Leaf lard, caul fat & dry cured bacon (Carlsbad)
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This might get removed or moved, but I saw both leaf lard and caul fat last weekend at Tip Top Meats in Carlsbad. They had it in their freezer case, vacuum packed. They might mail order it to you, or point you to a more local source.
Today, (Dec 9, 2006) I telephoned Tip Top meat in Carlsbad, and they said they didn't have any leaf lard. The person answering the telephone was disagreeably curt and not very helpful.
I live in San Diego, so for kicks, I tried calling Siesel's Old Fashioned Meat market at 619-275-1234.
They told me they had some in the freezer.
This is not something they ordinarily have in stock. However, a while back they got about 10 pounds of it in for a customer who only bought 2 pounds.
I just bought about half of the remaining 8 pounds, so they have about 4 pounds left.
Soooooo, if there is anybody out there looking for some, they do have some on hand at the moment.
A precaution. You will have to render it yourself.
However, I just tried that with about 10 ounces of what I just bought, and it worked pretty easily.
It's been my experience that with enough lead time, a good butcher shop can order you just about anything you want. Believe me, I've tested that (whole goats, suckling pigs, calves' feet, et. al.) You might end up with more than you need though, as sometimes they have hefty minimum orders. My advice: just ask.
By the way, if you want to make your own dry-cured bacon, check out the how-to on CHOW:
Tip Top Meats is very far from where I live, but I helped them open the doors at 6:00 a.m. today and am now the proud owner of a 2-lb. frozen piece of leaf lard -- soon to enrich a Thanksgiving pie crust, among other delicacies. They had only two packages on hand, so I left a 1.x-lb. piece for the next Chowhounder who gets over there. Obviously, anyone in the Los Angeles area should call and reserve it before driving to Carlsbad. If you don't know San Diego's North County, you might want to do a little Web research on the area and make a few more stops -- lots to see, do, and eat. And you'll be able to tell your non-Hound friends something other than, "Oh, yeah, this weekend I drove four hours round-trip to buy a pound of lard"!
Tip Top is an old-fashioned German butcher shop, and the two butchers on early duty were extremely helpful and friendly. One gent, age 78, looked like he could pick up an entire hog himself. Because I wanted to get back for the Ohio State-Michigan game later this morning, I didn't have time to look through the shop carefully, but I'll do that soon and send along my impressions. It was an interesting place with lots of oils, vinegars, noodles, mustards, and meats, and I did manage to grab a couple of different kinds of German sausages and a nicely marbled, compact, and heavy prime strip steak, freshly cut from an aging side by the younger butcher (who's only been with Tip Top a couple of decades).
Thanks again to Professor Salt for the top tip in this investigation!
re: Mel Gee
Glad you found this. If it turns out they do have a local LA source, please do share the info. I'm dying to try this leaf lard now, and two days ago I didn't know it existed:-) But I guess that's what being a hound is about. I'm not sure I'm ready to drive 2 hours to get it just yet, so I hope we can talk Surfas or someone local into carrying it.
re: Will Owen
Dunno, but give a ring. Will, you may remember the dry cured slab bacon we discussed. They only had it in small squares (4" x 4" or so) last week, not a proper slab. You might ask if they'll reserve a slab for you. Don't be fooled by the brine cured stuff, either. You want dry cured.
6118 Paseo del Norte