Food for thought – sustainable cuisine on the high seas

AUTHOR The Ecoventura Team

As a long-standing member of Relais & Chateaux, Ecoventura takes great pride in ensuring that every ingredient that makes it on board our fleet of boutique luxury expedition yachts is of the highest quality and locally, sustainably and organically sourced where possible.

We are immensely privileged to operate in one of the world’s most exquisite, untouched natural environments and are all too aware of the need to work consciously and responsibly to keep it so.

Sustainable seas

Our carefully crafted menus are something of an art form – expertly devised by our talented chefs and spearheaded by executive chef Andres Robles, they feature locally caught fish and seafood, seasonal fruit and vegetables and a range of other ingredients originating where possible from nearby farms.

Celebrating World Oceans Day on board back in June, Andres led a cooking course to highlight the importance of protecting the sustainability of the oceans and the produce it provides. This included a ceviche using an endemic mollusc called the Canchalagua, which is little known outside of the Galapagos, but plentiful in the waters around the islands.

He also created a mouth-watering new dish for the occasion, using another fish called the Huayaipe, native to Central and South America around Ecuador, Colombia and Peru and again little known outside of the region.

“The Huayaipe comes with great advantages; it reproduces quickly, it is easily found, it is affordable for the entire population and it’s delicious! It just needs a little more exposure” explains Andres.

Home-Grown Gastronomy

Over 50% of the food served on board hails from the Galapagos Islands – including meats, cheeses, bread, various fruit and vegetables, while others such as coffee, cacao, bananas and pineapple arrive from the Ecuadorian mainland.

We are ardent supporters of the Galapagos’ artisanal fishermen, farmers and producers, and make a concerted effort to source produce from these local smallholders and family run farms both to support the local economy and minimize our “farm to fork” mileage. Menus are seasonal, making the most of the wonderful produce available at different times in the Galapagos.

Mouth-watering offerings include trout carpaccio served with cucumber, avocado and capers with a passion fruit dressing, basque-style grilled octopus, grilled brujo fish (a local species that is abundant in the waters around the Galapagos) in dill sauce with white carrot purée and sautéed asparagus and grilled prawns in garlic aioli, vegetables pappardelle with almond, curry rice and confit tomatoes.

Food for Change

As we have done in previous years, Ecoventura is delighted once again to support Relais & Chateaux’s Food for Change campaign. 2023 sees the seventh annual Food for Change movement, which is conducted in collaboration with Slow Food, a global, grassroots organization that connects food with a commitment to community and the environment.

The annual Food for Change campaign promotes culinary best practice and champions the use of locally-sourced, seasonal food, designed to reduce environmental impact, support local producers and protect biodiversity, whilst safeguarding local culinary heritage in regions across the globe.

Say Cheese

The theme of this year’s campaign is Cheese, Wine and Other fermented products, such as craft beer from breweries in Galapagos or wine from Dos Hemisferios, a vineyard in mainland Ecuador.

“To give everyone the right to ‘good, clean and fair food for all,’ no product should be left behind” explains Relais & Châteaux Vice President (Chefs) Mauro Colagreco. “Cheeses, dairy products, wines, and other traditional fermented products such as beer and saké reflect the diversity of ancestral practices, unique flavor profiles, and various landscapes that the Relais & Châteaux properties care about protecting.”

Ecoventura is lucky enough to be supplied with a host of delicious cheeses by local producer El Queso Chueco, based in Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz island.

“El Queso Chueco (meaning ‘the crooked cheese’ in English) is a family run project that started in the Galapagos Islands because we believe that everyone should have access to good nutritious food close to home – especially cheese!” explains owner and founder Dustin Kinakin.

“We began producing cheese in early 2020, right at the start of the pandemic, in less than ideal circumstances. For that reason our first cheeses were all just a little bit crooked, as our name implies!”

El Queso Chueco’s free range, pasture fed Jersey cows spend their days grazing the thick grass and roaming the volcanic slopes of Santa Cruz, leading to a rich and uniquely delicious milk. This allows the talented cheesemakers at El Queso Chueco to create a variety of delicious aged cheeses using traditional and artisanal European methods.

Many of the cheeses share similarities with old favorites such as Camembert, Gruyere and English Cheddar, amongst others, and yet they have their own flavors unique to the islands. For that reason, they are named after Galapagos sites such as Corona del Diablo, Leon Dormido and El Puntudo, in honor of their Galapagos origins.

And whilst we are happy to say these are the tastiest cheeses anywhere in Ecuador, don’t just take our word for it – El Queso Chueco was recently awarded the South American Cheese Cup for its Media Luna cheese, now recognised as the best cheese in South America!

These delicious cheeses are served up daily on board our luxury yachts as part of our afternoon appetizers, to be enjoyed on the sundeck watching the islands float past.

If the above has whetted the appetite, come and join us on our culinary journey – get in touch with the team to find out more!