Friday, January 27, 2006

Lufthansa LH419 from IAD to FRA on January 26, 2006

I remember years ago feeling faintly disappointed if I was flying long distance in anything except a Boeing 747. It still amazes me that these planes leave the ground at all. But times change! This flight was on a 747-400. I was in Business Class in the front of the plane. (Unlike most airlines, Lufthansa puts its First Class passengers upstairs.) I was very disappointed with the seats. They really seems to be way below what the competition offers in Business Class. The seat was comfortable enough, but nothing like what British or Virgin offer in the same class of service. There is nothing you can do with this seat to even approximate a lying down position. The plane just had this worn look with the toilets smelling of urine even at the beginning of the flight.

The thing that really thrilled me on this flight was having an Internet connection. I was even able to phone Iran using a (Vonage) soft phone from my seat! That is so cool! I also posted the blog entry to say that I was posting from the air. Sorry!

The bit that is really fantastic about flying Lufthansa in Business Class is the food and the wine. Lufthansa has a program called Star Chefs, which uses the recipes of the chef of a well known restaurant. On this flight, chef was Joachim B. Splichal from Patina in Los Angeles, California. The style was a sort of California mix of styles. Spichal's blurb in the menu says that his emphasis is on the freshest ingredients.

I started my dinner with "Grilled Divers Scallops on Jicama Salad." The ingredients did taste fresh and the salad was nice and crunchy. (A nice touch is that recipes are enclosed with the menu so I think I will make this dish when I get back home.) Then I had a salad with soggy croutons and a dressing called Naturally Fresh, which appeared to be neither natural nor fresh! My main course was marvellous. It was "Seared Striped Sea Bass served with Marcona Almonds, Cauliflowers Florets, and Madras Curry Lobster Emulsion." My only complaint about that dish was that I really did not tasted any lobster, but it was very good. The fish was nice and moist, but not overdone, and the sauce was subtle -- spicy but without being overpowering. Alternatives offered included "Olive Oil Poached Breast of Chicken offered with Morel Marsala Cream Sauce" and "Portobello Mushroom and Pappardelle Pasta accompanied by aged parmesan and cherry tomatoes with basil." The menu really went overboard with these detailed descriptions!

After my main course I had Gruyere, Brie and Goat Cheese followed by a mediocre Pear Tart Tartin with a soggy bottom. (Perhaps the fault was less in the cooking than in the storage.) Chocolates were served with liqueurs and very good coffee to round off the meal. Good coffee on flights seems to be more common these days.

Before landing, I had a good breakfast consisting of a plate of fresh fruit, a piping hot omelette with bacon and potatoes, and an assortment of bread, croissants, and muffins were offered. The other choice for breakfast was a "Cold Gourmet Plate" with breast of turkey, salami, camembert, and cream cheese.

Service was friendly and efficient. The plane started and left punctually without incident or significant turbulence during the flight. Overall, an enjoyable flight in what has become a rather dated plane.

Lufthansa also does well by providing passengers with a good range of reading material. We were offered the Washington Post, the Financial Times, and a range of magazines. (Readers of German naturally had a much broader selection.)

(To avoid this article going on and on for ever, I will discuss the wine in a separate posting. It was very, very good! I will also add some pictures that I took of the food. I am in a hotel without a way of moving pictures from my camera to the computer.)

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