October 30, 2008

Triumph in the Quest for Local Meat

And another guest post from my sister Lisa in Florida, where finding locally sourced food is much more difficult than the Greenmarket-haven that is New York City.

After asking around at the Sarasota farmer's market about local beef, and only hearing of one farm (that sells only wholesale and incidentally, the restaurant I manage is strictly vegetarian), I asked the guys behind the meat counter at Whole Foods if they knew of any farms in the area. The older, wiser-looking fellow told me sort of discreetly about a buffalo farm in Bradenton. After much google searching, I found the phone number and gave them (Gap Creek Buffalo) an inquiring call.

Yesterday I undertook the trafficy 25 minute drive north to their house where they sell just from two small coolers. The variety was impressive for the size of the operation. 4 or 5 different cuts of steak, ground, burger patties, ground sausage, link sausage, and of course - a cooler full of hearts, lungs, tongues and other delicacies. After buying almost $50 of meat (wanted to stock up because I hate driving in Florida!), I asked them if they knew of any other farms that sell small-scale like they do, and they just told me plain and simple - Nope. There really aren't any. Unless they're only selling by word of mouth and to very few people.

All this was disconcerting, but my mood was quickly elevated back to a state of meaty bliss after grilling the buffalo burgers with some beer and friends over a charcoal grill. I only seasoned them with a little salt, pepper and garlic and found the flavor slightly milder than beef but distinctive and delicious. The extremely low fat content makes them cook faster than beef burgers so there was less waiting, which I appreciated after preparing the patties and the grill and getting my house ready for guests.

Overall, I (and we) loved it... so even though there may not be any local beef, chicken or eggs on the local horizon, at least we can still cook buffalo over the fire any time we want. Next time I'll remember marshmallows.

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