Qantas First Class (London to Sydney) 2015

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Leaving the Lounge

So I have completed my whirlwind trip around Europe (Here are links to my travel diaries if you wish to read them: Lucerne, Zug, ZurichMilan, London and the Italian Riviera towns of Sestri Levente, Camogli, PortofinoManarola, Riomaggiore and Monterosso)! Its been pretty hectic but its time to head home!

I leave the comfort of Emirates Lounge (you can read the review here) and head on-board for the flight home.

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London to Dubai

Suite

I get on-board the A380 and settle into the First Suite, where some canapes and a glass of the Veuve Cliquot La Grande Dame is brought out.

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The beautiful pyjamas and amenity kits are provided to ease the pain of the long journey.

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Here are a couple more pictures of the First Suite.

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Champagne and Canapes

Caviar and Cauliflower Puree Tartlet and Chilled Gazpacho with Veuve Cliquot La Grande Dame (2004)

The rich salty sea taste of the caviar is a sensual delight which is balanced by the smoothness of the cauliflower which adds some lovely textural grain-like pips to the canape and is rounded out with the buttery tartlet.

The gazpacho is light with a gentle push of the tomato’s rich flavour flowing through to finish while the cool crunchy cucumber adds a light touch to a refreshing canape.

The Veuve Cliquot La Grande Dame retains its performance on the palate as the previous time I tried it. It has wonderful flavours of peach, apricot and hits of brioche and nuts with a fresh lively acidity. A very beautiful wine indeed.

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Take-off

Pretty soon we take-off and the beauty of the London skyline shows itself. Although I am somewhat distracted by watching Despicable Me 2 and those cute minions! Those minions so deserve a show of their own and I am glad that Illumination Pictures finally gave them their own movie! Anyway, back to flight…

As I gaze outside the window, I am so sad to leave London – I just love this city. Gonna miss you!

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Supper

Leeuwin Estate Cabernet Sauvignon (2010) from Margaret River in Western Australia

I choose to pair all my dishes for supper with a Leeuwin Estate Cabernet Sauvignon (2010) from Margaret River in Western Australia. The wine is beautiful. There are beautiful aromas of cassis and redcurrants which dominate on the nose with some minor hints of chocolate. Deep earthiness, a mix of; mint, spice, anise and chocolate characters which have developed in place of some of the fruit and they accompany the sweet cherry and liqueury currant flavours. The acidity from the oak is discernible and the wine is rounded with some wonderful fine tannins. A lovely rich full-bodied red wine.

Roast Pumpkin Soup with Parmesan and Croutons

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The rich pumpkin soup flows effortlessly on the tongue and is balanced with a rich streak of parmesan and the beautiful crunch of the croutons which does its own thing. Its a standard, warm soup to start with and the special crunch of the croutons is a beautiful textured interruption to the smooth consistency of the soup.  A lovely start to the evening.

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Slow Roast Spring Lamb with Braised Radicchio, Pan Fried Polenta and Salsa Verde

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The lamb is beautiful juicy and succulent with the strong full flavours of the lamb on display. There is a little smoky bitter bite from the radicchio which introduces a new dimension to the dish. The grainy polenta adds a lovely textured contrast to the softness of the other sides. The salsa verde provides a rich pungent herby flavour with some mild tang to pair with the lamb. This is one of those dishes where you have to savour every bite. The interaction of the Cabernet with the lamb is simply amazing, the tannin structure and the lamb meat are like “hand in glove” and the pairing could not be any more perfect.

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Warm Chocolate Bread and Butter Pudding

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The bread and butter pudding has to be the epitome of pure dessert comfort food. The dish is warm and on first taste it does a delicate dance on the tongue to parlay its varied texture and flavour so elegantly. Try to imagine rich velvety chocolate mixed with crispy, fluffy, puffy, baked goods and a rich custardy style cream filling which when combined together deliver a beautiful tasting experience. The milky flavour of the custard also softens the bread and flows through the chocolate which is interwoven through the flaky buttery pastry. A classic dessert which is well executed.

