July 23, 2015

Goodbye New York: On the Way Back Home

I still remember checking into the hotel like of it was only yesterday, 10 days passed at a glance and I wish it hadn’t… New York is not any city but the city of dreams and possibilities, tourism and love, events and potential... Experiencing a bit of New York has made me change the way I see things, the way I think… It gave me a whole new perspective on life. 


I sat calmly in my cocoon seat onboard AirFrance AF0017 and started writing reviews on my latest discoveries. I removed my socks, wore the socks offered onboard and slipped on the slippers, plugged in my noise reduction headphones and waited to move. A glass of orange juice, smiling hostesses, a cool air cabin on dimmed lights, I was so relaxed… anticipating what to today's chef suggestions will be. 

I closed my eyes and day dreamed about my trip. Coming to NYC, I had one single thing on my mind and that was to discover how things work in the capital of opportunities. I wanted to see the landmarks Hollywood made famous, as well as discover the culinary side of fast moving city of New York. 

I was happy to witness the opening of Semsom and understand how Americans perceive our local cuisine. I enjoyed the opening event as well as the food… tender chicken taouk, homemade hummus, as well as their meat sandwich with hummus and their signature sweet and light eggplant salad … and their sfouf created in cupcake form, which are making an impact around here. 

I also enjoyed some juicy burgers at JG Melon, Burger Joint, Five Guys and Shake Shack, making sure not to skip a meal without a review or discovery.

Breakfast at Max Brenner will be long remembered, The Doughnut Plant put a smile on my face, ilili is a restaurant everyone should visit when in New York, Manoushe NYC has managed to reproduce the Lebanese breakfast for New York, and not to forget the food courts of The Grand Central Train Station and The Plaza Hotel. What a week! 

What I suggest is start by the open tour bus. Wherever you are, take a cab and head up to Times Square where it all starts. Book an Open Tour Bus for $59 letting you hop-on and off for the next 24 hours. This tour will take you around New York with a highlight on all the monuments of should see. Downtown or Uptown, two buses are scheduled every 15 minutes. Afterwards, fee free to go down at any of your desired spots. 

Taxis in New York usually cost $10 to $15 per trip if traffic is reasonable. They will take you anywhere easily or if you prefer the subway, that would cost you $2,75 per trip.

My favorite part of the trip is the New York Fancy Food Show, an event that happens twice a year. If you're a food junkie, this is a paradise event for you. Access will cost you between $60 and $150 depending on your job description. One day  won’t be enough to visit it completely. 

I could write and write lines and still not say enough this is why I invite you to read all my reviews about my first trip to New York, which I believe is the first of many to come. I always thought London was my favorite capital until I came here.


Now back to my plane experience, writing about it is something I enjoy especially that today I'll be experiencing the food produced in the local kitchens, the new cocoon seat and the special Japanese meal I preordered. For a complete detailed review of all the little details please check my notes about my previous experience from Paris to New York.

It always starts by a welcome refreshing kit and this time it looked different. Same content, different look with a leather strap. 

On the menu today:

  • Amuse-Bouche: Sautéed portobello mushroom, vegetable brunoise, polenta with truffle essence.
  • Gourmet Appetizer: Main lobster, wasabi mayonnaise, mango salad.
  • Choice of Main course: pan-seared tournedos of beef, truffle butter, horseradish mashed potatoes, buttered asparagus. Spinach ravioli, tomato sauce, Parmesan cheese.
  • Today's suggestion: beast of chicken with tarragon cream sauce. Baked potatoes with thyme, baby zucchini, bell pepper, maitake mushrooms.
  • Dessert: mango, coconut and raspberry cake.


 The culinary experience:

  • Dinner started with a portion of Kreek's cashew nuts and cranberries. Cashew nuts from Asia and cranberries from Canada in one package adding a light salty note to the cranberries mixed with those non oily light colored cashews.
  • The amuse-bouche is served on a plastic spoon. A three layered sautéed portobello mushroom, vegetable brunoise and polenta with truffle essence.
  • The staff is too good to be true; a big smile on their face they make sure you are pampered to perfection with a certain unmatched finesse. The chief of cabin approached each one of us personally to set out tables while the staff seeing me takes picture made sure I was happy with my task and not blocking my path.
  • The gourmet appetizer is indeed gourmet. Two pieces of lobster with wasabi flavored mayonnaise and a mango salad on the side. Super tender fresh lobsters few restaurants serve, a flavorful mayonnaise and crunchy vita of mango in their juice. Delicious! This is what I call fine dining in the air. Bread! They're so fresh I wondered if they were baked in the air. 


While waiting for the main dish I discovered the new screen. It's amazing how up to date in technology this plane is. A touch and swappable screen with choices of movies and TV shows as well as an onboard camera.  All programs can be followed on the main screen or the touch joypad.

  • Now for the main plate. Pan-seared tournedos of beef, truffle butter, horseradish mashed potatoes, buttered asparagus. Beef served rare with melted butter in the side, mashed potatoes, two cherry tomatoes and three asparagus. The meat is simply exceptional but you have to like it rare, add to that the aromatic truffle butter, some potatoes and spent forget to order from the flight attendant some mustard. Black current Dijon mustard with this meat made my day.
  • Dessert was disgusting! Walking around I had the opportunity to meet one member of staff who confirmed that nobody ate it. On another hand, I was offered a piece of cake, a cheesecake especially made for crew members. That one being tasty. It was good, so am not sure how the same chef was capable of creating the baked gooey mango and raspberry dessert.

My curiosity led me to learn:

  • All Air France planes to the United States of America include cheesecake onboard for crew members, a tradition respected since the first days this route started.
  • The Boeing 777 has a room for crew members with beds. This is accessed at the back of the plane with stairs taking over the ceiling.
  • Each crew member has one hour of sleep during this 6,5 hours flight.

Four hours left to Paris, it was video editing time so I plugged my computer in; after such a long trip, you can't imagine the amount of data I have with me to organize.

A flat bed, a pillow and a smooth cover, time was passing quickly with only two hours left to destination in which I slept like a baby missing out on breakfast. As my eyes opened I was greeted with a cup of coffee and a glass of orange juice while the cabin prepared for landing.

It's 1am in New York, 7am in Paris…It was evident that I'll be sleeping all the way to Beirut... A great trip I'll surely repeat.






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Hyatt Union Square: Home Away from Home


Air France Business Lounge at JFK Terminal 1