Andrew Vilhena, Director of Hospitality at Mariposa Cruises, talks about new onboard menu offerings this season. Our culinary team have developed a fresh take on our traditional buffet offerings.

Menu-wise, what can our guests anticipate in 2017?

We pay close attention to our customers’ requests, their preferences in menu selections, and the important feedback from post-cruise reviews and customer surveys. Buffets continue to be the most popular choice, however our Food Stations and cocktail style menus are becoming increasingly in demand.

Our 2017 menus consistently offer a vegetarian main, in addition to our traditional beef or chicken. We feature a variety of choices, different salads and sides for more vegetarian and vegan friendly options. Our delicious gluten-free tomato and edamame salad, or the cranberry and baby spinach stuffed tortilla (Gluten- Free & Vegetarian) with wild rice and butternut squash, are some examples.

Tell us about how Mariposa Cruises is revamping its cocktail-style menus:

We host a lot of cocktail style events for both our charter and scenic dining programs.  Our Sip & Sail Cruise program is a great alternative to a patio and a relaxed way to experience Toronto. We offer a variety of hors d’oeuvres, appetizers and platters on the menu. Guests can decompress from their work day, mingle, & take in the views and enjoy some food and cocktails. 

On the private event cruises, we’ve identified the growing popularity of food stations and passed appetizers. This menu style encourages more movement on board for guests to mingle and enjoy the scenery and not be tied to timelines around meal service.

We have created a variety of fun, creative food stations, from fresh PEI Mussels, to pasta prepared to order with choices of sauces and ingredients, along with Asian & Thai stir fries. We’re serving up the classic Canadian favourite—poutine— in new ways, using a variety of ingredients (pulled pork, turkey,) and tasty toppings like guanciale, the Italian cured, dry-aged bacon made from pork cheeks.

Sliders continue to be popular, with the classic Mariposa favourite, AAA Canadian Roast Beef, aged for 28 days, hand-carved, and served au jus with grainy mustards and horseradish.

Tell us about satisfying the sweet-tooth!

Most of us enjoy a sweet ending to our dinner, but are aware of the healthy benefits of eating less sugar.  In 2017, we launch our new dessert stations, which will feature miniature items, bite-sized and on the go, perfect to enjoy on deck taking in that skyline. Moving from the heavier cakes and tortes, we are excited to showcase our new mini mousse cups featuring Nutella, Reese’s Peanut Butter and tasty miniature cheesecakes like the classic New York, or Raspberry Delight. Our guests can savour a little of everything. Plus, we have our usual freshly baked cookies, pastries and cannoli.

We’re also introducing delicious, fresh hot fruit crumbles which definitely falls in the comfort-food category!  We’re using fresh seasonal fruit—berries, apples, rhubarb, pears, etc., local wherever possible–topped with a crumble and baked to bubbling perfection. 

What about dietary requests and trends? 

Not only have we added vegetarian mains to our buffet menus, we have also identified several vegan options. We do our best to accommodate dietary requests of all kinds, from kosher menus, to halal, to guest allergies. Some things we can’t guarantee, for instance, our kitchens aren’t nut-free facilities. We encourage our guests to alert us of they dietary needs and we can customize dishes and menus for them.

What can you tell us about the products Mariposa Cruises uses in its menus?

We buy local and seasonal produce whenever possible; fruits for our dessert crumbles and pies, local ciders, Ontario winter root vegetables for the fall and winter menus. Our chicken is grain fed, and antibiotic, hormone-free. Our beef is Canadian AAA, and aged 28 days.  We support Canadian farmers, and more and more we’re adding organic products to our menus, like the organic pork sausage featured on our brunch cruises.

What menu options are available for private cruises?

Wow, that’s a long list! Mariposa Cruises can cater almost any style of event, from brunches and luncheons to dinners, cocktail receptions and activity stations. We have wedding menus, BBQ menus, menus for student groups, autumn, winter and holiday menus which can be viewed on our website.

And on your scenic dining cruises?

We have identified that many of our guests cruise with us frequently in a season and would like to experience different offerings. As such, we have developed different menus throughout our season. If you cruise in June, your menu will be different than if you cruise in September. It is all part of our overarching initiative to keep things fresh in the culinary department.

Any final thoughts?

Mariposa Cruises is celebrating their 30th Anniversary this year. Our food offerings will reflect 30 years of experience in the food service industry. As Toronto’s boat cruise operator of choice, we look forward to welcoming you aboard!  Bon Appetit!