Got Game?

qb_quail
Crispy Masala Quail from The Queen & Beaver. Photo by Q&B chef Andrew Berry-Ashpole.

Hey y’all! A few weeks back, I had the opportunity to write a feature on local game meat for Toronto’s weekly indie NOW Magazine. Just adding some linkage here to prove it actually happened. 🙂

Got Game – why more Toronto shops and restaurants don’t offer wild-caught meat.

Top 5 places to buy game meat in Toronto.

Top 5 game dishes from Toronto restaurants.

 

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At the Top of Their Game

I am generally sceptical when being served game meat. Having grown up eating wild caught stuff, the flavour of the game meat served in Toronto restaurants is generally subdued. Ontario law dictates that wild game meat cannot be sold to the public, so most of the venison, rabbit, elk, kangaroo, etc., that we eat here has been farmed. Farming has its pros and cons, of course, but one of the the most noticeable differences is the lack of a gamey taste because the animals are eating controlled feed instead of foraging in the forest.

This is a good thing, in a way, because it means that people will try game meat and not be put off by the strong flavour. But folks like me, who expect the strong flavour, often find game meat lacking. What is needed, then, is for the meat to be prepared at the hands of a skilled chef who knows how to nuance, accentuate and tease out the flavours. Last night, 9 sets of those skilled hands took on the challenge.

The Ontario Game Dinner at Hank’s was a benefit for Slow Food Toronto – money raised went towards sending Toronto chefs to Slow Food’s bi-annual conference in Italy.

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Where Can I Find – Game Meat

deerThis is not a ‘where can I find’ question! It is a ‘Why can’t I find’ question.

I was just wondering if you know why game is so hard to get in Ontario, relative to Quebec or even many places in the U.S. I know where to find it in town, but it is a pain; and mainstream markets never seem to carry it.

In Quebec the big chains like Metro even carry bear meat in season! Just wondering if there was some sort of law in Ontario that made selling game difficult or something?

There is indeed. Hunted game carcasses cannot be sold to the public, regardless of whether they are processed in a provincially licensed meat plant or not. Hunted game can be consumed by the hunter for personal use, but it may not be sold. As such, a lot of the more rare game meats such as moose or bear just aren’t available at the retail level.

Any other game meat available for sale throughout the province is farmed – whether it’s rabbits, deer, elk or bison, or more exotic meats – and is subject to the same laws and legislation regarding processing as more standard farm animal slaughter.

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