I don’t know whether it’s me but I always find the meals coming out of British Airways Terminal 5 in London so much better than those on the return leg. Am I biased or have they nailed the catering at Heathrow Airport? For a long-haul flight, I’ll always try and save the extra cash to enjoy the benefits of the Club World (Business) cabin. I don’t think First Class is worth the extra money, you get treated like Royalty in CW, and I know because I’ve experienced both.
Before you book your seats, always check out specific seating options on SeatGuru. You’ll need your flight date and airline details, whether you fly with British Airways or not. A community of flyers add specific details to the site through message boards, and plane configuration helps to let you know if you’ll be near a galley, near a potentially banging door or a bulkhead. It’s a great resource whichever class you fly and has helped me pick the best seat on lots of trips.
Back to our flight on a BA 747-400 with upstairs seats, in the bubble. I didn’t get a chance to check these out because they were all booked but there are plenty of comments on SG.
Our seats on the outbound were very comfortable and my birthday trip began with a glass of champagne before I’d managed to sit down and a chance to catch up with Ronan and his new wife.
After take off, out came the full bar and my favourite rose Champagne. The Champagne de Castelnau Brut Rose is an award-winner with a beautiful salmon pink colour. It’s super dry and smells of red fruits. Two glasses of this and I was ready for food. Feet up. Movie on, even Scarlett approved.
A morning flight meant lunch was served just before noon. We’d taken advantage of the Lounge, but I didn’t have more than a cup of coffee and browsed through the papers so it was welcome.
With all Club World flights, passengers are offered a menu with a full explanation of what’s on offer for the entire trip. You’ll be asked what you want for your main course and there’s usually a selection of four.
The starter was superb. A sweet pea pannacotta was of restaurant quality, richly sweet and light, but sadly there was only one plate of it. A fresh plate of green salad is served with a simple vinaigrette.
I chose the slow-braised Herefordshire beef cheek with a cheese-ridden gratin and baby shallots and gingered carrots. Now it wasn’t the three glasses of champagne that had me thinking this was one of the best airline meals I’ve ever eaten. It was. Period.
The dessert wasn’t too shabby either I chose the oven-baked vanilla custard on a sweet pastry with cherry jelly. Superb. Often these desserts are gelatin-laden, and this had just the right amount of ‘wobble’.
I swerved the coffee and chocolates and settled down to a film. My window seat meant that I did have to climb over the passenger’s feet to my right as he decided to have a snooze. It’s a bit of a party trick to try and not bash the extended foot rest if you need to use the facilities or fancy a walk around the cabin.
Next thing I remember the Twinings Tea Room had opened and it was time for Afternoon Tea.
Antipasti, whilst an option, is not afternoon tea, so I chose the individual sandwiches. Red Leicester and pickle, truffled chicken and coleslaw and the ubiquitous smoked salmon.
I didn’t manage the macaron, Madeira cake or eclair.
The return food I’m afraid isn’t worth the time it takes to write and post. Needless to say, the outbound journey entirely made up for it.
What’s your experience of airline food?
Too much time spent choosing what to eat and drink could mean less time watching baseball. There are six levels offering everything you want but didn’t really know you did, as well as the unexpected. Here are a few offerings in the food and drink department at the Yankee Stadium. Bring your appetite, my friends, because this is a marathon and not a sprint.
Prime Steak comes from this Madison Avenue family butchers shop which has been operating in New York since 1840. Carved medium rare before your very eyes the trick is to stop the server from filling the soft bun full to bursting. Ask for the gravy; it’s worth it and the price tag. You won’t need a knife or a fork this is messy, just make sure you get plenty of napkins and don’t wear white.
Applewood Smoked Bacon
Bacon on a stick anyone? Yep, it’s a thing. A thick bacon rasher is threaded on a stick and drizzled with a sauce of your choice.
Chicken and Waffles
What’s not to love about these branded waffle sliders? The waffles are light and fluffy if a little sweet but served with well-seasoned breadcrumb chicken which is deep-fried and traditionally smothered in hot sauce this is a satisfying comfort dish.
