Magical Mystery Meal…

25 Jun

Last night I had the best and strangest meal ever…

It all started a year ago when I submitted my email to a mysterious website. I was put on the list and now had a chance to attend a secret dinner put on by a group of Ottawa’s top chefs.  Not only do the chefs get to showcase delicious and inventive food but the dinners raise money for a selected charity.

I may go missing after posting this. The dinners are invite only and only six people get invited, each person invited gets to bring one guest, a total of 12 people attend each dinner making it an intimate affair. To get on the invite list you need to enter your email on the website ( You then get a couple of mysterious emails and if you follow the instructions, your name is put on the list.  Every time a Cobra dinner is organized all the names are put into a draw. It took more than a year for me to get an invite and I am one of the lucky ones. Once you’ve confirmed that you’re able to attend, you’ll get an email with directions to a meeting place to gather before heading to your final location. My email told me to meet a person with hangers at an intersection, all very mysterious! Then it’s off to your final location, usually someone’s home. Here you get to meet all of the chefs that have been busy preparing your meal.  When you sit down to your meal, you’re not only sitting down for some amazing food but you’re sitting down with new friends. Everyone at the table shares a common interest, food! During our dinner, I wasn’t the only one taking pictures, everyone was! You might think it could be a little awkward eating with complete strangers at one table but it isn’t, it’s a lot of fun!

If you’re a picky eater, don’t even think about signing up for Cobra. Cobra is all about trying new things that you wouldn’t normally find on a menu, at least in North America. In the past they have served everything from kangaroo to seal. You don’t know what you’re going to get but you do know that you’ll enjoy it.

After getting to our dinning location and being introduced to the chefs we sat down to our first course.  We were served some amazing food, all of it delicious! I’ve been asked a couple of times already what my favourite course was, but it’s impossible to choose just one! The three highlights of the night for me were the Kung Pow Guinea Pig, Yak Head Chili and the Flank Steak, Beef Heart and Short Rib Curry. Yup there were some interesting ingredients in the dishes last night. Some people may think that things like Guinea Pig should only be pets or that Yak is just weird but they are delicious and in a lot of countries are normal things to eat. In some South American countries guinea pig has been eaten for centuries and are raised both in urban and rural environments to be sold as extra income.

One of my favourite dishes to order when getting Chinese is Kung Pow Chicken. I love the spicy sauce that coats the deep fried chicken. So when the Kung Pow Guinea Pig was served I was more excited that worried. Served under a dome filled with apple wood smoke, the dish had a flair for the dramatic. With the scent of apple wood lingering in the air, we all chowed down on the spicy goodness. The guinea pig itself didn’t have a strong flavour; it is very similar to the dark meat from a chicken. What really made the dish was the Kung Pow sauce, which had the perfect amount of heat to wake up our taste buds.




The Yak head chili was another of the highlights for me. Yak has a very specific flavour, it is slightly gamey but very mild. The chili included a bunch of different cuts of Yak meeting, including the sweetbreads. The chili has a whole was delicious just enough heat and some freshness from cilantro and fresh tomatoes. I love Yak! If you’re looking to get some Yak meat, visit the Ottawa Farmers’ Market and see the Tiraislin Fold tent.

The last dish I am going to highlight is the thai curry created by Chef Matt Carmichael. Not only was the actual curry sauce perfect but the meat in the curry was delicious. Each meat represented a different texture; there was beef heart, short ribs and flank steak.

The experience of meeting at a stranger’s house and sitting down to a meal, where you have no idea what might be coming out next, is exciting. I would have to say that my experience with Cobra was one of the best adventures I’ve ever had with food. I’d recommend signing up for Cobra, you’ll definitely taste something new!

The meal…

Fire & Ice Mojito, Ginger Cloud & Cricket Sphere

Rabbit Live and Guanciale

Wild hare loin, truffle, pancake

Beef Heart Curry

Kung Pow Guinea Pig

Yak Head Chili

Pork Belly, Cod Tongue, Kimchi Mayo

Ice cream Sundae with Caramelized Bacon

One Response to “Magical Mystery Meal…”

  1. Ms. Momo August 21, 2012 at 8:57 pm #

    This sounds like it was so much fun! I was looking for something like this in Boston when I visited last year, not knowing that Ottawa was also so adventurous! Sadly, being vegetarian, it looks like I wouldn’t be able to fully enjoy the adventure. I’ll be sure to let my foodie friends know. Thanks for documenting your experience!

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