As seen in London Unattached on 14 June 2021
Heat, serve and plate like a Masterchef
Eating at 35,000 feet has a somewhat dodgy reputation. Trays full of frigid food – or meals so overheated they burn your mouth – are anticipated more to dull the boredom of the long-haul flight than for any expected pleasure from the meal. I have lost count of the number of chicken curries I have eaten from a foil container. Those whose purse enables them to travel by private jet do not share these disappointments of mass catering with their fellow citizens. Luckily for them, their food derives from quite a different kitchen – that of On Air Dining, a company providing catering for executive and private aviation. Now, courtesy of sister company, One Fine Dine, the very best of in-flight dining can be enjoyed on terra firma. One Fine Dine is an elite at-home catering service that delivers gourmet meals to your home. CEO Daniel Hulme writes that this cuisine has been served to heads of state, global business leaders and celebrities. Now I get to eat it in my garden.
With staycationing becoming the new way to travel, One Fine Dine has teamed up with Bloomsbury Estates so that diners on holiday can continue to benefit from home deliveries when they are putting their feet up in a luxury holiday home. If heating and serving souends too strenuous, One Fine Dine can arrange for a private chef to cook in your holiday abode and even do the washing up.
One Fine Dine’s strapline is heat, plate, serve. I have spent many hours during lockdown preparing elaborate meals from at-home meal kits and these vary in complexity and time spent in the kitchen. Nowadays I am all for those kits that spare me time and give me pleasure. Especially while I am on holiday. My family can vouch for the pleasure of relaxing while waiting for a fabulous dinner to appear on the table. The only downside for me is that I am usually the one in the kitchen. Now, I too can enjoy a pre-dinner sundowner.
As I began to prepare the meal, I thought about how many air stewards might have been squinting at these same recipe cards which have photographs of every stage of the plating. I imagined doing so in a tiny private jet kitchen for a table of expectant diners who are accustomed to luxury at every turn. My fellow diners were lounging in the garden, their bar set somewhat lower. No cabin pressure nor stress for me then. Yet, I found that I lacked certain skills. One of these was creating attractive swirls with the multiple sauces in tiny piping bags. Having watched countless, mesmerising videos of people effortlessly icing cakes on Instagram, I imagined it would be easy. It is not. I hope the airline stewards have a training day for this sort of thing. Swirls aside, I was pleased with my efforts and the food itself was of an excellent standard.
Bardolino Classico Lenotti 2019 was a light red that paired well with the dishes and was just right for the warm weather.
By dessert, we were flying high partly from the wine and partly due to the wonderful courses we had enjoyed. The apricot bavarois had good flavour and texture. A disc of crunchy, green pistachio praline was topped with pain perdu, the orange bavarois and, finally, a piping of mascarpone mousse was sprinkled with toasted white chocolate and micro mint.
I fell at the last hurdle when the chocolate fondant collapsed on the plate. It tasted delicious nonetheless with the accompanying morello cherry compote and crème fraiche d’Isigny, but I have no doubt I would have lost my job serving this to those who usually eat these dishes on private jets. Fortunately, my family are more forgiving.
A plate of gorgeous petit fours ended the sumptuous meal on a high note. Orange and honeycomb fudge was particularly memorable. The set menu is priced at £65 per head which I think is very good value for a meal of this quality. Not only are the components well presented and beautifully cooked, but the attention to detail is what one expects of high-end dining.
One Fine Dine has a monthly menu and diners can choose from three items per course. There is also an à la carte menu and an impressive wine list. Delivery is available nationwide.
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