We are off on our holiday to the USA. It includes a few days in Dallas, a week in New York and a week in Los Angeles. The first leg of our journey is on Qantas from Sydney to Dallas.
We arrive at the lounge nice and early for our flight – it’s a rainy day in Sydney and we are keen to escape. Accompanying the literal clouds are the clouds of COVID-19 outbreak which seems to be accelerating by the day.
We settle in for breakfast; for me it’s the Buttermilk Pancakes with Coconut, Qantas Honey and Nectarines while my girlfriend opts for the Eggs Royale without any hollandaise. Its morning, but we’re on holiday, so we have a glass of Champagne Pommery to accompany our breakfast!
We stop to have a quick spa treatment. The new provider for the spa is La Gaia and I haven’t tried their treatments before. We both opt for the “Kiss Landing” which featured a hot stone back massage. It was the perfect way to relieve a bit of pre-flight tension and aches.
After a lovely massage, we head back to the dining room for lunch. We both opt for the Salt & Pepper Squid paired with a glass of Champagne Pommery.
This is my all-time favourite and my girlfriend has warmed to it despite an aversion to fried food. The spicy crunch coating melded seamlessly into the succulent calamari. My tongue welcomes the spicy crunch coating (an eclectic mixture of egg white, flour, black and white pepper) and the soft succulent calamari with open arms. A little dip in the green chilli sauce and rustic aioli accentuates the flavours. It’s the best in the lounge menu!
For lunch I decide to go for an old-time favourite; the Grass-fed Beef Cheeseburger and switch to the Saltram Mamre Brook Shiraz (2016) from the Barossa Valley. My girlfriend goes for her usual Cone Bay Barramundi with Pistachio, Broccolini, Preserved Lemon and Capers.
Eventually, the flight commences boarding and we make our way to the plane. We are provided with the amenity kits and PJs for the flight. We start with some Olives and Smoked Almonds and champagne before take-off.
The champagne onboard today is the Piper Heidsieck, Rare Millesime (2002). To be honest I’m a blanc de blanc man and I was hoping the Taittinger Comtes was the wine onboard, but alas this was an exquisite drop too. This is only the eighth vintage since 1976 and hence lives up to its name “Rare”. It is a blend of 70% chardonnay and 30% pinot noir from the Montagne de Reims region.
It’s interesting on nose with lovely floral and citrus aromas. On the palate, its rich, creamy with brioche, honey and zesty citrus flavours. A chalky minerality and lively acidity sign-off on the palate. It’s quite a remarkable champagne.
We start with a couple of canapes. There is the Calvisius Caviar Tartlet with Cauliflower Cream and the Ma Hor with Carmelised Pork, Prawn and Pineapple and Cashews.
The caviar tartlet is a classic, the deep oceanic salinity of the caviar with its slimy texture melded with the light cauliflower cream for balance and the crumbly tartlet base which holds it together. The salinity and sugar of the Ma Hor with its textural arrays leave an indelible impression on the palate.
The Soup & Entree
For the next course we opt to have both the soup and entree brought out at the same time. The soup is the Roast Capsicum Soup with Cherry Tomato and Grilled Baguette and Olive Tapenade.
The soup is lovely (and Qantas tend to do it well). The tangy rustic flavours of the capsicum and tomato provide a hearty experience. It is perfectly paired with the rich olive tapenade and the grilled baguette proves perfect to mop up the soup. We also have some brasserie bread, the caramelised garlic loaf and tomato & onion flatbread.
For the entree we both opt for the Signature Seared Tuna, Moroccan Eggplant, Cumin Mayonnaise and Harissa. The tuna’s strong natural flavours anchor the dish and provide strength to match the Moroccan spices in the dish. The tartness of the eggplant is lovely, and the light salad base is suitably refreshing. We continue to sip on the Piper Heidsieck Rare as we enjoy our entrees and the plane continues over the Pacific Ocean towards the USA.
The Main Course
For the main course we both opt for the Rockpool Bar and Grill Style Cape Grim Beef Fillet and Potato Gratin, Green Beans and Port and Wine Jus.
This dish is a bit of an ode to a Qantas menu from yesteryear. It takes its inspiration from the 1960’s Qantas First Class menu – Filet bœuf with sauce bordelaise with légumes de saison.
The beef doesn’t have grilled char of the prior steaks I’ve tried on Qantas. This one is succulent and juicy and cooked medium rare but more towards medium today. The epitome of this dish is the rich jus – it’s lovely to have the beef with this decadent sauce. We do try it with some mustard, but the beef stands on its own. The beans add a light crunch and the potato gratin is imbued in creaminess and delicateness to contrast.
We switch wines from the champagne to the Giant Footsteps Harry’s Monster Cabernet Blend (2017) from the Yarra Valley in Victoria. The wine is comprised of Cabernet Sauvignon (54%) Merlot (33%) and Petit Verdot (13%). It introduces itself with beautiful aromas of olives and cassis and on palate a rich assiette of dark berries and plums lavish their richness on the tongue with some lovely herb and leaf notes in the finish. A nice flow of silky tannins makes for an enjoyable experience, although the wine could do with a decent stint in the cellar.
For dessert I have the Raspberry and Blackberry Summer Pudding with Creme Fraiche and Alex has the Signature Flourless Chocolate Cake with Double Cream and Raspberry Sauce.
