Monday, June 14, 2010


I love delicious meat.  Steaks on the grill are our go-to summer meal, and Steve is a perceptive and talented grill guy.  (Sear on high, turn the heat down, grill for a few minutes on each side, salt & pepper afterward.)  My only complaint is that he hogs the sea salt grinder, so now we have a duplicate one inside for my stovetop sides like asparagus or zucchini.  (Mrs. Dash teal top, sea salt, olive oil -- saute until crisp-tender.)

A few years ago we moved here and were introduced to dry-aged beef, available 10 minutes away at a shop called The Butcher's Choice.  You go in, pick out what you want from the cabinet just like at the grocer's butcher counter (or have the butcher cut one just for you), pick out a few sides from the deli case if you want, and you pay and leave.  The steaks were incredible.  It was a great retail establishment, my only complaint being that they suddenly closed and I hadn't used up my gift card or thingies.

A while ago my friend Terry told me about Blue Ridge Meats, and when I heard the other had closed and we wanted steaks for Memorial Day, I checked out their website.  Seems like a decent place if you can find it, so Olivia and I headed out to the netherquarters of Middletown/Front Royal/Strasburg.  Four of the photos in this post were taken nearby if you know what I mean.  Their website says they're open from 9-5 and have fresh meat on Fridays, but when we pulled in just before 10 there were people in the slaughtering room, which you pass on the way in (so put your blinders on if you are faint of heart), there was nobody manning the register, the place was full of boxes from a recent delivery, and the coolers were completely empty.  Finally Lois comes in and says that they slaughter in the morning and steaks aren't ready until around 11 or 12.  "How much do you want?"  "About four servings, something that would be good on the grill.  Filet?"  "We don't sell filet by itself today, but you can get it attached to a sirloin."  "Okay."  Lois agreed to put my name on a couple steaks so they'd definitely be there when I got back. 
Returned at 11 and Lois hollers into the slaughtering room that I needed two sirloins with sidecars.  How thick?  About an inch, I guessed.  So out comes this HUGE package of butcher paper, undoubtedly the freshest meat I've ever had.  Lois gave me a free pound of sausage for having to come back, then rang me up and I officially went into sticker shock.  $12.50/lb isn't bad for It was USDA Prime, and later that week when we had finished it all I think we calculated 10 servings, way more than we needed.  But it was good steak.

Before I am too critical of the establishment I want to go back again.  I learned that this is first a slaughterhouse and secondarily a retail establishment, a far cry from the ambiance of Butcher's Choice but the steak is just as good.  Next time I will call before I go.  Lois suggested coming on a Friday at noon, preferably not a holiday weekend.  They have both corn and grass fed beef, also pork, sausage, other meats, and the cooler cases are normally full (there was a leak when I was there).  They also carry produce from area farmers, and she can help me pick out cuts that are less expensive next time if I want.

And as primitive as the building and operation are, their website is very informative (even if it doesn't elaborate on "open at 9am"), and one can "like" them on Facebook.

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