If you’re a true Cairns local then it’s more than likely that you’ve heard of the Wings of Death challenge at the Green Ant Cantina on Bunda Street. For those of you that haven’t well it goes a little like this… The Wings of Death are chicken wings that are coated in secret hot sauces made from ‘some of the hottest chillies known to man’ – the habanero and the ghost chilli. To win the challenge one must eat seven of these wings without any liquids to ease the burn and the plate must be completely sauce free at the end. If you achieve all that then you get a bumper sticker and your name on the ‘Wall of Flame’, because how cool are bumper stickers? Pretty sweet deal huh? Did I do it? Well, not exactly…
As someone that has watched the entire series of Man Vs Food and heard various tales of people that have attempted the Wings of Death I’d be lying if I didn’t say curiosity had gotten the better of me over time. Thinking that I am pretty bulletproof admittedly I have always wondered what it was like to do one of these so called ‘challenges’ last Friday night whilst there with my family for a friend’s birthday dinner MS suggested we give it a go.
Ok, ok initially the suggestion was made for the Birthday Boy to do the entire Wings of Death challenge but he pretty much straight up refused it. Soon after dad’s curiosity as to how hot these wings really were also got the better of him. He lay down the challenge to myself and the Birthday Boy saying that we couldn’t/wouldn’t eat one and so we decided that the only way to find out was to order a plate of the Wings of Death and share them.
This wouldn’t be the first time my dad has egged me on and no doubt it won’t be the last. Ever since I was a kid everything between me and him has been a competition (a friendly one of course) – from who could run the fastest to who could eat dinner the fastest, hence the reason that now as an adult I don’t chew my food, I inhale it. And who could forget our much contested appearance on the live audience version of Fear Factor at Universal Studios back in 2005 where we both drank a concoction of blended up sour milk, fish guts, duck tongues, live maggots and live crickets. I beat dad by drinking two cups of the horrendous tasting gunk to move onto the next round in my unquestionable gut churning domination of the event. Dad still to this day cannot let it go and swears that he drank it faster than I did unbeknown to the entire studio audience that was watching. Needless to say The Mummy rollercoaster ride later on that day was a memorable experience for all the wrong reasons.
So now you understand how competitive things can get between us I shall go back to my original story. To cut an already long story short the death wings arrived at the table and out of the 9 people there only 3 of us ate a Wing of Death – myself, my dad and the Birthday Boy. My brother put his finger in the chilli to taste it and cried like a little baby, my Sri Lankan mother who barely consumed a ‘bee’s d*ck’ of the sauce made an awful racket about how badly it burned and then the rest of the table just down right refused to go anywhere near it.
The remaining three of us each consumed a wing whilst waiting for our mains to arrive. It goes without saying that these wings are ridiculously hot but because we weren’t officially doing the challenge (we were just sharing an entree) we could have as much water or in my case blue cheese sauce as we wanted. After the tears and the running noses we all decided that one Wing of Death was indeed enough and the remainder of the wings were pushed to the end of the table never to be thought about again. Or so we thought.
We had dinner, which might I add wasn’t particularly great, and I was about to signal the waitress to bring out the birthday cake. About an hour had passed since we ate ‘one’ Wing of Death each and I began to feel a slight burning in my tummy followed by a strong feeling of being generally ill. I excused myself from the table and went to the ladies toilet which was luckily very close by, all the while using every ounce of my energy not to fall over because I was so dizzy. I sat in there for a good five minutes sweating profusely and wondering if possibly my drink had been spiked. I also seriously considered lying down and curling up on the cold concrete floor at my feet. I heard a bit of a commotion outside the door and realised that I wasn’t in fact the only one that felt this way.
Because I had so quietly excused myself to go to the toilet when my dad started panting heavily and struggling to breathe MS sincerely thought he may be having a heart attack and went into full emergency mode, which luckily is what he is trained for. A few minutes later when I literally dragged myself from the toilet and the rest of the table saw how deathly white and pouring with sweat I was we all realised it was in fact the Wings of Death. The party was over. No cake for me and dad, or anyone for that matter. Mum drove dad home stopping suddenly along the way so he could power spew on the side of the road. My sister, who pleaded with me to go straight to the emergency ward, on my staunch request took me straight home where I lay on the shower floor in foetal position with severe stomach cramps until MS forced me to drink milk and miraculously as quickly as it had come on the pain subsided.
