Jump to content

Organic Butcher - Owner Don Roden's Superb Meats, Fish, and Other Groceries in a Boutique Setting, Old Dominion Drive in Downtown McLean


Recommended Posts

We have been shopping at My Organic Butcher for several months. It may seem like an oxymoron inasmuch as we don't eat red meat. But MOB also has very fresh fish--not as wide a vraiety as Black Salt--but very good. We have also enjoyed their crabcakes made with a hint of mustard and virtually no filler. They have recently added a line of locally produced, unadulterated soups. We have tried and enjoyed the butternut squash and mushroom/barley. Their free range chicken is also excellent.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank you for reviving this topic, Don. It reminds me how much I love this butcher shop. Every couple of months, I'll make the trek out to McLean on a Saturday or Sunday to pick up whatever looks good for the week. I've had fantastic hanger steaks, pork cheeks, Polyface chickens, wild salmon, crabcakes, veal bones, quail. They also usually have Polyface eggs, which, for my money, are even better than the egg man at the Dupont market.

If you haven't been to this shop, or you feel McLean is out of the way for you, give it a shot on a weekend afternoon. I doubt you'll be disappointed.

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank you for reviving this topic, Don. It reminds me how much I love this butcher shop. ... They also usually have Polyface eggs, which, for my money, are even better than the egg man at the Dupont market.

If you haven't been to this shop, or you feel McLean is out of the way for you, give it a shot on a weekend afternoon. I doubt you'll be disappointed.

Totally agree the McLean butcher is a great shop! I also have bought from them and really liked what I've gotten. Big Polyface fan also--Joel Salatin has done a ton to educate and drive change in many positive ways with great products.

I try to support businesses as local as I can. Like most people, I care intensely about quality, value and how and where the food is produced (as best I can learn). From that standpoint, the local farmers' markets and vendors (e.g., Stachowski) usually get prioritized highest on my list. And, of course, reconciling all those objectives (local, quality, value, transparency) is a never-ending challenge, discussed extensively here on DR.com and elsewhere with millions of words.

All said, for eggs (and I'll leave to Don whether this merits a different thread), "the egg man at the Dupont market" is also known as Tom Hubric. He's the real deal in many senses of the word. And, imho, he deserves as much support as he can get. In the interest of better understanding this "egg man" and why his eggs are great and why he's so worth supporting, click here and enter password "Swappers" (without quotes). I found this a bit eye-opening and definitely educational.

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

OBoMcL sold me the absolutely best, most delicious hanger steak I've ever eaten. Better than Jamie S. better than Ray's the Steaks. Simply seasoned and grilled over charcoal, it was tender, juicy and deeply beefy. Now that I'm thinking about it, I need to make a trip over there. Haven't been in a while.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Totally agree the McLean butcher is a great shop! I also have bought from them and really liked what I've gotten. Big Polyface fan also--Joel Salatin has done a ton to educate and drive change in many positive ways with great products.

I try to support businesses as local as I can. Like most people, I care intensely about quality, value and how and where the food is produced (as best I can learn). From that standpoint, the local farmers' markets and vendors (e.g., Stachowski) usually get prioritized highest on my list. And, of course, reconciling all those objectives (local, quality, value, transparency) is a never-ending challenge, discussed extensively here on DR.com and elsewhere with millions of words.

All said, for eggs (and I'll leave to Don whether this merits a different thread), "the egg man at the Dupont market" is also known as Tom Hubric. He's the real deal in many senses of the word. And, imho, he deserves as much support as he can get. In the interest of better understanding this "egg man" and why his eggs are great and why he's so worth supporting, click here and enter password "Swappers" (without quotes). I found this a bit eye-opening and definitely educational.

Thanks for the link! I'll check it out.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for the link! I'll check it out.

Sure thing! I'd love to get a bit of discussion going around the food and social issues presented by the video. If enough were interested to check it out and share thoughts, maybe good for the mods to make it a separate thread since isn't related directly to OBoMcL.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Strange and unfortunate that I live in McLean, have been thinking about bettering the quality of my meat purchases/consumption (and to do so by perhaps using South Mountain Creamery's delivery services), and that this place never crossed my mind. I know where I'll be stopping this weekend...

Interesting website, too, with blog and recipes...http://www.theorganicbutcher.com/ml_home.html

Link to post
Share on other sites

Can someone who has gotten Polyface eggs from there, add a few more details in terms of cost and quality?

Usually we like the Ayrshire Farm eggs and occasionally make a trip out to Middleburg for their eggs and chicken,

but would like something closer.

Link to post
Share on other sites

...Usually we like the Ayrshire Farm eggs and occasionally make a trip out to Middleburg for their eggs and chicken,

but would like something closer.

