So I depart the Qantas First Lounge in Sydney (check out the review here) and make my way to the boarding gate for the trip to London. I can’t recall how many times I have done this, but the excitement remains the same as my very first longhaul flight ten years ago!
Sydney to Dubai
I arrive onboard and start arranging my luggage around my Suite. The Suite is lovely and very spacious. I am offered a drink prior to take-off, I ponder the thought and opt for a lovely glass of champagne. Today it is the Taittinger Comtes De Champagne Blanc De Blancs (2000). The last time I flew with them, they only had the Pol Roger Sir Winston Churchill (2000) available, I am so glad the Taittinger is back onboard.
The champagne is the perfect welcome, 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 well after the first taste to help you settle into your seat.
I am also handed my sleeper suit and the amenity kit. The sleeper suit has a high thread count and is oh so comfortable… I wish I could wear them everywhere.
Here’s whats in the amenity kit. The creams and treatments are from SKII and is absolutely lovely on the skin.
Once we are settled in and hovering above 30,000 ft, the dinner service commences. I always debate on what to have, but eventually opt for the tasting menu.
Prawn Toast and Porcini Mushroom Pate with Crostini and Cornichons
The pate is a rich velvety and soft which forms the perfect marriage with the crunchy crostini. The prawn toast has a soft crunchy outer coating with a soft fish paste with a mix of prawns on the inside. A gentle and simple start to the proceedings.
Caramelised Fennel and Onion Soup with Croutons (Paired with the Grosset Polish Hill Riesling 2012 – Clare Valley, South Australia)
I was watching the Great Gatsby and capture the moment above… when Gatsby is revealed. I just love that movie. Anyway onto the food. The soup has bits of sweet fennel and the distinct onion flavour which define the dish. The creamy texture of the soup is also interrupted with the crunchy croutons. A very elegant dining experience to start the evening.
The Riesling is amazing with basic lime and floral characters, rich minerality and a real polished lime zest in the finish. I sit back and continue to sip the Riesling long after the soup has finished… its a wine that works on its own.
Pastrami with Grilled Vegetable Salad (Paired with the Paringa Estate Pinot Noir 2010 – Mornington Peninsula, Victoria)
To be honest and upfront this dish is not really my style and I do not end up finishing it. I am not a huge fan of processed meats, but I will provide this broad comment on the dish; it has a soft and delicate texture with a solid “deli-style” taste. The grilled vegetables are quite lovely with a traditional roast texture and a light charcoal style after taste.
The Pinot Noir is a beautiful light purple colour with the wonderful taste of cherries, strawberries and soft silky tannins flowing on first sip. It makes for a very light and easy drinking experience. I make the Pinot a bit of a focus in this course, due to my lack of fondness for the dish.
Grilled Lamb Loin with Fregola, Almond and Preserved Lemon, Chimichurri Sauce and Cauliflower Gratin (Paired with Umamu Estate, Cabernet Merlot 2007 – Margaret River, Western Australia)
The succulent lamb is gently settled onto the soft fregola. The lamb is tender, spicy and well seasoned (but retains its juices and flavour), while the fregola has this beautiful Mediterranean flavour to it (lemon and almond mixture). The Chimichurri adds some additional seasoning of garlic, light oils, oregano and vinegar to provide a light tangy bite to round-off the dining experience. It is the dish of the flight. Very simple but beautifully seasoned with quality produce.
I love Western Australian wines and this wine captures my heart. The first taste provides a strong bite, with the tannins leaping out of the glass. Eventually, you settle in and enjoy the fullness of the juicy berry fruit flavours, although the oak background continues to provide its input through to a medium finish.
I watch Up in the Air again which is the perfect onboard movie (George Clooney’s character and I have some similarities… in fact the loyalty card scene – pictured above – is one of my favourite scenes in the movie).
Baked Rhubard and Apple Shortcake and Double Cream
I ditch the wine pairing and stick with the Umamu for the rest of the night (I am so hooked on this wine now). The shortcake has a crumbly buttery texture and taste, while the sweet stringy rhubarb cuts through the shortcake for a well rounded dessert experience. The double cream is super rich and does provide an additional dimension to the dish and does dilute the sweetness of the rhubarb.
Selection of Cheese Served with Accompaniments
In all the years of doing the tasting menu, I always either skip courses or leave a fair bit left over (which isn’t good), as there is just too much food. Today I decide to only have one of the cheese selection to avoid a repeat. I choose a goats cheese from South Australia, the Woodside Goat Chevre. It has mild flavour with a slight acid tang. A lovely way to finish the night!
The pale blue skies continue to glow through the window as the A380 just floats above the clouds… I just keep gazing out the window!! It’s gotta be the best view in the world.
