Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Va-cayman-tion 2012: The Cruisening: Day 5 - A Day At Sea

Today nothing happened. It was the trip from Key West to Grand Cayman, which apparently takes two days when you drive your hotel at 25mph. I'm sure the speed limit on the ocean is faster than that, but for some reason hotel no want to faster go. Since there was nothing going on today, I awoke leisurely at 8AM to go to the gym. Had to give one of the hamsters a break for a few minutes anyway. Hey who knows how long it would take us to get there if this hotel suffers from hamster strain. I refuse to be held responsible.

I have no pretense that my workouts are really doing anything for me. But I'm trying to combat some of the bad caloric choices I have made--mostly alcohol related--I'm sure in vain. Plus there are some seriously nice bodies on this ship, and it is really tough to compete with that. I'm convinced this one guy has a 24 inch waist and shoulders as wide as the doorway. He has to turn sideways to get through the door. His abs make a ringing sound like an Indian bell tree--you know like, "you will know when it's time to turn the page?" Only this is more like, "You will know when it's time to put down your second plate of pizza, fatty."

So we ate breakfast and afterward Jill split up from us and went to wander around on her own, as did we. We lazed on the deck for a while, sat in a hot tub. The day was overcast and was becoming overcasterer, and as we sat in the tub, nearing a bank of particularly forbidding clouds, I began to wonder how likely it was that the ship was creating any special kind of static electricity, and would that be enough to result in a lightning strike, and would it really hit the highest point in the boat, or would it go for the place where it was most likely to conduct. I became increasingly more convinced that we would be cooked in the hot tub like people soup and started to picture the headlines on that one, imagining the grief, confusion, and absurdity of dying from a lightning strike to the cruise ship hot tub.

Eventually it was time for our food and wine pairing. It was taught by the ship's sommelier and it was really informative. He showed us five wines, a Riesling, Pinot Grigio, Chenin Blanc, Bordeaux, and a Chianti. They served a plate with a small piece of steak, salmon, a cracker with brie cheese, a slice of apple, wedges of lemon and lime, a strawberry and a blueberry on top of some orange marmalade and small teaspoon with some very course ground salt. We would taste a bit of something, then sip the wine and he would demonstrate combinations that both worked well, and didn't work at all. Some that made the wines taste really horrible, which was very illuminating to me, and really valuable as a lesson. It made me wonder that while I ate the cheese with certain wines that perhaps I didn't have the right kind of cheese, or perhaps that wine shouldn't be paired with cheese at all and that I should have fruit, or something more savory instead. I say that because I have had some terrible wines, and while I'm not fully convinced the wines weren't terrible of themselves, it is possible I didn't do anything to help their case.

The tasting was in the fancy steak restaurant and I felt underdressed as I was the only person there in my swim trunks and a tank top, though this was at two in the afternoon, and what did they expect? I had just come from poolside where I was slamming Rum and pineapple juice. I did mention I was working on my figure.

I wish I understood wines more, and this is of course a step to learning, but it is often so hard to figure out all the flavors the wines evoke. People were getting almond here and licorice there. I was getting notes of wine. The Chenin Blanc was my favorite by far. It was sweet and fruity, but complex and the sommelier classified it as a medium body wine. The Riesling was nice, but it just tasted like a Riesling. The Pinot Grigio was okay, but dry. Not sweet at all, and just very blah, even with the pairing. The two reds, the Bordeaux and the Chianti didn't work for either of us. I think we are too infantile in our oenology to get European wines. I think they may rely more on the pairing of food than California wines. They are complex, and just need more attention than I'm willing to give right now. Maybe someday I'll be ready to invest more time and energy. The other problem is that many of the French wines they sell in the states are second rate, ones they don't want or couldn't sell locally, or mixed with petrol (which I believe is a European varietal). France keeps its best wine for its citizens. So the chances of finding a good French wine in the states already seems like the cards are not in your favor.

