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I’ll Bet You Can’t Name this Food (but You’ll Love It)

Chef Sue Ficken aboard the sailing yacht Marae offers molecular gastronomy treats

Take a look at the photograph above, and tell me what food you’re seeing.

I know what you’re thinking, because I was thinking it too when it was served to me at lunch aboard the 108-foot Alloy sailing yacht Marae.


You’re thinking caviar, right?

Actually, wrong. It’s not caviar.

It’s salad dressing.

True story. What you’re seeing in the photograph at right is balsamic vinegar that has been “restructured” into tiny, caviar-size pearls through the process of molecular gastronomy. Sue Ficken, the chef aboard Marae, recently took a class in this forward-thinking style of cooking and is now putting the techniques to use by adding a molecular gastronomy component to dishes she serves to charter guests.

In this case, the balsamic vinegar pearls were served alongside a salad of red and gold beets, goat cheese and apples. The combination was delicious. (Molecular gastronomy doesn’t change the taste of the food, only its structure.)

For her main course, Ficken prepared salmon tartare on popcorn shoots and wasabi sprouts with matchstick zucchini and mushroom truffle risotto. The molecular component was a tasty five-spice soy sea foam atop the salmon tartare.

For dessert, Ficken made a rhubarb raspberry verine, with verine being a gel component that thickens what otherwise might be a sorbet. The whipped cream and orange zest atop it were both all-natural, and every bite was packed with fruity deliciousness.

I thought the lunch was a great success, as did the other guests, all of whom cleaned their plates at every course. Ficken has been aboard Marae for several years now, and I’ve enjoyed every meal or hors d’oeuvres spread I’ve seen her prepare, but this year she took things up a notch. The yacht has always looked great and gotten strong reviews from charter clients because of the good service and tasty food. Now, I think, even people who are serious gourmands will walk away truly impressed. Ficken has really taken the level of presentation and interest up a notch in the food being served aboard Marae.

Marae is part of the charter fleet at Nicholson Yachts. She’s expected to be in New England for the rest of this summer and still has availability during July and September, including in Maine. Any reputable charter broker can tell you more or help you book a week on board.


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