So I leave Heathrow Airport and the Lounges (see my review here) and enter the long boarding gate for my flight. I am almost home!
London to Dubai
I find my seat and here is a picture of the Suite (actually this is the Suite behind me) which will pretty much be my home for the next ~20 hours.
I start off chatting to my host who offers a champagne. I agree, today it is the Pol Roger Sir Winston Churchill (2000).
The bubbles from the champagne hit your tongue giving that “oh I can’t describe it but you know what it is” tingly sensation on your taste buds. A burst of minerals and the flavours of juicy white peaches invades the taste buds followed by a distinct nutty finish. It is a dream experience, although I much prefer the Taittinger.
There are some beautiful canapes which are the perfect start to any flight. There is the Tartlet of Smoked Eggplant and Cornish Crab with Nam Jim Dressing.
The eggplant has this soft tangy rich Mediterranean flavour and the crab has a flaky texture with the strength of the Nam Jim dressing providing a nice overlay. It is the perfect escape from the world.
I am given my sleeper suit and amenity kit. They look gorgeous as usual and I slip into them just before take-off and its oh so comfy!
A Wolf Blass Black Label Cabernet Shiraz (2008) is chosen as my poison to dull my senses and wistfully forget the past 24 hours. It is a beautiful blend with depth and the pure taste of black fruits and it is the perfect pairing for the hearty dish below. It makes me feels warm all over.
Given my dining experiences in the lounge, I relish the thought of supper before bed. I have the Roast Lamb Rack with Olive Potatoes, Braised Runner Beans and Minted Jus.
The beautiful lamb is full of flavour and the juices from the roasting with the “fall apart braised meat” texture which just slides off the bone. The soft potato is mixed with the refreshing overlay of the olives and the rich juicy sauce which is oozing with the lamb juices and is paired with the soft but delectably firm runner beans. I think its fair to describe this dish with the following comment….“Dear Mr Webster’s dictionary, please insert a photo of this dish under the definition of “Comfort Food”! Thank you!”. It’s a truly satisfying dining experience.
Movies and Sleep
I really need to get some sleep, but the allure of watching Quentin Tarantino’s World II shoot out “Inglourious Basterds” captures my attention for this flight. Why do I like this film….is it Mélanie Laurent’s charming nature as the protagonist or it is the films strict compliance with historical facts… I don’t really know?
Then I decide to drift off to sleep but before that I am sucker for espresso coffee in the sky… so I order a flat white (actually its a skim flat white – I am being good :) )…. several minutes later I question the logic of having a caffeinated beverage before trying to sleep…. yeah what was I thinking. I mean seriously.
But alas, the gentle Elemis travel gel (pictured – which I bought in JFK T5 Elemis Spa many years ago) aids my muscles to relax and mildly offsets the espresso. Then my bed is made and I drift off to sleep, like a little newborn baby or more like newborn baby who has had several glasses of wine, an espresso coffee and just watched a violent Tarantino movie!
Emirates First Class Lounge Dubai
So I am woken from my sleep to announcement that we are about to arrive in Dubai. Soon we land and I myself in the lounge. The lounge is so expansive and you can see all the mornings planes lined up through the filtered screen.
I decide to have light breakfast and focus on the pastries (and why wouldn’t you given how amazing they are!). The buttery, flaky “oh that not good for me but it tastes good” rush that comes from devouring a basket of freshly baked pastries is simply an indescribable moment!
Again per my little memoir at The Ledbury in London (review here), they are not experts in flat whites, so I have a cappuccino.
I finish breakfast and wonder around the lounge gazing at the beauty of everything there, the calmness the quiet and the charming people. I love this place. I then head to the beautiful bathrooms to freshen up before my flight. Here are some pictures below…how amazing are these bathrooms.
Then the flight monitors indicate boarding has commenced and we board direct from the Lounge through to the plane…. the last leg to Sydney! Almost Home!
Dubai to Sydney
Once we are on board I have another glass of the Wolf Blass Black Label Cabernet Shiraz (2008) with some canapes. The Beef and Pine Nut Kibbeh and the Crostini of Labneh with Sumac Tomatoes.
The wine is beautiful and the Kibbeh has the fresh juices of the ground beef and the gravelly texture of the pine nuts with the wheat in the pastry casing providing for a lovely consistency and texture in the mouth. The Labneh is creamy with its distinct sour taste, while the juicy tomato and spice of the sumac provides fresh flavour and crunch of the crostini a lovely contrast of textures to the rest of canape.
I continue to gaze longingly at the clouds through the window as the plane floats at cruising altitude.
Its so beautiful, I just wish I was there sitting on one those cute little clouds, until I check the Flight Status and find out its negative 50 degrees outside… actually I’d prefer being inside the plane – thank you.
Then its time for dinner and we have the Tasting Menu again and the table is set.
Normally I avoid the bread, but my lovely host offers me a warm Damper which is quite different, so I say yes. It has residual sweet earthiness to it and I just love it.
The first course is the Cream of Leek and Chervil Soup with Croutons which is paired with the Cape Mentelle Sauvignon Blanc Semillon (2012) from Margaret River, Western Australia.
The leek and chervil are both mild with limited distinct flavour but the soft sautéed texture of the leek creates the perfect friction on the taste buds as the soup makes its way through the taste buds. The crunchy croutons add a nice contrast textures to the creamy soup. A mild way to start the evening.
The Cape Mentelle is the perfect accompaniment with the combination of the lemon and line aromas with the distinct fruit intensity providing for a fresh crisp lively wine – which it needs to be against the backdrop of this soft mild dish.
