LET’S DO L.U.N.C.H.


Silversea’s new S.A.L.T. initiative gets under the skin of local cuisine. Becky Wiggins gets a sneak tasting in the Philippines and Singapore.

LET’S DO
LUNCH

Silversea’s new S.A.L.T. initiative gets under the skin of local cuisine. Becky Wiggins gets a sneak tasting in the Philippines and Singapore.


There’s a tiny burger on the plate in front of me. I’m told to pop it straight into my mouth. Surprisingly, it melts immediately. It’s not actually a burger, but a delightful, tomato-scented meringue, filling my mouth with tantalising flavours. It’s sweet, but salty; tart, acidic, then earthy… I’m in foodie heaven.


We’re experiencing a multi-course tasting menu at Toyo Eatery in Manila, awarded the Miele One to Watch Award by Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants list in 2018. Course after course of incredibly creative flavour combinations are placed in front of us: a cassava chip with delicate sea urchin and sweet potato; a tiny squid stuffed with hot, mustardy rice and glazed with ginger, onion, garlic and tomato; mackerel cured with coconut vinegar, served with zingy pickled cucumber.


Dessert is a tantalising smoked coconut cream with reduced coconut vinegar, candied cashews and local mango. Our culinary journey has started on a high.


From Toyo Eatery, we head to our home for the next week, Silversea’s elegant Silver Muse. After an exhilarating drive through the crazy Manila traffic, we spot her nestled serenely in glittering Manila Bay.


We’re welcomed with chilled champagne and I’m shown to my suite by a butler in tails, where we discuss my choice of toiletries (Ortigia), my favourite tipple (gin), and even whether I’d like him to unpack my suitcase (aware of the shocking mess inside, I politely decline).


I wander, champagne in hand and discover a well-appointed bathroom with a full-sized bath and corner shower, a dressing room with plenty of drawer and hanging space, and a bedroom with a huge mirror masquerading as a TV screen. There’s also a lounge area with a sofa, dressing table space and a table holding chilled champagne on ice.


Silversea Cruises recently announced a brand-new culinary experience: S.A.L.T. (Sea And Land Taste), which will debut on its brand new ship Silver Moon, coming in August 2020. Lucky me, I’ve been invited to experience an exclusive, specially curated preview.


On our first evening, we dine in opulent, Asian-fusion themed Indochine, one of eight restaurants on board, where local Filipino dishes have been added to the menu as part of our S.A.L.T. experience. It includes spicy sinigang soup and fragrant, vinegary chicken adobo.


We get the chance to meet our convivial host: multi award-winning journalist and former editor-in-chief of Saveur magazine Adam Sachs. As with many cruise lines, Silversea is facing a change of demographic, and with this younger audience comes a challenge to connect the generations. Sachs explains that guests on board Silver Moon (and Silver Dawn, scheduled to debut in 2021) will be able to dip in and out of an array of specially curated S.A.L.T. experiences.


The dedicated S.A.L.T. Lab (the space currently occupied by speciality French restaurant La Dame, which will be relocated next to the Arts Café) will provide the perfect setting for guests to explore the cuisine of their destination through cookery classes and lectures. The S.A.L.T. bar will serve local spirits, beers, wines and juices.

Fact File

CRUISE LINE: Silversea
VESS
EL: Silver Muse
PASSENGER CAPACI
TY: 596
TOTAL CR
EW: 411
PASSENGER DEC
KS: 8
ENTERED SERVI
CE: 2017
TONNA
GE: 40,700

FACILITIES: All-suite ship, eight dining venues, panorama lounge, Connoisseur’s Corner to enjoy a cognac, casino, Sky deck with large swimming pool, spa and gym.

BOOKINGS: See silversea.com

There’s a tiny burger on the plate in front of me. I’m told to pop it straight into my mouth. Surprisingly, it melts immediately. It’s not actually a burger, but a delightful, tomato-scented meringue, filling my mouth with tantalising flavours. It’s sweet, but salty; tart, acidic, then earthy… I’m in foodie heaven.


