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Society Fair, Old Town - Mini-Eataly from the Owners of Restaurant Eve


djrobb
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I walked by and Cathal/Meshelle Armstrong's new food market and it just began construction. The 7,000 sq foot bakery, butchery, wine bar and "studio kitchen" on Washington Street is supposed to open this summer. Missy Frederick has more on it in the Washington Business Journal. They are busy with Virtue Beer & Barley concurrently under construction.

Here is the permit that includes a description of the project and some mock-ups.

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Dropped my knives off for sharpening at La Cuisine last Friday, in line behind me was Todd Thrasher, who told the cashier he expected to open as soon as they got their liquor license which he thought would be December 28.

He was buying pate knives, in case you were wondering.

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Drove past Society Fair this afternoon and noticed that the windows were no longer covered in paper so parked and wandered in to see what was going on.

I may have actually snuck in under the radar, as they were getting ready for a soft opening for the friends and family of the owner. They let me look around but I could not buy anything, and when I left they locked the doors behind me. They won't be open until this weekend.

Impression -- on the left side an appealing place to sit and eat and drink, I did not linger there; on the right side an upscale market with meats and cheeses and baked goods and spices and other gourmet groceries and goodies.

Of all the places around here I have wandered into it reminds me most of Market Salamander in Middleburg.

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The official opening is tomorrow, but I believe they are open today for anyone who wants to stop in and check things out. The bread selection is impressive - and the ones I've tried (brown bread, batch loaf, and crack fruit and nut) are quite good - not a surprise, knowing the time and effort Nathan has put into learning the craft. The meat case is filled with lots of tempting cuts, as is the prepared food case - several components of Todd Thrasher's cocktail concoctions are available for purchase. The wine bar/demo kitchen area is plush, yet cosy, with the banquette area reminding me of a French bistro.

In my opinion, this is a very exciting, and long-anticipated, addition to the neighborhood.

Congratulations and much success to Cathal, Meshelle, Todd, Maria, Nathan, Dan, John, and everyone else involved!

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I wonder if it is just a very strange coincidence that Society Fair is across the street from the United States Bankruptcy Court, while Virtue Feed and Grain is across the street from the United States Bankruptcy Trustee's office?

(I notice these things because I am a bankruptcy lawyer. One of the growth industries of the recession.)

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I wonder if it is just a very strange coincidence that Society Fair is across the street from the United States Bankruptcy Court, while Virtue Feed and Grain is across the street from the United States Bankruptcy Trustee's office?

(I notice these things because I am a bankruptcy lawyer. One of the growth industries of the recession.)

I thought it was more that they wanted to get my business all over town- by my office, by the charity I volunteer for and by Alexandria Courts :) And then a couple up the street in case I actually get a chance to wander further.

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Website (703) 683-3247

I believe they're still in the soft open phase, so aren't operating with regular hours. When they are running normal hours, they will be open early (7ish?) for coffee, etc. until around 10, maybe later on Fri/Sat. Eater reports that they'll only be open in the evening for the first few weeks; they opened around 11:30 today according to their Facebook page. The Facebook page seems to be the best source of information, at least for now.

ETA: FB update from a few minutes ago:

The lions are still in training! The hours are evolving. Bakery open this week 11:30am. Wine bar, 6pm to the public Saturday. Open seating.

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They opened up the market side this week. Stopped in to grab a sandwich for lunch today. Wine bar is not open.

Here is the sandwich menu: http://www.urbandaddy.com/uploads/assets/file/pdfs//85934109ab66e7625e64ea7e218d33e4.pdf

Tried the Soprano - had a nice proportion of meat to bread and bread was very fresh. Little too salty for my taste and at $11 a little pricey to make it into the regular rotation.

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Was in La Cuisine in Old Town today and Todd Thrasher came in to buy an ice pick. He said the market had a soft opening last night, but I think he mentioned the official opening is this coming Wednesday (25th)? The place opens at 11 on weekdays, I heard. Please be aware I didn't actually speak to him directly and might have heard things incorrectly. Heh.