Tape measure Cheesesteak
It’s 24 inches and is built to share. A cheesesteak is known under many names in the States from the Philly or Philadelphia cheesesteak to steak and cheese. It hails from Philadelphia in the state of Pennsylvania and is a steak roll. At the Yankees Stadium, Carl’s Steak is the Tape Measure. It comes topped with a choice of white American Cheese or Cheez Whiz, a thick orange cheese sauce with ‘cheese cultures’ as an ingredient. Served on a sub roll with peppers and onions. This three-hander is for sharing, and I guess it should be at $27 and 1795 calories.
While these skin-on fries look unassuming, they’ve enough garlic on them to ward away evil spirits and probably personal conversations for days to come. Minced garlic and parsley is scattered on deep-fried potatoes and served in a plastic Yankees helmet which is yours to take away if you so wish. Just be careful washing it as the Yankees logo may rub off if you get too excited about cleanliness. Add cheese and sauce for the full experience.
If you’ve got a thing for Cheetos in the US, you’ll freak over the popcorn. Not only will it stain your thumb and forefingers a chemically induced orange, but the fake cheese flavour will also have you dipping in for more. Popcorn and sticks of original Cheetos mix work in perfect harmony together in a bag large enough to share.
Raw fish at a baseball game? Choose from Bronx, New York, Tanaka Roll and of course The Yankee platter, complete with flag.
Linda’s Egg Cream
For the uninitiated, an Egg Cream is a classic New York drink similar to an ice cream soda or float and made with chilled milk, a little fizzy water and chocolate, vanilla or coffee syrup. Linda’s claims to make the best Brooklyn Style Egg creams in New York. The trick is to whip up the mixture without disturbing the frothy head. A real skill mastered with a plastic straw.
Europeans know it as Candy Floss, but whatever you call it, this is sugar, colouring and corn syrup heated and spun onto a stick. Here in the Yankee Stadium, it’s sold from the vendor’s head. Note: not everyone can carry this look off.
Goose Island IPA
Goose Island hails from Chicago and began life in the Clybourn Brewpub in 1988, which it still operates. Hoppy with plenty of citrus notes, a great IPA to drink in the steaming heat. Only served in Yankee logo US pint cups.
Expect hot dogs, Kosher and otherwise, gluten free stalls and soup. I’d like to say soup for the winter but the Yankees don’t play when it gets cold enough for soup.
It’s the law in New York to list the calories on every product, but don’t let that put you off indulging. If you’re feeling virtuous, head straight for the Farmers Market but is that as much fun as a bag of Cheetos Popcorn? I don’t think so.
I love social media. Mr is consistently condemning it as a waste of time, but he doesn’t get it. I do. And I’m glad I do because that’s how I met Eric Korsh; Virtually, via Instagram (@ekorshie & @holdtheanchoviesplease). For those who don’t know what this is, it’s an application that allows you to post pictures of anything you like; mine’s mostly food and lovely buildings or places I’m visiting. If fellow Instagrammers like what you post they follow you and likewise.Eric is a chef. A bloody good one and runs the kitchen at Danny Meyer’s North End Grill. I threatened to visit some time ago and made that threat very real when I booked tickets to New York for my birthday in August. Little did I know I’d visit when the place was in the middle of a heatwave, so booking to visit a restaurant with an open kitchen where mesquite charcoal and white oak fires up Josper ovens and wood grills was probably not the best idea I’ve ever had. Thankfully it’s air-conditioned.
NEG is inside the swanky Conrad, located in the heart of Battery Park City, close to the World Trade Center Memorial and Eric brings a little French sophistication to a grill menu. It’s also a non-tipping restaurant which means service is included in the price of your food, quite a rarity for the City.
There’s a raw bar features some fabulous options including iced oysters ($4/each) from the waters around Massachusetts; Crowes Pasture and Peter’s Point, which turned out to be a smaller, sweeter offering. Served with a simple chilli jam and a classic Mignonette.
The oyster brine was divine, and I could imagine it enhancing a Gin and Vermouth mix to make the perfect Martini.
Little neck clams (£3/each), head-on prawns ($6 each, half lobster ($20) and a Plateau of Fruit de Mers (12 Oysters, 12 Clams, Half Lobster and Salmon Belly Ceviche) $134.
