All posts by Jared Baumeister

I am an over-educated, under-employed writer who enjoys travel. I also embody a strong affinity for aviation. Although I reside in Paris, France, I travel frequently throughout Europe and Asia. Follow Jared on Twitter @JSB_ESQ
Caviar

Dining First Class on Lufthansa FRA-JFK

Lufthansa Flight LH 402- FRA-JFK (Seat 83C)

Once I got to the top of the stairs, I was directed to my seat and I began to settle in. I realized quickly that the stewardess had put me in 83H, while I was ticketed in 83C. I brought this to her attention, but she told me there would only be 3 passengers in first class today so I could pretty much sit wherever I liked. Lufthansa is in the process of renovating 10 of their 747-400′s with a new first class product that features a recliner alongside a real twin bed. I had hoped I would get lucky and get one of the redone aircraft, but it was not to be. In the “old” version of Lufthansa’s first class on the 747, there are 16 of the old style blue seats on the upper deck. At one point, Lufthansa used to actually accommodate 16 passengers in a 2 by 2 configuration. Recently they slashed the number of passengers to 8, so while there are 16 chairs, each passenger has 2. 1 to sit in and 1 to sleep in. As there were so few passengers, I now had all 4 seats of row 83 to myself. Row 83 is the exit row on the upper deck and while the pitch in every Lufthansa first class seat is more than reasonable, I had a veritable football field of space in front of me. I opted to sit in 83H and sleep in 83C. We received our menus, amenity kits and Van Lack pull overs. Now that I am a convert to sleeping in airline pajamas, I asked if they had extra PJ’s on board (Lufthansa provides only a pull over, not full PJ’s on their day flights). The stewardess said as they were turning around in EWR and returning to FRA she couldn’t give me any PJ’s and risk not having enough for the return flight. No big deal.

Meal Service

Pre-Departure Beverage

I took a glass of champagne and some water along with the nuts offered before departure

Amuse Bouche

I’m not 100% positive, but I believe the amuse bouche was some sort of trout terrine. It was fairly good.

Caviar

Standard caviar. Surprisingly no extra was offered, would have expected due to the light loads they would have made a second sweep.

Choice of Hors D’oeuvres

Tart and Medallion of Lobster with Pea and Mint Puree

Crepe coated Filet of Rabbit Provencal Style

Goat Cream Cheese on marinated Beetroot with Walnuts

Soup

The Escargot Soup Baden Style was a real winner. I didn’t expect to like this dish, but it was really fantastic.

Main Course

Being an avid flyertalk reader, I had heard about the “Lufthansa Classics” Roast Goose with Red Cabbage and Potato Dumplings that is served around Christmas. Of course I had to try it. A very nice dish. Some of the goose was a bit fatty, but on the whole, thumbs up.

Dessert

Variations on Mocha

After this onslaught of food it was time for an intermission. I watched “Crazy Stupid Love,” which was better than expected. An acceptable way to kill two hours aloft for sure. Towards the end of the movie, I asked that seat 83C be made up as my bed so I could try to get a few hours of sleep before they woke me to stuff me with food once again. I would like to address some knocks on Lufthansa…yes the IFE screens are small and not up to current generation standards, but this has never particularly bothered me and although the seats are not the newest products in the air, I always find that I am able to get excellent sleep when flying with Lufthansa.

End of intermission…Round 2

The Germans are relentless, they constantly stuff you with food and drink from the time you enter the lounge until you get off the plane. I think I managed to turn down the chocolates they brought around after dessert when the first meal service concluded, but an hour from touch down in Newark, they were at it again.

Rose in holster means mealtime

A second menu was brought around showing a variety of dishes both hot and cold. I had a few questions on how exactly the ordering worked, and as much of the menu was in German…what exactly I was getting.

Pre-Arrival Meal

Main

For my second meal, I had Veal Meatballs which came with a potato pancake and a side of potato salad. Like all the other food offered on this flight, it was outstanding. I thought we were done, but again, I had underestimated Lufthansa…there was more.

