From The Daily Meal comes an insightful look at those airlines that are giving airplane food an epicurean transformation. From the best French toast you will ever eat to a wine selection that changes bi-monthly, the all things food and drink website’s ranking of the Best Airlines for First Class Food contains delicacies and culinary feats that are rarely associated with flying above 30,000 feet. While top chefs Joel Robuchon, Heston Blumenthal, Gordon Ramsay, and Neil Perry are some of the famous names working with airline kitchens these days, the list makes it all too clear how far behind US carriers are when it comes to sky high food and drink. Here are the top five. Check out The Daily Meal for the complete list.
1. Etihad Airways: From the anytime snack-and-sandwich kitchen to the chef’s signature dishes on the Taste of Arabia menu and the extensive tea selection (rose with French vanilla or Arabian mint and honey), Etihad’s first-class offerings cater to all of your culinary whims. But it’s the ability for passengers to customize meals from The Grille menu with sides like mixed garden vegetables and Mediterranean ratatouille and sauces including veal jus, herb cream, and Café de Paris butter that remind you just how one-of-a-kind Etihad’s in-flight dining experience really is. If that’s not enough, they also have a chef on board whose job it is to explain menus and make sure that each guest has the best dining experience possible.
2. Singapore Airlines: Singapore Airlines is known for immersing first-class passengers in the traditions and tastes of Asian cuisines; take their baked Chilean bass in Oriental XO sauce with mixed vegetables and fried rice as well as braised beef short ribs in Chinese wine and five-spice with mixed vegetables and egg noodles as examples. The pecan-crusted veal with red onion marmalade and candied sweet potatoes paired with vintage Dom Perignon is a nontraditional delight, however, for those who may want something a little more familiar. But whatever your entrée selection (passengers can select their meals ahead of time if they wish), it’s Singapore Airlines desserts, like raspberry tiramisu, that bring the travel experience to heavenly heights.
3. Emirates: The essence of the United Arab Emirates cuisine is evident in the regional and seasonal ingredients used in the seven-course first-class lunches and dinners. The meals include the passengers’ choice of three hors d’oeuvres; soup; salad; at least four entrée options; two desserts along with five types of cheese, served with port; fresh seasonal fruit; and freshly brewed coffee, a selection of teas and liqueurs, and friandises. It’s appetizers like thin-sliced tangerine-marinated smoked chicken breast, served on lentil salad with za’atar dressing and a glass of Dow’s Vintage Port 1985 that transport you. Guests are also provided with bone china tableware, fine linens, and flowers.
4.Thai Airways: Timeless traditions are at the core of Thai Airways’ Royal First Class menu, which is evident in dishes like Prawn Chu-Chee, a traditional Thai dish made with prawns, chiles, coconut milk, fish sauce, and Kaffir limes. With almost 40 dishes on their menu, Thai Airway’s advanced-order service caters to even the most innovative individual preferences. Not to mention that Royal First Class passengers are welcomed on board with a glass of Dom Perignon or Bollinger champagne, served in crystal glasses of course. In addition, the premium bar service includes aged whiskies, Napoleon brandies, and a full range of ports and liqueurs.
5. Swiss Airlines: Swiss Airlines’ Taste of Switzerland program was designed to highlight different regions of the country on flights throughout the year. Until September 2013, first-class passengers will enjoy meals inspired by the cuisine of Canton Nidwalden, featuring dishes such as beef tenderloin with ofetori, Nidwalden-style mashed potatoes made with veal bacon and cheese. First-class meals are also complemented by regional wines, and of course, no Swiss meal would be complete without a selection of local cheese.