For the second course, I have the Salad of White Cut Chicken with Black Bean and Chilli Dressing. I chose the Grosset Polish Hill Riesling (2012) from Clare Valley, South Australia to pair with this dish.
The soft chicken which has been either poached or boiled has lost a decent amount of its juices and leans heavily on black bean and chilli dressing for flavour. The chicken is tender and soft, while the oriental flair of the dressing shines through this dish.
I was offered the chardonnay as a pairing for this dish, however I choose the Grosset Polish Hill Riesling instead. I was pleased with the pairing, the minerality is obvious with a long finish. There are strong floral and citrus aromas. The wine has good structure and light citrus flavours to pair with the strength of the flavours in the dish.
For the third course, we have the Rockpool Bar & Grill Style Veal Cutlet with Fennel Gratin, Green Beans with Harissa and Hot English Mustard on the side. I paired this with the Wirra Wirra ‘RSW’ Shiraz (2010) from Mclaren Vale, South Australia.
The veal cutlet is a masterpiece, it is so succulent, tender, and retains its full juices to deliver a beautiful tasting experience. I try to do it in slow motion, taking my time with every bite to make this experience last just that much longer. I love it. The spice of the seasonings and sauces add additional flavour, but they just a mere side show to the beauty and taste of the veal.
The fennel gratin is soft (like a baked potato) and dissolves in the mouth but with some slight firmness on top where it bore brunt of the oven / grill’s searing heat. The crunchiness of the beans provide a lovely texture contrast of the dish which is all about the veal.
For the wine pairing I did debate with the host about opting for the Wolf Blass which I had earlier, but he convinced me to go for the Wirra Wirra ‘RSW’. I agreed with his suggestion and it was a good choice.
The wine is the Flagship of Wirra Wirra and it is an amazing Shiraz. The aromas of dark fruits (plums, blueberries and some cherry) exude from the glass on first pour. The palate is complex with intense taste of plums and black berries with a mix of cinnamon, spices and some light hints of liquorice. The wine has freshness, intensity, depth and texture. It is hard to fault.
Then there is the Salad of Baby Leaves with Palm Sugar Vinaigrette. To be honest I actually didn’t really enjoy it or eat all it… actually Mum / Dad, if you are reading this then I ate them all and enjoyed is :). Oh please don’t give that look!
Then I decide to skip dessert which was the Creamed Vanilla Rice with Dates and Pistachios and go straight to the cheese course.
We have a Selection of Cheese served with Accompaniments. I choose to continue with the Wirra Wirra ‘RSW’ Shiraz (2010) from Mclaren Vale, South Australia for the pairing.
The cheese plate looks so beautiful… I actually don’t want to touch it. They recommend I pair it with the Lillypilly Noble Blend (2008) from Riverina, New South Wales, but I think the RSW Shiraz is perfect the cheese course.
There is the cheddar which has this crumbly texture and an oh so sharp taste which perfectly pairs with the apricot slice (discussed below) to offset the sharpness and provide a sticky texture to contrast crumbly nature of cheddar.
The soft salty blue cheese has some strong butter notes in the base with the strong tart saltiness in the blue mould providing a beautiful experience to round out the cheese.
The lighter creamier semi hard brie is interesting, with some sharpness in the rind and butter notes of the centre.
The cheese is accompanied with savoury biscotti (texture of the nuts and crunchiness of the biscotti is a dream with the cheese), an almond and apricot slice with a fruit jelly on the side.
There are some Amedei Chocolates to finish off. The creamy sweet cocoa nature of the chocolates are amazing and perfectly round out the meal.
Then with dinner out of the way, I have my bed made and relax before drifting off to sleep in the clouds.
Then I awake for breakfast nice and early (its like 3am Sydney time).
I have the Gruyère Toast with Sauteed Mushrooms and Tomato Relish.
The gruyere cheese has a lovely savoury taste which is not overly strong and given its nature melts perfectly on the toast to provide a rich breakfast. There is tang and juciness in the tomato which dominates dish, while the mushrooms retain their earthy nature and are firm on touch but soft in the mouth. The crunchiness of the toast provides a contrast to the soft texture of the cheese.
This dish is simple and very similar to the “toasted cheesies” that you’d get in your primary school canteen for morning recess (obviously without Gruyere, they used that plastic stringy stuff in the frozen food aisle)… you would grab your 50 cents and line-up among all the other kids to get your hands on one!
For drinks I have the Blueberry Energiser. It is full of the rich blueberry flavour with the pulpy (you know what I mean) sensation of the blueberries racing through my taste buds. It really wakes you up.
Then I have the Peppermint Tea with its soothing aroma and minty heat to calm me for the day ahead.
Then with breakfast out the way, I sit idly listening to Hayley Westenra’s beautiful rendition of Amazing Grace and watching the flight info on my side screen. We then have an hour to land, we are still at 39,000ft, its negative 56 degrees outside and we are cruising at 550 miles an hour. Its so much fun being on a plane.
Given its winter in Sydney and flight lands at 5:30am, its still dark so the glow of the Sydney sun is not there to greet us. We then commence our descent and break through the cloud cover to reveal the nightlights of the city. When we land and taxi to the terminal only the lights of Sydney Airport is there to welcome us.
Then I clear immigration and customs and make my way into the terminal and meet my chauffeur who escorts me to the beautiful car to drive me home and alas my European adventure comes to an end! Hello Sydney…. Did You Miss Me!