Date: 25-05-2014Flight: EK424 Dubai -PerthAircraft: Boeing 777-300ERCabin: First ClassDuration: 10 hours ( 9,047 Kilometres)“When you want to sleep Mr Broadfield, just let me know and I’ll turn the stars on.”Oh-kay then.What Toby the chief steward meant was somewhat opaque at that point. All would be revealed after dinner service.The greatest compliment one can pay a guest in an Arab house is to offer them a small cup of traditional watery, cardamom-scented coffee and a fresh date. If you are not offered these them, you are bring told politely that you are not wanted. It is considered an insult of some proportion. Naturally the first thing one gets given on boarding an Emirates flight is a small cup of the utterly addictive coffee poured from a traditional, long necked coffee pot. The date was superb too. Courtesies observed, it was time for push back and the long taxi to runway 12L. We would track via Male on the Maldives, the only land we would see for the entire flight.Emirates, home based in the filthy-rich, super glitz desert super city of Dubai, has become one of the major players in global aviation and it’s managed to achieve massive growth and significant revenues in a few short years. Part of its success has been it’s service which is extraordinary. The food offer also plays a large part in attracting high-end travellers to Emirates long haul first and business cabins.There was the usual pampering with hot, fluffy towels and offers of water or juices and a nibble or two to pique the appetite. Then the onslaught began.Emirates famous caviar service was the first cab off the culinary rank. Even those who under normal circumstances probably aren’t l that fond of raw, salted fish eggs fall all over themselves to get at caviar because of its association with luxury living, the rich and famous, good looking people in perfect dinner dress looking like they belong in a Tiffany ad and, of course, champagne. In this case a 2004 Dom Perignon.It was impeccably plated on fine white china. A small mound of chopped egg white, a separate pile of chopped yolk, a dob of sour cream, some minced white onion and a quarter of a lemon wrapped in muslin with a bow. On the side, a handful of blinis which were the onoly disappointing item on the plate: tough and a little dried out. But there was no taking away from the simple beauty of one of the world’s most luxury foods washed down with one of the world’s most luxurious champagnes. It puts you in a good mood. It’s not encouraged, but should you wish for more caviar, they’ll crack another jar for you. My advice: never gorge on caviar, it’s a bad look and caviar should only ever be served in small amounts – it keeps anticipation and a certain sense of luxury alive. If vodka and caviar is more your speed, the amiable crew will crack a bottle of chilled Grey Goose for you.Appetisers began with a “traditional” local Arab mezze: a spectacular array of breads and dips and small fried snacks and salads, The individual serves are tiny, as they should be (it’s still a massive plate of food) and the effect is, as designed, is a variety of small, well-flavour bites stimulate the appetite and the senses.First passengers eat when they wish with dishes cooked ala minute (notwithstanding the plates are prepped first on the ground) and plated with good garnishes and an eye for composition. (All of Emirates senior cabin staff go to cookery school where they learn about plating up and making dishes attractive).This dishes are surprisingly good for airplane food. Red Thai chicken curry actually tasted like, um, red Thai chicken curry. It was a cooled down, westernised and sanitised version but the key components of good Thai cookery were evident, particularly that hard-to-define “freshness” that good Thai cookery is renowned for. The various spices, pastes, sauces and herbs which go to make up the complex Thai red curry sauce were all present and accounted for. Tidy dish.Machbous is a classic Emirati dish made with a variety of proteins including goat and lamb. This was a seafood machbous and in spite of its somewhat bland traditions, it kicked a goal in terms of proper fish cookery: moist and sweet at its core.The only fail was not unexpected. Ther most difficult dish to cook in the air has to be steak. To ensure the hygiene chain remains unbroken – from supplier to ground kitchen to ground handlers to galley and finally to the plate – steak has to be all but cooked on the ground with a final heating for service. Anyone who has ever eaten a par cooked steak (at a big wedding or hotel business event) knows just how mealy and grey and flavourless they can be. To its credit, Emirates managed to plate a steak with a surprising amount of pink at its core (but medium to well done). I suspect that if they had their way most airline executive chefs would choose not to offer a grilled steak because, well, they’re on a hiding to nothing, so to speak. But it is impossible for first tier airlines to take steak off the menu, such is it’s status among conservative male travellers – still the majority demographic at the front end of the aircraft. And so the steak remains.The food experience on Emirates is in the Top Five world wide. Having said that, airlineratings.com hasn’t travelled in the first class cabin of all the world’s first tier carriers for the purposes of our “restaurant review” program so our observations need to be taken in that context. Mind you, we’ve done a lot of air miles in our pursuit of good food and service (and rating accordingly) and Emirates is impressive in every way: service, food and wine.Big tip: The airline is number one for cocktails. Toby, the affable chief steward/purser made two of the most impeccable, well-balanced mojitos I have drunk anywhere – on the ground or in the air. They were extraordinarily well made drinks. Cheers Emirates.And then after the meal service had concluded, Toby, returned to make good on his promise to “turn the stars on.”He first made my bed – comforter, douvet, chocolate on the pillow – and then with a cheery wave good by, Toby left me to sleep in the slowly dimming cabin light. And as the lights dimmed, the entire ceiling lit up with a thousand stars – the emanations from a forest of optic fibres hidden in the head liner. Not only was it beautiful, it also aided sleep.Until next time. Zzzzzzzzz.