Tuesday, May 19, 2009

What Do You Serve With Camel?!

A bit of history.

We really like Hill's Specialty Meats.  The "specialty" part of their name says it all and we love the fact that we can order right along with the big boys of the restaurant trade.  We've tried their foie gras, lamb loin, duck breasts and even ventured a go with the ground camel last summer.  Well, I'd noticed that their web site recently added camel roasts to their list.  

So, on his last trip out to Hill's, Boo asked about picking up a roast.  He was advised that they don't normally stock the roasts and that he'd have to place an order - which he did.  We got the call that the meat had arrived and Boo headed back on out.  Talk about being shocked when they politely told him that the order came to $900.  Turns out that a half-side is the smallest order they could place.  I guess they don't ship smaller orders when they have to come from the Aussie Outback.  Needless to say, Boo's jaw was nearly displaced, it dropped so far.  

After saying that $900 was somewhat more than he'd been expecting, Hill's admitted that they were taken aback as well, but told him that he'd been the first person to ever order any and that they had no idea that the meat would arrive as such a honking order.  Thankfully, they reduced the size of the order appreciably but we still ended up with a hefty supply of camel.

Oh, did I mention that the main piece of meat must have been at least three feet long and a foot or so wide?!  It took up a fair bit of freezer space, that "roast" did.  And, yes, one of the first things I asked Boo was "why the hell didn't you get them to cut it into smaller pieces?!"  We won't go into some of the other things that were asked.

In any event, we did get that side cut down eventually and were now looking for an opportunity to cook some of it up and bite on into it.  That chance came when we were finally able to organize a night to have two friends, the Tyrant and Hizzoner, over for dinner to thank them for assisting us at our wedding last summer.

Now, some might ask, "if you're wanting to thank someone, why would you serve them camel?"  What can I say?  Both Tyrant and Hizzoner have travelled extensively and thought that trying camel would both be novel and interesting.

The tasks at hand weren't fully dealt with by identifying some dinner guests though.  We still needed to come up with a tasty way to cook the beast.  Even in these days of laptops and Google, locating a camel recipe is a daunting task.  It hasn't exactly caught on with the Epicurious crowd.  When I first looked, I couldn't find anything other than roasting a whole camel that's to be stuffed with a lamb or goat and a bunch of turkeys or chicken.  Something suggests that it's only turkeys that would fall for that.

We decided to BBQ the meat all the same and cut up the roast into cubes for camel kebabs.

The question then became, what wine does one serve with camel?  Tyrant reminded me of the old cigarette advertising ditty about "walking a mile for a camel."  I figured that, what with the camel being from Australia, a shiraz might do the job and I happened to have a couple bottles of Langmeil (pronounced "long mile") and I knew that, even if the camel wasn't so appetizing, the wine would be delicious.

Turns out the dinner had a number of other courses and wines as well.  These dinners seem to be good for building The List.  We added the following that night:

56.  1997 Lang Vineyards Pinot Auxerrois Brut (VQA Naramata Bench - Okanagan)

57.  2006 Black Hills Estate Alibi - Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon (Black Sage Road - Okanagan)

58.  2006 Langmeil Valley Floor Shiraz (Barossa - Australia)

59.  2000 d'Arenberg The Laughing Magpie - Shiraz Viognier (McLaren Vale - Australia)

60.  2004 Tommasi Amarone della Valpolicella Classico (DOC - Italy)

61.  2006 Inniskillin Vidal Icewine (VQA Niagara Peninsula - Ontario)

Now this was a nice line-up - kudos to Tyrant and Hizzoner for bringing along four real gems.  Too bad I don't think there's time or space to really go into all of the wines, because they were all delicious.  I particularly liked The Laughing Magpie and the Amarone.

It's a couple of days later now and, to my knowledge, everyone lived through the camel with no side effects.  In fact, it was quite tasty.  Good thing - considering how much of it is still left in the freezer.

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