The Foodie Report
Ruminations on food, cooking in and eating out in our area.

It's entirely possible to be a vegetarian in Porkopolis. Pop culture reporter Lauren Bishop blogs about products, recipes and restaurants she's tried for others who eat meat-free. E-mail her at lbishop@enquirer.com.

Nicci King is an unabashed foodie and the Lifestyle/Food editor in The Enquirer's features department. She loves to discover new food faves, and she's on a daily quest to answer one burning question: What's for dinner? E-mail her at nking@enquirer.com.

Enquirer Weekend editor Julie Gaw tends to order the same dish every time she eats at a restaurant, but periodically ventures out to discover something new and fabulous. After living in China, Hong Kong, the Philippines and Thailand for more than 8 years, she craves tasty Asian food. E-mail her at jgaw@enquirer.com.

Food/dining writer Polly Campbell loves every quirk and secret of Cincinnati's food personality, and is on a constant lookout for something good to eat. Keep an eye out for her restaurant picks, or see how she's progressing toward becoming famous for her apple pie. E-mail her at pcampbell@enquirer.com.

Communities reporter Rachel Richardson is on a mission to prove vegetarians eat more than lettuce. She shares both her graduate work on American food culture and food-related news.. E-mail her at rrichardson@enquirer.com.

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Thursday, December 06, 2007

Delta goes gourmet

For many a long-distance traveler, airline food is about as palatable as prison food. Rubbery chicken, cardboard-like fish or chewy beef – airline food has long been the scourge of the industry.

Now that airlines are struggling to remain profitable, many of the cheaper airlines made the ingenious decision to avoid serving bad food by not serving any, and the rest have upped their game. As MSNBC Travel Troubleshooter Chris Elliott reports, serving gourmet food on flights is becoming a real trend as airlines try to make flying more enjoyable, while also hoping to part passengers from their dollars.

Delta Air Lines recently brought on board celebrity chef Todd English to design its gourmet passenger meals. Passengers on Delta flights over 750 miles can now order smoked salmon and egg salad croissants, a Mediterranean salad with grilled shrimp or a roast beef Cobb sandwich. Meals run between $2 and $10.

Sound tempting? Don’t salivate yet, warns Elliott.

Those tempting Todd English sandwiches are available online on flights longer than four hours. On shorter hops, expect to be offered a choice between a package of dry roasted peanuts, Biscoff Cookies or honey peanut butter crackers.

And although some of the Todd English food selections are available to economy class, the good stuff is reserved for first- and business-class passengers and only on select transcontinental flights domestically.

Despite Delta’s efforts, Elliott points to the Zagat Airline Survey, in which Delta ranked 7 points out of a possible 20 – still an “F.” Writes Elliott:

So there you have it. Airlines only offer the fabulous in-flight fare on a handful of flights and make you pay for it when you’re sitting in the cheap seats. The rest of the food is pretty dreadful. If you’re worried about the quality, quantity or availability of food on your next flight, don’t believe the flashy announcements being made by the major air carriers. Bring your own food on board. Or at least, bring exact change.

So, what do you do on longer flights? Have you ever had a good airline meal?


at 11:17 AM Anonymous Harold said...

Long ago (1970's) on an Air India flight from London to New York.

at 2:49 PM Blogger Cin Twin1 said...

I like those Lance peanut butter crackers, but on my travels lately, they have switched to "Nip-Chee" variety. I hate those fake cheese type! I usually bring a Zone bar with me and a piece of fruit. I like to bring a nice citrus fruit to improve the smell on the plane while I peel it. On a short flight from Knoxville to Cincinnati latelly, we got nothing, nada, zilch. I was like I paid how much for this flight and you can bring me some cookies!! Ok, venting over!

at 3:02 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

on southwest you get a pack of honey roasted peanuts and drink. I fly southwest because of the cheap flights. I do not consider food service when choosing a airline.

at 3:03 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

hey sorry this is off topic, but anderson kroger has hired certified pastry chef michael van fleet. He is an instructor at cincinnati state for pastry arts.

at 5:11 PM Blogger Nicci King said...