Apologies to Todd Thrasher and his friend for not-so-subtly eavesdropping on the conversation...I was trying to peruse the spices, I swear. :)

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stopped by yesterday and had the DQMW sandwich. braised short rib with horseradish sauce and pickled leeks. don't remember the bread...except it was perfect. the sandwich as a bit messy but quite tasty with a grat tang from the horseradish and leeks. someone in front of me ordered the Bayou sandwich, andouille sausage smothered in étouffée. I was a little sorryI hadn't ordered it too.

the space is beautiful with seating at high tables for 12 or so people. the cooler was stocked with a lot of unusual pre-made items. the in-house loaves of bread were flying out the door and definitely will be bringing me back for more. lots of desserts were displayed. I got some house-made cookies which were fine; but nothing truly spectacular.

the wine bar section wasn't open butI can't wait to give it a try! society Fair looks to be a nice addition to Old Town.

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Wine bar is now open, 6pm-ish. Demo kitchen is up and running, 7pm-ish seating, reservations required.

Bollinger and bugey by the glass, yumm.

On the market side, simple syrup for sale. Would be funny but I saw several people cough up the $4 for the magical potion..

Can't wait to check it out; will walk over and report back soon.

Re: simple syrup, I would not be surprised if that became the next fad. Between prolific sodastreamers, at-home baristas and mixologists, "hand-crafted simple syrups" in unconventional flavors might just become the new cupcake.

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First visit today and the market was crowded. Everyone's eyes were huge as they carefully perused the goods, Mark Warner was inconspicuously buying coffee, and the kitchen was putting out cakes and prepared foods.

I picked up demi glace and a jar of Caesar's salad dressing.

A visit to the Demo Kitchen is on the short list.

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Does anyone know whether you can sample the olive oil? If not, where else in the area can you? I'm looking for a good, fruity olive oil to use in a chocolate dessert. The stuff up in my cabinet just won't work for that.

Olio, on King Street in old town Alexandria. They will let you sample stuff.

I should have known someone would beat me to it.

Edited by Fishinnards
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Stopped into Society Fair last weekend for quick visit after much anticipation. First reaction - - smaller square-footage-wise than I thought (for some reason I had something a bit more sprawling in mind- -the place is quite petite) and, at first glance, dominated by precious "hostess gift-y" chocolates and snacks. First impressions yielded to richer ones, however and, as one might expect, Chef Armstrong (who was in the house seeing to the details) has brought a lot of foodie-firepower to bear here. Along the right side near the entrance are fresh baked goods, mostly breads but some cakes also- -the baguette we snagged was of high quality. Directly in front by the registers is an espresso bar that pulled the most nicely-extracted shot I've ever had in Old Town. As you drift in deeper, wines on the left and a nice selection, both room temp and some chilled whites (didn't really get a chance to feel out reasonableness of pricing). Sandwiches and butcher counter in the back right - - meat and charcuterie look amazing - - got some pork liver pate' which was very good- -knowledgeable butchers dispensing advice with a smile. Some exotic (yet sometimes essential) spices in the middle rear. But the real treasure trove is hidden in the rear left- -a really cool array of grains, other 'basics' and Thrasher mixology supplies (o.k., I won't pay $4 for a jar of simple syrup, but it was so cool to SEE it packaged back there)...lots of stuff I bookmarked for next trip out to buy exotic ingredients for a dinner party....a window into the bustling bakery in the back..........in the end I had to get pried out of there......much to experience and that's without even touching the wine bar that occupies half the square footage (and was closed when I visited) - - menu and list there looks promising and am interested in checking out the three kegged wines by the glass....all in all, much more here then first meets the eye and, I think, a great addition to the Armstrong empire and the Alexandria community.

