Red Deer (Cervus elaphus), one of the largest deer species, are held in captivity for a variety of reasons, including its meat, which is called venison. It is not generally harvested for human consumption on a large scale, though speciality restaurants seasonally offer venison, which is widely considered to be both flavourful and nutritious. Venison is higher in protein and lower in fat than either beef or chicken.
We had the chance of trying venison when travelling in northern Italy, more specifically on Cortina D’Ampezzo, at “Ristorante Lago Scin” (Via Lago Scin, 1 – Cortina D’Ampezzo/Italy). The restaurant is beautifully located right at the lake from which its name is derived, a small body of water at 1,336 m of altitude, in the center of Belluno Dolomites, province of Veneto.
As you can see by the images, we reached the restaurant on a rather beautiful summer day, ideal for occupying one of the outdoor tables, what in fact we did.
Among the ordered dishes was the already mentioned Red Deer, which came as a nice dark stew with a beautiful yellow polenta (Spezzatini di cervo con polenta). Polenta, as you may know, is made from boiled cornmeal, and along with tomatoes, constitutes one of the most amazing Latin American contributions to the Italian cuisine, if not to the whole world (if that is not borderless cooking then tell me what is).
Both, the deer and the polenta, where very nicely prepared by Chef Carlo, and even though venison retains a “gamy” or “wild” taste, considering it tends to have a finer texture and is leaner than beef, the overall experience was rather enjoyable. Something to be remembered and, if possible, repeated.