Hinch Travel

Flying High - And Well

When Sydney restaurateur Neil Perry was announced as the new food and wine guru for Qantas I must admit that I thought: what a wank. I mean, I knew that he ran some top-rating restaurants in Sydney – like the Rock Pool – but even good airline food is usually still, airline food. The days of huge plates of Beluga caviar on airlines like Qantas and Varig are long gone.


Which, selfishly, is a shame. I remember one memorable flight from New Yorkto Rio De Janeiro – when I was chasing Great Train Robber Ronnie Biggs. On Varig, the Brazilian-Government owned airline, which must lost a poultice, they served caviar on a huge silver samovar and the beautiful flight attendant ladled it out with a shovel. They also served vodka from a bottle  that had been frozen in ice.


Back to Neil Perry and Qantas. I was wrong. As I write this I am flying (admittedly First Class) from Melbourne to Los Angeles. En route to stay at a wealthy friend’s ponderosa in Malibu, eat a lot of Tex-Mex food, and, not coincidentally, write a movie script.


The Perry-Qantas connection is fantastic. I’ll start with the wines. As one does. It is a stunning wine list…. From the 1996 Lanson Gold Label Brut champagne from Reims in France to the Mesh Riesling from Eden Valley inSouth Australia.


I ignored them. Instead went for a Dominique Portet Fontaine Rose from theYarra Valley.  And then a 2003 Provenance Pinot Noir from GeelongVictoria.


They also feature some Morris Old Premium Muscat and Old Premium Tokay. Which I resisted. In the old days of flying I would finish a meal with a good cognac – or two—and stay 3000 feet above the plane. Not any more. Especially, as I have written in this travel section before, they have real beds in First and Business Class and they give you “jarmies” and big pillows and a doona.


This could probably sit in the Hungry Hinch segment as well as here in the travel segment but I am travelling as I write this. A mate and I used to goHawaii, to Kaua’i, every year. He had much more money than me. He would fly economy. I would fly First Class. When he queried my squandering of so much extra money, I would say: we both work hard, we are both well-paid, my holiday starts the minute I get on that plane. Actually, it starts with a traditional Bloody Mary in the Captain’s  Club before I get on board. Thew only time I ever drink one.


Back to Neil Perry again. He has come up with some classy dishes. I am not a big eater on flights. Not a big eater at all any more. But I had a beautiful light lunch of rock lobster (from Cape Leeuwin in WA) with soy chicken and sliced mango. And then I had the “Assiette of Desserts”. There was “nice cream” -- passionfruit and vanilla with mango sauce. And a small summer berry tartlet. And Tiramisu.


It all worked. The Perry-Qantas marriage is working well. Sky high, you could say.

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