MF Dulock - high end butchery
Stopped in for my first purchase here - house-made sweet Italian sausage - $7/lb. is steep; however, it is a rare thing in America these days to purchase sausage and have the donor of the sausage looking at you from the deli case - the head of THE pig was for sale and staring up at me. Which is ultimately the reason for entering this shop in the first place, but I will get back to that.
So the question is: Is $7/lb. for sausage worth it?
In terms of taste, other than a sausage I recently had in a Breton village not far from Mont-St. Michel, this is the best sausage I have had in recent memory - seemingly low in fat content, medium ground which made it feel more substantial, whole spices like fennel seed, smelled great. Served sauteed with onion, peppers and tomatoes from the Waltham Fields Community Farm CSA, on toasted Portuguese rolls by Winter Hill Bakery bought at McKinnon's.
So perhaps the mere fact that our Tuesday night dinner was hyperlocal makes me, by default, the kind of sanctimonious ass that would regularly pay $7 / lb. for sausage. (In addition to being the kind of person that feels the need to brag about dining on Breton sausage - oh how precious! Oh, and the Breton sausage - from a French food truck...ha!)
Then I factor in more general muckety-muckery because, since having read Jonathan Safran Foer's "Eating Animals," I have been parsimonious in my meat eating, eschewing chicken completely although still the occasional sausage or steak, if for no other reason that I stopped reading after the chicken chapters because subconsciously I did not want to ruin all bacon for the end of time, like that book did for chicken. (Although I will admit that I have committed a fowl at Magoun's because I understand that buffalo sauce kills off the general uncleanliness of factory farmed chicken.)
So putting all politics and ethics aside, what it basically boils down to is that I really just want clean food that tastes the best. So on these metrics, I think a place like Dulock will get my continued support. I see the animal that I am eating, I know that it was selected and apportioned by my local butcher, and (on faith) it was raised in a way that will create a better taste in its flesh. Why shouldn't I be willing to pay double the price per pound for that guarantee?
Is it elitist snobbery? I guess it could be, to a point. I just keep coming back to the Fight Club dialogue about clean food and the book, which if only 50% of what he says is true, makes me sick.
For the one Yelp reviewer (so far) who sounds like had a great Porterhouse (http://www.yelp.com/biz/mf-dulock-pas...), clearly the answer of whether it is worth it is no. And unlike that review, I found Jamal to be very friendly, while Michael was engaged the whole time with another couple of customers.
In any case, expect to pay about double the typical supermarket rate, but will report back on other cuts of meat as sampled.
A few other notes:
They will always have pork and beef on hand via whole animals, and waste little. So as the week goes on, more unusual cuts I think will tend to predominate. Of course, a call ahead will guarantee what you want. Deliveries are on Tuesday or Thursday, and they will be getting in lamb and/or goat at this time in addition to the staples.
Apparently, there are no plans at this point to post on the website or Facebook what new animals are getting delivered, which is too bad - I think that would generate more interested customers.
They had a large slab of beef suet in the case, and not sure what to do with that. I think more nose-to-tail suggestions would also help the casual meat eater branch out.
One final note: DW proclaimed this dish of sausage and peppers to be the best I've ever made. Granted, she was really hungry....I blamed the sausages.
That this place exists in my student days neighborhood makes me very happy. I'm not sure I could look the pig right in the eye and not feel guilty, but guilt is the second best pickle (after hunger). Just returned from Germany and Switzerland where the meats and cheese were amazing. I brought back a mountain sausage from the Vaudois region so heavily smoked that i fear the smell will never leave my luggage.
Thanks for the great report BD. I have been eagerly awaiting a place like this, and after the total disappointment of Akimenko's non-progress thus far, can't wait to get a chance to head over there.
I don't think it's helpful to consider it "sanctimonious" to patronize these sorts of establishments, and I think that so-called "conscious" people can tend to over-correct for the fact that they feel awkward about bucking the norm, and for fear of fulfilling some sort of elitist stereotype. We should all be self-aware, but shouldn't be so eager to measure ourselves against what is considered normal.
Most people see McKinnon's and M.F. Dulock as serving the same product, but they very obviously don't, and there's no need to feel bad about yourself for realizing that. We don't need to think that food begins when its on our plate and ends when it's between our teeth. A caged cow is not the same as a pastured cow; it's not the same for the animal, it's not the same for your body, and it's not the same for the environment we all share. A CAFO pig is no more identical to a free-range pig than a stolen car is to a car purchased at a dealership.
I'm glad that someone made this thread; Slim and I started to have a conversation about relative food valuations yesterday in the Cutty's thread, which the Chowhound censors were nice enough to totally erase. Maybe the watchmen will consider this a more appropriate venue for that.
The goal of this board is to share tips on where to find great chow locally in the Boston area. It's a narrow goal, but keeping this board more narrowly focused makes it more useful to all the users who rely on it to help make local dining decisions.
If you'd like to discuss more general issues such as relative food valuations, our General Chowhounding Topics board is a better place for that type of discussion. You are welcome to start a discussion there and leave a link to it from this board.
Also very very interesting that they have a big thing of suet there. That's highly-prized stuff for cooking. What you do with it is you render it down into beef tallow, which is a cooking fat.
Tallow is what McDonald's used to cook their french fries in. It arguably allowed them to take over the world. They don't use it anymore, though. Few people do. The saturated fat fearmongers have pushed tallow into obscurity.
I was glad to hear about the suet, as it is called for in traditional recipes for English savory pies and I want to try it at least once. So it sounds like I can walk in and ask for Boston butt bone in, and it would get cut on the spot? I only eat meat a few times a month, but like others, want to eat humanely so it's worth the extra cost to me.
$7/lb doesn't seem unusual. The farms that sell at Farmers Markets sell sausages for at least that. Formaggio Kitchen has sold at that price or higher for years. I'm okay with it taking some extra money to avoid CAFO meat. Like double, as you said.
Thanks for the review - can't wait to bring check it out and bring them my business.
I checked Stillman's sausage prices at the Government Center farmers market -- $8.99 is their cheapest, and depending on the type, they run up to $15.99/lb. Their hot dogs were $10.99/lb. So M.F. Dulock is absolutely not out of bounds in this regard; if anything, he's cheaper than most.