The last time I ate venison was in Baltic, a restaurant in South East London that I've always associated with Polish cuisine, but which describes itself as specialising more widely in the food of Eastern and Central Europe. It was the beginning of the 00s, and we drank shots of vodka during, after, and between each course. Perhaps this influenced my reaction to the venison that arrived under moody lighting and against the cacophonous hum of a lively eatery. My mind saw a dark, glistening plate of raw heart. An intense maroon and bloody mess. I couldn't touch it and have never ordered or eaten venison since.
It is ironic then that my shelves of cook books is home to Jose L Souto's book Venison, the Game Larder. Beautifully photographed and hugely informative, I've long wanted to take the plunge and cook a recipe from it. Tonight I played it safe with his venison and porcini mushroom pudding. Not only was it my first time cooking this type of game, it also served as an introduction to working with suet and pudding making.
Jose describes this dish as the "essence of comfort food" and he's not wrong. It was rich and tasty and it has given me the confidence to consider cooking venison for future meals.