Ayrshire now has products in the new MOM's Organic Market at Mosaic District complex in Merrifield FYI. I remember sausages and meats; not sure about eggs but didn't look at those when I was there. You might have a new source closer.

Have you ever tried Tom's in Dupont FM? I'm a big Ayrshire fan and have written some about them on different threads. They're an honest quality producer. Attended a dinner there last year and loved it. All said, assuming you liked the Tom eggs, he's 'more local' than Ayrshire and could certainly use the support much more than Ayrshire.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Can someone who has gotten Polyface eggs from there, add a few more details in terms of cost and quality?

Usually we like the Ayrshire Farm eggs and occasionally make a trip out to Middleburg for their eggs and chicken,

but would like something closer.

On Hell's Kitchen they do a blind taste test. The contestant is blindfolded and Gordo spoon feeds the contestant. Most of the time they can't tell one protein from another or one produce from another. On the Taste, you have four supposedly "culinary masters" who can't tell what they're eating even though they can see, smell, touch, and taste the food. Is there any discernible taste difference between eggs? Of course there are other reasons to shop for a specific item other than taste.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I've seen blog posts here and there about blind-tasting supermarket factory farm eggs v. supermarket "organic cage free" eggs v. barnyard eggs (chickens got a few bugs on their own but mostly grain fed) v. pastured chicken eggs. In all the tests, most tasters could tell the difference of the pastured chicken eggs by color and some tasters claimed they noted taste differences when fried or poached eggs from the more conventional farming practices. So the testers decided to then add food coloring to all the eggs and scramble them to eliminate the visual clues and then said the tasters couldn't tell the difference anymore, so why bother? I wondered why they didn't blindfold the tasters instead. It seems to me that the flavor of the yolk would be muted by scrambling and make the differences less discernible.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Ayrshire has not had eggs at Mom's Organic in either Herndon and Merrifield, the last few times I checked. Ayrshire Farm is a nice place, we went there last year for Loudoun County Spring Farm Tour, and it was lovely afternoon.

Mainly, I'm more interested in healthy fresh eggs for Omega-3 consumption.

As for the taste, I think there is a larger difference with texture.

Link to post
Share on other sites

On Hell's Kitchen they do a blind taste test. The contestant is blindfolded and Gordo spoon feeds the contestant. Most of the time they can't tell one protein from another or one produce from another. On the Taste, you have four supposedly "culinary masters" who can't tell what they're eating even though they can see, smell, touch, and taste the food. Is there any discernible taste difference between eggs? Of course there are other reasons to shop for a specific item other than taste.

Not so much on the 'shades of grey' along the middle of the spectrum (i.e., one local farm egg versus another) but you can see and taste this yourself if you pick up a dozen at Safeway and compare to a farmers' market egg that is less than a week old. Visually, the yolk is very different. Taste wise, the farmer's egg will be much richer and substantial. Best cooking method to taste test is poaching. Omega3s will usually be much higher in the local egg due to better quality, more expensive, feed.

Link to post
Share on other sites

We got a NY Strip to share (the steak was 1.5 inches think and weighed .82 lb) as well as one of the crab cakes. Both were excellent. i really believe you can taste the quality between this and what you'd get at, say, Harris Teeter. Also, I thought the crab cake was a good price (6.99 iirc), given its size, taste, quality (seemed like lump, tho I'm not entirely sure). Helpful and caring service, too. A really neat store, at which I expect to make frequent appearances.

Link to post
Share on other sites

We stopped by yesterday and picked up a dozen of the Polyface eggs and they were quite good. I've been driving by there since Taichibana opened up in that location and never stopped by. Should have taken a look.

Thanks to Nervous Eater and others for speaking so highly of it.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I buy my meat almost exclusively from the Organic Butcher.  Ask for "Frenchie."  He is the best.  They give phenomenal customer service and will pretty much cut the meat however you want it.  I get ground turkey and like a mix of white and dark and they are always wiling to do it for me.  The meat is so fresh and the quality is so much better than anything you can get from the supermarket. We also get bacon there for the weekends and it is also top quality.

Link to post
Share on other sites
On 1/23/2018 at 11:02 PM, lion said:

Can't believe it's only been five years since I've been going there! I would have guess ten years if the proof wasn't earlier in this thread. We go there almost weekly. 

Have you seen the Wagyu sirloin cuts? ($39.99 a pound, so ouch, but wow.)

I just dropped $160 on a Wagyu tri-tip, two Fluke filets, a huge Berkshire pork tenderloin, a half-pound of thick-cut English bacon, a bottle of Sake ("Whispering Poet" - it's really good!), and a tiny thing of chocolates (for $10.99) :(

First-world problems.

Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, DonRocks said:

Have you seen the Wagyu sirloin cuts? ($39.99 a pound, so ouch, but wow.)

I just dropped $160 on a Wagyu tri-tip, two Fluke filets, a huge Berkshire pork tenderloin, a half-pound of thick-cut English bacon, a bottle of Sake ("Whispering Poet" - it's really good!), and a tiny thing of chocolates (for $10.99) :(

First-world problems.

I cut back on my beef intake a while back but really enjoy their pork chops. Super easy to put them in a brine for 3-4 hours, pre-heat a skillet in the oven, and cook them on the stove and oven. During the summer time, I've pickup the pork tenderloin many times for the grill, they have a couple of in-house marinades that are pretty tasty. We've had their chicken and seafood as staples for a majority of our purchases. It is a good idea to ask sometimes as some products have difficult levels of being organic, etc...but again my favorite are their pork chops which are  cut steak size. Perfect! 

 

Link to post
Share on other sites
32 minutes ago, Rhone1998 said:

There's a lot of beautiful product in this store.  I also bought some blood sausage and bacon...I'm eating a lot of meat these days doing my low carb thing, can't wait to go back. Thanks for the heads up about this place!

They had English back bacon and some nitrate-free Virginia bacon earlier this week - I got the latter, and it's really good.

Isn't it *amazing* how much you long for some piping-hot bread and lightly salted butter doing a low-carb regimen? (That just killed you, didn't it.)

Seriously, they asked Shackleton's crew what they craved to eat the most, and to a man, every single person said, "Pastry!" That was pretty much The Ultimate Atkins Diet. (Best non-fiction adventure story you'll ever read, btw - talk about being in a bit of a pickle!)

Link to post
Share on other sites
20 hours ago, DonRocks said:

... and some nitrate-free Virginia bacon...

If they truly do not use nitrates, it is not truly bacon. Its smoked, salted pork belly with a limited shelf life and likely an unappetizing brown appearance. Bacon by definition is and has to be cured (nitrates of some form).  If the bacon was an appetizing pink, nitrates were invariably used.  It is a deceptive (and lucrative) practice.

Link to post
Share on other sites
8 hours ago, Poivrot Farci said:

If they truly do not use nitrates, it is not truly bacon. Its smoked, salted pork belly with a limited shelf life and likely an unappetizing brown appearance. Bacon by definition is and has to be cured (nitrates of some form).  If the bacon was an appetizing pink, nitrates were invariably used.  It is a deceptive (and lucrative) practice.

Interesting - I did not know this. The bacon was light pink, and the farm ... I can't remember the name of it, but I remember it was from Virginia, and I think it started with an "S."

Note, however, that it was the Butcher's handwritten sign that said the bacon was nitrate-free; the farm makes no such claim that I'm aware of - I'll take a closer look next time I'm in (hey, it was good bacon!)

Julien, I know this is a pain, but would you take a few minutes to educate me about nitrates? Namely:

1) Why do they turn the meat pink? I've seen the beige-colored stuff, and I imagine it can get pretty ugly with age.

2) What is the precise definition of curing?

3) What is the precise definition of bacon, and did it originate in Denmark? (During a World Cup game, England was playing Denmark, and the English fans were chanting, <assuming best Cockney accent> "Shove your bacon up your arse!"

4) Is the smoked, salted, nitrate-free pork belly to which you refer ever any good, even early in its shelf life? I thought nitrates were mere preservatives.

5) Why do nitrates have a bad rap? Are they bad for you? Do they occur in nature? Why do they do what they to do bacon?

6) Would you consider offering some classes - perhaps even some online classes? I would consider driving up from DC to attend one. You may not be interested in such a thing, but I'd be happy to try and use my connections to get you some type of show. Heck, maybe I'll do one with you.

Your expertise, as always, would be *greatly* appreciated. Also, please let us know where you are now (same place?) If so, I'm *more* than happy to give you some Social Media Luv, for whatever good that will do you - still, I'd love to do this for you, and it's the very least I can do.

PS: Tri-tip #4 - outstanding once again, but definitely a different dry-rub than #2 - this one used dehydrated onion, and a lot of white spices; the other one (and the best of the bunch) used more red-colored spices. They need to get this more consistent - either that, or list the options; but hopefully you can tell by looking at it that this is a nice cut of steak:

IMG_3918.jpgIMG_3919.JPG

Cheers,
Ron Swanson

 

Link to post
Share on other sites
12 hours ago, Poivrot Farci said:

I don’t know exactly when the superstitious avoidance of nitrates became fashionable, but it probably has to do with faulty causation/correlation of cancer rates among those who eat cured meats.

