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Spring is here, and with it the new seasonal Spring menu at the Qantas First Lounges at Sydney and Melbourne international airports. If you're reading this article before lunch, we apologise in advance.
Breakfast: served from 5am to noon
As always, the breakfast menu sees few new dishes.
Every frequent flyer has his or her own favourites from this long-standing and time-proven selection (we're fans of starting with the Bircher muesli, followed up by sweet corn fritters).
Instead, the Rockpool chefs mix things up a little by folding seasonal ingredients into some dishes, such as adding red papaya to the breakfast yoghurt, while the buttermilk pancakes are now topped with a strawberry compote and passionfruit yoghurt.
All-day dining: served from noon
By comparison, Spring has seen quite a rejig of the Qantas First Lounge's all-day dining menu.
One of the faithful standbys – the 'caprese salad' of bocconcini with heirloom tomatoes, basil and balsamic vinegar salad – has been swapped for bocconcini with marinated roast capsicum, olives, parsley and grilled sourdough, which is rubbed with a freshly cut garlic clove for a mild garlicky fragrance.
Thankfully the bocconcini & tomato salad's ever-popular twin of salt & pepper squid remains, or we swear there'd be riots.
Other familiar faces include the club sandwich, pulled pork brioche bun and Neil Perry's fish tagine, although we pause to note that the Black Angus minute steak is missing from the menu. Maybe those riots will happen after all...
New for Spring is the light starter of a puff pastry tart of slow-roasted beetroot, sweet onion puree, watercress and pecan.
Also on the light side: the Asian-inspired crispy fried duck salad with cucumber, pickled wombok and roasted sesame.
Seafood steps in as steamed mussels in spicy tomato sauce with casarecce pasta and saffron-flavoured aioli. The mussels are steamed in an aromatic mixture of herbs, chilli and garlic before being tossed with a sauce made with white wine, tomato and the mussels' own oceanic juices.
The turf to that surf is sticky beef with carrot puree, grilled and fried onions and horseradish. This fall-apart beef is slowly cooked in a masterstock flavoured with carrots, shallots, garlic, soy and ginger, then seared and glazed in its cooking liquid.
Also on the hoof: lamb rump with lemon roasted sweet potato and spring bean pistou. The lamb rump is rubbed with cumin, coriander, fennel and garlic before being grilled, while the sweet potatoes are slow roasted with lemon zest, rosemary and parsley.
There's also Sichuan minced pork and tofu, in which silken tofu mingles with stir-fried minced pork, hot bean paste, soy sauce, Sichuan pepper and sesame oil.
But if you're looking for something a little less adventurous, go for the grilled chicken breast with braised lettuce, bacon, peas and thyme.
Left room for dessert?
New sweet treats are the passionfruit curd cake with strawberry sorbet and a unique spiced watermelon salad with cucumber, verjus and lychee sorbet.
The lounge's signature 'deconstructed pavlova in a glass' is dressed with strawberries and passionfruit, although you can expect fresh in-season mango to make an appearance a little down the track.
Don't forget: if you want to sample the breakfast and all-day menus, at Sydney Airport you can check in for your Qantas flight any time during the day – from as early as 5am, even if you're catching the 9pm QF25 to Tokyo. We don't suggest you spend 16 lazy hours in the Qantas first class lounge, of course...