Friday, December 07, 2012

flying with gordon ramsay

Travel is not what it once was.

No headlines there.  But now and then something comes along to remind us of what once was.

Today I ran across two menus and accompanying wine lists from one of my flights from England.  In November 1993 according to the menus.  I suspect it was the return trip after taking a Concorde flight from Portland to London.

Both appear to be dinner menus.  And that is certainly possible.  The flight would have come in two segments -- with a break in Newark.

The courses are enough to inform you the food is from another era.  Before passengers became health-obsessed, and airline executives heard only the voices of their accountants.

Nuts.  Appetizers.  Salad.  Entree.  Fruit and Cheese.  Dessert.  International Coffee.

The type of meal that would be served at LA Tante Claire.  Formerly one of my favorite London eateries.  RIP.

Do you doubt that airplane food could ever be good?  Just listen to the choice of entrees.

Choice center cut of salmon steak grilled to perfection and enhanced by lobster dill butter.

Grilled Lamb.  Tender lamb chops topped with maître d'hôtel butter.

Chicken Forestière. Baked breast of free-range chicken served with a medley of forest mushrooms.

Steamed Maine lobster served chilled on a bed of romaine lettuce.

And that is just the first menu. The other menu offers monkfish, veal, duck, and chicken.

These days, I frequently fly internationally between The States and Mexico.  I have never been offered anything similar to these meals.  At best, I get a salad with some very suspect slices of meat topping it.  Or a sandwich.

I am not certain when airline meals went from memorable dining to forgettable snacks.  However, at some point, I started packing my own meals.  With china, linen, crystal, silverware, and four course meals.

It was my way of entertaining myself on long trips.  On my regular routes, the flight attendants who knew me would bring me special treats from the galley.

Of course, that all ended with the increased security following the Islamic terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, DC.

The first to go was the silverware.  Even though the airline provided me with knives and forks just as lethal.  Then, in what could only be described as insanity, the china and crystal could not make it through security. On the bogus claim they could be used as weapons. 

What was I going to do?  Threaten to smash the Wedgwood or crack the Waterford?  Causing horror amongst my fellow passengers?

My current travel kit consists of two linen napkins, an unbreakable Corelware plate, Carr's water crackers, 3 year old Tillamook extra sharp cheddar cheese, Boar's Head pepperoni, and a sliced honeycrisp apple.

It may not be as classy as my ginger-lime-kumquat chicken over wild rice, but it better reflects our age of lowered expectations.

At least, it frees me from eating another of those questionable sandwiches on my flight to Manzanillo.


John Calypso said...

A Concord flight - I am impressed. Always wanted one - never did it. You DO have a lot of STUFF!

Felipe Zapata said...

John, he was just showing off by mentioning that.

Steve Cotton said...

The Concorde flight was fun. And, yes, I do have a bit of stuff. Or did. Most of it is quickly disappearing.

Steve Cotton said...

To the quick, sir. To the quick.

Andean said...

I grab a sandwich in the Manzanillio airport, really not bad, than in Houston, on my way to my gate I look for BBQ. This works out well...especially a brisket sandwich in TX.

Steve Cotton said...

I usually do not have enough time on the ground to enjoy a meal.

Andean said...

That's true, your usually still in the shower.

John Calypso said...

Felipe - Now you must admit having been a Concorde passenger is a feather in anyone's cap. 'Would like to hear all about it - faster than a speeding bullet.

Steve Cotton said...

I do not like getting to the airport too early. On my last flight up, they were closing the door as I rolled up.

Steve Cotton said...

I found a packet of Concorde material during my cleanup, but I think it is already gone. Perhaps I can resurrect something.

Laurie Matherne said...

I envy the trip by Concorde, sir. I yearn for the days of yesteryear too when airlines offered meals, room to maneuver, and courtesy. I have never travelled by bus in the US, but I suspect that modern airline travelling is very similar to the old Greyhound lines that served our cities in the not so distant past. Not long ago, I was trying to doze a bit when a lady rapped my shoulder from the seats behind me. She did it intentionally in order to rouse me and ask for a pen. I was not particularly kind that day. If we should travel by train together, please bring the champagne and the silver.

Steve Cotton said...

In the 90s, I would board my flights from London with a tin of beluga and a bottle of Dom Perignon. Both needed to be shared with fellow passengers.

DonCuevas said...

Last summer, we had excellent Burger King Whoppers at the GDL airport, at 7:30 a.m. The Volaris flight had nothing but snacks like PufiQuesitos or something. On the other hand the female flight attendants were toothsome.

D.O.M. Cuevas

Steve Cotton said...

I have flown Volaris. And I agree with you. Food -- zero. Attendants -- ten.

DonCuevas said...

Yet another great thing about Mexico.

Don Cuevas

Kim G said...

Ugh!!!! Airline security!!! It's completely inane. While they are aggressively keeping you from carrying on board cups and china, they are not batting a single eye when I take on board a heavy-duty tripod that'd make a nice club, and an umbrella. Now I ask you. Would you rather be attacked with a tripod or a butter knife?

I'm voting for the butter knife.


Kim G
Boston, MA
Where we have taken to telling people that we love being in other locations, but hate traveling.

Shannon Casey said...

I envy you the concord flight, I would have loved to have had that opportunity. I am kind of surprised that you get anything to eat flying to and from Manzanillo. You are lucky to get a package of peanuts on many flights these days.

Steve Cotton said...

Maybe that is why the train is so attractive. No need to subject oneself to the indignities of security street theater.

Steve Cotton said...

The "meal" is always very predictable. But the flight is short enough, my carry-on is sufficient.

Joanna van der Gracht de Rosad said...

I worked as a flight attendant in the 1970s, and your menus look very
familiar. My employer, Canadian Pacific (CP Air) had similar ones and
even in economy class, we used china, crystal and heavy-weight cutlery. I
flew mostly trans-Atlantic and always under the direction of
professional pursers who taught us "young girls" to serve elegantly and
efficiently. Much of what I know about entertaining and putting people at ease, I learned from those charming Continental men

Steve Cotton said...

At some point, price replaced the art of flying with airlines. Message boards will confirm that. The talk is exclusively about who got the most inexpensive deal on a flight from Calgary.