Let’s face it, when it comes to picking the perfect compliment to an elegant wine, there are fewer things out there than meat that fits the bill. It’s as if God made cows, pigs, chickens, lamb and Duck for us to be able to fully experience what bliss comes from pairing cuts of the cow with a great red wine.
What surprises me – sort of – is that, as a culture, we’ve become acustomed to accepting the meats our local grocery store sells and never question its origins, the quality or whathaveyou. Heck, we even buy the crap they sell from the McDonald’s dollar menu without batting an eye. But when it comes to wine, we get all up in it – trying to find out all the details we can about the wine – the fruit source, the “terroir”, its wine maker, this history etc.
I’m not at all suggesting that we stop doing that in regards to the wines we buy – it’s what makes the wine experience half the fun. But have you ever stopped to consider the meats you so readily eat? Have you ever wondered if there are better quality products out there? Why is it – when it comes to the quality of food we shove down our pie-holes – we rarely ever ponder these type of awareness issues? Do you honestly think the F.D.A can protect us 100% of the time?
When generations past grew up, one of the shopping highlights was that of going to a butcher shop – you know, the artisan purveryor of meats that takes as much care and puts as much love into its products as Silver Oak used to when it made great cabs? A local guy who not only knew how you wanted your lamp-chops prep’d but also knew the names and ages of all your kids – someone who had a mutual interest in knowing you as much as your family does them.
Today’s consumer-crazed grocery shopping experience – for the most part – has turned a once fine-art into a frenzy of wanna-be meat-shops that hire a bunch of kids to package and put it out on display. There’s no heart, no soul and no sweat-equity that goes into those products – it’s a completely different experience once you find a butcher you trust.
I can tell you that from my perspective, as well as Traci’s, we are fortunate enough to not have fully lost touch with that aspect of quality and ours happens to come in the form of Doug Chiechi of Doug’s Quality Meats in Kent, WA. Doug comes from an italian family of 9 children and has been in the meat business for over 22-years – his passion for quality is almost as big as his passion for life and pursuing excellence in the products he sells.
Guys like him play a pivotal role in not only providing the best-possible quality meats but also – ultimately – our family’s health. You can think of a good butcher as your “go-to-guy” – the wide reciever who knows how to go wide in the last few seconds of the 4th quarter to make that deal-clinching touchdown catch.
A good butcher will first and foremost insist on only working with the best, local producers – locally-harvested meats help ensure the best freshness. Secondly, they go to great lengths of all the prep work into those meats that we either don’t want to do or don’t know how to do – they truly are an artist. Finally, they sell meat-packs – that’s right, you can fill your freezer up with meats which means you won’t have to make the trek back to the shop as often as you would other grocery items.
A few guidelines for finding a good butcher are the following:
- Upon entering the shop, it should NEVER have a foul odor – fresh meats don’t stink – leave asap.
- The phrase “cleanliness is next to Godliness” definitely applies here folks
- Find out how long they’ve been in business
- Talk to others customers in the shop about their experiences
- Find out who supplies the meats
- Ask how long they age their meats for – is it dry or wet-aged?
- Find out how long they hang the beef for before processing
- Don’t focus in on price as much as you should the quality and level of service – remember, you DO get what you pay for when it comes to meat quality!
If you live in the greater Seattle area and would like to experience some of the best meats around, then check Doug out at: www.dougsqualitymeats.com for store hours, location and phone number.