I've been searching low and high
I won't get to get what I'm after
Till the day I die"
This quote runs true to my life in the recent few months. What am I searching for you ask? Well, I am searching for that which all good cooks ought to, the best ingredients possible. Recently, the product that has disappointed the most is meat. Besides the lovely rib-eyes I cooked last week, I have been devoid of really impressive beef, pork, lamb, chicken or any other tasty animal to eat. So, I went on a quest for good carcass.
I had heard about a few places in the area that claimed to be premium butcher shops, so I made the trek out into the hot summer in search of something seemingly common: rack of lamb. I obviously wanted to conduct the next phase of my "When to Season Different Meats" series. Can you freaking believe that I could not find a fresh rack of lamb (and by fresh I meat not dry-sealed and shipped from New Zealand) anywhere. It was not a surprise that the mega-marts did not have anything other than imported, so I don't count that.
I was surprised that these "butcher shops" did not have what I needed. I went to two butcher shops. First was the Westtown Butcher Shop and Deli. This diminutive establishment on Rt. 202 south (you can access from the northbound lane) doesn't seem like much from the outside. Once inside, you will not find much more. There are a few roasts in the case that may be trimmed into steaks, and a few loose steaks as well, but nothing special. There are lists of available products, but not much in the case. If you are like me, you like to see, touch and smell your meat before purchase. Here, I did not get the opportunity. More importantly, there was no lamb at all. An overall disappointment.
The second place was a brighter light in my day. The Country Butcher, www.thecountrybutchermarket.com, had much more to choose from. The beef in the case was all marked prime, and looked it to me. The weekly special was bone-in rib-eye for $11.99/lb. Is that expensive? Yes, it is. But is it worth it, you better believe it. The difference from prime beef (this beef, and fine dining restaurant beef) to choice beef (what you get in the mega-mart) is drastic. Beyond these steaks, there were fresh pork chops, pork butt, country style ribs (single cut meaty back ribs either boneless or with bone- get the bone-in, they are tastier) and other assorted chops. There were lamb chops, but no racks. They stocked a frozen section of some more exotic meats like bison, squab, tongue, rabbit, ect. Frozen meats are tricky and ought to be purchased sparingly (never get squab, quail, or other small game birds frozen or they will be dryer than a session of Congress). Overall, not a bad butcher shop. The Country Butcher also had a nice bakery, cheese, and gourmet food sections. Give it a shot. I will continue to look for good local lamb for the next of the "Seasoning" series.