Ecoventura has recently transformed the culinary offerings on their fleet and now offer locally sourced, healthy and gourmet style menus designed by the culinary talent of Chef Francisco Ventimilla, Director of the esteemed gastronomy school in Guayaquil, University Espiritu Santo. Chef Francisco trained our on board chefs in his techniques, many of whom have worked in the kitchens of Ecuador’s finest hotels or in popular restaurants in the upscale suburb of Samborondon.
While cruising in the Galapagos, you will look forward to each thoughtfully prepared meal. From breakfast through dinner the kitchens or galleys focus on using only the freshest ingredients, with fully 60% of the food used are sourced from these islands. Many fruits, meats and dairy products come from farms on islands blessed by rain. Organic fruits and vegetables thrive on San Cristobal and meat and dairy come from Santa Cruz. And of course the region is famous for fish and seafood. Minimizing the need for food that has to be shipped from the mainland helps protect the islands from invasive plant species, insects and even animals that can be unwelcome.
Ecoventura’s clientele are often drawn to this fleet because of the company’s commitment to environmental issues. Therefore it makes sense to align the kitchens with the sustainable philosophy. As you discover how fragile life is in the Galapagos, and as you experience the enormous effort that helps keep tourism possible in this region, you will appreciate even more the creative culinary presentations that appear as if by magic from small galleys on these expedition yachts.
Ecoventura follows a holistic approach toward healthier living on board. Ecoventura’s pacesetting approach to healthier fare underscores our holistic approach to Galapagos cruising: continued environmental stewardship, promotion of healthier living and support for local communities inside the ship. To better cater to our clients needs, our culinary-school trained chefs have introduced a healthy dining menu built around natural and organic foods purchased locally from island farmers. The menus have increased its infusion of organic content; nearly 25 percent of produce comes from the Galapagos, mainly fruits and vegetables from San Cristobal and meats and dairy from Santa Cruz Island; only 32 percent of the food products are now shipped from the mainland of Ecuador and the company continues to annually reduce that percentage. We can meet dietary requests for vegetarian and vegan meals as well as low-sodium and gluten free are available upon request.
Because you are on an adventure cruise and several times a day will be snorkeling and hiking, you don’t have to worry about calories. Also the chefs are watching out for you with reduced-calorie, health-conscious preparations (avoiding fried and heavily sauced foods) that are also low in fat and sodium content. Special-needs diets can be accommodated: vegetarian or vegan, gluten free and low sodium/low fat. Plus your chef thoughtfully presents desserts in small servings that you can enjoy without feeling guilty. House wine (red or white Chilean) and local beer (Pilsner) are served at dinner with no limit and at no additional charge.
Lunch buffets and dinner entrees offer creatively prepared chicken, fish, seafood, beef, pork or vegetarian. Lunches featuring local fish and ceviches can be served with music on the sun deck. Favorite starters include hand-rolled sushi, salmon carpaccio and seafood bouillabaisse with crostini and Pernod. Salads range from Caesar to avocado with hearts of palm. Seafood lovers enjoy grilled langostinos (giant prawns) in garlic and a pistachio-encrusted mahi mahi or tender grilled octopus. Other signature dishes are chicken Cordon Bleu and beef tenderloin in red wine. Ecuadorian and Mexican specialties are also on the menu. Desserts run the gamut from crème brulee to passion fruit mousse.
At breakfast, a few early birds may already be savoring the first cup of coffee or hot chocolate (a specialty of Ecuador). Soon everyone is lined up for the self-serve buffet: fresh fruits of the season, fruit juices, including delicious berry and tropical fruit blends, granola and nearly every day a Swiss oatmeal (muesli) along with assorted breads and cheeses Hot dishes vary daily and range from quiche Lorraine to eggs Benedict to ham and cheddar cheese omelets, or even stuffed crepes with Nutella. A surprise one morning is the possibility of choosing a local dish, yucca dumplings stuffed with cheese and served with honey, and on another day green plantain dumplings with cheese. Young and old enjoy pancakes, bacon and ham. After returning from the morning shore excursion, our server will greet you when you return the yacht with a warm hand towel, delicious snack and fresh juice or water.
Lunch is always anticipated and indeed is often heartier than dinner because of the active afternoons to come. Served buffet-style either in the dining room or on the sun deck, guests often come back for second helpings. Fresh salads abound along with savory cold and hot presentations. Among the robust presentations look for a tuna tartar and tapenade along with chicken lasagna, a shrimp ceviche paired with a local fish en papillote, and international flavors in a bouillabaisse served with chicken Cordon Bleu, a Cuban-style shredded beef stew “ropa vieja” or Jamaican jerk chicken. One lunch goes local with a green plantain ball soup, sauteed shrimp with garlic, more plantains with potato cakes, refried white corn, a pork dish and a flan called queso de leche. At some time during lunch, a staff person will share with each guest the menu for that night’s dinner and ask whether meat or fish is preferred. A lingering memory of an on-board dinner is a Basque-style preparation of octopus, grilled langostinos (giant prawns) or Pistachio crusted Mahi. Another night goes Oriental with a pork and vegetable stir-fry. A creamy Ecuadorian potato soup may send some scurrying for the recipe. It is hard to choose on some nights between a roasted pork tenderloin or turkey roulade or preparations of a seafood fettucini or eggplant Parmesan.
Because the chefs play a deft hand with international and classical variations, and because so much of the regional cuisine focuses on fresh fruits and vegetables, the vegetarian fare here is equally creative. And youngsters can feel comfortable with hamburgers and other child-friendly menu items. You can savor the menus while anticipating your cruise; but only when you’ve sampled the soups (hallmarks of really good chefs) do you really begin to understand the how creative and delicious these meals are. There is also no pre-arranged seating, thus encouraging guests to mix and mingle and get to know each other by the end of the cruise.