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Toad In The Hole


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Every once in a while I amass sufficient frequent flyer miles to rise from the riffraff and fly first class. It has been my experience that the international airlines view first class travel as an opportunity to showcase their countries' finest cuisine. Frequently a nation's top chefs are engaged so that the dinner will be the best possible within the confines of an airline cabin.

I recently flew Virgin-Atlantic Upper Class on a flight from Barbados to London. Virgin-Atlantic offered, as the sole alternative to a Christmas Dinner of Roast Turkey, Toad In The Hole. It was a very tasty Toad In The Hole - slices of sausage aswim in onion gravy snugly nestled in a hollowed-out cube of Yorkshire pudding. I imagine Virgin-Atlantic summoned the finest chefs from England's finest boarding schools to prepare the dish.

Toad In The Hole is certainly a welcome step up from the typical US airline domestic first class meal of tepid, medium-well-done, mini-filet mignon. But as Upper Class fare... fine British cusine... Perhaps not.

Holly Moore

"I eat, therefore I am."

HollyEats.Com

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its my experience that those top chefs are little more than a photo on the menu, the food still comes from alpha flight services or someone similar and has been sitting in its own sweat for a while. airline food is almost always abominable, and the food you get in first class or club has just had more money spent on the presentation to make you feel your hard earned cash (or airmiles :wink: ) have been well spent

Edited by fisherman (log)
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its my experience that those top chefs are little more than a photo on the menu, the food still comes from alpha flight services or someone similar and has been sitting in its own sweat for a while. airline food is almost always abominable, and the food you get in first class or club has just had more money spent on the presentation to make you feel your hard earned cash (or airmiles  :wink: ) have been well spent

Except, at least, for Singapore Airlines where the Dom Perignon flows freely, even for breakfast mimosas, and foie gras, smoked salmon and such are the rule.

But again I ask, Toad In The Hole ???

Holly Moore

"I eat, therefore I am."

HollyEats.Com

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I actually had no idea what a Toad in the Hole was until I read this article in the New York Times, today. Strikes me as something -- if well out together, and it seems to have been -- an airline like Virgin, which strives to be edgy despite its size and renown, would do.

Beats the heck out of one more shoe-leather filet.

I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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I think the food in Upper Class on Virgin isn't too bad as far as airplane food goes. In my limited experience (United, BA, Gulf Air, BA and Virgin) I would put them at the top although I do still hold a candle for the warm nuts that United serve either shortly before or after takeoff. I once really activly enjoyed a 45 delay from O'Hare as I just pigged out on nuts.

Anyway, my theory of eating on planes goes as follows:

1. Order a vegan meal. No, really, they are much, much better

2. Never order the beef on United

3. Choose the simplest possible thing so that it's less hard for them to screw up

Toad in the hole is not a easy dish to get right. It's definitly not a dish that I would expect to see served at 35,000. In fact, I'd no more expect to see Toad in the Hole served than I'd expect to see the Fat Duck's nitro green tea palate cleanser after the hot nuts.

Suzi Edwards aka "Tarka"

"the only thing larger than her bum is her ego"

Blogito ergo sum

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1. Order a vegan meal. No, really, they are much, much better

Also kills your chance of an upgrade - people with special meals requests are not normally upgraded since the meal won't be upgraded with you and the person who gets your seat probably won't want a vegan meal. For more information and a bunch of people as obsessed with flying as eGulleters are to food, I direct you to Flyertalk ...

Haven't flown Virgin for a while but BA Club catering isn't up to much. Best thing are the overnight services back from NYC where you eat from a fairly decent restaurant in JFK before getting on board when it's lights-out straight away. It's a pain if you get to the airport late since there's only sandwiches on board but a few glasses of fizz and a decent meal on the ground sets me up nicely to sleep across the Atlantic.

On my few upgrades to BA First I've been quite impressed by the food (warm nuts there too, and decent champers, although they no longer serve Krug). I have the pasta quite a lot which is freshly cooked with a decent sauce - not haute cuisine of any description, but comforting and a million times better than the turgid pasta "bakes" I gather they serve at the back of the plane :cool:

Edited by dallardice (log)
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The advantage of first or business class travel (and Virgin Upper is basically a business class fare) is sleeping, not eating. BA Club (business) now has flat beds, somewhat smaller than the BA First beds but often quieter, because on overnight flights they tend to serve food on the ground and don't offer a hot dinner in the air. Virgin's Upper Class, in the new configuration, has large and very comfortable flat beds, and they are arranged so that you never need to climb over a neighbour. Virgin also offer a "snooze zone", a part of the plane that stays dark and where no meals are served. If you want a hot dinner, you sit in a different section.

I've occasionally had tasty ingredients on international first or business class flights -- e.g. on Air France from Paris to Buenos Aires, decent bread rolls and Echire butter that was fresh and good, or warmed nuts. But I can't imagine how any airline could produce really good food at altitude, given the equipment they have, the need to prepare food in quantity at a central location, and the inability to provide specialised catering staff on board.

A few airlines (Gulf Air, I think) provide "on board chefs" in first class, but I don't know whether these are truly trained cooks or cabin crew members wearing a jacket and toque.

All in all, I'd rather eat on the ground and sleep in the air.

Jonathan Day

"La cuisine, c'est quand les choses ont le go�t de ce qu'elles sont."

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To Holly's point, there have been a number of restaurants in London that serve "school dinners" -- toad in the hole, spotted dick, sticky toffee pudding, etc. -- usually done to a better standard than the schools. Some of these are very exclusive and expensive. No doubt Virgin are picking up on this trend.

Jonathan Day

"La cuisine, c'est quand les choses ont le go�t de ce qu'elles sont."

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Lufthansa business class food is pretty good, but they don't have flatbeds. I agree with Jonathan that sleep is the real bonus. Unfortunately, whenever I fly business (not very often), sleep has to be balanced against the "kid in a sweet shop" temptation to guzzle as much free booze as possible.

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Lufthansa business class food is pretty good, but they don't have flatbeds.  I agree with Jonathan that sleep is the real bonus.  Unfortunately, whenever I fly business (not very often), sleep has to be balanced against the "kid in a sweet shop" temptation to guzzle as much free booze as possible.

Winot, I agree. A year or so ago I had one of these nightmare trips that landed me on a Lufthansa flight from Frankfurt to Buenos Aires without having eaten for the previous 18 hours. I was famished, and hence broke my usual rule of avoiding food on long-haul flights. Lufthansa offered a chicken bonne femme prepared from a Raymond Blanc recipe: chicken, lardons, potatoes, etc. Even though Hunger ist der beste Koch ("hunger is the best cook"), this was really good, and it was the kind of dish that stands up well to advance preparation and re-heating. I'm told that Lufthansa now have flat beds in business class.

We are rapidly flying out of the scope of the UK forum!

Jonathan Day

"La cuisine, c'est quand les choses ont le go�t de ce qu'elles sont."

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  • 2 weeks later...
  I imagine Virgin-Atlantic summoned the finest chefs from England's finest boarding schools to prepare the dish.

I had a good laugh when I read that, being the product of the English boarding school of the 60's. Toad in the Hole was pretty much inedible because the sausages were so overcooked that the insides had shriveled and disappeared by dinner time. All that was left was the sad, overcooked casing, hard as a rock and about as tasty....

Remind me some time to tell you about the pancakes on Shrove Tuesday.....( this might be a new thread!!)

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