In the last part of our P & O Britannia foodie cruise diary (see part one and part two here), it’s all about the gorgeous Eric Lanlard. Erica and I specifically chose the cruise because Eric was due to be on board. All the Food Heroes spend some time on the ship on various cruises, and it’s a chance for guests to book different masterclasses and hosted dinners with them.
On board, Eric has created the lovely Market Café, which is situated just to one side of the main atrium area of the ship. The café is very reasonable priced, selling delicious patisserie, coffees, ice creams and gourmet sharing boards.
The gourmet boards, which were brand new on our cruise, were all delicious and, priced at just £3.25, were great value too. Our favourite was the British pub platter, with a delicious mini artisan beef, mushroom and ale pie, nestled on a squidge of green pea purée, matched with pickled onions, onion marmalade, teeny tiny Scotch eggs, crisps and piccalilli . Absolutely divine, fresh and tasty and obviously home made:
Erica and I were lucky enough to book in for a masterclass with Eric in the Cookery School on board. The school is shiny and expensive-looking, with huge windows offering lots of light as well as stunning sea views. Eric is completely charming and chatty, and with Chef Rob Cottam at his side (sadly Rob was leaving as his wife is due to have a baby shortly) made the masterclass such good fun, with lovely anecdotes, great tips and professional hints as well as some great gossip (sorry, what goes on in the cookery class stays in the cookery class). Plus, of course, there are lots of lovely chefs there to help, so you don’t even have to chop anything or wash up!
Eric demonstrated a spiced chocolate tart with a ganache warmly scented with West Indian spices, which was utterly gorgeous (and surprisingly simple), before we got cracking creating our own fig, lardon and dolcelatte tart with walnut pastry, and then chocolate soufflés (potentially terrifying, but actually quite easy with expert tuition from Eric). The best bit, though, was when we all got to sit down and scoff our creations.
Of course, the creation that Eric is most famous for is his delicious afternoon tea. Served in the Epicurean restaurant on board, the whole experience is stunning from start to finish. As you’re seated, you’re served a choice of tea and a sweet violet scent is sprayed across the table. Presentation is stunning:
We basically waddled out of the restaurant, headed straight for our room and indulged in a heavenly post-tea afternoon food-coma. It really is the most unique and special experience. We absolutely loved it.
Our final Eric treat (not on the same day, thank goodness) was a special hosted dinner (the experience is expensive at £150 a pop, but totally worth it). Eric and the chefs in the Cookery School demonstrate and produce the most delicious dinner, and then host the most fabulous dinner, with free-flowing wine and conversation as sparkling as your welcome Champers. We started with crisp goats cheese croquettes, served with a fresh, grassy 2014 Domaine du Nozay Sancerre:
… and moved on to a pretty special confit pork belly, served with a cassoulet of beans and lardons and a sauce vierge. Absolutely gorgeous, especially teamed perfectly with an earthy, medium bodied Domaine Cyrot-Buthiau 2013 Burgundy Pinot Noir:
Our desserts were lemon cheesecakes with amaretti biscuit bases. Mine even came with a bit of personalisation (excuse the poor lighting):
Our whole experience on board was so positive. I’d highly recommend booking Britannia when one of the Food Heroes is on board, and then splashing out on some of the personalised experiences, they’re just so incredibly special.
Massive thanks to Erica, to P & O Cruises, and to Eric, whose brand new book Eric Lanlard’s Afternoon Tea is utterly gorgeous and out now (insider info: every single thing in the book was actually baked by Eric and photographed at his home – amazing!):
P&O Cruises is offering a 12 night cruise on Britannia (B631) from £829 per person for an inside cabin. Departing Oct 9, 2016, the price includes full board meals and entertainment on board. Departing from and returning to Southampton, ports of call include Gibraltar, Cartagena, Palma, Barcelona, Cadiz and Lisbon. To book, visit www.pocruises.com, call 0843 373 0111 or visit your local travel agent.
Eric’s next cruise will be in October.