Back in the ’60s, Air France used to advertise a seven course meal that took place over the course of 1600 miles. It involved the type of elaborate French cuisine that people of the time associated with French food: foie gras, cheeses, entire birds with feathers and all. The image is a little grainy, but you can see what I’m talking about in the ad below.
Those days are obviously gone, although the First Class product seems to be just as exquisite, with at least some of the food designed by French super chefs Joël Robuchon, Régis Marcon, Guy Martin, Anne-Sophie Pic and Michel Roth. While I didn’t get to try the premium cabin food on my very first Air France flight last week, I did get to experience their economy product and I have to say… not bad! Not bad at all!
First, a technical note. Through Air France’s in-flight entertainment system, you can actually view the menus for all of the classes of service. This may seem like taunting to some, but it’s a welcome change from the cloak-and-dagger secrecy I usually find in regards to menus on airplanes. Air France doesn’t keep their food a secret at all. It’s easily accessible and I really appreciate it.
Economy passengers are given the choice of two different entrees. They each come with the same starter, a perfectly acceptable salad of edamame, sun-dried tomatoes, and corn in a light vinaigrette. A cold salad like this is a welcome change from the iceberg lettuce and out-of-season tomato you get on other airlines and the vinaigrette was strong enough to hit the palate at 35,000ft. without blowing up your tastebuds. Am I allowed to say “blowing up” in relation to airplanes? I hope so.
The choices for entree were either a “parmentier de bouef” (shepherd’s pie) or gemelli pasta in a Merlot-tomato sauce. I went with the shepherd’s pie and I’m glad I did. It was a nice combination of flavors and textures with a thick layer of mashed potato over a (much) smaller layer of ground beef and mushrooms. I’ve never said this in relation to airplane food before, but I honestly wish the portion was bigger. The amount of beef felt somewhat skimpy and the fact that I was enjoying it made me sad that I only got a few big forkfuls before the whole thing disappeared. I also wish it came with a sauce of some sort. A nice, rich bordelaise would have packed an extra punch of flavor and elevated an already good dish into something great.
Perhaps the nicest part of the “parmentier” was the fact that it solved the problem of overcooked beef on airplanes. I’ve railed against it before, but by using ground beef instead of beef tenderloin, there’s no concern about fat content or drying out the meat. Leaving it under a blanket of mashed potatoes ensures that the beef stays moist and, as an added bonus, you don’t need to worry about using a weak plastic knife on steak.
In addition to the beef shepherd’s pie and edamame salad, I was also given a cup of Mott’s apple sauce (listed as “fruit compote!”), a square of Tillamook cheddar, a baguette-like roll, and a slice of berry marble cake. The cake was quite dry and instantly forgettable. The cheese and roll made a nice little cheese sandwich and a good precursor to all the wonderful cheese and bread I’ve had this week in France.
I won’t say much about breakfast, except for the fact that there isn’t much to say. You were given an omelette triangle with a tomato, one sausage, and two tater tots. I think it may have come from a school lunch program for underprivileged kids. The tater tots got a bit soggy, the omelette was on the rubbery side, and the sausage was roughly 1/10 as robust as I would have liked in terms of flavor. That said, it was an hour before I landed and I was hungry so I ate it. Here’s a beauty shot of the whole shebang:
Overall, I really liked my dinner and look forward to seeing what arrives on my way back. If breakfast is the same, I think I’ll skip it and have breakfast when I land in Los Angeles. Au revoir!
For those interested, here are the menus from Business Class:
For my other French Gourmet Trip posts, click below: