Elyseonthe inflight dish

International Airplane Breakfasts Go Local with Traditional Flavors

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A Traditional Costa Rican Breakfast on United Airlines

This is the best breakfast I've ever had on an airplane.

On a recent United-Continental flight from San Josè, Costa Rica to Newark Liberty I scored a last-minute upgrade that landed me in early-morning Bloody Mary bliss. This is the first time I'm experiencing the new United Airlines after the systems officially merged on March 3rd. As an in-flight foodie, I immediately notice the change in flatware: Fruit ...

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Feeling Coachy: Good Eats in the Back

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Recently, I enjoyed a surprisingly good meal.

This meal was on an airplane.
...in Economy class.
...on a trans-Atlantic flight.
...on a U.S.-based carrier.

Yes, you read that correctly. I flew coach class on a red-eye across the Atlantic Ocean. Make that "flew coach class TWICE," in the same month. As the end of 2011 came to a close, I found myself cleaned out of Continental/United's system-wide upgrades with no desire to spend $$$ (and hard-earned miles) ...

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The Worst Airplane Meal Ever

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This is the worst meal I've ever been served on an airplane.

At first glance, the plastic and foil-cloaked fodder may seem innocuous, but beneath the lid lurks a culinary crime against the flying public. When I say worst airplane meal ever, I mean ever. Let's put this into perspective: in the past two years I've flown nearly 250,000 miles on more than a dozen international carriers. I've eaten air meals on a West African charter and on a Ukrainian regional carrier I can't ...

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A (French) Toast to Airplane Breakfast

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I consider myself somewhat of an expert on inflight breakfast. 

In the past year, I've eaten a fair share of morning meals on airplanes. In the confusing throes of pre-caffination, I've asked myself many times: cereal or eggs? I've talked about it. I've written about it. Frankly, I've beaten the subject to death. Recently, I found myself blurry-eyed, crawling down yet another jetway before dawn. Destination: Seattle. "Inflight Dish" was the last thing on my mind, until ...

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Tapas vs. Tapas: A Tray Table Showdown

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Recently I found myself kicking it pre-platinum old school in coach class, in that sweet spot by the bulkhead of a 767-400. I was heading to New York from Houston, where I'd spent several days binging on Tex-Mex and tequilla. When they say, "everything's bigger in Texas," they mean everything: I nearly had to gate-check my Lonestar State-sized hangover.

It's common knowledge that best cure for a hangover is a Bloody Mary. It also happens to be my favorite part of every flight. Truth. ...

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Secret Confessions of a "Cereal" Flyer

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My name is Elyse. I've been flying, eating and blogging for Upgrd.com for the past ten months, and I have several confessions to make.

Confession 1: I recently returned my tray table to its full upright and locked position.

In other words, I went on undeclared blog hiatus, mainly due to some much-needed surgery (resulting from a less-than-graceful international incident). The good news is that I'm now on both feet, ready to step back into my fast-paced, food-obsessed lifestyle ...

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Hop, Skip and Snack: Inter-European inflight bites

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On my recent foodie adventures through Europe, I found myself on a number of short haul flights (mainly with my overseas BFF Lufthansa) where I encountered snack foods ranging from good and not-so-good, to just plain weird. First, let's take a moment to give a round of applause to these Euro-based carriers who still manage to provide a complementary meal/snack service during their flights. Yay free meals! Now, let's dish the dirt (with pictures!) on these wacky inflight ...

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Surprise! You've Got Lunch: LX1800 ZRH-IST

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I find myself racing at top speed through the Zurich airport, attempting to make one of those generally inadvisable, asthma-inducing, 30-minute international connections. I tend to travel light, hand-luggage only, so my focus is on making it from point A to point B (or G). I breeze through passport control and security, beelining it to the gate where boarding has already commenced. When I hand my ticket to the gate agent, a machine beeps and the world's tiniest inkjet printer spits ...

Perfect Steak... On a Plane? CO78 EWR-ZRH

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Medium-rare steak on a plane. Is it physically possible? This is UPGRD.com's continuous, existential debate. What culinary possibilities lurk beyond the galley curtain? Beyond expectations? Even beyond a passenger's wildest dreams? For airborne beef is there more out there than a sad, toughened hue of grayish brown? The general consensus between frequent fliers and crew is that "rare steak on a plane" is a concept much like the Yeti, unicorns and Doctor Who's Tardis: its existence can only be ...

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A Medium Rare Teaser

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The sound you just heard echo around the planet was UPGRD.com producer, Mike, yelling at the top of his lungs with dizzying, head-exploding, heart-pounding joy. Apparently you can order medium rare steak on a plane. Find out in next week's Inflight Dish post if this perfectly cooked steak was merely a fluke, an elaborate set-up or an airborn version of "Punked," And in the meantime, Mike can begin mass-emailing his "I told you so's".

