Friday, February 08, 2019

Tim's Cascade Snacks


"Tim's has been creating our famous chips in the shadow of the Cascade Mountain range since 1986 using an old family recipe. By starting with premium potatoes direct from family owned farms and only the finest blends of real seasonings, we think you'll agree that you have discovered what you have been looking for from your first satisfying crunch."
Tim's is a manufacturer of chips, located in Washington state.  Like many regional brands, it has a cult following, but I had never heard of Tim's, until I visited Seattle, and they were seemingly everywhere.

For the most part, Tim's flavors are fairly common: original, sour cream & onion, sea salt & vinegar, cheddar & sour cream, and a couple types of BBQ (honey BBQ or Alder Smoke BBQ).  A new, slightly more interesting flavor is Dill  Pickle, a flavor they have partnered with Vlasic to make.  But the flavor variety doesn't seem to be the main appeal.

To be honest, I'm not really sure what is.  I have tried the original (served alongside my lobster roll at New England Lobster) and I've now tried another variety and ... yeah, they are just chips.
Sea Salt & Vinegar.
"A combination of the purest Sea Salt and tangiest Vinegar ever to give these chips a taste that the Queen would be proud of!"

For the bag I actually selected, I went for sea salt & vinegar, since the flavor options weren't particularly interesting in general.

The chip base was ... fine.  A kettle style chip, fried, thin, crispy.  Fine, but greasier than I like.

The salt and vinegar though ... wow it was intense.  Way too intense for my taste unfortunately.  Incredibly tangy.
Read More...

Thursday, February 07, 2019

John & Jill's Cheesecake

John & Jill's is a fairly local (to San Francisco) cheesecake maker, located in Sonoma.  The owners, John & Jill, a brother and sister, have a pretty cute story.

Jill started working at Sonoma Valley Cheesecake when she was 16, in assorted roles.  John worked there too, while in college.  They both did other things, but eventually started their own company in 1994.  They later acquired Sonoma Valley Cheesecake, and now supply under both brand names.  It really is a nice success story!

They make over 40 flavors of cheesecake (!) in a slew of different sizes (8!).  The cheesecakes range from individual sizes like the tiny 3/4 ounce "Johnny's", to slightly larger 3 ounce "gems", to bigger still 5.5 ounce "jewels", to larger full size cheesecakes for retail, including taller styles.  The full size cheesecakes include more elaborate toppings.

I've been eyeing John & Jill's cheesecakes for a while, but, they don't actually have a bakery storefront (well, they have a place at the factory where you can purchase items, including seconds), as their primary distribution is wholesale.  I was very excited when I saw them offered through our catering department, and when I hosted a recent event, easily picked John & Jill's over the larger mass produced products from the other side of the country.  Just a few weeks later, I attended another event, and was thrilled to see they too had picked John & Jill's!  From there, John & Jill's became a regular order for me, so I've tried a large variety of their offerings.

9" Cheesecake

For my first event, I needed a classic New York cheesecake, so I wasn't able to check out any of the really fascinating flavors (seriously, they have every flavor you can imagine, like strawberry margarita cheesecake with a lime/tequila/triple sec base, strawberry swirl filling, and a sweet sour cream topping, or a crazy decadent turtle cheesecake on a chocolate cookie crust with pecans, chocolate chips, and caramel.

From there I moved on to those with toppings.
9" New York Cheesecake.
"The classic cheesecake with just a hint of lemon. No Crust." -- GourmetXpress, Distributor

"The classic baked cheesecake with a hint of lemon and vanilla." -- John & Jills

We had probably the most simple cheesecake: New York.  No fancy toppings, not even a crust.

It came pre-sliced and portioned by wrappers.
New York Cheesecake: Side View.
This was an entirely crustless cheesecake, no bottom crust, nor back crust.

The cheesecake was good.  Simple, but, good.  Thick and creamy, sweet but not too sweet, decent cream cheese flavor.

Overall, a winner, but obviously just a plain one.
Turtle.
"Pecans, caramel and chocolate chips are piled high on our New York style cheesecake." -- GourmetXpress, Distributor

"One of our all time favorites, vanilla cheesecake on a chocolate cookie crust and topped with pecans, chocolate chips and caramel." -- John & Jill's, Distributor

This cheesecake too was fine, but, a bit boring.

