Qantas First Class (Sydney to London) 2016

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So I make my way from the Qantas First lounge (see my write-up here) and finally find myself in the Qantas First Suite where I will be spending the next ~24 hours. It is such a beautiful spot and the crew are super friendly as usual. I have a glass of champagne (today it’s the Pol Roger Sir Winston Churchill 2004) with some roasted almonds and olives.

The Suite

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The champagne is wonderful (although I confess that I am partial towards Taittinger – which is my favourite). The Pol Roger offers a wonderful waft of toasted nuts and citrus fruits which flow onto the palate with fresh crisp stone fruit flavours, a sparkling acidity and hints of mild spice. A nice way to settle in for a long flight.

I am given a beautiful set of pyjamas, a stylish amenity kit and I am all set for take-off.

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Sydney to Dubai

Once we are in the sky and sailing off to Dubai, the crew begin the dinner service. I think I have almost always gone for the tasting menu on this service and decided to stick with my routine… so here it is the Tasting Menu:

Canapes
Salt & Pepper Chicken Wing with mayonnaise and shallots and Calvisius Caviar Tartlet with Crème Fraiche

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The chicken is the standard bearer for comfort food with a crunchy and oily coating (its oh so unhealthy) which has the bite of the seasoning to leave its impression before making way for the juicy, moist, succulent chicken concealed beneath the batter.

The caviar tartlet is quite a contrast, the burst of the intense minerally sea salt flavour of the caviar melds with the rich thick crème fraiche and the buttery crumbly tartlet as it breaks on the tongue to form a beautiful mixture which is oh so full of flavour. A very lovely start to the flight indeed.

First Course
Dish: Sweetcorn and Basil Soup with Grilled Focaccia
Wine: Leeuwin Estate Art Series Riesling (2014) from Margaret River

The setting for the tasting menu always builds the excitement for the evening…

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The sweet corn provides a lovely textural interruption to the rich buttery consistency of the soup which exudes the freshness of the basil. The salty rustic taste of the focaccia has its crunch blunted every time I dip it into the soup and makes for a satisfying dining experience.

The Riesling proves to an interesting pair to the dish with its sharp lime and citrus peel aromas and subsequent follow through flavour on the palate waking up the taste buds. The herbal and interesting floral notes do leave a wonderful flavour at back of the palate and harmoniously integrate with the soup.

Second Course
Dish: Scallop Escabeche with Saffron Marinated Vegetables
Wine: Toolangi Reserve Chardonay (2008) from Yarra Valley

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The escabeche style infuses the marinades flavours deep into the scallop. The scallops are tender, succulent and full of their natural flavours. It was good to see they were not overcooked or rubbery which is a good effort on-board. The richness of the saffron and seasoning flows through the entire dish, while the vegetables are well cooked with a nice balance between firmness on the outside with a softness on post chewing.

The Toolangi Reserve Chardonnay is a good match for this dish. The beautiful crystal fresh stone fruit flavours are a pure match for the scallops while the hints of spice and nutmeg hints dance in tandem with the saffron and spice of the dish. The smooth texture of the wine makes it a treat to drink as does a long finish which assists with the pairing.

Third Course
Dish: Rockpool Bar & Grill style free range Roast Bannockburn Chicken with Ratatouille and Grilled Shallots with English Mustard
Wine: Tyrrell’s Vat 9 Hunter Shiraz (2010) from Hunter Valley

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The succulent tender chicken is full of flavour and oozes its natural juices – a pure delight to have. It doesn’t dance on its own but has the well qualified rich heartiness of the ratatouille with its intense Mediterranean flavours and the crunch of the beautiful croutons on top to provide a beautiful contrast of flavours and textures which are the perfect supporting act for the chicken. A well-executed dish indeed.

The wine indeed is a work of art. I had my heart set on this wine the moment I received the menu. The Vat 9 Shiraz is one of the best out there and the tingly excitement has the deep crimson coloured wine leaves bottle and swirls in my glass is one that cannot be described. I just stared at the glass for what seems an age. I eventually take the courage to have a sip. There are wonderful aromas of berries, olives and a touch of leather. On the palate the sweet intensity of the berry fruits and plums gush through the palate which is then balanced by a strong peppery notes and minerally herb flavour. The good support of tannins and acid leaves a wonderful mouthfeel and provides for such a sensuous drinking experience.

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Fourth Course
Dish: Mango Pancakes with Passionfruit and Toasted Coconut Praline
Wine: As above

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This is very similar to a dish I had on a prior flight to London. The soft pillowy crepe which is encased the rich gooey chocolate. The chocolate bursts through the crepe and gives that amazing cocoa streak of intense sweetness to your tongue. The stringy chewy coconut sprinkles provide a lovely textural presence. The super sweet juicy mango provide a beautiful fusion to the sweetness of the chocolate. The cream acts to provide a light touch to the dish.

