Friday, December 06, 2019

Popcorners

Update Review, December 2019

It has been 7 (!) years, since I originally reviewed Popcorners, a product I found quite novel at the time, but now has become totally commonplace to me.

I've since had them *many* more times, and have discovered that I like them best, just like popcorn, when frozen.  Just try it sometime!
Cinema Style.
"We took a blockbuster favorite and made it ONE BETTER by adding just the right amount of real theater butter to every batch. Pop in a movie, open up a bag and enjoy an experience like no other."

Simple butter popcorn is usually at the bottom of my list.  I go for sweeter varieties (caramel, chocolate drizzle, maple ... bring it on), more flavorful savories (cheesy, spicy), or something mixed like kettle corn.  But simple butter?  Eh.   I almost even prefer plain.

I got this "Cinema Style" butter version on a JetBlue flight though, sad that they had ditched the kettle corn ones, but I was still willing to try them.

And ... I liked them.  They weren't sweet, but they sorta tasted more like a mild white cheddar than butter.  Really.  I thought they had a cheesy element.  I double checked the bag several times.

I encountered them again months later, and again, felt the same way.  It wasn't a fluke.  Huh.  Well, I like them?

Like all Popcorners (and popcorn!), they freeze great, and I like the more crunchy version that way as well.
Sweet Heat Chili.
"If you like sweet and heat, you’re in for a treat. Our secret to making this ONE BETTER starts with the spices themselves. Garlic, onion and paprika come together for a signature taste that rivals your best game day chili recipe."

The first time I visited Australia, I discovered the magic of sweet chili sauce.  Served there with wedges (e.g. thick cut potato wedges, spiced) and sour cream.  I don't know why we don't do this in the US.  Spiced potatoes, cooling sour cream, sweet yet spicy sweet chili ... its a fantastic combo.

So when I saw the Sweet Chili flavor of Popcorners I was thrilled.  And scared my hopes were up too high.  I was skeptical, since onion powder + garlic powder + paprika didn't really sound like sweet chili to me.

Well ... they didn't taste like it either.   Instead, they tasted mostly like a sweeter bbq chip?  Except, of course, not a chip, a Popcorner.  My brain struggled with "huh, this is a really sweet bbq chip" , sorta like Hawaiian style BBQ I've had before, and it struggled with "why is this popcorn not a chip?"  I tried to give it time, to get used to it, but, it never really worked.  They really were strangely just too sweet (and, um, no heat).

Sadly, not the chip for me.

Original Review, December 2012

Popcorners are a fun product, sorta a cross between chips and popcorn, two snack foods I've been kinda into lately.  They are basically popcorn, but in the form of a chip.  You get the crunch of a chip, but the lightness of popcorn.  They remind me a little of Halfpops in that they are trying to mix popcorn with another popular snack food, although I think Popcorners are a little more successful.

I first had them on a Jetblue flight a year or so ago, when I had the kettle flavor, and I recall liking them, but I didn't take any formal notes.  Below are my notes on the flavors I've tried since.  As always, subsequent tastings are in brackets.
Caramel, White Cheddar.
  • Caramel: Tasting notes: Kinda sweet, decent.  Slight saltiness too. [ Fairly addicting.  Not awesome, but caramel is pretty decent. ] [ Caramel flavor is pretty nice.  I prefer kettle flavor since it has the sweetness and the saltiness, and this is mostly just sweet, but the caramel is fairly well developed. ] [ Slight sweetness, slight caramel flavor, almost really good, but something stops me from loving these. ]
  • White Cheddar:  Tasting notes: Good cheddar flavor.  Like! [ I had some ones that were past the expiration so they were a bit stale.  I really liked the white cheddar flavor though. My favorite of the flavors.] [ The flavor of these reminds me of Pirate's Booty.  I still wish they were a bit more popcorny though. ]
Sea Salt.
 Slightly salty, more like a traditional chip though, and just not all that interesting.
Kettle.
Saved the best for last.  When I'm not in the mood for the savory white cheddar flavor, these are my other favorites.  A bit sweet, a bit salty, and incredibly addicting.  I have a VERY hard time stopping eating these once I get going!
Read More...

Thursday, December 05, 2019

The Original Cakerie

Another not-quite-fair-to-you bakery to review: The Original Cakerie, bakery located in ... Canada.  Established in 1979, with locations in Delta, British Columbia and London, Ontario.

I say not fair to you, not because you might not go to Canada, but because they are a wholesale bakery, distributing to restaurants, hotels, and the like, not a retail storefront.   I discovered them from my catering distributor, which carries a few of their products.
"We create irresistible desserts, including visually stunning premium layer cakes and bars for customers in the United States, Canada, Asia, Mexico and the Caribbean."
The Original Cakerie makes products that don't normally sound that appealing to me ... cakes and bars.  Bars, much like cookies, live near the bottom of my list of exciting desserts.  Yet, I tried one of theirs, and I loved it.  Cake, same thing ... it can be good, but really, I'm only there for the frosting (and ice cream?) pairing.  But theirs?  Yup, fantastic.

I do actually recommend their baked goods.