The summer pudding is a dream. It’s light, full of berries with a little soft fluffy drenched puddingy texture. A pure delight. I do get to taste the chocolate cake and it is lovely, it has a grainy texture (presumably from almond meal) and a gooey chocolate sensation.
We have a side of ice cream each to add a bit of extra indulgence. Today its Maggie Beer’s Burnt Fig, Honeycomb and caramel ice cream. We pair our dessert with a glass of Martell Cordon Bleu Cognac. It’s not the Hennessey Paradis which served on Emirates, but it’ll do.
Eventually the sunset fades into darkness and we decide to get some rest. The crew turn the seat into a bed and line the bed with Sheridan bedding, including a cotton woven throw and plush duvet. We change into the PJs from Martin Grant. The PJs are a lovely charcoal and a dark maroon trim. They are super comfortable.
When I started thinking about proposing, I decided to book a trip for our anniversary and planned to propose at some point on the trip. As I thought about possible locations, I settled on the idea of proposing during our departing flight but I wasn’t sure whether to do it in the lounge, immediately after boarding, during dinner or just prior to landing.
I figured at in the lounge wouldn’t be special (and potentially a very crowded and public proposal) and onboard during the meal service would be disruptive for the crew and prior to landing would have had the logistical challenges of the late breakfast service and the crew preparing the plane for landing. I also wanted the “yes” to made whilst sober which made a proposal around the meal service difficult.
I figured sunrise gave me the best option, so I studied the flight path of QF7 for weeks before our flight and realised I could propose at sunrise while the plane was over the Pacific Ocean (which was important given my proposal line – see below). It would be away from meal service times and the cabin would be quiet to make the moment private. It was perfect – the only thing that would stand in the way was turbulence and the captain turning on the fasten seatbelt sign.
I was worried I would fall asleep and awake only in time for breakfast / landing, so I stayed up for most of the night in the pitch black cabin to ensure I was awake for the moment. I also had set a number of alarms to wake me up.
Eventually the glimmer of sunlight on the horizon appears. I wake-up Alex and tell her that its important she wakes up to re-adjust her body clock to US time. She trustingly believes my direction and wakes up. Although she is a tad grumpy as I think it’s about 2-3am in Sydney at the moment. It’s such a beautiful moment we share together as we watch the sunrise in her bed.
I then ask her to change into a lovely dress she had brought onboard for some further Instagram shots. She gives me a look of disbelief, but eventually agrees. As she gets changed into her dress, I begin preparations for the proposal.
I decided to go for the “Bed of Roses” look. I sourced the rose petals from Paradise Rose Petals (a rose petal supplier based in the Whitsundays). They have a pretty broad selection of petals – I chose their Red Romance selection. These petals formed the heart shape on the bed. I used a template for the heart shape which I had prepared from watching a YouTube video tutorial. I supplemented the “rose petal heart” at the top of the bed with some pink and red rose petals which I sourced locally and spread these across the rest of the bed. I also placed some additional red and white roses in the drink holder on the side.
I sourced the pillow from Custom Photo Gifts on Zazzle. Our first date was at Neptunes in Brighton Le Sands which I had printed on the pillow. I also prepared a picture book of our time together from Papier (a London stationary company) which I placed in the seatback holder for us to read after the proposal.
When I had finished setting-up the bed and Alex had finished changing into her dress, I walked her towards the bed, and she gasped as she saw the setting.
I then sat her down on the bed and said: “We are at 39,000 ft above the ground, my love for you is higher than that. We are currently above the Pacific Ocean which has a depth of 11,000m, my love for you is far deeper than that. Will you marry me?”
She said Yes!!
As for the ring, it was from Brilliant Earth, which a specialises in ethically sourced diamonds. The specific diamond I found was from Russia, it had an excellent cut, was colourless and virtually flawless. I had it set in a Ballerina setting which is a halo of eight baguette and twelve round brilliant diamonds which would surround the centre diamond.
The crew are simply lovely, they allow me to have the windows opened while the cabin is in full darkness and they provided us with some champagne to celebrate post the engagement. The CSM and the rest of the First Class crew offer their congratulations as they return to their shifts. It was a very special moment.
Eventually the breakfast service commences, and we enjoy our first breakfast as fiancé and fiancée.
We each have the hand-made sourdough crumpet, which is a dream. The beautiful toasted crunchy exterior and doughy centre. My girlfriend…. oops I mean fiancée, chooses the Ricotta pancakes with blueberries, lemon curd and passionfruit.
I opt for the warmed Green Pea Fritters with salad of quinoa, kale, poached egg and herbed lemon yoghurt. It’s healthy and light but I do find myself envying the ricotta pancakes.
The Green Juice (kale, silverbeet, celery, apple, cucumber and lemon) is healthy but yuk. I don’t mean its bad – it’s just not my thing, but I do force myself to drink it as I have been indulging a fair bit on this flight. My fiancée loved it. We have a coffee to keep us awake as we are little tired from the whole experience.
We have had wonderful flight and it will be a flight which we will cherish forever. We enjoyed the in-flight service, food and wine and the cabin. The proposal went off without a hitch and the crew were supportive throughout the flight. If you would like to check out our engagement video diary of our trip, here is the link.