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Happy Bird-Day San Diego

So where do the Hounds like to buy their turkeys?

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  1. My sweet husband tracked down a supplier for a Bill Niman-raised happy, fresh turkey from Marin County. We had one two years ago and best turkey ever. (Not Niman Ranch but Bill himself who's now raising turkeys and goats.)

    5 Replies
    1. re: pickypicky

      Thanks, I couldn't find those particular Turkey's. Do you have a link?

      I did find Mary's Turkeys from Pitman Farms in Northern California . . .


      1. re: RhonelyInsanediego

        Iowa Meat Farms, Sisels and Whole Foods all sell Diestel turkeys which is a pretty fine bird.

        1. re: DiningDiva

          Iowa Meat Farms/Siesel's Meats sells their private label turkeys for the holidays, which IMHO are better than Diestel turkeys. Also Tip Top Meats in Carlsbad sells Diestel turkeys.

          1. re: wanker

            Saw Diestel at Sprouts in R.B.

        2. re: RhonelyInsanediego

          Here's a dialogue about the BN Heritage Turkeys on the SF board.

          http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/870435 I know my husband had to make quite a few calls to get one here. I'll ask him later.

      2. I always get the Trader Joe's brined glatt kosher birds, but have had my eye on the heritage birds over at Taj Farms in Valley Center. I'm thinking that's going to be the ticket this year.


        22 Replies
        1. re: bizzwriter

          Don't wait too long, supply is limited. R-E-A-L-L-Y pricey

          1. re: DiningDiva

            I'll say . . . $175 for a 14lb-18lb bird!

            1. re: RhonelyInsanediego

              wow does that bird come pre-stuffed with gold doubloons?

              1. re: MrKrispy

                Golden eggs I hope!

              2. re: RhonelyInsanediego

                Kinda hard to rec for a family on a budget, especially in this economy. Maybe OK for the heavy hounds. I'd rather go for something a bit more responsible and donate something to a food shelter for Thanksgiving.

                1. re: cstr

                  I hear you, cstr. Each to his own. But the way I justify my expensive turkey is the knowledge I'm supporting a rancher and his family committed to humanely produced meat. (Bill Niman is worth reading about.) In some ways I consider that tantamount to a donation to a food shelter. Also, for the first time in 15 years my two children will sit at my table together. What better way to celebrate?

                  I am grateful that there are folks raising heritage turkeys responsibly and ethically. And that a middle class gourmand like myself has a shot at having something superlative in celebration.

                  1. re: pickypicky

                    I'll be interested to hear how you like the heritage bird. I've heard mixed reviews over the last several years ranging from "best turkey ever" to "not worth the money".

                    1. re: DiningDiva

                      I'll definitely report back.

                      1. re: DiningDiva

                        Hey DD: The heritage was really, really good. Best bird ever? I think so. Flavors were great: dark meat super flavorful -- slightly gamey -- white meat very moist, not at all dry. Lots of kudos from family and guests. I brined and stuffed it then smoked on my Weber to about 155 degrees for the main body, and 165 for the legs. I know that's a bit under what's recommended, but I let it rest for 20 minutes after taking it off the grill and it was cooked throughout when I cut it up. I think poultry is always better the fresher it is -- to this day the best fried chicken I have ever had was in a little shack in Alabama where they killed and butchered the chickens out back the same day they cooked them up. The Taj heritage bird from Valley Center couldn't have been much fresher. I'll get one again next Thanksgiving.

                        1. re: bizzwriter

                          Aye, don't rub it in :-} I nearly sprung for a Taj bird this year and after my experience yesterday, I should have. I am, however, glad to hear yours was a hit!

                          As for fresh birds, I think you have to let them get past the rigor mortis stage (a few hrs.) before you cook them or they'll be tough. Once past rigor, they are quite good :-)

                          1. re: bizzwriter

                            Will you please post a reminder next year bout the Taj heritage bird. :-) Our substituted Mary's was ok but nothing like the Niman heritage bird, which when we had it, was local and fresh. That's the key!

                            1. re: pickypicky

                              Will do picky2!

                        2. re: pickypicky

                          I buy a lot of Niman products, they're excellent. You're correct about each to his/her own. Sometimes I find the CH board a bit blind when it comes to extravagence and I hope that others who read the board, with limited resources, whould benefit as well .