Bars

The Original Cakerie makes a slew of dessert bars, although our distributor only carried three, two of which I wasn't interested in (Lemonburst, Triple Berry Crumble), but I wish I had been able to try the buttertar bar, or the "macaroon madness". 
Silk Chocolate Truffle Bar.
"Chocoholic’s Dream! Layer of silken truffle elevated over a chocolate shortbread crust loaded with chocolate chips with a jersey gyration of white and dark chocolate." -- GourmetXpress, Distributor

"Melt-in-your mouth truffle covering a chocolate shortbread crust and topped with a dark
chocolate ganache and adorned with swirls of white drizzle." -- The Original Cakerie

Ok, so I don't generally get excited about bars.  I don't generally tend towards chocolate desserts.  But this.  This was amazing.

The base was described as chocolate shortbread, but it reminded me of a brownie, albeit a hard one.  Good flavor, good texture, solid base.

But the "truffle", wowzer.  This one is hard to describe, I thought it would be like a mousse, but actually, it was like the center of a molten lava cake, just a cold one.  Underbaked chocolate cake.  Gooey, intense chocolate, amazing.  The flavor and texture were mind boggling.

Add on some dark chocolate ganache and a drizzle on top?  Yes, please.  Really great.

Will gladly have more and more of these.  Protip: add whipped cream to balance the richness!

Cakes

"The Original Cakerie’s product offerings are ideal for restaurants, cafes, catering affairs or any event you have in mind. Our decadent 12” x 16” half-sheet cake creations are filled with luscious ingredients such as 100% dairy whipping cream, pure fruit fillings, and European blends of milk and dark chocolates. "

I was impressed with their own marketing for the cakes, focusing on quality ingredients.  The cake lineup is about 40 varieties strong, but our vendor offered only 4.  I tried all but the more basic chocolate, but I really wish we were able to order the pecan streusel cake (sour cream cake with a coconut pecan shortbread base, cinnamon pecan streusel, and fondant?!) or the sticky toffee.

I was thrilled the cakes lived up to their marketing.
Golden Harvest Carrot Cake.
"Juicy fresh pineapple pieces, freshly shredded carrots combined with Pacific Northwest cranberries transform this wholesome buttermilk cake into a real labor of love. Our lightly spiced 3 -layer cake, generously sprinkled with toasted California walnuts and finished with a rich cream cheese icing is a celebration of colors and flavors." -- GourmetXpress, Distributor

"Lightly spiced cake with juicy pineapple pieces, freshly shredded carrots and cranberries sprinkled with toasted California walnuts and finished with a rich cream cheese icing." -- The Original Cakerie

This was good carrot cake.

Super moist and loaded with many juicy, flavorful goodies (carrots, pineapple, cranberries).  I liked the crunch from the nuts too.  The different add-ins were all well distributed.

It was 3 layers, each with a layer of cream cheese frosting between, sweet, flavorful.  The very top and the top inside layer were both just the right amount for my taste, but the bottom inside layer wasn't as thick, and I wound up with a few bites where I wanted more frosting.  But I know I like more than most.

Overall though, very good.
Tuxedo Truffle Mousse Cake.
"A layer each of creamy dark chocolate and white chocolate mousse between three layers of marbled white and dark chocolate cake." -- GourmetXpress, Distributor

"Moist marbled cake separated by a layer each of dark chocolate and white chocolate mousse, smothered with dark chocolate ganache swirled with white chocolate." -- The Original Cakerie

Ok, this was even better than the other items from The Original Cakerie, if that is possible.  I adored it.  Thick of the best wedding cake you've ever had, and then magnify that.  And you get this.

The cake layers, super moist, buttery, decadent.  Not throwaway cake, and I'm really impressed with just how moist the cake was.  I didn't taste much distinction between the marbled bits, but, it didn't matter.

And then the mousses.  So.  Good.  Really creamy, really sweet, really rich.  The chocolate one was nicely chocolately.  The white chocolate, sweet and delicious.  And then thick dark chocolate ganache on top to balance it all out?  Just, delightful.  So many great things here.  I'm sure the fact that the cake was more than half mousse, rather than cake, did add to how much I enjoyed it.

I really enjoyed this cake, more than any other in recent memory.  And, due to the thick mousse layers, I didn't find myself needing ice cream to go with it!
Lemons & Cream Shortcake.
"Triple layer shortcake with whipping cream and lemon curd."

After the success of the last cake, I ordered the final Original Cakerie cake available through our distributor, the Lemons & Cream shortcake, even though I knew I was unlikely to enjoy it, because I'm not a lemon dessert girl.  And I'm still not crazy about cake.

It was good, for what it was.  The white cake layers were quite moist.  The whipped cream was fluffy and a good portion.  And the lemon curd, well, it was lemon curd.  Tangy, lemony, and totally not what I like.  But I can see that this was a well made dessert, better than average for a frozen layer cake.  Just not for me.
Read More...

Wednesday, December 04, 2019

SweetHoney Dessert, Cupertino

I've never been to Hong Kong*.  I certainly was not exposed to Hong Kong style desserts growing up.  But I've become rather fascinated by them as an adult, mostly as I've discovered how much I really love ingredients like taro, durian, coconut milk, toddy palm, pandan, and so on.  And, because I just love desserts, and love trying new things.

I was recently staying in the Cupertino area, and was hosting a series of dessert outings with co-workers.  I wanted to share interesting things with them, and started with Somi Somi for taiyaki cones and exposed them to the joys of ube soft serve (zomg, yes).  I tried to get them to try items from 85* Bakery Cafe that same night, but alas, while I have an infinite dessert stomach, it turns out, they did not.  So two days later, I dragged them back to the same area of Cupertino, to seek out more interesting, unique desserts at SweetHoney.  Or at least, interesting to me.  Only two others decided to join.

