Something old: the planes.

OpenSkies: business beds and great staff

Something new: the concept.

Something borrowed: a fine chef.

Something blue: the open skies that OpenSkies flies.

If ever there was a marriage made in heaven it’s OpenSkies airlines coupling all-business class service with low value pricing. Can’t beat the service or the deals.

Introduced in 2008, this airline, a subsidiary of British Airways, flies only from New York and Washington, D.C, to Paris. Its small and intimate approach—and its pricing—gives passengers much to love. Here, let me count the ways that OpenSkies rises above competition:

OpenSkies outfitted its fleet of four Boeing 757-200 planes to hold from 64 to 84 passengers. Each plane has only two cabins, both business class. One cabin sports business beds (luscious little pods that fully recline for sleeping), the other, business seats (wide leather seats reclining 140°). The small number of passengers allows

Washington Dulles International

for easy boarding and deplaning, as well as space, style and comfort throughout the flight.

The planes fly nonstop from Newark Liberty International airport and Washington Dulles International RT to Paris-Orly. Dulles and Orly are small and uncomplicated airports, easy to navigate and quick with check in and security. (Sorry, lack the experience to speak for Newark).

The airline offers plenty of perks, including pre-boarding access to airline lounges, truly accommodating staff and value pricing with occasional great bargains.

View from the window: an OpenSkies sunset

Oh, and of course, the food. Love is in the air for foodies, at least on the Dulles/Orly run where the airline hired Michel Richard, of renowned L.A. and D.C. fame, to dish up the catering.

I don’t say this lightly, but the best fish I have ever encountered on any airline was a Salmon with Eggplant served on Open Skies. After hunting literally high and low for a recipe that would allow me to enjoy the dish happily ever after, I found a home-cook’s facsimile in Michel Richard’s fabulous cookbook,

HAPPY IN THE KITCHEN (Artisan books, 2006, 352 pages, 151 recipes, good technique advice, and gorgeous photography. A must-have for the cookbook collector.).

The following recipe gives a taste of both OpenSkies and Michel Richard’s book. Both airline and book wed style to substance and offer much that is oh so easy to love….


(Recipe adapted from Michel Richard’s HAPPY IN THE KITCHEN)

Yield: 4 main course servings.

2 Japanese eggplants (4 to 5 ounces each)

About 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided

2 garlic cloves

1/4 cup chicken stock

1 teaspoon soy sauce

Fine sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper

2/3 cup (14-inch) diced fresh mozzarella (about 4 ounces)

1/4 cup cut (1-inch pieces) garlic chives (about 10 chives)

1/2 cup chopped yellow onion

2 large ripe tomatoes (about 6 ounces each), chopped

Pinch granulated sugar

4 center-cut salmon fillets, (each 6 to 8 ounces and cut 1 to 1-1/2 inches thick), skin and any pinbones removed (If the belly, a thinner fattier section of salmon is still attached, cut it away and reserve for another use.)

10 basil leaves, cut into julienne

To make stuffing: halve each eggplant, lengthwise. Lay each half cut side down on a work surface and cut into thin half-moon slices, no thicker than 1/8 inch. You should have about 3 cups of eggplant. Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a medium sauté pan over medium heat. Add the eggplant. Using a rasp grater, grate the garlic directly onto the eggplant (or mince garlic and add it). Cook, turning the eggplant frequently for about 5 minutes, until it is softened and the garlic is fragrant. Add the chicken stock and simmer for about 2 minutes to reduce the stock and glaze the eggplant. Season with soy sauce and salt and pepper to taste. Spread the eggplant on a plate and let it cool to room temperature. When completely cool, scoop the eggplant into a bowl and gently stir in the mozzarella and chives. Taste and correct seasoning. Set aside until ready to use. (The stuffing can be held at room temperature for up to 2 hours.)

To make vinaigrette: heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a small skillet over medium high heat. Add the onion and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes to soften. Add the tomatoes and sugar and simmer gently for 15 minutes.  Transfer the tomato mixture to a blender and puree until smooth. Strain through a fine-mesh strainer into a bowl and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat oven to 325°F.

With a sharp knife, cut a vertical slit down the center of each salmon fillet, leaving the bottom 1/2-inch of salmon intact. With your hands or a spoon, pull the slits gently apart to make a pocket and stuff each pocket with 1/4 of the eggplant stuffing.

Place stuffed salmon on an oiled baking sheet, season with salt and pepper and drizzle olive oil over top. Set salmon in the preheated oven and bake for about 12 minutes, or until the stuffing is hot throughout.

Stir basil into the vinaigrette. Spoon some vinaigrette into the center of each serving plate. Top with the salmon. Serve.