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Lamb, Real lamb

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  • Hugh Lipton Mar 25, 2004 11:06 AM
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Does anyone know of anywhere in the valley you can market or meat market purchase lamb that really tastes like lamb? I'm tired of the bland excuses for cuts of lamb at Whole Foods or Ralph's. Even the New Zealand stuff at trader Joe's leaves a lot to be desired. Heck I'll settle for mutton recommendations. Preferably in the valley as aforesaid but anywhere within a reasonable distance of the valley. Thanks

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  1. I know it's not quite the same thing as "nearby", but in its way it's even closer: Niman Ranch. They sell real, spring lamb. And it'll be delivered to your door.

    Link: http://www.nimanranch.com

    2 Replies
    1. re: Fidelixi

      I have bought absolutely terrific legs of lamb at Vicente Foods in Brentwood--a bit of a distance from the valley I know, but you still might want to try it.

      1. re: juny1cat

        Thanks all. Some good suggestions and I will follow up.

    2. I imagine that Papa Cristos can provide you with mutton. They may source stronger lamb.

      We order from Niman Ranch for "special meals" of lamb and pork. Their pork is better than Lobel's korobuta, which was mealy. (shipping is free over x dollars-we buy some lamb and guanciale)

      The frozen NZ leg and rack of lamb at TJs is very good value if defrosted very carefully. We salt heavily an hour beforehand which takes care of the extra water.

      1 Reply
      1. re: JudiAU

        I bought fresh Niman's lamb chops at Trader Joes in Westwood last week - very, very good. Also had good luck with Bristol Farms and San Vicente Foods. Bad luck with frozen NZ "boneless" leg of lamb which ChowPup deemed as not worth eating. We concurred.

      2. Hugh, at least once do yourself the favor of ordering Jamison Farm lamb. Forget Rolling Rock beer, it's the best thing to come from Latrobe, PA since Arnold Palmer. A friend served it to me a couple of years ago, and it was simply unsurpassed. Check the site details below, they offer a range of product and shipping options.

        Link: http://www.jamisonfarm.com/

        1. i saved this list from an LOS ANGELES MAGAZINE article a few years ago AND used it a lot- HOPE THIS HELPS! CHECK OUT BEL AIR PRIME MEATS and FALLBROOK MARKET and VENTURA KOSHER MARKET and most definitely MARCONDA'S MEATS -- addresses and phone numbers are in the blurbs -- recommend you call first to find out hours...

          BEL-AIR PRIME MEATS

          AN ELITE CLUB COMES TO THIS TINY spot for California-raised Harris Ranch beef, dry-aged in the shop for 14 days. Proprietor Joe Rosa's star-studded clientele depends on his cooking as well as his culling: He can roast whatever strikes your fancy--turkey, guinea fowl, capon--to perfection in his sturdy Chitwood ovens. He'll also smoke any meat, fowl, or game over hickory chips. Succulent veal chops, rack of lamb, and frozen game birds are part of his larder, but any game may be had fresh with a few days' notice. Beverly Glen Marketplace, 2964 Beverly Glen Cir., Bel-Air, 310-475-5915.

          JIM'S FALLBROOK MARKET

          ALL THE CUTS AT THIS HUMBLE GOURmet grocery are excellent, but it's the wild ones that make the selection truly extraordinary: frozen slabs of finely ground venison, ostrich meat from the leanest part of the bird, top-grade buffalo loin, and for the holidays, a flock of exotic fowl--duck, goose, pheasant, and quail. Ask nice and they'll special-order your suckling pig, wild boar, even rattlesnake. 5947 Fallbrook Ave., Woodland Hills, 818-347-5525.

          MARCONDA'S MEATS

          PREMIUM BEEF SUPPLIERS ARE LIKE any business--each claims its stuff is the best on earth. So we tried Vintage Natural Beef for ourselves, and it is good, damned good--grain-fed and hormone-free. Marconda's carries the line on its pristine shelves; you can see the vitamin B goodness in the luscious round steaks and sirloin stew beef cubes. Another counter harbors the poultry. Farmers Market, 6333 W. 3rd St., 323-938-5131.

          VENTURA KOSHER MEATS

          AT THIS VALLEY INSTITUTION, CLERKS shout numbers like bingo callers while customers--often two or three deep--kvetch playfully and ogle the fresh chickens, huge roasts, and gargantuan slabs of brisket that beg to be basted or smoked. Much of the meat comes from well-known kosher suppliers, like Bet Josef, Kehila, and Empire. Behind another counter endless varieties of knish and kugel await. You want that beef tongue fresh or pickled? 18357 Ventura Blvd., Tarzana, 818-881-3777.

          VICENTE FOODS

          THE MEAT COUNTER AT THIS FAMILY-run grocer makes the most of its space. If the filet mignon bordelaise--marinated to a rich chocolate brown--sounds a little too heavy, how about a rack of juicy baby back ribs or the store's chicken-cranberry sausage? "If it's out there, we'll get it," says meat manager Danny Camacho. That means organ meats, such as brains, kidneys, and certified Angus beef hearts, as well as smoked ham hocks, New Zealand lamb, and petit poule. During the holidays Vicente carries fresh pheasant, squab, quail, and Muscovy duck. Grab a bottle from the small but deep wine rack in front and you have a feast. 12027 San Vicente Blvd., Brentwood, 310-472-5215.