*besides the airport

Setting

SweetHoney Dessert is a chain, but our visit was the to the Cupertino location.
Curb Appeal?
Our destination was located in one of the strip malls that they call a "Village".  It was right next to an even trendier liquid nitrogen ice cream shop, which I nearly took people to instead.

SweetHoney is a chain, with 600+ stores, mostly in China, Southeast Asia and Australia.  It is casual, but does have full table service.
Menu.
The most memorable thing about the place, is ... the menu.  I had looked it up online before of course, when I was doing my research, and I warned my guests it would be overwhelming, but ... I think no real warning prepares you for the book, literally, that is the menu.

Pages, and pages, and pages of desserts, broken down by categories, all nicely illustrated, which helped since many items were unfamiliar to the group.

But even with the warning, and even with the illustrations, somewhere around page 15, they just gave up, and told me to order.  I didn't object to having the choice to order everything I wanted to try (or, ok, a small selection of things I wanted to try, with a menu this large, you could return many, many times, and barely make a dent).
Seating.
Seating is all inside, in a fairly non-interesting setting.  It was clean, it was comfortable, but had very little personality.

Food

Service was fast and friendly, and we were given complimentary tea as we sat down.
Desserts for 3 People. Yes, Really.
My group was only 3 people.  I knew each dessert could easily serve 1-2 people.  It would have made sense to order 2, or maybe 3, items.  And yet ... I ordered 5.

What can I say, I'm a dessert girl, and even narrowing it down this much was extremely hard.
We skipped the "Sweet Ball" series, featuring freshly made glutinous rice balls, not because we didn't want any, but because we had only 3 people, and ordering 5(!) desserts for 3 of us was already ridiculous.  Same with the "Tofu Pudding' series, again, I'd gladly try these, but alas, we had to limit our selections.  And same with the "Chinese Style Mixed", which had a slew of items I've never had before, but would love to try (walnut, almond, sesame soups!).  We also skipped the more boring drinks, and fruit platter sections.

But we ordered something from every other section of the menu: a sago, a frost, a stew, and of course, multiple items with durian.  We had two warm dishes, a chilled dish, and icy dish, and a room temperature dish.  Lots of variety.  And yet we still covered only a fraction of the menu!

It was fun to try this variety of items, but I don't think we were particularly impressed with anything.
Bowls & Spoons.
After we finally ordered, we were quickly brought little bowls and individual spoons, since we were sharing everything.

Our desserts started arriving 2 minutes later, really considerably faster than I expected.  I didn't even have time to settle in or use the bathroom!
Stewed Series: BLUEBERRY DUN LAI. $5.95.
From the "Stewed" section, we went for dun lai, skipping over the more adventurous swallow nest and stewed hashima or snow fungus items.

Dun Lai is a new item for me, and I selected this after reading reviews where people describe it as like crème brûlée, something I obviously love, but, lighter, fluffier.  It sounded fascinating, and, I do love puddings in general.

We had the choice of almond, red bean, or blueberry for this, and I opted for blueberry, mostly because the fruit sounded like a good compliment with custard.

I ... didn't like it.  At all.  I was surprised when it arrived warm, not a bad thing, just, not what I was expecting.  That wasn't the problem though.

It had a film on top, which actually I liked for giving it a bit of texture, but was rather off-putting at first.  Still not really the problem.  It was lighter, fluffier than a crème brûlée I guess ... but it was also very eggy, and reminded me more of a quiche than anything else.  And that was my issue.  I don't like eggy desserts, I don't like quiche.  And this ... just strange lighter, slightly sweet quiche.  Not my thing at all.

The blueberry on top was some stewed goo, not offensive, but it didn't add anything.

One diner liked it because it wasn't too sweet, and he appreciated a not sweet dessert, but I kinda hated this, and tried several bites, trying to like it, but alas, definitely not for me.  My least favorite.
Snow Frost: DURIAN & THAI BLACK GLUTINOUS RICE. $7.25.
I knew that I wanted durian items, and I knew that I wanted to try a frost item, and I do love black glutinous rice, so, I decided to combine those 3 wishes into one dish, and opted for this.  Frosts come in *many* other forms, and durian shows up in a slew of items, so I certainly had many options, but this seemed like a great way to cross off 3 of my wishes at once.

It was a mixed success.

First, the frost.  I really, really loved the frost.  It was a fascinating icy substance, sorta like ice cream, sorta like shaved ice, but, somewhere in-between, if that makes sense.  Creamier than shaved ice, frostier than ice cream.  It was sweet vanilla flavored, slightly coconut-y, and melted into a really delicious cream.  I could gladly just eat a bowl of that frost.  I now see why so much of the menu centers around it, and I think some of the other creations that use it would be fabulous.  The frost was hands down my favorite thing we tried.

Now, for the rest of the dish.

The black glutinous rice wasn't very good.  I love sticky rice, and prefer black sticky rice.  But this ... was just flat.  It wasn't that it was mushy, nor was it over cooked, or anything particularly strikingly bad, but, it was just very blah.  I think likely not very fresh, and, not very glutinous, really.  Even mixing it with lots of frost didn't lift it up in any way.

Then, the durian.  A very generous big scoop of durian.  It had funk, it smelt bad, it was stringy and strange.  It was, well, durian.  The others were not fans.  And to be honest ... I didn't love it in this dish either.  I think durian goes great in a shake (like I had from Bambu, in nearby Sunnyvale), and I liked it in the other dish we got with durian, but here ... it just didn't go great with the frost, and the rice was so blah it didn't work with that either.

