Distinction with flying colors

Updated: 2017-02-17 09:29

By Maggie Beale(HK Edition)

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Back in 1936 it took eight days and 23 stops - to change aircraft and refuel - to reach London from Hong Kong! Nowadays several carriers will fly you to London in a little over 13 hours.

So why choose an airline over the others?

The catering standards of an airline matter a lot to me. Poor choices and indifferent meals can make a journey miserable, just as carefully crafted dishes can make the experience the highlight of the whole trip. So it was with great interest that I went to meet British Airways' head of catering, Colin Talbot and menu, delivery and safety executive Andrew Seath, who had touched down on Hong Kong recently.

Distinction with flying colors

Appropriately, we met up over lunch at Corner Kitchen, a small boutique cooking school, in Central. May 1 onwards British Airways will introduce a special menu to mark their 80th anniversary of flying the Hong Kong-London route. I got a chance to sample bite-size offerings from their new menu.

"We're taking inspiration from menus dating back to the Fifties and Sixties, using locally sourced ingredients," said the duo in charge.

The selection was astonishing. The dishes were crafted with great care, arranged in a way that was eye-catching and delicious without exception. The vegetarian dishes were top quality both in the looks and taste departments. A simple char-grilled tomato with asparagus and mozzarella cheese was seductively tasty.

The fish selections included a salmon fillet with caviar and wasabi basil sauce, as well as a cured batik salmon with French ratatouille, accompanied by an anchovy sauce and a very delicate spicy oil. The Halibut (a fish I consider the king of the sea) was served with just mashed potato and a little cauliflower. It takes a master chef to know when enough is enough!

Meat dishes included beef short rib with mashed potato and red wine sauce, and a luscious plump duck breast. This section was served with a variety of sauces and condiments. At the end of the day this was an impressive array of excellent dishes, presented with great care and flair.

And to cap it all, British Airways have just introduced their latest homage to discerning palates - their very own exclusive British Airways premium gin. It's an essential ingredient of the iconic G and T - the timeless English cocktail - whose main botanicals are basil, rosemary and thyme.

The spirit is created by the Cambridge Distillery which also makes a blend especially for the House of Lords which is on sale in the British Parliament. The British Airways gin is served to passengers flying first class at The Concord Room bar in London Heathrow Airport's Terminal 5. Making the move into spirit crafting is essentially a smart decision on the part of the airline as gin and tonic is a favorite of the airline's customers who sip more than three million of these every year!

NB: British Airways currently operates 14 non-stop flights a week between Hong Kong and London, and it is the only airline to fly the Superjumbo Airbus A380 on the route.

Distinction with flying colors

(HK Edition 02/17/2017 page1)