Last month I attended my first Cobaya Dinner, the undergrounddining group based out of Miami spearheaded by FoodFor Thought, TheChowfather, and BlindTastes. Cobaya by definition meansguinea pig and underground in this context means you don’t know where thedinner will be held until the last possible moment nor will you be privy to themenu until you sit at the table. The Cobaya group is for the culinarilyadventurous. If you have allergies and aversions to certain foods then thisgathering of food enthusiasts is definitely not for you but if you “eat outsidethe box” and like to tip-toe on the wild side of your basic food groups thenyou will probably embrace this group, farm to fork.
The dinner was held at Market 17 in Fort Lauderdale I have been a fan of the 10 month old restaurant since the day it opened its doors. (Clickon each topic to read the various articles and posts I have done on Market 17 Interview,dinner,FoodPorn, Chefin the Spotlight). Cobaya. Market 17. My schedule. It played out in perfectharmony and I was there. It was a well planned, executed, and thrilling diningexperience. The basic components and fundamentals of Cobaya and the mission ofMarket 17 worked together… magically. I have but one question, when was thelast time you ate Kangaroo? Exactly. It was the same answer for most of theguests at this sold out dinner. It is gastronomic surprises like this thatoccur at a Cobaya Dinner.
Chef Daniel Ramos took the Cobaya Dinner very seriously andput much thought, time, and effort into planning the dinner which took us aworld wind tour to the seven continents. Each of the seven courseswas representative of a continent.
This dinner was exciting to say the least when we all satdown and started to read the menu, the greatest reaction at my section of thetable was to the kangaroo, you could almost see the salivating culinarywanderlust happening. If you’re a true food enthusiast you can appreciate theexhilarating art form food takes on at these dinners. There was not a coursethat wasn’t enjoyable or experimental. Painstaking preparation went into themaking of the seven courses, and it showed. The culinary freedom given to ChefRamos paid off in spades.
Prawn with shrimp and pork dumpling, lemongrass prawn head broth, accompaniments of traditional ingredients
Riesling, Charles Smith Kung Fu Girl, Washington State 2009
The first course allowed us to play with our food. We weregiven two dishes, one with raw vegetable ingredients and the other a bowl ofsteamy lemongrass, prawn head broth which we were encouraged to add whatevertraditional raw ingredients we liked to the broth, creating our own Asianspecialty.
Quinoa crusted Peruvian paiche, roasted garlic, amaranth, cassava purée, tapioca, salsa verde
Wine Pairing: Sparkling Rosé, Alma Negra, Mendoza Argentina 2009
The second course was all about texture and flavor; rough,smooth, zesty and mellow. I personally had never had Piache (freshwater fish)this mild fish was complimented by the quinoa crust and accompaniments thatenhanced the overall flavor of the fish
Peppercorn grilled kangaroo filet, caramelized brioche, poached pears, broccolini, blackberry sauce
Wine Pairing: Grenache,Yangarra Old Vines, McLaren Vale, Australia 2007
Ok so about the kangaroo. No it didn’t taste like chicken,it tasted like kangaroo. Everyone I told about the dinner asked that question.Think similarly like beef. Medium rare-rare was how it was prepared with asweet blackberry sauce. As a rule I’m not one to mix my sweet and savoryflavors but I threw caution to the wind, after all I was at a Cobaya Dinner. Itworked; the blackberry sauce and the poached pears complimented this mild yetflavorful meat to perfection.
African spiced wild boar tenderloin with gumbo braised shank, whipped peanut sauce, caramelized yams, plantain coins, kale
Wine Pairing: Pinotage, Spice Route, Swartland, South Africa 2008
The fourth course, wild boar was tender and flavorful withAfrican spices adding much zip to the tenderloin along with a contrastingpeanut sauce and caramelized yams which equalized the flavors of the dish.
Pheasant breast, pheasant sausage, pheasant pistachio mousseline, duchesse potato, asparagus, creme margot
Wine Pairing: Cabernet Blend, Chateau Merville, St. Estephe, Bordeaux France 2005
The fifth course was pheasant. Pheasant. And more pheasant.We were served pheasant 3-ways. Breast, sausage and mouselline (whipped) flavoredwith pistachio. The pheasant made a stunning plate presentation. The threestyles of pheasant was a kaleidoscope of flavors on one plate, giving us anopportunity to sample a cornucopia of tastes and textures.
Bison, tomato chili sauce, sweet corn, potato purée, poached fingerling potatoes
Wine Pairing: Cabernet Sauvignon, Lancaster Estate, Alexander Valley, California 2006
The last savory course was North American Bison. Cooked soperfectly, you didn’t need a knife to cut it. If you look closely you will seeI cut into my bison before photographing it. When it was served, I just wantedto dive into it; to hell with taking pictures.
Vanilla cake, meringue, candied lardo, fried raspberry coulis, chocolate and caramel ice cream
Wine Pairing: Icewine, Inniskillin, Vidal, VQA Niagara Peninsula, Canada 2007
And the last memorable course was dessert, representative of Antarctica. Antarctica, on average, is the coldest, driest, and windiest continent, The temperature inAntarctica has reached−129 °F. Thereare no permanent human residents, but anywhere from 1,000 to 5,000 peoplereside throughout the year at the research stations scattered across the continent. Only cold-adapted organisms survive there. So what type of foodcould possibly be represented from this bone chilling continent? Why dessert ofcourse; Ice cream and cake. And the Icewine, came from Antarctica’s chilly cousin Canada, talk about a home run pairing.
The evening was food-fascinating and oh so memorable.I have to hand it to Chef Ramos and the CobayaTeam this was one dinner not soon forgotten. Click here for information on theCobaya Dinners
Market 17 1580 SE 17th Street, Fort Lauderdale 954.835.5507