So a very mixed bag.  Two pretty blah components, but also, my favorite component of the day.  The presentation with the scoops of rice and durian was nice, and I'd gladly try another type of frost, maybe with mango or toddy palm?
Sago Series: MANGO POMELO SAGO GRASS JELLY (Add Toddy Palm). $6.25.
This one came from the intersection of the "Sago Series" and the "Grass Jelly" series, a slightly cold dish, more like room temperature, really.

The sago series is the most extensive section of the menu, which is saying something, given just how many dishes are on this menu.  There are ... so, so, so many options for sago, starting with a slew of simple fruit forms (mango sago, watermelon sago, papaya sago, toddy palm sago, etc, etc), or basic soup forms (sesame soup & sago, walnut soup & sago, almond soup & sago, etc, etc), and then from there, the options just explode.  Same with the grass jelly series, so, so many options.

One of the most popular dishes on the menu is the mango pomelo sago, which we almost got, and then I saw the version that also had grass jelly, and opted for that, so we could try not only the signature mango pomelo sago, but also add in the fun of grass jelly.  And ... I added toddy palm, because I wanted toddy palm in something, but was trying to limit to 5 desserts (which was still too many for 3 of us!), so instead of adding a 6th item just to get toddy palm, I added it here.

This ... wasn't quite what I expected either. 

To start, I expected it to be more sago forward.  There wasn't much sago here at all.  We all remarked on this fact.  The sago that was there was fine, well cooked, soft, not stuck together, small balls, but, you had to fish for it.

We also expected, and wanted, more mango.  We only found a few small cubes.  The mango that was there was quite good, soft, sweet, perfectly ripe.  But we wanted more.

I didn't mind that there was just a little bit of pomelo, providing a hint of acid, and not much more.  I'm not a big fan of citrus, so this was fine with me.

The grass jelly was fairly standard, not much to say about that, except that, unlike everything else, there was tons of it.

The toddy palm I added in was also fairly standard, and I enjoyed the texture the pieces added, plus, they were quite fun to fish out, given the larger size.

 And finally, the broth in which we were fishing.  This is I think where I was not excited.  It felt very plain to me.  I thought it would taste like mango, or coconut (was it coconut milk based?), but it was just ... kinda there.  It was orange, and it was slightly milky, but it didn't have much going on.

This dish was the sweetest one we had, but it still wasn't overly sweet at all, which again, one diner liked.

The other two ranked this dish in their top two, but for me it was pretty meh - every component was fine, and it was fun to fish things out, but I grew sick of it after a few bites, and didn't find myself really caring to go back for another bite.  4th pick and I wouldn't get it again.  Next time, I'd try the tofu pudding or one of the asian soups.

That said, I took the leftovers, and mixed it with the leftovers from the durian and black sticky rice frost, and really, really loved it the next day.  The flavors all combined together nicely, and the rice soaked in the pudding base was considerably more interesting than the original form.  The mango and durian even complimented each other nicely.
BAKED MASH TARO SAGO PUDDING. $5.95.
We had a one minute (literally) break, before more items arrived.

From the "Baked" series, I did consider the baked mashed durian sago pudding, but I knew my dining companions were not excited about more durian, and I did actually want a taro dish myself, so, this was a pretty easy pick.  I also knew this wasn't going to be a pudding in the sense that my companions may have thought it would be, as in, not jelly-like.

It arrived very hot, and took some time to cool down so we could eat it.  This was fine, as we had a pile of other items to keep digging into.
Baked Mash Taro Sago Pudding: Side Profile.
The top layer was a warm custard, thicker and more cake-like than a crème brûlée, with a lovely golden top.  The texture and consistency was good, and it wasn't too eggy for me, but it certainly did head in that direction.  Not the most exciting component, but it is what lay beneath it that I cared about: the taro!

Yup, just a bunch of warm, mashed sweet taro under the custard-cake top, with a tiny bit of sago in there too.  I love taro, so this was quite pleasing, but I can't say it was particularly special.

We all liked this dish.  My third pick overall, and I gladly saved the extra for breakfast the next morning (its ... totally breakfast food, right?)
Durian Special: DURIAN PANCAKE (2PCS). $7.45.
And then, at last minute when ordering, I threw on another durian item.  I knew we had too many desserts already, but ... I really wanted just one more durian dish (it didn't matter that one of the other guests said he wasn't having any of the durian dishes, and the other had never had durian).

From the "Durian Special" lineup, I could have opted for durian pudding, or durian mochi, both of which sounded good, but, the durian pancake I knew was likely right up my alley.  They also make this in a mango form.

I knew exactly what to expect with this one.  Not a pancake in the fluffy breakfast carb sense.  No, this was more like a thin crepe, wrapping a mound of whipped cream, with fresh durian inside.  Oh yes.  In my head, I was thinking it would be like the glorious durian (or mango) cheese buns I had in Toronto of all places, from an Austrian bakery, Guschlbauer (seriously, go there!).  And it was, actually, quite similar in some ways.

This item came last, significantly after our other items, and at first, I thought they had forgotten it.  It was clear it was freshly assembled, and came cold, chilled.  The dish came with three small forks, and a knife, so we could cut them up.
Durian Pancake: Inside.
Here you can see inside the pancake.

Yes, nothing fancy here, just thick whipped cream and durian.  The cream was thicker than your standard whipped cream, sweet, and a wonderful texture.  I do love whipped cream.

