Over the weekend, Qantas, the Australian airline with the kangaroo logo, launched a direct flight from San Francisco to Melbourne. As of Sept. 1, anyone can fly nonstop to the Australian city that has all of San Francisco’s favorite things to do, but with koalas.
San Francisco and Melbourne’s mutual love of good food isn’t lost on the airline, which serves gourmet meals to passengers who are already more comfortable than usual. (These planes are fancy new Boeing 787s, aka Dreamliners, which reduce jet lag. They’re also equipped with human-sized seats, rather than those iron maidens they forgot to fill with spikes.)
Even though I’m a travel writer, I’m not the world’s most comfortable flier, which is a testament to how much I love to travel, and meal quality makes a big difference to me.
Sitting in business class, where the best food is served, has an even bigger impact on my comfort. Following a delightful visit to Darwin and the nearby national parks in the Northern Territory, I had the opportunity to get a sneak-peek of what this new San Francisco-Melbourne (and vice versa) route would be, with the indulgent bonus of a seat in business class.
First, Qantas’ biz class hands out comfy pajamas before the 15-hour overnight flight takes off, so you don’t have to endure the constricting bra you wore for some stupid reason. I blame society. Knowing the advanced palates of both cities, the food piqued my curiosity, and I knew it had to be good. Australia is where they invented avocado toast, after all.
The flight attendants in my section knew I was reviewing the food and drink service, but not that I have to be sedated to fly, and were quite insistent that I sample everything so I could provide a thorough review. To no one’s surprise, I was not disappointed. And to no one’s surprise but my own — and with apologies to Qantas — I accidentally reviewed the food while drunk. Again. Mixing anxiety medication and alcohol, even premium wine, amplifies the effects of each. And one of the effects is amnesia, so it’s a good thing I took notes:
“Staff sommelier trains flight crew. Wine program changes quarterly and is available to economy passengers for free.” I actually thought this was pretty cool! Wine-knowledgeable flight crew that everyone gets to interact with? Not bad.
“Adelaide area is the traditional wine region, but Western Australia is up-and-coming. I’m drinking a Cabernet blend from W. Australia.” A much-needed FYI.
Corn chowder was spectacular, especially when dipped with warm bread, which absorbed it perfectly. Light flavor with a hearty texture and hints of basil that added a fresh pop.
Dessert was a Danish-type thing, strawberry center with cream on top. Flaky, flavorful with the strawberry but not overwhelming. The cream balanced out the sticky texture. Addition of Häagen-Dazs ice cream is a crowd-pleaser.
Salmon entree: crispy, light, flavors balance well with bean blanket thing it’s on.
Steak sandwich: unreal, the balsamic packs a memorable punch. Wish I was hungrier.
Noodle dish: great and gets you stoked on switching hemispheres.
Chicken thing was my least favorite because it’s cold, though it’s technically a salad. I don’t like salads, so…
Easy to overdo it for the wine. Yes, I asked for a tasting sample, but I also took two Klonopin and I’ll just say I’m having a great flight. The massage chair is keeping me centered, and while I don’t know what’s going on in the new Blade Runner, I enjoy seeing Ryan Gosling’s face.
Later: “I don’t think I can drink all this wine. Fortunately Business Class seems unperturbed by not finishing meals, but I alway figured alcohol was the exception. Unless they want me going Kristen Wiig in here, I better chill out. I could switch seats until they catch me. It’d be nice to trade spots with a mom who has a baby. Doesn’t she deserve it more?”
My sober thoughts are that the food was hearty and the wine was deliciously potent, but most of all it made an incredibly long flight genuinely enjoyable. With increased travel between Melbourne and San Francisco, this is a great way to spend the trip. As long as you don’t drink too much.