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Sleep

I eventually get my bed made-up and then drift soundly to sleep, with my eyes briefly opening at random intervals to catch little bits of Mad Men. I just love that show. I wish I worked in an advertising agency like that, but I don’t think my life would be as interesting as Don Draper’s life is unfortunately! I eventually decide to watch some episodes in bed, the indifferent attitude of Don Draper, the beauty of Megan Draper and the charm / sophistication of Roger Sterling is just oh so much better than sleep I guess!

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Dubai

Soon, its morning and the beautiful view of Dubai appears in our window as we land at the Airport.

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Dubai to Sydney 

Take-off 

I find the time in the Emirates First Class Lounge in Dubai too short on these little hop flights. So I wait by the gate until the signs in the lounge switch to boarding. I am finally on-board for the final leg of the journey. I skip the champagne and opt for a refreshing G&T. The beautiful botanicals of the gin and the slightly tart quinine filled tonic, is the perfect combination to ease my mild anxiety of the worries of work that will await me back in the office. I ease into my seat and feel relaxed once again.

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The view as we take-off can be described as nothing but spectacular. I just love the crystal blue waters and the white dessert sand. It’s such a stunning contrast.

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Tasting Menu 

One of the highlights of the flight is the ‘Rockpool inspired’ tasting menu. I just love the small plates, the beautiful array of flavours and the option to match those with some wonderful premium wines. It’s always an exciting part of the trip.

Canapes

Dish: Tartlet of Creme Fraiche and Salmon Roe and Feta and Spinach Kibbeh
Drink: Gin & Tonic 

We start with some lovely canapes. The tartlet is beautiful with the rich oily salmon flavours and the salty roe being balanced by rich creme fraiche which contains a little lactic bite in the finish. The buttery tartlet casing rounds out the canape. The Kibbeh adds to the Middle Eastern touch and is flavoursome with the feta being the most discernible and striking flavour of that canape.

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First Course

Dish: Cream of Sweet Corn Soup with Croutons 
Wine: Seville Estate Chardonnay (2013) Mornington Peninsula, Victoria

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The chardonnay has wonderful aromas of tropical melons, sweet spice and nuts. Flowing onto the palate are some quite distinct stone fruit flavours with some sweet spice notes from the aromas and some hints smokiness in the oak grip rounded with some wonderful acidity. The wine has nice mouth feel and isn’t particularly overbearing, which is great for the food pairing (a smooth delicate soup).

The soup has the textured sensation of the bits of corn which flow through the mouth with the rich buttery soup pairing with the corn’s journey on the tongue. The crunchy croutons do their thing and the pepper seasoning adds a little bite to round out a simple dish.

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Second Course

Dish: Warm Confit Duck Salad with Ruby Grapefruit, Hazelnuts and Radicchio
Wine: Tolpuddle Vineyard Pinot Noir (2013) Tasmania

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The Pinot Noir is a wonderful wine to pair with the duck. I don’t think there is a more accepted combination in food and wine matching than Pinot and Duck. The wine has beautiful aromas of blueberries, mild notes of cherry, cedar, star anise and pepper notes on the nose. On the palate beautiful cherry and plum flavours drive the strong fruit intensity with light spice notes, while some beautiful soft and fine tannins verberate through the palate. As I await the dish, I think with great excitement, what it would be like to pair these beautiful fresh fruit flavours team up with a rich, oily, game intense duck meat.

The duck lives up to expectations with a rich gamey oily flavour which arouses every single taste bud. The texture of the duck meat is like a “fall-of the bone” style texture which is just amazing. The crunch of the hazelnuts adds a lovely textural contrast to the duck meat and the radicchio adds a bitter aftertaste to balance the fruit of the wine and flavour of the duck. The radishes do form a lovely base for the dish. The fruit and light spice flavors from the wine are harmonious with this dish… a true delight indeed.

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Third Course

Rockpool Bar & Grill Style Roast Lamb Rack with Crushed Olive Potatoes, Snow Peas and Harissa
Wine: Leeuwin Estate “Art Series” Cabernet Sauvignon (2010), Margaret River, Western Australia

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Now the wine to match this course is the same from the London to Dubai leg. So here my thoughts on the wine from the previous flight:

“There are beautiful aromas of cassis and redcurrants which dominate on the nose with some minor hints of chocolate. Deep earthiness, a mix of; mint, spice, anise and chocolate characters which have developed in place of some of the fruit and they accompany the sweet cherry and liqueury currant flavours. The acidity from the oak is discernible and the wine is rounded with some wonderful fine tannins. A lovely rich full-bodied red wine.”