We’re experiencing a multi-course tasting menu at Toyo Eatery in Manila, awarded the Miele One to Watch Award by Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants list in 2018. Course after course of incredibly creative flavour combinations are placed in front of us: a cassava chip with delicate sea urchin and sweet potato; a tiny squid stuffed with hot, mustardy rice and glazed with ginger, onion, garlic and tomato; mackerel cured with coconut vinegar, served with zingy pickled cucumber.


Dessert is a tantalising smoked coconut cream with reduced coconut vinegar, candied cashews and local mango. Our culinary journey has started on a high.


From Toyo Eatery, we head to our home for the next week, Silversea’s elegant Silver Muse. After an exhilarating drive through the crazy Manila traffic, we spot her nestled serenely in glittering Manila Bay.


We’re welcomed with chilled champagne and I’m shown to my suite by a butler in tails, where we discuss my choice of toiletries (Ortigia), my favourite tipple (gin), and even whether I’d like him to unpack my suitcase (aware of the shocking mess inside, I politely decline).


I wander, champagne in hand and discover a well-appointed bathroom with a full-sized bath and corner shower, a dressing room with plenty of drawer and hanging space, and a bedroom with a huge mirror masquerading as a TV screen. There’s also a lounge area with a sofa, dressing table space and a table holding chilled champagne on ice.


Silversea Cruises recently announced a brand-new culinary experience: S.A.L.T. (Sea And Land Taste), which will debut on its brand new ship Silver Moon, coming in August 2020. Lucky me, I’ve been invited to experience an exclusive, specially curated preview.


On our first evening, we dine in opulent, Asian-fusion themed Indochine, one of eight restaurants on board, where local Filipino dishes have been added to the menu as part of our S.A.L.T. experience. It includes spicy sinigang soup and fragrant, vinegary chicken adobo.


We get the chance to meet our convivial host: multi award-winning journalist and former editor-in-chief of Saveur magazine Adam Sachs. As with many cruise lines, Silversea is facing a change of demographic, and with this younger audience comes a challenge to connect the generations. Sachs explains that guests on board Silver Moon (and Silver Dawn, scheduled to debut in 2021) will be able to dip in and out of an array of specially curated S.A.L.T. experiences.

The dedicated S.A.L.T. Lab (the space currently occupied by speciality French restaurant La Dame, which will be relocated next to the Arts Café) will provide the perfect setting for guests to explore the cuisine of their destination through cookery classes and lectures. The S.A.L.T. bar will serve local spirits, beers, wines and juices.


We first dock bright and early at the beautiful island of Coron in the Philippines, stepping blinking out into the sunshine, dazzled by the otherworldly jade colour of the water. We join our first guest-host, Filipino food expert and New York restaurateur Nicole Ponseca, and our local guide, Clang.


The colourful ex-military jeepneys take us to the harbour where we climb on board local banca outrigger boats and, after a few technical difficulties (ours refuses to start), we’re soon skimming over the water to the fishing village of Lajala. Here, we receive a warm welcome from the children of the Tagbanwa tribe, descendants of the original inhabitants of the Philippines.


We’re treated to a show-and-tell of the foods that the locals eat and I taste the most fragrant mango I’ve ever eaten, alongside the weirdly astringent fruit of the cashew, which magically seems to suck every last bit of moisture from your mouth while still managing to taste completely delicious.


Back on our bancas, we sail into a hidden cove to buy fresh coconuts, opened by a lady with the most terrifying knife skills, before hiking up steep stone steps and down the other side.


Fact File

CRUISE LINE: Silversea

VESSEL: Silver Muse

PASSENGER CAPACITY: 596

TOTAL CREW: 411

PASSENGER DECKS: 8

ENTERED SERVICE: 2017

TONNAGE: 169,379

FACILITIES: All-suite ship, eight dining venues, panorama lounge, Connoisseur’s Corner to enjoy a cognac, casino, Sky deck with large swimming pool, spa and gym.

BOOKINGS: See silversea.com

We first dock bright and early at the beautiful island of Coron in the Philippines, stepping blinking out into the sunshine, dazzled by the otherworldly jade colour of the water. We join our first guest-host, Filipino food expert and New York restaurateur Nicole Ponseca, and our local guide, Clang.


