Tag Archives: sustainable meat

Squat Lobsters, Clootie Dumplings, and Muppet Cows: The Highlights of the Highlands

The Highlands of Scotland!  I just got back from Applecross Bay up at the top west end of Scotland, right across from the Isle of Skye. Accessible only through the vertiginous Pass of the Cattle where you can drive through the clouds, Applecross is amazing for its incredible seafood, the spectacular sky above Skye, the undulating mountain walks over spongy marshes and sheer rock faces, the abundant sheep and wild-roaming deer and ridiculous-looking hairy cows like Jim Henson’s Muppets roaming outside your house and in front of your car.

Yup, that’s a highland cow.  And that’s our house (or rather, country mansion) in the background. Coming up just at the end of the off-season, we got a great deal on the Bramble Lodge in the west wing of the Applecross Trust estate which, most importantly came with a massive kitchen complete with enormous farmhouse table and TWO stoves.  Perfect for sitting and eating hot Oak Smoked salmon from nearby Torridon…

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Big Buck Hunter: A Day in the Life of A Not-So-Average College Sophomore, or, Little Sister Waxes Philosophical on Meat

Most of the time, eating meat seems simple. After all, processed meat in the grocery aisle is neat, clean, and offers us little in the way of reminders that we are eating something that used to be alive, that had a head, feet, fur or feathers.

Deer in Ithaca are so populous that they’re essentially pests – destroying gardens, disrupting the ecosystem, and all too often meeting unfortunate ends in car accidents or starving in the winter. When Daniel’s dad offered Dan the chance to go deer hunting, we were all thrilled. Now, before you close the book on us savages, let me say this: we don’t believe in hunting for sport, or for trophies, but we loved the idea of getting another step closer to our food, and decreasing our dependence on factory farmed meat.

So, a few weekends ago, the Ithaca FamilyStyles gang experienced just how complicated and incredible meat really is. Sure, we’ve gutted fish and cared for livestock that would eventually become food, and I like to think that we’re thoughtful about and appreciative of the work and care and life involved in producing meat. But, butchering the deer that Daniel killed (with one shot, by the way) on his family’s land, was a whole new, up-close and personal experience for all of us. This time, we were responsible for seeing the animal through from death all the way to neat packages in the freezer.

And it was fascinating. For more pictures, and the occasional rumination, down the rabbit hole we go!

Warning: These pictures feature meat in a pretty serious way – view at your own risk! (Just so you know, I considered making a joke about “rawness,” but decided against it. You’re welcome.)

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mini hamburgers from free roaming, naturally raised, more-than-organic wild beef

burgers on the grill

it’s barbecue time! not only is there sun, but there is some delicious meat to be had here in london. chris and i went to a picnic organized by our new friends from yelp last weekend on the oh-so-englishly named hampstead heath. thanks to a running joke about our ‘stupid american’-ness, we decided to bring some super patriotic mini hamburger sliders to the picnic. how do you know a burger’s done? poke it on the grill and it bleeds red, white, and blue, dammit.

wild beef selection at broadway marketof course, we had to get the very best of british beef for these high-quality bites of americana. i took advantage of my broadway market trip last weekend to pick up some ‘fine mince’ ground beef from the wild beef stall. this company is based in devon in the southwest of england, and they sell meat from the most purely naturally raised cattle i’ve ever seen.

in the states, the best quality meat is from cows fed only grass rather than corn, soy, or scary things like ethanol waste because that’s how cow stomachs evolved to digest.  the lucky ones might get to graze a pasture rather than being confined to a pen or feedlot. the cows from wild beef, however, graze the grasses on the uncultivated soil of devon, without any supplementary feed to promote growth or mass amounts of antibiotics to combat high risk of infection due to unsanitary living conditions.

they call it ‘nutritionally, ecologically, and gastronomically the best‘and they might just be right. their old breed north and south devon and welsh black cattle roam the windy, fertile moors like heathcliff (sorry, just finished wuthering heights), free to feed on grass, herbs, weeds, and shrubs to their heart’s content. and then they become delicious, meaty, flavorful, safe-to-eat beef. it’s a little expensive, but i’d rather eat good, farm-fresh or wild-moor-fresh meat less often than eat cheap but scary industrially processed meat that’s probably full of anthrax. always better to eat your burgers without fear of death from bacterial infection. here’s some more information on why sustainably produced meat is better than the industrial stuff in an article i wrote for eat.drink.better (sorry for the self-plug but i already did the research and now it’s in one place. if it ain’t broke, why write it all over again?)

