Cathay Pacific (CX) has partnered with Tosca, a Michelin star Italian restaurant at The Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong, to offer new infight menus for first and business passengers.
Business Traveller Asia-Pacific attended a tasting preview of the first class menu. It is designed by Pino Lavarra, the restaurant’s Michelin-starred chef, comprising starters, pastas, entrees and desserts.
“I was particularly intrigued by the approach of creating intense flavour parings that can offset the impact flying at high altitude has on the sensitivity of our taste buds. I therefore crafted a special menu that combines a set of interesting dishes and flavours which I hope will enliven the gustatory senses of passengers,” Lavarra commented at the tasting.
The trilogy of choices on offer (pictured) include the following:
Buffalo salami antipasto with grilled focaccia and tomato selection – Overall, a delightful combination. Although the salami was a bit salty on dry land, taste buds aren’t as sensitive at high attitude, and it works well with the tangy tomato flavours.
Lobster Caesar salad – The salad dressing paired well with the succulent lobster, and does not overpower its taste. The crustacean is served refreshingly chilled, which means it will maintain this fresh and tender quality inflight, as it does not need reheating.
Beef seared carpaccio with parmesan crisp – The beef was delectably soft, which worked well with the parmesan (which lived up to its “crispy” moniker). There is a risk however that the cabin pressure at attitude may affect this particular quality.
Three of the dishes are served with tomatoes, and Brendan Duffy, catering manager planning and concept design at CX said this is because the umami components therein stay sharp at altitude.
There are three choices:
- Cannelloni with ricotta cheese, eggplant and pancetta stew
- Garganelli with n’duja salami, bread sofritto and Senise pepper
- Ditalini with zucchini, Pecorino cheese, Tomberry tomato and langoustine
I was served the second one (pictured). The garganelli sauce is spicy, which some might consider a controversial choice for an inflight meal. However, the chef did well in controlling the degree of spice by balancing it with just the right amount of Senise pepper – so it wasn’t too much of a shock to the palate. Both the n’duja salami and bread sofritto are served in small cubes because increasing the surface area helps bring out their natural flavour, which is why the chef did not need to use many condiments, said Duffy. This helps avoid excess salt being used to bring out flavours that might otherwise be stifled in-air, which in turn increases the risk of passenger dehydration.
There are three choices:
- Fillet of sea bass, spring vegetables and pesto dressing sauce
- Centre cut sea bass “acqua pazza” style, baked fennel and bottarga
- Roasted lamb shoulder confit, grain mustard and herbal bread crust, vegetables caponata and black pepper sauce
I tested the last one, which in general enjoyed the best feedback of all three options from the various testers. The confit (pictured) may at a glance appear well done, but the texture is soft – not at all chewy. Personally, I enjoyed the dish though it could perhaps do with a drop or two more sauce, particularly considering the dryness of the cabin during flight.
Again, a trilogy of options is available (pictured).
Traditional Tiramisu – well balanced, not too sweet.
Panna cotta with white chocolate, Amaretto and preserved cherries – An exceptional dessert. It delivers all the rich flavour of white chocolate, yet manages to provide a light, pudding-like texture. The cherry is soaked in wine, enhancing its tangy, juicy qualities which linger deliciously.
Chestnut biscuit with pistachios semifreddo – The chestnut is topped with gold leaf, but this is more for aesthetic purposes I suspect. Otherwise, the balance between the biscuit and semifreddo tastes is good, and they compliment each other well.
Business passengers have fewer choices to select from. The new food offerings will be introduced from May 1 to July 31. James Ginns, general manager inflight services of CX said that the menu is designed for frequent travellers, and he thinks it is suitable to launch it on a three month basis so that travellers won’t tire of it. First and business passengers onboard for the following selected long-haul and regional flights will be able to enjoy the selections:
Routes departing from Hong Kong
Long-haul flights: Johannesburg (South Africa), Adelaide, Brisbane, Cairns, Melbourne, Perth, Sydney (Australia), Auckland (New Zealand), Amsterdam, Frankfurt, London, Milan, Paris, Rome (Europe), Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Newark, San Francisco (USA), Vancouver, Toronto (Canada), Moscow (Russia)
Regional flights: Osaka, Nagoya, Sapporo, Tokyo (Japan), Seoul (Korea), Singapore
For more information, visit www.cathaypacific.com