As I am still in love with the Vat 9 the thought of parting with it for a sweet dessert wine is just awful so cling to it and disregard the advice of the crew to switch the pairing.

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Fifth Course
Dish: Selection of Cheese with Accompaniments
Wine: As above

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I don’t have all of this dish on count of being too full. The plate of cheese goes oh so well with the Vat 9.

First there is the cheddar which 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 easy to eat, with no sharp or bitter interruptions in the notes, it just flows with a milky like buttery softness although there is some lactic bite in the finish.

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The Bed

Eventually I do get a little tired and I need to drift off to sleep as the A380 purs across the skies on its way to Dubai. The crew make-up my bed with a duvet, blanket and a lovely plush pillow and soon I drift off to sleep in the clouds…

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We eventually land in Dubai and I make my way through to the Emirates First Class Lounge in Dubai.

Dubai – Emirates First Class Lounge

I decide to have a light supper and I have to get some emails off my plate. I choose a wonderful dish of langoustine tails with a broccoli mousse and pair it with a glass of Moet & Chandon.

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The lounge is spacious and super plush but I never seem to have the time to enjoy it. Soon the boarding call chimes and I am off to the gate for the next leg onto London.

Dubai to London

Back on the aircraft I am greeted with another glass of Pol Roger Sir Winston Churchill (2004) and some roast almonds…

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Supper

We have a light supper before bed on the final leg to London. I have dish which has actually been an all-time favourite of mine. I first had this dish when I was 21, back when Qantas flew via Singapore to London. It is the steak sandwich…. It is a dish that reflects simplicity and flavour at the same time. It is simply timeless!

Signature Steak Sandwich with Tomato and Chilli Relish

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As I have the dish I am actually watching the Minions Movie and I took snap as the Minions were relaxing on Scarlet Overkills private jet as they were off to England for world domination… I kinda felt the same way on this flight except for the whole world domination thing!

Anyway the steak sandwich has the bite of the peppery rocket, the succulent juicy steak and the luscious juicy tomato relish with a bite of the spice of the chilli. All of which is gently nuzzled against a beautiful roll. It is such a treat to have and brings back fond memories of all my flights to London.

I pair this with the Oakridge 864, Cabernet Sauvignon (2012) from Yarra Valley. I feel so bad abandoning the Vat 9… it’s almost like that moment when stray from your regular morning coffee place to try that new hip coffee joint next door and despite your best attempts to sneak back to your office with the cup of betrayal, the cute waitress who works at your normal coffee spot catches you sipping their competitor’s coffee. You then have to cope with the fact that she’ll never speak to you again!

Anyway, that’s a little off topic, having said that I have had a fondness for Oakridge Wines after attending a Qantas EpiQure event (see my review of the event here) last year where his fines featured in a lovely tasting menu experience. The Oakridge is a good pair for the steak with a beautiful mix of red berries, blackberry and intense spices with a hint of smokiness in the finish which makes this oh so drinkable.

I finish off with the Cheese Platter which is the same as the one from Sydney to Dubai (above).

The Cheese Platter

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Bed

Finally it’s off to bed again as I wait for our arrival into Heathrow…

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Breakfast

Now as the minutes of heavenly sleep drift by the reality that we will soon be touching down in London arrives. The crew ask me if I’m up for breakfast and I say yes. My eyes still yearn for sleep but the allure of a fresh breakfast wins the day. A beautiful skim flat white is brought with a mango energiser – the perfect tonic to wake me up. I choose a hot breakfast and decide to have it in bed cause it’s one of life’s little pleasures.

Savoury French Toast with Grilled Shallots and Tomato Relish

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I have actually had this dish before and I could describe pretty much the same: The salty cheese crust on the savoury toast is rich as one would expect. As you pierce it there is the fluffy toast centre and a rich cheese and herb middle spread which is a pure delight on the palate. The tomato relish introduces some lovely tang and intense juicy flavours of the rich tomato. The shallots are soft from the pan but have a wonderful crunch to them to pair with the dish.

The mango energiser has a the sweet fruit intensity of the mango and provides a little chill to jolt me awake and the caffeine hit from the flat white is much needed.

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There is nothing more alluring than a hot breakfast in bed at 30,000 ft.

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Landing

The skycam provides the best view as we jet into London Heathrow.

 

And one final snap as we walk off the aircraft…. I just love flying with Qantas!

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