Oceania’s Islands & Icons with Chef Christine Cushing- The Greek Isles
by: Mary Luz Mejia
A lucky group will embark on the Oceania “Island & Icons” voyage this August 2014 aboard the luxurious Riviera. And while cruising to stunning ports of call including the Greek isles of Santorini, Zakynthos and Corfu is spectacular in and of itself, it’s the voyage’s hostess that adds a tremendous dimension to this already stellar, Bon Vivant conceptualized ten-day tour. Christine Cushing, one of Canada’s most respected celebrity chefs, TV personalities, cookbook authors and Mediterranean food experts, hails from Greece. It is in many ways, her culinary and spiritual home.
And it’s that enduring connection that gives Christine a passion for the region and why she’s worked several land excursions in the Greek ports of call. “I can offer the most to guests thanks to my recent years of travel and experiences in Greece,” she explains. Christine and her husband head to Greece and Montenegro (another stop on this voyage) almost every summer to discover hidden gems, new artisanal food producers and off-the-beaten-path treasures. Some of which she’ll be generously sharing on this trip.
She also points out that the Ionian island of Zakynthos, with its verdant landscape, and distinct Italian history and influences, will be a marked contrast to the better known, more glamorous Santorini. In Zakynthos, the group will be taken to an ecological olive oil press and mill called Aristeon. There, participants will receive an in-depth olive oil tasting experience with mezze (Greek small plates or tapas) in a truly Greek setting. Christine, who takes olive oil seriously (she’s got two Greek oils she discovered and sells in Canada under her own label), will lead the tasting based on her years of hands-on olive oil study and tasting. Guests will learn how to discern a good oil, how to identify defects and what to look for when buying a bottle. Greeks consume 25 litres of liquid gold per person a year, so you’re in capable hands!
Santorini on the other hand, which forms part of the Cyclades, is the product of one of the biggest volcanic eruptions in history. “It’s arid and craggy, ” says Christine adding, “You’d think nothing could possibly grow there, yet it offers some great surprises and opportunities to learn from the unexpected.” She advises passengers to get ready to savour some unique Greek wines- the likes of which they’ve likely never savoured before! Ever tasted the Assyrtiko grape varietal? Once you’ve been part of this trip, you can certainly say you have.