The pitch for SquirrelFest came during a cider festival at Ironbound Farms, while Ben Walmer and friends from Highland Dinners Club were cooking the leg from a yak (raised on a neighboring farm) over open fire. I threw out the idea, but a few months later, the group really made it come to life, and that fall, the inaugural event was born. I missed last year’s fest, but flew up in November for the third iteration—by far the biggest and richest to date. Between the hunters in the group, we ended up with 35 squirrels to cook, but the crew added to that a LOT of fresh venison, a groundhog, turtle meat, and an impressive display of locally grown and foraged vegetables and herbs. I spent most of the day winging a squirrel and turtle soup (an Atchafalaya surf-and-turf), but managed to snap a few pics of the festivities. Thanks to Ben and the HDC family for being willing to get weird, and for Ironbound for hosting (and encouraging) such incredible food events.

Assembly of a venison loin stuffed inside of a hollowed out radish
Swiss chard simmering over open fire at Ironbound Farms
Freshly cut Ironbound mangalitsa pork ribs
Game plan for the venison-radish "wellington" at SquirrelFest 2019
Final assembly of the venison-radish "wellington"
Farm veggies and a venison leg roast ready for cooking
Venison hot dogs in a sous vide bath
Cooking in the open pit of Ironbound Farms's "Mother Fire"
Foraged mushrooms and fresh thyme simmering over an open fire
Venison simmering for a game meat and seafood curry at SquirrelFest 2019
Potatoes frying in pork fat over an open fire
Steam from a simmering stew at SquirrelFest 2019
Venison heart, squash and mushrooms cooked at SquirrelFest 2019 at Ironbound Farms
View of one of the spreads at SquirrelFest 2019
The cooking crew gathered around (and on top of) Ironbound Farms's Mother Fire