Dessert…again

I had the Mulled Wine Mouse and I believe the jam sandwich and vanilla crescent cookies. Again, excellent.

To avoid succumbing to a food coma, I ordered a double espresso in hopes of pepping myself up before arrival, and as you can see, the cabin crew couldn’t help but jam a chocolate Santa Clause on the side. After the coffee they made another pass with the box of chocolates, but I was able to restrain myself.

I can’t remember the last time I flew on the upper deck of a 747, so the approach and landing were very cool for me. The crew was excellent on this flight and the food was perhaps the best I have ever had on a plane. I managed a few hours of sleep and watched a decent movie. It was really just an excellent, excellent flight. We got to the gate, I made for immigration, I grabbed my bags, met my family and vowed not to eat again until Christmas. Thank you Lufthansa!

Golden Hind

Golden Hind @ Fish and Chips in London

Fish & Chips are to the English what Hamburgers are to Americans. It goes without saying, that there are countless places to get your fix when in London. Not surprisingly, at least half of the tens of thousands of chip shops in London proclaim theirs to be “famous” or “the best.” Shocking as it may be, this is hyperbole. The Golden Hind, an unassuming, beat-up little restaurant located on a quiet street doesn’t need bluster and false bravado, they have the real thing. While a variety of types of fish (including Cod, which is popular in fish & chips) are on order both fried or steamed, you want to have the fried haddock. Their chips aren’t worldbeaters, but given the quality of the fish, which is purchased fresh daily, you’ll forgive them.

The Golden Hind

73 Marylebone Lane

London, W1U 2PM

Nearest Metro: Bond Street

P: + 020 7486 3644

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The Ledbury: Underrated at 2-Michelin Stars

While I have not had the pleasure of visiting either of Heston Blumenthal’s London area eateries, I have had more than my fair share of fine dining experiences in the English Capital. With this in mind, it is not lightly that I say that I consider The Ledbury the best meal I have ever had in London.

Australian Chef Brett Graham has more than earned his 2 Michelin stars, but the inventive and delicious cuisine may be criminally undervalued at 2 rather than 3 stars.

The dining experience begins with two amuse bouche, both of which were fantastic. From there, our party tried the “Lasagne of Rabbit with Girolle Puree and a Veloute of Toasted Hay,” as well as the “Chantilly of Colchester Oysters with a Tartare of Scallop and Oyster , Horseradish and Dill.” Both were excellent, and the starters were some of the more flavorful dishes I have ever had.

For our main courses, we selected the “Shoulder of Pyrenean Milk Fed Lamb with Crushed Jerusalem Artichoke and Rosemary” and the “Cheek and Jowel of Pork with Black Pudding, Young Carrots and Spiced Cream.” Again, the dishes were top notch. The lamb was tender and could be cut with a fork.

Following the main courses another gift from the chef appeared before dessert. If I must nitpick, then the only part of the meal that failed to exceed expectations was the dessert. We sampled the “Pave of Chocolate with Milk Puree an Lovage Ice Cream,” as well as the “Passion Fruit Souffle.” I can’t hold the souffle against The Ledbury, as I don’t particularly care for souffle’s or passion fruit. The chocolate dish was a bit too rich for my tastes, but again, this is more a personal issue than any fault of the restaurant’s.

Given the quality of the cuisine, dinner is a fairly reasonable proposition at a fixed 75 pounds for three courses. The trouble however is finding a reservation, as the restaurant is perennially booked. Plan well in advance or make nice with your concierge.

The Ledbury

127 Ledbury Road

London, W11 2AQ

P: + 44 (0)20 7792 9090

W: www.TheLedbury.com

Main

Dining in First Class Across the Atlantic on British Airways

“What’s the deal with airplane food?” Stow it Seinfeld. While the quality of the cuisine on airliners has been a running joke since air travel’s precipitous fall from the grace of it’s 1960’s glory days to the slipshod post-deregulation fiasco we enjoy today, don’t think you can’t eat well at 35,000 feet.

