Best Places–Bizarre Food

Returning to my ‘Best Places’ series, today I present to you my pick for the destination with the most ‘Bizarre Food’.  Again, when I started this series, I had no idea how difficult it would be to pick only one location for many of these categories, nor did I anticipate how difficult it would be to pick EVEN ONE location for some.  The Bizarre Food pick falls into the latter category.

Why?  Well, I’m thinking there are two possibilities.  One, I don’t really go anywhere that is known for food that would be considered ‘Bizarre’–my travel map is noticeably focused on North American and Europe, so no scorpions on a stick for me.  And two–I have a slightly different opinion on what qualifies as ‘bizarre’ food.  There are many things I would eat that lots of people would consider ‘bizarre’, that I would just consider ‘really, really good’.  Take, for example, the following…

Alligator Jambalaya from Beck’s Cajun Cafe at the Reading Terminal Market in Philadelphia…yummy…

How about this–a cabbage covered fry bread served with quinoa and yucca fries, from Mitsam inside the Native American Museum in D.C….

While we’re talking about D.C., I have to mention my first runner up for ‘Bizarre Foods’–this meal…

…at Cafe Atlantico, possibly my favorite restaurant in the world.  I believe this was either snapper or sea bass–I don’t remember–but I do recall that it was topped with a chili lime foam (the white stuff) and accompanied by several gelatinous blobs made up of olive oil and some sort of chemical that formed said olive oil into blobs (I’m sure there’s a better way to explain this, but I don’t know what it is–just trust me, it was great!)

If ‘bizarre’ equals ‘gross’ (which I don’t think is true), then this dish wins hands down…

…ordered due to a language misunderstanding in a Paris cafe.  The pink and black parts are roe (fish eggs), the green is avocado, and the whole thing is topped with shrimp in some sort of cilantro lime dressing.  It was NOT good!

As for ethnic food, I’m all about it.  We had a great meal at Sarang Mas, an Indonesian restaurant in Amsterdam…

And there was no way I was leaving London without visiting at least one Brick Lane Indian joint…

Sadly, I don’t remember the name of this place, though I know it was just north of actual Brick Lane.  Alas, Googling ‘Indian Restaurant London’ doesn’t help in ANY way!

Finally, as for bizarre presentation, well, I’ve had my share of those types of meals as well–and I tend to love them.  Observe dessert at Sensi, located in the Bellagio Hotel in Vegas…

That sure is a lot of work for three scoops of sorbet!

However, the irony here is that the actual location I’m selecting for my ‘Best Place for Bizarre Food’ award is a place that I do not have one single photo of.  Why?  I went there before the advent of social networking, and thus I had not yet developed the practice of photographing everything and anything–including all of my meals.  That place is Sitka, Alaska.

So what made my meal there bizarre?  Well, first, it was the best meal I’ve ever had–and it was in the restaurant of some tiny little hotel.  If memory serves me correctly, it was a Howard Johnson’s.

Yes, that’s right–after all of those food pics, my favorite and most bizarre meal was had in a tiny little town in a dingy little eatery that I only happened upon because it was raining and we were cold.  Oh wait–I do have a picture of me in Sitka in the cold rain…

Ah yes…five years ago.  How sad is it that I can think ‘look how much thinner I was’ even though I’m wearing a poncho?  Ha!  But I digress…

The dish we ordered wasn’t even on the menu–we saw someone else eating it, pointed to it, and said ‘we’ll have THAT’.

The meal–fresh off the docks Alaskan King Crab Legs.  Why were they bizarre?  Because I’ve never had anything like them before or since.  First, they were amazingly firm and tasty.  They didn’t even need butter.  Second–the legs themselves were hairy.  Did you know that crabs had bristly hair on their legs?  Well, they do.  I imagine they must be scrubbed off before being frozen and carted off to places like Red Lobster–but trust me, nothing about these crab legs resembled anything I’d ever had at a Red Lobster!


5 responses to “Best Places–Bizarre Food

  1. Would have loved to have seen those hairy legs.

    • i know. it is shocking how few photos i have from that trip. facebook and blogging have totally changed the way i take photos.

  2. Whoa. That Parisian trifle looks completely gross. I can’t believe you ate it!!

  3. Jose Andres does love his “air” doesn’t he?! (Your Cafe Atlantico dish)
    I just ate at Oyamel Saturday night, and had “salt air” on my margarita. Have you been able to eat at Minibar yet? (Another Jose Andres spot – inside Cafe Atlantico, I believe, and THE hardest reservation to be had in all of DC)

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