The colourful ex-military jeepneys take us to the harbour where we climb on board local
banca outrigger boats and, after a few technical difficulties (ours refuses to start), we’re soon skimming over the water to the fishing village of Lajala. Here, we receive a warm welcome from the children of the Tagbanwa tribe, descendants of the original inhabitants of the Philippines.


We’re treated to a show-and-tell of the foods that the locals eat and I taste the most fragrant mango I’ve ever eaten, alongside the weirdly astringent fruit of the cashew, which magically seems to suck every last bit of moisture from your mouth while still managing to taste completely delicious.


Back on our bancas, we sail into a hidden cove to buy fresh coconuts, opened by a lady with the most terrifying knife skills, before hiking up steep stone steps and d
own the other side.


Our last stop comes courtesy of wonderful little motorcycle sidecar taxis. We zip up into the mountains to a local restaurant, the Funny Lion, for an incredible kamayan feast: the table is groaning with mountains of food: stuffed squid, local fish, roast chicken, huge shrimp, sticky rice, salted eggs and local seaweed that’s like teeny green bunches of grapes, delicious dipped into a savoury, garlicky soy vinegar. Our host gives us a quick lesson on eating with your fingers (it’s not as straightforward as you’d think) and we tuck in.


We spend the next day listening to Ponseca’s fascinating lecture on the cultural influences on Filipino food, which include the obvious (Spanish) and the less obvious (Greek). We taste different vinegars and fermented shrimp and fish pastes, and watch as Ponseca prepares kinilaw, a fermented fish and rice dish (bit of an acquired taste, that one), and a moreish classic Filipino adobo.


Our next port of call is Kota Kinabalu in Sabah, Malaysia. Piling into minivans, we head to local institution the Seng Hing Coffee Shop for a traditional breakfast: spicy Sabah-style tom yum, laksa made with evaporated milk, fried noodles with rice wine, and kon loh mee with roasted pork and egg rolls. It’s the most delicious feast and such fun to sit among the locals as they chat over their breakfast.


Our next stop is high in the mountains, and the engines in our little vans strain as we wind through the lush hillside to Kokol Haven, a stunning resort where we’re warmly welcomed with lemongrass juice.


After a fascinating demonstration of a local curry dish, rich with coconut milk, garlic and curry leaves, we’re set to work making traditional local dishes: fragrant pumpkin with cucumber shoots, cooked in coconut milk and seasoned with dried, crushed shrimp; a delicious shrimp dish cooked with tamarind and turmeric that leaves us all stained orange; and a tangy spiced fish dish.



Our last stop comes courtesy of wonderful little motorcycle sidecar taxis. We zip up into the mountains to a local restaurant, the Funny Lion, for an incredible kamayan feast: the table is groaning with mountains of food: stuffed squid, local fish, roast chicken, huge shrimp, sticky rice, salted eggs and local seaweed that’s like teeny green bunches of grapes, delicious dipped into a savoury, garlicky soy vinegar. Our host gives us a quick lesson on eating with your fingers (it’s not as straightforward as you’d think) and we tuck in.


We spend the next day listening to Ponseca’s fascinating lecture on the cultural influences on Filipino food, which include the obvious (Spanish) and the less obvious (Greek). We taste different vinegars and fermented shrimp and fish pastes, and watch as Ponseca prepares kinilaw, a fermented fish and rice dish (bit of an acquired taste, that one), and a moreish classic Filipino adobo.


Our next port of call is Kota Kinabalu in Sabah, Malaysia. Piling into minivans, we head to local institution the Seng Hing Coffee Shop for a traditional breakfast: spicy Sabah-style tom yum, laksa made with evaporated milk, fried noodles with rice wine, and kon loh mee with roasted pork and egg rolls. It’s the most delicious feast and such fun to sit among the locals as they chat over their breakfast.


Our next stop is high in the mountains, and the engines in our little vans strain as we wind through the lush hillside to Kokol Haven, a stunning resort where we’re warmly welcomed with lemongrass juice.


