This past weekend an absurd amount of wild meat was devoured at Nicky's 12th Annual Wild About Game. Since Nicky USA, the leading purveyor of game and speciality meats in the Northwest, recently opened a Seattle office, a head to head Portland vs. Seattle wild game cook off was called for.
Round 1: Pheasant
Pheasant Trio: seared breast, agnolotti, and boudin blanc sausage by Chris Carriker - The Guilt Club (Portland)
The other, other white meat with a dense, tender breast and a boudine blanc sausage that was incredibly soft and dreamy.
Round 2: Elk
Dish 1 of 2: Elk crudo with beet pickled quail egg by Nathan Lockwood - Altura (Seattle)
After eating multiple rich, warm dishes, comfort was found in this refreshing preparation of uncooked elk.
Dish 2 of 2: Elk ragu with huckleberries, chanterelles and fried sage by Nathan Lockwood - Altura (Seattle)
This was my favorite dish, and an extra double whammy having it with the crudo, my second favorite dish. From the perfectly light-crunchy sage leaves to the random bursts of juice from a popping huckleberry, this dish screamed goodbye summer, heeelloo Autumn. No surprise Nathan Lockwood ended up winning the cook off.
Slow cooked elk tenderized in orchard milk, fried smoked elk heart pie, parsnip-miso, huckleberry, wasabi leaves tempura, porcini and shiso by Gregory Gourdet - Departure (Portland)
Perfectly cooked elk, but difficult (confusing?) to experience all the components of the dish together. Still, Chef Greg is pretty much everything that stands for radness. Clearly, he won the people's choice award.
Round 3: Quail
Wood smoked quail with corn, pancetta, lobster mushrooms and huckleberry by Cormac Mahoney - Madison Park Conservatory (Seattle)
Had to change wine glasses after this dish due to wood-smoked lips leaving ashes on wine glass thereby jeopordizing the integrity of the wine. Although the meat was perfectly cooked, it was difficult to enjoy any sort of flavor due to an overly smoked bird.
Quail bahn mi - Jenn Louis - Lincoln/Sunshine Tavern (Portland)
The other, other, other white meat on a bahn mi! I was excited for yet another twist on the bahn mi and enjoyed sinking the teeth into a fresh bun striking crunchy vegetables and a smooth pâté. Yet, something was just a little too fishy, but in a good Northwest smoked salmon cream cheesy kind of way. Not sure what was going on here, but this covey seemed to by schooled by fish.
Round 4: Rabbit
Digging deep to eat at this point, I can honestly say the last course was not nearly as appreciated as the first. The bacon wrapped rabbit loin was my favorite, and the rabbit pâté was breaking bad in an elemental sort of way.
vs. Chris Isreal - Gruner (Portland)
And by the way, this all took place at Timberline Lodge on Mt. Hood.
It was easy to get distracted by other edibles:
Foie gras marshmallow from Ox
Pig's blood chocolate no you don't!
Double Mountain's Devil's Kriek
Portland Creamery's goat cheese wonders
Quail tacos (my favorite of the day) by Manchester Farms in South Carolina.
Check out Portland Monthly's slideshow here.