Matt Kidd reports on the annual celebratory game event at one of London's finest restaurants Lyles.
(Photographer: Anton Rodriguez)
Two nights, two menus, five international chefs. Only one rule – each dish must feature game.
Making up the team, and joining Lyle’s James Lowe, were Garima Arora (Bangkok), Jeff Claudio (Berlin), Konstantin Filippou (Vienna) and Eduardo Garcia (Mexico City) – each bringing with them their own approach to cooking, traditional methods and flavour influences.
Following their sporting sojourn in Scotland, the chefs were allowed just one day to get to grips with their wild ingredients and come up with a collection of dishes for two unique 13-course menus. Many of these chefs were game virgins – they’d never used game before!
“That’s what makes the experience even more exciting. There is no telling what they may come up with,” admitted James Lowe. “The pressure is certainly on when it comes to creating a menu, but working together we tweak and build each dish into something special – it’s a real team effort.”
Kicking off the event was Garima Arora, who served a palate-punching game liver mousse on toast and fruit. The powerful scent of Asian spices combined with flavours and textures that were on another level. And that was only dish 1 of 13.
‘Hearts, chard and plum’ was next, followed by ‘mallard meatballs’ (bottom image) – both mouthwateringly good. But for me, roe deer tartare, coriander, daikon and pumpkin seeds (centre image) and grouse pao, butter and pickles competed for ‘dish of the night’. I was taken aback by the flavours and texture of the venison in its rawest form, complemented beautifully by the crisp and peppery daikon radish. My table was speechless.
Then there was the grouse – minced, cooked and stuffed into a plump and fluffy bread to be torn and dipped in a trio of Indian pickles – so simple but terribly moreish. “The chefs asked where they could find red grouse in their countries and were astounded that you can only find them in the upland areas of the UK,” said James. For a meat that has been cast aside by many for being ‘too gamey’, it proves that so much more can be done with it.
Indeed, the evening showcased just how versatile game is and served as a reminder that we have only scratched the surface as far as utilising game as a food source goes. Let’s not take it
for granted. FS