Sunday, July 21, 2013

Memorial Weekend in Philadelphia: Philly to Austin on American Airlines


This would be my first time flying on American in a long time. I usually stick to United since I have Premier Gold status but tickets on United were priced double on the day we needed - no choice there. I was actually looking forward to trying out American since I've been mulling to switch over to American/Oneworld since I've been hearing good things about them and with Malaysian Airlines joining Oneworld, it would be more convenient to fly home to Malaysia on Oneworld than on Star Alliance.

Check-in and security was a breeze thanks to gifted British Airways Silver/Oneworld Sapphire status due to the status match that British Airways provided to BMI frequent flyers when they bought/dissolved BMI.

The only lounge available to Oneworld passengers at Philadelphia was the British Airways lounge. The lounge was definitely not shabby especially comparing other domestic lounges like the United club. The drinks selection was rather extensive with a couple of white and red wine to try from. There were also some snacks like chips, wraps and sandwiches.

Interesting vending machine in the gents. Tampons and condoms? Really?
I was able to select premium seats in coach for free online when making my booking on the American Airlines website (assume this was thanks to my Oneworld status?). The leg room in the premium seats on the 737 taking us to Dallas was similar to United's economy plus. There were movies and short clips being shown on the overhead monitors but I wasn't paying attention thanks to the availability of Wifi on this flight. 

We had an hour or so layover in Dallas and instead of heading to the Admirals club, we opted for some overpriced so so Chinese food at the airport. I was pleasantly surprised on how nice Dallas airport was. Did it recently just get renovated?

MD80 in DFW
Our last flight on this trip was a short 45 minute Dallas to Austin on a MD80. I've heard many complains/rants on this aircraft but we actually really liked it. The overhead bins were large enough to fit our rollaboards and the 2-3 seating in coach meant Lydia and I were seating together and had both window and aisle access. The short flight itself was uneventful except that I was pleasantly surprised that the crew did manage to do round of drinks even on this short flight where as United just does a water run on the equivalent Houston/Austin flights. 

Our first flight on American in coach was definitely pleasant. Loved the Wifi and the MD80 and I'm definitely of switching on business to American next year. If someone from American is reading this, I wouldn't mind a status match to help that decision.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Memorial Weekend in Philadelphia: Exploring Philadelphia


I'll admit that I didn't know much about Philadelphia before this trip. It wasn't on our must visit list so we were pleasantly surprised to have learned the significance of Philadelphia in American history from the trip.

Lydia had found a good deal for the hop on/off bus tour from Groupon. The bus tour provided an easy, flexible and informative way for us to get around and to learn much more about the city. Since the weather was nice, we also walked/took a jog during the early morning to spend more time at the sights that we drove by during the bus tour.

The Love Sign

Some random sculpture

Reading Terminal Market


Rodin Museum
There were a bunch of museums in the city but we didn't enough time to cover those. We just visited the free Mint museum that highlighted how the US coins were made and circulated.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Memorial Weekend in Philadelphia: Dinner & Lunch at Morimoto


After eating at Morimoto in New York and savoring what is still today one of the best desserts we've eaten, we were set on trying Morimoto's establishment in Philadelphia. The location of Morimoto was in some non-nondescript shop but with most places in Philly, was easily accessible via public transport. The restaurant was relatively empty when we visited for dinner but I guess it was normal considering most people would be spending time with the family at home on the Sunday of Memorial weekend.

We went back and forth on whether to go ala carte since they were some dishes that looked interesting or just leave it to the chef and try the omakase meals. In the end, we both went for the omakase option with Lydia going for the cheaper $80 option and me going for the $120 since we wanted to see the difference between the two options.

I also decided splurge a little bit more and added the drinks pairing as well for an additional $60. I'll be honest and say that I won't be talking much on the drinks/wine that was served since I don't remember the details. What I can remember however was that there was some pretty good wines and sake that was served with every course and they definitely paired well with the food.

Dinner started with a tuna tar-tar that had fried onions that added a wonderful crunch and flavor to the dish. This course was excellently paired with champagne.

My omakase course had an extra oyster course prepared three ways. This was paired with some sake.

This was followed by a fish carpaccio course that was served in hot oils.

The sashimi course was just as good as any sashimi you can get in Japan and paired well with the sauce and greens. Yellowfin was the fish on offer for the more expensive omakase where as mackerel was the selection for Lydia's cheaper omakase. Both were just equally good!

The first main course as the seafood/fish course. I had the lobster that was tasty and had Indian influences. Lydia's option was the the scallop that was just okay and not as good as the scallop we had at Marigold the night before.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Memorial Weekend in Philadelphia: Dinner at Marigold Restaurant


Marigold came highly recommended on Yelp as one of the top restaurants in Philly. From the reviews, the food and concept looked rather interesting. DippinDots as an amuse bouche? We had to try it! The restaurant was on the outskirts of downtown Philly but it was an easy fifteen minute tram ride away from the hotel.

The restaurant offers a three, four or five course tasting menu. No ala carte options. We both went with the five course menu since we wanted to try more items and wasn't interested in the cheese course. We both ordered different items so we could try most of the items on the menu.

I'm not sure if it was some Philly thing, but the restaurant is BYOB, i.e. bring your own booze. We ended up bringing the bottle of sparkling wine that the Palomar had given to us.

Even before we got to our first course, we were served selection of amuse bouche. The DippinDots were unique and a nice blend of favors. My favorites were the foie gras cookie and the cauliflower foam soup. Both were so rich, decadent and yummy.

DippinDots of Brocoli, Cauliflower & Bacon

Beef with pomegranate and chilli foam

Foie Gras Cookie

Cauliflower soup with bacon foam

Ravioli with peas

Cheese Pillow

The first two courses was the appetizers and you could do both cold or hot appetizers or one each. The hamarchi was okay but the herb broth prepared table side and mushrooms were superb. The foie gras prepared 3 ways was definitely the highlight - creme brulee foie gras? Enough said.

Head Cheese Terrine