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Oct 22, 2006 11:53 PM

Holiday Birds - North Berkeley/Albany

I need recommendations for a decent place to get a 18-20lb dead turkey for that late November day. It doesn't necessarily need to be raised on the most sustainable farm, or have eaten grains hand-selected by Alice Waters - it just needs to taste good. I've been cooking Thanksgiving out of town for several years now and haven't had to do the shopping for quite some time. Magnani? Andronico's? Suggestions?

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  1. I've been ordering heritage turkeys from Andronico's for the last few years, which even my Chinese relatives who usually find turkey dry and tasteless, have enjoyed.

    1. It's not so much the store, as the bird that matters. You want as little running around time as possible. I would go with your preferred market to shop at that has the bird you want ... and they all pretty much carry them all. Put your order in early so you get the size you want. The weight that you mention is a popular size, so they go first.

      As long as you are not looking for a bird that was Alice Walter's personal pet, my favorite is Diestal. I've never had a disappointment with that bird. My second choice is Willie Bird.

      If you consider a heritage bird, I'd search Chowhound boards (General, SF, Home Cooking) for comments last year. People either love it or hate it. It takes more work and skill to make from what I've read. I remember a report or two where people ate one bite and wouldn't eat another and the group whined about the experience. On the other hand it sends some people into turkey ecstacy. Your AW comment seems to indicate you might not be a fit with this bird. I may not cook this year so I'll probably be looking for a restaurant that does a heritage bird too see what the fuss is about ... then there's all different breeds of them ... so it goes on and on.

      Decide on your bird and then ask the place where you will be doing the bulk of you shopping if they have it or what they carry.

      Montery Market ... Magnani would be good.
      Berkeley Bowl ... I think they are Willie Bird but they seem to be different every year.
      Whole Food ... usually where I get the Diestal and I think they have Willie BIrd
      Andronico's ... um, I think Willie Bird and Diestal.

      Parking and traffic is such a bear at that time that my choice is one-stop shopping as much as possible.

      1. Magnani will even cook the bird for you

        1 Reply
        1. re: mustardgirl

          Thanks, but no thanks. I'll be excommunicated from the family, and also, miss out on my great turkey. Thanks for the pointers about a heritage bird. It sounds like I'd have a mixed crowd. I'll probably end up w/Magnani or Andronico's. I'm not important enough to shop at Whole Foods, and my BB body armor has worn through.

        2. Any experiece here with the San Pablo Poultry Co on San P. at Grayson?
          I've been driving by for decades, but haven't ever stopped in.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Chuckles the Clone

            If I was a little more paranoid, I'd say that the conversion program checked my pc for every report I didn't back up and excluded them from the import. Even the cached information of my report is gone.

            Anyway from memory from a few months ago ... I would say that this is a place you need to know the ins and outs. I wasn't impressed on my visit. The Chronicle says ...

            "This extremely unassuming little shop will set you up with young chicken, frying chicken and roasting chicken. Or geese, duck, quail or pheasant. Rabbit, if you want it, and, lest we forget, goat."

            What they fail to say is that most of the more exotic birds are frozen. The fresh chicken was ok and I remember big pans of chicken organs. If you are looking for chicken livers, this is the joint.

            They have a few sandwiches and some rotissarie chickens which I keep meaning to try someday, but they had the smell of a Safeway bird.

            There's probably something here, but I didn't find it on my first visit.

          2. For the last several years I've bought my birds from Cafe Rouge meat market and they've been great. Never paid attention to the producer, but I trust the guys at Rouge.