The countdown to Iona is on and there are just 365 days standing between you and the brand new P&O Cruises ship. And as we all well know, nowadays with a new ship comes a new feast of flavours, especially when said ship has more than 15 places to eat and a selection of brand new food heroes.
Iona’s Food Heroes
Taste 360 will serve dishes designed by Jose Pizarro, a Spanish chef who now has four branches of his ‘Brindisa’ restaurant in London. Marte Marie Forsberg will bring traditional home-cooked meals to the menus of the new P&O Cruises restaurant on Iona too.
The latest Iona cruise news introduced us to the ‘local food heroes’, each one set to represent the cuisine that flies the flag of their homelands. And so, we introduce Spanish chef Jose Pizarro, Norwegian chef Kjartan Skjelde and photographer and Marte Marie Forsberg, a writer, photographer and home cook. Whose culinary prowess tickles your taste buds?
Hailing from Cáceres in Spain, José Pizarro grew up on a farm and was inspired by his mother and grandmother’s cooking. Early in his career, Pizarro working in the Michelin-starred El Chapín de la Reina restaurant in Madrid, before becoming head chef at El Mesón de Dona Filo. He later moved to London, where he co-founded the Brindisa restaurants. He has since opened his own Tapas bar and now has four Brindisa restaurants around the city. A regular on cookery shows including BBC1’s Saturday Kitchen and author of four cookery books, Pizarro is known for using fresh, simple, seasonal ingredients to create the best of Spanish cuisine.
Kjartan Skjelde was born and raised in Stavanger, one of the most popular Norwegian fjords cruise destinations. The chef still lives and works in the Norway port, where he owns restaurants Tango and the Fish & Cow brasserie. Kjartan has written five cook books and has appeared as a judge on MasterChef Norway.
Speaking about her partnership with P&O Cruises, Kjartan said: “Working with P&O Cruises, I want guests to be able to smell, taste and see that each dish of my six-course taster menu for The Epicurean is truly Norwegian. I use local, seasonal ingredients in all of my dishes along with traditional Norwegian cooking methods. I use fish that swim in our cold mountain water, lambs that graze on our salt marshes, beetroots picked from a small local island and cook these ingredients with traditional Norwegian methods – guests will be able to taste Norway through every bite.”
Marte Marie Forsberg
Writer, photographer and home cook, Marte Marie Forsberg, focuses on local ingredients and traditional Norwegian flavours in her recipes. She has featured in magazines and newspapers around the world and is the author of The Cottage Kitchen.
On her role as a Local Food Hero on Iona, Marte Marie said: “When it comes to Norwegian cuisine, our simplicity sets us apart. Quality of produce is therefore key. Working with P&O Cruises, we will use the best local suppliers to ensure this quality on Iona. This is a huge part of my menus; choosing the ingredients that grow with the seasons so that the experience translates from the landscape straight onto the plate. I will bring traditional Norwegian home-cooked meals to the menus of P&O Cruises main restaurants as well as Taste 360.”
Our very own Iona Insider, Nina, was lucky enough to embark on a culinary journey of her own at an evening in London last week. We got the rundown on her first impressions of Iona’s exciting new culinary offering…
‘Skol’ as the Norwegians say!
I was in London to sample the wares of Iona’s new ‘Local Food Heroes’ and it’s safe to say I left feeling suitably satisfied and more excited than ever for Iona’s arrival in 2020. I think all three chefs are fantastically suited to Iona and her enchanting itineraries.
Food Hero, Kjartan Skjelde, told of how he chases the seasons to get the prefect flavours. His dishes in The Epicurean promise local specialities with high quality, rich produce; what could be better than sailing through the Norwegian Fjords while eating Norway’s local delicacies?
We also have Marte Marie Forsberg, who originates from the south coast of Norway and navigates more traditional recipes, keeping a simple food style but with a very elegant twist.
Of course, Iona will also be exploring the Mediterranean later in her maiden season and I am very excited to hear that. Fittingly, the third Local Food Hero, Jose Pizarro, will be offering a tapas menu in the Glasshouse on-board the new P&O Cruises ship.
The tapas served reflects a rich Spanish culture, bringing some ‘olé!’ to the menu in the ever-popular restaurant. Jose wants you to not only eat Spanish cuisine, but also to take you on a food journey designed to make you feel like you are actually there, right at the heart of Spain. As he talked us through some of the dishes on offer, he explained that some were recipes passed down from relatives and adapted over the years.
Playing with expectations, Jose wowed us with his incredible corn-fed pork served rare. I can’t even begin to explain the tenderness; the meat literally melted in my mouth. We went on to sample slow-roasted lamb leg later on, with Jose switching up the cooking style on both meats but creating incredibly effective and delicious results with each!
The only way any of the dishes I sampled that night could be bettered is if they were being eaten on Iona. Luckily there’s less that a year to wait…