Monday, August 14, 2006

Brisbane Day 5 - Australian Zoo

CRIKEY! Today we went to the Australian Zoo. Home of the Crocodile Hunter, Steve Irwin. When we told people we were going to Australia, the first they most people asked us was "Are you going to see the crocodile hunter?". Well, unfortunately, he wasn't at the zoo that day, he was up north doing some research. Bummer! But we still had a great time at the Zoo. By paying a little extra money, we were able to get some real hands on animal encounters, and had most of the day booked up.
Before our first encounter, we went to visit the otters, who were going about to have their daily feeding.

Looking for the keeper

Praying to the fish god.

Next we moved on to the barn yard for the animal feeding session.

Anna bottle feeding Bubba the piglet.

Then Suzi got her bottle.

Next up was our Tortoise encounter. We were planning on meeting with Harriet, their Galapagos tortoise, who born around 1830. She was collected from the Galapagos Islands by Sir Charles Darwin. (Yes, the evolution theory guy). Unfortunately, we did not realize that Harriet had passed away just a month earlier. We were extremely sad. However, we learned that she had enjoyed her retirement at the Australia Zoo, having been moved from the Brisbane Zoological Gardens, where she had been subject to graffiti artists, carving things into her shell :(
Instead, we got to meet two of their other tortoise, Igloo and Goliath, who were in their mid 20's.

We followed this with a visit to the Echidna, a small spiky marsupial. We sat down in her enclosure, and fed her a mush of meat, worm, and a few other bugs. She had a 17cm long sticky tongue, which was used to lap up the food. It also tickled when she licked between our fingers.

Next up, the Possum. We had already seen a million of them on our trip, but never got this close to one before. Her name was Hope, and she was a real sweetheart. She was missing a finger on one of her paws. They tried releasing her back into the wild, but she came right back. She was too used to being around humans.

Anna's favorite, the wombat, was our next encounter. One of the wombats actually had a baby in her pouch. Most of the time it had its foot sticking out of the pouch, but at one point it turned around and stuck its snout out. It also stuck its butt out at one point to do a pee.

Our last encounter was with the Dingos. They were very calm and friendly, and loved kisses.

On our way back from the Dingos we saw how the wombats get transported around the park.

As we were heading towards the exit, we passed by the koala exhibit one more time. The sun was setting, and they were becoming more and more active. We actually saw a joey, on its moms back, and then it hopped off on its own for a little adventure.

After the zoo, we headed back to Brisbane. We had a dinner reservation at Urbane Restaurant. This was to be our first 'expensive' meal of the trip. The meal was phenomenal. The owner/chef of the restaurant worked before at the French Laundry, in Napa, and Per Se, in NY both owned by renowned chef Thomas Keller. The entire meal was based on a tasting menu, where the dishes were small but satisfying. It was designed as a 6 course meal (1 starter, 1 pasta course, 1 fish course, 1 meat/poultry course, 1 cheese course and 1 dessert). Before we even ordered, our canape came to the table. I had carrot foam and Anna got mandarin jelly with olive crumbs and chives. I started with Wagyu Beef cheeks, slowly braised, which melted in the mouth. Anna had the Queensland Scallops. For our pasta course Anna had Gnocchi, which was as light as clouds and vanished when placed in the mouth. I had Mac & Cheese, with tasted divine.

Instead of having 2 meat dished we opted for 1 meat dish and 3 fish dished. The 3 fish dishes were New Zealand Cod, Himalayan Rock Salted Hervey Bay Tiger Prawns and Squire Butter Pot Roasted Bouillabaisse. As someone who normally doesn't enjoy fish, I ate every single bit. For our meat course we had Free range Poularde with black truffle jam. In between the courses here, we also got a palate cleanser. Frozen Greek yogurt with cucumber for me and green apple granita with balsamic glaze for Anna.

We decided to skip the cheese course, and instead opted for 3 different desserts.The first was cookies and cream, a white milk chocolate mousse, with short crust coco cookie, and local strawberry juice. Next was A New Orleans Beignet, with a thick caramel shake. Our meal ended with a candy plate, featuring a sour strawberry rollup, vahlrona chocolate coated macadamia nuts, chambord gelee, chewy french cherries, toasted marshmallow and apricot, and cotton candy.

This was the best meal of our trip. One of our best meals ever.

Anna's Aussie Tidbits:

Rest in Peace Harriet.

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