Food writer, Xanthe Clay visits The Wild Meat Company

by Robert Gooch July 20 2017

Following on from the success of our fabulous wild venison masterclass with Gill Meller and the accompanying tour of the Wild Meat Co premises for the Guild of Food Writers, their President, and esteemed Daily Telegraph food writer, Xanthe Clay, was also treated to a Suffolk wild venison experience recently.

Wishing to follow the path that a wild fallow, muntjac or Chinese water deer might take from the moment the stalker has killed the animal, we ensured that every step of its traceable journey was demonstrated to her.

Although unsuccessful in her efforts to find a deer with local stalker Steve Tricker, we saw to it that her visit was a memorable one, by showcasing Paul’s butchery skills in a deft and detailed display of how to butcher a whole fallow carcass ready for the table.

Using a veterinary-inspected animal, Xanthe was shown how the carcass is prepared and split down into sections before the various cuts are selected, crafted and trimmed before preparation for retail.

Paul’s years of training as a master butcher didn’t go unnoticed as with a running commentary, he described each stage of the process, pointing out specific areas of the animal that were suitable for different culinary purposes.

Following the butchery masterclass, Xanthe was treated to a superb lunch, cooked by local Chef Peter Harrison at the idyllic and secluded Brick Kiln Barn at Sibton, where were joined by other local GFW members.

As we savoured delicious canapés of chopped smoked crevettes with saffron aioli outside in the sunlit garden at Brick Kiln, Peter busied himself in his bespoke kitchen there, preparing us for what proved to be the perfect combination of summer flavours.

Continuing the smoked fish theme, we sat down to enjoy two offerings of Peterhead haddock, delicately cured by our fishmonger, Chris Wightman and fastidiously prepared by Peter in two stunning and mouthwatering dishes; firstly, cold, marinated, smoked haddock with chickpeas and gremolata and straight after an enticing blend of the same fish, but poached, and on a bed of warm, spiced, coriander lentils. A vibrant and inventive take on such a seafood staple, bringing the shoreline right up to the countryside, in a clever touch of culinary alchemy.

Naturally, the main course was venison; Fillet of wild Suffolk fallow, polenta, a seasonal salad with grilled courgette and dukkah, which to the delight of the assembled lunch guests, proved a worthy and illustrative example of how to get the best from the best. Sumptuous, just-cooked, magnificently presented and cleverly thought out, to exemplify the rich, fragrant and flavoursome flesh of a completely traceable wild product.

Following dessert, (which was equally memorable), Xanthe took time to discuss the products we had just consumed in greater detail with the emphasis on how to better promote game and wild seafood to the consumer.

The appreciation of such fine produce, invariably comes after tasting and for even the most widely travelled and seasoned of writers, food like this can still come as a revelation, especially when accompanied by the whole story of its journey from ‘Field to Fork’.