Carnival is the season of merriment that begins on the Epiphany (12th Night / January 6) and leads up to Lent. The word is a translated from a Latin word that means “farewell to flesh”. Of course, that reference is to the Lenten season where there is much fasting and restricted diets. The Lenten diet was very strictly adhered to in Middle Ages with hefty fines for any butcher slaughtering a cow, Boeuf Gras, a symbol synonymous with Fat Tuesday.
With less than a month until Fat Tuesday, the day before Lent and the end of Carnival season, let’s take a look at some of the fabulous butchers in New Orleans slicing up the most delicious Bouef Gras in the region. The first that comes to mind is the very young butcher shop, Cleaver & Co. Located on Barronne Street in Uptown New Orleans, this meat market has made a sustainable name for itself in just a couple years.
Sustainability and locally sourced foods is the hallmark of Cleaver & Company and the passion of its owner, Seth Hamstead. Hamstead has personally visited all the farmers with whom he does business to ensure the sustainability of the farm, the treatment of the animals and the quality of the product. No antibiotics or synthetic hormones. All his sources are within 200 miles of New Orleans, a criteria for an Eat Local Diet.
A recent Antigravity article about Cleaver & Company describes the commitment to efficiency and a no waste meat market. So when you stop by Cleaver, keep an open mind. They may not have the cut you are looking for. They will have something delicious to offer you as well as suggestions on cooking methods and even recipes.
The reason? Cleaver & Company buys whole animals, one at a time from what I understand, and they use all the parts. Which means you’ll find cracklins, soap and dog food amidst the rib eyes, house-made sausages, broths and charcuterie as well as such hard to find items as lard and duck fat. Regular meat offerings include beef, pork, chicken, duck and rabbit and other meats on occasion.
Their website is very extensive as provides an excellent learning lesson on meats, cuts of meats, and by-products. They do accept special orders as well.
Further uptown on Jefferson Hwy, you’ll find longtime butcher Emmet’s Fine Meats & Seafood. Emmet grew up in New Orleans and visited his family in Edgard nearly every weekend. They raised hogs and he learned about the joy and value of freshly butchered meat. He likes to proclaim that he learned to butcher meat from the “old-timers”! They proudly proclaim their philosophy – “server quality product with a smile”.
At this Jefferson Highway market you’ll find the usual beef, pork, veal, chicken and duck alongside an extensive fish offering as well as smoked meats, sausages, and the outrageous southern special, Turducken. You need to order ahead for this duck stuffed inside a chicken stuffed inside a turkey. WOW! Over thirty years in this business, you are guaranteed an quality cut.
Another Uptown meat market worth mentioning is RARE Cuts on Magazine Street, whose motto is “From Ranch to Table” and started as a quest for the “perfect steak” NOT at a steak house. They found that it was impossible to achieve that goal with meats found at the grocery store. Like Cleaver & Company, they visited all their ranchers before agreeing to purchase, guaranteeing the quality of the beef, the sustainability of the farm, and pure bread natural animals.
The difference, Rare Cuts sources are not local. However, you are certain to have hormone and antibiotic free meet. Their hand selection of sources and attention to the details on the back-end (aging etc) means you can achieve that perfect cut of meat at home. And they offer a 100% satisfaction guarantee!!
Besides steak, they have a full line of offerings pork, duck, chicken, veal, lamb, quail, sausage, and even marinades, finishing salts, and recipes.
Another guaranteed organic and local source for meats is the Crescent City Farmers Market, which operates three days a week at various locations. There are more than a half dozen vendors that offer everything from alligator to Zebra striped shrimp (they’re really called tiger striped but I wanted the A – Z reference).
Anywho, my favorite is Justin B. Pitts Farm, which offers grass-fed heritage beef also known as Pineywoods Cattle. These cattle were introduced to the south over 5 centuries ago by the Spaniards and have adapted to the harsh conditions and lived off the shrub, grass, and sedge that were found in the Longstraw Pine Forests of the Coastal Plains South. The unusual slogan for maintaining the heritage meats is ‘Eat ’em to Save ’em”. Meaning a sustainable market must be established to keep the breed going.
I must add at this point, if you ever have a chance to attend an event or cooking demo featuring Justin Pitts, GO! He is a most interesting person with a passion for his profession, his heritage, and his farm.
Other heritage meats include, duck, geese, sheep and goats. All of which you can find at the market as well as eggs. YUM!
Bill and Niki Ryals also sell grass-fed beef, goat, and lamb, plus free range chicken and eggs.
Of course it will come as no surprise to learn that the farmers market has its fair share of fresh fish and shrimp. Vendors such as Four Winds Seafood and Des Allemands Oulaw Katfish provide wild catfish, soft-shell crabs, crab meat, turtle meat, shrimp, alligator, and more. Needless to say it varies based on the season.
So, get out and about in New Orleans to get the goods for a delicious home cooked meal. The binge of Carnival before the purge of Lent.
Every thing lovely,
Out and About is a weekly blog by Leslie Compton of Every Thing Lovely, a special event and creative consulting team, and is sponsored by Key to NOLA Properties, a full service real estate brokerage firm specializing in furnished rental properties in New Orleans, Key to NOLA Properties and Every Thing Lovely have joined forces to provide a full array of services for travelers’ ( and locals’) personal and professional needs while in the Crescent City.