The 12th of August marks the start of the red grouse season in the UK. This iconic bird is heralded as one of the toughest and most challenging of all the game birds to shoot and is a truly wild quarry.
Many thousands of people will head to the moors on the 12th to take a shoot at this super fast driven bird and thousands will be out beating and picking up. After months of hard work by the gamekeepers the shots will now go off. Grouse moors are alive with other wildlife too because of the conservation undertaken by the keepers. Rare waders thrive on these moors where gamekeepers undertake concentrated predator control and excellent habitat management.
However because I am based in Southern England I was unable to get up to the North for the Glorious 12th this year but was still able to partake and be part of this very special occasion. My wife and I with some friends booked a table at the Yew Tree Inn near Highclere Castle in Berkshire on the evening of the 12th to feast on the harvest of freshly shot grouse.
We are basically a group of lowland gamekeepers and partners who descend on the pub to eat grouse straight from the moors. The manager of the Yew Tree Tom, had been up to the North Yorkshire Moors to bring back the birds for last night’s meal. Tom was looking fresh and pleased which was a surprise given the distance he had driven. The chefs were working hard in a very got kitchen to produce what turned out to be a sublime meal.
The starter was grouse “popcorn” which was a grouse mouse made in a similar fashion to a scotch egg and was simply glorious to eat. Served with local fresh blackberries which gave the dish a nice sweet but acidic tang. They were moist and tasty a perfect starter dish before the main event.
The main course for me had to be a whole roast grouse. The dish was served with game chips, garden veg and bread sauce. What’s not to like? The roast bird was perfectly cooked, it was pink but not bloody and tender. Tom had chosen his birds well selection the best and youngest grouse from the moor.
The Yew Tree Inn looked after us all brilliantly well. The food was cooked to perfection and the staff were on top form even though they had just under 100 booking for the night. Although the pub was busy they certainly didn’t let the quality slip and it is heartening to see so many people wanting to experience the Glorious 12th even though we are 200 miles from the moors.
As a venue for a shoot party or a break away I would highly recommend the Yew Tree, they know their clientele and how to cater for the most upmarket of folk but also a gang of down to earth gamekeepers arriving on mass for a great night eating wild game meat.