What's the best food and wine experience you have ever had on an airplane? Chances are it did not come out of a 747's galley. Airlines try hard to make the food good in first class, but the rest of the plane gets something that may be decent if seldom memorable.
Used to be, you could sneak a bottle of wine onto the plane, open it surreptitiously (if illegally) at your seat, and drink it out of plastic cups when the flight attendants weren't looking. No more, not since the security restrictions on toting liquids.
All of which made me smile when chef Wolfgang Puck recounted a recent experience he had flying back to Los Angeles from Japan. He ran into Nobu Matsuhisa while he was in Tokyo, and they discovered they were on the same ANA flight. In first class, naturally.
"You bring some sushi," Puck says he told Nobu. "And I'll bring the Champagne."
"Of course," Puck adds with a twinkle, "I knew that ANA pours Krug Champagne in first class, so it was easy."
Nobu arrived with a platter of sashimi and sushi. The seats in first class on international flights have a ridiculous amount of space between them. Even though Puck and Matsuhisa were in the same row, they were six feet apart. "So we spread out a blanket on the floor and set up Nobu's sushi," Puck explains.
Much better than whatever the airline provided, you can be sure.
I can't beat that experience. My favorite story about wine and food on a plane involves my colleague James Laube. We were coming back from a New York Wine Experience many years ago. We had the driver stop and wait for us at Zabar's, then we headed out to a retail shop in Queens, owned by our late friend Lou Iacucci, and let him select a wine for us to sneak on to the plane. It was a Barolo, which miraculously tasted great with the whitefish salad, bagels and nova. Who knew?
These days, I cope with airline food by bringing stuff from home that won't spoil in my carry-on. Fruit, a peanut butter sandwich, trail mix, jerky—anything that will get me through the flight without having to depend on the kindness of strangers in the galley. I miss sneaking on the wine.
Fred Brown — March 6, 2007 8:51pm ET
Sam Jones — Houston, Texas — March 7, 2007 10:49am ET
Alex Salomon — Paris, France — March 7, 2007 8:32pm ET
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