In Crystal Cruises®, Onboard Pursuits


The flavors of a Panamanian culinary cruise

Readers of this blog post fall into one of two categories. You’re either preparing to set sail just after the New Year from Charleston or Fort Lauderdale on Crystal Serenity through the Caribbean, Panama Canal and Mexican Riviera, with the delicious company of special guest chef, wine expert and mixologist for a mouthwatering Wine & Food Festival culinary cruise. Or, you’re not. If you fall into the latter group, we understand the FOMO (fear of missing out) that comes with the knowledge that Cajun Chef Alex Patout, wine expert Kevin Zraly and cocktail guru Jonathan Pogash will all be sharing their vast expertise aboard this flavor-filled voyage, complete with interactive demos, tastings and Q&A sessions – and we’ve got you covered.

Our guest experts have shared some of their signature dishes or you to enjoy at home or any other kitchen in the world. The recipes are manageable for all levels of chefs, and the results are certain to impress. Invite some of your loved ones or friends who share your wanderlust and FOMO and share a feast straight from Crystal Serenity.

Bon appetít!

Crystal's Serenity's Chef Alex culinary cruise
Chef Alex Patout prepares freshly caught shrimp for his Cajun specialties

Cajun Pâte, courtesy of Chef Alex Patout, who has Cajun spice in his blood, hailing from the same town that created Tobasco. Chef Patout’s life’s work has been dedicated to home-style Cajun cooking, which he learned from his grandparents and perfected with his own flair. He runs successful restaurants in New Orleans and Miami and has cooked for U.S. Presidents, and on this voyage, he’s cooking for Crystal guests. Try this savory dish at home while dreaming of your next journey.

Makes about 2 cups

2 cups (1 pound) butter
2 or 3 shallots, minced
1/8 teaspoon dried thyme, or ½ teaspoon fresh 1 bay leaf, crushed
1/2 pound chicken livers
1 teaspoon Cognac
Salt and pepper
Tabasco sauce


Melt the butter over medium heat. Add the shallots, thyme, and bay leaf and cook until the shallots are soft, 2 – 3 minutes. Add the livers and cook for 3 minutes longer, stirring s=constantly. Transfer the mixture to a blender or a food processor fitted with a steel blade and puree until smooth. Blend in the Cognac and salt, pepper, and Tabasco to taste.

Pour into a bowl and set aside to cool to room temperature. Beat thoroughly two or three time during the first hour to keep the ingredients from separating. Then refrigerate until cold. Pack into jars or crocks and chill again.

Serve cold, with toast points or crackers.

Crystal's Wine expert Kevin Zraly culinary cruise
Wine expert Kevin Zraly

Billecart-Salmon Brut Reserve is the perfect wine pairing for this dish, as suggested by award-winning wine expert and best-selling author, Kevin Zraly. The fresh dryness and rich flavor of the wine beautifully cuts through the spice of the pate, leaving you wanting more.

Crystal Serenity's cocktail guru Jonathan Pogash culinary cruise

Jonathan’s Gin Fizz. Jonathan being Jonathan Pogash, dubbed “the Cocktail Guru” for his status as one of North America’s most premiere cocktail consultants and bartenders. His signature drinks can be found on the upscale menus of fine hotels and restaurants across the country, and he’s mixing it up aboard Crystal Serenity.

2 oz. Hendricks Gin
3/4 oz. fresh lime juice
1/2 oz. agave nectar
8 mint leaves
1 dash angostura bitters
Prosecco or other sparkling wine
Fresh mint sprig for garnish

Instructions: Slap the mint leaves and add to shaker, along with remaining ingredients.  Shake well with ice.  Strain over ice into rocks glass.  Top off w/ splash of sparkling wine.

If your FOMO and wanderlust are getting the best of you, book your own culinary cruise aboard the gorgeous ships of Crystal Cruises now.

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  1. Linda Suss
    4 years ago

    Interesting sounding Jonathan’s gin fizz but tell me how do you slap a mint leaf?

    1. Crystal Cruises
      4 years ago

      Hi Linda, great question! “Slapping” or “smacking” the mint leaves before adding them to a cocktail means to place the leaf in the palm of one hand, then gently “slap” it with the other hand. This warms the leaves and releases the aromatic flavors.


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