In fact, its tough watching a movie with the window shade up. In the picture above, I am trying to focus on Up in the Air, but I find myself gazing out the window at the beautiful view of the sky and the clouds.
I then have the bed made so I can get some rest, as I always struggle on the last hop from DXB to LHR (its such a short flight and the timing from a sleep adjustment perspective is terrible).
The beautiful duvet and soft sheep skin mattress are such a treat and make it seem like you’re sleeping on a cloud!
I end up watching Skyfall (the James Bond movie), which keeps me awake for longer than I hoped. Three movies on one flight… not a bad outcome! Soon the lights of Dubai welcome the A380 and we touch down at the terminal.
Emirates First Class Lounge (Dubai)
The Emirates Lounge in Dubai is magnificent. It occupies the length of the terminal with its own Duty Free Shops and even a Wine Compendium (full of wines from around the world, some of them worth close to US$10,000 each).
I opt for a champagne – just the standard Moet Chandon NV. Champagne at 1am…. really Travel Czar? I ask myself the same question and then look at the World Clock and decide its an appropriate time somewhere in the world to be having champagne, so its okay and I sip my champagne without guilt.
A light supper is in order to pass the time. The waitstaff serve you at the table and the menu is very extensive.
The bakery is actually an amazing meal in itself. There is this savory style croissant (furthest on the right hand side), which has this rich tomato puree with a crumbly flaky pastry case. Its such a treat.
The succulent prawns are served with creamy firm pieces of avocado and juicy tomatoes. It’s a light Mediterranean dish and makes for the perfect “pre-boarding” supper.
The scallops are a treat. Succulent, juicy scallops with the texture contrast of the crunchy and grainy cornmeal crust. It is served on a bed of wilted spinach. I just eat the scallops and ignore the spinach, as I will have a light supper again onboard.
Then the boarding call chimes to interrupt my stay… I rush to the boarding gate. The beauty of the lounge is that you can board straight from the lounge to the plan through a dedicated airbridge.
Dubai to London
We board the flight for the final leg of the journey.
Spiced Chicken and Eggplant Pot Pie.
This is a little supper dish before bed time.The dish has rich oriental spices with a succulent soft chicken and beautiful eggplant that dissolves on first bite. But before you get acquainted with the filling, you have the wonderful introduction of the crunchy flaky pastry which you crunch through with the fork and it just crumbles making a beautiful texture contrast to the filling. Its the perfect supper.
My bed is made again and I have another glass of Taittinger champagne to put me to sleep.
Then there’s breakfast… there is nothing more enjoyable then a beautiful fresh breakfast in the clouds to start your day. The morning sun of Western Europe pierces the cabin windows with a radiant glow as my flight attendant goes through the menu with me.
Scrambled Eggs with Smoked Salmon, Potato Rosti, Avocado on a Brioche Toast.
I opt for a hot breakfast. The silky buttery scrambled eggs are lovely and form the perfect pairing with oily succulent smoked salmon, while the smooth creamy potato rosti . Then the beautiful firm but creamy avocado and the sweet flaky and crumbly brioche toast adds some extra excitement to a very nice breakfast dish.
I pair the dish with a Passionfruit Energizer drink, which has the sugary flavours of the passionfruit shining through and of course a skim flat white to finish off.
We land in Heathrow – the A380 just dips gently into descent and you can view it on skycam, where the it breaks through the thick clouds and suddenly London in all its glory just shines through as the European summer sun just forces its way through the window. Then the welcoming tarmac of London Heathrow Terminal 3 reveals its self for the perfect landing spot. The wheels hit the tarmac and the journey ends…
Then the seatbelt sign is turned-off, passengers scramble to retrieve their carry-on luggage, and Qantas plays the catchy tune of Riptide over the PA system.
The start of the tune goes something like “I was scared of dentists and the dark, I was scared of pretty girls and making conversations” – I love the tune, although its the exact opposite of me. I love my dentist, love nightlife and can start random conversations any-time with anyone (including pretty girls)…anyway there’s a random stream of consciousness to end the flight.
I wave farewell to the flight attendants and make my way through the hustle and bustle of London Heathrow.
American Airlines Arrivals Lounge
I push back my Chauffeur pick up to enable me to use the Arrivals Lounge. This lounge is nothing compared to the beauty of the Qantas First Lounge in Sydney but it gives you the chance to have a lovely breakfast and warm shower and have your suit pressed to prepare you for the day ahead.
The breakfast is pretty standard to be honest, but I don’t have anything as I ate on board.
Then there is the lovely ensuite with multiple powerful shower jets for a powerful morning “wake-me-up” shower and of course I get my jacket pressed for the day ahead.
I race out of the terminal into a lovely car run by the good folk at Carey Worldwide. Its a beautiful Mercedes which takes me to my hotel.