The New York cheesecake base is a good one.  Good texture, great cream cheese flavor.  But plain, compared to some of the others.  The chocolate cookie crust was soft and forgettable.

The toppings were good, crunchy pecans, a bit of caramel, some little chocolate chips.  But it needed more.  I wanted more caramel, more ... something.

So, overall, a fine cheesecake, good base, good toppings, slightly interesting crust, but, I wanted more to it.
Strawberry Margarita.
"Lime cheesecake with strawberries, Tequila, and Triple Sec and topped with sour cream." -- GourmetXpress, Distributor

"Lime cheesecake flavored with Tequila and Triple Sec, strawberry filling hand swirled throughout and topped with sweetened sour cream topping on a vanilla cookie crust." -- John & Jill's

This cheesecake was missing something.  The little puffs of garnish that the other cheesecakes had, and, all the photos of it online have.  I think someone actually just forgot a step in finishing the cheesecake.

In this case, I think that is where the "sweetened sour cream topping" was supposed to be.
Strawberry Margarita: Side View.
It was still a fine cheesecake.

The crust was fairly standard compressed graham cracker cookie crust, not particularly exciting.

The cheesecake was very smooth, creamy, good quality cheesecake.  It had a mild lime flavor, but I didn't taste the promised tequila or triple sec.  Calling it "Margarita" was certainly a stretch.

The strawberry swirled in was good, juicy, fruity, and a nice compliment to the mild lime.

Overall, solid, but certainly not amazing, and certainly not margarita.

Update Review:
We had it again, and again, no whipped cream garnish. So, maybe this one just doesn't have it?

But it was still a good solid cheesecake, smooth and creamy slight lime flavor, although, still no real booze to it.  I again really liked the strawberry goo swirl.
Caramel Apple Crunch Cheesecake.
"Rich and creamy caramel apple cheesecake topped with Heath Toffee Chips on a vanilla cookie crust." -- GourmetXpress, Distributor

"Was once a fall favorite, now offered year round. A caramel cheesecake with apples throughout and topped with a toffee almond streusel." -- John & Jill's.

This was one of the better cheesecakes!

The texture seemed softer, fluffier than some others, and I liked the caramel sweetness to the base cheesecake.  The apple bits throughout weren't necessarily something I'd go for normally, but, I liked the texture they added too.

The crust was a bit 'meh', mushy, almost stale tasting, not exactly "cookie", but not a standard crumb crust either.

The topping was fabulous.  Toffee almond streusel?  Yes.  Crispy, sweet, flavorful.

Overall, one of my favorites, but in surprising ways.  I did expect it to have more actual caramel, it only had a little drizzle on top, but, that was fine, actually.
Cherry Almond.
"Vanilla and Almond cheesecake decorated with cherry filling and whipped cream rosette on each slice." -- GourmetXpress

"Our almond cheesecake with a cherry topping, sits on a chocolate cookie crust." -- John & Jill's

This cheesecake was indeed very almond flavored, the most flavored of any variety I think I've tried. It was creamy, but, a bit too smooth and mushy for me.  I wasn't really into the base cheesecake, although I see its merits.

The cherry topping was not as goop-y or sweet as what you get as cherry pie filling in a can, but it also wasn't particularly notable.  Certainly not "fresh".

The little whipped cream rosette was actually great - super fluffy, super sweet, flavorful.  The highlight, no question.
Kahlua Almond.
"Flavored with real coffee, almond and vanilla extract on a chocolate cookie crust. Topped with almonds and semi-sweet chocolate." -- GourmetXpress, Distributor

"Coffee and almond flavored cheesecake topped with sliced almonds and chocolate, on a chocolate cookie crust." -- John & Jill's

This was a fine cheesecake.  But just fine.  Not particularly great.

I disliked the crust, a fairly soggy, gritty, chocolate crumble.  Throwaway.

The cheesecake itself was a great texture, very smooth.  And it clearly had a flavor to it, sweet with some depth, some almond to it, but the flavor certainly didn't scream out coffee nor kahlua nor almond.  So, just fine.  Not great at all.
Amaretto.
"Amaretto flavored cheesecake topped with sliced almonds."