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Have been three times so far since opening--maybe a problem I just need to own up to but, hey, wlohmann needed to be "pried out of there" so I'm not alone. I had to be pried twice--once by those I was with and the other time by an about-to-expire parking meter :)

I've been a big fan of the Armstrongs since, well, 2004 and 2007. In 2004 they started with Eve and, since then, the restaurant has really led an increasingly competitive fine-dining scene in terms of unpretentious innovation ranging from menu to staffing, technique, tenacity, serious excellence and ingredients that were "local" and "farm-to-table" before those words became so cliched. In 2007, Pollan's Ominivore's Dilemma came out and, when I realized that the Armstrongs were sourcing from one of the book's stars (Joel Salatin) along with a fast growing network of the best regional producers, I knew this was going to be a long and very successful journey of amazing, educational, healthy and, most of all, consistently, serendipitously, delicious food. And so it has been with every spot since opened (with the only slight exception of Virtue but just because I've only been once so need to get more familiar with it).

Clearly, Society Fair (SF) is a daring new business with real attendant risks. Will the market be there over time? Will the word-of-mouth hold up, customers refer and loyalty be assured? Will operations and sourcing be reliable? Will the pricing allow them to be sufficiently profitable?

But damn if this isn't a model of exciting and highly intelligent risk. It's not super intuitive when one walks in to the market or even visits the facebook page how best to engage. But then again, clearly part of the point with SF is discovery. It offers table service in the cafe, coffee as good as any in Old Town with a few seats in the front of the market, reservable "demonstration dinners" 4 or 5 nights a week, consistently friendly staff led by a new manager, Robby (sp?), imported from San Francisco's Slanted Door, and so many sights, smells and sounds that the circus metaphor actually works. And then, of course, there are the products.

I wondered a bit whether a market, with a significant number of food products on offer, would be able to hit the bar established over the years by the rest of goodfoodgroup. Knowing the underlying philosophy, this is no small challenge. A regularly rotating selection of foods that are of the highest quality, innovative or surprising when possible, mostly locally sourced, free of all the bad stuff resident in so many foods sold by many other food retailers and as different as possible from products available elsewhere. That is not easy to do consistently.

Well, having tried a good number of things so far, the initial signs are very good. Their approach to sourcing from a wide variety of clearly carefully-chosen vendors, mostly near but some far, is really interesting. I'd love to learn more about it. Here are a few product specifics building on what others have already reported, along with a few links to give a sense for the types of producers with whom they've partnered:

- cured hams and meats, mostly from local sources, ranging from boudin (yum! heated these up at home and they rocked) to prosciutto and many others

- interesting cheeses in a small refrigerated case on the right side between bakery and butcher. We bought and really enjoyed a raw milk Upland Pleasant Ridge Reserve with just the right amount of stink and savory flavor

- small, multi-colored, just-picked carrots in small baskets along with several other interesting and vibrant raw vegetables

- delicious-looking prepared foods ranging from soups and a half roast chicken to the really enticing sandwiches and the simple syrup; we also bought a container of prepared egg salad to try something more run-of-the-mill but, with shallots and lemon, this was one of the better egg salads I've had

- the interesting and beautifully packaged spices about which wlohmann wrote

- artisan honey, cookies and caramel corn, among so many other things on shelves, in jars, bright wrappers and boxes

- packaged, smoked, St. James Smokehouse scottish salmon. Bought this too and, while the western wild nova I bought at Russ & Daughters in NY a week or so ago was better, this was definitely superior to any other packaged salmon I've gotten at Whole Foods or elsewhere around town. Rich, smokey, yet still light.

- three types of whole bean coffee for the initial pour over and french press options; coffees like most of the inventory will change regularly depending on season, sourcing and mood. I can personally vouch for the Ceremony Eve house blend--it's as good here as it is there. Also a really nice, chocolatey, rich Ceremony peruvian bean. Ceremony is an Annapolis-based roaster putting out some really nice coffees not used by (m)any other shops around town.