For dad and I it was a bit of a horrific end to what was a nice birthday dinner for the Birthday Boy, who might I add despite a bit of heart burn didn’t succumb to the Homer Simpson-like experience that dad and I did. Dad is still convinced that someone is probably going to die one day doing the actual challenge which is probably why anyone that does do it has to sign a medical waiver before they commence. They’re certainly not called the Wings of Death for nothing but in the end I didn’t spew like dad did so that makes me the clear winner. Again.
Tuesday night is usually cheat meal night for MS and I so we racked our brains all day to think of somewhere to go or more importantly something that we wanted to eat. I know this whole dieting and cheat meal crap probably sounds like a load of wank but it’s something that has to be done for the time being. I’m certainly not going to be giving up eating and/or writing about food that’s for sure. But, a word of warning… For the next few months you will probably see that the majority of my posts are going to be about foods that aren’t exactly healthy. Not all of them, but yeah most of them. Having said that I do have a couple of healthier posts in the pipeline. So yeah like I said we racked out brains all day about where we should go for dinner. Did we want pasta? No. Pizza? No. Fish and chips? No. Steak? No. Did we want to go to Fetta’s? No. Anyway after trolling the menus of a couple of restaurants online I came up with a bonza idea that would satisfy both MS’ craving for something big and meaty (haha) and my craving for… well anything with cheese on it. That is when we decided on the Green Ant Cantina.
Now I have already done a post for the Green Ant (as it’s known by locals) about a year and a half ago but I am going to do another one, firstly because I have written about nearly three quarters of the restaurants in Cairns already and am running out of ideas so some are bound to come around for a second write up sooner or later (please don’t bombard me with ideas because I know there are still plenty to write about, it was a joke). And secondly because MS and I were on the back end of our Melbourne Cup celebrations that particular night so I’ll be damned if I could remember much about the place, apart from what I wrote down.
When we arrived we were greeted by a friendly blonde barmaid who said we could sit anywhere we liked although the area out the back wasn’t opened because there wasn’t enough people in the restaurant to fill it. The barmaid informed us that if more people turned up then she would open it up but for now we were confined to the front area and inside adjacent to the bar. We were happy to sit at one of the roomy booths inside and set up shop at the closest one to the bar. I did notice that the chair part of the booth was a little bit far away from the table which for someone who is 5 foot nothing like me is a little annoying especially considering I drop food and drink on myself at the best of times. It wasn’t a problem however for 6 foot something MS who didn’t seem to mind.
The waitress brought over a couple of menus for us to look over and took our drink order. Although I rarely drink I did feel like a glass of white wine and asked the waitress if they had any Sauvignon Blanc. I couldn’t see a drinks menu so I trusted her to do the right thing by me but made sure she wasn’t going to fetch me a glass of house wine. MS ordered a Green Ant Cider to wet his whistle and we continued looking over the menu. Being the fatties that we were feeling like on this particular night we decided that we would both get an entree and a main each. The best thing about this whole cheat meal thing apart from the obvious (another joke) is that I can get whatever I like on the menu. Normally when I was just eating, ummm normally, I would look for a healthy-ish option on the menu instead of the really mouth watering-ly fatty ones that I really wanted. Not now, oh no. Now I want the biggest, fattiest, cheesiest thing with the most carbs that I can find (oh god I hope my trainer doesn’t know about this blog).
Although there was a little encouragement from the waitress to try the “Wings of Death” which are chicken wings “doused in secret sauces from the hottest chillies known to man” MS and I opted for a couple of tastier sounding entrees. Plus a free beer and my name on the wall doesn’t particularly float my boat since I have seen video footage of someone eating these things and it really wasn’t pretty. MS and I were at the Green Ant to enjoy our meals not cry over them. Well hopefully not anyway. So after looking over the entree menu MS couldn’t go past the Pork Belly Taquitos for AU$15. They are described on the menu as ‘Crispy fried tortillas stuffed with Mexican style shredded pork belly and served with sour cream’. Sounds amazing to me and I was glad that he chose them because it was something that I was more than happy to share. Having developed a recent craving for ‘fake’ tasting cheese (I could smash a box of Easy Mac I really could) I chose the Chilli Con Queso Dip – Warm Mexican cheese dip with herbs and spices served with toasted corn chips for AU$14.