          SAUSAGE

          BAUDUCCO'S

          FOR THE PAST 32 YEARS, PAOLA AND Frank Bauducco have maintained one of the most authentically stocked salumerias (Italian sausage shops) in the area. They've got skinny Neapolitan styles flavored with wine and nutmeg as well as classic Italian varieties in hot, mild, and fennel-free versions. Take home a loaf of rough-hewn tegola, or one of the other naturally leavened breads from their bakery That's all you'll need with these beauties. 2839 Agoura Rd., Westlake Village, 818-991-4670.

          EUROPEAN DELUXE SAUSAGE KITCHEN

          VIENNA WIENERS, KNOCKWURST WITH taut skins, and perfect beef salamis are smoked in a brick pit behind this tiny shop. German master butcher and new owner Gary Troub upholds a stellar reputation for finely crafted sausage with his veal bockwurst, juicy bratwurst, and about 50 other delectable styles. He takes an international turn with spicy pork andouille and South African dryworst. 9109 W. Olympic Blvd., Beverly Hills, 310-276-1331.

          J&T EUROPEAN GOURMET

          ATJ & T EUROPEAN THE SCENT OF smoke and garlic permeates the room, and rustic links dangle on racks. If you don't know your mysliwska from your wiejska, your dry kielbasa from your krakowska, don't worry: Here they're all outstanding. Co-owners John Pikula and Ted Maslo, schooled and apprenticed in Krakow, use oak and juniper in the shop's brick smoker, prepare their own cold cuts, and cure several types of ham. 1128 Wilshire Blvd., Santa Monica, 310-394-7227.

          LIBORIO MARKET

          ALL FIVE LIBORIO MARKETS SPECIALIZE in Latin sausage. The butchers make six kinds, including beef and pork chorizo, longaniza seasoned with mint and cilantro, and a leaner, mildly spiced Central American longaniza with or without achiote. They also sell Guatemalan and Colombian styles and offer Spanish varieties such as sobresada, butifarra, and morcilla, also known as blood sausage. 1831 W. 3rd St., 213-483-1053. 864 S. Vermont Ave., 213-386-1458. 2021 W. Pico Blvd., 21-389-4444. 62135 Atlantic Ave., Maywood, 323-560-8000. 130 W. G St., Ontario, 909-983-4002.

          CONTINENTAL GOURMET

          IT'S CONTINENTAL, ALL RIGHT--South American style. For Argentine cuts and chops, this is the place: coils of chorizo, pink sweetbreads, elephantine pork rinds, and a mysterious tray of beef garnished with onions that simply bears the label SPECIAL. The Argentine sausage is so fresh, its contents look like ground-up red and white crayons. Noncooks, however, may want to stick with ready-to-eat matambre, that country's signature beef. 12921 S. Prairie Ave., Hawthorne, 310-676-5444.

          1. Holy Lamb! The prices for Niman and Jamison Ranch Lambs are almost twice that we pay - $5.99/lb - for fresh goat meat at the Halal meat stores throughout So Cal. Most Indians get their goat from these stores. Unfortunately, there are none in the Pasadena area. There is one in Little India in Artesia.

            3 Replies
            1. re: Suvro

              Did a search to find a Halal market and found one: Mediterranean Halal Meat and Deli on Venice Blvd in Palms. Is that the type of store you mean? What other goodies do these stores have? And, please, what is "halal"?

              1. re: Aileen

                Yes. Mostly they serve meat butchered the "halal" way for Muslims who cannot eat anything that is not "halal" - this is similar to kosher meats, but I am not an expert to know what differences exist between the 2 methods. They have the meat frozen and use machine saws to chop them into the cuts you want - so ask them to do that before you take it home.

                Mostly, these shops cater to expat Pakistanis who have a large part of their cuisine based on meat. They will also carry some Pakistani and Indian groceries - so have fun exploring.

                1. re: Aileen

                  Here are some more Halal meat markets in SoCal:

                  Makkah Halal Meat
                  401 S Vermont Ave Ste 3
                  Los Angeles, CA 90020-1983 Phone: (213) 383-9976

                  Halal Meat
                  4050 W 3rd St
                  Los Angeles, CA 90020-3131 Phone: (213) 365-9934

                  Shafaa Halal Foods
                  12211 Hawthorne Blvd
                  Hawthorne, CA 90250-3807 Phone: (310) 675-3400

                  Gazi Halal Meat & Grocery
                  23545 Palomino Dr Ste I
                  Diamond Bar, CA 91765-1625 Phone: (909) 860-4442

                  Aljibani Halal Meat Co Inc
                  23385 Golden Springs Dr
                  Diamond Bar, CA 91765-2028 Phone: (909) 861-3865

                  Shahnzwaz Grocery & Halal Meats
                  12211 Centralia St
                  Lakewood, CA 90715-1646 Phone: (562) 860-3031

