Everything I ate (and drank) on a Princess Cruise

I don’t know about you, but for years I resisted taking a cruise. One of the reasons is because, as a chronic dieter, I feared I’d gain too much weight. I had visions of me sunning on the pool deck while simultaneously stuffing my face with all-you-can-eat EVERYTHING. Frankly, the thought of multiple, unlimited buffet stations and countless cocktails (while confined on a ship) just freaked me out.

Writing about food and travel is my chosen profession, so I’ll always have to watch my waistline. Before I started eating low carb (at home) and got serious about my fitness tracker, I was gaining about five pounds a year. That all stopped when I started walking 10,000 steps, at minimum, per day and cut carbs from home meals. When I eat OUT, I try to eat low carb (when I can) and it’s a balancing act that, thankfully, stopped the annual weight gain.

In my home kitchen I stock no sugar, sweets, white bread, rice, pasta or potatoes. That old “out of sight and out of mind” mantra definitely works when I cook and eat at home. But out on the open sea, on a large cruise ship, with thousands of strangers and endless food options tempting me? SHEER PANIC.

But here’s the thing. When I went on my first cruise (with Princess Cruises) last year, I ate A LOT and surprise, surprise… I didn’t gain ONE pound. It probably helped that I was traveling with my sister Janet, who is a super fit health nut. Even though I didn’t work out at the gym with her everyday, I still got extra steps in by walking as much as I could while on board. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t suddenly go mad and run with my sister as she took the stairs UP to Aloha deck 12, but I did skip the elevators going DOWN and surpassed my 10,000 steps goal each day.

PHOTOS: Everything I ate and drank on a four night Princess Cruise (and didn’t gain weight)!


Welcome champagne awaited us in our cabin. Plus we brought a bottle of Prosecco. Cheers!


Lunch (buffet) on the deck. LowCARBish. Slaw, prosciutto, meatballs, fried scallops, brisket, beef, sweet & sour pork.


Fried scallops. I thought they were tater tots. These were way better.


Back to the buffet line.


Roasts for miles. Also, low carb happiness.


Wine on the top deck as we left the harbor.


It’s always happy hour on a cruise right?


Tempura Prawn in spicy sweet chili sauce. Happy hour (media meet & greet) at The Crooners Bar.


Chicken Lollipops with sesame. Happy hour (media meet & greet) at The Crooners Bar.


Wild Mushroom Sauté w portobello & shitaki mushrooms, crispy poached egg, oregano smoked scamorza, truffle garlic puree and lemon zest. Dinner at the Salty Dog Gastropub by Chef Ernesto Uchimura.


Charred Asparagus and Toasted Haloumi cheese, greens, vinaigrette. Dinner at the Salty Dog Gastropub by Chef Ernesto Uchimura.


Pale Ale Pork Cheeks, cauliflower polenta, roasted leeks and thyme apple puree. Dinner at the Salty Dog Gastropub by Chef Ernesto Uchimura.


Lobster Mac & Cheese, aged cheddar, gruyere and parmesan, truffled cream, crispy crumble. Dinner at the Salty Dog Gastropub by Chef Ernesto Uchimura.


Lemon Posset with pistachio crunch. Dinner at the Salty Dog Gastropub by Chef Ernesto Uchimura. The Salty Dog Menu. Just one bite. I don’t have a sweet tooth.


Sipping a vodka soda at the Salty Dog. Just times this by two each evening. Dinner at the Salty Dog Gastropub by Chef Ernesto Uchimura.


Unlimited Bacon. My heart was racing… I had to pace myself. On board breakfast buffet.


Breakfast carbs. I went for a slice of whole grain. And more bacon. On board breakfast buffet.


More options. I chose smoked salmon over French toast… and more bacon. On board breakfast buffet.


Late breakfast by the pool. My sister Janet’s breakfast to the left. Juice, muesli, egg white, fruit. Obviously mine is to the right! On board breakfast buffet.


Round one included bacon, sausage, eggs, corned beef hash, smoked salmon and whole wheat toast. On board breakfast buffet.


My adorable sister Janet.


Serve yourself poached pears at the buffet. Fancy (and a nice afternoon snack). On board buffet.


Charcuterie: Jamon Iberico, Salami Finocchiona at SHARE Restaurant by Curtis Stone (on board The Ruby Princess).


Chicken Liver Parfait at SHARE by Curtis Stone (on board The Ruby Princess).


Little Gems, Pickled Pearl Onion, Oro Blanco, Nasturtium Pesto at SHARE by Curtis Stone (on board The Ruby Princess).


Shrimp Salad, Lemon Gel, Turnip, Citrus Salt, Brioche at SHARE by Curtis Stone (on board The Ruby Princess).


Butter Poached Lobster, Caramelized Endive, Endive Foam at SHARE by Curtis Stone (on board The Ruby Princess).


Cavatelli, Beets, Castelmagno, Sun Choke, Brussel Sprout at SHARE by Curtis Stone (on board The Ruby Princess).


Potato Gratin, Truffles, Cream at SHARE by Curtis Stone (on board The Ruby Princess). Side dish shared at the table.


Roasted Alaskan King Crab Tagilatelle, Chili, Parsley at SHARE by Curtis Stone (on board The Ruby Princess).


Beef Cheek Pie, Porcini Mushrooms, Buttery Pastry at SHARE by Curtis Stone (on board The Ruby Princess).


Roast Turbot White Fish Gratine, Gruyere Crumb, White Vermouth, Mushroom Duxelles at SHARE by Curtis Stone (on board The Ruby Princess).


Shaft Blue Cheese, Crab Apple Mustard, Chestnut Cracker at SHARE by Curtis Stone (on board The Ruby Princess).


Tarte Au Citron Vert, Raspberry, Granola, Meringue at SHARE by Curtis Stone (on board The Ruby Princess). Just one bite.


Dark Chocolate Cremeux, Toasted Hazelnut Feuilletine, Burnt Vanilla Ice Cream at SHARE by Curtis Stone (on board The Ruby Princess). Again, just one bite. More photos of SHARE Restaurant here.


There’s a Pizza and Ice Cream bar on board!! Lines were long, but I waited (for pizza). Hand-tossed and cooked on deck. It was far from my cabin so extra steps. HA!


Buffet brunch on board. My sister’s salad to the left. My egg and meat fest to the right.

Crown Grill, Ruby Princess (Sep 2016)
Dinner on board at The Crown Grill Restaurant (premium seafood and chop house). Photos were difficult (so dark). Black Tiger Prawn & Papaya Salpicon, with Mustard Seed Aioli. Grill Salad with Mesclun Greens, Roasted Bell Peppers, Hass Avocado and Grape Balsamic Dressing.


Pan-Seared Pacific Scallops with Fennel, Celery and Spring Onion Slaw Golden Delicious Dressing & Moroccan Glaze. Spiny Lobster Cake (ball), Tarragon Foam, Cured Olives, Grilled Asparagus on board at the Crown Grill.


STEAKS! I tried both the filet mignon and New York strip steak. The Crown Grill (on board The Ruby Princess).


Desserts on board at the Crown Grill. This was shared with several people. Lemon Meringue Pudding, Tart with Macadamia Nut Shortbread White Chocolate Tuile, S’mores Stack.


Early morning room service (before excursion) on board.


Room service breakfast sandwich on board. Excursion tender (boat) in background. I skipped the muffins.


First stop on our Cruise Excursion to Santa Barbara was Buttonwood Winery in nearby Solvang.


We started with Buttonwood Sauv Blanc at Buttonwood Winery. Cruise Excursion: Wine Tasting in Solvang.


Goat Cheese at Buttonwood Winery. Cruise Excursion: Wine Tasting in Solvang.


Cucumber, Avocado, Jalapeños, Scallions, Cilantro, Yogurt Chilled Soup at Buttonwood Winery. Cruise Excursion: Wine Tasting in Solvang.


Santa Maria Trip Tip Sandwiches at Buttonwood Winery. Ate the meat, left the bread. Cruise Excursion: Wine Tasting in Solvang.  More photos of Buttonwood winery here.


At Sunstone Winery we started with Chardonnay. Cruise Excursion to Santa Barbara.


Foie Gras Mousse Tarts w Tomato, Strawberry Jam & Pistachio at Sunstone Winery. Cruise Excursion: Wine Tasting in Santa Ynez.


Pork Belly Sliders with cumin & cinnamon with apple, fennel relish and baby arugula at Sunstone Winery. Cruise Excursion: Wine Tasting in Santa Ynez. Pork fest.


Blackened Seared Ahi tuna, Sticky Rice Cake at Sunstone Winery. Cruise Excursion: Wine Tasting in Santa Ynez.


Seafood Spring Rolls at Sunstone Winery. Cruise Excursion: Wine Tasting in Santa Ynez. So much fun! More photos of Sunstone Winery here.


Shrimp Tacos at Tacos Marco Antonio. Cruise Excursion: Ensenada, Mexico Food Tour. Indulge time. I ATE all the tortillas and tacos today.


“Ramses Especial” Breaded fish fillet with shrimp and chipotle cream at Tacos Marco Antonio. Cruise Excursion: Ensenada, Mexico Food Tour.


Crab tacos at Tacos Marco Antonio. Cruise Excursion: Ensenada, Mexico Food Tour.


Agua Fresca (I had the horchata) at Tacos Marco Antonio. Cruise Excursion: Ensenada, Mexico Food Tour. More photos of Tacos Marco Antonio here.


Sea Snail Ceviche with slices of sea snail (Ceviche De Caracol Con Lajas De Caracol) at La Guerrerense & Sabina. Cruise Excursion: Ensenada, Mexico Food Tour.


Sea Urchin Ceviche with Clam on top (Ceviche De Erizo Con Alma) at La Guerrerense & Sabina. Cruise Excursion: Ensenada, Mexico Food Tour.


Cerveza at La Guerrerense & Sabina. Cruise Excursion: Ensenada, Mexico Food Tour. More La Guerrerense photos here.


Santo Tomas Wine Tasting. Cruise Excursion: Ensenada, Mexico Food Tour.


San Aura Vino Reserva Experimental Rosado, Grenache, Santo Tomas Wine Tasting. Cruise Excursion: Ensenada, Mexico Food Tour.


Alisio Reserva Vino Blanco, Chardonnay, Santo Tomas Wine Tasting. Cruise Excursion: Ensenada, Mexico Food Tour.


Fiery salsa and chips at Restaurante 645. Cruise Excursion: Ensenada, Mexico Food Tour.


Chile Relleno and Tacos at Restaurante 645. Cruise Excursion: Ensenada, Mexico Food Tour. Quite a day in Ensenada!


Still hungry? Me too. Let’s go!

This media trip was paid for by Princess Cruises.
Culinary Cruise, September 26-30, 2016. The ship departed from Los Angeles and made stops in Santa Barbara and Ensenada. Info: Dining on Princess Cruise’s Ruby Princess

Thinking about taking a Princess Cruises cruise? Read about my first day on board.

Guest Blog Post –  Diary of a Princess (Cruise).

Princess Cruises on twitterinstagramfacebook.

Video – The Ruby Princess.

More information on Princess Cruises:

Princess Cruise News (including the debut of Ocean Medallion).

Princess Cruise Teen & Youth Centers

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BOOKS: A few recent favorites!

WoodyBooks2015

When it comes to buying books, I can’t help myself. There’s nothing better then cuddling up with one of my dogs (that’s Woody above) in our comfy, dining nook with a great book. At first I couldn’t decide WHICH books to share for last minute holiday gifts, so I went with recent favorites. These are books I would’ve loved receiving as gifts, if I had the patience to NOT buy them for myself first.

For The Food-Obsessed Traveler: Rice Noodle Fish by Matt Goulding

I haven’t been to Tokyo in years (except for quick stopovers to Okinawa) but after reading “Rice Noodle Fish: Deep Travels Through Japan’s Food Culture”, I’m saving up for a full kuidaore (aka “eat until you drop”) food extravaganza!

“Rice Noodle Fish” is not just another travel guide. It’s a beautiful look into the heart and soul of food culture in Japan. The “Ramen Matrix” section alone (starting on page 174) is a fantastic bit of culinary education. Check out a short video clip about the book here.

The Roads and Kingdom’s book is published by Anthony Bourdain (I’m a fan).

Buy Rice Noodle Fish
Matt Goulding Roads & Kingdoms website
Matt Goulding on twitter @mdGoulding
Roads & Kingdoms on twitter @RoadsKingdoms

For The Whisky Lover: “The Essential Scratch & Sniff Guide To Becoming A Whiskey Know-It-All” by Richard Betts

I’m half Scottish (Clan Maxwell), my dad lives in Scotland and I also happen to love Scotch. Over the years, I’ve done several whisky tours in Edinburgh, but I didn’t KNOW how little I knew about it until I read Richard Bett’s genius whisky guide. The scratch & sniff sections are fun and fascinating but what I love most is the simplicity of the book. Betts helps make sense of whisky by focusing on three categories: grain, wood and place. Oh, and he also notes that “Essentially, whiskey is just distilled beer”… MIND BLOWN.

My favorite Scotch? Auchentoshan’s Three Wood.

Listen to Evan Kleiman’s Good Food interview with Richard Betts here.

Buy The Essential Scratch & Sniff Guide To Becoming A Whiskey Know-It-All
Richard Betts website

Richard Betts on twitter @YoBetts

For The Writer: “The Art Of Memoir” by Mary Karr

I’ve been trying to write my family story for YEARS. The problem is, that I get overwhelmed with the drama and not-so-happy childhood memories. I’d spend months in my office, writing, WEEPING, and then beating myself up for not continuing.

When I started reading Mary Karr’s book a few weeks ago, I was in tears again. But these were tears of joy, of understanding, of shaking my head and mouthing “yes, that’s it”.  In the introduction, Karr writes, “In some ways, writing memoir is knocking yourself out with your own fist.”

The publisher writes: “As she breaks down the key elements of great literary memoir, she breaks open our concepts of memory and identity, and illuminates the cathartic power of reflecting on the past; anybody with an inner life or complicated history, whether writer or reader, will relate.”

“The Art Of Memoir” will make me a better writer, I’m sure of it. Listen to her talk about it on KCRW’s Bookworm here. A great gift for any aspiring writers out there for sure.

Buy The Art Of Memoir
Mary Karr’s website

Mary Karr on twitter @MaryKarrLit

For Fans Of Gourmet Magazine: “My Kitchen Year: 136 Recipes That Saved My Life” by Ruth Reichl

Did I mention I’m a huge fan of Ruth Reichl? The photo below is from my office and she inspires me every day.

Like most food lovers I know, I was an avid reader of Gourmet Magazine for years. My husband Peter and I even attended the Gourmet Institute in New York back in 2005. I miss Gourmet, and I still can’t part with the final 2009 magazine issues (also in photo below).

Ruth’s latest book moved me so much, that I read it multiple times. I first downloaded My Kitchen Year on my iPad (I love the digital highlighting feature), and then purchased the hardcover (where I went in and highlighted my favorite parts old school). Still wanting more, I downloaded the Audible version and experienced it all over again. That’s right, I purchased it THREE times. Did I tell you I’m a fan? If you love My Kitchen Year as much as I do, I highly recommend listening to Ruth read it. It was emotional, thoughtful and so very inspiring too.

Alice Water writes: “Ruth is one of our greatest storytellers today, which you will feel from the moment you open this book and begin to read: No one writes as warmly and engagingly about the all-important intersection of food, life, love, and loss. This book is a lyrical and deeply intimate journey told through recipes, as only Ruth can do.”

Here’s a link to a terrific Eater article on My Kitchen Year.

Ruth’s spicy Pollo alla Diavola is currently my favorite chicken recipe. You’ll find it on page 59 (in the hard cover).

I'm A Fan.

Buy My Kitchen Year: 136 Recipes That Saved My Life
Ruth Reichl’s website

Ruth Reichl on twitter @RuthReichl

For The Home Cook: 101 Easy Asian Recipes by Peter Meehan

Seriously, this is one of those books that will be USED often. It is NOT just a pretty, coffee table cookbook. I love the pictorial pantry pages that include ingredients for basic (level 1 cooks), intermediate (level 2) and champion (level 3 cooks). Great drinking recipes too, like Korean “corn cheese”!

Buy 101 Easy Asian Recipes
Follow author Peter Meehan on twitter @pfmpfmpfm
Lucky Peach on twitter @LuckyPeach

For Dog Lovers: “Beloved Dog” by Maira Kalman

This book made me tear up. It really did. Just a few pages in and author Maira Kalman expressed exactly how I feel about my beloved dogs. The cover even resembles my terrier mix, Woody.

The Brain Pickings website posted excerpts from this truly delightful book. Check them out here.

Buy Beloved Dog
Maira Kalman’s website
Maira Kalman on twitter @MairaKalman

Happy Reading and HAPPY HOLIDAYS! Jo

Follow me on twitter @MyLastBite and also:

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snapchat

Trust me, snapchat is NOT just for teens. I’m almost 52 and I started using it regularly after watching this video by Sunny Lenarduzzi. It’s a terrific tutorial if you’re new to snapchat or thinking about trying it out for your brand, blog or even just FUN.

After I set up my account (MyLastBite), I was still unsure how to actually USE the app as the layout isn’t all that intuitive. A few texts to my nephew Chace, plus lunch with niece Kindal (yes, both teens) and I was ready to go. More info on snapchat’s tip page here.

I like how snapchat allows me to “tell a story” with photos and short video clip (or snaps). Each snap is automatically deleted within 24 hours, so there’s an urgency for followers to view daily (or even hourly). Snaps can be saved into your camera roll too.

My snaps are very laid back, behind-the-scenes into my daily life. I mostly post clips of dishes I cook for my husband Peter, my three lovable rescue dogs, food and travel posts and, on occasion, a night of “drunk snaps” at bars and restaurants. Ok, so sometimes I delete those in the morning!

Being a relatively new user to snapchat, I was so thrilled that L.A. Magazine included me on their list of “Food-Related L.A. Snapchatters You Need to Follow”!

Jo is a social media queen. Not only dominating on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram but totally owning Snapchat where she shares everything from cleaning out her doll collection to cooking at home to hugging on celebrity chef friends at premiere L.A. food events. L.A. Mag

Thanks again Caroline!

Are you on snapchat? If so, please comment with your username so I can follow your stories too.

Snapchat App

Video Tutorial

L.A. Magazine

Snapchat Tricks & Tips

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