While a bag of nuts may feel like a luxury item on most flights these days, witness the best examples of free haute cuisine varying route-to-route and month-to-month across the suddenly not-so-unfriendly skies. Check out even more enticing flight fare here.
Emirates' Cheese Platter
Route: New York to Dubai
This is the best cheese platter you'll encounter in the air. Period. (What else would you expect from an airline with roast lobster, Dom Pérignon, and Iranian Sevruga caviar on the menu?) The selection of international cheeses changes frequently, but often includes tart labnah balls, slices of rare Spanish bonvallis with a wine-soaked rind, pungent Swiss gruyères, chaumes from Périgord, and German cambonzolas, all of which come plated on oak cutting boards garnished with dried apricots, fresh carrots, and grapes.Related: The Best Fast Food On-the-Go
Austrian Airlines' Pastry Plate
Route: New York to Vienna
While Austrian Airlines' transcontinental flights have living, breathing on-board chefs, its operation out of J.F.K. Airport in New York actually features a pastry department, too. Nibble on Fabergé-like sachertortes, dobostortes, and soft chocolaty cherry cakes, but save room for the superlative punseh krapfen, filled with D'arbo apricot jam, soaked in Meyer's dark rum, draped in velvety pink fondant, and garnished with fragrant candied violets. It's a favorite of many staffers, as are the mini chocolate mousses, whipped up exclusively for crew.Related: Four Trips to Take with Your Kids Before They're 18
Cathay Pacific's Warm BBQ Pork Bun
Route: San Francisco to Hong Kong
There's a magical place a few miles from Hong Kong International Airport called Cathay City, where pilots are trained, flight attendant dreams come true, and secret pork bun recipes from Cathay's various caterers are tested to see which is best. The fruits of this labor - a dollop of tangy pork and some homemade hoisin sauce folded into a warm yeasty, honey-glazed bun - are just the thing to get you through Hugh Grant's latest chick-flick snoozer.
Related: Best Recipes for Your Own BBQ Back Home
Turkish Airlines' Mezze of Cold Stuffed Peppers
Route: New York to Istanbul
Turkey has an airline? Yes, and its food is excellent. These light Turkish snacks (also known as Zeytinyagli Dolma) date back to the Ottoman Empire era and are ideal mile-high foods because they're low in fat, but still filling. Many foods seem duller at extreme altitudes because our taste buds are muted, but the long-grained rice, extra virgin Turkish olive oil, finely chopped yellow onions, currants, pine nuts, and chopped fresh herbs make these little dervishes burst with flavor.
Related: Suitcase-Packing Tips for Men
Midwest Airlines' Warm Chocolate Chip Cookies
Route: Phoenix to Milwaukee
Those who say the flyover zone is bereft of decent business class snacks should reconsider. Baked onboard in the aircraft's convection oven, each one-ounce warm chocolate chip cookie is another step closer to Mom's Midwestern kitchen. Made with fresh Wisconsin butter and chocolate chips by Milwaukee-based Ambrosia Chocolate (who's been around since 1894), the classic cookie is available in both coach and business classes and remains a gooey and delicious slice of Americana.
Related: More Comfort Foods We Crave...Plus Recipes
Thai Airways' Deep-Fried Lotus Root with Minced Pork
Route: New York to Bangkok
Thai Airways is consistently ranked atop the best airline food roundups, no wonder considering Thai fare has become an Asian comfort cuisine to many Westerners. You might think deep-fried foods are to be avoided on long hauls at all costs, but Thai's Royal Silk Class plates up some fancy minced pork, atop an even fancier (and fried!) flower root, long associated with purity of body and mind, and surprisingly rich in fiber, vitamin C, vitamin B6, and manganese, a mineral-relaxant.
Related: Tips for Enjoying Air Travel
Air France's Fauchon Mini-Crepes Cheese Crackers
Route: Paris to Los Angeles
Air France's business class consults with famed sommelier Olivier Poussier regarding its wine selections, uses flatware designed by Philippe Starck, and calls these snacks "mini crepes." While they're basically cheese crackers, they're not ordinary cheese crackers - not only do they come in a yellow box, they also "may contain trace amounts of fish, groundnuts, and celery," which must be the reasons they taste so magnifique.
Based on the free food, which flight would you choose?
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