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November 16, 2017 Comments (0) Views: 467 GFR Photo Essay

On The Hunt (Once Again) For Good Food In Prince Edward County


In January of this year I had the distinct honour of being invited to a wonderful Hunters’ Game Dinner at Prince Edward County’s Hinterland winery. Having greatly enjoyed every aspect of Chef Neil Dowson’s exquisite wild game menu (and the accompanying wines and beers from Hinterland and the County Road Beer Co.), I was utterly delighted to receive an invitation to the 2nd “annual” Game Dinner this past weekend.

It was a markedly larger event this time around, with Jonas Newman and Vicki Samaras inviting their favourite friends and neighbours from the County and beyond, with Chef Dowson enlisting a few industry buddies to assist with the kitchen duties. 

As I’ll be covering in an upcoming article for GFR, over the past 12 months I’ve been learning how to hunt, both with crossbow and rifle. The afternoon before the gathering, I spent four hours stuck 20 feet in the air up a treestand, crossbow cocked, waiting for a buck to cross one of my lanes. Alas, I had no luck, but I didn’t really have to worry, as our host Jonas had dropped a sizeable antlered deer only two nights previously, and that was to be the centrepiece of the following day’s Game Dinner. Indeed, all of the meat and fish to be served was either wild harvested by Jonas or his hunting/fishing friends.

Unless you actually hunt yourself (or have some good friends, relatives or lovers who do), in Canada the opportunities to enjoy real wild game are decidedly few and far between, and so this was to be a unique gastronomic experience, served up by some of the most passionate and skilled folks in the business. Hopefully these pictures will do justice to one of the most delicious and enjoyable meals I have ever experienced.

Good Food Revolution's Jamie Drummond sits patiently up a 20 foot high tree stand with his trusty crossbow awaiting the arrival of his dinner. Unfortunately a beginner's mistake (a quick pee behind the tree stand) ensured that he came home empty handed.

Good Food Revolution’s Jamie Drummond sits patiently up a 20 foot high tree stand with his trusty crossbow awaiting the arrival of his dinner. Unfortunately a beginner’s mistake (a quick pee behind the tree stand, therefore scaring off all deer in a five mile radius) ensured that upon this occasion he came home empty handed.

The spoils of Jonas Newman’s previous evening’s hunts were allocated to Chef Neil Dowson’s invited Chefs. Here were see the liver and heart of Jonas’ buck, the heart going to the crew from Bar Isabel/Raval… I’m not quite sure where that liver ended up though?

Despite the biting cold that day, Chef Neil Dowson was hard at work outside the brewery kitchen/dining room preparing locally-caught Whitefish and Pickerel to be smoked Arbroath Smokie-style in a barrel.

Despite the biting cold that day, Chef Neil Dowson was hard at work outside the brewery kitchen/dining room preparing locally-caught Whitefish and Pickerel to be smoked Arbroath Smokie-style in a barrel.

Despite the biting cold that day, Chef Neil Dowson was hard at work outside the brewery kitchen/dining room preparing locally-caught Whitefish and Pickerel to be smoked Arbroath Smokie-style in a barrel.

Despite the biting cold that day, Chef Neil Dowson was hard at work outside the brewery kitchen/dining room preparing locally-caught Whitefish and Pickerel to be smoked Arbroath Smokie-style in a barrel.

Chef Ari Schor of Montreal's Liverpool House spent the afternoon patiently hand-rolling foie gras-stuffed Pelmeni for his amazing dish... but more about that later. It was great to meet this talented young man for the very first time.

Chef Ari Schor of Montreal’s Liverpool House spent the afternoon patiently hand-rolling foie gras-stuffed Pelmeni for his amazing dish… but more about that later. It was great to meet this talented young man for the very first time.

Bar Isabel/Raval's Executive Chef Ryan Baddeley turned up with some spectacular deer heart, deer liver, and foie gras sausages, all the game meat having been provided by Jonas and his hunting buddies, augmented by some foie.

Bar Isabel/Raval’s Executive Chef Ryan Baddeley turned up with some spectacular deer heart, deer liver, and foie gras sausages, all the game meat having been provided by Jonas and his hunting buddies, augmented by some foie.

That's where the deer liver went to! The Isabel/Raval crew got a hold of it.

Ah! That’s where the deer liver went to! The Isabel/Raval crew got a hold of it.

As the sun went down it looked so glorious, but it was bitterly, bitterly cold, hence almost everyone (bar the poor Chefs) relocated indoors to the bar, dining room, and kitchen. As a matter of fact, by the end of the night everyone was in the kitchen. That's the way all good parties should be.

As the sun went down it looked so glorious, but it was bitterly, bitterly cold, hence almost everyone (bar the poor Chefs) relocated indoors to the bar, dining room, and kitchen. As a matter of fact, by the end of the night everyone was in the kitchen. That’s the way all good parties should be in my book.

The incomparable Owen Walker of El Ray was doing a great job warming everyone up with his Mexican spiced coffee.

