I am off to jet around the globe on my next round the world trip. My first leg of the journey is the voyage from Sydney to Dallas. This was once the world’s longest flight at c.13,800km (over a third of the distance around the world) and certainly is an experience to be had. This is my first trip from Australia to the USA on Qantas (I have previously flown the return leg from Los Angeles) so I am keen to see how the flight compares to its other routes.
My first stop is the Qantas First Lounge. The flight has a midday departure, so one is left with the breakfast menu; however I do decide to add some champagne to the experience, because when you’re a wanderluster it’s after 12pm somewhere in the world.
I opt for the Eggs Royale and a coffee and a lovely glass of champagne to pair. The eggs are lovely with a runny yolk which intermingles with the creamy hollandaise sauce. The salty rich oily salmon is a treat and the crunch of the muffin base is a nice textural contrast to the rest of the dishes flowy texture. The champagne if refreshingly crisp this morning and pairs well with the richness of the breakfast and the coffee is just what I need to stay awake.
I stop by the spa briefly for a visit. I have a facial to get my skin in top shape before the 16 hour torture of the inflight cabin atmosphere. The facial is amazing and I spend a lovely time chatting to the girl in the spa who is planning her own US trip next year.
I am seated in Suite 1A and the first class cabin is quite empty today. The First Class Suites have the seat which angles away from the aisle with a swivel such that you face the straight during take-off but after take-off you permanently swiveled towards the window to enjoy the entertainment on screen and use the dining table. It’s not a fully enclosed suite, though does feel quite private and spacious. The seat has significant storage space on the side, with an ottoman at the end for a guest to share during dinner and large TV screen with a controller featuring a wide range of video and audio entertainment on demand.
The background tune I have used is “This Is What You Came For” by Calvin Harris – I don’t own the rights to the song.
I start with champagne. It’s the Veuve Cliquot Grande Dame (2006), Champagne for this flight. I would have preferred Taittinger which is my favourite of course; however the Grande Dame is a good drop too. The Grande Dame has lovely stone fruit flavours with hits of brioche and nuts with a mouthwatering acidity for a refreshing taste experience.
Soon we have lift-off and are sailing in the clouds above as we make our way to Dallas. First up is the lunch menu. I decide to skip the tasting menu and order of the À la carte, something I rarely do. I choose a market special (which is not their menu) for the first course.
The canapes today are the Maggie Beer Pheasant Farm Pate on Sourdough Crostini and the Caviar and Celeriac puree tartlet.
They are certainly a nice start to the evenings proceeding. The pate is rich and fatty with a nice crunch of the crostini to pair while the caviar has a rich burst of salty sea flavour on impact with the crumbly tart and the mild celeriac puree to follow.
I have a glass of the Evans and Tate Flagship Cabernet (2012) Margaret River to start. The wine has deep cassis and dark berry perfumed aromas. The palate has strong dark fruit flavours with hints of savoury spice and quite a bite of oak which flow through some chalky tannins. The wine could do with a bit more cellaring but still makes for a decent drop today.
Asian Style Scallop and Duck
The dish is peculiar; it doesn’t quite tick the aesthetics box. The sauce is mix of aromatic, salt, spice and sweet flowy flavours which are typical ying / yang style balance. The duck is quite rich and oily and fully of beautiful dominant flavours. I enjoyed the scallops as it is rare these days to have them served with roe, however the flavour of the sauce and strength of the duck did overpower it.
I pair the dish with the Tolpuddle Vineyard Pinot Noir (2015). The wine does go well with the sauce and the duck of course; however it does leave the scallops behind. The wine has beautiful blueberry and sweet spice aroma on first waft. On the palate it is very much intense with tart red-cherry and berry fruit flavors flavours which flow through some spicy tannins. It integrates effortlessly with the duck and the sauce in the dish.
Lobster with XO sauce, Lo Mein Noodles, Bok Choy and Sesame Seeds
The lobster was very nicely prepared. I always fear seafood could get over cooked on a flight, but let me assure you every mouthful was perfect. The XO sauce injected a nice flavour to the dish and the lo mein noodles added a refreshing smooth textural flow and their coolness did balance the XO sauce. The bok choy was good as well and had some lovely crunch to balance the texture of the dish.
The dish was paired with the champagne. It was a triangulation of the rich lobster, the acidity in the XO sauce paired with the acidity of the champagne. It truly delivered an amazing taste experience I must say.