                  Metro Food & Halal Meats
                  16906 Parthenia St
                  Northridge, CA 91343-4506 Phone: (818) 892-1194

              2. I don't really know your taste. But call these people (here's the address don't know the number) and ask if they have any lamb. Most of their meats are pretty good, imho.
                CARNICERIA ARGENTINA
                11740 VICTORY BLVD
                91606
                NORTH HOLLYWOOD

                1. I too started noticing that lamb had lost its "lamby" taste many years ago. You used to be able to get a nice gamy tasting lamb chop at any supermarket, but nowdays even the lamb at most "gourmet" markets has little pronounced lamb flavor. Last July I purchased several pounds of lamb rack from Harvey Guss, and while it was good it just wasn't the lamb I remembered from not so long ago.

                  Unfortunately, good old-fashioned "gamy" tasting lamb is quickly becoming a thing of the past. Most of the lamb raised and imported into the United States is grain fed to give it a milder taste (which marketing surveys have shown that most bland American palates prefer). The same phenomenon has occurred in the pork industry where pork raising practices have changed to produce meat with lower fat content - one reason why pork doesn't taste so "porky" any more either.

                  Lamb that is raised on pastures and allowed to graze on grass is more likely to have a more pronounced lamb flavor. These days only small farms raise sheep for meat production in this fashion. If you do find it in a local meat market, chances are it will be very expensive and the supply is very limited. Larger commercial farms don't want to make the investment in flock management and land required for traditional sheep raising techniques, especially since they're trying to produce a product with a "milder" taste. Your best bet is to search farmer's markets for small producers who raise pasture-grazing, grass-fed lamb (or ask a butcher shop to get this for you).

                  Buying Halal meat is no guarantee that the sheep are grass fed. Halal laws only stipulate that livestock be fed a "vegan" diet free of animal products (except for the milk of their mothers when young). That means the sheep could be fed grass or grain. (Other Halal stipulations prohibit the eating of animals that were sick or dead before they were slaughtered - along with the former this lessens the likelihood of mad cow disease; animals must be hand slaughtered by a Muslim instead of by a machine - although there is controversy over this as commercial producers apply pressure; animals must be blessed before slaughter; and the meat must be free of all blood - similar to kosher meat).

                  Even more unfortunately, breeding practices have changed as well to facilitate the production of meat that conforms to American preferences, so "gamy" tasting lamb and "porky" tasting pork may disappear completely in the near future.

                  Please let us know if you find what you're looking for. I've been lamenting the disappearance of strong-flavored lamb for a while now, and your post (along with a good but mild-flavored lamb shank I had at Frenchy's Bistro last night) has inspired me to seek it out again.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Chris G.

                    I'm really thinking of giving a shot at Grand Central Market or El Mercado in East Los Angeles. Good chance that the Latin American and/or Mexican-American community might have more flavorful finds. I might even find mutton. Now when was the last time we had mutton?

                  2. I usually get my lamb and goat from two places that are relatively cheap for good [but perhaps not as excellent as you may be looking for] quality:

                    The wholesale mexican produce market [Payless Produce Market?] with a halal buthcer inside. Located at Venice and Westwood Blvds. Precut cut lamb leg cubes are about $3.29/lb and goat is around $2.99/lb. They have a couple of outher cuts as well.

                    Asia Foods on Venice Blvd. near Motor. Goat was about $2.29/lb and I know they sometimes have lamb.

                    They may not be the best, but they definately hit the spot when I need the meat for a good price. Keep the bones on the meat for cooking a mean goat/lamb curry without reservations.

                    Now what I'm really looking for is goat meat sold with the skin intact [and the little bit of fat inbetween]. Nothing quite like it. Please let me know if you know.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: Joe MacBu

                      It may be a bit of a drive for you, but Island Pacific, a Filipino market, in Cerritos sells fresh goat with the skin intact. I just saw it there on Saturday. There's also one in Panorama City and West Covina.

                      Link: http://www.islandpacificmarket.com/so...

                      1. re: Chris G.

                        Thanks!

                        I'll make the trip next time I head to Artesia for some Indian food.

                    2. p
                      Professor Salt

                      Read this J Gold story a few months ago, been meaning to get up to Boyle Heights to try their mutton.

                      Link: http://laweekly.com/ink/04/12/counter...

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: Professor Salt

                        Great link, Professor-

                        I don't know the writer, but, I promise you, he'll never work for The New Yorker.

                        Who cares?

                        What does the term "purple prose" mean to you?

                        I love food reviews written as sports.

                        flaco

                        1. re: flaco

                          Flaco, it's good to have your knowledge of chow in and around the greater LA/OC area contributed to the LA board.

                          Just one small request the Site makes that we not completely change or answer a post using the Subject Line. If need arises you can hypen in the new subject to the old, (maybe because the old one is no longer what is being discussed) like I did with your post.

                          That will allow those of us who follow the board using hot posts to see what thread is being replied to at a glance without opening the post or loading the entire LA board.

                          Thanks for your kind cooperation. And now back to reading and eating the chow.