- all things baked and sweet: haven't tried any of these yet but the breads, "big ass chocolate cake," familiar Eve birthday cake, lemon cake and a deep dish apple pie all look amazing

Some of the staff; at least one per department, know the products very, very well and can really educate and engage people who care intensely about stuff like this (i.e., dr.com types). All of the staff are enthusiastic, genuinely nice and learning quickly if not the teachers. I could give some very strong examples of this but this is too long already.

SF is only a few days old. As with any new restaurant, market or store, they have things to work out. And, undoubtedly challenged by the complexity of the business model, there are actually a lot of process, protocol, messaging, merchandising, technical and logistical things to work out. But, I won't write about those simply because it's way too early to pick on anything, however constructive, and because I'm sure they will get it all figured out.

For now, they've clearly gotten the foods right and, as their marketing makes clear, that's what it's all about (or something like that ;) ). Great foods. Lots of different ones. And a ton of fun. Go soon.

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Ok, I have been once and will already admit I am going to have a problem.

I just went in to get some things for our anniversary the other night as I wasn't feeling very good, but wanted to get Hubby some good stuff. This is like a mini-non-italian, better service Eataly. So for all you out there that like Eataly, go now!

I want to go back to the wine bar... now. And I can't wait to walk up the street for sandwiches.

I got the Niccoise sourdough. Top notch bread with beautiful olives. Really spectacular.

Next up tuna salad- oooh yeah. This doesn't have mayonaise, but it is so good, olive oily with good tuna, capers and lemon. Excellent on the olive sourdough.

Lemon Cake- my Hubby dreams of pound cake, and this one was really good, tart and not overly sweet with nice texture, moist with nice "crust" (not at all hard but was just a little carmelized like) and great not to sweet or gloopy glaze.

Lemon Meringue Tart- nice flaky crust, good lemon curd, perfect meringue, and so nice just to see meringue.

Items I picked up that I haven't eaten yet: cornichons, a really good whiskey mustard, lemon shortbread cookies for the Hubby.

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HEADLINE

From the menu: "An inter-engaging three course dinner and cooking class which seats 10"

My take: The "demo dinners" at Society Fair are a Very Good Time. Other adjectives and perspective apply also (below) but, at high level, this is worth doing. A DR event maybe (see end of post below)?

CONTEXT

Much (most?) of Society Fair (SF) is a market about which a fair amount has already been written upthread. Beyond the market, SF offers a few interactive and food-related experiences. Buy a creative sandwich stuffed full of exceptional, "real food" ingredients. Have an excellent pour over or espresso onsite, maybe with a slice of "big ass" chocolate cake, tart but lightly sweetened lemon cake, or what have you. Wine tastings. And then, there are the "demo dinners." Intrigued by this concept and always interested to learn, I booked for four of us and we tried it out tonight.

THE NON-FOOD DETAILS

They only take the reservations by email and they seem to be drawing a lot of interest with seats booked into March at this point. There are only 10 seats at the bar around a demonstration kitchen built specially for this purpose. $45/person on weeknights with an additional $30 for an optional wine pairing.

Four of us went tonight and all loved it. This isn't the same gastronomic experience as Eve...or even Eammon's for that matter. But it isn't intended to be. It's different in concept while similar in philosophy and quality. As I understand and experienced, the ideas behind this include: a talented chef teaching participants how to craft a meal at home using ingredients sold in the market, an opportunity to ask questions and get to know some of SF's staff, a very good meal with some nice wine and, maybe most of all, a lot of fun.

Arrived at 7:15 for a 7:30 start. We were soon served some wine with olives and thus began the SF demo dinner experience. The SF chef (see below) does a great job of teaching, cooking and engaging the group--really impressive since those are each different skills.

Also impressive were the logistical aspects which are a work in progress in other respects for SF but very smooth and efficient with the demo dinner. Chef is miked so all can hear despite the bustle of the cafe which surrounds the demo dinner bar. Near flawless coordination between the demo chef and a kitchen chef who demo the course and prepare enough additional dishes to feed everyone respectively. Likewise, excellent teamwork between the chef, sommelier and other staff servers throughout the night.