The incomparable Owen Walker of El Ray was doing a great job warming everyone up with his Mexican spiced coffee.

Chef Dowson had the role of honouring the previous night's hunt's bounty, cooking Jonas' deer over the County Road Beer Co's firepit. It was rather dramatic to witness.

Chef Dowson had the role of honouring the previous night’s hunt’s bounty, cooking Jonas’ deer over the County Road Beer Co’s firepit. It was rather dramatic to witness.

Ever the glutton for punishment, Chef Dowson was also responsible for the Whitefish and Pickerel "Arbroath Smokies" AND a simply stunning Lakefish Rillette, a real favourite of mine. I went back for seconds... and thirds.

Ever the glutton for punishment, Chef Dowson was also responsible for the Whitefish and Pickerel “Arbroath Smokies” AND a simply stunning Lakefish Rillette, a real favourite of mine. I went back for seconds… and thirds.

Hinterland's Jonas Newman looking pleased as punch with the way his deer turned out.

Hinterland’s Jonas Newman looking pleased as punch with the way his recently-harvested deer turned out.

Despite the biting cold that day, Chef Neil Dowson was hard at work outside the brewery kitchen/dining room preparing locally-caught Whitefish and Pickerel to be smoked Arbroath Smokie-style in a barrel.

Despite the biting cold that day, Chef Neil Dowson was hard at work outside the brewery kitchen/dining room preparing locally-caught Whitefish and Pickerel to be smoked Arbroath Smokie-style in a barrel.

Ever the glutton for punishment, Chef Dowson was also responsible for the Whitefish and Pickerel "Arbroath Smokies" AND a simply stunning Lakefish Rillette, a real favourite of mine. I went back for seconds... and thirds.

Ever the glutton for punishment, Chef Dowson was also responsible for the Whitefish and Pickerel “Arbroath Smokies” AND a simply stunning Lakefish Rillette, a real favourite of mine. I went back for seconds… and thirds. And I took some home for the family.

One of the highlights of the dinner for me was the looks on the faces of both Hinterland's and Jamie Kennedy's dogs as they circled Chef Dowson slicing the deer from the bones. Priceless. The aromatics in the air here were simply heavenly.

One of the highlights of the dinner for me was the looks on the faces of both Hinterland’s and Jamie Kennedy’s dogs as they circled Chef Dowson slicing the deer from the bones. Priceless. The aromatics in the air here were simply heavenly.

PEC veteran, Chef Jamie Kennedy steadfastly stood outdoors in the cold, serving up the most wonderful and warming Migratory Bird (Duck and Goose) Sauté with Hillier beans, and some Ice Wine Poached plums. Great job.

PEC veteran, Chef Jamie Kennedy steadfastly stood outdoors in the cold, serving up the most wonderful and warming Migratory Bird (Duck and Goose) Sauté with Hillier beans, and some Ice Wine Poached plums. Great job. I just hope that you located all of your bowls eventually?

PEC veteran, Chef Jamie Kennedy steadfastly stood outdoors in the cold, serving up the most wonderful and warming Migratory Bird (Duck and Goose) Sauté with Hillier beans, and some Ice Wine Poached plums. Great job.

PEC veteran, Chef Jamie Kennedy steadfastly stood outdoors in the cold, serving up the most wonderful and warming Migratory Bird (Duck and Goose) Sauté with Hillier beans, and some Ice Wine Poached plums. Great job. I just hope that you located all of your bowls eventually?

In the County it's often said that you know you are at the right party when "Jeff and Geoff" show up. Here baker extraordinaire and natural wine pusher Jeff Connell is seen trying to convince Chef Grant Van Gameren that "sans soufre" is our generation's punk or acid house. I paraphrase heavily, obviously...

In the County it’s often said that you know you are at the right party when “Jeff and Geoff” show up. Here baker extraordinaire and natural wine pusher Jeff Connell is seen trying to convince Chef Grant Van Gameren that “sans soufre” is our generation’s punk or acid house. I paraphrase heavily, obviously…

Chef Ari Schor of Montreal's Liverpool House won the hearts and minds of many guests with his Deer Neck Kielbasa, Foie Gras Pelmeni and Shaved Black Truffle. So gorgeous.

Chef Ari Schor of Montreal’s Liverpool House won the hearts and minds of many guests with his Deer Neck Kielbasa, Foie Gras Pelmeni and Shaved Black Truffle. So gorgeous.

Chef Ari Schor of Montreal's Liverpool House won the hearts and minds of many guests with his Deer Neck Kielbasa, Foie Gras Pelmeni and Shaved Black Truffle. So gorgeous. Pictured here with County Road Beer Co's fruity, salty, sour Cherry Gose. A good match actually!

Chef Ari Schor of Montreal’s Liverpool House won the hearts and minds of many guests with his Deer Neck Kielbasa, Foie Gras Pelmeni and Shaved Black Truffle. So gorgeous. Pictured here with County Road Beer Co’s fruity, salty, sour Cherry Gose. A good match actually!