This was a decent cheesecake.  The best of the almond varieties.

Again, creamy smooth texture, not as "rich" tasting as most cheesecake, so crazy smooth.  Lovely almond flavor.  Eh to the sliced almonds on top, but, overall, good.

Seasonal

Pumpkin Praline Cheesecake.
"The flavors of the season! Pumpkin spice cheesecake decorated with caramel pecan pieces, Heath Toffee candy and a dollop of whipped cream sits on a vanilla cookie crust."

This was excellent cheesecake.  But more like a very rich pumpkin pie, with great toppings.

It was perfectly creamy, like all of John & Jill's cheesecakes.  The pumpkin flavor was strong, and it wasn't very tangy, so certainly more like a pumpkin pie than a cheesecake, just, much, much richer.  Nicely spiced with "pumpkin spices".
Pumpkin Praline: Side View.
On top, I liked the bits of pecan for crunch and texture, and the pop of sweetness from the caramel.  I didn't find many Heath bar bits though.  I'd gladly take more of all of these things.

The whipped cream was good, sweet and fluffy, but I kinda wanted more, more like I have my pumpkin pie rather than cheesecake.

Overall, very good, one of my favorites.  John & Jill's also makes a marbled pumpkin cheesecake, with swirled layers of regular cheesecake and pumpkin pie that I have yet to try.

Update Review (2019): I've ordered this several more times, and now, even with high expectations, it still delivers.  Just think of it as "even better pumpkin pie" ... richer, creamier, just, better pumpkin pie.  Not much cream cheese flavor, but I like it that way.  Continues to be a hit with everyone.
Egg Nog Cheesecake.
"NY cheesecake with fresh Egg Nog, topped with whipped cream decoration & nutmeg."

Don't mind the smooshed top of this, I wasn't at the event where it was served, but, a co-worker kindly saved me a piece.  I have some great co-workers!

But ... I didn't like it.

The cheesecake was smooth, but, the eggnog flavor didn't do it for me, and there was too much nutmeg to it.  I also missed having a crust.

The whipped cream topping though was tasty, fluffy and light.
White Chocolate Peppermint.
"White chocolate peppermint cheesecake with a chocolate crumb crust, topped with white chocolate glaze."

This was almost a good cheesecake.

I didn't care for the crust, chocolate, but, mostly just dry and hard.

The cheesecake itself had a good flavor to it, clearly white chocolate and peppermint, but it was too creamy.  If that makes any sense.  It was creamy in a way that resulted in a really strange mouthfeel.  Too smooth.  It also didn't actually taste like cream cheese in any way.  So, good mint and white chocolate sweetness, but, not actually cheesecake I wanted to eat.

The top was the best part, not a "white chocolate glaze" exactly as described, but, rather, a thick solid white chocolate layer, very sweet.  A little nondescript whipped cream and drizzle of something red finished it off.

9" Tall Cheesecake

9" Tall New York.
"This N. Y. cheesecake is baked on a shortbread crust & is made to sky-scraper heights." -- GourmetXpress, Distributor

"The classic baked cheesecake with a hint of lemon, orange rind and vanilla on a vanilla cookie crust." -- John & Jill's

I also had a chance to try the tall version of the basic New York.  This one does come with a crust.  The slices are colossal normally, but, my cafe cut them into thirds.  Thirds!

Ok, maybe that was wise.  A cheesecake this tall and rich does need some restraint.

It was creamy, mild cheesecake, slight lemon flavor.  Basically, the same as the not tall version, except, with a crust.  I liked the crust, shortbread-ish, not too dry, good compliment to the cheesecake.

Jewels

Jewels are one of the two choices of "individual" sized cheesecakes, weighing in at 5.5 ounces (vs the 3 ounce crustless "Gems").  They are 3" round, 1 ¾" tall.

These are the most extensive product line, with a whopping 22 options!  They follow the same format as full size cheesecakes, with different types of crust, and often toppings.
Raspberry Almond.
"One of our signature cakes, our classic almond cheesecake topped with a sweet red raspberry sauce on an almond crust."

