Leaving the Lounge
The boarding call chimes and I have to leave the Oasis of the Melbourne First Lounge and the private suite. You can read my brief review of the Lounge here.
Melbourne to Dubai
I make my way through the boarding gate to the plane and am ushered through to my suite. I settle in with a glass of Veuve Clicquot La Grande Dame (2004) and start to arrange my luggage (I am starting to travel light – finally!) and settle in for a long flight.
The night skies of Melbourne hinder ones ability to gaze out of the window at the tarmac, so the focus remains on the the glass of the La Grande Dame. It is not my favourite compared to the Taittinger – but it does have its own style with wonderful flavours of peach, apricot and hits of brioche and nuts with a fresh lively acidity.
Then we have the canapes which are quite a delight. First there is the Yasa Caviar Tartlet with Creme Fraiche. The rich salty sea taste of the caviar is a sensual delight which is balanced by the rich creme fraiche, which has a light lemony lactic bite to it and is rounded out with the crumbly buttery tartlet base. When paired with the Grande Dame it is a partnership made in heaven.
The second canape was the Roast Duck with Sesame and Ginger and Shallot Dressing. The rich duck flavours were balanced with the strength and bite of the ginger and shallots while the sesame added a light sweet note to round out the canape.
As the flight progressed, we had some supper as the night lights of the Melbourne farewell us into the dark skies. For the entree, I select the following:
Kingfish Ceviche with Chilli, Lime, Corn, Cucumber and Tostadas
The jelly like texture of the Kingfish is perfect contrast to the crunchy salsa like mixture and the tostada. The succulent fresh tasting Kingfish competes well with the spice and the strength of the flavours of the chilli and lime. A lovely Mexican style dish to wake-up the taste buds and heal that little cold I was suffering from the past few days.
For the Main Course, I choose the:
Rockpool Bar & Grill Style Gape Grim Beef Fillet with Jerusalem Artichoke Gratin, Garlic Mushrooms, Sugar Snaps and Horseradish Relish.
I actually tasted a very similar dish at the Qantas Producer to Plane Event (An event where Qantas provided an in-depth look at how they constructed their First Class Menus). So I lift my review of that dish from the event (you can read my review of that event here).
“The beef is succulent, with rich and full flavour. The texture is perfect and every mouthful just releases the full flavour of the beef with a soft texture of the middle of the beef and a smoky flavour on the outer part of the beef which has experienced the heat of the grill. The sugar snap peas add a lovely crunch while the horseradish condiment adds a lovely bite to round out the experience.” I don’t eat much of the mushrooms as I was full and the gratin was rich for the time of the night so I just skimmed the crunchy layer of cheese from the top.
I paired with the dish with a glass of Clonakilla O’Riada Shiraz (2012), Canberra District, NSW, while watching Despicable Me 2 (I know I am such a child – but c’mon everyone loves the Minions). The wine is beautiful. The aromas of pepper and ripe black fruits take the lead, before the sweetly fruit intensity of cherries flow onto the palate with hints of earthy spice and star anise which have depth into a long savoury finish.
Then the weight of the day begins to burden my eyelids and I ask my lovely host to make my bed. I walk around the cabin while she sets everything up. The beautiful soft pyjamas are oh so comfortable and soft (I could almost fall asleep standing up) and SKII amenities nourish the skin which does feel the brunt of the air in the cabin.
Finally I snuggle up under the blanket and rest sound asleep on the sheep skin duvet. My eyelids close as the gentle hum of the A380 continues to purr along the clouds on our journey to Dubai.
Eventually I awake and have a coffee while I wait for the Breakfast order to be taken. Once I have perused the menu I set my sights on the:
Buttermilk Pancakes with Rhubarb, Brown Sugar and Almond Yoghurt
The lights of the Middle East morning pierce through the cabin window with a red glow as the sun rises over this part of the world. There is a three way tie for attention, Golden Eye (Movie with Pierce Brosnan as James Bond), the Buttermilk Pancakes and view of the sun rise through the window. I juggle all three of these.
The pancakes really are something – the sweet fluffy doughy taste, with with the sugar hit of the Rhubarb which is gentle balanced with the softness of the Almond Yoghurt. A lovely sprinkling almonds adds a crunchy texture to the dish. I also have another coffee and this rich “fruit intensive” Strawberry Energizer drink which is fabulous!
I finish breakfast in time for our landing in Dubai airport.
Dubai to London
The joys of the Emirates First Class Lounge wears thin, even over such a short stop-over. When the boarding call chimes I race through to the gates back to my suite. The champagne they offer to start is the Duval Le-Roy which is actually not normally on their list. There is a strong nectarine flavour its very fresh and lively. I nibble on the olives and the smoked almonds as I get ready for the flight ahead.
Eventually we lift-off and are on our way to beautiful London town. The view over the mountains as we progress is amazing.
The champagne changes to my favourite, the Taittinger Comtes De Champagne Blanc De Blancs (2000). It performs to expectations, with the release of a silky soft burst of minerals on the first sip, while the hints of peach and lemons continue the dance on the palate.
These are paired with two wonderful canapes, a Mushroom Arancini, which is a beautiful mix of soft rice, rich earthy flavours of the mushroom intermingled with creamy cheese to hold it together and finished with a crumbly coating. The second canape is a smoked Ocean Trout and Pickled Cucumber Crostini. The rich oily salty trout is mixed with the drawback of the tang bite of the pickled cucumber and of course the crunch of the crostini which rounds it off.
Soon we head into lunch, which is quite timely. For the Entree, I opt for the:
Big Bowl of Chicken Polpettini with Tomato, Fresh Ricotta and Focaccia
The succulent chicken meatballs are the perfect comfort food with the rich tangy intensity of the tomato and the fresh sharp creamy cheese shavings to match. The ricotta is mild and balances the flavours of the dish, while the focaccia is crusty and provides a texture contrast to the other ingredients and also serves to mop-up the sauce. A lovely simple and tasty dish to start off with. I stick with the Taittinger for this dish.
For the Main Course, I opt for the:
Rockpool Bar & Grill style Crumbed Veal Fillet with Potato Gratin, French Beans and Hot English Mustard.
The herby crust around the veal is wonderful and keeps the veal moist and allows its own natural flavours to shine. The succulent veal is tender with a strong flavour. The crunchy green beans are great from an aesthetics point of view while the potato gratin is the epitome of comfort food – cream, soft potatoes and the rich crusty cheese topping. I coat some pieces of the veal with the hot English Mustard which provides some nice bite to the dish.
I pair the dish with a Flametree S.R.S. Cabernet Sauvignon (2012), Margaret River, Western Australia. The wine is oh so rich, velvety and silky. I just loved it. The aromas and flavours of blackberries, plums, and dark chocolate with a deep earthy aftertaste in the finish. Truly one of those amazing rich deep wines which leaves you slouching back in your seat with that sense of satisfaction.
For Dessert, I have the:
Cardamom Panna Cotta with Rose Water Syrup and Pistachios
This Middle Eastern style dessert is wonderful. The aroma and flavour of the cardamom and the sweet bouquet and taste of the rosewater syrup is a touch of wonder while the softness of the panna cotta is provided a textural contrast by the chopped pistachios. A nice simple dessert which isn’t too rich.
I finish it off with some Macaroons and a Skim Flat White, which go well to round out the lunch.
I continue sipping on more of the Taittinger and then have my bed made a little afternoon siesta and I am just always amazing at how easy it is to relax in one of these suites. The rays of sunlight shine through but my eyelids are such suckers for the beautiful duvet.
Eventually the flight lands in London and my time on the Qantas A380 is brought to a close. Its oh so sad.
I leave the aircraft and wave goodbye to the wonderful hosts and then collect my bags. My chauffeur, who is oh so friendly, meets me and takes me to the car. The chill of the London afternoon grips my face and I feel like I just got home again!