Post # 304 Our Little Town, revisited

November 3, 2014 at 9:21 AM | Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Post # 304 Our Little Town, revisited

Simon and Garfunkel wrote a song several years about called “My Little Town”.  It was a cry from a young boy who wanted to leave his little town because there was “nothing but the dead and dying” back in his little town.  I guess we all feel that way about the towns we grew up in.  Nearly all my friends from my home town are now not in my home town.  I think my brother is the only person who stayed.  My parents left their little town in Ohio only to settle in a little town in Arizona.  Partner/Spouse and I both left our little towns for other, larger cities until we found each other.  Now we’re in our new little town and lovin’ life, and we’re having a blast discovering the things our town has to offer.  It’s hard to believe we’ve only been here for six weeks.

This past weekend we found several of the hidden jewels in our little town.  And what a great time we had!

First, Partner/Spouse took Friday (Halloween) off since he was working over the weekend.  So Friday morning, with nothing really much planned to do, we decided to head out to find a flea market we’d seen advertised.  It was about an hour away and we drove through some really pretty landscapes.  When we drive, we’re always looking for places we can live on and live our dream.  We saw lots of places.  It was a cool, breezy kind of day and when we arrived at our destination, it turned out to be a bust.  The flea market was a total wash out.  It might have been because it was a Friday.  It might have been because we arrived fairly early.  It might have been because it was just a “less than” flea market.  But we stopped at a few antique stores on the way home and that made up for it.

BUT . . . . . !!!

One of our planned activities for the day was to stop at a small market we’d been told about.  We love those small, out of the way places that have character and surprises.  We were looking for a butcher.  We wanted spectacular but would have settled for good.  When we lived in northern VA, we used to go to a butcher in Catlett that was known for hundreds of miles around for the quality of the meat.  I’ve dealt with butchers all my life.  These guys in VA did not want to deal with neophytes so inevitably I’d have to order when we visited that butcher.  But it was fun.  For me, anyways.  When we lived in NC, we were told about a small store with a butcher in the back.  We went there one time and got steak for a lower-than-reasonable price.  It wasn’t worth the price we paid.  I understood why it was popular, but we weren’t willing to give up the quality we wanted.  So finding a good butcher was one of our goals.

In our wandering around the peninsula, we saw constant signs of hunters and hunting.  I’m not opposed to hunting; I just don’t do it myself.  One of the things we were seeing a lot of were small businesses billing themselves as butchers, but they were really designed to take your deer, duck, raccoon, squirrel, whatever and dress it out for you.  That means gutting it, skinning it, and cutting it into manageable parcels.  Again, I’m not opposed to it and I’d rather see people using the meat they kill rather letting it spoil.  We had a sign for a butcher that was relatively close to us but had not made the foray to find the place.  Partner/Spouse mentioned the name to one of his coworkers and she explained that it was a butcher who dressed out your kill, not a butcher that sold beef, pork, or chicken cuts.  She said if we wanted that, we should go to a particular market that was within blocks of our house.

So we did.

Were we ever glad we did.  The market itself was a small place, but it was jam packed full of fun stuff.  First, local produce was lined up outside, and I saw some kale and some tomatoes that made my mouth water.  I’m having a tomato and grilled cheese sandwich for lunch today.

grilled tomato and cheese

When you walk into the store, the first thing you see is a glass counter holding all kinds of candy.  Took me back to when I was six and we could go to the corner store for candy.  There were several aisles of normal grocery products, but the final aisle had the bulk items.  You could buy aluminum foil in boxes by the pound.  There were huge cans of corn niblets, garbanzo beans, soups, and even banana pudding and chocolate pudding.  We didn’t buy any of those.  We finally made our way to the back where the meat cooler was.  There was a small window above it that opened into the butchery.  While we were looking at the contents of the cooler, a young(ish) man greeted us and asked if we’d been in before.  He introduced himself, he was the butcher, and started explaining the butcher shop.

He was justifiably proud of the operation.  Apart from the meats offered in the cooler area, he also cut meat to order and asked what we were interested in.  Impulsively, we ordered two rib eye steaks, about a half inch thick.  We were really only there to look, but we had to try it out.  Particularly after he told us that he provided most of the meat for the specialty restaurants in the area.  He only cut steaks to order, none were on display.  He also made the ground beef each morning, and went through 400 pounds a day through the store and the restaurants.  He showed us the pork sausage, saying they made up 200 pounds of links and ground sausage fresh each day, and even told us the mix of spices he put in it.  It was quite simple.  He realized he had an appreciative audience and continued telling us what and how he provided each day.  Another lady asked for a 3 pound roast so he went to cut our steaks and her roast as we wandered for a while.  We were presented with two hand-cut steaks, not frozen, that made us drool just looking at them.  We got a few other items, then left to pursue other activities.

We went to an outlet mall about 45 minutes away.  We wanted to see what stores were there, and maybe grab something to eat.  Wouldn’t you know, as soon as you drive in you’re looking at Auntie Anne’s Pretzels?  So I got pretzel nuggets with cheese.  All the while we ate, we were both thinking about the steaks.  We love grilling animal flesh over a controlled open flame, but don’t currently have a grill.  However, in our wandering through the outlet mall stores, we found a (heavenly choir cheering musically) kitchen store!  We found a cast iron stove top grill pan large enough to handle the two steaks with low sides so the meat wouldn’t get stewed.  We decided the steaks deserved a new grill pan so we spent the $25 for it.

cast iron grill pan

We have a smaller pan with higher sides that doesn’t give the same flavor as an outdoor grill does and I’ve had trouble cleaning it.  I also didn’t want the same cleaning experience with the new grill pan.  So I stood there staring, trying to find something that would make it easier.  Here’s what I found:

scraper

It’s a hard plastic polymer that is heat resistant so it won’t melt and the grooves match the groves on the pan so it gets to the stuck on foods easier.  I knew something like that had to exist so I was happy to find it.  And for fifty cents!  You just never know.

On the way home, we stopped at the store for a few items, and as if the day couldn’t get any better, I found a bottle of my favorite wine which I haven’t seen in years.

When we got home, I put the wine on to chill, salted the steaks and left them out, then relaxed as I set up the candy for the trick or treaters.  When it got to be time, I heated the grill pan to blazing hot and followed Bobby Flay’s cooking instructions.  While that was going on, I chopped some fresh vegetables to make a salad.  I had already put a potato on to bake and added a couple of large carrots as well.

The steaks were succulent and perfect!  The salad was wonderful.  The potato was very good (I’m told, I didn’t have any) and the carrots were burnt!  Burned carrots taste just like burned carrots so I tossed them.  But the steaks were beyond amazing.  So we’ve found another hidden jewel in our little town.  Now we have four:  the winery, the vegetable stand, the waterside restaurant, and the butcher.  We’re getting happier and happier!

butcher_454615

 

Enjoy!

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