                          1. re: cstr

                            Believe me-- I understand completely. We measure all our food purchases carefully. I just didn't want you to think the extravagance had not been considered thoughtfully. :-)

                            As for Niman products, Bill Niman is no longer associated with the company that bears his name. I think there was a rancorous parting based on standards not being met. Bill N now only raises turkeys and goats, I think-- and his wife is a vegetarian!

                    2. re: DiningDiva

                      Yeah -- I didn't say they were cheap. It's the age-old foodie conundrum -- price versus perceived value. Bill and Nicolette Niman offered their perspective on this a couple of years ago:


                      1. re: bizzwriter

                        I've eaten a Bill Niman turkey. It redefined the bird for me. Now if I can't have one that good (or a Greenburg smoked) I'll pass. It's a once a year expenditure and imo is totally worth spending on. (I've also visited BN's ranch and when I eat his turkey I can imagine their beautiful home and good life in the flavor of the meat.)

                        Two years ago our BN 10 lb turkey was $90. Served four and plenty of leftovers.

                        1. re: pickypicky

                          Here's a 'free' range bird right in my back yard.

                          1. re: cstr

                            Wow. I'm getting hungry!

                            1. re: cstr

                              Where's the feed tray? I hope you're fattening her up! ;-)

                              1. re: cstr

                                cool! It's a free free range bird.

                                1. re: cstr

                                  Seems awful green for San Diego, cstr... :)

                                  1. re: RB Hound

                                    I'm diverse!

                        2. We saw Diestel's "brined and seasoned" birds at Costco today. Anyone tried those? I've purchased Diestel's before, but not this type.

                          1. So husband just called to say that his source delivered our fresh, heritage Bill Niman turkey-- except it's not. The source's source pulled a substitution. Guess it's time to be thankful we have a turkey.

                            But I'm reminded of an expert I heard interviewed recently who said that fresh and local is always best. Nevermind organic, heritage. Next year that will be my goal.

                            8 Replies
                            1. re: pickypicky

                              Sorry to hear about the substitution -- I could only find mail order sources for the Bill Niman turkeys for delivery in San Diego, and they shipped frozen. Our bird arrived at our home Sunday afternoon in a pickup truck straight from the farm in Valley Center. I guess there were several people in our neighborhood who bought the Taj birds this year. Brining tonight, air drying in the fridge tomorrow, then onto the barbecue Thursday with mass quantities of hickory wood chips. Here's to a happy Thanksgiving for all.

                              1. re: pickypicky

                                Bait and Switch?? seriously... did you pay the Niman price?? Just rely on your own expertise and ditch the 'source'.

                                1. re: cstr

                                  thanks for your concern. my husband is in the food industry, so I'll have to trust he took care of the source. In the end, it's a good reminder to me that things do not have to be perfect to be good!

                                2. re: pickypicky

                                  California has a bait and switch law.
                                  It is part of the law Business and Professions Code.

                                  I should of been an attorney...I'd be working at Skadden Arps or Baker and McKenzie making tons and kicking butt on dbags who do $hit like this..

                                  Sorry about that picky..

                                  1. re: Beach Chick

                                    Yes, but I've spent the afternoon doing prep work and listening to npr. Plenty of stories about people who don't have enough. It puts everything in perspective, AND my children are coming. Sometimes I need those reminders, and my husband was so mad. It was good to say that all was well. (Thanks for your kind thoughts, BC!)

                                    1. re: pickypicky

                                      Great perspective, family first, everything else is small potatoes!

                                      1. re: cstr

                                        mashed potatoes!

                                      2. re: pickypicky

                                        You're the third person this week whom I've heard has had the bait and switch going on..
                                        Hence, the 'kicking butt' comment.

                                        Have a great Thanksgiving with your family!

                                  2. It was bound to happen eventually and I guess this was the year :-(

                                    First time a Diestel turkey has failed me. I was pretty sure when I opened it up it was an old bird, possibly previously frozen. Tuff...sign...

                                    3 Replies
                                    1. re: DiningDiva

                                      The Diestel turkey, already brined and seasoned, that we bought from Costco was AMAZING! 17-lb. bird and it was juicy, and made the best gravy ever. It was done in conjunction with Fra'mani (seasonings, I believe), so if you see one, get it!

                                      1. re: phee

                                        Next time :-)

                                      2. re: DiningDiva

                                        I finally splurged and bought one last year. Worst turkey ever. Husband is a left over turkey fanatic and he threw them out the next day. Freaked us out so much that we won't give it a second try. Maybe we had an old bird as well. Hope the rest of your feast made up for it.

                                      3. Whole foods had some extra help from the homegrown butcher team the other day. I grabbed some hearts.