After lunch, we decided to have lunch. The food on the plate at the wine pairing wasn't quite enough to satiate us until dinner, so a sandwich was in order. We stopped by the deli, as that seemed more appetizing than the pizza place. I have seen so many people walking around with huge plates of bread covered in cheesy melty, but as good as that sounds, the sight of it it really made me ill. I saw a woman--not a big woman--who had the equivalent of regular price $4, $4, $4, $4 on a tray sitting alone, and clearly had an evening planned. Or a last evening. I looked around for a defibrillator, but didn't see one. Not that I've been looking but I haven't seen her since.

What was I saying? Oh, I had a pastrami on rye and Gregory had a Ruben. It was simple and good.

Afterward Gregory returned to the room for a nap until it was time for dinner, and I decided to wander around some more. The clouds had gathered enough to close the top on one of the pools. I settled onto one of the lounges and found myself falling asleep. But I wasn't quite comfortable enough to sleep, and I kept doing that jerking thing where just before you nod off, you kick your leg or suddenly twitch your arm violently, then you try to play it off all cool. Yes, I clearly meant to lie still and then unexpectedly spasm like I had been hit out of nowhere with a cartoon taser. I got up and had a drink at the bar and watched some straight guys antic-ing around the pool. It was a welcome change from the cleavage parade I've been experiencing all week. But eventually I got bored with that, and decided to start some conversation with some people hanging out near the bar. They weren't interested in being friendly, or maybe I came off as creepy (totally a possibility--I'm not above admitting that), so I headed up to another deck. The wind was picking up and it was definitely going to rain at some point. I decided to head back to the room and ran into Jill.

It had been a couple hours since our lunch and Jill had had nothing and was hungry. Gregory had just woken up and we headed up so she could get some lunch. After, we walked around the upper deck while it rained gently (not the downpour I expected), and we just chatted about life and nothing in particular. It was close enough to dinner time that we decided to get ready. Tonight was "elegant fancy night" where we had to dress up for dinner. I guess it is more fun to eat lobster in a suit and tie. The only thing more fun than that is a little surf and turf with an extra plate of surf. Stuff yourself until your buttons pop. We may be off the coast of Cuba, but while you're on the ship, you're in A-mur-ukuh. We had alligator that had been deep fried and served with some kind of pickled veggie / tomato sauce something that was delicious, but completely overpowered the reptile. I was looking forward to experiencing the flavor, but it's not that it tasted like chicken, it just tasted like "fried with sauce." Then I had a strawberry mint bisque. It tasted like melted strawberry ice cream with delicious moments of fresh mint, interesting, but I'mma say fail on that. Because while it was fancy, it really did taste EXACTLY like melted ice-cream. For the main course, Gregory ordered prime rib and I had a plate of lobster and shrimp. Jill ordered a second plate of lobster and offered to split it with me. I accepted, though I shouldn't have. You can have too much of a good thing. At the time it's amazing, but sadly, I had no room for dessert. Because in A-mur-ukuh, you have cherries jubilee or spiced apple puffed pastry or molten choco brûlée whip alamode cake pie after your nightly Thanksgiving snow-shoveling of entrees and sides, and wash it down with a diet coke*, because I'm on a diet.

I decided to exit the restaurant early and go to the GLBT meet-up in the wine bar to meet the four other gay people on this cruise. Needless to say, this is a strange feeling that here we are, such a tiny group of people. It was both vindicating and disappointing. I have a lot of conflicting emotions about hanging out here, so I don't have too much to say about this other than I had an occasion to try the Hess 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon, which we have a bottle at home. Unfortunately by now, my palette was shot and I couldn't even bring myself to finish it. It just didn't taste like anything. I suppose it doesn't pair well with frustration.

I decided to come back to the room and write this. Gregory and Jill went to the jazz show, which was apparently only so-so. Great band, marginal singing and dancing. The Ahmanson Theatre has spoiled us. Tomorrow Grand Cayman, and it's going to be an early start.

*DISCLAIMER: This was a joke. I don't soft drinks. I hate diet coke because it sucks and it's horrible and there is nothing remotely redeeming or healthy about this or any soft drink beverage.

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