This was a good cheesecake.  Creamy and rich.  I loved the subtle almond flavor to it.

The raspberry sauce on top was sweet and a nice compliment to the almond.  The crust didn't seem particularly almond-forward, but was more interesting texture, more crunchy, than a standard graham cracker crust.

Easily the best John & Jill's cheesecake I've had.
Mocha Hazelnut.
"Coffee cheesecake topped with hazelnuts and chocolate chips on a chocolate cookie crust."

Eh.  This was fine.  But not actually good.  I think I just don't really like John & Jill's cheesecake nearly as much as other vendors (I'm looking at you Eli's!).  It was sorta coffee flavored, and I liked the crunch from nuts on top and the little chips.  Chocolate cookie crust was dry.

And still too be to really be an "individual" protion.
Rocky Road.
"Chocolate cheesecake topped with marshmallows, chocolate fudge and walnuts on a chocolate cookie crust."

These were great looking cheesecakes.  Seriously, that topping!

But, I didn't actually care for it at all.  The crust was just a boring chocolate base, like many of their others.  The cheesecake was chocolate flavored, but I really just don't care for the chocolate and cream cheese combo.  Personal preference, I know.  It was a good texture though.

The chocolate fudge on top was my favorite part, thick, rich.  The nuts were nice for a bit of crunch, and I always find basic mini marshmallows forgettable.

Clearly not the cheesecake for me.
Chocolate Raspberry.
"A chocolate cheesecake with raspberry flavoring throughout and finished with a smooth chocolate glaze on a chocolate cookie crust."

I'm not normally one for chocolate cheesecakes, but, this really was a decent cheesecake.

The cheesecake itself was smooth, rich, creamy, classic John & Jill's texture.  The raspberry was a lovely compliment to the chocolate.

The chocolate cookie crust was rather eh, I wanted more grit or something, like Carvel crunchies, and it had a strange taste to it.  But who needs crust, really?

And on top, thick, rich, chocolately ganache.  Another winning element.

Overall, quite tasty, and one I'd gladly have again, when in the mood for a chocolate dessert.

Update: I had another, and this time, REALLY didn't like it.  I didn't like the raspberry.  I didn't like the chocolate.  Yes, it was creamy, but the combination didn't do it for me at all, and I didn't even want a second bite.

Gems

Gems are what I'd consider the actual individual size cheesecakes.  These are 2 ¾” x 2 ½”, 3 oz, so certainly as large as, or slightly larger than, one really needs (but not as big as the 5.5 ounce Jewels which seem far too big for one, but the 3/4 ounce Johnnys are really just a single bite).

However, they are crustless, and don't have toppings, and come in only 5 flavors besides classic New York, so, they are far less successful options.
Mango Raspberry Gem.
"Mango flavored cheesecake with raspberry puree swirled in." -- John & Jill's

"Raspberry puree swirled atop a Mango cheesecake." -- GourmetXpress, Distributor

This was again a decent cheesecake.  The texture was great, firm, creamy.

The mango flavor was pretty subtle, although the cake had a lovely orange hue.  I also didn't really taste the raspberry very clearly, although again, you could see it.

Crustless as well, so, no crust to evaluate.

Overall, it was fine, they have nailed the consistency of the cheesecake in particular, but I didn't find the flavors very compelling.

Update: I had it again.  I again didn't really care for it.  The mango was kinda nice, the texture creamy, but, eh.  Nothing spectacular.
Matcha Green Tea.
"Imported Green Tea powder is blended with our cheesecake."

This was the same format as the other Gems, a crustless cheesecake.

This one I didn't like.  The texture was chalky, likely from the matcha powder.  It was not smooth and creamy.  It didn't taste like cream cheese.  It was slightly bitter, which I expect from matcha, but it was like a burnt green tea flavor.

Not a hit, and I saw many people throw these out.

Update: We had these again, so I tried one, again.  The verdict? No different.  These just aren't good cheesecakes.

Chocolate Swirl.
"A classic New York cheesecake swirled with Chocolate." -- GourmetXpress, Distributor

"Our vanilla cheesecake marbled with our rich chocolate cheesecake." -- John & Jill's

Technically, there was a chocolate swirl.  But, I think it barely counts.

