I@MyLastBite My Last Bite Food Travel Writer Blogger Jo Stougaard
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Last week American Airlines (AA) invited me to an exclusive menu tasting in Texas. They have new, seasonal food and wine menus rolling out in July for selected Domestic and Transcontinental First Class Flights, as well as new snacks in their Flagship Lounges.
The event took place at LSG Sky Chefs in Irving which is near the Dallas/Fort Worth Airport (AA HQ). Along with media were several of the airlines most loyal frequent flyers, who were on hand to share their input. The fun kicked off with a round of champagne as we listened to airline executives talk about improvements for the AA passenger experience.
I was surprised to see a familiar face as we began tasting food. Celebrity Chef Sam Choy was there showcasing his new transcontinental menu, which included spicy crab, steamed sea bass and wagyu meatloaf (photos below). AA wine consultant Ken Chase entertained all with his spirited presentation, and noted how important it is for wines to compliment the regions where AA travels (Malbec in Argentina for example), and that it also exposes passengers to new wines as well. His pro tip: To stay hydrated while flying, drink three glasses of water per one glass of wine.
I travel often, and when I visit my folks in Scotland I usually fly economy. American Airlines is a partner to British Airways, so at least one of my flights (either to or from London) are on AA. If I get the chance for an upgrade (it happens!), it’ll be interesting to experience it all with a new point of view. The majority of the dishes I tasted were fantastic and I’d happily order them in a restaurant. Only one seemed overly salty, which is normal (in food prep) when serving at 30,000 feet since “taste buds and sense of smell are the first thing to go”. I did mention it and was told they are still working on adjustments.
As the only L.A.-based writer invited, I was asked to simply share the experience on social media, which I did on twitter, instagram and facebook. The new American Airlines campaign is called #GoingForGreat, and my main takeaway from the afternoon was a truly sincere effort by the AA team.
Thank you for having me American Airlines!
Event date was June 22, 2015. All photos here.
Round trip flights from Los Angeles to Dallas were provided by American Airlines.
Peter and I both love chef Josef Centeno‘s cooking. With four restaurants in downtown L.A., we often have a hard time deciding which one to eat at. There’s Baco Mercat (home of the bäco) and Bar Ama (with the best queso in town). High-end Orsa & Winston is currently offering a fantastic Yakitori-Ya menu (through March 2). Josef’s newest eatery, Ledlow, recently won a rave Jonathan Gold review. All the restaurants are within walking distance of each other at 4th and Main, and all are simply fantastic.
After twenty years together, it’s not easy to surprise my husband of 18 years. But for his birthday last month, with the help of Josef and his fiancee (my friend) Betty Hallock, we did just that. I joked to Betty that I wished I could take Peter to all of Josef’s restaurants for his birthday and she said they had actually been thinking of organizing a restaurant crawl.
I was thrilled when Josef offered to select the evening’s menu, which included two dishes and a drink at each location. To make things easier, since it was four different kitchens and staff, I paid for the evening ahead of time and left a tip at each (45 minute) stop. Many thanks to Betty and Josef for helping me surprise Peter!
Photos from our December 2014 “Centeno Crawl” below:
STOP 2: Orsa & Winston
STOP 3: Bar Ama
STOP 4: Ledlow
My husband Peter and I finally made it downtown for dinner last Thursday. We keep meaning to spend more time in DTLA (DownTown LA), but it took “DineLA Restaurant Week” to get us to check out the sleek and sexy Drago Centro.
The special DineLA menu at the Italian hotspot offers three courses for $44, which is a great bargain (and very filling), but as usual we ordered some extras from the regular menu as well. The three of us (including our friend Laurieann) shared every dish, and now I can’t wait to go back and try the things I missed!
If you’re not familiar with Drago Centro, here’s what Jonathan Gold wrote about the restaurant in LA Weekly:
“Planted at the base of a formerly sterile office plaza, Centro may be the grandest new restaurant in this neighborhood since the early 1980s, a sprawling former bank space blown out into a double-height modernist dining room, punctuated in the middle by a glassed-in wine vault…”
I have to admit, sitting in the main dining room, near the enormous glass wine room was sort of powerfully intoxicating… but then again, it could have been the red wine and grappa!
All around it was a fun evening, especially spending time with sommelier Michael Shearin and our terrific server, Stefano. Make sure you ask for them if you plan on eating there soon (which you should)!
What we ate:
525 S. Flower St #120
Los Angeles, CA 90071
Dining Date: 10/08/09
Photo above right: Grappa flavored with Chamomile made by Marolo
A great big THANK YOU to Foodista for including me in the article! Thanks also to Kim Severson at the New York Times, and the awesome Axel Koester for all the lovely photos he took of me in my kitchen! That’s me (above, right) about to cook a tray of bacon-wrapped breadsticks in the N E W… Y O R K… T I M E S!!
I’ll post more pics from the photo-shoot soon.