The ultimate flight!

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November 20, 2014

Was it the ultimate flight and ultimate ailrine meal?

Well if you love the 70s the answer is a resounding yes and probably no matter what era is your favourite, this culinary delight – and flight – ticked every box.

The meal served between Honolulu and Nadi on the delivery flight of Qantas’s latest and 75th Boeing 737-800 adorned in a 1970s retro colour scheme was designed by culinary master Neil Perry.

Mr Perry took some 70s favourites and gave them the famous Rockpool signature contemporary twist using the best seasonal produce.

Mr Perry explains; “These dishes were on the dinner party menu in the 70s and are timeless and delicious. Whilst we stayed true to the original concept, over the decades palates have evolved and quality ingredients have become more easily available so we have introduced some subtle twists to the classics.”

Our 70s experience started with a Hawaiian flavour – the famous Mai Tai. Invented in fact at Trader Vic’s restaurant in Oakland, California in 1944, Mai Tai is an adaption of the Tahitian word for “good”.

And it was so good that its inventor Victor Bergeron was hired by the Royal Hawaiian hotel to develop the drink adding pineapple juice. And adding to the 70s theme the three flight attendants, Peta, Amy and Jasmine were adorned in the stunning Pucci designed vibrant green uniforms with floral dresses.

The Mai Tai’s were quickly followed by Hore d’oeuvres from the 70s. Stuffed tomatoes, devils on horseback, chicken liver pate and stuffed eggs.
The big favourite was the devils on horseback – prunes stuffed with mango chutney and wrapped in bacon and served hot.

Entrée was a choice between consommé printanier and smoked salmon pillows with pickled cucumber and melba toast. The consommé printanier is a delicious chicken based dish with carrot, turnip, peas, beans and asparagus tips but for me it was the smoked salmon and icy cold champagne, that had replaced the Mai Tias.

Main course was a choice of four magnificent dishes. And from next month Qantas will be progressively offering four main courses to all economy passengers on international flights. What is more, the airline is not only doubling the offering but doubling the size of the portions. Qantas is also offering something you could never do in the 70s – online ordering of your preference.

But back to the 70s classic mains and they were indeed classic! Mushroom vol au vent, lobster thermidor, duck a l’orange or beef wellington.
I couldn’t go past the lobster thermidor which was mouth watering to use a 70s phrase.

And the sides? Waldorf salad, peas bonne femme and potatoes dauphinoise. The Waldorf salad brought a smile as I flash backed to the famous John Cleese 1970s classic series Fawlty Towers, where an entire episode was built around the bumbling efforts by Basil Fawlty to create a Waldorf salad for an American couple.

Luckily for us Qantas decided not to roll out 1970s white wines such as Moselle and instead served what has become a classic of the current decade – Shaw and Smith SB.

We were really on the ultimate nostalgia trip with wonderful memories flooding back.

I was taken back to wonderful teenage days when my mother, Una, put on dinner parties that became legendary.

And the sweets capped it off.

Sherry trifle and chocolate mousse. I couldn’t resist the sherry trifle just to see if it was a good as mum’s. It was.

Of course delivery flights are very special and particularly one built around nostalgia for the flying kangaroo and the late James Strong, who the plane is named after.

But Qantas is clearly on the rise after a few tough years and one gets the feeling that the retro 737 is a symbol of a new Qantas – revitalised, engaged and committed to the travelling public.

Geoffrey Thomas travelled to Seattle as guest of Qantas and Boeing.