The cream went sooo well with the durian, complimenting the funk perfectly, balancing it out.  The durian was the same fresh durian we had in the other dish, just, better balanced out here.  And yes, there was plenty of durian, they certainly did not skimp on the durian.

The pancake wrapper was green (pandan? food coloring?), but didn't have a particular flavor.  It was  a good texture, not gummy, not chewy, pliable but not wimpy, it served it purpose of wrapping the fillings well, but not letting them fall out too easily.

I really enjoyed this item, my favorite overall dish, and second favorite bite (to the frost).  The others said they would have loved it with anything but durian inside, and I'm positive they would have loved the mango version.  Oops.  The plus side?  I got to take the extra whole one home!
Sweethoney Dessert (杏記甜品) Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Read More...

Tuesday, December 03, 2019

Singapore Airlines, SQ33, SFO-SIN

Flight Info

Flight: SQ 33
Departure: San Francisco International
Departure local time: 8:10pm
Arrival: Singapore Changi
Arrival local time: 5:40am (+2 days)
Duration: 17:30 (non-stop)

This was certainly the longest flight I've ever taken.  When you add on boarding time, and deplaning time, it is well over 18 hours.  18 hours!  On a single aircraft!!!

Although I am quite accustomed to 14-15 hour flights for Sydney, this really did push me to another level of ... tolerance.  I was quite ready to be off the aircraft.

If I were doing this journey again, I'd consider not flying direct, and adding a stopover, to just break it up a bit.  Its a very long day.  Literally.

Equipment & Amenities

My aircraft was the Airbus A350-900, ultra long range version, with only Business and Premium Economy classes.  No economy, no first.

Business class is broken up into two cabins, a smaller cabin of 6 rows, and a much bigger back cabin.  I was luckily able to make it into the front cabin, window seat, row 12 (which is the second row).  Checking the available seats daily has its benefits!
Front Business Class Cabin.
I knew I wanted the front cabin for the smaller size, and likely quieter experience.

The cabin felt quite spacious, as the middle seats have no overhead bin.  Amazing what a difference that made, but, it seemed a bit odd, not that had a shortage of bin space, but it seems like it could be a problem if everyone had roller bags?

Another strange thing about the layout is the lack of bathrooms.  The front of the first business cabins is a galley only, no bathrooms.  Between the cabins is another galley, and only 2 bathrooms.  That is 2 bathrooms, for ALL 67 business class passengers.  Sure, the flight is long so there is plenty of time to use it, but, there were certainly congested times, particularly given how frequently we had the seatbelt sign on.  A strange decision on their part for layout.
Seat.
The seat is another ... interesting choice.  I had read many, many reviews of these seats, so I knew that people hate them, but I was unprepared with just how bad it would be.

But I'll start with the good.  A very wide seat.  It comes with a nice pillow, with an additional one with the bedding (more on that soon).

The entertainment screen in front is large, well positioned.

But the seat?  SO UNCOMFORTABLE.
Seat Controls.
I tried every single setting, but was never, ever able to find a comfortable sitting position.
Footwell.
Because of this.  The bane of my, and nearly every passenger's, existence.  The foot well.

It is deep, sure.  But it is OFF TO THE SIDE.  You must sit at an angle to use it, and no, the seat isn't angled itself.  It makes no sense, no sense at all.

It also was uncomfortable, at all times.  I tried soooo many positions, but never found a way to be comfortable seated with this foot well.  I hated it, truly.

It was fine for sleeping though.
Hand Controller.
The main entertainment screen is not a touch screen, but this controller is.  It was fairly useful, but not particularly user friendly.  I liked that it always had a screen showing my status that I could swipe to, with the time in both locations, and remaining flight time.
Power and laptop slot.
The seat did have some great things going for it, particularly in the storage front.  I really liked having power (including USB), with a slot for my laptop, right at my side.  Easy to throw my laptop into when food came, etc.  Cords were never in the way.

The ledge below it was also quite useful for setting things down.

This area also had a cubby that I used for water bottles, and is where the tray table pulled out of.
Front Console.
In front of the seat is another useful area, with another cubby with a door that closes, a permanent, convenient drink slot, and a mirror.

All very useful, great design.
More lighting controls.
Additional toggle lighting controls were on the side, very easy to use in the middle of the night.
Bed Mode.
For such a long flight, a quality sleep is key.

Unfortunately, this aircraft did NOT provide that to me.

The seat design is one where the seat actually folds down, revealing a mattress pad (kinda), blanket, and additional pillows.  The crew are happy to prepare the bed for you.

It has some smart touches, like velcro to hold the pad in place.  But the mattress pad was woefully thin.  This is was the hardest bed I've had on a flight in a very, very long time.  My entire body, already hurting from sitting in the horrible uncomfortable positions, throbbed on this hard, non-padded surface.
It also had a different seatbelt than the sitting up seat, and this was the style that pulls out and tightens, which was also horribly uncomfortable.  It was tight against my body in ways that I really disliked, and could never position to way it wasn't pressing on me.

I hated this bed.  At least it didn't slant?
Socks and slippers.
The only amenities provided at the seat are socks and slippers.  No pajamas, but also, no toiletries, no amenity bag.

At first, I, like many, thought "how cheap of them!", but actually, what I don't need is *more* airline amenity cases, and more lip balm.  The bathrooms had toothbrushes, toothpaste, lotion, and a few other things in them, in large containers, for all to use.  This makes so much more sense, no waste, and no need to carry things to the bathroom.  I think I appreciated this approach, but I've never seen it done before.