After a fascinating demonstration of a local curry dish, rich with coconut milk, garlic and curry leaves, we’re set to work making traditional local dishes: fragrant pumpkin with cucumber shoots, cooked in coconut milk and seasoned with dried, crushed shrimp; a delicious shrimp dish cooked with tamarind and turmeric that leaves us all stained orange; and a tangy spiced fish dish.


After all our hard work, we’re treated to a feast, with both the dishes that we’ve cooked and more traditional local food, including a sago pudding in coconut milk, sweetened with palm sugar.


As Silver Muse powers on to Singapore, we’re joined by our next host, food writer and owner of supper club FatFuku (literally ‘fat luck’). Annette Tan is in the teppanyaki restaurant, Kaiseki, for a chat about Singaporean food and a demonstration of her family’s own Peranakan chicken curry, often eaten in Singapore with chunks of baguette, along with delicate, lacy roti jala and fried bee hoon (vermicelli noodles with spongy sliced fishcakes).


Singapore is a melting pot of cultural influences, informed by its colonial past (hence the popularity of afternoon tea), and Tan is on hand to introduce us to some delicious sweet treats: kueh bingka made with cassava; chiffon cake infused with pandan leaves; and kueh ko swee, a little like squares of sweet green blancmange covered in coconut. It’s all delicious.


By the time we dock in Singapore, we’ve learnt how the hawker centres were created when street food vendors were moved to a regulated, covered area. The centres are so popular there’s one every five square kilometres – and we now know exactly what to look for.


Our final lunch, on the most beautifully dressed table I’ve ever seen, features local lamb satay skewers with pineapple sauce, traditional Peranakan duck soup, our nasi ulam rice dish, and chicken cooked with buah keluak – a classic dish made with a poisonous seed that can kill if not prepared correctly. I board the plane carrying an extra kilo (and I don’t mean in my hand luggage), an understanding of the culture and cuisine of the areas that we’ve visited, and an arsenal of recipes to try at home.

The Verdict


HIGHS: A tailor-made experience designed to show off local cuisines. The all-suite, butler service experience and free-flowing champagne.

LOWS: Full-on days including hiking and bumpy motorcycle rickshaw rides which might not be suited to everyone.

BEST FOR: Adventurous foodies with a taste for the exotic willing to get under the skin of their destination.

After all our hard work, we’re treated to a feast, with both the dishes that we’ve cooked and more traditional local food, including a sago pudding in coconut milk, sweetened with palm sugar.


As Silver Muse powers on to Singapore, we’re joined by our next host, food writer and owner of supper club FatFuku (literally ‘fat luck’). Annette Tan is in the teppanyaki restaurant, Kaiseki, for a chat about Singaporean food and a demonstration of her family’s own Peranakan chicken curry, often eaten in Singapore with chunks of baguette, along with delicate, lacy roti jala and fried bee hoon (vermicelli noodles with spongy sliced fishcakes).


Singapore is a melting pot of cultural influences, informed by its colonial past (hence the popularity of afternoon tea), and Tan is on hand to introduce us to some delicious sweet treats: kueh bingka made with cassava; chiffon cake infused with pandan leaves; and kueh ko swee, a little like squares of sweet green blancmange covered in coconut. It’s all delicious.


By the time we dock in Singapore, we’ve learnt how the hawker centres were created when street food vendors were moved to a regulated, covered area. The centres are so popular there’s one every five square kilometres – and we now know exactly what to look for.


Our final lunch, on the most beautifully dressed table I’ve ever seen, features local lamb satay skewers with pineapple sauce, traditional Peranakan duck soup, our nasi ulam rice dish, and chicken cooked with buah keluak – a classic dish made with a poisonous seed that can kill if not prepared correctly.


I board the plane carrying an extra kilo (and I don’t mean in my hand luggage), an understanding of the culture and cuisine of the areas that we’ve visited, and an arsenal of recipes to try at home.

The Verdict

HIGHS: A tailor-made experience designed to show off local cuisines. The all-suite, butler service experience and free-flowing champagne.

LOWS: Full-on days including hiking and bumpy motorcycle rickshaw rides which might not be suited to everyone.

BEST FOR: Adventurous foodies with a taste for the exotic willing to get under the skin of their destination.

“After all our hard work, we're treated to a feast.”