Eating camel in Wollongong

Yes, Chris T and I did try Casablanca on Crown yesterday: see Terror: some good media items, and eating in The Gong. Quoting again the Illawarra Mercury story in that post:

Central to the menu are Moroccan tagines – slow-cooked meats nestled amongst aromatic prunes, orange blossom, chamoula and the bittersweet preserved lemon that is Morocco’s food mainstay.

Cooked and served in the iconic cone-shaped clay dishes of the same name – perhaps with a pot of steaming sweet mint tea – the scene is deliberately different.

“We have many burger places in Wollongong, we have Lebanese and Turkish,” Mr Osaj, 28, told the Mercury.

“But we don’t have Moroccan. I’ve been in Australia for five years and I really do appreciate Australia.

“I wanted to do something [in return] for the people of Wollongong.”

Mr Osaj was an electrician in Iraq before he fled the war there and – after a four-month stay at Villawood –settled in Wollongong.

I tried the camel meatballs. Yes, really camel…

Put aside your mental image of a horrid, spitting beast–camel makes for a wonderful meal. The meat tastes a bit like strong-flavoured lamb, only with a unique, sweet aftertaste that makes pairing camel with sauce a challenge. This mint/yoghurt dipping sauce is the perfect partner for these meatballs, which are sure to be a hit with adventurous guests at your next party.

Made me think of lamb too. In fact of you weren’t told they were camel you mightn’t have known. Mine came with a fresh tomato-based sauce. Not quite as exotic as this from Dubai:

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That also looks tasty. From Dubai:

Ursula is a German camel herder who probably deserves a book written about her rather than a paragraph. You will find a ton about her online, so go out there and read up about one of the most fascinating and high-intensity women you will find tending a camel farm in this city.

I visited her as part of a research mission and decided to make a party out of it. She fed about twenty of us the most enjoyable camel meat dish that I have ever tasted in Dubai – camel meatballs. It sounds wrong, but you’ll quickly forge that with one lemon-infused taste of ground, well-cooked and flavourful camel meat. The meatballs I devoured at Ushi’s farm put to shame every other camel meat variation I’ve tried in the city – especially those darned camel burgers which are marginally worse than eating a hockey puck slammed between burger buns…

Casablanca’s meatballs could never be compared to a hockey puck. Lovely and tender, but very lean.

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