Alice in Wonderland pop-up restaurant opens in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

And, you probably thought Alice in Wonderland was just a fairytale. Not anymore, as Swallowtail Canada presents their pop-up restaurant, Down the Rabbit Hole, in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, from November 24-December 17, 2011.

Diners will not just enjoy delicious cuisine, but will actually experience the world of Alice in Wonderland. The night begins just outside an enchanted forest where guests will be greeted by a frantic rabbit who will lead them “down the rabbit hole”. Does this sound familiar?

Once they reach their destination, attendees will get to interact with their favorite Alice in Wonderland characters, such as being served tea by the Mad Hatter, and have unique experiences like enjoying soup from a bottle that is labeled either “Big” or “Small”. Choose wisely, because the bottle you pick determines what you’re next course is.

The pop-up restaurant is predicted to be so bizarre that it has even caught the attention of Celebrity Chef and Food Network Star, Bob Blumer, who is currently on the hunt for the “World’s Weirdest Restaurant”.

From what it sounds like, Down the Rabbit Hole has a great chance of winning.

Tickets are $129 per person and include five Wonderland-themed courses, a cocktail creation by Swallowtail, and the interactive show, which is performed by actors from In the House Festival. The location of the venue will not be disclosed until a week before the reserved date. Dates and times that still have tickets available include:

  • Saturday, November 26: 4PM and 8PM
  • Saturday, December 3: 4PM and 8PM
  • Saturday, December 17: 4PM and 8PM

To reserve your spot, e-mail or call 778-319-9453.

Journalist Eats Things That Weren’t Meant to be Eaten

Has the eating of strange foods gone too far?

Sure, Andrew Zimmern might be brave, but does he really know what he’s putting in his mouth? While the Bizarre Foods guru (or his producer) usually provides a bit of background on what he’s eating, you have to wonder, is it considered a normal food in whatever “exotic locale” the show is currently being filmed in?

Phil Lees of The Last Appetite points out that you can’t always believe what people tell you.

A journalist named Sean Thomas found himself in Cambodia. He penned an “eating weird food” article for a U.K. newspaper. Aside from the fact that his article is rife with the gross over-generalizations typical of a parachute journalist, Lees, an old hand in Cambodia, points out that Thomas ate some things that were not meant to be eaten. The poor guy chowed down on a dried frog and compared it to a eating a dead mermaid. The problem: in Cambodia dried frogs are not meant to be eaten as a snack. According to Lees, “Dried frog is for medicinal purposes and occasionally, a rice wine additive. Complaining about the way it tastes is a little like eating a few spoonfuls of straight cloves, then writing them off as useless as a foodstuff.” One has to wonder if this is just an isolated incident or if more of the “I’m eating strange food” shticks are also ill-informed.

Durian, the food that the “Bizarre Foods” guy spit out

Andrew Zimmern spit out durian. He ate a beating frog’s heart in the Asia overview episode of Bizarre Foods, but the durian was a no go. As Neil wrote in a post on another foul food, durian is one nasty smelling fruit, unless you’re a person who likes the smell. Some do. Some must. There are piles of the fruit in Singapore and Malaysia. Why would there be piles if people don’t like the smell?

We had a durian tree in our backyard in Singapore, but let other people have it when it was ripe. We were told that it didn’t smell when it was on the tree. The only time I smelled durian were the piles in the market. I used to wonder how people got them home since durians aren’t allowed on buses or subways because they smell that bad.

Although durian smelled so foul that I never managed to eat any in its fruit form, I did eat durian ice-cream and cookies with durian paste filling. Both of them are good. Here’s a Web site that highlights different ways durian is prepared. The chips look interesting. I’d eat those just to see what they taste like. If you want durian fruit in its pure form, chill it. It’s supposed to taste better that way. Hold your nose, though–unless you like the smell.

Photo of the Day (4/16/08)

Although Andrew Zimmern didn’t eat any deer antlers on the broadcast version of Bizarre Foods when he went to Guangzhou, China, he mentions dried deer tail as a cure for back ailments in his blog. Willy Volk, who snapped this shot in Chinatown in San Francisco, says that antlers are viewed as an aphrodisiac.

I like that there’s nothing about this shot that places this display in the United States– except, possibly, the price on the sign. This is a reminder that sometimes you can wander into the unusual without traveling too far from home. What interesting images have you come across in your travels? Send them our way at Gadling’s Flickr photo pool.

What David Letterman wants to know about Anthony Bourdain and weird food

As soon as Anthony Bourdain of “No Reservations” sat down on David Letterman’s TV show couch, I perked up wondering what Letterman would dish out about the food Bourdain eats on his travels since Justin asked Bourdain some questions last June in a Talking Travel interview. Here are highlights of Letterman’s banter.

“Do you get sick? Get hepatitis? Throw up?” asked Letterman.

“Only twice,” said Bourdain. “I got sick in France from too much of a good thing. . . and from the business end of a warthog.” The warthog was a food he chewed on in the Kalahari. He said any other sickness that led to an up close and personal experience with a bathroom’s cold tile floor has come from imbibing on too much alcohol.

“Humans can eat about anything?” Letterman leaned in for a response.

“I don’t recommend chicken nuggets,” quipped Bourdain and went on to say that when traveling, he’s found that whenever someone says, “We have something very special for you,” be wary. Such was the case when he downed the still beating heart of a cobra, an event Letterman asked him about. A delicacy in Vietnam, the cobra’s heart is supposed to be a real libido boost.

“It’s like eating an angry athletic oyster,” said Bourdain after describing how it’s removed from the cobra right in front of the person who will be dining on it. In this case, him. Hint: swallow it whole.

As for how to avoid raising a picky eater, Bourdain said that there will be no grilled cheese sandwich with the crusts cut off for his daughter. She’s already eating prosciutto flavored baby food and from what he said, she’ll be on a first name basis with the best sushi chefs. Bourdain, at age 51, is a fairly recent first time father. I wonder if this means the cobra thing works? Actually, Bourdain is a very charming, funny guy so I’d say that has something to do with it.

“No Reservations” is on the Travel Channel and Gadling is going to be there watching Boudain in his travels and taking notes.