Appetisers included Zucchini (courgette) carpaccio ($15), Beef Carpaccio ($21), Zebra tomatoes from the Hotel’s rooftop ($15) and Lettuces with Feta, green onion and a dill vinaigrette ($18). Not a fan of cold soup, the white gazpacho was grape-based and within it sat a quenelle of beautifully fresh cucumber sorbet, a sprinkle of Spanish Marcona almonds finished this excellent starter ($18).
Another winner was a cold pork terrine. A clean, well-flavoured jelly surrounded a rustic, pistachio-studded meat. It came with pickled red cauliflower, sweet baby cornichons and a couple of mustards, along with an angled slice of grilled sourdough.
Now, the sourdough is worth a blog on its own. It had just the right amount of sour notes with a great malted treacle crust, utterly dangerous with the slightly salted butter.
The hero of the meal had to be the dry-aged strip steak with charred spring onions, rosemary and garlic. Cooked on an open grill, perfectly charred on the outside and medium rare within.
Expect duck breast and rosti potato ($45), Berkshire Tomahawk Pork Chop ($57), a short-rib burger ($29) and a coal-roasted half chicken ($34).
In the seafood and vegetable section, there are a couple of pizzas ($26) Hake ($39), Artic Char ($43), Turbot ($45), Skate ($32) and a Sheep’s Milk Ricotta Gnocchi ($36).
There are choices of snacks, charcuterie (expect French bistro classics), cheese (which includes American, French and Swiss) and sides including Summer Succotash with pickled peppers ($16) which were beautifully vibrant and full of sweet and sour flavours.
Drinks included cocktails, this the Emerald City with Gin, Cucumber, Basil and Lime ($18).
And soft cocktails, an excellent wine list, including those by the glass, and a varied selection of New York draft and bottled beer.
If there were a dessert menu, and I’m sure there is, we were too full even to begin to read it.
Stumptown Coffee is by far one of the best roasters in New York, and they have a station in NEG dedicated to the art of coffee-making.
I loved everything about the evening; meeting Eric was a huge honour, but the food, the relaxed atmosphere and the service were all brilliant. I’ll be recommending it, and I know Mr definitely will.
North End Grill,104 North End Ave, New York, NY 10282
It’s 93 degrees outside, and I’m literally melting, but there’s one place where there’s a guaranteed chill, Christmas and City in Little Italy, New York City. A pretty unassuming building front in the heart of a district known as Little Italy, except for the fact it’s painted red and has huge fir swags covering it. There are hundreds and thousands of decorations dedicated to Christmas. It’s probably easier if I share with you pictures of some of the decorations on sale here to give you an idea of the scope of ornaments on offer.
Even the 9/11 Memorial has been hand blown in glass.
The Rockettes from Radio City Music Hall.
And quite a few Irish decorations.
Cartoon characters and children’s TV favourites.
A section dedicated to The Wizard of Oz.
A section of Mermen and Mermaids.
And the more traditional Christmas scene.
Christmas and City is open 365 days a year.
122 Mulberry Street, New York, NY 10013
It’s open from 10am to 9pm on Monday to Thursday
10am to Midnight on Friday and Saturday
11am to 7pm on Sunday.
It’s about time the afternoon tea got kicked into the twenty-first century, and while there’s always a place for loose leaf, speciality teas, there’s also a place for one that’s alcohol-fuelled too. There are a few places around the UK, and a handful in London who are offering fizz and gin but some do it better than others.
Take Mr Fogg’s Tavern in Covent Garden. Their afternoon tea experience is one of immersion into the fantasy world of Phileas Fogg, the traveller and explorer. The site that straddles New Row and St Martin’s Lane was once the home of Gertrude Fogg.
When she died, she bequeathed her home to Phileas. Her Will stipulated that her life-long housekeeper, Fanny McGee could set up a tavern for her friends and professional acquaintances downstairs while Mr Fogg made upstairs his very own Gin Parlour, and it’s here his collection of more than 300 bottles are.
The experience, and it is an experience, begins when you arrive. An invitation to attend the upstairs parlour is given, and a bell sounded.
Next, you’re taken through to the Parlour where you take your seats, we had a chaise longue each, and learned about two different types of gin. The first was an Old Tom style gin, Jensen’s and the other New World and Martin Miller’s.
