Food Safari

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Thursday, 2 April 2009

Event report: Wild Meat in a Day

Sunday saw Food Safari's inaugural game day play to a packed house at The Anchor, Walberswick on the Suffolk coast, using the specially converted learning space as our base. After coffee and some gamey canapes we started the day by learning the nitty gritty of venison butchery from Ray Kent, a professional butcher with a lifetime's experience of getting the most out of a prime carcass. At least one of the group thought Ray was the "star of the show" as he deftly demonstrated how to tackle this amazing meat.

Ray showed of a stunning fillet which would have sold for £65-70 but there are more inexpensive cuts (venison burgers are are fantastic alternative to beef). The venison was supplied by our good friends at The Wild Meat Company who specialise in fine, humanely killed game, prepared to the highest standards. Robert Gooch, MD of the Wild Meat Company was on hand to provide his expert insights into the world of game.

The group was quickly up to speed and preparing joints of their own like pros. With a little basic tuition and some very sharp knives (German are best apparently but get them professionally sharpened from time to time to keep them in prime condition) it is perfectly possible to learn the craft of butchery at home.

Following the butchery demonstration, Mike Keen, head chef, demonstrated some
delicious game recipes including my favourite - a spiced partridge dish with fenugreek and coconut milk providing a nod to the Eastern origins of this bird as well as a stunningly rich jugged hare. The Anchor's outdoor grill was put to unseasonally early good use and the wafts of grilling game drew quite a lot of attention from Walberswick passers-by. The group got stuck in to stuffing and chopping and by this time we were all getting pretty hungry.

The day concluded with a communal game feast around a huge table. Mark Dorber the charismatic proprietor of the Anchor and globe-trotting beer expert matched each dish with either a beer or a wine. There was a lot of smacking of lips when Mike served pheasant simply roasted with a stuffing of local Wonmill cheese and redcurrant jelly under the skin to keep the breast moist while allowing the skin to crisp to a succulent juiciness. By combining with the classic Belgian ale Duvel the dish was lifted even further. The fenugreek partridge met its match with unusual and very intense barrel fermented release from San Francisco's award-winning Anchor Brewing Company. The barrels had previously contained spirit (we couldn't agree whether gin or rum) that lent the beer increased gravity (strength) and flavour. This beer is pretty secret stuff - Mark had been sent a bottle to review for potential release to the UK market and it was the kind of one-off foodie moment that I love!

Thanks from the Food Safari team to all concerned for making this such a fantastic event. The game season returns in the autumn when we'll be exploring game birds as. Meanwhile we're back at The Anchor and nearby at Blythburgh Pork on 16 May with our very special take on Pork -Pig in a Day. See the Food Safari website for booking details.

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