Sales of wild game might never match those of beef or pork in this country, but it's nice to know that when the mood hits, we can feast on loin of venison -- or breast of quail or an entire wild boar -- without venturing into the forest and stalking the creatures ourselves.
Nowadays, we can simply place our orders for such items with a nearby food shop or butcher, and we often can get the meat fresh in season. And if you're willing to settle for frozen instead of fresh, almost any meat can be obtained given at least a day's notice, regardless of season, and that includes reindeer, bear and wild hare (from New Zealand).
Bill Snyder, meat manager at Neam's in Georgetown, reports that his sales of game are up about 20 percent over last year, and increasing an average of 15 percent annually, despite the fact he doesn't advertise such items. And, as for duck, Snyder points out that the muscovy variety is particularly popular, being less fatty than others. Reed Batt, meat manager at Someplace Special/Giant Gourmet in McLean, compares his sales of game to the sales of seasonal produce, noting that venison and other game sell better with the advent of cooler weather. He's also a big promoter of fresh rabbit, "a good seller all year round" and an item he predicts will be "a big thing one of these days."
Even if you're not a game hunter or a French gourmand, you can still celebrate fall and the taste for something different with a wild game party, the season's indoor answer to last season's outdoor picnics.
Listed below are food shops that carry a variety of game. Call in advance to confirm availability. Georgetown Boucherie
3206 Grace St. N.W., 333-3206
Pheasant: $5.95/pound. Venison steak: $11.50/pound (bone-in). Rabbit: $3.45/pound. Quail: $2.85 (boneless). Other game can be special ordered with advance notice. Gourmand
2575 B. Shirlington Road, Arlington, Va. 920-2941
Available to wholesalers. Call for prices and availability on the following items: wild hare, wild rabbit, pheasant, mallard, partridge, wild Canada goose, wild turkeys, quail (both bobwhite and pharoah), quail eggs, squab, guinea hens, goose breast and legs, muscovy ducks, rouen ducks, New Zealand venison, Scotland red deer venison, Scotland roe deer, Canadian reindeer, wild boar, wild goat, raccoon, buffalo, rattlesnake, alligator, soft shell turtle, antelope, bear, camel, elk, hippopotamus, llama, lion, zebra, eland, and assorted smoked birds. Larimer's
1727 Conn. Ave. NW. 332-3366.
Pheasant: $4.98/pound. Venison chops: $11.50/pound, steaks $14.95/pound. Neam's
3217 P St. NW. 338-4694
Squabs: $6.99 each. Pheasants: $6.69/pound (each is about 2 1/4 pounds). Rabbits: $3.79/pound. Quails: $14.95/package of 4. Special order for fresh game also available. Also carry mallards (in season) and muscovies. Someplace Special/Giant Gourmet
1445 Chain Bridge Road, McLean, Va. 448-0800
Venison: (from New Zealand) roast $7.99/pound, chops and steak, $8.99/pound. Buffalo: round roast/steak $8.99/pound. Rattlesnake: "a big seller" $12.95/pound. Goat: $2.59/pound. Wild hare: (Australia) $3.69. Guinea hen: $4.89/pound. Wild boar: roast or chops $6.59. Quail: $7.99/pound. Squab: $8.99/pound. Mallard: $4.99/pound. Muscovy ducks: $2.89/pound. Wild turkey: $4.99/pound. Suckling pig: $2.99/pound (for 20 pounds or more) and $3.39/pound (for purchases under 20 pounds). Also available by special request: camel, llama, zebra. Sutton Place Gourmet
3201 New Mexico Ave. N.W. and 10323 Old Georgetown Road in Bethesda. 363-5800 and 564-3100
Pheasant: $5.99/pound. Domestic goose: $2.99/pound. Venison saddle or leg: $9.99/pound. Capon: $2.19. Wild turkey: $6.99/pound. Wild geese: $6.99/pound. Partridge: $5.99/pound. Quail: $5.95 each. Mallard duck: $5.99/pound. Mullard duck: $3.99/pound. Wild rabbit: $4.99/pound. Domestic whole deer: (averaging 80-130 pounds) $5/pound. Buffalo: $5/pound. Rattlesnake: $10/pound (minimumin 5 pound purchase). Alligator: $10/pound (minimum 5 pound purchase). Soft shell turtle: $5/pound. Snapper turtle: $6/pound. TThe French Market
1632 Wisconsin Ave. NW. 338-4828
Fresh venison: $15/pound. The following come frozen: Venison leg: $11.50/pound, back $14.50/pound, steak $11/pound, filet $13.50/pound. Pheasant, both fresh and frozen: $6/pound. Partridge: $7.90 each (average 1 pound). Hare: $5/pound (whole hare averages 4-to-5 pounds). Guinea hens: $6/pound. Quail: $3 each. Wild Boar also available.