The afternoon tea menu is compiled by ‘Passepartout’, Phileas’ French Valet, and the household staff. If you’re feeling brave, you can order the bottomless teapot of gin or champagne. We weren’t and after our welcome gin, we were ready for some food. We chose Mr Fogg’s Afternoon Par-Tea-Pot made with Jasmine Green Tea, Tanqueray London Dry Gin, Pineapple Syrup and Lemon & Orange Bitters.
Then the afternoon tea arrived.
A selection of finger sandwiches and a couple of pastry-less quiches, two scones, one fruit and one plain, with strawberry jam and cream, two lemon posset and shortbread, along with chocolate and raspberry sponge cakes.
A couple of fruit meringues and banoffee tarts topped the final tier.
Bite-sized champagne jellies helped to cleanse the palate between courses.
Each tea lasts for two hours, and we finished ours at 4pm.
Be sure to pace yourself, those stairs seem deeper and narrower on the way down!
Make a reservation for the Tipsy Tea here.
Mr Fogg’s Gin Parlour is at 1 New Row, London, WC2N 4EA
What’s the best afternoon tea you’ve experienced?
Harrods have opened Christmas World, a whole 24 days earlier than last year. The entire range will be in store by the 28th August, but I went along to see what you can pick up now.
The famous luxury Department store is the third biggest tourist attraction in the capital, and hundreds of thousands of people flock here each year to wander it’s seven floors. At the beginning of August their anticipated Christmas shop opens. On the Hans Road side of the Knightsbridge store, it’s housed in the Harrods Gift Shop and the Buckingham Palace Collection. I’m specific here because I asked both the security guard on the ground floor entrance and a sales assistant in the kitchenware department on the second floor and they didn’t know. I do. I’ve been and you must. Here’s a map from Harrods’ online site.
Bears have a strong connection with the store which goes back to 1921 when a Winnie the Pooh bear was bought at Harrods by Christopher Robin’s Mother. In 1986, the first Harrods Christmas Bear was sold, and the tradition continues. Collectors from all over the world descend on the store when they go on sale.
Hugh the 2016 Christmas Bear is the star of this year’s show and takes up a commanding position at the front of the Shop. A smaller version is £24.95 with 2016 sewn onto the poor chap’s left paw. If money or space is no object, then the huge Hugh can be yours of £1,200.
The collectors 30th Anniversary Plates are £24.95 and the Mug £16.95.
The ‘My First’ Christmas range includes a white stocking £19.95, a 2016 Bear Decoration £14.95, 2016 Bear on a Bauble £9.95, 2016 White Crown Bauble £9.95 and a set of 3 silver decorations £14.95 and the snowglobe, £24.95.
The ‘My First’ range includes a puppy, a teddy and a kitten all at £14.95.
For the tourist, there’s plenty of suitcase-friendly souvenirs, great for their own Christmas Tree and all at £7.95.
So apart from baubles what else can you dangle from your non-drop Nordmann Fir?
Gold Glitter Harrods Bag £9.95
Glitter Present Decoration £9.95
Glass blown Harrods store £9.95
Hand finished decorations for the Christmas decoration connoisseur.
Bear in Bell Decoration £9.95
Set of four teddies decorations £14.95
Set of three bears £19.95
Snowglobes, with the Harrods Westie wearing a Santa hat.
Festive Westie toys are £12.95.
As well as Christmas decorations the store also has a small range of their Christmas tins which include teas, hot chocolate, biscuits, chocolate and jam.
The Advent Calendar is simple, and while there’s a star pointer to determine the date, there’s room for a small treat as well, £19.95.
In November, Christmas ramps up, and the store will launch with the fashion house Burberry, and it will be the first time they’ve teamed up with a brand for the festive campaign. We do know it’s called ‘A Very British Fairy Tale’ and will follow two children on an adventure through a snow-swept English country house, complete with flying cars, floating bathtubs and secret passageways. Expect the Burberry plaid to feature as it takes over the store’s Christmas tree and windows on Brompton Road.
And, if you want to meet Santa in-store this year, don’t forget to register ahead of its opening on the 4th November. Bookings start on Monday 19th September 2016. All customers registered to Harrods Rewards by Sunday 28th August will receive priority booking based on their Rewards tier and will be eligible to book their tickets first before.