anyway, back to sliders. with meat this good, all you need is a little salt and pepper and it tastes fantastic. then in keeping with our american-only-in-theory hamburgers, i made my favorite gougeres for buns, but we’ll just refer to them as cheese puffs to keep up appearances. chris and i brought a mini barbecue grill to the heath, which we’re pretty sure is illegal, but sometimes you just gotta be gangsta like that. chris grilled these little morsels of meat to the perfect level of chargrilled flavor on the outside and pink juiciness on the inside. i did my best to set the cheese puffs on fire as i appear to have a singular talent for incinerating bread products. perhaps i could parlay this skill into a baking/circus career.

flaming cheese puffs and burgers on the grill

chris is teaching me the ways though – we’re throwing a barbecue party this weekend. you may or may not know that he is a former barbecue professional, after all. if you’ve seen any photos of him on this blog so far, you’d also know that he really likes to bite things. first a spatula, then a yummy slider. RAOWR. chris and the wild beef burgers

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Eat Sustainable Meat From Farmers Markets: More Delicious, Less Deadly!

sup peeps. this post was originally published at eat.drink.better a few weeks ago and i want to share it with you now. reading it, you will notice that a) i  do understand punctuation and that excessive hyphenization is not normal, b) i know how to capitalize, and c) i actually can prevent my filthy mouth from spilling out onto the page if necessary. however, on my (our) blog, i just choose not to. okay? anyway, enjoy.

Meat Menu at the Farmers Market

For those of us who love a crispy slice of bacon but also care about the impact of our food choices, eating meat can be a very complex issue. Just for starters, there’s the environmental aspects of meat production, the safety concerns with industrial processing (read this frightening article in the NYTimes about ‘anthrax sausages’) and the thorny ethical questions of animal welfare to consider. It’s a difficult question: how can we have our steak and eat it too?

My current solution? Buy locally and sustainably raised meat from farmers markets. I went to the bustling Union Square Greenmarket in New York City last weekend to explore my meat purchasing options and do some research. And by ‘research,’ I mean ‘eating.’ Here are photos and some reasons why farmers markets are a great place to get your meat fix.

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the porky pork porkorama at mission street food

i hit up mission street food again on thursday with my girl julie. julie is one of my favorite people in the world despite her being a vegetarian and ‘forcing’ me to eat all the delicious meat dishes by myself.

the guest chef on thursday was mari takahashi of sozai restaurant and sake lounge in the inner sunset. i would like to adopt mari and install her in my kitchen as the benevolent goddess of porky love. her MSF menu included THREE kinds of pork product which i had to eat ALL BY MYSELF. poor me. i actually went through the charade of questioning whether i could actually eat it all and reminding myself out loud that i could always take home any leftovers. then i totally destroyed all three dishes on the solo tip because i am into over-the-top gluttony like that.

i started with the bacon xiao long bao, which are shanghai soup dumplings that i got obsessed with when living in nyc chinatown after graduating college. it’s a steamed dumpling typically filled with a super intensely porky broth that is best eaten by putting it in a soup spoon and poking with a chopstick so some of the juice leaks out and cools off and you don’t get a first mouthful of boiling hot magma-style  liquid. these soup dumplings were made with bacon (i am seriously on bacon overload) and were served in adorably multicolored silicone cupcake liners:

bacon-soup-dumplings-in-cupcake-containers

these soup dumplings weren’t the best i’ve ever had (my faves are from nice green bo, formerly new green bo, downstairs from my old apartment in chinatown), with a slightly drier wrapper and less tasty broth inside, but they added an exciting element with the salty smokiness of the bacon. definitely worth a try.

we also started with olives, the smaller darker lucque and my favorite bright green castelvetrano, and a bottle of wine from julie. oh herro.