Finally, despite all the notable choreography, there's a casual, 'welcome to our house' feel to all of it and it's genuine. Ask a few questions about the meats and get invited back to the walk ins to gaze at racks of Randall Lineback or hanging Tamron hogs like were used in our meal tonight. Questions about whatever and the chef interrupts whatever he was presenting to answer. Wines were poured and topped off as drunk in a way that seemed unmetered. We were even given an unexpected take home bag with something special*. As much as anything, the staff all work to be excellent hosts. And, that's how we felt there--like appreciated and welcomed guests. The entire experience was professional and efficient while also being comfortable and fun.

THE FOOD

Again, this isn't Eve, PX or even Eammons. Nothing was phenomenal, "best" or head-spinning as is often true at those spots. But, it was all very good. And, in keeping with the Armstrong's long-standing focus on quality "real food" at all their outposts, the great ingredients (and engaging staff) alone are worth the price of admission. Our menu tonight:

- Olives (wine pairing: a not-very-oaked French Chardonnay): there were three or four different types of olives served at room temperature (perfect). The chardonnay was fine; nothing special but a nice start.

- Pickled Fall Vegetables, Preserved Lemon Yogurt, Harissa Vinaigrette (wine pairing: a moderately sweet Australian Riesling): This was interesting and quite good with maybe just a bit too much heat or acid for some. The demo went into some detail about pickling and how SF (which provides bread and other foods for all the restaurants in additional to retail) makes its own yogurt with hanging bags. All very interesting and representative of a very wide variety of craftsmanship and production that happens at SF every day to meet the needs of Society Fair retail and all the EatGoodFood restaurants around Alexandria. In addition to the ingredients in the dish's name, the salad also included beautiful young frisee, which Chef Massey talked about as well. The yogurt included some fresh spearmint passed among the guests prior. A pretty good dish. The sommelier (John Wabeck) felt this the most difficult pairing but he did well. Maybe a bit too much chili pepper in the dish since it was very forward on spice despite the relatively sweet wine and cool yogurt in the salad but, nevertheless, we all enjoyed it, had fun with it and learned from it.

- Roast 'Tamworth' Loin with Cipolini Onions and Kale: Chef Massey did a great job teaching, entertaining and executing this dish. A "loin for two," wrapped in caul fat and well seasoned, was used for the demo. We'd heard about the blue steel pans being used in the first course and their heat retention properties were put to good use here to pan sear and baste the pork. This is the course where we learned about the importance of seasoning thoroughly and all sides of the loin "like a marshmallow" and not just "top and bottom. The kale was cooked with the onions and garlic and rested on a "ham hock viniagrette" (reminiscent of a nice, tangy Carolina southern pulled pork) which was a highlight of the dish. It's so easy to overcook pork loin and mine was just a bit overdone with no pink. Chef Massey's demo version was perfect from the color observed. All in, a quite delicious dish that everyone gathered seemed to really enjoy. I can't recall what the red wine was that John paired with this. I think a Tuscan (mostly cab with some sangiovese?) which worked well with the dish.

- Ruby Grapefruit Sabayon: Chef Massey introduced this as "simple but complex" and so it was. Demonstrating the knife skills unsurprising for someone with his background, he deftly peeled and then sectioned two large, red, sweet, Floridian grapefruits and then, in a serving dish, poured the sabayon (sugar, egg yolks and spiced rum) over them before torching to carmelize. This course was when we learned the surprising (at least to our party of four) fact that Chef Massey isn't atypcial of EatGoodFood chefs in sharpening his knives for 20-30 minutes every day! Wow, I though I was doing well getting mine to Sur la Table twice each year. :huh: The sabayon was a lighter (in body and sweetness) dessert perfect to cap off the meal. John paired this with a lovely Spanish Alicante Muscat wine redolent of citrus; probably my favorite pairing of the night.