Certainly, you should not expect Michelin starred cuisine while aloft, and if you’re traveling in the back of the plane you probably shouldn’t expect anything better than a TV dinner. However, airlines still need to make the customers flying up front feel special. With ticket prices for long-haul first class tickets often running between $7,000 and $15,000 for a roundtrip, the powers that be know that they need to keep the vintage Dom flowing and the caviar portions healthy if they hope to continue to separate people from their money.

TPTL. In some obnoxious frequent flier circles, this acronym stands for “The Pleasure of Turning Left.” This is a phenomenon germane to the 747 and other aircraft with similar boarding door locations. The meaning behind the term of course, is that once first class passengers breach the threshold, they turn left towards their seats in the land of champagne and comfort, while the rest of us must turn right and make for the back of the bus.

As I was turning left on this particular occasion, I was escorted to my seat, 1A, in the nose of the BA 747-400. Seats 1A and 1K are directly in the nose of the 747. The cockpit is above and behind the first class section on the 747, and as 1K was unoccupied, I would be arriving in London before the rest of the plane.

After handing out slippers, pajamas (yes, many airlines give you airline branded pajamas to take home in first class) and our amenity kits, the cabin staff came around to take pre-departure beverage orders. Although there was an extensive list of vintage whites and reds, I opted for a glass of Laurent-Perrier Grand Siecle Champagne and a glass of water.


Along with the pre-departure beverage, BA offers a small bowl of warm nuts. A quality mix of both savory and sweet varieties.

Once the aircraft reaches its cruising altitude and the seat belt lights click off, the meal service begins in earnest. As I mentioned, there is an extensive alcohol list for first class passengers to choose from, aperitifs, whites, reds, champagne, single malt, digestifs, etc…If you were looking to get thoroughly inebriated over the Atlantic, this wouldn’t be the worst place to make a go of it.

BA cabin staff present the first class passengers with menus and separate wine lists. The menu contains a number of options for each course for the dinner and morning breakfast service, as well as a bistro menu should you get hungry between meals. All dining is at the passenger’s leisure. You order what you like, when you want it.

The purser appeared over my right should and the meal service began. To start, an Amuse Bouche. This dish was composed of squash, a single prawn and a bland sauce that added little. It was a miss.

As I had a bit of a scratchy throat, I took the Chicken Consommé next. The soup was a bit salty, but very tasty and the dumplings were excellent. Definitely a cut above the average soup you would fine at your local restaurant and one of the highlights of this particular meal service.

After the soup, my proper starter was the “Trio of Salmon.” Aside from the balik-style salmon, the other offerings seemed poorly thought out and resembled canned tuna more than quality pieces of salmon.

By the time the main course arrived I was stuffed. I had the Seared Sea Bass with Celeriac Puree and Baby Spring Vegetables with Italian Salsa Verde. While this dish was rather well done, and the sea bass was on par with many sea bass dishes I have had in fine dining restaurants in the past, I was simply too full to continue.

Before I could call off the dogs and end the service, the purser again caught me by surprise and brought a Mixed Berry Chocolate Gateau for dessert. I managed to take a bite of it.

Should one have the stomach to continue on after this glut of food, there was also a cheese and fruit course on offer, the on-demand bistro menu and of course the morning breakfast service pre-arrival.

Stuffed with champagne and surprisingly good airplane chow, I begged off the purser’s request that I take some cheese or another dessert or at least have some Whisky. Instead, I watched a mediocre movie and slept until landing. I knew there would be a complimentary full English breakfast waiting for me in the dining room at BA’s flagship “Concorde Room” lounge at Heathrow.

747-400

Dining in First Class Across the Atlantic on British Airways

“What’s the deal with airplane food?” Stow it Seinfeld. While the quality of the cuisine on airliners has been a running joke since air travel’s precipitous fall from the grace of it’s 1960’s glory days to the slipshod post-deregulation fiasco we enjoy today, don’t think you can’t eat well at 35,000 feet.

