heard of the cut at all but TJ’s meat case is full of the stuff.   Trader Joe’s brands practically everything in the store with its own label.  So you’ll find several pre-marinated versions of the Tri-Tip all attributed to the retailer.  I know I should appreciate the time-saving this gives the harried cook who rushes into the store at the end of the day and has to get dinner on the table the moment he or she gets home. But if, like me, you want to control sodium intake and everything else that goes into processed foods, Trader Joe’s offers a virgin version of the beef.  However I still had no idea what the cut was or, for that matter, how to cook it.  Then I ran across a recipe for Tri-Tip from none other than the great Thomas Keller.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Pluot Upside-Down Cake adapted from Fine Cooking


What is a “pluot”?, you may well ask. It’s the Labradoodle of fruits.  Actually it’s more like a Cockapoo or even a Maltipoo in size. The Pluot is a plum and apricot hybrid bred first in California in the 1800s.   Initially it was called a Plumcot, which is the way most 50/50 hybrids get their names.  However the original fruit was hard to grow.  Then in the 1920s, another California nursery discovered that if you heavied up on the plum side of the equation, you got a more reliable fruit.   They experimented for years finally trademarking the name Pluout in the 1990s.  There are pluots of various sizes and colors.  They’re no longer rare and the proof of that is that I got Andrew his pluots at Costco.   According to Fine Cooking, originator of this recipe,  you should look for pluots with a little ‘give’ and avoid any that are rock hard because they simply will not ripen.  You may still want to ripen the fruit further by putting them in a paper bag and keeping them at room temperature for a day or two.  Then you can make this wonderful upside down cake that pairs the fruit with almond flavor. Served with fresh whipped cream, the sweet juicy fruit is the star of the show and the cake a great supporting player.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

My complete review of Viking River Cruises Romantic Danube has just been published by The Daily Meal!

On the Danube River with Viking River Cruises

On this cruise, your next meal is right around the bend in the river

Monte Mathews
This cruise is one of the best ways to experience Europe.
There are two universal truths about Viking River Cruises. One: literally everyone you talk to wants to take one. And two: everyone who wants to should. These are some of life’s most fascinating journeys, a way to experience the heart of a country in pure comfort and style. Whatever voyage you choose — from the Douro River in Portugal to the Mekong River in Vietnam, and points between including France, Germany, Egypt, Burma, and China, or, the most popular of all, the Danube — you’ll sail on a cruise for people who swear they’d never take a cruise.
Viking River Cruises is the brainchild of a man named Torstein Hagen, whose passion for cruise ships goes back to his leadership of the late, lamented Royal Viking Cruise Line. In the 1980s, Royal Viking became the first cruise ships with all of nine balcony staterooms, and set the standards for high-end cruising. Viking is Hagen’s similar deluxe gift to River Cruising. In an unprecedented shipbuilding project, Viking River set a Guinness World Record this year when it launched 10 of its so-called longships in a single day, bringing its fleet to a total of 60 vessels. The name “longship” pays homage to the long, narrow warships powered by oar and sail that the Vikings used for trade, commerce, and exploration. The modern longships carry just 180 passengers in luxury the original Norseman could never have imagined. When Hagen took to the rivers he brought along his passions for comfort, superb Scandinavian design, and culinary excellence. And that is just aboard his ships.
On land, at every stop, local guides shepherd small tour groups through the historic towns and cities that line the shores of the rivers. On their Danube itinerary, opportunities abound for tasting the local wines and beers, the paprikash of Hungary, the sachertortes of Vienna, the wursts of Germany, and wines and beers of every description. In a move unheard of in the cruise industry, passengers are encouraged to bring local wines aboard to sample with no corkage fee and no restrictions. Or you can choose to stick with Viking’s superior reds and whites, poured with great gusto at every lunch and dinner. There’s even sparkling wine on the breakfast buffet for those who can’t start the day without a mimosa.These voyages are not for casino goers, tuxedo wearers, or children under 18. They are for lifetime learners — people who want to experience a culture with like-minded adults.
As you float along the Danube, your meals offer a taste of the countries you are passing through. Every day features small samples of local specialties. Many of these are served at breakfast. The maître d’ circulates among the tables in the dining room with tapas-sized portions of specialties like Viennese gabelbison, a potato salad topped with egg or pickled herring, and quark mit Fruchte, or curd cheese with fruit. Viking River believes in big breakfasts with a lavish array of every imaginable breakfast food. The omelette station is a popular destination. Eggs with yolks the color of Tropicana are also cooked à la minuit. Can’t drag yourself to the buffet station? Your charming waiter or waitress will do the heavy lifting for you with offers of eggs Benedictpain perdu, or pancakes.
Don’t expect ethnic food to dominate the menus. While there are familiar Hungarian, Austrian, and German specialties like goulash, wiener schnitzel, and a complete “Salute to Germany” dinner, Viking River plays to its overwhelmingly American passenger list with food that’s beautifully prepared and presented, but most of all, familiar.
Your breakfast prepares you for the tours included in your fare. On spanking new Mercedes coaches, the 180 passengers are divided into smaller groups of 25 to 30 people. In addition to giving passengers a thorough introduction to every port, all include at least an hour’s time to indulge in personal pursuits. For food enthusiasts, that could mean the 100,000-square-foot Central Market in Budapest, the Viennese coffee and pastry palaces of Vienna, biergartens that pop up, oddly enough, in front of major cathedrals and monasteries, and of course, the best of the wurst along the river in Germany.
Back aboard the ship, you retreat to snug staterooms that are the epitome of Scandinavian design genius: a place for everything, your own mini-fridge, and cabin service that surprises with its gnome-like ability to service your room while you’re at breakfast. If you can, spring for a balcony, which allows you a breath fresh air anytime you wish. But even the minimum grade will give you first-class comfort, if not the striking views you’ll see from the upper two decks.
And oh, the people you’ll meet! These voyages are not for casino goers, tuxedo wearers, or children under 18. They are for lifetime learners — people who want to experience a culture with like-minded adults. The passenger list is filled with successful, accomplished people. And your greatest surprise may be how much fun people have. Unassigned tables for six, eight, or 10 find people mixing and mingling as the decibel level rises by the day. Toward the end of the voyage, the whole ship seems to know and adore each other. That likely explains why a passenger-organized talent show was the hit of the trip. And why, on the last night, there was actually a group of people dancing on the tables. And nobody asked them to stop.