wine-and-lucque-and-calvestrano-olives

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bacon camp recipes, round two: panko encrustifried avocado and bacon sushi with wasabi bacon mayonnaise

three of the most i-could-eat-you-any-time-in-any-form-and-am-totally-head-over-heels-obsessed-with-you foods in my world of edibility: 1. bacon. 2. avocado. 3. sushi.

add them all together. toss in some deep frying action. squiggle on some bacon mayonnaise. OH HOLY CRAP!!!!!

deep-fried-avocado-bacon-sushi-with-wasabi-bacon-mayonnaise

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incanto, sustainability, and the connection between foie gras and self-determinism

for me, an important part of this blog is to consider the idea of ‘sustainability’ in food. sustainable is a word i use often, despite the complexity of issues surrounding the idea of sustainable eating and the difficulty of even defining the word as used to describe food and food production. the owners of incanto, where i ate last week,  address this topic and much more in a lengthy letter on their website entitled Shock and Foie: The War Against Dietary Self-Determinism.

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pizzaiolo and the soft clouds of heavenly porky goodness

i’m on a straight up no-holds-barred godzilla-style food rampage throughout the bay area before i leave for london. last night’s ravenous feeding involved the truly kickass pizzaiolo in oakland. i met the chef/owner, charlie, when he hired the go game to run an event for his staff.  i won’t blow up any spots, but let’s just say charlie and team dirty sanchez showed quite a lot of…spirit. did you happen to spot a dude in a girl’s raincoat and no pants running around the mission last week? there sure are some crazy peeps in this hood.

charlie used to work at chez panisse, so his food is also sustainably sourced, based on fresh ingredients, and well-known to be fucking ridiculously delicious. i love their philosophy, as stated on the website:

Whenever we can, about 98% of the time, we buy only locally grown, organic, seasonal meat and produce. We buy from small farmers we know and love, people we eat with, drink with, and share our lives with. We buy whole animals from ranchers we know and trust: We buy organic flour, milled in Oakland by people who bring their children to Pizzaiolo for dinner. We change the menu every day to reflect the offerings of these remarkable local food purveyors in their freshest most beautiful form.

so, is the food remarkable, fresh, and beautiful? a resounding and wholehearted fuck yes. just check out the new potato pancetta rosemary fontina pizza:

new-potato-pancetta-pizza-closeup

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a night in chez panisse foodie heaven and i can die happy

gorgeous-carrots

i’m welcoming you to my overview of a foodie night in paradise with a gorgeous bowl of root vegetables, just as chez panisse welcomes you into their restaurant. yes, i went to chez panisse last night with some friends, and i think i can die happy now. the whole evening was a joyful blur of old friend reunions, bottles and bottles of wine, warm and friendly people, a kitchen tour (!), and of course, incredible food made from the purest of ingredients.  the pile of knobby, hairy, obviously farm-fresh root vegetables placed next to a bowl of citrus fruits and beautiful loaves of bread tells you exactly that as you walk in – this is a restaurant dedicated to sourcing, cooking, and serving the best ingredients possible with the utmost love and respect.  it’s basically a gastronomic temple of food worship, and i happily bow at their altar after last night’s meal.  it wasn’t that any dish was particularly holy-shit-this-is-so-delicious-it’s-blowing-my-mind amazing, but the whole experience – the attentive, carefully choreographed service, the welcoming and happy-to-show-you-around kitchen staff,  the beautifully printed menus, the little touches like freshly made caramels with the bill – made the evening truly amazing. and of course, the stellar company…

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warning: explicit ‘head to tail’ food pornography ahead

no, that’s not a kinky fetish subcategory at the adult video store on mission street.  get your mind out of the gutter.

i’m just emerging from a weekend full of some serious meat eating. i just finished poring over the meat issue of edible San Francisco magazine last week and then serendipitously found myself in several places serving kickass sustainable meat. yeeeeeaaah.

for example, incanto in  noe valley has won a bunch of awards for their sustainable practices. check out their website for a whole write-up on their attempts to respect animals and the environment,  including only buying humanely raised and killed animals, obsessively recycling, growing their own herbs, and using all parts of the animal in true ‘head to tail’ fashion.

what’s included in head to tail? we started off with asparagus, poached eggs and sweetbreads. mmm…nothing says tasty like thymus gland.

asparagus-poached-egg-sweetbreads1

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