72 Hours in the Middle East: Qatar Airways LHR-DOH

*This series covers a once in a lifetime trip with my dad. He is a member of an elite squad known as – no, not the Special Victim’s Unit – the Concierge Key Crew. He has flown and accrued over 12 million miles with American Airlines and, as such, he has been invited to be part of this unpublished, invite only, members’ club. You can’t buy your way in or request membership – you must fly some unpublished number of flights/miles per year in order to gain entry. He flies a certain number of qualifying miles each year to keep his outrageous perks. Every year he does a few crazy, 72 hour trips in premium cabins to  maintain his status. This time, he invited me to accompany him. This is my story.  (DUNH DUNH – SVU music).*

Now onto the best flight of my life.  I always want to get off a plane – to get to my destination ASAP and start exploring. 

But I did not want to get off of this plane. 

It was a 6.5 hour food and entertainment feast. I actually wished that it was twice as long.

Let’s just go step by step, shall we?

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Okay, here goes nothing! We were ushered to our seats and immediately plied with Armani amenity bags filled with $150 eye cream and cologne. I  applied mine immediately in such large quantities that I looked like my face was melting.20150131_103319
The seat looks normal, but it’s really excellent. Incredibly thick and plush seating with great width and a lovely blanket.

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You can see how much room there is for just a medium haul flight. I could easily hide 5 small puppies under that ottoman. 

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Huge tv screen with a kajillion entertainment options. Those are the socks from the amenity bag. I loved them more than my college diploma.

20150131_103633Krug! I have never had it before! Plus a rose option!?20150131_103709
OMG STOP THE PRESSES! DO YOU KNOW WHAT THIS IS? THIS IS A $2,000 bottle of Chateau d’Yquem wine – widely known as the finest Sauternes in the world. It’s the pope of dessert wines. I never dreamed that I would ever get to try a sip – this goes for as much as $90 per glass when you even can get one. I felt absolutely HIGH when I saw this on the menu. 
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Warm salted nuts, including FABULOUS Iranian pistachios. These are quite savory and meaty – unlike the insipid nuts we get at home. 20150131_105744
Arabic coffee and a date so sugary that it makes the coffee taste like dessert. This was a constant on every airline we encountered and a lovely one. Like, why can’t we include soda and popcorn as welcomes on American flights? Oh yeah, because that’s nowhere near as cool.

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Potato kibbeh

Better than any I have had. Ever. It is literally better than any restaurant kibbeh I have ever enjoyed. Crispy without and gently spiced with cumin and turmeric within. It’s reminiscent of a very gently spiced samosa with a thin, crackling breading. The pomegranate alongside is an inspired touch. It’s a gentle, acidic pop of flavor against the warmth of kibbeh without being too sour.

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Chicken tikka

Straight outta yo mama’s tandoor! Tender, spiced but not spicy, juicy as all get out, and served with a thin but rich and tangy yogurt raita. I’m telling you, I haven’t ever had middle eastern food as delicious as this.  20150131_120244And that Krug…wow. It’s the richest champagne I have ever had. Bready, buttery, filling, lush…it’s almost a meal unto itself. To be honest with you, I prefer other, lighter, fruitier champers, but I still had my fill of this good stuff!20150131_121615Next to that bread basket (The bread was unremarkable, but there were no fewer than THREE different types of butter and some extra virgin olive oil!) you can catch the profile of one miss KYLIE MINOGUE! Yep, she was on our flight – slept for most of it and I noticed that she has TINY feet. Yes, I’m a creeper. But me and Kylie…basically BFFs!

20150131_121951Caviar

I mean…caviar. The most luxurious food on the planet. And with Krug…stop it. Just stop. 
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I mean, I LOVE caviar. So this was a major treat for me. Salty, briny, taut grains that pop with flavor but no bitterness. I hadn’t ever eaten an entire jar, but I really rose to the occasion.20150131_121841
The blinis are a little thick, but I dealt. 20150131_121944
The light caviar and the round, deep Krug was a fantastic pairing. I see why this is such a classic combination – each one makes the other taste even better. 
20150131_122343I actually wanted to cry when the mother of pearl spoon left several grains behind. 

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Sigh. 20150131_123202Duck spring rolls with cucumber spaghetti and hoisin sauce

Delicious. Ground duck with aromatic star anise and ginger, wrapped in super crispy wrappers and served with thin strands of spring onion and cucumbers. Hoisin sauce for a sweet, tangy flavor. These didn’t last long, that’s for sure. 20150131_124005
Palate cleanser of lime and mint sorbet. Because we are FANCY. 

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Hot Arabic Mezze

From the left:

Chicken kebap: Oh sweet HEAVEN. Moist, juicy, fragrant. Tart, bright, pleasantly charred.

Warm chicken pita: It’s amazing how good chicken is when Qatar Airways makes it. Tiny warm pita with a warm chicken, bell pepper, and some sort of creamy, yogurt binding that was halfway between here and heaven. This is everything that I want every sandwich to be…ever.

Lamb kibbeh: As good as the potato, if not better. Mild, juicy, grassy but not gamey. Mixed with toothsome bulgar. Fabulous.

20150131_125854I still haven’t eaten this yet. I don’t want the magic of this flight to end. I’m keeping it until I can fly this airline again. Or at least until tomorrow. 
20150131_153041 Flying over Egypt.

20150131_154512 The Sauternes

The best glass of wine – champagne included – that I have ever enjoyed. Thick. Amber. Tasting of grapes, raisins, walnuts, maple syrup, and even duck. Meaty but not heavy. Sweet but not sugary. Worth its price tag? Perhaps not, but it’s quite close to being worth it. This is an experience that I may never get again. I savored every moment. 20150131_164943Mecca pointerBecause you already know where the Nordstrom’s is. 

20150131_171531Descent into Doha. This is where my BFF Kylie woke up and ate sorbet while the rest of us had to turn in our champers glasses.

I just didn’t want this flight to end. The service was warm and professional, despite a slight language barrier. The seat is so comfy that I fell asleep for an hour and apparently snored like an elephant (Thanks, Dad). And the food was so amazing that I would be thrilled to eat it again in a restaurant. What’s the last time that you said that on a plane? The amenities were extraordinary and the wine list is out of this world. If we had finished the bottle of Sauternes, that would have paid for the flight in and of itself. I will never forget the luxury and opulence of this flight.

Next up: Doha airport. And by that I mean the most stunning airport that I have ever seen.