Next up for the mains true to form MS just can’t go past anything that has chorizo in it so he chose the Choice Chorizo Quesadilla – Grilled 12″ flour tortilla folded and stuffed with chorizo, spinach, spanish onion, capsicum and cheese served with fresh tomato salsa, aioli and fresh lime on the side for AU$25. Myself? Well I stopped reading after the Chilli Cheese Fries. Everything on the menu sounded great but this… well, this was in a field of it’s own. It reads as ‘A mountain of famous chunky chips topped with our Texan style chilli con carne slow cooked for 8 hours, made with diced rump steak and a dash of Jack Daniel’s, oven baked with melted cheese and served with sour cream’ for AU$25. Ay caramba!
There was probably only about 30 people in the place, most of which were only there for a few quiet drinks so we got our entrees pretty quickly. After a couple of photos we dug into the Pork Belly Taquitos, dipping them in a bit of chilli sauce and then sour cream. They were ok. After the description on the menu I was expecting a lot more and these things sort of resembled samosas more than a taquito. They were almost certainly pre-made and then tossed in the deep fryer for a little bit too long since they were overcooked and a little too crispy. They were also very… flavourless I guess is the word I am looking for. Also the sour cream seemed like it had been watered down a bit. It wasn’t thick and creamy like sour cream should be but more watery and tasteless. Disappointing and not what we were expecting. I had a couple of taquitos while MS wolfed down the rest.
The Chilli Con Queso Dip was still nothing spectacular although we ate the lot – we were so hungry! The dip just wasn’t cheesy enough. It was a good sized serve with a good amount of corn chips (probably should have been more) but it wasn’t all I had imagined it to be. Like the sour cream it was also a little runny and not thick enough for a dip. I was sad I didn’t get the fake cheese flavour that I had so desired (or any cheese flavour for that matter). Here’s hoping the mains were a bit better!
Our mains arrived about 10 minutes after our entrees dishes were cleared. The waitress asked if there was anything more that she could get for us (there wasn’t) and left us alone with our food. MS’ Chorizo Quesadilla was about the same size as his dinner plate and cut into three fat portions. He squeezed a bit of lime over the top (I’m assuming that’s what you do with it) and hoed into it dipping each forkful into his aioli as he went. Apparently it was exactly what the cheat doctor ordered because he absolutely destroyed it (that’s my way of saying demolished). In fact he even said that he could have eaten another one it was that good. It left him rather full though so he probably couldn’t have fitted another one in. I tasted a bite of it and it was delicious although I didn’t like the capsicum inside, that’s just me though.
My Chilli Cheese Fries were enormous. I felt like a total pig when it was placed in front of me but also secretly thanked myself for ordering it. The thick cut chips were perfect having been baked in the oven till they had just the right amount of crisp on them. The slow cooked pieces of beef were delicious although a little few and far between. They may have been hidden underneath since I didn’t get very far. I was in Chilli Cheese Fry heaven but unfortunately only got through about a third of it before I was stuffed. Maybe it was the large plate of Chilli Con Queso Dip, corn chips and the taquito that I had eaten prior or maybe it was the fact that I am not used to eating that kind of food. I only wish that I had ordered some guacamole on the side because that would have been the cherry on top. It was everything that I though it would be. Pure unadulterated carby goodness.
So the mains had come through with the goods and saved our very ordinary entrees. In the grand scheme of things if we did it all over again I think MS and I would just order the mains on their own because they are certainly enough food but on this occasion our eyes were too big for our stomachs. We had a most enjoyable meal on what was a nice quiet night at the Green Ant Cantina. There are some really yummy dishes on the menu and although I do think that some of them are slightly overpriced (it is a backpacker hangout after all) they are all pretty large serves. I remember they used to do a 2-4-1 locals deal with all main meals but this seems to be only for steaks now which is a bit of a shame but I haven’t tried their steaks yet (check out my dinner page for more info here). The service was friendly and maybe a slightly overbearing but that could also be because we were seated so close to the bar and cash register. The atmosphere is laid back and chilled out during the week but picks up a little bit over the weekend so if you want a quiet(ish) meal then head there between Mon and Thursday. If you think you are all tough and reckon you could destroy a plate of the “Wings of Death” and get your name on the wall then be my guest. Just don’t blame me when you are a snotty, drooling mess by the end of your dinner. They don’t just serve Mexican food and eye-wateringly hot chicken wings at the Green Ant, there is also burgers (a world famous Kangaroo Burger apparently), salads and some sh*t hot sounding desserts. Stoner’s Delight with chocolate fudge brownies and Kahlua chocolate sauce anyone? *wipes away drool*
Green Ant Cantina
183 Bunda St, Cairns QLD 4870
Ph: (07) 4041 5061
Opening Hours: Mon – Sat from 4pm till 12am