Here, my first feature (with original photos!) for Edible Manhattan and Edible Brooklyn, on newsstands now. It’s a story that easily could have become a chapter for The Accidental Extremist: two men with virtually no experience and hearty thirsts for whisky load up a bunch of guns and go game shooting in Scotland. One, a world class chef, was a natural. The other, not even close, merely lived to tell. Enjoy!
On a gusty wet morning in January, chef Terrance Brennan stood in a sodden ﬁeld with mud streaming down his boots and a loaded gun in his hands. This was Scotland’s Earn Valley, in Perthshire, not far from the town of Auchterarder, and the day—two winters back—wasn’t starting well.
The A7 Quattro had gotten mired in the mud; everyone had drained more than a few whiskies the night before; the driving wind and rain had soaked us to the bone. The plan—for Brennan; Andrew Hamilton, a Scottish-born, East Coast–based game supplier; and me—was for a traditional “rough shoot,” meaning, loosely, this: a stomp in the ﬁelds, dogs, plenty of ammo and, with a bit of luck, some quarry—pheasants, duck, maybe a woodcock or two.
We’d arrived for the last week of shooting season in Scotland, where all of the game birds Brennan has served at Picholine for the last 12 autumns are shot in the wild on sprawling estates, but so far, the ﬁelds were silent. Then Mark Wilson, a local farmer’s blue eyed, red-haired son showing us around, led us into a boggy ﬁeld.
Suddenly Clyde and Rosie—Wilson’s dogs, a spry cocker spaniel and an ancient black lab—ﬂushed a noisy whorl of teal ducks from a pond into the sky. Terrance raised his shotgun and blasted, unloading both barrels. They were his ﬁrst-ever shots at birds, and, in that instant, the day improved considerably: two ducks froze in mid-air, shot through, and dropped like stones. Continue reading