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Eggshells and Pajamas: LH599 ADD-FRA

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Like many flights out of Africa, my flight to Frankfurt departed in the middle of the night. I was ready for serious napping, and boarded with a belly full of kitfo (Ethiopian steak tartare) so a full dinner service wasn't an option. Honestly, I was still waiting to see how my "steel" stomach would hold up after devouring a bowlful of raw beef in downtown Addis Ababa. Thankfully, it held up well.

I used Star Alliance miles to purchase the Lufthansa legs of my journey, and due to ...

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"35,000 Feet High" Concept Dining: LH598 FRA-ADD

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This spring, Lufthansa enlisted New York celeb chef David Burke to design innovative menus for First and Business class passengers on long haul routes from Germany. David Burke is most famous for his eclectic, Willy Wonka-like visions of candy floss and cheesecake lollipops, wild savory flavor combinations and eye-popping culinary colors. With a string of namesake eateries in New York, David Burke rules the roost in a funky high-concept foodie empire. 

The path between ...

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Air Meals on Air Mali: MZI-DKR

 

From the State Department's website: "The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed the government of Mali’s Civil Aviation Authority for compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards."

Right.

I'm not a nervous flyer, but I did pause to take a deep breath before climbing the air stairs to the MD-87, one of Air Mali's four operating aircraft. Our flight from Mopti to Dakar is a private group ...

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Champagne to Camembert: AF3096 CDG-BKO

 

Oh Air France, you really do know how to impress a girl. I'm seated in the back of economy class, but that's okay - on Air France they refer to it as voyageur class which makes it all sound very James Bond, exotic, luxurious and thrilling at the same time.  I'm onboard my second long-haul flight in 24 hours and so, so, so thankful for the complimentary glass of champagne that just hit my tray table. I'm not on my preferred airline; I have no status here, but ...

Air France Treats a Foodie Right: AF09 JFK-CDG

 

I've generally learned to lower my expectations on trans-Atlantic trips in coach, but a recent Air France flight raised the bar (liquor pun unintentional but somehow fitting). Sitting in my New York City apartment, I've come to terms with the fact that not only is the inflight entertainment better on Air France than with my own cable provider, the food served in coach is superior to anything currently found in my refrigerator. Foodie disclosure: because I'm constantly on the ...

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Tales from the Pasta Bar: CO44 EWR-MXP

This is what a pasta bar looks like at 35,000 feet. That's right, I said "pasta bar." Definitely one of the more food-tastic incarnations of inflight dining, the Continental Airlines pasta bar-on-wheels has been dishing out Parmesan-laden carbs to Italy-bound passengers for years. 

Italian flights are always my favorite. Maybe it's because I've traveled from New York to FCO or MXP more than other destinations in the past decade. Perhaps it's because I ...

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A Non-Violent Vegetarian: CO1895 RTB-IAH

Remember the violent vegetarian? The tray-tossing moron who decided she was infinitely more special than her "special" meal on a Continental flight back in March? I did, especially when sitting next to me on this Houston-bound flight was my friend Jackie...a vegetarian. I landed prime front row seats for both of us due to my status, so we would both be served an actual snack on this short flight.

 

It's always a score when I'm served the good cold ...

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Party in the Front: CO1894 IAH-RTB

My flight out of Houston was delayed several hours by a fog so dense it made the morning drive look like the funk from a Stephen King movie. By the time we boarded, I already knew I would miss the last ferry over to Utila, my island destination near the Honduran coast. I would be stranded, alone on Roatan island for the night. The thing is, I didn't mind. There was something magical happening on the plane. I can't speak for the rest of the passengers, but our three tiny first class rows must ...

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Foodie vs. Breakfast Triangle: CO239 MIA-EWR

 

Allow me to introduce you to the onboard breakfast triangle. A few months ago I found myself on a streak of pre-dawn flights connecting me through Houston. I don't mind the ungodly hours. I try not to become emotionally attached to any one time zone. As far as I'm concerned it's always 5:00PM somewhere. Happy hour? Darling, in my universe that's every hour. But let's get back to discussing the foodstuff of the moment: domestic first class breakfast fare.

I'm not a fan ...

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A New, Improved Cheese Plate: CO61 EWR-IAH

I've never been so thankful to be upgraded into a seat with a footrest. On my way to the gate, I managed to defy the concept of airport "security" by breaking my toe at Newark Airport's C-1 checkpoint. I'm serious, I've seen the x-rays. Clearly the whole shoe removal rule is not beneficial to a certain demographic of accident-prone passengers (ahem). Thankfully, it was just a toe and one of the smaller ones at that. At the insistence of a flight attendant friend (who ...

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