The lamb is beautiful. It is tender, succulent and juicy on the inside with a beautiful smoky crust like exterior. The lamb is paired with some harissa which adds a lovely chilli and peppery spice flavour to the lamb. The interaction of the wine between the lamb is like an engagement between two kindred souls. The tannins of the cabernet and lamb meat infuse together, while the earthiness, mint and spice interact harmoniously and deliver a stunning reinforcement of the seasoning in the lamb. It’s a very sensuous experience.

The crusty crushed potato on the side, has the crispiness of the skin, the moist inside and the Mediterranean streak of the seasoning and olives flowing through it. The snow peas are crunchy and delicate as one would expect.

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Fourth Course

Dish: Chocolate Crepes with Orange Compote
Wine: Leeuwin Estate “Art Series” Cabernet Sauvignon (2010), Margaret River, Western Australia

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A very interesting dish which is quite stunning from an aesthetics perspective. The bright orange compote just glows at me. The dish starts with soft pillowy crepe which encased the rich gooey chocolate. The chocolate bursts through the crepe and gives that amazing cocoa streak of intense sweetness to your tongue. The oranges provide a citrus bite to balance the sweetness of the chocolate and make a jaffa-like infusion of flavours occur. The cream acts like a judge, introducing some mildness to reduce the intensity of both the counter flavours of the chocolate and orange.

Acting against the plea of the flight attendant, I refuse her suggestion on wine selection again and persist with the Cabernet Sauvignon for the next two courses. I have formed kinda little attachment to this wine and I ain’t letting it go.

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Fifth Course

Dish: Selection of Cheese served with Accompaniments
Wine: Leeuwin Estate “Art Series” Cabernet Sauvignon (2010), Margaret River, Western Australia

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There is the cheddar has a crumbly texture with a deep rich flavoured sharp taste. I use the fruit paste to balance it perfectly before applying to the crackers. The sweet and sticky texture of the fruit paste contrasts lovely with creamy crumbly cheddar.

The blue cheese is firm and has a similar crumbly texture to the cheddar albeit with some softness. The blue mould is salty with some earthy notes while the rest of cheese has a buttery flavour.

The brie proves an easy to eat, with no sharp or bitter interruptions in the notes, it just flows like a milky buttery softness although there is some lactic bite in the finish. The cheese is accompanied with a biscotti (with a lovely texture of nuts and fruit), a lovely piece of dried apple.

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Sleep

Then its off to sleep, as I have to be in the office in the morning when I land in Sydney. Mad Men episodes continue to screen through, but my eyes finally see the inside of my eye-lids and I fall asleep on the plush duvet as plane hums across the clouds towards Sydney.

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Breakfast

I eventually awaken from my deep slumber and get myself ready and fresh for the day ahead (Its 3am Sydney time, so its kinda an early morning start for me). Pretty soon there is some fresh breakfast brought out. I choose the following dish:

Dish: Savoury French Toast with Tomato Ragout and Rocket Leaves
Drink Peppermint Tea and Mango & Lemon Energiser 

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The salty cheese crust on the savoury toast was beautiful as you pierce it there is the fluffy toast centre and a rich cheese and herb middle spread which is adds to the richness of the dish. The tomato ragout introduces some lovely tang and intense flavours of the rich tomato, while the rocket leaves contribute a beautiful peppery aftertaste.

The peppermint tea is refreshing and lovely with that minty scent to allow some calmness and relaxation. The mango and lime energiser displays the sweet fruit intensity of the mango, but the lime flavour is somewhat hidden. It is a perfect breakfast as we wait for the fight to land in Sydney.

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Home

The beautiful lights of NSW show themselves through the window.

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The flight path screen shows we are almost home!

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Eventually the plane hits the tarmac and I am home! It’s freezing (7 degrees outside) and the chill of Sydney’s winter grabs my face as I leave the aircraft. I collect my bags and my chauffeur is ready to meet me at the front. I hop into the car and head home! So ends my beautiful whirlwind trip around Europe. Thanks for sharing the journey with me.

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