Wild About Game: A weekend of meat, booze and high jinks

It's so serious we have knives engraved!

It’s so serious we have knives engraved!

We have a saying about WAG: What happens on the mountain, stays on the mountain. So I can’t show you any of the truly ridiculous pictures from last Sunday but I can show you lots of fancy food porn and I know that’s really what you’re here for.

First though, we must start at the beginning:

Welcome to the Mountain!

The view from Timberline Lodge is incredible in the summer. I hate snow, ice and the cold so I can’t speak to what it looks like in the winter, but seriously, in the summer, it’s breathtaking — even when you’re up way too early after not enough sleep!

View from Timberline Lodge

View from Timberline Lodge

Meet the Meat:

Next up is the food. At Wild About Game, the focus is on game meats. So there is everything from elk and quail to Oregon-raised water buffalo and rabbit available for sampling. We also include lots of bonus meats: locally made charcuterie, Kobe beef, hazelnut-fed pork and non-meats: cheeses, pickled quail eggs, Oregon sea salt.  And it’s all there for the eating…even the ice cream made with cherries and bone marrow!

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My apologies for being absent, I was busy eating foie gras…

Foie gras

A chunk off of a 3-pound foie gras terrine…Just a little WAG party snack.

To many people the word wag is a verb, often referring to the movement of a dog’s tail. For me (and my co-workers), WAG means Wild About Game, a huge meat-fest that our company hosts every fall on Mt. Hood in Oregon.

We invite a bunch of chefs from the Pacific Northwest, head to the mountain and basically eat and drink for an entire weekend. Though the event itself is hard to organize, it is amazingly fun and a great opportunity to actually hang out with many of our customers in a non-work environment, something that’s pretty hard to come by in the food industry!

WAG has become so infamous in the PNW that it’s one of the events that everyone in the culinary field wants to attend. It could be due to the high-end snacking (foie gras, Iberico ham, freshly shucked oysters) or to the booze (free beer, gin, whiskey and wine). And that’s just the day event — the afterparty is where people really let loose.

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Win 2 tickets to the most decadent food event ever — Nicky USA’s Wild About Game!

FYI: The tickets are transferable — I will give you two free codes to use on the website so if you don’t live in the area but know someone who does, win them on their behalf…or plan a trip to Oregon — it’s beautiful here!
Devil Kreik -- Double Mountain. This is how you start the day off right at WAG!

Devil Kreik — Double Mountain. This is how you start the day off right at WAG!

I may be biased, but I feel confident in saying if you like food and live in or near Oregon, Nicky USA’s Wild About Game is the event to be at. WAG started 13 years ago as a chef appreciation party and still attracts many people who work in the culinary industry. So even though you can taste everything from local provisions (honey, oil, cheese) to game meats (elk, venison, water buffalo), it isn’t the bone-crushing cluster that many open-to-the-public food events are. I’m looking at you, Cochon 555.

I promise, you won’t have to fight through a crowd to eat foie s’mores or stand in a huge line for a 1 oz pour of beer. Instead you can just chill out with a glass of wine and a plate full of cheese, Iberico chorizo, wild boar sausage and quail tacos and enjoy the day.

This is why when I was asked if I’d like to give away two tickets to the event this fall, I jumped at the chance. It’s the meatiest, booziest and most fun food celebration I’ve ever gone to and I relish the opportunity to share the love with new people!

It’s also the reason I now work for the company who hosts it — seriously! My first WAG was 6 years ago and it’s where I met my boss and several of my current co-workers. I was won over by the absolute indulgence of the day — for me that moment was spying a smoking hot grill covered foie gras (both goose and duck) which was then set out for everyone to nibble on stuff into their mouths. It was insane! And after I ate my weight in foie gras, I sampled local wines, beer, and tons of tasty treats (pheasant, bacon, Kobe beef, quail, buffalo, etc). I get the meat sweats just remembering how much I ate.

A massive pot of foie gras up for grabs!

WAG 2011: I have fond memories of this massive pot of foie gras!

And since that year, the event has only gotten bigger and better. Last year there were people handing out samples of Iberico pork, Oregon elk, Olympic Provisions Salami, Salt & Straw ice cream made with foie gras and so much beer I thought I had died and gone to heaven. There was also a cooking competition and chef demos going on throughout the afternoon. See my post with more pics from last year here!

Elk-and-Beet Tartare with Pickled Quail Eggs -- from Chef Nathan Lockwood of Seattle's Altura

Part of the winning dish from last year’s competition: Elk-and-Beet Tartare with Pickled Quail Eggs and Watercress

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Wild About Game: A beautiful day to eat some meat!

I’ve mentioned that I work as a meat distributor. While my job occasionally has its bad moments (lets just say the words “turkey grid” can induce serious panic), for the most part it’s pretty awesome. We participate in many different food events throughout the year, but my favorite one is the customer appreciation party my boss hosts every year.

We travel out to the mountain — this year’s event was held at Timberline Lodge — and eat ourselves silly. All of our customers are invited and we throw down with a party that is truly unsurpassable. There is a marketplace with vendors on hand sampling products (Iberico jamon, foie gras torchons, local elk seared on salt blocks). There is a cooking competition and cooking demos involving some of Portland and Seattle’s top chefs. This year we even had a few James Beard winners compete.

But really it’s all about the meat (well, and the booze!).

So without further ado, I present some scenes from Wild About Game 2012.

Devil Kriek from Double Mountain. This is how you start the day off right! They also donated more than 5 kegs to the event and the afterparty. Woo-hoo!

Treats from Bakeshop — these looked so pretty, it was hard to eat them…okay, maybe it was easy, but still, they were beautiful!

Capunet made with Pheasant Sausage and Veal Sweetbreads — from Carrie Mashaney, the chef de cuisine of Cascina Spinasse in Seattle

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