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Wild Game Restaurant in Montreal?


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This is a subject that comes up from time to time.

The first thing to point out is that you'll find no wild game in any Quebec restaurant. To quote myself in another thread, "In Canada, all game sold in butcher shops and served in restaurants must be dispatched in government-inspected slaughterhouses, which effectively means that all game sold for public consumption is farm-raised. ... Given the quality of Quebec's real game — moose is simply the finest red meat I've tasted, snow goose breasts are darkly, deliciously wild-tasting — this is a sad state of affairs, especially for the non-hunters among us."

The closest restaurants to what you're looking for are Au Pied de Cochon, which always has excellent farm-raised venison on the menu, and Le Tartarin (4675 St-Denis, 514 281-8579), the restaurant arm of the horse and game butcher Le Prince Noir, which serves a range of farm-raised game meats simply but well prepared. And you sometimes see venison and, more rarely, caribou at other restaurants, including some BYOs (Le P'tit Plateau serves seared venison with a knockout spiced wine sauce; the menu at Le Bleu Raisin often features caribou in some form; etc.).

Check out the following threads for more info:

exotic/game meats

First Trip to Montreal

Suggestions please!

GastronautQuebec Report - Day 3

Edited by carswell (log)
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Actually, the caribou sold in Montreal restaurants is wild. It's the only legal wild meat on the market. I had excellent caribou at Les Infideles and the Casino (Nuances). I had some terrible caribou at A L'Os a few weeks ago. It was overwhelmingly fusty and bloody. Major yuck.

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Actually, the caribou sold in Montreal restaurants is wild. It's the only legal wild meat on the market.

Well, OK. Except it's herded, right? Also, isn't it slaughtered in an abattoir or at least under Canadian government inspection as opposed to being hunted? And that alone may be enough to domesticate the taste, if the following story is anything to go by.

A few years ago, I attended a Mezza Luna cooking class — chocolate, I believe, and given by Mustafa of La Colombe. During the break I struck up a conversation with the guy sitting next to me. Though his name escapes me, he turned out to be connected with the Boileau venison farm (he may have been the owner). After congratulating him on the quality of his product, I asked a question that had been bugging me for a very long time: Why does farm-raised game not taste gamey? If it's a question of diet, couldn't that diet be duplicated on a farm? My interlocutor replied with a story of his own. Having asked themselves the same question and having tried feeding the animals a wild diet with no perceptable result, he and his cohorts decided to try an experiment. One fall day they released a steer into the wild. The next day, they hunted it as they would a deer or moose, tracking it through the woods, giving chase and finally dispatching it with a rifle shot. They then dealt with the carcass like they would a deer's, gutting it on the spot, dragging it overland a kilometre or two to the nearest road, loading it on the back of a pickup, driving it home and hanging it in a cool garage for a week or two, after which they butchered it. They then cooked up various cuts of meat and invited several hunter friends for dinner. They served the meat blind (none of the guests knew what it was) and asked them to guess its identity. The guesses were all over the map — venison, elk, moose — but no one guessed it wasn't wild and no one guessed it was beef. The Boileau people couldn't say why but suspected that the influencing factors included the surge of hunt-induced adrenaline, bacterial "contamination" from the outdoor gutting and transportation and the hanging in a non-sterile environment.

That said, caribou is the wildest tasting of the "game" meats and I've always liked to attribute the unique flavour to its boreal diet (lichens mainly I'm told).

Edited by carswell (log)
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I stand corrected. Under a special agreement, the caribou are wild, not herded, and hunted, not slaughtered.

If you are looking for that little extra, then we have a suggestion for you.  The caribou processed at Kivalliq Arctic Foods is cut and processed by the Canadian Inuit of Canada's Arctic.  There is no where else in the world, that you can buy EU & Federally  approved caribou meat, that was cut and processed in the Barren Lands, by the Canadian Inuit.

[...]

The caribou are all harvested wild.  The caribou that we process have not been confined or herded, nor are they held captive in any way.

The wild caribou feed on lichen in the wilderness in their natural habitant,  using the nutrients that the earth has given forth as their sole source of energy.

Tundra Brand Caribou

As least I got the lichen bit right... :blush:

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Although I cannot confirm this explanation, there is definitely a difference at the cellular level between sudden slaughter and hunting. Basically an animal that is hunted will find itslef into the flight segment of it's physiology, that is it will fly until it has zero fuel to fight, that means that cellular degradation, including self digestion of tissues such as muscle does occur, lactic acid does form, pH changes, so on so on. Personnaly, I have always associated gamy taste with grassy taste... and as such have always thought of diet as being the biggest factor (foie gras would be an example).

Another spooky example comes from one of my customers doing some genetic linkage analysis in suicides, he basically gets fresh blood samples from the coroner and I tell you, from blood sample to blood sample, you can definitely tell who had a violent death...