As the sun went down it looked so glorious, but it was bitterly, bitterly cold, hence almost everyone (bar the poor Chefs) relocated indoors to the bar, dining room, and kitchen. As a matter of fact, by the end of the night everyone was in the kitchen. That's the way all good parties should be in my book. Oh, and there's the other Geoff (Heinricks)... see, I told you it was a good party. Thanks for the tip off on the thermals, Geoff. Giant Tiger all the way!

As the sun went down it looked so glorious, but it was bitterly, bitterly cold, hence almost everyone (bar the poor Chefs) relocated indoors to the bar, dining room, and kitchen. As a matter of fact, by the end of the night everyone was in the kitchen. That’s the way all good parties should be in my book. Oh, and there’s the other Geoff (Heinricks)… see, I told you it was a good party. Thanks for the tip off on the thermals, Geoff. Giant Tiger all the way!

In the County it's often said that you know you are at the right party when "Jeff and Geoff" show up. Here baker extraordinaire and natural wine pusher Jeff Connell braves the cold with PEC Winemaking legend Norman Hardie.

In the County it’s often said that you know you are at the right party when “Jeff and Geoff” show up. Here baker extraordinaire and natural wine pusher Jeff Connell braves the cold with PEC Winemaking legend Norman Hardie.

As the sun went down it looked so glorious, but it was bitterly, bitterly cold, hence almost everyone (bar the poor Chefs) relocated indoors to the bar, dining room, and kitchen. As a matter of fact, by the end of the night everyone was in the kitchen. That's the way all good parties should be in my book.

As the sun went down it looked so glorious, but it was bitterly, bitterly cold, hence almost everyone (bar the poor Chefs) relocated indoors to the bar, dining room, and kitchen. As a matter of fact, by the end of the night everyone was in the kitchen. That’s the way all good parties should be in my book. I apologise to many present for trying to convince them all to take up crossbow hunting.

And so Jonas' deer from the previous evening's hunt was served up on a platter to the assembled throng, and it was astoundingly good. Wild venison has such a unique flavour and texture. I took a little back home for my son, to give him his first taste of deer, and he simply adored it.

And so Jonas’ deer from the previous evening’s hunt was served up on a platter to the assembled throng, and it was astoundingly good. Wild venison has such a unique flavour and texture. I took a little back home for my son, to give him his first taste of deer, and he simply adored it. This meat went so well with so many of the fascinating magnums of wines that all the guests brought with them to share.

Grant Van Gameren and his crew served up these wildly enjoyable Deer Heart, Deer Liver, and Foie Gras Sausages, with Chefs Julio Guajardo and Kate Chomyshyn presenting some the Oaxacan Tetelas with Wild Mushrooms.

Grant Van Gameren and his crew served up these wildly enjoyable Deer Heart, Deer Liver, and Foie Gras Sausages, with Chefs Julio Guajardo and Kate Chomyshyn presenting some the Oaxacan Tetelas with Wild Mushrooms.

It was only towards the end of the evening that I realised that this was not fried chicken as I had first thought, and was some splendid Southern Fried Wild Rabbit with Maple Mustard courtesy of County Road Brewing Co's Ceara Chapman. So bloody good.

It was only towards the end of the evening that I realised that this was not fried chicken as I had first thought, and was some splendid Southern Fried Wild Rabbit with Maple Mustard courtesy of County Road Brewing Co’s Ceara Chapman. So bloody good.

Grant Van Gameren and his crew of Kate Chomyshyn, Julio Guajardo and Ryan Baddeley also served up this Grilled Deer Heart.

Grant Van Gameren and his crew of Kate Chomyshyn, Julio Guajardo and Ryan Baddeley also served up this Grilled Deer Heart.

Towards the end of the night Grant Van Gameren suddenly appeared with some firepit-roasted Squash served with Maple Syrup. Seen here is Albert Ponzo (ex-Le Select), a reasonably recent arrival to the County's array of excellent Chefs.

Towards the end of the night Grant Van Gameren suddenly appeared with some firepit-roasted Squash served with Maple Syrup. Seen here is Albert Ponzo (ex-Le Select), a reasonably recent arrival to the County’s array of excellent Chefs.

A huge thank you to Hinterland's Vicki and Jonas for hosting such a marvellous event, and to all the Chefs who really made the dinner with their terrific dishes. Perhaps next year I'll be a better hunter and will have something for you to utilise! Fingers crossed.

A huge thank you to Hinterland’s Vicki and Jonas for hosting such a marvellous event, and to all the Chefs who really made the dinner with their terrific dishes. Perhaps next year I’ll be a better hunter and will have something for you to utilise. Fingers crossed… and Happy Hunting.

 


Edinburgh-born/Toronto-based Sommelier, consultant, writer, judge, and educator Jamie Drummond is the Director of Programs/Editor of Good Food Revolution… And that was truly something.

 

 

 

 

 

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