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Game On The Menu

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Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Game On The Menu

Sales of gourmet game products are soaring showing that wild meats have come of age in New Zealand.

In the latest issue, Cuisine's senior features writer, David Burton, reports that this newly acquired Kiwi taste for wild meats has seen sales double over the past year at the leading processor for the domestic market, Premium Game in Marlborough.

"We found that this growth in wild meats is not limited to wild pork, venison and duck," says Cuisine editor, Sarah Nicholson. "There is also a big demand for rabbit, hare and goat, once all considered exotic."

Encouraged by popular television cooking shows such as Hunger for the Wild and the snowballing grow-your-own craze, the trend towards hunting your own food is gathering momentum, she says. And where could be more perfect than New Zealand, the hunter-gatherer's dream.

Says Nicholson, "With the advent of quality wild-food suppliers, it's not just top chefs who are pushing the boundaries with interesting meats. Home cooks are actively expanding their culinary horizons at home. Game suppliers are also playing their part in dispelling myths, such as game always having a strong flavour."

The profile of game has also been lifted through the annual Monteith's challenge in which restaurants aim to create the perfect wild food match with beer. From 12 participants in 1997, the competition has grown to 120 last year.

"There is so much interest in the provenance of food, whether sustainable, organic or free-range," Nicholson says, "and wild food satisfies all those criteria".

Kiwi helicopter deer shooters and venison processing plants date back to the 1960s, when the demand for wild venison surged and led to the start of deer farming here.

The wild venison industry has focused mainly on export, but the sophistication of the Kiwi palate is now supporting the domestic game market.

Thousands of hunters will descend on farmland around the country on 1 May to hunt wild game including duck, geese, swan, pheasant, quail, venison, pork, rabbit, hare, goat, thar and wallaby.

"Whether you venture into the bush to hunt, or visit your local butcher, farmers' market or gourmet food outlet, you can still enjoy wild game," Nicholson says.

The new issue of Cuisine (on sale 26 April) includes David Burton's feature, as well as delicious game recipes from Cuisine's senior food writer and chef Al Brown.

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