- (*) Gluten-free bread. This was our surprise take-home bag. Like many others, I've long loved the fresh-baked breads served at Eve. Some of the best bread on offer at any restaurant IMHO. That same bread was served to us tonight but, for my gluten-free SO, they were ready with a gluten free bread. I'd normally avoid such a thing since I'm fortunate to not be sensitive to gluten thus far but, since these were the same people who create the wonderful baked products at Eve, I felt compelled to try it. Made with house-ground garbanzos, rice flour and a few other ingredients, Trey told us this was a year in design and testing. And it was really surprisingly good! I'd never have guessed it was gluten free if I didn't know. Perfect crust and texture like a wheat-based bread would have. It tasted like a slightly sweet loaf that'd be perfect for toast. They make this in a separate oven used only for braising meats and the like to minimize any possibility of cross-contamination. It'll be sold in the bakery on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I haven't tried any other gluten free breads anywhere but I'd have to guess this is as good as any.

STAFF

The people of SF really make this experience what it is: a great time.

Trey Massey is SF's chef and he combines clear cooking expertise across all topics with a wonderfully friendly and easy-going personality and strong communications/presentation skills. Trained at Le Cordon Bleu on the left coast, Trey worked at a few restaurants in Cali, NY, VA and with Cathal Armstrong at Eve for a couple of years. I was a bit worried about the demo dinner not featuring Chef Armstrong but Trey did a great job making those worries unfounded.

John Wabeck, like everyone at SF and across EatGoodFood Group, is a wonderfully hospitable person. A veteran of New Heights (where he was chef) and Inox, John is within sight of his master sommelier certification. His expertise is clear and deep and the style with which he conveys his knowledge is humble and friendly. Really a pleasure chatting with him as with everyone else.

Donald, a server with experience at Cork (among other spots) did a great job making us feel welcome and, with other staff, ensuring the service was really flawless as at Eve or elsewhere in the Armstrong empire. Here, flawless but more casual than Eve in keeping with the intent.

Others "behind the scenes" as listed on the menu included Dan Fisher manning the kitchen in which all the meals were prepared in keeping with those demo'ed, Nathan Hatfield (bakery), Julien Shapiro (butcher--lots of interesting talk with Trey about the relationship between chef and butcher and how it all fits together to form a unique artisan food shopping experience), Robbie Shinn and Erin Caricofe (co-Managers of SF).

BOTTOM LINE

This was great fun with some very tasty food brought to full potential by some great food and wine professionals. Fairly priced; actually a very good value at $45/pp without wine ($55 on Fridays and Saturdays).

A DR EVENT?

This might be a great dinner event for a DR group but would others be interested to do it? If some would be conceptually interested, reply here and, if we can get 8 or 10, I'm happy to organize for some time in March. Following DanielK's advice, I'll propose a few dates once I know whether others would be interested.

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I am SO excited they will be selling their GF bread in the market! I don't have to eat it 100% of the time anymore, but do need to sometimes and my SIL has to, so I will stop by and get her some at some point. Thanks for the report.

I'll be really interested to hear your and other GF members' views on this bread. I have a really high bar with regular bread (as a consumer--have no idea how to bake anything) to the point where I don't often eat bread in most restaurants. Locally, Eve, anywhere serving Panorama and Carolina at the new Arlington Leonora are the only three I can think of that really put out great product. This GF bread really surprised me. No exaggeration I'd never have guessed it was made without wheat flour had I not been told. Trey told that's how the SF staff first learned about it--a blind test--and they couldn't tell either. The degree to which they go to ensure it is GF is impressive.

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I got a note today from our own Poivrot Farci, who reports that he is now working as a butcher at Society Fair, and says he will cut duck breats and legs to order.

This sounds as if it might be a Good Thing except that I have no idea how to order a duck breast or leg to order?
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This sounds as if it might be a Good Thing except that I have no idea how to order a duck breast or leg to order?

You go there, tell him how many of what you want, and he will cut them off of whole ducks and wrap them up. Then you pay for them. Probably a lot. Any other questions?
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You go there, tell him how many of what you want, and he will cut them off of whole ducks and wrap them up. Then you pay for them. Probably a lot. Any other questions?

