Almost every other kind of edible critter was being served except moose, so retired New Haven Police Sgt. Tony Griego dressed up as one as he and other members of the century-old Waucoma boating and fishing fellowship hosted their annual game dinner.
If you like venison chili or venison in wine sauce or spicy venison kielbasa – was it possible venison toothpaste was offered in the lavatory? – Waucoma Yacht Club was the place to be.
Starting at 5 p.m. Saturday with a pheasant liver pate and a pheasant salad on cranberry bread served with chutney, the dishes just kept coming: smoked fish of the blue, black, and striper variety, duck breast decorated with little green buttons of scallion, and an aromatic goose gumbo.
More than 140 people filled the club’s second-floor meeting room turned into a flesh-eaters’ paradise.
The area’s premier beekeeper and the dinner’s main chef and organizer, Vincent Kay, said the idea was to harvest locally, cook what is caught and killed, and then eat heartily.
In addition to the club’s fishermen and hunters and their guests, the largest single contingent of eaters came from Yale University’s sustainable food programs.
The club celebrated the harvest of the sea as much as of the forest. Longtime club member Kurt Rubelmann made a popular baked and stuffed blackfish. By early evening, all that was left was the head with a cocktail onion stuck in the critter’s toothy mouth (pictured at the top of the story).
Area small businessman and club member Stewart Hutchings pondered the head and said, “Chinese people could make 10 [more] meals out of that.”
Hutchings himself smoked 30 pounds of blue fish and striped bass, which he caught in local waters. The task took him two days.
“It’s a labor of love when you do this stuff,” he said.
Tony Griego, the club’s historian, said that in decades gone by, the club had hired outsiders to cater game dinners. Alligator and other exotic meats were brought in and prepared.
This was the sixth game dinner that the club has organized in which members themselves trapped, caught, or killed most of what was served themselves.
Kay said the harvest ranged from creatures on Fisher’s Island to farms and hunting clubs as far west as Oxford.
For the second year in a row, Kay announced that a portion of the proceeds of the dinner will go to a scholarship for a college-bound graduate of the maritime-oriented Sound School at City Point.
Full disclosure: Your reporter is a member of Waucoma; he liked the chocolate cookies best.