Spooky !

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Another spooky example comes from one of my customers doing some genetic linkage analysis in suicides, he basically gets fresh blood samples from the coroner and I tell you, from blood sample to blood sample, you can definitely tell who had a violent death...

This brings to mind the following passage from Michael Pollan's morbidly fascinating article Power Steer.

A few hours after their arrival in the holding pens outside the factory, a plant worker will open a gate and herd No. 534 and his pen mates into an alley that makes a couple of turns before narrowing down to a single-file chute. The chute becomes a ramp that leads the animals up to a second-story platform and then disappears through a blue door.

[...]

What I know about what happens on the far side of the blue door comes mostly from Temple Grandin, who has been on the other side and, in fact, helped to design it. Grandin, an assistant professor of animal science at Colorado State, is one of the most influential people in the United States cattle industry. She has devoted herself to making cattle slaughter less stressful and therefore more humane by designing an ingenious series of cattle restraints, chutes, ramps and stunning systems. Grandin is autistic, a condition she says has allowed her to see the world from the cow's point of view. The industry has embraced Grandin's work because animals under stress are not only more difficult to handle but also less valuable: panicked cows produce a surge of adrenaline that turns their meat dark and unappetizing. ''Dark cutters,'' as they're called, sell at a deep discount.

The article originally appeared in the March 31, 2002, issue of the New York Times Magazine but can be found on several websites, so if the above link stops working, try Googling "power steer". Required reading for all thinking carnivores.

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Carswell, was the man's name Dennis Ferrer?

Lesley, I don't remember. I have a terrible head for names (though in the shower this morning the name Tip Top popped into my head; I think it may be what that memorable post-hippy resto/salon de thé on Bishop was called). He may well have been an anglo, though if so we spoke French at least part of the time because Martin Picard, among others, was bopping around. Description: 30s, medium-length brown hair, 5'11" or so and, perhaps, recently married or engaged. But this was five or six years ago and we spoke all of ten minutes. Will ask Picard or the Faitas the next time I see him or them.

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In Kuujjuaq (I lived there for a few years), there is what they call a community freezer. It is a program set up to keep the hunting and sharing tradition alive. The community pays hunters to go out and bring back meats, which they just put in a big freezer room. The meat that is gathered can then be taken at leisure by the Inuit of the community. (I believe it is "illegal" for "non-Inuit" to take meats). The butchering is not what we would consider professional, in the least. Also the storage conditions are quite different from our standards here in the south. Howver, you can get some great stuff there. Same thing for fish. I have pictures, but dont know how to post. anyone have any clues how i could do this? So, I know its not a restaurant, and I know its not Montreal, but if you can get yourself to Kuujjuaq on First Air (got an extra $1800 to throw around?), and you can make friends with someone who can get meats... there you go!

joey

"Bells will ring, ting-a-ling-a-ling, ting.... the bell... bing... 'moray" -John Daker

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In the true sense of cooking, would you rather have hunted vs. farm raised meat?

I know that farm raised taste is mild and less gamey then hunted, but are we missing out on tradition etc.?

Mild and less gamey are not necessarily advantages in my books. Also, setting aside the special case of game that is left hanging until it falls off the hook of its own accord, a strong gamey taste is often a sign of overcooking. Stews excepted, most game is best consumed rare. But the real reason I'd rather have hunted than store bought is the variety. AFAIK, there is no farm-raised elk, moose, snow goose, grouse, etc.

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  • 4 weeks later...
Le grossiste indiquait aux restaurateurs qu'il s'agissait de viande de gibier d'élevage, comme le bison ou le caribou, en provenance d'un abattage commercial autorisé.

Wow, so maybe I have eaten moose in a restaurant.

Guess this means the wholesaler also forged inspection certificates and stamps, eh? Funny but you'd think that the chefs would have noticed the moose. The few pieces of moose I've been lucky enough to cook bore little resemblance to bison or venison either raw or cooked. I wonder who tipped off the authorities — a chef, a hunter, a disgruntled employee?

Too bad he wasn't passing off wild ducks as mallards. Now, that would have been worth breaking the law for...

Edited by carswell (log)
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The closest restaurants to what you're looking for are Au Pied de Cochon, which always has excellent farm-raised venison on the menu...

in the last month, i've been to Au Pied de Cochon twice. both times i sat at the bar, and both times i had the cerf (venison) tartare and a Boreale blonde (beer) with a friend.

:wub:

for 60$ (CDN) including tax, a beer, and nice tip for two people, it's a *great* montreal meal. plus you get to watch the open kitchen staff turning out the poutine with foie gras, etc.

they have amazing house fries and mayo, a spring greens salad, it's nice. :smile:

Edited by gus_tatory (log)

"The cure for anything is salt water: sweat, tears, or the ocean."

--Isak Dinesen

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