SINGAPORE - No plane, no problem.
Instead of tucking into cattle-class fodder at 10,000m up, I am dining on dishes from Singapore Airlines' first-class, Michelin-sprinkled menu while cruising at a mere 100m above ground in a cable car.
As someone who only ever pays for economy flights, this hosted experience, SIA First Class Dining on Cable Car Sky Dining, is a look at how the other half lives.
The meals are designed by chefs from SIA's international culinary panel - Georges Blanc of Restaurant Georges Blanc in France, which has three Michelin stars; celebrity chef Matt Moran of Aria in Australia; and Yoshihiro Murata of three-Michelin-starred Kikunoi in Japan. Travellers grounded by Covid-19 with air miles to burn, the target audience, can choose from selected dates starting from Nov 20.
The collaboration between the national carrier and One Faber Group - which manages programmes like Cable Car Sky Dining, as well as restaurants on top of Mount Faber - is available only for frequent fliers who have at least 65,000 miles on SIA's KrisFlyer programme. They have to use their miles for the meal to pay for the experience.
One Faber Group has other similar dining options for the general public, such as "Fly Me To Italy", which showcases cuisine from various Italian regions and is priced at $328++ per couple.
My evening starts with a cocktail, but the view from the top of Mount Faber is enough of a chill pill. The panorama takes in puffing industrial chimneys, as well as condominiums and cars that look like toys. The sea, so inviting at sunset, is soon mirrored by an inky sky. The night is strewn with lights and cable cars glide past mine as silently as manta rays.
Each dining experience lasts 90 minutes. Service is swift; it takes just 14 seconds to clear the plates and serve the next course when the cable car comes round at Mount Faber Station, before moving on to Sentosa.
I've chosen the Australian menu by chef Moran and start with SIA's signature satay, made of chicken and Impossible meat, a plant-based protein. The Impossible option tastes like a toothsome lamb satay with Moroccan spices. It's hard to believe it's not meat, though the satay sauce can be more peanutty.
The bread basket is an assortment that includes SIA's signature garlic bread. While perfectly pleasant, I don't know why champagne class natives might want pungent breath in an air cabin.
Next up is an appetiser of chilled oscietra caviar served with creme fraiche, chives and blinis, which are doll-sized pancakes. I hadn't eaten this food of the Russian tsars before but I am an instant fan. Steeped in flavour, the sturgeon roe is buttery, without a trace of oiliness.
My main, Pork Belly with Spiced Apple Sauce, suffers from my plebian love of sio bak or Chinese roast pork. The skin is more chewy than crackly like I am used to, but the fatty layers nestle unctuously against the tender lean meat. I can't make out any spices in the apple sauce, a traditional foil for pork, but it provides the requisite sweetness.
I sympathise with what the baby fennel, an ingredient in the dish, is trying to do. But rather than cutting through the fatty meat, the fennel, with its faint liquorice undertones, sticks out like an anti-social loner. The parsnip, mildly sweet unlike its strident, roasted Christmas version, fares better.
The portions are generous and I end the meal galloping to the finish line, with three dishes of apple crumble, a cheese plate and a dizzying array of fruit. The crumble, served with berries and passionfruit sauce, is a tad too tart but the cheeses are excellent. I'm particularly enamoured of an unapologetically funky blue cheese.
It's been a relaxing evening and not only because I've been swigging wine throughout. Dining in a cable car has been a calming interlude, owing something, doubtless, to the comforting food and the cool night breeze.
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