I forgot to mention in my last African posts that our African adventure started with Etihad Airlines. It’s the first time we’ve flown with them and we were very impressed with the service, food and aesthetics of the stewardesses. Beautiful red nails, perfect buns and red lips, always in a friendly smile.
On the way in we had the beautiful and friendly Surideen from Thailand, Lara from Oz, and Eva from Hungary. And then there was Rachuda. I don’t speak Arabic, but I think Rachuda translates to Nasty Cow or something along those lines.
The divine Chantal (what can I say, I like to connect with people!) sat next to us – she’s an Etihad employee who was going on holiday to see her family in SA. Before I bothered her into conversation, Joerg and I kept casting awed glances at her opened hand luggage. It was so impeccably packed I felt almost guilty about my own which looked like it had been packed by standing at one end of the room and throwing the items into the bag at the other end of the room. Each one of her items must surely have been laid out on a measuring board and folded into an exact 12,348cm x 14,698cm. And she had pink fluffy slippers and a bottle of wine – my type of (ku)gal.
She told us about the excitement of living and working in Abu Dhabi as a young and beautiful SA girl (I only talked to her ‘cos of the pink slippers, bitch), and she offered to organize champagne for us, so I forgave her for being so nice (and tidy too). She raved about how nice it is to work for Etihad and how well looked after the staff are. (If Etihad would like to send me gifts and free flights, YES I accept! This is the second post in a row where I make shameless personal requests – oh well.)
But where Etihad really excels is the food. Imagine this: an airline where the food is actually good! No, I’m not talking eatable, just about passable as a food substance, NO I mean really GOOD. Normally airline food involves “the hot food replacement” package, an excuse for a salad, and some sugarized cardboard faking it as a dessert. Not so EA.
- Oven baked salmon with red lentil salad (A real piece of salmon on a tasty salad)
- Arabic lamb kofta with basmati rice and courgette (Deliciously spiced minced lamb kebab with savory rice and veg)
- Morello cherry torte (I generally don’t eat dessert and NEVER on a plane, but this was really good)
The second leg of the trip to SA had the Nasty Cow serving us and when she informed us that the Moroccan braised chicken with green olives and preserved lemons was no longer available only fish, I could feel my “I am not a happy flying person and I don’t like flying cows either” nerve kick into action. If there is one thing I have learnt over the years of flying then that is: don’t order the fish unless you are sitting on the toilet as you otherwise won’t get there fast enough. The vegetarian Pasta did not speak to my inner Italian, so I begrudgingly ordered the fish…
- Fatoush salad (fresh bean salad)
- Hamour fish with basmati rice and fried onions (big juicy filet beautifully spiced on a bed of savory rice and broccoli to boot)
- Saffron cake with vanilla sauce (moist and tasty)
Well slap me with a wet jellyfish, it was great! I could not believe it. And no fumigating the loo necessary either!
The return trip was just as good. The very beautiful Joanna from Goa was our stewardess and we really liked her a lot (Joerg couldn’t stop talking to her, bastard). Why didn’t I get just a touch of her elegance and charm?! (Burp) They were out of menus, but the food was great again.
- Tuna salad (but not with tinned tuna, REAL fish pieces rolled in sesame seeds and cooked to perfection)
- Lamb with sauce, rice and green beans (huge pieces of lamb, with savory rice and green beans in a tomato sauce with pine nuts – PINE NUTS on a plane in economy!)
- Cheesecake with a jellied berry topping (really good and served with a nice cup of coffee)
The last meal was on the European leg so we landed in the morning after a lovely breakfast. We had to wait on the ground in Abu Dhabi for a couple of hours due to the runway lights not working. All that stuff in the James Bond movies where all the nice locals stand with torches so that the plane can take-off is just (plane) nonsense – where does one find so many torches at 2 in the morning? We didn’t mind the wait though as we chatted to the friendly stewardess Monika from Slovakia. She gave us recipes for traditional Slovak dumplings made from sheep’s milk and potatoes which I will definitely try and tell you all about. (They are going to have to bury the mouth separately when I fly off to greener pastures.)
- Mushroom omelette (stuffed potatoes and peppers) with a chicken kofta (sausage) and Mediterranean veggies (I chose this one and it was very good and seemed to have been made from real eggs)
- Shashuka scrambled eggs with lamb sausage, hash brown and baked beans (Joerg had this and it wasn’t great – rightful justice for chatting up Joanna on the previous flight. The eggs were powdered eggs and very runny and the hash brown was okay, but the sausage was nice and in general it wasn’t too bad)
Hot breakfasts are another thing that can go horribly wrong on a flight as they sit (festering) in the warming draws for hours, but these were tummy friendly and I was glad to have a tasty warm breakfast before landing in freezing Europe.
So thank you Etihad Airlines and all the lovely staff members we encountered (not you Nasty Cow). I look forward to flying with you again. Or if any other airline would like a completely biased, I mean unbiased of course, opinion of their airline, send me (and the husband too please) a ticket!!!