Carbon Debit's roving reportage on Airline food and lounges

A friend of mine, let's call her "Carbon Debit"(self nominated name) due to the amount of time she spends flying knows that I am a little obsessed with food. To aid in my obsession, she has sent me pictures of the food she has found at Airline lounges around the world and food from the various places that she has visited (in the air and on the ground). I share with you her photos.

I must say, although the selection is small the food is much better looking than I thought it would be but as I am a less frequent flyer averaging one overseas trip a year, sadly I fear that I will miss out on this bounty so its strictly voyeurism for me. Thanks Carbon Debit!

QF51 (Singapore to Brisbane Business Class)

Flying from QF51 BNE-SIN (Brisbane to Singapore) in business class, she received:

QF51 BNE-SIN entree

_Entree QF51 BNE-SIN (Brisbane to Singapore). Roast chicken salad with tonnato dressing


QF51 BNE-SIN main

Main QF51 BNE-SIN (Brisbane to Singapore) Beef fillet with red wine jus, glazed carrots and steamed asparagus. Green leaf salad with herb vinaigrette (not pictured).

QF29, Melbourne to London Business Class

Qantas business class and first class meals are designed by Neil Perry, although it always has to be remembered that there is a limitation to in-flight cuisine - for one thing, water boils at higher altitude at a lower temperature than it does at sea level!

Anyway, as always, it was time for food shortly after take-off, this time a supper.

The selections for the main were:

  • Seared Snapper with Café de Paris Butter, Creamed Lentils and Braised Silverbeet
  • Chicken Stir Fried in XO Sauce with Jasmine Rice and Asian Greens
  • Slow Cooked Lamb in Rosemary and Garlic with Potato Puree and Broccoli

The salad was served on a tray first, and they asked what we wanted for the main while giving us the salad. Green Leaf Salad with Beans and Feta was lovely and fresh. The dressing (served in a separate container) was light and pleasant. You can see half of it in the Snapper photo below. For the main course, I had the Chicken Stir Fry and my husband had the Snapper.

Chicken was tender and not dry at all (I hate dry chicken!), and the bok choy still had that crunchy feel to it, so I think it was cooked just right. The sauce was strong enough without being over-powering. The rest of the vegetables also retained that crunchy, fresh taste - nice to have that, when aeroplane food tends to be over-cooked and over-processed. Put it this way - it tasted like proper food, and the flavour was also rather pleasant, although not particularly remarkable.

Carbon Debit's roving reportage on Airline food and lounges
Chicken Stir Fried in XO Sauce with Jasmine Rice and Asian Greens

The presentation could have been better, but what can I expect on board an aeroplane, especially as it was slightly bumpy and there isn't a huge amount of space in the galley.

My husband's snapper looked a bit unattractive presentation-wise (not much variety of colours as you can see in the photo) but apparently tasted lovely. Silverbeet is definitely not the most photogenic of vegetables, and neither are creamed lentils. I think they could have added a decorative leaf or something like that, just to make it look a bit more pretty. At least Café de Paris butter added a bit of greenery! But I'm certainly not complaining - as long as it tastes good enough and fresh, then all is well.

Carbon Debit's roving reportage on Airline food and lounges
Seared Snapper with Café de Paris Butter, Creamed Lentils and Braised Silverbeet

Speaking of presentation, I've always liked those little clear containers of salt and pepper (it's in the top right hand corner of the photo of the snapper). So much prettier than the awful tiny sachets of salt and pepper they give you in economy class.

The choice of desserts were:

  • Seasonal cheese served with accompaniments
  • Nice Cream Espresso and Praline Ice Cream with Crème Anglaise
  • Sliced Fresh Fruits

Not being a huge cheese-eater and wanting something a bit more sinful than fresh fruits, I went for the espresso and praline ice cream. As with most times on Qantas it was served as a square (half espresso and half praline), that looks like it was cut from a block of ice cream, with cream that is not excessively sweet (which suits me very well - I don't like excessively sweet anything). I forgot to take a photo before I ate it, but I could taste the coffee in the ice cream and was just the right sized serving. It finished off the meal rather nicely.

