How many of us remember when flying was special and magical? The days when you dressed up in your best clothes, packed carefully, counted down the days to that flight, arrived that airport four hours in advance, were all excited to go through security, bounced all over duty-free, and then... joy of joys, walked into the plane, fiddled with all the buttons, thought long and hard about what to eat and drink and how to sleep well. Perhaps, if you were lucky, the captain would let you come on deck and show you the controls too.
See, I didn't grow up with aeroplanes and airports. For me, it was rickety buses and rattly trains all the way. While they had their own magic, flying was still out of reach for the ordinary people, so you can imagine my excitement when, at age twenty, I was offered the chance to head to Thailand and South-East Asia on a plane. On. A. Plane. For the first time. Oh, the squeals of excitement!
The first time I flew, I asked if I could head in to the pilot's cabin. And I was lucky enough to be given the opportunity to do so. The pilots were amazing, as we flew over the brightly lit cities in India, they pointed them out to me. The stars were huge in the sky, as they told me which ones were planets and all the constellations. It was certainly a magical first flight, a truly memorable one.
Ever since then I have flown many times, across continents and oceans, as flying has become more and more common. But through this all, a small kernel of excitement has always remained, and I certainly wish that more people felt the same, instead of just seeing flying as being just another way to get from one place to another, with a few sides of grumpiness and annoyance and frustration.
Well, it doesn't have to be that way now, does it?
Edmonton International Airport, also known as EIA, wants to let you know that your holiday starts at the airport. Along with three lovely Edmonton food bloggers, I was invited to the airport to experience cocktails and food in their various establishments. One of the things I've always moaned about (well, discreetly) has been the lack of transit service to the airport, and now, to my delight, the 747 now takes less that twenty minutes to the airport from Century Park transit centre. Even better, the bus is rarely crowded and even boasts free Wi-Fi... you know, just in case that important email has to be answered! So does EIA, by the way, so if you can't bear to leave the social media behind, just log on and you are in.
We started our food journey through the airport with Chili's Grill. The EIA franchise has some unique dishes that are not available anywhere else and it was the perfect start to our journey. We shared some bulldog and regular margaritas (and some come in their own little shaker) as well as some pickle Caesars. Pickles and Caesars = match made in heaven. We shared appetizers, and as you know, I am a sucker for wings, so I indulged to my heart's content. I must admit, though, that like most of the other bloggers with me, my favourite was the queso dip, and we gorged on it. A shout out, also, to the perfect onion rings. I don't normally do heavy meals before flying, but the appies and drinks at Chili's would be the perfect way to start off a holiday.
We moved on from Chili's to the Heineken Lounge, right beside EIA's famed (and rightly so) Living Wall. I breathed in the lovely fragrance of the fresh, green waterfall of plants, as Marlow Moo and I goofed about around it. At the Heineken Lounge, the food is Dutch-inspired, as is the beer. Cathy opted for the beer, while I decided to slow down on the drinks (after my Bulldog and Caesar at Chili's). I ordered a plate of waffle fries... after all, frites! I absolutely loved the curry mayonnaise that came with it, it was faintly reminiscent of coronation style salad dressing, a personal favourite of mine. That said, I looked on enviously at Cathy's chicken curry and naan. Jacquie ordered the mac and cheese, while there was also a cheese platter on order that looked gorgeous. I slightly regretted my overindulgence at Chili's, but the lovely lady at the lounge offered to pack up my fries, so I didn't feel that guilty in the end.
Our next stop was Sorrentino's at the airport. Now Sorrentino's in general is one of my favourite places in Edmonton, so I was thrilled to grab a latte and a scoop of Spumone gelato. I wish I'd had the room for more desserts, especially the amazing looking cakes, but I snapped one up to take home to indulge. The barista at Sorrentino's is quite the latte artist, so don't forget to let him swirl up a special treat for you on your way. Sorrentino's serves up Lavazza, the espressos I love, so it was a perfect ending to a lovely tour of the airport.
It is one of things I aim to do with my little one. I don't want her to see flying as a stressful, crazy thing, so we always get to the airport early enough, so we can chill out, relax and enjoy the fact that we can, today, do something that is so incredible, something magical - fly!
Check out posts from my fellow bloggers:
Cathy from Walsh Cooks (also known as the funniest woman in food in Edmonton)
Lindsay from Edible Woman (also known as baker extraordinaire!)
Marlow Moo (the numero uno bovine foodie)
... and our host, Jacquie from Parkallen Home Kitchen.
Disclosure: My meals were paid for by EIA.