If ever you are given a chance to eat cobra, this is what you can expect:
A Northern Vietnamese delicacy and ritual, be prepared to select your serpent personally, watch the snake’s decaptiation and then cringe as the venom is drained from the snake. You will then- as is tradition- be offered the cobra heart in a shot of snake blood. You may still be able to feel the heart beating in your throat. . .
Fortunately, Eat Cobra Ottawa is QUITE different than what you may experience in Northern Vietnam.
Allow me to explain:
Eat Cobra Ottawa began about four years ago, when renowned Ottawa Chef Marc Lepine from restaurant Atelier decided it was time to give chefs in Ottawa a chance to step out of the culinary box and create food without any creative boundaries. Secondly, Lepine designed Eat Cobra to allow these chefs to create dishes that they would like to experiment with, but would probably never be able to sell in a normal restaurant. So no, it’s not actually an evening of braving cobra scales or snake’s blood, but rather a night where the best of the best cook exactly what they want to cook and, you- if you are so lucky- get to try it.
I first heard about this club of underground chefs and eaters over a year ago, remember? And last week, I was finally selected, along with four other people, to attend the illustrious evening.
Keep reading to find out HOW you can throw your name into the Eat Cobra hat.
The invitation email I received was ominous, asking that I R.S.V.P within 24 hours, detailing that if I R.S.V.P’ed to attend and then did not attend for whatever reason, I would “be blacklisted from any future cobra events”.
After my eager response, I waited an entire week until I was given directions to the “meeting spot”- an intersection in the West end of Ottawa where I was to look for a person with “skewers”.
Aside from easily being the most bizarre situation I’ve ever been in, it was also one of the most extraordinary. Every one of the five people selected brought a guest and each of us were like-minded when it comes to food: open to anything, excited and hungry.
We settled into a stranger’s home as the evening began with champagne flowing, flutes clinking and a team of gastronomes at work in the kitchen.
The lineup of chefs had my draw irreparably dropping.
Here I was at an Eat Cobra dinner, that I had heard so much about, but really knew nothing about. I was being cooked for by Ottawa’s finest.
Pictured from Left to right: Chef Chris Deraiche from Wellington Gastropub, Jamie Stunt from Oz (formerly), Patricia Larkin from Black Cat Bistro, Marc Lepine from Atelier, James Duffy from Arc Hotel.
So the courses began rolling out, each prepared by a different chef and each prepared in effort to amaze, terrify and excite our taste buds….
Wellington Gastropub: Ostrich Tartare with black truffle, pickled milkweeds, pickled ramps, smoked olive oil capers and shallots.
Black Cat Bistro: Marijuana smoked octopus, romesco, olive oil crumble and black garlic purée
Oz Kafe: Seared yak heart, deep fried sea snails, sturgeon flowers
Arc Hotel: Camel stuffed dumplings with crispy crickets, Robert sauce, camel jerky, milkweed fleurettes, pickled chanterelles
In a nutshell, most Cobra dinners operate in this manner- chef by chef, course by course with foods that are far from your comfort zone but are as delicious as can be.
If you think you can brave what the Cobra Gods may have in store for next time, this is how you can enter to win a chance to Eat Cobra:
1) Visit: eatcobra.ca and eventually you will figure out where to submit your email address.
2) Follow: @CobraOttawa
I can assure you, a Cobra dinner will not be one you will forget quickly.
Have you heard of anything like Eat Cobra before? If you’re living in Toronto but want to give this unique culinary adventure a whirl, don’t despair, T.O. has it’s own (and actually original)version called “Charlie’s Burger”. Click here for more details.