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When you enter the Business Class cabin on an intercontinental flight aboard Turkish Airlines, you are welcomed by your designated flight attendants and a brigade of flying chefs, ready to show you a unique atmosphere created around Turkish hospitality. Rated by the 2015 Skytrax Passenger Choice Award as Europe’s Best Airline, Turkish Airlines rates at the same level of excellence as Singapore Airlines in Asia, Quantas in Australia and the Pacific, Qatar Airways in the Middle East, Virgin America in North America, Avianca in Central America and the Caribbean, and LAN Airlines in South America.
On our way to Istanbul, we flew on a 777-300, equipped with comfortable sleeper seats, which were wide enough even for a big chunky guy like me. The cabin boasts all the amenities of today’s modern travel. Planet is the audio video on demand entertainment system, in addition to options featuring music, games, and a broad selection of classical, featured, international, and children’s films. The cabin enables passengers—via their “Communications” section—to send and receive SMS/emails, while the news channel presents world news, for a fee.
But it’s the food & beverage service onboard what has surpassed anything I have experienced in a while. As soon as you are nestled comfortably in your designated personal space, trays with fresh juices, aromatic iced teas and water are passed as a welcome refreshment. However, the bar is open, and wine, champagne or cocktails as served upon request. Before taking off, elegant trays with miniature “Lokum”—delightful rose-orange water gel, nut and sugar confections—better known as Turkish delights, are offered as simple mouthfuls of joy before ascending to greater heights. As soon as we leveled at 38,000 feet, the feast on the air started.
Our seat trays opened to extra large dining tables, were fine linens were set along with small translucid paper bags lit with flickering battery operated led candles. Additional lights were placed all around the business class cabin creating a magical ambiance in the sky. A chilled glass of Gosset Brut Grande Reserve Champagne—the oldest wine house in Champagne (1584)—accompanied me for most of my journey. While savoring assorted hors d’oeuvres, and the best mixed nuts (I could taste they were from Turkey because of their full, rich flavor, like none in our part of the world), our flying chefs sat by us to explain the menu and take our entrée order, before asking if we had any dietary restrictions. I opted for the Grilled Sea Bas with Tuscany Style Vegetables, herbed potatoes and lemon dill sauce and my partner, Michael, for the Filet of Beef with zucchini, fennel, and chateau potatoes. I told him, “ I would have never order beef on an airplane, it’s always dry and overcooked,” not imagining that later on I would be swallowing my words.
After a few more glasses of Gosset, there came the trolley displaying a selection of appetizers. I could not decide, so I almost had a taste of everything: Marinated Octopus, Wild Salmon Tartar with horseradish cream, Ground Lamb Brochettes, Grilled Chicken Breast with Chickpea Salad, White Cheese (a Turkish version of Greek Feta) with watermelon, but skipped the fresh garden salad and the Grilled Artichoke Hearts. A creamy Pumpkin Soup (only had a half serving), was a great mid-course to prepare us for our entrée, thought we were already getting full.
Michael’s Filet of Beef was a tender & juicy medium to well, still pink. Perfectly cooked, it did not feel precooked, just carefully finished by our Flying Chefs to please the most discerning passenger. The Sea Bass was fresh and perfectly cooked as well. To accompany our entrees, Michael had the Chateau Lamothe Pontac Medoc, 2012, a round and refined harmonious Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot blend from Bordeaux, while I tasted both the Chablis Premier Cru Les Beauroys 2012 white Burgundy and the unusual & austere Prestige Narince 2013, the Anatolian white grape that yields a strong but smooth wine produced as a varietal by Kavaklidere Winery.
When we thought we had experienced enough, and as the cabin lights dimmed, the dessert cart paraded a potpourri of traditional Turkish dessert like “Sobiyet”, which translated to assorted versions of Baklava, White & Dark Lava Cake with Chocolate Sauce, Mixed Wild Berries with Vanilla Ice Cream, along with a phenomenal Tea Service an on-site blending of their Wellness Tea program, including a mix of Melissa, chamomile, sour cherry, and lavender to promote sleep and stress relief. The sublime infusions featured fennel, anise, and caraway for healthy digestion; mate, sage and ginger to refresh; green tea, cherry stalk, corn silk and clove to reduce swelling, and Linden, Ginger, Echinacea, clove and cinnamon to support the immune system. All the libations followed the dessert trolley, like a caravan of a thousand delights. ■