So, last night was the big annual event that I look forward to every year: the Nelson Rod & Gun Club Game Dinner! I love this. Every year, as a fund-raiser, the club puts on a banquet featuring locally-hunted game meats (and some ham & turkey if the odd person there doesn't fancy the other stuff) donated by the hunters in the club. In addition to the food, there are prizes galore, the gun club awards ceremony (my dad always wins a big trophy and so he did again last night), a lot of camo, gun & archery vendors, and loads of taxidermy. This year, my dad got the tickets for the four of us (my brother & SIL came, too) and we all went together as a family.
Last year, the food was superb and the club brought in a professional to cook up the roasts. Her name is Jennifer, and she is the proprietor and chef at Vienna Cafe in Nelson, somewhere I frequent when I visit that city. I was thrilled to see last night, when I popped my head into the kitchen before dinner, that Jennifer was back! I knew the dinner would be excellent.
And so it was. And it was quite different, too, as there were some new dishes on offer I guarantee you wouldn't find anywhere else on this planet.
Exhibit #1: Roast elk. I didn't have any of this, as I was gunning for the roast moose. I like elk, but sometimes it's rather dry. I didn't get a picture of the roast moose (the buffet was very busy and it was awkward to take pictures) but I can tell you that it was excellent. I really love moose meat - so tender & tasty!
Exhibit # 2: Elk sausage in some kind of sauce. Again, I skipped this dish because I knew there was more moose on offer farther along the line. Apparently this was OK, though.
Exhibit #3: Moose goulash. Now we're talking! Jennifer at the Vienna Cafe makes a homemade goulash, and I suspect this is a game-spin on that dish of hers. This was one of the new dishes to make an appearance at the game dinner, and it was so good. I can't describe for you how good it was, in fact. Just superb. This went very fast and there were no leftovers, unfortunately.
Exhibit #4: Ginger elk. OH MY GOD!!!!! This was the dish of the evening - completely fabulicious. Jennifer of Vienna Cafe made the sauce for it and it was so delicious. This tasted just like the Chinese ginger beef dish you get at any westernized Chinese food place - only much better, and way less fatty & greasy. This was probably the most popular dish at the meal. I snapped this picture between the time the game dinner attendees served themselves and the kitchen staff came out to eat, and as you can see, the kitchen staff were pretty much going to be SOL with this one, because there was very little left after all the diners had gone through the line. I didn't get seconds myself because the pan was scraped bare after the kitchen staff were done. Oh, man, this was a killer dish!
Exhibit #5: Spatzle. This is something they serve at Vienna Cafe, too, and I suspect Jennifer's hand was in its appearance at this dinner. I didn't have any because it was near the end of the line and my plate was already full! I don't know how much of it was eaten in the end; this picture was snapped at the same time I took the elk ginger one, so it was just before the staff served themselves. My dad had some though and he really liked it. I'm not sure how something like this would have gone over with this crowd; most probably didn't have a clue what it was or what was in it, and it's a bit...shall we say..."cultural" for these folks.
Exhibit #6: My plate! OK, here is the plate I piled high for myself. Clockwise, starting at 12:00: Bun (obviously); stuffing; moose goulash; white tail deer meatloaf (awesome and so moist!); salmon (not great; it might have been steamed, and it was almost waterlogged); baked potato; salads (a coleslaw & a green salad were available); roast moose; and in the centre above the potato in the foil, the ginger elk. Also served at the dinner were a bunch of homemade pickles, different olives, and some homemade cranberry sauce. There was also turkey and ham available for the people not so keen on game meats, and there was gravy for the roasts.
Exhibit #7: Dad's plate. Dad likes his veggies, and there was a dish of steamed mixed veggies available. Dad had the spatzle, roast elk, and moose goulash, amongst other things. Shan had the elk sausage in the white sauce and she said it was OK. Everyone had the meatloaf and loved it. Shan and Jem had turkey, too.
There was no bear this year - thank God. And no cougar, either - thank God again. Before dinner, as people mulled around the prize tables, appies were offered: elk beer sausage, elk pepperoni, and elk garlic sausage, and mini moose meatballs, along with crackers, cheese & pickles. I had a moose meatball and it was delish.
Dessert is not even worth mentioning. You do not go to this event for the desserts, let me tell you. They are always el-cheapo supermarket crap desserts, and last night was no different.
As I mentioned, there were a ton of prizes to be won via door prize draws and bucket draws, where you buy a book of tickets for $20 and put the tickets in a "bucket" attached to a pack of prizes. I have never won anything, but my dad always seems to win all kinds of stuff. But last night was different: I actually won something! My prize pack included two beautiful, etched glasses; some hickory smoked sea salt; a six pack of organic beer made by the Nelson Brewing Company; and a $25 gift certificate to a clothing store in Nelson. I was totally stoked!Now, I do not drink beer at all, so I am looking for ideas to use the beer in my cooking. Actually, it's a honey ale, to be precise. Shan suggested BBQ sauce and making some beer-battered fish. I plan on making a sourdough starter with one can. I can put it in beef stews, too. Do you guys have any ideas?
The hickory smoked sea salt is my first flavoured salt. I have some ideas for that, too. It will be great on popcorn, for one thing. Also on fish and chicken.
So, an excellent evening, when all was said and done! Now all I can do is look forward to next year!
The full Flickr set from last night is here.
Non-food related rundown is here.