Dining

This is a looooong flight, so there is plenty of food and drink consumption to be had.
Dining Experience.
I appreciate that they outline what to expect from the "dining experience", highlighting what meals will be served when.

Drinks & Starters

Our first drink orders were taken before takeoff, and served fairly soon once underway.
Singapore Sling.
"Synonymous with the Lion City since the early 1900s, this classic cocktail is made with dry gin, DOM Benedictine, Cointreau, cherry brandy, Angostura bitters and Grenadine, mixed with lime and pineapple juice."

Drink orders were taken before we even took off.  I had barely looked through the first few pages of the menu, and wasn't prepared to order at all.  So ... this happened.  A signature, Singapore sling, served fairly soon once airborne.

I ... don't know why I ordered this.  It seemed like what I was supposed to do?  I didn't realize what a fruity drink this was, and ... I wasn't in the mood for something so fruity.  Probably fine if you want to pretend you are on a beach?
Mixed Nuts.
As soon as our drinks were brought out, we were offered a bowl of (warmish) nuts. Cashews and almonds.  They were good, above average airline nuts, nicely salted.

Dinner

The first meal is Dinner, served about 1.5 - 3 hours into the flight.  Late for San Francisco time, but, it did help make the long flight time pass.
Suzanne Goin's Selection Menu.
The dinner menu consists of many pages, starting 2 pre-designed menus, one by an LA area chef, which was just the regular appetizer and dessert, and pre-determined main from the dining menu.  I guess this was to just make it easy for those who don't want to make decisions?
Canyon Ranch Selection Menu.
The other special menu was by Canyon Ranch, a healthy wholesome option.  If you wanted dishes from this menu, you could not mix and match though, and needed to select the entire lineup.

 It featured entirely different items, including an asparagus and burrata starater, that I really did want!
Regular Dinner Menu.
The regular inflight dining menu is next, with a choice of main dishes (beef, chicken, duck, vegetarian).
Dinner.
In addition to all these choices, you can order online before the flight, to pre-reserve a regular inflight option, or to "Book the Cook" and pick from a much larger lineup.

I went with an advance Book the Cook order, of crab cakes, a fairly easy choice, as the menu was kinda limited, didn't feature any of the Singapore Airlines signature dishes (Lobster Thermidore, etc), and the only other slightly interesting option was the halibut.  The Cantonese duck is what I would have gotten from in-flight menu, but crab cakes sure sounded better.
Table Setting.
Tables were set for dining about an hour or so into the flight, and appetizers were delivered from the cart.  No choice, unless you got the Canyon Ranch menu.
Appetizer: Duck Rillette.
"Mashed duck meat on grilled country bread garnished with sweet and sour prunes, frisee, parsley and onion salad, prune dressing."

Unless you order the special Canyon Ranch menu, all diners are served the same appetizer, duck rillette.  These were served from a cart after initial drinks and nuts, about an hour and 15 minutes into the flight.  I wished I could have opted for the Canyon Ranch one though, an asparagus salad with burrata, endive, etc.

The rest of us had duck rillete.  Well, this sounded potentially good, but ... I did not enjoy it.

The mashed duck meat was ... well, mash.  Kinda ... reminded me of catfood.  Lacking seasoning, and didn't taste like anything specific. 

It was drizzled to order with the prune dressing, a nice touch, but ... I didn't particularly care for it, it was fairly sour, and didn't bring the complimentary sweetness I was expecting with the duck.  Nor did I care for the sweet and sour prunes, again, just kinda sour.

The frisee was fine, the red onion harsh, and why a huge sprig of parsley?  This was not a success for me.
Merlot.
For wine, I was told there was a merlot or a shiraz, which didn't match the menu.  I asked which was least tannic, but the FA didn't know.  I randomly picked the merlot.

It was ... eh.  Fine, but not great.  Not very big or bold, not very interesting, but not offensive. Just, fine.  I wouldn't get it again.
Garlic Bread.
Right after the appetizer cart came a basket with passed bread, a decent looking selection.  I was drawn in by the aroma of the garlic bread.  

It was warm, it had lots of butter and garlic, I guess it was fine, but the bread wasn't particularly fresh tasting.

The aroma was fantastic though.
Perrier / Shiraz.
With the meal, I decided to try the shiraz.

It was a bit better, but had a pretty harsh finish.  I was let down by the wines.
Main Course: Book the Cook - Crab Cakes.
"Crab cake with broccoli, baby carrots, fresh asparagus and roasted potato wedges."

The main dishes took quite a while to arrive, but eventually were served, one by one.  I didn't see any two meals the same, many people skipped the meal (it was 10pm San Francisco time after all), some, like me, had ordered in advance from the Book the Cook lineup, and a few people opted for the in-flight menu.  The variety was impressive though, I saw seafood, meat, noodles, just about everything going by.

I ordered the crab cakes as I adore crab, but these were among the worst crab cakes I've ever had.  Mushy, fishy, not seasoned, and no sauce/aioli with them.

Of course, I knew they would have no sauce, so I came prepared with garlic aioli (from the Polaris lounge, their garlic aioli is sooooo good, so I got a side of it as I was leaving the lounge, precisely so I could use it with the crab cakes).  The aioli helped, but .... I gave up on the crab cakes after a few bites.

Luckily, nearly everything else on the plate was really quite good.  I was a bit surprised.

