Old-School Freshness

If you haven’t heard, butchers are the new rock stars. In the past several years, people have become savvier about meats not only because they’re concerned about food safety and sustainability, but also because they’ve learned how to distinguish better, purer flavor. Parents, in particular, are concerned about the hormone and antibiotic-riddled beef at grocery stores, and have created more demand for better beef. While Seattle does have a great selection of classic butcher shops, there are a couple of newcomers worth singling out. The next time your kid craves a hamburger, check out one of these:

The first is Rain Shadow Meats (pictured), which is owned by Russ Flint, who had been the sous chef at Boat Street Café. Rain Shadow is located in the Melrose Market, which also houses The Calf & Kid artisan cheese shop and eventually will house Sitka and Spruce restaurant, Homegrown sandwich shop, and an oyster bar. Rain Shadow features local, organic meat from farms such as: Painted Hills (beef), Thundering Hooves (beef), Carlton Farm (pork), Mad Hatcher Farms (poultry), Cattail Creek (lamb). Flint eventually will cure his own meats. What’s also great is that Flint uses his sensibilities as a chef to offer cuts that you wouldn’t necessarily see in a supermarket. For example, on a recent trip, there were two slabs of pork belly and bone-in beef shank that would make any foodie swoon.

Bill the Butcher offers some organic or natural meats and poultry from local farms, though there has been some controversy recently about the sourcing. There is also a healthy selection of condiments and accoutrements, as well as Golden Glen Creamery milk, eggs from Dog Mountain Farms, and cheeses. There are more locations coming, so look for them in your neighborhood.

If you’d like your meat delivered directly from the farm, you can join a CSA (community supported agriculture) program, which is like having a subscription to a farm. Crown S. Ranch and Thundering Hooves offer meat CSA memberships. You also can visit your nearest farmers market to buy your meats directly. Skagit River Ranch is a personal favorite for great bacon and sausage, as well as other beef and pork products, and great eggs.

—Hsiao-Ching Chou