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December 29, 2009

And now for some good airplane news



Bra1nchild just sent me a report on airline food. I'll be thinking about this when I'm eating my Southwest peanuts on the way to Florida in a couple of weeks. EL

The question of airplane food was raised some time ago. Mrs. Bra1nchild and I have just returned from visiting our grandchildren (and their parents) in Jakarta. Believe me when I tell you that you eat your way around the world. ...

Because we are of a certain age, we decided long ago that extremely long flights must be experienced in Business Class. Orthopedic difficulties demand the extra width and pitch between seats. As a result, our airborne dining experiences are not typical.

We took off at 11:10 p.m. and were fed starting around 12:15 in the morning EDT and finished after 1 a.m. The appetizer was grilled shrimp, hummus, cucumber salad and broiled tomato wedges; entrees of fish for Mrs. B and sea bass and pork belly in an Asian sauce for me, with a dessert of fresh fruit and cookies.
We were fed again over the Pacific around 7 a.m. EDT. Our choice was a ham-and-cheese sandwich or a Chinese soup. We both chose the soup, which was quite tasty; it had very thin noodles, dumplings and something green that resembled broccoli stems, some with leaves. It was like a cruise because all we did that day was eat and sleep.
We continued to eat our way around the world with breakfast before landing in Taipei. We opted for cream cheese frittatas accompanied by sliced pork and roasted cherry tomatoes. We had mediocre herb omelets on the flight from Taipei to Singapore, but by this time, we didn’t care.
We flew Singapore Airlines’ non-stop from Singapore to Newark for our return and, once again, we ate our way through 12 time zones.
About two hours into the 18-hour flight, we were served lunch: lobster and mesclun salad; beef fillet with parsnip puree and roasted vegetables; ice cream; and candy. Several hours later, there was more food -- an appetizer of chicken and lamb satay; a duck liver mouse with salmon; and our entrees – rosemary infused chicken with mushroom timbale, coarse-mustard basted potatoes and peas. The chicken was a little tough but Mrs. Bra1nchild especially liked the mushroom timbale. For dessert, Mrs. B had a peach crumble, which she said was wonderful. 
All of our meals were served on china and we had stainless flatware which will probably disappear soon in the name of security.

(Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images)

Posted by Elizabeth Large at 3:33 PM | | Comments (7)


Bra1nchild, out of curiosity, what airline(s) did you fly to get from the States to Taipei, and then to get in and out of Jakarta? You only mention Singapore Airlines for your return trip leg from Singapore to Newark. SA has long received excellent ratings for its food and service, so I'd be a bit surprised if SA was also responsible for the "mediocre herb omelets", especially at those Business Class prices.

Asian airlines in general have very good service, including food. Another good choice if going to Asia is ANA (All Nippon Airways). Around here, they fly from Dulles.

If I may share an experience: I flew economy and they had really good food, as I recall. I had the vegetarian option and they didn't screw anything up, which is a winner in my book. For dessert, they passed out Haagen Dazs for everybody. They also made runs with onigiri and little bottles of wine.

Now, for $7-10 extra, you can buy ramen and all the fun business class meals whenever you're hungry, which is pretty awesome.

Toss in quality movies and I was a happy camper for the 14 hour journey to Tokyo and 8 hours to Los Angeles.

Gee, I went to Phoenix on Continental a few months ago, and had a stale cheese sandwich and a mushy apple, while I sat in front of a screaming toddler for 5 hours. To top it off the flight attendants were surly, and the plane was just plain dirty. Of course I guess you get what you pay for.

Food-wise (and service-wise), I think the only country worse than the US is the former Soviet Union.

What airline(s) did you fly to get from the States to Taipei, and then to get in and out of Jakarta?

We flew Continental from West Palm to Newark and then EVA [the Taiwanese airline] to Singapore where we had expected to decompress, but plans changed, so we continued on to Jakarta on Singapore Airlines; had we known, we could have flown from Newark to Taipei to Jakarta and saved time and money.

We did spend time in Singapore on the return, so we expected to reverse the sequence but equipment problems in Singapore netted us a direct flight from there to Newark -- 18 hours in a sensory-deprivation tube with nothing to do but eat and sleep; it was like returning to infancy.

Weird timing...I'm just planning a Singapore trip! Unfortunately, I don't think business class is in the cards for us...shame, it sounds much nicer than cattle class!

EVA and other airlines now have a "super" tourist class with more leg room for not too much more money. I can't speak to the food, but our daughter flew r/t to Jakarta last year and said it was pretty comfy. And, not to shill too much, EVA was just as good as Singapore Air and half the cost.

Captcha: water download. So much said in so few words.

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About this blog
Richard Gorelick was appointed The Baltimore Sun's restaurant critic in September 2010. Before joining the paper staff fulltime, he contributed freelance criticism and features articles about food to area and regional publications. Along the way, he dispatched for short-distance trucking companies, shilled for cultural non-profits, and assisted in cognitive neurology research – never the subject, always the control.

He takes restaurants seriously but not himself, and his favorite restaurant is the one you love, too.

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