The asparagus was really fantastic, thin, tender, flavorful.  I added a little salt and pepper and quite enjoyed it.

The summer squash was grilled, a nice char mark and flavor from the grill.  Well, huh.  Not bad.

The baby carrots were also decent, not too soft and mushy.  Same with the broccoli, bright, vibrant, not too soft.  

I don't normally get excited about vegetables, but, these were all far better than I expected.

The "roasted potato wedges" were really just halves of red potatoes, but, they were decent as well.  Not as crisp as I'd want, but not soggy.  I dunked these in the aioli and really enjoyed them.

The final elements, a chunk each of roasted lemon and lime, looked like they'd be useful for adding some acidity, and I was excited to drizzle the citrus over everything to jazz it up, but, they were both quite sour in a strange way.

So overall?  I actually really did like my veggies and potatoes and aioli.  It was a shame to not like the crab cake, but really, that was just a small portion of the dish, and I had plenty of other food.

Dessert

Sinagpore Airlines then moves into a full on dessert service.  I was fairly impressed.
Dessert Time!
The dessert lineup came down the aisle after our mains were cleared away, on a cart.

I was a bit blown away by the options.  On offer was fruit (whole fruit such as bananas, pears, grapes, plus cut melons, assorted berries), cheese and crackers, "petite patisserie", and lemon angel food cake, along with the panna cotta from the menu.

I got a few things.
Yoghurt Panna Cotta with Hemp Seed Granola and Pomegranate Blueberry Compote.
My main dessert choice was easy.  Of course I wanted the panna cotta!  I love panna cotta.

This was actually really quite good.  Well set, firm but creamy, and the flavor was fairly complex, a vanilla flavor, with depth from the yogurt.  Far better than I expected.

I liked the idea of the granola on top for crunch, but I really wasn't into this granola.  I scraped it off.  The compote also seemed like a good idea, but I didn't like it either, and, it wasn't blueberry as listed, rather I had large seedy blackberries.  I scraped it off too.

But the panna cotta itself was good, the portion rather large, but I easily finished it.  I would have loved to have a compote with it I liked though.
Fresh Fruit.
I also opted to try some fruit, at the FA's urging.

It, much like the vegetables, surprised me.  Some of the better airline fruit I've ever had.  Seemingly fresh, ripe, juicy.  The berries in particular were really nice, and I added them to my panna cotta.
Port.
.To go with my dessert, I asked for the port.

Much like all the alcoholic drinks on this flight though ... I just didn't like it.  Harsh.  Bitter.  Sigh.  I gave up trying more drinks at this point, likely a healthier choice anyway.

Air New Zealand definitely still has the best port on board (and, best wine, for business class, in general).
Pralines.
The treats just kept on coming, with passed pralines once the desserts were cleared.  Two varieties, white chocolate and salted caramel. 

Of course I asked for one of each.

The dark chocolate salted caramel one was quite good.  Smooth caramel filling, rich dark chocolate, and lovely pop of salt.  Very enjoyable in the morning with my coffee - of course I asked for another then!

Refreshments

After the main meal service, throughout the flight, you an order additional items on demand at any time.
Refreshment Menu: Page One.
The options were extensive, ranging from light items such as soup, salad, or sandwiches, to more substantial meals, including a burger and potato wedges, an indian feast with 4 different dishes, congee, or noodles.  Something for everyone.

I didn't try anything from this lineup, but the women next to me ordered the burger at breakfast time.  It did come with an egg on top ...
Refreshment Menu Part 2.
The second page is less substantial items, including a veggie wrap, a granola parfait, ice cream, and snacks.  Many of the snacks were available in a basket in the galley throughout the meal, including Sun Chips, Angie's Boom Chika Pop Sweet and Salty Popcorn (I love this stuff!), Milano cookies, nuts, and Hershey's Cookies and Cream bars.
Refreshment: Haagen-Datz Ice Cream.
When the dessert cart came through, I simply asked what the ice cream flavor was, from the anytime refreshment menu and ... a moment later, I was served ice cream.  Oops.  #allTheDessert

It was just vanilla, and rock solid, definitely not ready for consumption, but that was fine, as I wasn't ready for it either.  Once it softened a bit, I tried it, and was rather pleased.  Just simple vanilla, but it was good.  I immediately plotted to make an afogado in the morning.
Refreshment: Greek Yoghurt and Granola Parfait.
"Garnished with homemade granola, fresh berries, and coconut flakes."

In the morning, since I couldn't have the breakfast fruit (melons), didn't want the breakfast yogurt, and certainly didn't want the granola again, I asked for the greek yogurt and granola parfait from the "Refreshment" menu.  A few moments later ... a Oikos Greek yogurt container was placed in front of me, still sealed.  Uh, wasn't that the same as the breakfast yogurt?

I pointed at the menu again, it was removed, and a few minutes later came back plated, loaded with coconut and topped with 3 each of raspberries and blackberries.  There was no granola, certainly no "housemade" granola.  Doh.

As expected, I didn't like the yogurt, and would not have ordered had I known what it was.  The coconut flakes were sweetened, and fine, but there was soooo much of it.  It was like, instead of granola, they just added a cup of coconut.

The berries were again great, but, 6 berries was certainly fewer than I wanted.  I wonder if I could just order some berries in the future, even though not on menu?

