I’ve never been much of a hunter and I probably never will be. But I do enjoy meat, any kind, preferably rare, more is always better. I grew up in the mountains; hunting was what my family did. I fished, at least and even to this day I put the fish back! Go through all that trouble to buy the gear, tie the flies, drive to the mountains, catch the bugger… only to let him go. I wouldn’t change it for anything. If I want fish, I will buy it at the store. Red meat… the same. It is good to know if Armageddon was tomorrow, I wouldn’t starve, just need to change a few small habits. The rest of my family, however, would be just fine with their current way of cultivating food. Kind of like that ‘Legend of Mick Dodge’ fella, only in real life.
So anyways, my phone rings at 2:30 in the morning on the Eve of Thanksgiving. I get up to see who the idiot is, and of course miss the call by one ring. It was my brother (the hunter) and as I am fumbling around trying to listen to the voicemail he left, in a half-sleep daze, he calls again. I answer, and sure enough my wide awake brother is yammering away. Not a big deal, he travels non-stop. He tells me there is a delivery at my front door and it needs to be signed for. Did I mention it was 2:30 in the morning? I asked him which country he was in and did he realize it was the time was? He laughed. I told him there was NO WAY there was a delivery guy at the front door. He told me to go check. I did and there was! There was my very own brother, standing in my entryway with a good sized cooler in his arms, taped shut. He was looking at me, half dressed in the window. I let him in.
The cooler was filled with as many packages of fresh venison that it could fit. My sleepy eyes looked over steaks, chops, sausages, burger, jerky and one heart, all packed in dry ice. Considering the late night call and the mysterious whereabouts of my brother, I wasn’t mad at all and realized then and there how much I love meat. I especially love venison, as we grew up on it (amongst a few other oddities like bear, rabbit, pheasant, partridge, squirrel and maybe a coon or two). Living in the Adirondacks, it kinda comes with the territory. Now I would like to say I dusted off the sleepy, got out a cast iron skillet, grabbed the first package and threw it on the fire right there in my PJs, but I didn’t. Turns out my brother was sick of eating the stuff, and told me to throw it in the freezer and wait till he was gone a week later, so I did. He is, after all, my big brother, and I certainly didn’t want him doing what big brothers do to their smaller siblings!
A week later, I hit the freezer. A different cut of meat called for a different preparation each night, and of course, a different wine pairing each time. Venison is pretty lean, but with a good flavor, not too strong, not too gamey when it is fresh. Each package was perfect. I opened a Brunello one night, a Bordeaux another….even a Barolo and a Burgundy or two. Nothing doesn’t work! I am currently down to one package left, but he promised for Christmas he would overnight another cooler, full of the woodsy goodness, as soon as he was able……..would I be a pain in the neck younger brother if I called him to let him know I AM STILL WAITING?
Shayne Hebert, ABC Fine Wine & Spirits wine supervisor
Follow me on Twitter @abcwineshayne