This was mostly just a regular plain cheesecake, with a hint of chocolate.

Standard John & Jill's, good texture, decent but not special, and I felt it over promised on the "chocolate" front.

Johnny's

Johnny's are ... a bite.  Not a dessert.  A bite.  They are only 3/4 ounce.  I'm not sure who considers a single bite a dessert, I guess, Johnny?
Drunken Pumpkin.
"Classic pumpkin cheesecake infused with Kentucky Bourbon whiskey."

A seasonal offering, loaded up with seasonal spices (you probably know these as "pumpkin spice", or "fall spice" as I've been seeing this year).

I didn't care for this.  The texture was strangely gummy, not rich cheesecake.  The crust was boring and dry.  I didn't taste the promised bourbon.  But the worst offender was the spices, just, too much pumpkin spice.
Grasshopper.
Another seasonal specialty, the Grasshopper.

The crust this time was chocolate, but equally dry and boring.

The cake was again strangely gummy, not rich thick cheesecake.  I did like the mint flavor to it though.

On top looked like a chocolate disk, but was actually a touch of thick chocolate ganache.  That I liked.

But overall?  Not good.
Limoncello.
"Lemony bites on a vanilla cookie crumb crust makes for perfect pairing with chocolates and fresh berries."

There was nothing to like about this one.

Mushy crust.  Mushy texture to the cheesecake.  Lemon flavor in the center that I didn't care for.  Definitely not for me.
Ricotta.
"Our Italian Ricotta Cheesecake is a slightly lighter take on the traditional cheesecake since we use ricotta as the primary base. Still traditionally creamy and with notes of vanilla and lemon, this cheesecake is accented with a sour cream topping. Crusted sizes have a vanilla cookie crumb crust with a buttery finish." 

This was slightly better, in that it didn't have the lemon component that I disliked, but the crust was still mush, and the cheesecake itself didn't have the quite the same decent creamy texture of the full size cheesecakes.  I also did not taste ricotta nor sour cream.
Raspberry Almond.
"Our Raspberry Almond Cheesecake is our classic cheesecake infused with almond richness. Topped with raspberry jam, it is a feast for the eyes and a perfect dessert. Crusted sizes have a delicious vanilla cookie crust."

The best of the Johnny's, and not a horrible representation of the full size one.  The crust was still just mush in the mini size, but the cheesecake had a nice almond flavor, and I liked the bit of jam and sliced almonds on top. 
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Tuesday, February 05, 2019

QF49, MEL-SFO, Business Class

Flight Details:
  • Flight QF49, MEL-SFO
  • Aircraft: 787-900
  • Departure: 10:35pm (scheduled)
  • Seat: 3A

Cabin & Seat

This was my first time flying on a Qantas Dreamliner.  Business class is divided into two cabins, with a 1-2-1 layout, all aisle access, fully flat seats.  The front cabin has 8 rows, the back only 3, directly adjacent to premium economy.

In front of the front cabin is a single bathroom (left hand side), and a galley that isn't as high traffic as the main galley behind the front cabin.  Between the cabins is that main galley, a bathroom on each side (also for Premium Economy passengers), and a in-flight self-service bar.

If you value quiet, opt for the front cabin, mid-cabin.  I suspect rows 7 and 8 and 9 and 10 would be quite loud as that galley has all the action, and row 1 might be slightly annoying.
Left Handed Aisle Seat.
The other thing to note is that the window seats are staggered with the seat and shelf either against the window or against the aisle. Odd rows have the seat against the window, even against the aisle. This makes the odd rows more private, as the shelf and large console do make it fairly isolated, but, they also make it fairly cramped and restricted, particularly if you are a side sleeper.

And finally, the A side has right handed seats on the odd rows (e.g. shelf on the right) and the K side has left handed seats.
3A.
I selected what I thought would be the best seat on the aircraft for me.  3A.  This was as far away from the galleys and bathrooms as possible, isolated seat next to window, right handed.  I think this was still the right choice, but, it certainly had shortcomings.

