Photo: Amy Fletcher for Air China
"Airplane food can be better," Chef Anita Lo announced yesterday from the dining room of Annisa, her New York City restaurant. And by the look of the working menu she's crafted for Air China's first and business cabin services, it is going to be one spectacular inflight dining experience.
A Francophile who focuses on a blend of modern French and Chinese cuisine in her restaurant, Chef Lo was interested in using authentic Chinese ingredients and international flavors and had just returned from a three-day trip to China, where she visited several markets on the prowl for inspiration. One such ingredient is osmanthus, which is a plant that has a similar flavor as elderflower. "I thought it was exotic," Lo admitted to the crowd gathered for the menu launch. "But it turns out it's quite a common ingredient in China, they even have it on the plane."
Lo didn't shy away from sumptuous details and ingredients, including lobster with a foie gras torchon (she's served lobster at both the White House State Dinners with China at which she's been selected to prepare the menu) as a first course and a tender beef shortrib with various "oyster" items: mushrooms, sauce and root (a.k.a. salsify).
The signature menu created by Chef Lo will feature:
Canape - Shooter of Chilled Fennel Soup with Perilla Leaf
Cold First Course - Salad of Lobster and Foie Gras Torchon with Orange and Black Vinegar Gelee
Hot Entree - Braised Shortrib of Beef with Oyster Root, Oyster Mushroom and Oyster Sauce
Cold Dessert - Posset with Grapefruit, Ginger, Osmanthus and Wolfberry
Lo said she loved the new wide-body Boeing 747 on which she flew and would feature her new menus (earlier this year Air China upgraded the planes used for the New York to Beijing trip to the Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental), and that she hoped that the steaming system used onboard could keep her braised short rib moist for travelers. "The menu is still a work in progress," she said. "But there's no reason why you can't eat well while you're flying."
More information at AirChina.us