Rockpool Bar & Grill style beef fillet with “Mac and Cheese”, Green Beans and Chipotle Sauce
This dish was my favourite of the flight. The beef is succulent and juicy and cooked medium rare – there is wonderful seamless flow from the smoky outer part of the beef fillet to rich juicy soft rare part in the middle. It makes for such a beautiful harmonious taste experience. The mac and cheese is always the epitome of comfort food, with soft slimy macaroni, rich creamy cheese and crunchy cheese crumbed coating proving to be satisfying taste experience. The green beans were cooked well to crunch.
I pair this dish with the Evans and Tate. The wines deep rich flavours and tannins are perfect for the beef fillet. Midway through the course, the host suggests I also try the Shiraz with the dish. It is Leogate Estate, The Basin, Shiraz (2014), Hunter Valley in NSW. I agree to the taste and the wine has as one would expect from a Hunter Shiraz, rich plummy flavours with pepper and spice notes in the finish. There are some good tannins which support the fruit which also make it a good match for the beef fillet.
As I work through the dish, I think this next photo sums up the experience as I gaze outside at the setting sun and the clouds. You really feel the experience of dining in the middle of nowhere.
As we sail over clouds suspended over the depths of the expansive Pacific Ocean, you feel so small and oh so alone. I am reminded of Carl Sagan’s (from Cornell University) quote when the Voyager 1 took a photo of earth from 3.7 billion miles away. It showed the earth was just a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam. This is what Carl had to say:
“Look again at that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every “superstar,” every “supreme leader,” every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there-on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.”
You really do get that feeling when you are so consumed with your beef fillet and enjoying the wine, feeling that this moment is so central to you, but when you look out the window; the depths of the oceans and the limitless horizons of the sky tell you that you and this moment you enjoy are so insignificant in the grand scheme of things. It is a worthy point of reflection.
The background tune I have used is “Touch the Sky” by Hillsong United – I don’t own the rights to the song.
Vanilla Panna Cotta with grilled plums, strawberries and pistachios
I initially try to avoid dessert but am persuaded to try the lightest option on the menu. It’s a refreshingly light dessert with vanilla hints in the soft creamy panna cotta and the fruit adds a night juicy burst of flavours and smoke. The pistachios add a little crunch to round out the dish. It’s a nice way to finish lunch.
We are provided Amenity Kits. These were recently updated and now the PJs are dark navy ones from Martin Grant. I can attest they are super comfortable. There are cute navy slippers which don the Qantas red on the inside. There is gorgeous 3D eye mask in navy which I don’t really use. The navy travel socks are super plush. The toothbrush and toothpaste is practical. There are some new products from ASPAR by Aurora, these include: hand cream, lip moisturiser and face moisturizer and facial mist. I do like the products and the lip moisturiser is particularly effective on this long haul flight.
Here are some snaps of the products below:
The crew make-up my bed. Here is video it does take a bit time to transform the seat into a bed.
The background tune I have used is “Wake Me Up” by Avicii – I don’t own the rights to the song.
The super comfy duvet, wool blanket and cotton sheet fitted over a sheepskin-covered foam mattress are perfect for a night’s sleep, so I drift off to sleep pretty quickly.
I awake the sun begins to assert itself through the clouds and we fly through Mexico and the southern US border on our way to Dallas. It is such a wonderful experience. I order some breakfast before we land. I choose the waffles and also opt for Botanica Neil Perry Signature Coldpress Juice: Beetroot, Carrot, Celery, Ginger, Watermelon and Apple. I also negate the health effects of the juice with my usual caffeine hit; skim flat white.
Waffles with maple syrup, blueberries and toasted hazelnuts
The waffles have a beautiful sweet crunchy doughy flavour which is complemented well by the smoky sweet maple syrup and the juicy bursts of blueberries while the toasted hazelnuts add a lovely crunch to the dish. It is a good breakfast which gives enough boost for the day ahead. The juice is suitably refreshing while the coffee certainly wakes me up. Shortly after breakfast we land in Dallas and I am off to transfer to the next terminal for my onward flight to New York.
The flight from Sydney to Dallas was enjoyable, the hosts were very attentive and the food and wine overall was very good (notwithstanding my comments on the first dish) and the bed was very comfortable. I certainly landed in Dallas very much feeling refreshed for the day ahead.