May 20, 2016

On My Twelve Hours Trip to Lima, Peru

Don't think am crazy when I tell you that I traveled  all the way to the other side of the world for only two days. Discovering a whole new country for even a day is worth it in my books and not to mention getting on the plane, switching off and writing some reviews.

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It wasn't the easiest of tasks to book a trip to Lima. Air France doesn't fly on a daily basis and I was obliged to be back in Beirut on Saturday; as I had another trip scheduled to Amman on Sunday.

I ended up taking Air France to Lima and KLM back to Europe. I was happy, at least I got the chance to fly and experience KLM on my way back.

I was in business class, on the first row just a few meters away from the Captain. The smallest business class I have seen to date with only 14 seats. 2/3/2 is the cabin map on only two rows. Twelve long hours, a glass of champagne, newspapers, some light music and I was ready to depart.

Air France has partnered with Yves Camdeborde, pioneer of the Bistronomy movement, chef at Le Comptoir du Relais Saint Germain. Yves reinvigorated bistro cuisine by bringing the demanding quality of gastronomy to the informality of the brasserie. He worked at the finest restaurants in Paris bringing his unique touch to their cuisine with his innovative techniques and use of only the best ingredients. As a guest of the Servair Culinary Studio, he shared his particular vision of authenticity and simplicity with Air France.

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Wines of the day:

  • Chablis Domaine Sainte Claire 2013, Bourgogne Blanc
  • L'indomptable de Cigalus IGP Aude Hauterive 2014, Gerard Bertrand, Languedoc Rouge
  • Medic Chateau Preuillac 2010, Bordeaux Rouge

On the menu:

  • Miss en Bouche: Scallop and crispy vegetables
  • Gourmet appetizer and seasonal salad: Smoked foie Gras terrine, mango chutney with lime ginger, mozzarella cheese timbale with pesto sauce, lime, radish escabeche 
  • One main course
  • A special selection of cheese: Camembert, Sainte-Maure, dried apricot.
  • Desserts: Salted caramel Berlingot, mocha entremets, pistachio strawberry parfait. Sorbet and ice cream.
  • Refreshment and meal service: A selection of Croque Monsieur, mini burger or savory pastry depending on the flight.
  • Appetizer: Cured beef, sautéed shrimp, sautéed sugar snap peas, artichokes with basil.
  • Main course: Shrimp clafoumi, mezzaluna pasta or sushi style shrimp.
  • Dessert: Caramelized pineapple
  • Today's suggestions:
  • Lamb stew with carrots, bean medley with red onion and garlic.
  • Basque style chicken, crisp polenta, sugar snap peas.
  • Cod and smoked salmon loaf, Parmesan crumble, roasted sunflower seeds (a recipe by Yves Camdeborde)

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Lunch was served with Christofle cutlery and Degrenne China, designed by Massaud:

Served in a small cup was a mini scallop mixed with crunchy green beans and shredded vegetables. A light lemony taste with a touch of pepper. It blended well with the white wine, a floral Chardonnay with fruity notes and full bodied finish. It's indeed a wine of character. This bite was served with a box of biscuits, galettes olives and tomatoes.

A superb tender bread served warm, on which I spread some butter (Beurre D'Isigny), another brown one for the cheese and the appetizers associated with the next wine on the list, this time red. A deeply colored strong wine combined power and balance leaving a fry finish on the palate. Full bodied, it is a wine I'll order with a piece of red meat. The foie gras is strongly smoked and contains the pesto which is the main difference. Dip it in the mango chutney and enjoy served next to mashed pink radish and mozzarella cubes in a pesto sauce. It is fine dining!

It was time for the main course, surely ordering the special of Yves Camdeborde. Bizarrely only a few ordered it. It smells like magic and although it doesn't look too appetizing, it tastes just great. What looks like a puree is a crumble of Parmesan cheese topped with roast sunflower seeds and smoked amlak cubes. It is really delicious, the textures, the seeds crunch, the salmon smokiness and oiliness and the final enjoyable taste with this light acidity. Good job! To try all the wines, I chose the Bordeaux. A generous wine with light touches is full bodied and subtle offering balanced flavors. I finished my plate entirely while waiting for dessert.

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I'll surely become an Air France expert after a few more flights.

Something was off though. I kept asking myself why a plane this big only hosts 14 seats on Business class while economy hosts 430 passengers; and more so, on this long journey there were no refreshments available between meals, although it was clearly stated on the menu. (Refreshment and meal service: A selection of Croque Monsieur, mini burger or savory pastry depending on the flight.)

Air France has chosen to restructure some of their planes on some routes in order to economize and maximize on profits. Unfortunately for me Lima was one of them. Not appropriate for a 12 hours long flight!

On this flight I also discovered where the pilots and crew rest accessed from a small door next to the cockpit up into a cabin that feels like ship beds.

Maximizing profit is fine but not offering what is promised in terms of refreshments onboard is something else. In this 12 hours and 20 minutes flight, only some fruits were available to satisfy your hunger between main meals.

An hour before landing dinner was served. A cold platter sushi style shrimp timbale with rice, a three layered cake of crunchy rice, avocado and shredded shrimps next to two pieces of shrimps, artichoke and bresaola. The three layered cake were soggy and the side orders were filled with onions and garlic, which I didn't appreciate much. But I enjoyed the caramelized pineapple quarters served in a porcelain side dish.

I landed in Lima dissatisfied... I love my trips onboard Air France but I didn't on the one traveling across the Atlantic.

Categories: Airlines Travel



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