Really? Thanks, Anon 3:03...

As far as air food goes, the absolute worst was the flight to Shanghai. It was 16 hours of hell... I slept and did the bit of yoga that I could through most of it because I felt like jumping out of my skin. But they fed us ALL. THE. TIME. You don't have a chance to get hungry because you hardly move! It got to the point where I just ignored the flight attendant and her evil cart...

at 7:37 PM Anonymous schottzie03 said...

I like to bring aboard a big jar of pickled eggs, sit them on my lap, and eat them one by one during the flight.

Seriously, I think they only feed passengers as a way to keep people busy, it makes the time go faster watching the cart make its way to your aisle.

at 8:56 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

On time on a flight to Toronto we had a landing gear problem....emergancy landing was announced...I reached in my bag and pulled out an ester price dark chocolate carmel bar...if I am going down in a firely blaze then that is what I want as the last thing to go into my mouth.... of course we landed safely and I looked like a goober stufffing the carmel bar in my mouth.....

at 12:16 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Have flown business class on Singapore airlines a few times - they are the best. You gotta love having lobster thermidor at 35,000 feet.

I have frequently flown Delta business class over the past 5 years. While their food is nowhere near Singapore Air, it is better than most U.S. airlines. I also fly NWA to Asia frequently and their biz class food sucks. Believe it or not, I had outstanding crab cakes on a Delta flight to Frankfurt about 6 weeks ago.

Can't say that I've had a memorable meal in the back of the plane, but I will say that the Euro airlines do a better job in this area.

at 2:51 AM Blogger Elyse said...

surprisingly ElAl tends to have good food on their overseas flights. There is nothing like hot pita, fresh hummus, and Israeli salad to make me happy

at 9:51 AM Blogger Stepf said...

Air India has good food -- and always has a vegetarian option. I flew them from Paris this spring. However, because they always serve curry, the cabin smells like curry.
A two-hour Asiana Airlines flight from SEoul to Tokyo yielded the best airplane fare. My friend Jen, a small-town Canadian girl, was amazed that the food was free and kept asking whether she had to pay for it. Curried shrimp salad with a small sandwich and sushi rolls on the return flight. Yum.
Korean Air (partnered with Air France) serves mini pouches of kimchi, which you shouldn't try to take out of the pressurized cabin. Leaky kimchi pouches smell really bad.
My best flight ever was also my longest, from Seoul to Paris. They fed us fairly decent Korean food, then a "French" meal of a croissant sandwich. Kimchi was served both times, of course! The cabin smelled awful!
In my experience, foreign airlines treat customers better than domestic ones.
p.s. thanks for the tip on the pastry chef at the Anderson Kroger!!!

at 10:06 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

yeah i am a student of chef michael van fleet and he announced to us that he resigned from head pastry chef at xavier and took head pastry chef at anderson kroger.

at 9:56 AM Anonymous rms said...

Honestly, I think eating on an airplane is a pain. Unless one has the good fortune to fly First Class, which I don't, eating like a bunch of cramped sardines in a feeding frenzy doesn't hold an allure.
Give me a cocktail, and a book. Keep the food.

at 1:16 PM Blogger Kate The Great said...

I really only eat on international flights these days. Delta and US Airways are sub par... but a few years ago I was pleasantly surprised on a Virgin Atlantic flight from JFK to London. That flight was my introduction to clotted cream, and I've loved it ever since...

But honestly, I can't remember if the food was spectacular on Virgin or all the free booze. That was in 1999. I don't know if that do that any more...

at 2:59 PM Blogger WestEnder said...

I'm sure this will be standard on all airlines in the near future. Travelers want things like more legroom and better food, but given the choice between better amenities and lower fares, they always choose lower fares.

Airlines provide first class for those willing to pay and now they'll provide better food for those willing to pay. I think most travelers will appreciate having the choice and I would expect it to go over very well.

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