$10/lb for whole LaBelle (NY) Alina (A French breed of white Pekin) air-chilled ducks with the neck. $9/lb for the legs, $15/lb for the breasts. Large amounts of either would best be preceded by a phone call to ensure we have enough on hand or allow us the time to order (we can order virtually anything so long as it is available, of a quality that we endorse and of reasonable minimum quantity). Conventional courtesy (hello, please, thank you) doesn’t hurt either.

The newly updated website has a link to the butchery repertoire, most of which is available over a 2 week period. We butcher sides of beef and whole Randall Lineback veal, 100% Berkshire pork, Shenandoah lamb and cuts are based on what the carcass has to offer, though premium cuts are put in the case in a equitable manner, based on what has aged sufficiently. All the beef (Roseda, Pine Ridge; VA) and Randall Lineback (Berryville, VA) is aged 4-6 weeks and along with the pork (High View Farm, Berryville, VA) and poultry (Confucius style Bobo chickens –head & feet on until Polyface starts producing again) is cut/trussed to order; roasts sized to accommodate servings. In addition to the list and a variety of Olli cured meats, we currently have:

Diot: fresh sausage; red wine, pork and nutmeg.

Merguez: fresh; Shenandoah lamb, harissa.

Boudin Rouge: cooked; red lentil pork boudin.

Portuguese blood pudding (we don’t make our own yet, but will)

Chicken and gizzard terrine in aspic.

Suet.

Chicken liver mousse with blood orange and lucknow fennel seed.

Pork pâté campagne with dried apples, vadouvan and apple brandy.

Pork and veal pâté with figs and pistachios.

Pork and duck pâté with currants and green peppercorns.

Barded roasts

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Duck and Sour Cherry Pâté en Croûte

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Pork and veal pâté with figs and pistachios

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Before I ask my question, let me thank PF publicly for his guidance in buying meat in Paris (he staged at Hugo Desnoyer, which, while pricey, is an amazing butcher with incredible staff joie-de-vivre).

From what part of the animal(s) do you take those barded roasts, PF?

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From what part of the animal(s) do you take those barded roasts, PF?

Roasts from Virginia Angus and 8 month old Virginia Randall Lineback, the former being smaller and leaner (4 months milk fed, 4 months pastured) are barded in fatback, suet or ventrèche (French pancetta) They range from 8oz to 4lbs for Randall Lineback and up to 6lbs for the Angus. All are entirely denuded; no sinew, nerves or veins.

Clod heart (triceps brachii; from what would be the tricep)

Top sirloin/rump roast (Gluteus medius; Gluteus accessorius (beef); from what would be the hip)

Top round (Semimembranosus, Adductor; from what would be the back of the thigh)

Knuckle (Vastus lateralis, Rectus femoris; from what would be the quadriceps)

Beef Heel (Gastrocnemisus; small roasts from what would be the calf muscle)

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Roasts from Virginia Angus and 8 month old Virginia Randall Lineback, the former being smaller and leaner (4 months milk fed, 4 months pastured) are barded in fatback, suet or ventrèche (French pancetta) They range from 8oz to 4lbs for Randall Lineback and up to 6lbs for the Angus. All are entirely denuded; no sinew, nerves or veins.

Clod heart (triceps brachii; from what would be the tricep)

Top sirloin/rump roast (Gluteus medius; Gluteus accessorius (beef); from what would be the hip)

Top round (Semimembranosus, Adductor; from what would be the back of the thigh)

Knuckle (Vastus lateralis, Rectus femoris; from what would be the quadriceps)

Beef Heel (Gastrocnemisus; small roasts from what would be the calf muscle)

More commonly known as "pink slime." B)

(I'll remove this in the morning because it's guilt by association, but it is funny!)

