Thursday, 23 October 2014

Celebrity Cruises, Equinox: under the Tuscan sun

Arriving in Livorno on board of Celebrity Cruises, Equinox

Breakfast in my balcony
On the second night of cruising with Celebrity Cruises Equinox, next stop was Livorno the nearest port to get to Florence, Pisa and La Spezia. I decided to try room service and ordered my breakfast by 2am just in time to see our arrival at Livorno at 7am.  What a view! Really enjoying this cruise business, I can really get use to it.  I completely understand what cruise believers are saying now. Cruise can become addictive!  I love the service and all the attention. For example, every time I leave the cabin to go to dinner my room and bathroom is cleaned and bed turn down. The little newspaper, Celebrity Today,  is ready for me when I came to bed as well as tickets for next day's excursions and any museums, etc. entries.  The service is seamless and very attentive; our Destination Concierge is on the case, making the experience so enjoyable and stress-free. Our tour was Pisa and Florence at our leisure.

The trip from Livorno to Pisa took about 45 minutes, by car. We walked around; one hour is more than enough to see all including the little market selling local crafts and food.  This little town is very small and crammed with tourists and street sellers. Pisa is a city in Tuscany, Central Italy, on the right bank of the mouth of the River Arno on the Tyrrhenian Sea.


Pisa baptistry
The Piazza dei Miracoli, formally known as Piazza del Duomo, is a wide walled area located in Pisa, Tuscany, Italy, recognized as an important center of European medieval art and one of the finest architectural complexes in the world. Leaning tower in the background

Leading tower

intricate details of the leaning tower

Pisa - street scene


 I've been to Florence before, many times, so I felt that soaking up the atmosphere and getting lost in the streets of Florence was an excellent idea!

Florence streets

 Beautiful Tuscany produce

Life passing by in Florence

 Lunch in Florence

After walking aimless we found a cafe/restaurant with an outside area, great let's eat outside, not sure what happened as I was talking to the locals,  but we end up inside!
Anyway, the place just opened about one month ago, It serves Italian fare and one dish that caught my attention was coccoli, fried bread dough served with Italian cow's-milk cheese, typical of Lombardy, Piedmont, and Veneto -  stracchino and prosciutto di Scarpaccia - cost €4. Delicious!  So much so I found a recipe and made it at home! - recipe coming soon!

The dishes look great, and  the service logistics needs a bit of iron out but nothing too serious.  Very good value and great fare -  wine is sold by the glass, carafe or litre - highly recommended!

La Cuccina Del Ghianda, via Dell'Agnolo, 85-91, Florence  t: +39 055 386 0534

Coccoli : La Cuccina Del Ghianda

My coccoli, I made in London - It was ace! The right prosciutto needs to be sourced as well as the cheese!  but the coccoli was perfect!  recipe coming soon...
another gelato: this time pistachio and panna cotta

The Ponte Vecchio is a Medieval stone closed-spandrel segmental arch bridge 84metres  in lenght over the Arno River, in Florence, Italy,  shops still trading built along it
 streets of Florence
Another long day and back to Equinox for yet another gastronomic adventure

The Tuscan Grille, Equinox

Tuscan Grille is a Italian Steakhouse, speciality restaurant on board of Celebrity Cruises,Equinox. The restaurant deco is dark, mysterious with red and leather accents, just like the Italians.  Each restaurant on board has its own plates, cuttlery  and glasses.

Antipasti: Selection of cured meats, parmesan cheese, roasted peppers and Kalamata olives
Delicious freshly made focaccia 

 Bistecca Carpaccio (Steak): Classic Dijon mustard, capers, parsley, onion, Parmesan cheese with black pepper vinaigrette and crisp potatoes
Insalata di Formaggio di Capra, fried goat cheese, arugula, toasted pine nuts and balsamic vinaigrette

Tonno crudo: lemon confit, radish, tomato and caper - simple, light and amazing.

fresh mozzarella cheese brought on board that the day

Zuppa di Cipolle(Tuscan Onion Soup): Creamy caramelized onion-leek soup with garlic croutons and provolone gratinata - nice gutsy onion soup with one of my favourite cheeses - provolone

Risotto alo zafferano - asparagus, roasted cherry tomoatoes and parmigiano-reggiano, it was nice, creamy and al dente - perfect!

Rib eye, medium-rare with Barolo sauce, spinach and truffled fries - lovely juicy steak and nice fries!

Dessert - Tiramissu - not too sweet and creamy
Lovely service, the menu has been put together nicely using fresh and good quality ingredients. Good, honest food cooked with love and passion. 
ending the evening with cocktails at the molecular bar
For further info, packages and destinations check out the Celebrity Cruises site

For other views on the same trip pop over to: 
Lavender and Lovage 

Travel, Dine & Wine in Style 
Dining on Celebrity Cruises
and Great British Chefs
Great British Chefs

Disclosure: I was a guest of Celebrity Cruises in partnership with Great British Chefs. All views are my own. I retained, as always,  full editorial control over this review.

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