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Nov 10, 2009 03:21 PM

Halal Turkeys in the Bay Area '09

Hi again,

After finding the wonderful Alhambra Halal Meat Co. in the Mission and the perfect organic, free range, halal Mary's turkey last year through my fellow Hounds, I haven't had the same luck this year with Alhambra going out of business and thought I'd share my adventures with those of you that might be in the same boat.

The most common local producers that provide fresh halal turkeys are Fulton Valley Farms and Mary's. Through the grapevine, I've heard that Fulton Valley Farm's halal turkeys are easier to find, but Melanie alerted me to this last year.

Currently I have an order in at Berkeley Bowl West for an organic, free range Mary's for $3.39/lb. Free range is 2.19/lb. Although I decided last year that there really was no difference in taste between halal and non-halal given that the birds come from the same producers, I'm going to continue to look for an organic halal turkey (preferably Mary's) to make mum happy. I did, however, recently find this.

Magnani Poultry also carries Mary's free range for $2.59, organic for $3.99, and although they have carried halal in the past, are not ordering them this year.

Whole Foods Berkeley does not carry Mary's nor any other brand of halal. Whole Foods Walnut Creek has American Heirloom for $4.99/lb., Whole Foods Natural for $1.99/lb., Heidi Organic for $3.69/lb., and Diestel for $2.49/lb.

I have heard good things about Salama Halal Meat in SF from parents' friends who own restaurants in the City so I called them and they will be getting their turkeys in on the 17th, but a brand I had never heard of that started with an 's.' For me, Mary's overrides unknown brand.

Andronico's carries Mary's free range for $2.49/lb. and organic for $4.29/lb. according to their website. However, after calling the Shattuck store found out that prices in store won't be finalized until last week and I don't think the person I spoke to knew what halal meant by the way he hesitated before saying no. One neat feature: you can order online.

Indus Food Center in Berkeley will have some kind of halal turkey next week for $1.49/lb. The woman couldn't tell me the brand, date they would be in, or whether they would be organic or not. Most places seem to be getting their deliveries on the 17th so I'll call back then.

Anyone have any other leads on where to get fresh halal turkeys (you'll get an additional gold star if it's Mary's)? I've heard that most halal butchers have access to the frozen Al Marwah brand which I've never tried before, but the Bay Area in me just can't give up on at least the free range and the fresh.

Last year:

Berkeley Bowl
2020 Oregon St, Berkeley, CA 94703

Magnani Poultry
1576 Hopkins St, Berkeley, CA

Salama Halal Meat
604 Geary St, San Francisco, CA

Berkeley Bowl West
920 Heinz Ave, Berkeley, CA

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  1. They had frozen halal turkeys for $1.49 a pound at Oasis market; I forgot to look to see what kind, but if you called them or stopped by you could find out.

    1. anyone seeking Fulton Valley free range birds may want to contact Sylvia at Polarica in SF. I bought a turkey from them last year for $2/lb. Not to mention, they also have duck confit and duck fat available.

      105 Quint St, San Francisco, CA

      1. Ended up with the non-halal fresh Mary's organic from Berkeley Bowl West and did indeed manage to get it to SoCal by plane with only one "WTF" (literally) from the TSA guys.

        Don't know if it was the turkey or my using the LA Times latest incarnation of the "Judy bird" - this time with the sage/bay salt - but, I had far inferior results this year. Skin never crisped up properly and the color was splotchy. Could have been the result of the chunks of ice I pulled out of the cavity the night after I picked up the turkey and the liquid that came out and never reabsorbed during the 3 day curing process. Regardless, I do not think I will be getting my turkey from Berkeley Bowl again. :o\

        6 Replies
        1. re: adrienne156

          FWIW, my halal Mary's turkeys (purchased at Jerusalem Market in Fresno) were great! Here is our assessment on home cooking:

          but couldn't the curing process have been an issue just as likely as Berkeley Bowl's handling?

          1. re: susancinsf

            I have to say, I'm not a big fan of Berkeley Bowl for holiday turkeys either -- I did the salt curing as well this year, and it was great, but my "fresh" turkey had a lot of ice in it, even after four days in the fridge. I know that fresh for a turkey has a different meaning than what we would expect, but it was still really icy. I also really don't like their ordering process, everything seems to get lost in the shuffle (this has happened to me at both stores), everyone has seemed confused, and I never get exactly what I asked for (and was told that I could get). My turkey turned out well, and the price is good, but it's not really worth the extra stress. So I can believe that adrienne's turkey was even more frozen than mine, which may have led to the splotchiness. Or it could be transporting it on a plane.

            1. re: susancinsf

              I'm so glad your halal Mary's were great!! I really loved the one I had last year.

              As for the curing - perhaps, and I hadn't thought about the pressure from the plane possibly having an effect... It was an hour flight and the turkey so frozen that I thought it would be fine left sealed in an insulated bag with two frozen gel packs. I do Thanksgiving at my mum's in socal every year, but have always driven it down in a cooler in the past. I know - I'm kind of a Chownut when it comes to Turkey Day.

              I had the SO do the salt cure I used last year (w/o bay & sage) on a fresh halal turkey his mom picked up somewhere in Fremont and I cooked on Sunday night for another dinner. It was perfect. I did different butters (ground cumin/coriander/cinnamon/pepper/nutmeg/maybe cardomom/ginger-garlic on Sunday turkey and dry thyme/rosemary on mine) and other than the obvious textural difference from the additions, the two cooked very differently and I had a lot of trouble with the Mary's which I didn't last year. I think there were too many different variables to really know what the heck happened or retract my statement from last year that there is no difference between halal and non-halal, but I won't be doing the flavored cure or a non-halal next year.

              Re: Berkeley Bowl. What a mess! I got there on Sunday afternoon and the birds were sitting in boxes on the meat counters. Someone was supposed to have called me to let me know that the Mary's organics hadn't come in the size I'd ordered, but they hadn't and they actually had no record of my order at all. Didn't matter though because they weren't holding turkeys anyway. I tried to ask what the point of pre-ordering was then and they said it was just so that they could get an idea of what to order.

              1. re: susancinsf

                Susancinsf, when did you pick-up your turkey from Jerusalem? I had a really serious issue arise with their turkey and have serious doubts about ever going there again.


                1. re: gmk1322

                  maybe post which place it is on that thread (you don't identify which place it is in that thread), and I can reply's a CA board question, so probably belongs there.

                  1. re: susancinsf

                    just realized that my reply didn't quite make sense because that wasn't a CA board post either. So I tried to edit my post with a long and more direct reply. But that didn't seem to work either. Sigh. Will go back to my original post on CA board later when I am not ticked off at the boards for being so user-unfriendly, and post there. Or feel free to find my post on CA board and ask there.