The seat wasn't particularly comfortable to sit in.  I'm not sure why, but I didn't ever find a great position.  That said, it is still slightly better than Air New Zealand's business class seats ... for sitting.
Shelf.
The large shelf was wonderful to have to put drinks, my glasses, phone, and more.  I also liked the shelf/rack where I could put all sorts of smaller things during the flight.  For usable space during the flight, it worked quite well.  It had standard power and USB as well.

There wasn't much other storage though during takeoff or landing, or in-flight if you wanted it out of the way.  No cubby to stash anything, not even shoes, although you could leave them next to the seat if in a window seat.
Entertainment Screen.
In front of the seat is the large in-flight entertainment unit, which I didn't use, and a holder for magazines, that also nicely fit my small laptop.

The seat did not make for a great bed however.  Better than the 747-400 that I took to Sydney, no question, but, it was a very hard seat, and the very thin mattress pad just doesn't make it comfortable.  But it was also really, really narrow.  I couldn't sleep on my side curled up, and I'm not large.

I suspect that the window aisle seats would be better for this, since you could hang out a little?

So overall a mixed bag of a seat, ok-ish for sitting, eh for sleeping, good usable space, not much storage.

I might be tempted to try the aisle window seat next time.

Amenities & Service

Pajamas.
Standard Qantas pajamas were waiting at the seats, rather than distributed as we were settling in as is more standard.  L/XL side for all, but I asked and was able to exchange for M/L, still way too big, but better.  Most of the women on the flight asked to exchange, so, I'm not sure why they lay them out in advance, it seems like extra work.

The amenity kit, scratchy not-quite-big-enough blanket, and single pillow were the same as my flight from San Francisco, and I again was annoyed at only one pillow, and the quality of the blanket.  That said, I was easily able to get extras.

Service was ok.  Not particularly attentive, and one FA seemed highly stressed at all times.  When I asked for sparkling water, he was like "Ahhh, ok, it will be a few minutes, like, 5 minutes, I can't do that right now".  I thought I caught him at a bad time.  But when I asked for coffee in the morning, it was the same, "Ahh, I'll get to it as soon as I can."  Same when I asked for sparkling water another time.  I pointed out that there was no sparkling water in the self-serve bar, otherwise I'd be happy to help myself, but, he never fixed the situation.

Cuisine

Super Menu.
Dinner is ordered either in advance online, or, as we were settling in.  Orders were brought out one by one, after a cart went through with drinks.  Given the flight timing of a 10:35pm departure, there were two fast dine options, but most of my flight opted to skip the meal entirely, having already dined in the airport.

Main:
  • Selection of cheese served with accompaniments.
  • Green pea and mint soup with snow pea salad.
  • Strozzapreti pasta with tomato and eggplant sugo, roast capsicum, basil and pecorino. 
  • Chicken ciabatta with avocado, rocket and chipotle mayonnaise. 
  • Seared barramundi with bok choy, steamed rice, lap cheong, sesame, shrimp and ginger sauce.
  • Seared beef fillet with shredded fennel and radish salad, grilled asparagus and salmoriglio.
Green leaf salad with Neil's signature vinaigrette.

To Finish:
  • Chocolate malted tart with creme fraiche
  • Seasonal fruit
  • Maggie Beer ice cream
I had pre-ordered the pea soup as a nice light dish, knowing I'd eat in the lounges, but, after a surprise trip to the Qantas F lounge (thank you seatmate who brought me as his guest!), I decided to forego the meal.  It was 11pm after all, and I had eaten in 5 lounges, and on board my last flight anyway.

Well, forego the meal except for the desserts that is.  All of them.

I appreciated that my desserts were served as they did initial meal service, rather than making me wait until dessert service for the entire flight.  And they didn't set my table or anything, let me just use my little side table, much less invasive.
Cabernet Sauvignon.
Drinks and "bakery" (e.g. bread and rolls) were offered from a cart at the start of meal service.

To go with my desserts, I also selected a red wine, the cab.  I actually liked it, a fairly big wine, but not too tannic, and more interesting than the other wines I had consumed in the lounges and previous flights.
Chocolate Malted Tart with Creme Fraiche.
The tart was not at all what I was expecting.  As in, I expected a chocolate tart.  This had chocolate, but only a thin layer on top.

