Posted on Wed, January 28, 2009 by Jerusha Klemperer
5 Comments | Categories: Farms and Farming, Meat,
by Slow Food USA Intern Laura Kate Morris
Having recently moved to New York City from the Hudson Valley, Im still in the process of getting my bearings and (more importantly) my groceries. Prior to this I was living on a farm, so sourcing my food was easy; most of it was in the field or a neighbors meat freezer. Now, as the wind sweeps me up and down the streets, I feel slightly daunted.
Ive been dreaming of my next meal a hot, brothy soup with chunks of potato, leeks, and fresh tortellini. The first step should be simple I want a hearty stock that will start with carrots and onions from the Union Square Greenmarket and some beef bones I have yet to acquire. Armed with my trusty (if somewhat out-of-date) copy of The Slow Food Guide to New York City and my naive faith in the availability of anything, anywhere, in New York, I venture out into the cold.
Convinced I will find what Im looking for in Little Italy, I venture out in search of Doms Fine Foods. I find it squeezed between an upscale furniture retailer and a shiny bank. Doms, however, isnt keeping up with the Joneses. Boarded up and chained shut, the name is just visible painted in green and red under layers of grime and graffiti. My next option, Albaneses, is several frigid blocks later. So unobtrusive that I pass it the first time, Moe Albanese’s is a hole-in-the wall with a faded newspaper cutting in the window, proclaiming it the last authentic Italian butcher in Little Italy. It is closed, with no hours posted. After trudging home, a hot cup of coffee, and some Internet research, I give it one more try. I find a nearby gourmet shop with a butchers counter. However, I am told they dont really carry things like that. The butcher suggests I try Whole Foods.
I havent given up entirely, but Im feeling discouraged. Im sure that there are fantastic artisan butchers in Manhattan that would fulfill my wildest dreams of soup bones. I tell myself its my inexperience in navigating through the city. Perhaps New Yorkers dont make beef stock from scratch, I tell myself. Or, maybe they just dont cook at all. Whatever it is, I was sad that the independent shops I was looking for in small neighborhoods were fading away into lingerie boutiques and that my options were seemingly limited to chain stores. I know that the loss of small, localized shops is nothing new, as specialized stores cannot compete with larger corporations and rent goes up in increasingly fashionable neighborhoods. Perhaps as we become more aware of the values of handmade, sustainable foods and skilled producers who really know their product, these places will start to return. That, and I hope a beef farmer will brave the cold at this weeks greenmarket.
Some good news: if anyone else in New York City is looking for a quality butcher, Ive recently learned of the following:
Gramercy Meat Market. 383 Second Avenue, Manhattan.
Marlow and Daughters. 95 Broadway. Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
Ottomanelli & Sons Prime Meat Market. 285 Bleecker Street. West Village.
Staubitz Market. 222 Court Street. Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn.