23 August 2010

After a successful launch last year, the 4th September will once again commemorate 'Eat Scottish Venison Day', and many UK restaurants and suppliers are marking the occasion with promotions, events, signature dishes, cooking schools and special menus.

Venison is fast becoming the food of the moment, with chefs everywhere extolling the virtues of this tasty, healthy, versatile meat, and thanks to a successful campaign, most quality restaurants now include at least one venison dish on their menus, with television cookery programmes featuring it regularly. Scottish venison is sold throughout the UK and Europe, and the industry, including deer management, is worth £105m to the Scottish economy annually and accounts for over 2500 jobs. The sheer Scottishness of the product, with images of deer roaming the highlands and the spectacle of the Monarch of the Glen, is helping to fly the flag for Scotland, alongside Scotch whisky, Scottish beef and Scottish water.

A campaign, by the Scottish Venison Working Group, to raise awareness of Scottish venison among consumers, restaurants and the catering trade, was launched last year with a handful of supporters on the website. Now the Scottish venison website (www.scottish-venison.info) lists over 100 suppliers and stockists, including many prestigious names from all over Britain who are all doing their bit to promote venison as a high quality, nutritious and delicious meat.

Among the many activities planned to mark the 4th September are: venison specials on the menu of Jamie Oliver's new restaurant in Glasgow; Scottish venison at the Ivy in London and Rivington Grill, Shoreditch; a venison cookery school hosted by award-winning chef Tom Lewis at his restaurant Monachyle Mhor; the National Trust for Scotland serving venison at several of its properties; and two UK national pub/restaurant groups featuring Scottish venison in over 600 of their outlets. In addition, The Blackface Meat company is e-mailing its members with venison recipes; Great Glen Game is tweeting about the launch of its new award-winning venison salamis and chorizos; a new venison haggis burger is being launched by West Highland Hunting; Simple Simon's Honey Venison Collops Pie will be on sale in Waitrose regional stores;  Highland Game venison will feature in Maxine Clark's cookery demonstrations at the Dundee Food and Flower Festival; Deans@Lets Eat in Perth are offering a specially priced dish of Highland Venison Collop with a red wine and garlic sauce: and The Green Inn at Ballater will be featuring a seared fillet of Aberdeenshire roe deer dish with cherries and sweet peppercorn sauce.

And Scottish Venison day kicks off early with venison and whisky tasting and cookery demonstrations at the Glengoyne Distillery on Thursday 2 September with chef Tom Lewis from Monachyle Mhor, Balquhidder.

Chairman of the Scottish Venison Working Group, Stephen Gibbs, said: "Venison isn't a new food, we have been eating it for hundreds of years - longer than we have been eating beef. But now Scottish venison is really taking off as availability grows and butchers and supermarkets are stocking it all year round. It is one of the best foods to come out of Scotland and we should all be singing its praises."