After that, Valrhona chocolates and Paton's macadamia chocolates were on offer. I had a macadamia chocolate which was nice enough, although nothing particularly special (but better than the usual Cadbury's or Mars).

I went to sleep (as I almost always do on flights) shortly after the meal, and when I woke up, a cabin crew member walked up to me and asked if I wanted the breakfast. Everything turned up promptly and as ordered - we filled in a breakfast order card shortly after we boarded the flight. It was a continental breakfast, and the warm croissant even felt and tasted like how croissants should do (which is not always guaranteed anywhere except in France!), flaky, buttery and very ever so slightly sweet-ish. I also had fruits which still tasted fresh despite it being after a fairly long flight.

We landed at Hong Kong and after a short time on the ground, it was time to set off again.

Shortly after take-off, time for more food!! I guess food is part of the in-flight entertainment, and I am certainly not complaining. It is another breakfast, but a full one this time.

The menu included fruit salad with yoghurt, toast, croissant, apple and spice muffin, steamed Chinese bun, toasted muesli, and the "mains", Baked Egg with Zucchini and Herbs, Wilted Spinach and Sauteed Mushrooms, or Potato Cakes with Grilled Bacon and Sweet Onion Relish. I had the Baked Egg, and my husband had the Potato Cake.

When the cabin crew came round, I didn't hear the Chinese bun option (in fact by then I had forgotten about it, although I realised in hindsight and wouldn't have minded trying it). I chose the muffin anyway.

Carbon Debit's roving reportage on Airline food and lounges
Breakfast on QF29, Apple and Spice Muffin and Fruit Salad with Yoghurt

Yoghurt was not overly sweet, and neither was the muffin (although sweet enough to be, well, sweet). I could really taste the apple, which was really nice. Muffin must have been in the oven, because it was pleasantly warm. I like muffins warm and not too hot.

For the 'main' part of the breakfast, I chose the Baked Egg with Zucchini and Herbs, Wilted Spinach and Sauteed Mushrooms, and my husband chose the Potato Cakes with Grilled Bacon and Sweet Onion Relish.

Carbon Debit's roving reportage on Airline food and lounges
Baked Egg with Zucchini and Herbs, Wilted Spinach and Sautéed Mushrooms

Carbon Debit's roving reportage on Airline food and lounges
Potato Cake with Grilled Bacon and Sweet Onion Relish

I think I would have liked mushrooms to have been a bit more heavily sautéed (I bit more 'wilted' I guess) and buttery, but it was good enough, and definitely found the mushrooms to be fresh. Spinach was wilted enough but not excessively so, and it had plenty of flavour - again seemed very fresh. I was a bit concerned that baked egg with zucchini might be salty (as these things can sometimes be, because I don't like my food too salty), but thankfully it was just right. Maybe some people would have found it not salted enough, but of course there are those little tubs of salt that they can add to it!

Potato cake was apparently quite nice too. Sweet onion relish couldn't have been too sweet because he always whinges to me if the food is too sweet. My husband wasn't too impressed with his croissant (maybe it wasn't from the same caterer as the one I had earlier, or maybe he sets a higher croissant standard than me) and so he asked for a muffin, which was very happily supplied and he was happy with it.

Despite the fact that they give you tubs of salt and pepper, freshly ground pepper from the pepper mill is offered by a cabin crew member. Rather nice touch. I don't mind a bit of pepper, so you see bits of it on my Egg with Zucchini dish.

After breakfast, I went off to sleep and woke up about 6 hours feeling quite refreshed. After waking up, I watched something not particularly memorable on TV and it was time for lunch!

The entrée for lunch was Salad of Prawns and Roasted Tomatoes.

Carbon Debit's roving reportage on Airline food and lounges
Salad of Prawns and Roasted Tomatoes

Roasted tomatoes weren't too fried up and dry (still quite succulent and fresh-tasting), and the sauce on prawns were subtle enough no to mask the taste of prawns. I wish they gave me more prawns though, because they were rather nice. All the vegetables were crisp and fresh. I'd like to know how they keep the vegetables fresh in such a dry environment - if they left them out, I'm sure they'd wilt very quickly.

