Friday, September 24, 2010

rain shadow meats


One word: Bacon.  After going weak in the knees over a roasted beet salad with crispy lardons (rectangular chunks of cured pork belly or bacon) from Grand Central Bakery, I beseeched the kitchen staff to reveal their source.  They suggested heading to Rain Shadow Meats, located inside Capitol Hill’s newest neighbor, Melrose Market.  This was news to me.  Six months, several glowing recommendations and one New York Times article later, the butcher has arrived.
Owner Russell Flint opened up shop with over a decade of butchery experience under his belt.   He specializes in whole animal butchery which explains the large sides of meat and occasional pig brazenly showcased in two walk-in coolers with peek-a-boo windows.  Thanks in part to his former role as sous chef at Boat Street Cafe, Flint possesses the kitchen smarts to impart guidance along with the meat he sells.   His affable manner and profound passion for the craft hearken back to a time when butchers knew their customers by name and weren’t afraid to get a little sinew under their fingernails.


Side-by-side cases reveal a mouth watering array of good looking local meat.  Tiny sausage patties, called crepinettes, are daintily wrapped in lacy caul fat, while gargantuan top sirloin steaks from Walla Walla, WA, entice with their crimson hue, a common characteristic of grass fed beef.  Whole rabbit, duck and squab are par for the course.  And don’t forget their house made bacon, used to make those irresistible lardon.  If instant gratification is in order, choose from a small but thoughtful selection of prosciutto, salami, lardo and pate.  Hungry?  A ceramic bowl sits atop the meat case like a fixture, brimming with soft, glossy pretzels from Columbia City Bakery.
Go for the meat.  It’s reason enough.  But stay for the friendly service, warm atmosphere and commitment to local, sustainable farming.  And stay for the bacon.

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