One of the many reasons I decided to revisit Ireland this month was to attend the annual Game Night Dinner at Dolly Mitchell’s Pub, and was it ever a night to remember !
Winding my way through the back hall of this century old roadside pub, crossing out the back door and into a barn with fresh sawdust on the floor and rows of checkered cloth lined tables i found delicious smells of smoking venison, wild game stews and currys keeping warm. Watching a few men hurrying about preparing menu cards, lighting chaffing dishes and preparing for the hungry masses gathering out front in the pub. With over 40 dishes filling up the buffet line, a full deer on the smoker, and endless kegs of Guinness this was definitely a night not to be missed!
An annual tradition organised by the local Shooting Club this night allows its members a chance to promote it’s recreational cause of wildlife management through game shooting by inviting the land owners and general public to a member catered feast of fresh game dishes and good ole Irish ‘craic’!
Ireland has strict gun ownership laws and to own one is a privilege. With few predators in Ireland along with a strong agricultural industry, controlling wildlife is an important component of Ireland’s economic well being with some €42 million accounted for from game shooting.
This annual end-of-season feast saw the likes of pheasant, rabbit, pigeon, woodcock, red deer, wild trout & salmon, eel and snipe prepared in all ways and tastes from the exotic to the traditional . The hunting season in Ireland spans September through January, so by February everyone’s bagged plenty of birds and rabbits to enjoy with the neighbours. This
special night also plays host to the culinary talents of UK’s young celebrity chef and game expert Mark Gilchrist of “Game For Everything”, who spent the evening preparing fresh eels traditionally pan seared in nothing but its own skin. The freshwater eel we enjoyed was personally transported down from Lough Neagh in North Ireland, by Mark a third generation fisherman. The eel is naturally very oily, according to Mark the fisherman the only and best way to prepare is with the skin-on eel meat filleted open along the bottom, deviened washed and patted dry then laid in a medium hot dry pan and seared in its own oils. The eel begins to pull away from its skin, and the natural oils fill the pan, the end result being a delicious and flaky white fish reminding me of the Crappie (pronounced ‘croppie’ ) back home that my mom and dad fish to no end out of Mark Twain Lake in Missouri.
The dishes were extraordinary and the crowd more than willing to queue up for almost an hour and snag a sample of each exotic dish. Once the pots were emptied and bellys filled, the pub was bursting at the seams with laughter and community till the wee hours of the morning! Enjoy the few pics below and visit back in a few days as I am anxiously awaiting a few pictures taken by others to share .