July 7, 2013

Zoo Food!

If you have children, you've probably heard this question plenty of times, "Can we go to the zoo today, yeah can we go to the zoo?" You of course want to make their day and maybe even start packing up a lunch for the family and get everyone ready to go and piled in the car.

"What's that?" is being asked numerous amounts of time and you do your best to explain to them what that weird looking animal is. Where it comes from, why it comes from a specific region, how it got here and all the other questions kids love to ask. The family starts to get hungry and you find a spot to enjoy your packed lunch. What if, while you're eating that delicious bolagna sandwich, you were thinking to yourself, "I wonder what some of these animals would taste like?" Okay, so maybe it would just be me and yes, I actually think about these things. But, where would I even find some of these animals?

My crazy brain got started on wanting to try some exotic food after eating at a place called the Safari Restaurant & Banquet Center which we did a blog on, A Safari In The City? and having the owner Sade tell me about the camel burgers he's cooking up at his Safari Express location in the Midtown Global Market building. Months later and completely forgetting all about that, I came across a story about Hell's Kitchen starting to serve Kangaroo Steaks. I told my wife that we must get to Hell's Kitchen to try some hoppy-hoppy. After letting some of my readers know about my excitement, one of them sent me a butcher located in Hudson that might have what I'm looking for. Let the zoo tour begin!

It was a holiday weekend and of course grilling was on my mind. Meat and lots of it was on the menu, but after being told that I might actually be able to find something that tends to only be found in a zoo, the traditional burgers, brats, steaks and chicken were not on my menu. Specialty Meats & Gourmet is that butcher who has some of those animals and I wasn't leaving without something I've seen running around a zoo.

Item number one I wanted to definitely try apparently doesn't stay on the shelf very long and usually if it's out in the wild, one of them is being pursude by the other for dinner. This wild combination is rabbit and rattle snake sausage and it was outstanding! I'm pretty certain that it's the best form of a sausage that I have ever had and can understand why it doesn't last long on the shelf. You definitely know you're not eating your traditional brat or sausage and that is exactly what I was hoping for. The other selection was the animal that Hell's Kitchen was serving, that's right, kangaroo. I purchased my hoppy-hoppy in the form of 4 patties and it was very lean and oh so delicious. I would love to have it in the form of a filet to see what that tastes like as well. I can only imagine, it's amazing!

Will I be going to another butcher? Not a chance! This place has me as a lifetime customer and I hope they continue to serve some delicious exotic cuts of meat and maybe even bring in some additional animals for me to try. More things that fly or are running somewhere in the wild is just fine with me and I'm looking forward to going back for something new. How about something along the lines of Santa's slay pullers, bear, quail, alpaca or yak.

My wife and I finally made a trip to the Midtown Global Market and while we were there we of course had to try that camel burger I mentioned earlier and Safari Express was the first place we went to. "We'll take one camel burger and 2 Sambuza's." and the response back from the gentleman behind the counter was, "Would you like some of our homemade hot sauce?" "Yes please!" Their hot sauce is a green sauce made in house with a ton of delicious flavor and a must have with anything you eat at Safari's. We ate our Sambuza's while we waited for our camel burger to be done and these things are by far the best appetizer my wife and I have ever had. What makes it's so amazing? Get to Safari Express, try just one and hold back the temptation of wanting to order more. I bet you can't! 

Out came our camel burger and the first thing I wanted to do was try just the burger itself and nothing else. I looked at my wife with this look on my face like I had just died and gone to food heaven. The gentleman behind the counter asked us if we wanted ketchup for our meal and I'm sure glad that I never once dipped my burger in ketchup. Instead, I was putting the green hot sauce all over my burger and enjoying it even more. Hands down the BEST burger I've ever had and it was made of camel! Another great addition to this trip, the owner Sade had walked in, came over and asked how our food was and we of course told him our thoughts. I also asked him if he remembered my wife and I and his response, "Yes, yes! Are you going to write another great blog about the camel burger?" My response, "You bet we are!"

I'm definitely a fan of the whole idea of eating something that we only see in a zoo, well at least here in Minnesota and I'm looking forward to trying another creature in the near future and sharing my experience with my readers. Hopefully you'll be brave enough to try something completely bizzare and enjoy it as much as I have. I would say this... It's worth it! On our way out, we stopped to grab a couple tacos from Los Ocampo which you can read about by visiting the Mas Tequila, Por Favor! blog, all about authentic Mexican cuisine, not the Americanized Mexican food that can be found far too often. We also grabbed some Baklava from the Holy Land Deli which is one of my favorite desserts.