There were three choices as the main:

  • Steamed Sea Bass with Ginger and Shallots, Noodles and Stir Fried Cabbage
  • Basque Style Chicken and Artichokes with Potatoes and Green Beans
  • Beef Fillet with Anchovy Butter and Herb Roasted Vegetables

I chose the Beef Fillet. I almost always have a beef fillet on Qantas business class flights because it's quite tender considering it's been re-heated, and I find beef helps me to get over the travelling more quickly for some reason.

Carbon Debit's roving reportage on Airline food and lounges
Beef Fillet with Anchovy Butter and Herb Roasted Vegetables

Unfortunately they don't ask you how you want your beef (I guess they don't cook it on board?) but I have never found them over-cooked although I had beef fillets quite often on Qantas flights. I normally prefer it very, very rare but can cope with anything up to medium (but I really dislike well-done). Thankfully they didn't disappoint me, and the beef was quite pleasant. The presentation was a bit better than the last time I had their beef fillet because there was a splash of colour introduced by red capsicum pieces and didn't look like a plate of microwave dinner (a friend of mine commented something to that effect when seeing a photo of Qantas beef fillet previously with rather drab colours and just a bit of green vegetables. Maybe they heard her)!

I can't even remember what my husband had, but he commented that it was quite nice.

The dessert selections were:

  • Selection of Seasonal Cheese and Dried Fruit
  • Chocolate, Date and Almond Torte with Raspberry Sauce
  • Sliced Fresh Fruit

I forgot to take a photo of the chocolate, date and almond torte that I had. Raspberry sauce appeared to be made from real raspberry rather than commercially available artificial-tasting sauce - thank goodness! Again it was a rather nice, not excessively sweet dessert.

I finished the meal with Valrhona chocolate, and it wasn't so long before we landed at Heathrow Terminal 4.

I wouldn't say that the food on board was particularly outstanding, but it was all pleasant and fresh, and considering that they were served very high up in the sky, I would say that they were more than satisfactory. The main thing is that they all tasted very fresh and like real food, which can't be said about most economy class food!

QF52 (Singapore to Brisbane Economy Class)

The menu on QF 52 (it was presented as 'supper') was:

Carbon Debit's roving reportage on Airline food and lounges

Malay style beef semur with fragrant rice and stir friend greens, potato salad, white chocolate mousse with dark chocolate sauce, chocolate. As with most catering out of Singapore the food was quite decent, although Malay style beef was tiny bit too salty for my liking. Mousse wasn't excessively sweet and the amount was about right.

Bucharest to Heathrow Economy Class

Carbon Debit's roving reportage on Airline food and lounges

The BA Bucharest to Heathrow food was tomato-like flavoured chicken with rice, Caesar salad, bread and apple cake. Apple cake had lots of apples on it - real apple bits, not artificial-tasting apple paste.

North West Airlines Narita Lounge

North West Airlines Narita Lounge Sushi
North West Airlines Narita Lounge Sushi with prawn rice paper roll and pickled ginger

North West Airlines Narita Lounge Sandwich
North West Airlines Narita Lounge Sandwich

North West Airlines Narita Lounge Congee

North West Airlines Narita Lounge Congee_

North West Airlines Narita Lounge Desserts
North West Airlines Narita Lounge Desserts

Singapore BA/Qantas First lounge

Carbon Debit's roving reportage on Airline food and lounges

I have always found Qantas/BA First Lounge at Singapore Airport to be quite pleasant and almost never over-crowded, so shortly after landing, my husband and I headed there. The environment is quite tranquil and usually there is no-one talking loudly on the mobile phone (my pet-hate). Attendants are very attentive, smiles a lot, and empty dishes are cleared promptly.

The decor is a little dated, but not unpleasantly so. There are lots of orchids, and what you see to the right in this photo is a water feature. A bit of an oasis during a long trip.

There are plates of freshly cut fruits by the well-stocked liquor bar near the back of the lounge, and soup and other tasty things (pizza that could be a bit more cheesy, little Chinese-type food, antipasto etc) at the other end near the entrance. There is also ice cream and sorbet by the liquor bar. The food is very frequently replenished, so you won't need to wait long for your favourite nibbles

Carbon Debit's roving reportage on Airline food and lounges


Lime sorbet, pieces of fruits (melon and water melon), smoked salmon and cream cheese on a piece of baguette

Carbon Debit's roving reportage on Airline food and lounges
Mushroom soup, piece of pizza, bits of antipasto

I remembered that the mushroom soup was excellent from my previous visit, and I was rather pleased to see it on offer (the soup on offer varies). On this occasion it did not disappoint, either. It has lots of tiny little pieces of mushroom and it's as mushroomy as it gets - exactly how I like my mushroom soup.

Carbon Debit's roving reportage on Airline food and lounges
Chicken green curry

For whatever reason, they never have enough cheese on the pizza, but it still tastes good enough. Although food is mostly self-service, there are also waitresses walking around with trays of food - beef on skewer (which I declined because I was getting a bit full but my husband had it, and it was apparently very tender), chicken green curry with rice etc. We both decided to try chicken green curry. It was not bad at all, although it could have been a bit hotter for my liking.

Overall, none of the food is particularly exciting, but quite reliably tasty and fresh. If I wanted really gourmet food, airline lounges are not where I go for them, so being quite tasty and fresh is enough to keep me happy.

At Singapore airport they are allowed to use metal knives (actually they allow it at Heathrow too). How sensible! I really do prefer to eat with metal cutlery, and it annoys me that they are not allowed to use metal knives at Australian airports, although they allow metal forks. I think metal forks can be more dangerous, personally.

Anyway, back to this lounge. There are plenty of power points at this lounge (but the plugs are UK-style as with Singapore power supply) too, which is very handy. We spent a few comfortable hours at this lounge, and I did a little shopping (mainly electronic goods, although I later found that the UK pricing seems to have got much better and quite a few things were cheaper in the UK than in Singapore) and it was soon time to board our onward flight.

Qantas First lounge at Melbourne Airport

As some of you might know, Qantas first and business class menus are designed by Neil Perry of Rockpool, and this fact is quite widely advertised. So I guess you can expect decent food to keep his reputation. The food at Qantas First lounge is also designed by Neil Perry.

We were catching a late night flight out of Melbourne to Heathrow. After a very smooth check-in, we headed to the First Lounge. I had never been to the Melbourne one before, but I was expecting it to be good, if the Sydney one was anything to go by. In fact, the Melbourne one is a somewhat smaller version of the Sydney one and overall just as good. The friendliness and efficiency of the staff that I came to expect from the Sydney one was all evident at the Melbourne one as well.

Because it was getting well into the evening and we hadn't eaten yet, we decided to have a bite to eat first. There is a table-service 'restaurant' section at Melbourne and Sydney Qantas First lounges, where they serve freshly cooked food from their open kitchen. Again, I expected the food to be good, based on their Sydney lounge, and they did not disappoint.

I ordered some pineapple juice and my husband ordered a glass of chardonnay, which arrived very promptly. For entrée, I had Duck Liver Parfait with Pear Chutney and Sourdough and my husband had Szechuan Salt and Pepper Squid. Both were presented simply but nicely, and the squid was very tender indeed (not stringy or chewy at all - thank goodness, although we did expect it to be tender) and duck parfait was just as I hoped for. Chutney was not too sweet and balanced the duck liver pate very well. It was a pleasant start to the long journey to Europe.

Presentation wasn't bad either, very simple and not fancy, as you can see in the photos.

Carbon Debit's roving reportage on Airline food and lounges
Duck Liver Parfait with Pear Chutney and Sourdough Crisps

Carbon Debit's roving reportage on Airline food and lounges
Szechuan Salt and Pepper Squid

I chose House Made Pappardelle with Duck Ragout and Parmesan as my main course - I guess you can tell that I am rather fond of duck! The presentation wasn't the prettiest in the world, but it tasted lovely. The pasta was cooked just about right, and duck was very soft and succulent.