Under the layer of chocolate was ... I just don't know really.  A smooth filling, kinda creamy, maybe ... malt flavored?  I sorta liked it but not really.  The chocolate was good, a thick rich ganache.

The tart shell was not hard as I hate, but rather, soft, soggy, in the defrosted sense.  The flavor wasn't great.  Eh to the shell.

On the side, well, just creme fraiche.  Not whipped, not sweetened, just, creme fraiche.  It seemed like it should have gone with a scone.

A fairly confusing item, really.
Maggie Beer Ice Cream: Burnt Fig, Honeycomb, & Caramel.
The ice cream was served rock solid, in its package, not plated up in any way.  But I waited patiently, ate my other dessert, and eventually made my way to the ice cream.
Maggie Beer Ice Cream: Burnt Fig, Honeycomb, & Caramel.
It was really good, clearly premium ice cream.  Rich, creamy.

The flavor was not one I'd normally pick, and was certainly a bit odd.  The caramel and honeycomb were both sweet and made sense as ice cream flavors.  But ... how did the fig fit in here?  Yeah, it didn't, really.  Fig and caramel?  Eh.  Maybe I just don't like fig enough, but, every bite that had fig in it made me sad.

So, just not the flavor for me due to the fig, but I really loved how rich and creamy the ice cream was.  I'd gladly try more of their flavors.
Snack Bar,
Between the two business cabins is a self-service bar area with water, soft drinks, wine, and assorted snacks - Red Rock Deli Chips (plain only), crudite and hummus, apples and pears, packaged Amaretti biscuits, and Koko Black brand chocolate bars.

The menu indicated that there would be almond, fava beans, and chickpea chips too, but I never saw them.  And it also said there would be rhubarb and frangipane danishes, which I looked for every time I went back, but, alas, the same apple frangipane tarts that they had as part of the second meal were all I ever saw.

Also, mid-flight, you could order a couple small dishes from the staff:
  • Pumpkin empanadas with tomato relish
  • Stir fried eggplant with roasted red capsicum, sauteed mushrooms, and egg fried rice.

Light Dinner.
The second meal is ordered like breakfast normally is on overnight flights, with a menu card you tick off and fill out before you even take off, but, the offerings are ... different.  It isn't breakfast.  Which makes sense, since you are landing at 5pm.  But it also isn't a big full dinner.

The menu basically acknowledges how confused your body will be.

I understand that they have you order when you first are seated to maximize sleep, but ... particularly for this timing, that doesn't work well, as most people were up hours before the meal was served, trying to convince ourselves it was afternoon.  I had no idea what I'd want 12 hours later, would I want a hot cooked meal? Just some breakfast items?  So, I kinda selected it all.

Also, the timing of the meal was fairly standard for arrivals in that it was 1.5 hours before landing, but that was quite late no matter what time zone you were in.  In Melbourne time, that was 11am, in San Francisco, 4pm.  Our first meal was served really promptly, so this was a good 10 hours after the first meal.  (Of course, there are mid-flight options available, and the self-serve snacks, and I had a bag of pastries from Cafe Vue and Bar Pulpo in the airport (reviews soon!), but, still.

I think that not doing it order-card style, serving an our earlier, and offering more of a brunch lineup would be far better.

The menu:
Drinks
  • Apple juice, orange juice
  • Bloody mary, mimosa, champagne
  • Coffee, decaf coffee, hot chocolate, Dilmah teas
  • Green juice.

Light Dinner

To Start: Croissant or Sourdough with berry jam/marmalade/vegemite/honey.
  • Seasonal fresh fruit plate
  • Mushroom and pecorino quiche with tomato relish and mesclun salad
  • Hot-smoked salmon with blanched kale, soy mushrooms, brown rice, nori and sesame yoghurt dressing
  • Grilled chermoula chicken with roasted sweet potato, cauliflower tabouleh and pomegranate dressing
  • Sweet potato, ginger and turmeric soup with crispy onion and pepitas 
  • Selection of cheese served with accompaniments.
To Finish: Apple frangipane or Koko Black chocolate bar

"Super".
I opted for the starter of a croissant, and decaf coffee, as they were the only "breakfast items" besides sourdough bread and fruit.   And the smoked salmon as my lunch item, since I don't like quiche or chicken, and didn't particularly want sweet potato soup.  And a cheese plate, in case that is all I wanted.  And both "desserts", just the same apple frangipane tarts and Koko Black chocolate bars they had in the bar the entire flight.

