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I'm a guy who likes to cook, eat, and drink, but not necessarily in that order. This blog is nothing fancy; just my random thoughts about anything that can be baked, roasted, or fried. Enjoy!

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Maybe the English Can Cook? (First in a Series of Three Posts)

“The British Empire was created as a by-product of generations of desperate Englishmen roaming the world in search of a decent meal.”

-- Bill Marsano

One of the joys of traveling is not just eating local but eating well. So when I told folks I was traveling to England and Scotland, I heard the typical cracks about bad English food and queries whether I liked haggis. But believe it or not, food in the U.K. is probably better than it's ever been. After all, the U.K. is home to Gordon Ramsey, Heston Blumenthal, Jamie Oliver, Marco Pierre White, and Tom Kitchin (youngest chef to win a Michelin star). With chefs like these, I bet a lot more English and Scots are eating at home these days. But first we had to get there...

The plan was to fly out of Birmingham on United #5846 to Houston and then fly out on a new Boeing 787 Dreamliner to Heathrow. The weather in Birmingham was clear that day, with thunderstorms not predicted to arrive until several hours after we were leave. But of course those T-storms had to come from some where, and guess where? That's right. Houston.

A two-hour delay, which equaled, to the minute, the layover we had in Houston. 

We were clearly going to miss our connection. But thanks to Laura's status with United (I've nicknamed her the Flying Pharaoh), United put us on a Delta flight leaving Atlanta at 9:45PM. After a quick dash to retrieve our bags, we were on the road in a Hertz rental. With light traffic, we made it to Atlanta in record time (the underpowered Jeep notwithstanding). Before we knew it, we were nestled into our pods in business class. 

The last time I flew Delta international was four years ago--a fifteen and a half hour flight from Atlanta to Johannesburg, South Africa, in Economy Plus. To this day, I still don't know what they served us to eat on that flight. Needless to say, I faced this flight with some trepidation, business class or not.

I've always thought that the only reason to eat food on an airplane is help to pass the time. Though airline food is getting better. In fact, it may be the best it's been since the so-called golden age of air travel. (This probably has a lot to do to do with the fact that airlines have finally recovered from 9/11 and the Great Recession of 2008-2009.) It seems like every airline these days employs a celebrity chef to put together their first/business class menus. Air France has Daniel Boulud; Qatar has Nobu Matsuhisa; and Delta has .... Linton Hopkins. Ok, Hopkins may not be a household name, but he's the chef and owner of a very, very good restaurant in Atlanta called Holeman and Finch Public House. Kudos to Delta for supporting the culinary home team.

For starters, we had a cream of corn soup topped with a lobster tarragon salad garnish; heirloom cherry tomato and cucumber salad; Mediterranean roasted chicken with chickpea salad, haricots verts, and natural au jus; and a warmed blackberry crisp for dessert.

I must say, I was pleasantly surprised. So, if this was just the meal on Delta Business Class, then there was hope that the food in London would be better than it was the last time I was there in my twenties when I could only afford bitter and meat pies at the local pub. Yeah, I know that's a pretty low bar.

Stay tuned for Part 2 to find out!

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