 Breakfast

About 5 hours before landing (!), it was time for breakfast.  Or whatever meal this was, given that it was midnight in Singapore.  The timing was certainly awkward, but, I guess we had been "sleeping" a while.  I was kind annoyed though, as I was finally actually asleep, and the cabin sprang into noise and action ... lights, seats being flipped, etc.
Breakfast Menu.
The lineup was fairly standard: fruit, cereal, granola, yogurt, bread, pastries, plus your choice of hot main dish (dim sum, sweet potato pancakes, poached eggs). For this flight, only one Book the Cook option was available, just a very boring continental plate, so I did not go for that, and selected a regular on board menu instead.
Breakfast.
I pre-ordered the dim sum, although I obviously love my breakfast carbs, so the potato pancakes did sound slightly tempting (but they come with scrambled egg, veal sausage, and marinated tomato, none of which I wanted), and I love hollandaise, so the poached eggs had potential (but also came with a bunch of things I didn't want).

Service followed the same format as other meals, with the "appetizer" round offered from a cart along with a round of drinks, bread basket passed through soon after, and hot dishes ordered in advance and delivered as ready.

I loved that they had a full coffee menu, all Illy pods, for espresso drinks.  A unique offering, and let me pick exactly the style of coffee I wanted.  They also had a standard pre-brewed carafe for those who didn't want to make decisions.
Table Setting.
Tables were set, and on the tray as it was set was a platter of fruit, no berries this time, but there was kiwi (yay!) but also ... melons.  All plated together already, so I had to skip, given my allergy.

The cereal was the same granola from the panna cotta that I didn't care for, or cornflakes, with only skim or whole milk available.  I skipped.  Yogurts were packaged Oikos that I don't really like.
Illy Coffee.
To go with my breakfast, I was excited to order from the extensive coffee menu, rather than just getting the house brewed option.  How often do you get to pick from 6 different roasts, all of varying intensities?  Kudos for having the Illy machine.
 Arabica Selection: Ethiopia Coffee.
"Floral notes of jasmine, orange blossom and chamomile. For a balanced taste."

I started with a light roast, Ethiopia, always a favorite region of mine, served as an Americano.

This was fine, pretty strong actually, and, if it was easier to do so, I would have asked for more hot water added, to weaken it just a bit.  It was nice to have a decent coffee, but I didn't find it particularly complex.

Espresso Decaf. 
"Decafinated espresso with delicate notes of caramel, toasted bread and chocolate with a sweet aftertaste."

Later, I swapped to decaf, and it was pretty similar.  I was thrilled to not have instant, but again, this wasn't particularly great.  But it certainly wasn't full of "decaf funk".  And again, I wanted a bit more hot water,.  Next time, I'll just order that way.
"Blueberry and Chocolate" Muffin.
A pastry basket came around soon after the appetizer cart, and I was fairly impressed, at least visually, with the lineup.  An assortment of fruit filled danishes that looked fairly crispy, plain croissants, shiny white rolls, and muffins.  I don't normally go for the breakfast pastries on flights, even though I adore baked goods, because they usually just are not good, but, these did look above average. 

I asked what kind of muffin it was, and was told "blueberry and chocolate" ... more on that part soon.  I had low expectations, but, I was drawn in by the streusel top.

The muffin was indeed above average.  It was not stale, it was not dry.  Quite moist actually.  It truly did taste "fresh".  The base didn't have any particular flavor to it though, nor did it have any fruit or mix-ins.  Fine, not extraordinary.

The top half was where the muffin shone.  The streusel topping I did enjoy, crumbly, sweet, slightly buttery.   Exactly what I like in a breakfast pastry.

As for the "blueberries and chocolate" ... well, there was certainly no chocolate.  There was some dried fruit on top, and only on top, and only in that one corner.  I didn't think it was blueberry, it seemed more like cranberries or some other mountain berry, but I can believe it was a particular variety of blueberry?  It was fine, but, I prefer juicy berries, I prefer them mixed in, and I did want chocolate!
Main: Selection of Dim Sum.
"Pan fried radish cake, pork dumpling, prawn dumpling, and vegetable dumpling."

I usually go for carby breakfasts, but, given the timing, and the option to actually have something like dim sum for breakfast, I was happy to go this route.

I was impressed when it showed up, a lovely platter.  I was asked if I take chop sticks, which were provided with a chopstick rest.  A soup spoon also came with the dim sum, I'm not quite sure why.

It was served with a spicy sauce, that I originally thought was ketchup, before tasting it.  I thought it was super strange to serve with ketchup, but the other breakfast items came with it, and I thought perhaps they thought I'd want for the radish cake?  I asked for soy sauce, which was quickly provided, and mixed nicely with the spicy sauce to form a great dipping sauce.

The lineup started a bit weak with the pan fried radish cake, 3 slices.  I just didn't like the flavor, and I do like radishes.  It tasted more like turnip, kinda bitter.  I wasn't into that.

Things got much better with the prawn dumpling though.  I'm not sure why I was served two prawn dumplings, and no vegetable dumpling, but this was a good accident.  Really, for airline dim sum, this delivered.  It was hot, the wrapper was not too thick nor too thin, and the filling?  Soooo juicy and succulent. I couldn't get over *how* much prawn was inside.  Soooo much prawn.  Definitely the best airline dim sum I've ever had (sorry, Cathay Pacific).

The pork dumpling though I hated!  The wrapper was fine, but the very, very meaty, very very porky filling just wasn't for me.

Overall, I was happy with my order.  A few pieces of dim sum for a savory element, followed by berries and muffin, made for a lighter, balanced, pretty nice breakfast.
Read More...