Carbon Debit's roving reportage on Airline food and lounges
House Made Pappardelle with Duck Ragout and Parmesan

My husband had Grilled Swordfish with Moroccan Eggplant and Roast Capsicum Dressing, which I had a taste and found that the fish was cooked very nicely, especially considering how easy it is to over-cook fish and turn it all leathery. Unfortunately I forgot to take a photo of it, but it was presented quite well.

After the main they asked if we would like some Champagne. I don't really drink much but my husband ordered some, one from a French boutique winery called Devaux. The menu also offered Moet et Chandon Brut Imperial and Verve Cliquot Ponsardin.

I had a sip and it was good - fruity, although rather dry at the same time. It was described as being similar to Bollinger but I'm not quite sure about that - I think this one had more fruity taste. My husband felt that he preferred Moet et Chandon but I much preferred Devaux.

I then had a dessert of mango sorbet, although again I forgot to take a photo. They asked how many scoops I wanted. I asked for two scoops, but I wondered what would have happened if I said "six" or something silly. It was delicious, and I had the fleeting thought that I should perhaps have indeed asked for six scoops.

We then sat in the lounge reading all sorts of coffee table books that they have in one of the comfy chairs section of the lounge and getting on the Internet (there is a free WiFi throughout the lounge).

The only complaint about the experience is the dreaded plastic knives, but that is not Qantas' fault - it's our Australian government regulation, of course.

I think Qantas First lounges in Sydney and Melbourne are the best First lounge I have ever been to, and I suspect they may be "the" best First lounge anywhere.

Qantas/BA First lounge at Hong Kong Airport

I popped in very briefly to Qantas/BA First lounge at Hong Kong Airport, because I did not have much time before I had to board. I had a bit of difficulty finding the lounge, but found it after asking at the Singapore Airlines lounge.

I did get there in the end. The initial part of the lounge is business lounge, and after walking through the Business section, you reach the First section is at the back. There was no attendant at the First reception, so anyone with access to Business section could get in there.

There was not a huge amount of food but it was rather early in the morning, so it wasn't surprising - still the breakfast time. I found some pork sui mai and sandwiches, and also pots of fruity yoghurt - imported from France. There was an ice cream freezer with a good selection of Häagen-Dazs mini-tubs as well, so I decided to have a mini-tub of mango flavoured ice cream. I normally prefer mango sorbet to mango ice cream, but I could taste mango enough to like it reasonably well. I would have preferred a stronger mango flavour though.

Sui mai seemed freshly put in the steaming bamboo container and they were hot - two different coloured varieties of them although they seemed to be the same flavour. There were also smoked salmon sandwiches and some other variety on offer. Sandwiches were very plain, as you can see in the photo below. You can see the dish with a bit of a corner area for soy sauce - which I thought was quite nice (I know the dishes like this are not unusual, but to see them used in the lounge is somewhat nice).

I usually try and eat a bit at each lounge to test their food out - but I wasn't that hungry because I had just had breakfast on the aeroplane, so I didn't eat much. Still, everything tasted nice enough, including sui mai. Pity about plastic knife and fork though. At least they are being a bit more sensible - if they remove metal knives, I think metal forks should go too, for consistency's sake.

Carbon Debit's roving reportage on Airline food and lounges

_A piece of fresh pineapple, two pieces of sui mai, a smoked salmon sandwich and a pot of fruit yoghurt


She is now in Poland staying at the Mercure Poland, she ordered room service chicken salad. Her comments are:

Very prompt service - arrived within 10 minutes.

Now, the mystery started at the sight of Feta Cheese... Caesar salad with feta is not something I have experienced before!

The next mystery was... where is the Caesar dressing!? That rich, white-ish coloured thing?

Hmm... and the usual Caesar salad-ish lettuce? Bacon? Ummm?

What's red capsicum doing here?

The mystery deepened but anyway, it could not have been a dish mix-up because this was the only salad on the room service menu. So I decided to proceed to eating it.

What a pleasant surprise - the dressing on it was gorgeous, although absolutely nothing like Caesar dressing (or any other dressing for that matter). I loved it. Pity about the daft name.

Here's the photo:

Caesar salad polish style
Caesar Salad Just 29 PLN (about $12AUD approximately)

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