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Went down there Friday afternoon and the gf and I ate all weekend from our pickups. The green sausage is even better than when I picked some up from Poivrot at the green market. Still meaty but the flavor of the kale and other greens just pops. Awesome. Also grabbed some 4-spice alsatian sausages that were similarly perfectly seasoned and delicious. The kicker was a morning special of a deboned chicken leg, butterflied, stuffed with fois gras mousse, wrapped in pancetta, and then re-tied. We were given some of the braising jus to reheat it in and sliced it like a ham. Restaurant quality stuff and enough to split with a salad and veg at $9 for one.

Honestly I was expecting to get gouged price wise but I found things incredibly reasonable. Sausages were $6/lb. A pot of duck rilletes was as good as you'd expect and $5. Grabbing some sides (and a slice of birthday cake) we ate like kings for most of this rainy weekend for under $40. I'm honestly trying to think of excuses to get back down there and explore the butcher case further.

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Recently enjoyed tasty treats from the butcher case include:

- artichauts en crepinette - beautifully turned artichokes stuffed with pork, veal, olives, chicken livers, etc and wrapped in caul fat. A simple, gentle reheating in the wonderful sauce (full up more olives, onions, carrots, etc) and you have a delicious meal, when paired with a salad or some roasted asparagus, and a hunk of bread to soak up the sauce.

- oeufs en cocotte - a little jar filled with a farm-fresh egg paired with bits of bacon, rosemary, and sealed with butter. 7 minutes or so in a bain marie - runny yolk, bursting with flavor and worth every penny of the $1.50 price tag.

- a beautiful little barded Randall Lineback roast - amazing flavor and texture, quick to prepare, but a little luxury on the plate.

I've got the 'jambonneau' waiting for me in the fridge - can't wait to try it!

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I cannot get over how much I adore Society Fair. This weekend we picked up sandwiches and other provisions for a day out in wine country. We had the short rib, which was a bit messy, but really good. The turkish cousin had wonderfully flavorful thin sliced lamb, I have never had anything similar but really enjoyed the flavors.

I picked up some pork rillettes from the butcher counter, which is creamy and perfect with the sourdough Hubby brought back from San Francisco. I got some tuna salad, every time I get it they have added more mayo, I liked it better sans any mayo. So I may start trying to replicate the previous versions. But it's still good. I also got the citrus salad, just a blend of fresh fruit that was nice and very refreshing which I needed since my allergy meds were sucking all the moisture from me that day. We got chocolate, chocolate cookies and peanut butter ones, brownies and chips. Everything was really good. Our friends are now excited to come try the demo dinners they were happy they didn't live closer for their waistline's sake.

Seeing the prepared things for the holiday and the legs of lamb coming out looked beautiful. I get so excited here looking at all the wonderful possibilities of what I can make. And everyone is really friendly and knowledgable. I just love Society Fair.

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I had the pleasure of attending the inaugural "Beast" on Monday evening, and thoroughly enjoyed it. If you like to get up close and personal with your meat, this is an (monthly) event you won't want to miss.

SF butcher Julien Shapiro walked the group through the butchering of a side of Randall Lineback veal. I learned a lot of about cuts I'd never heard of before, as well as the breed history, suggested cooking techniques, and lots of other tidbits. We also enjoyed some of Julien's delicious creations: rindswurst, his 'reuben' terrine, fricandeau, and a bit of a barded veal roast. $45 includes the class, nibbles, and wine. Future classes may feature other animals, such as lamb.

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Julien's boudin blanc, quickly seared on all sides and served on a bed of braised russian kale, made an excellent lunch yesterday. I have had many of the variety of sausages that he is making and all are worth trying. I am glad that the shop is not too far from home so that I can shop there often. Keep an eye out for his mini-hams.

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Am I just completely behind the times, or is anyone else put off by the name "Big Ass Chocolate Cake"? I mean, really, does anyone find that description enticing in any way? mouthwatering? humorous? does the description "big ass" really make you want to eat something? ...yuck.

Also, they no longer sell MrP's favorite item. feh.

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