Organic Butcher Shop in Boston area?
I'm thinking about enrolling in BU's graduate program in Gastronomy (which would involve relocating from Toronto to Boston). I'm also interested in apprenticing as butcher while I'm there.
Basically I'd like to get some feed back on local butcher shops:
Which ones are selling ethically raised meats?
Who has the best quality/ most interesting selection of semi-prepared meats (marinated cuts, sausages, stocks, house made heat & serve entrees etc.)?
Which shops still purchase whole animals, rather than boxed parts?
Obviously I'm going to have to do my own research as well, but I'd love to get some chowhounder's opinions.
Not specifically regarding organic meat and probably before you come from Toronto but Stir is having a class on April 1 & 2 called, "Sustainable Agriculture: Local Meat". I don't see it on their website at the moment but I received an e-mail about this course and the rest of the offerings last week.
Here is what it says in the e-mail.
April 1, 2: Sustainable Agriculture: Local Meat $125
What is all the fuss about eating locally these days? What does sustainable agriculture actually mean? To kick off our spring series, Greg Reeves, Chef de Cuisine of The Butcher Shop, prepares a menu highlighting meat from New England and celebrating the dedication of some of our favorite local farmers to (as the U.S. government defines sustainable agriculture) "enhance environmental quality and the natural resource base upon which the agricultural economy depends." He will also discuss the philosophy of sustainable agriculture, locavores, and the "100 Mile Diet." Learn how to become an educated meat buyer and how to preserve this local meat's great flavor when it comes time to put it in the pan to cook!
I will second (or third) Lionette's on Tremont in the South End.
For semi-prepared meats and charcuterie etc I would try both Formaggio Kitchen and South End Formaggio -- they're both making some excellent sausages, pates, cured hams, tongue, etc.
And I think the company called Dole & Bailey might be worth a try - they are, as far as I can tell, a distributor of locally-raised meats from many New England farms and are the reason that my local Brighton Whole Foods is selling almost entirely local beef (well, a whole lot more than before, anyway) nearly every time I'm in there, which is a lot in the winter.
Other than that, I have to say that Boston isn't the best destination for independent organic butcher shops... say you'll stay after your course and open one up? We could sure use it.
The only market I know of which raises, butchers and sells organic meats is Tendercrop Farm in Newbury. Some distance from Boston though it is, it might be worth a call. They also make their own marinated chicken, turkey and beef. They raise their own turkeys, and chickens as well.
Lionette's definitely buys whole pigs and butchers them; I don't know about their other meats, but they are exactly the kind of shop you're thinking of.
Blood Farm in Groton raises their own meat and also does the butchering for most of the small farms in Eastern MA, southern NH, etc. (I think they may be about the only place east of the Pioneer Valley that's USDA certified.) If I recall correctly, that includes River Rock Farm.
I believe that the North End shop to which Gini refers is Sulmona; the guys there are the most skillful butchers I've ever had the pleasure to watch, but I don't think they or any of the other North End butchers offer specifically organic or ethically raised meat.
I'd talk to Savenor's first.
Then I'd call John Dewar.
Maybe Soluma in the North End?
You may also want to speak with River Rock and Blood Farms, both of which raise, butcher and sell organic/ethically raised meats. No prepared options, of course, but they may be able to point you in the direction of butcher shops.
The purveyor who deals most, but not exclusively, with the kind of product you're looking for is Cambridge Packing Company. They supply a number of chefs in Manhattan (Thomas Keller, Gray Kunz, Michael Lomonaco, etc.,) as well as a number in Boston. They deal with Brandt Beef, Springer Mountain Poultry, other Certified Humane veal and poultry, Snake River Farms and others. They butcher, but don't do any garde manger work or food preparation. I imagine working a day a week or so there would be eye opening, but it wouldn't fix the craving for sausages or terrines. When is your program?
There are "carnivore with a conscience" options here, but they're mostly in restaurants and via CSAs. There are at least 3 CSAs that I know of, Chestnut Farm, Stillman Farm and Houde Family Farm (I'm a member of the latter) which deliver once a month to towns in the Boston area. Stillman and Chestnut also sell at Farmer's markets, in season. Houde is too far away (Vermont) but the others might offer an internship/employment option for you.
Oh- Verrill Farm is also offering some meats now, along with Pete and Jen's Backyard Birds, located on the farm. Especially since those are new programs, they might welcome interns. Worth a call at the very least!
The only place I know of with a good consistent selection of quality organic meats is Whole Foods. I've been to the River St and Fresh Pond locations (both Cambridge), both are good.
Lionette's Market on Tremont in the South End is a tiny grocery with organic meat and a philosophy to go with it. You might also try the Butcher Shop across the street while you're there.
And it can't hurt to talk to Savenor's (Beacon Hill and Cambridge), even though they aren't explicitly organic-centric, as they may know things or be willing to order stuff for you.
Let us know what you find.