Friday, December 29, 2006

The Red Ochre Grill in Cairns, Australia

Kangaroo, crocodile, emu, fresh yellow-fin tuna, wild boar- these are the ingredients of modern Australian cuisine. Like many of the inventive restaurants in the US, Asian influences abound in Australia. Last night at the Red Ochre, instead of barbecued croc on a stick as you might imagine you’d find in the Australian outback, we ate crocodile filled wontons. The Kangaroo was sesame crusted with a horseradish sauce, the emu in the form of a pate. Chef Craig Squire seems well versed in traditional French techniques, splashing his dishes with Asian flavors. My main course was kangaroo, or “roo” as the server referred to it when she asked how my dinner was. I’d had heard it tasted gamey before, and I think that is an accurate representation. The flesh was extremely lean, I found not a bit of grissle or fat in the cut, and it tasted very similar to venison. The roo was served with a quandong chili glaze and Chinese bok choy. The side starch was an inventive and highly caloric sweet potato fritter. It was like eating a donut filled with shreds of sweet potato. Very tasty, and thankfully, Lou helped me with much of it.

Lou ordered the special yellow-fin tuna. It was served with lentils and greens. The fish was a large cut (everything here is served in HUGE portions) and was prepared correctly, but the lentils were a bit bland. Lou liked it, but it was nothing memorable. I will, however, never forget the Aussie Asian-fused Roo at the Red Ochre Grill.

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