Monday, July 11, 2011

The mile-high supper club

There are a few things in the world that I'm obsessed with: Italian disco, flat-footed squatting, street food, and collecting miles. There's no way around it, I'm a miles junkie. This is an addiction that has paid off, and with a little help from the FlyerTalk lending team on Kiva, I did my most recent trip "up front."

Of course what I find most exciting about business class is the food. I can't tell you why, because even the best business class food is still marginally worse than what you'd get at the airport, but there's something thrilling about being called Miss Goldberg and having a table set for you, especially when you're essentially in bed and watching Inception at the same time. I've always loved airplane food, though, ever since my first cross-country American Airlines flight alone at the age of four. There's just something thrilling about all of the little meal components and the toothpick and asking for another soda (or wine, these days) and getting it. I can't explain it, but I love it.

I didn't manage to take pictures of all of the meals I ate on this trip (and it was quite a trip, from Phnom Penh to Bangkok to Barcelona via Amman and Madrid, to New York (with a detour in the Berkshires) and back to Phnom Penh via Vancouver and Hong Kong, a lot of flights). But here are a few highlights. Unfortunately most were taken with my phone because I was trying to play it cool.

Royal Jordanian airline had the (to my palate) strangest meals. Perhaps this is because I know nothing about Jordanian cuisine -- before this flight I hadn't even realized that Jordan was a country and not just a New Kid on the Block. Unfortunately I didn't keep the menu for this one, but it was certainly bizarre. Lots of processed meats and a tomato stuffed with some sort of mayonnaise-based salad.

This is the standard Iberia meal for short-haul flights right now. It's cold, and sort of disgusting but also a little bit appealing. Pasta with some slivers of cold fish and caviar, and mysteriously, a soft, Brie-esque cheese. Served with a small bottle of olive oil. Torres wine which ain't bad.

Long-haul Iberia from Madrid to New York was much more rewarding. This was the starter plate: hot bread with extra-virgin olive oil, salmorejo with egg and iberico ham, small potatoes salad with tuna belly and smoked anchovy and a Pedro Ximenez balsamic vinaigrette. This was easily better than most of the food you'd find on the Ramblas in Barcelona, and I was happy to get one last anchovy into me.

Dessert on Iberia was a coconut and passion fruit cake by Paco Torreblanca.

Cathay Pacific had the best food, even if my pictures don't reflect it. My 20 hour flight from JFK-YVR-HKG sucked the life out of me so quickly that I forgot to take pictures (and it was just too dark onboard most of the time). My main was stir-fried prawns with X.O. sauce (love that stuff) and then I ended up with this tiramisu.

The worst picture, but my favorite airplane meal of the trip. This was breakfast of shredded pork and mushroom congee with pan-fried turnip cake with preserved meats on Cathay Pacific. I could eat this for breakfast every day. I love turnip cake.

And my final meal on Dragonair -- braised rice vermicelli with roast duck and snow vegetables and assorted dim sum.

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