The meal started with an offer of a small juice shot, passed through the cabin in advance of the meal, which made me think the meal was coming, but, it was still another 45 minutes before service began.
Decaf Coffee, Black.
I wanted coffee, it was morning, but, I also knew I shouldn't have caffeine.  So ... I went for decaf coffee, and had some chocolate for a little kick (in the form of an excellent brownie I had with me!).

The coffee was instant, but actually not bad.
To Start: Croissant.
The croissant (or sourdough toast) is offered with your choice of berry jam, marmalade, honey, or vegemite.  I selected the berry jam, and butter also came with it.

The croissant was large, served warm, and decent.  Not good, but not horrible.  Not a fresh, flaky, buttery, excellent item, but, it was warm and not spongy.  That said, the muffins I had in my bag from Cafe Vue and Bar Pulpo (reviews coming soon!) were better, so I opted for those instead.

The berry jam was Bundeberg brand, the standard in Australia.  The butter was fantastic.  And it wasn't just the packaging!  Really creamy, slightly sweet, rich butter.  I slathered it on my muffins.
Hot smoked salmon with blanched kale, soy mushrooms, brown rice, nori, and sesame yogurt dressing.
Well, this was a strange dish.

I didn't quite know what to expect given the hodgepodge of ingredients, but I hoped that it would somehow be breakfast-like.  Smoked salmon and yogurt after all, right?  I was also very curious what "soy mushrooms" were, I thought they were faux mushrooms made of soy, lol, but, actually, they were just sliced cooked mushrooms, probably marinated in soy sauce?

Anyway.  It was a rice bowl.  Warm, healthy, bo-ring brown rice as the base.  I don't really eat rice (besides rice pudding), and this is at the bottom of the barrel of types of rice for me.  Eh to the base.

And major eh to the blanched kale, I know this is a very healthy dish, and the warm blanched kale on a rice bowl appeals to some people, but, eh!  The mushrooms were flavorful at least, and I like shredded nori.

The smoked salmon was ok.  Served warm, kinda scattered around the top of the bowl.  Not slimy and flavorless like the smoked salmon (served cold) I had on a salad on my previous Qantas short flight from Sydney to Melbourne, but not nearly as amazing as some smoked salmon I've had on flights (Air New Zealand really wins here!).

The dressing surprised me.  I don't really like yogurt dressings, because yogurt is tart, healthy, and, well, not the mayo I go for, but this was creamy, flavorful, and really tasted like a lightened creme fraiche, and had a nice flavor.  It was really creamy, and went great with the smoked salmon.

I basically made a creamy smoked salmon salad, with the dressing, mushrooms, and nori, and ate it inside the croissant for a smoked salmon salad croissant.  Not bad, and it was good to have protein before moving back to my pile of mushrooms.
Selection of cheese served with accompaniments.
The cheese platter amused me.  The little card highlighting the cheeses was actually quite nice to have, but, the presentation was also funny, with the card just throw on top.  The cheeses however were actually quite quality.

The cheese platter included two types of French cheese: Gres Champenois and Fourme D' Ambert.  The Gres Champenois was fantastic, served perfectly soft, gooey, ripe.  The cheese in enriched with creme fraiche, and, well, you can tell.  I loved this cheese, but didn't particularly like any of the pairings.  I wanted some spiced nuts, or something like a quince paste.

The Fourme D' Ambert is a classic blue cheese, very rich, very ... blue cheese forward.  Not my pick of cheeses, but, this is a well known good one.

Also on the plate were standard dried apricots, a date and nut slice, and two types of crackers.

I enjoyed the cheese, but I think I would have liked this more at the start of my flight with a glass of red wine.  Maybe next time ... dinner in the lounge, save room for cheese and wine to start the flight!
To Finish: Apple Frangipane.
This was the same as the little tarts they had in the self-serve kitchen through the flight.

I did not like it at all.  A dry hard tart shell, mushy filling, mushy sliced apples. Not for me.
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