Certainly, you should not expect Michelin starred cuisine while aloft, and if you’re traveling in the back of the plane you probably shouldn’t expect anything better than a TV dinner. However, airlines still need to make the customers flying up front feel special. With ticket prices for long-haul first class tickets often running between $7,000 and $15,000 for a roundtrip, the powers that be know that they need to keep the vintage Dom flowing and the caviar portions healthy if they hope to continue to separate people from their money.

I recently sampled the first class cuisine on a British Airways flight from New York’s JFK International to Heathrow. Even though I paid for my seat with miles, rather than the thousands of dollars my fellow travelers ponied up, I was fed just as well.

TPTL. In some obnoxious frequent flier circles, this acronym stands for “The Pleasure of Turning Left.” This is a phenomenon germane to the 747 and other aircraft with similar boarding door locations. The meaning behind the term of course, is that once first class passengers breach the threshold, they turn left towards their seats in the land of champagne and comfort, while the rest of us must turn right and make for the back of the bus.

As I was turning left on this particular occasion, I was escorted to my seat, 1A, in the nose of the BA 747-400. Seats 1A and 1K are directly in the nose of the 747. The cockpit is above and behind the first class section on the 747, and as 1K was unoccupied, I would be arriving in London before the rest of the plane.

After handing out slippers, pajamas (yes, many airlines give you airline branded pajamas to take home in first class) and our amenity kits, the cabin staff came around to take pre-departure beverage orders. Although there was an extensive list of vintage whites and reds, I opted for a glass of Laurent-Perrier Grand Siecle Champagne and a glass of water.


Along with the pre-departure beverage, BA offers a small bowl of warm nuts. A quality mix of both savory and sweet varieties.

Once the aircraft reaches its cruising altitude and the seat belt lights click off, the meal service begins in earnest. As I mentioned, there is an extensive alcohol list for first class passengers to choose from, aperitifs, whites, reds, champagne, single malt, digestifs, etc…If you were looking to get thoroughly inebriated over the Atlantic, this wouldn’t be the worst place to make a go of it.

BA cabin staff present the first class passengers with menus and separate wine lists. The menu contains a number of options for each course for the dinner and morning breakfast service, as well as a bistro menu should you get hungry between meals. All dining is at the passenger’s leisure. You order what you like, when you want it.

The purser appeared over my right should and the meal service began. To start, an Amuse Bouche. This dish was composed of squash, a single prawn and a bland sauce that added little. It was a miss.

As I had a bit of a scratchy throat, I took the Chicken Consommé next. The soup was a bit salty, but very tasty and the dumplings were excellent. Definitely a cut above the average soup you would fine at your local restaurant and one of the highlights of this particular meal service.

After the soup, my proper starter was the “Trio of Salmon.” Aside from the balik-style salmon, the other offerings seemed poorly thought out and resembled canned tuna more than quality pieces of salmon.

By the time the main course arrived I was stuffed. I had the Seared Sea Bass with Celeriac Puree and Baby Spring Vegetables with Italian Salsa Verde. While this dish was rather well done, and the sea bass was on par with many sea bass dishes I have had in fine dining restaurants in the past, I was simply too full to continue.

Before I could call off the dogs and end the service, the purser again caught me by surprise and brought a Mixed Berry Chocolate Gateau for dessert. I managed to take a bite of it.

Should one have the stomach to continue on after this glut of food, there was also a cheese and fruit course on offer, the on-demand bistro menu and of course the morning breakfast service pre-arrival.

Stuffed with champagne and surprisingly good airplane chow, I begged off the purser’s request that I take some cheese or another dessert or at least have some Whisky. Instead, I watched a mediocre movie and slept until landing. I knew there would be a complimentary full English breakfast waiting for me in the dining room at BA’s flagship “Concorde Room” lounge at Heathrow.