Category Archives: Travel

I’ve reviewed some in-flight food options on this website recently — LAN’s Premium Business, American Airlines’s domestic first class, United Airlines BusinessElite to Hawaii — with more hopefully to come.  But I’ve never truly been impressed, even in first/business class or with celebrity chefs.  Why not?

The Points Guy tackles this question with the help of a science writer today:

At low elevations, the 10,000 or so taste buds in the human mouth work fairly normally, translating chemical signals into electrical signals and sending them to the brain. They work in conjunction with the sense of smell to parse different flavors, from sour to umami.

But here’s the rub: a plane’s artificial atmosphere is equivalent to being in Santa Fe, New Mexico, at 7,000 feet above sea level. The altitude, combined with low humidity, puts the taste buds on the fritz. Scientists estimate that smell and taste decrease about 20-30% on planes.

SCIENCE!

Have you ever had airplane food you liked?  Is it uniformly terrible, even in premium cabins?

LAN Business Class JFK-LIM

Pre-departure drink and warm mixed nuts.

Pre-departure drink and warm mixed nuts.

After a summer hiatus (from blogging, but not dining or travel) I’m back.  I know this will severely hamper the likelihood that I fulfill my New Year’s resolution, but I’ve got some posts in the pipeline and should catch up soon.

A few months ago, I went to Chile and Peru.  I flew there in LAN‘s new “Premium Business” product.  As far as business class products go, it was quite good: spacious cabin, lie-flat seats, a nice little amenity kit.  But the food was quite disappointing. Continue reading

Rich Table — San Francisco, CA

So much food!

What’s the best vegetarian food in San Francisco?  I recently raved about State Bird Provisions, the best new restaurant in America according to Bon Appetit Magazine.  But here’s the thing.  The second time I went to SBP (review coming), I asked the waitress what restaurant she recommended, and without hesitation, she answered, “Rich Table“.  Rich Table was also the recommendation of my friend Chef Dave Santos.  Oh, and the James Beard Foundation has listed both SBP and Rich Table as semifinalists for best new restaurant.  Dave Santos hooked me up with a last-minute reservation at Rich Table the day after I ate at SBP.  If I had not been to one of these restaurants, I would easily say the other is the best restaurant I’ve been to in the last year.  Having been to both within 24 hours, I really can’t say. Continue reading

My Place — Bangalore, India

DSC07609

I don’t usually write about a buffet at a hotel, but I wanted to make an exception for My Place, the casual restaurant at the Movenpick Hotel in Bangalore, India.  If you’ve been following this blog on twitter (and if you haven’t been, do it now!), you know that my Air France flight was canceled due to mechanical problems in the middle of the night leaving Bangalore when I was last in India.  Air France was kind enough to put my wife, daughter, and me up at the Movenpick Hotel while they sorted our our flight situation (okay, they were required to by law, maybe).  Our meals were also included, all at My Place, and they were quite good. Continue reading

State Bird Provisions — San Francisco, CA

"Dim Sum" Cart

“Dim Sum” Cart

Have you ever found yourself onstage in the middle of a Beyonce concert, panicking as everyone around you moves in perfect synchronization but you have no idea what’s going on?  Me neither, but I imagine that if I did, the experience would be quite similar to eating at State Bird Provisions in San Francisco.  They call themselves a “restaurant without any programmed elements”, but “organized chaos” would be a better description.  Oh, and the food is absolutely fantastic.  If you are looking for the best vegetarian food in San Francisco, come here. Continue reading

L’Arpege — Paris, France — Five Stars

Arpege -- keepsake knifeL’Arpege, in Paris, is widely regarded as one of the best restaurants in the world — and probably the best if you’re a vegetarian.  The reviews of the place are uniformly glowing.  The place can be pricey but is well worth it, at least as a “try it once” experience.  Alain Passard has revolutionized haute cuisine for vegetarians, and I hope his philosophy — that gourmet food and vegetarian food don’t have to be at odds — continues to catch on. Continue reading

Coming to you live from 35,000 feet…

…but from the back of the airplane.

Flight Map
Just yesterday, I posted about my upcoming trip on American Airlines in business class.  And I recently wrote about United’s BusinessFirst to Hawaii.  Today, unfortunately, I’m in coach!  I’m flying Delta to Salt Lake City (and then on to Arizona) but my upgrade didn’t clear, so here I am.  On the plus side, I’m in Economy Comfort (extra legroom), though the downside is that I can see BusinessElite just a few feet away.  #firstworldproblems.  Anyway, on to the food: Continue reading

American Airlines Business Class

Select Meal
So, this isn’t a food review (that’s coming) — but more of a point of information.  Some of you may know (I didn’t) that if you fly First Class or Business Class on American Airlines, you can pre-select your meal up to 30 days before you fly.  Not just the type of meal (e.g., “vegetarian”), but the actual entree that you’ll be served.  This service was launched in 2012 and American aims to roll this out to all flights by some time this year.

OutboundI’m flying from JFK to SFO soon, so I had the chance to pick my meal.  My outbound selections are above — basically, just a cheese ravioli.  Of course, I could have still just selected “vegetarian meal”.  And that’s what I did; I’ve had cheese ravioli on an airplane not too long ago, and I am ready to try something else.

Special OptionsSo on the way out, I just chose “vegetarian meal”.  It will be interesting to see what I get.

ReturnI’m coming back on the redeye, SFO-JFK, which I think explains the lighter options.  I chose the mushroom soup, though I’m worried about exactly how “creamy” it will be.  (I worry that it will be way too creamy and unappetizing.)  I am considering the fruit and cheese plate, though I feel like I should choose something at least a little more interesting when I have the option.

Luckily, if I do change my mind, I can change my selection, up until 24 hours before the flight.

Stay tuned; I’ll report back on the actual food shortly!

 

Jamavar — Bangalore, India

Dinner at Jamavar

If you’re looking for the best restaurant in Bangalore, India, then Jamavar, a restaurant at the Leela Palace hotel in Bangalore, is probably on your radar.  Jamavar is located in one of the city’s nicest hotels, and in terms of quality, the restaurant could hold its own against the other top Indian restaurants I’ve been to.  But as good as the food was, it was hard to get past the expensive prices.  All in all, Jamavar was very nice, but not so nice that I want to go back. Continue reading

United Airlines — BusinessFirst, Newark to Honolulu

Ravioli on United AirlinesIf there’s something I love as much as good food, it’s travel.  As frequent readers know, I was recently in Hawaii, visiting some friends.  I got there by flying on a United Airlines flight from Newark to Honolulu, in “United First”.  Overall, the food was pretty good, though getting a vegetarian option was quite the challenge… Continue reading