The 1970s. Ralph Nader.

  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites
On 2/9/2018 at 7:54 AM, porcupine said:

The 1970s. Ralph Nader.

Did you know this off the top of your head?! If so, that's remarkable.

(Julien, thanks - you went way above the call of duty. You must be one of the smartest people I've ever met. BTW, am I completely off-base with being critical about chemically manfactured MSG? (Executive Summary: I don't think it's bad for you; just that it can be used as a shortcut, similar to Morton's Table Salt or Old El Paso Salsa, but the long-form version is in that link.) If so, I'll refrain from any future comments, and retract my old ones.)

Related Aside: Do you believe umami, discovered in 1908, is really a "fifth flavor?" When there are two conflicting schools of thought, I tend to be biased against the commercial one, but I remain open-minded. When I was growing up, we called it "aftertaste"; in wine, "finish"; and it can be reproduced simply by attempting to exhale with your nose pinched shut and your mouth closed, or even via eructation an hour later. <--- Ha ha, drove you to Google. Seriously, if it was a fifth flavor (or however you want to term it), wouldn't it be "different" rather than merely a lingering effect, or a "deepening" of whatever flavors you're currently experiencing?

Link to post
Share on other sites
On 2/8/2018 at 7:02 PM, Poivrot Farci said:

Executive Summary: Nitrates prevent botulism and keep the meat nice and rosy. Nitrates are in saliva, beets and spinach. There are more nitrates in 2oz of celery than in 2oz of bacon. 

Julien,

Don Roden, owner of Organic Butcher, and I have exchanged some emails. With his permissison, I'm cutting-and-pasting this response to my initial letter (which basically just directed him to your posts):

---

Hi Don,

Thank you for the email regarding our bacon.  I hate it that I miss stuff like this.  Need to do a better job keeping my eye on your site.  We do sell a local bacon that comes to us labeled as uncured.  It contains celery powder instead of sodium nitrate which certainly doesn’t mean it’s nitrate free because of the naturally occurring nitrates that occur.  I am going to make sure that this bacon is not being sold as nitrate free.  We usually promote our Paleo Bacon for those looking for nitrate free.  It is salt cured then smoked, no sugar.  Technically not bacon I guess.  I think this whole topic is very blog worthy for us so that our customers can be better informed.  
 
Thanks!
Don Roden
  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
On 2/8/2018 at 7:02 PM, Poivrot Farci said:

“No nitrates” is nothing more than a marketing ploy, like the “no growth hormones” on chicken labels.

Your post was really eye opening for me and now I can't not notice all the "no added nitrates" labels on the bacon options in stores. In fact I would say options without that label are in the distinct minority and it's not uncommon to have the entire shelf of bacon options be in the added celery powder category.  I was even surprised to see a brand like d'Artagnan adopt this ploy.  

But one thing I don't get - if adding celery powder has the same effect as adding curing salts, why do the labels say "not preserved"? Is it just more marketing schtick?

Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, Rhone1998 said:

But one thing I don't get - if adding celery powder has the same effect as adding curing salts, why do the labels say "not preserved"? Is it just more marketing schtick?

The USDA does not deem celery juice powder and other vegetable derived sources of nitrates to be reliable curing agents and by law can not be called "cured".  Marketing dept takes advantage of that and calls it "uncured" because that sounds so much healthier.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Maybe we should move these last couple of posts off of this thread? Organic Butcher is doing right by people - I was in there a couple days after the email exchange, and the sign had been changed.

Oh, is this my job? 🤔

Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, Poivrot Farci said:

The USDA does not deem celery juice powder and other vegetable derived sources of nitrates to be reliable curing agents and by law can not be called "cured".  Marketing dept takes advantage of that and calls it "uncured" because that sounds so much healthier.

Right, but what I find interesting is they go beyond saying "uncured" to having a second label that explicitly says it's "not preserved" and to keep it refrigerated below 40 degrees at all times.  Maybe there's some reg that they have to say these things but I wonder if it's marketing ... that they're emphasizing the (false) impression that there's no nitrates by pushing the idea you have to be more careful handling this product that you would have if it had contained curing salt.

D'artagnan Bacon

Link to post
Share on other sites
28 minutes ago, Rhone1998 said:

Right, but what I find interesting is they go beyond saying "uncured" to having a second label that explicitly says it's "not preserved" and to keep it refrigerated below 40 degrees at all times.  Maybe there's some reg that they have to say these things but I wonder if it's marketing ... that they're emphasizing the (false) impression that there's no nitrates by pushing the idea you have to be more careful handling this product that you would have if it had contained curing salt.

D'artagnan Bacon

There are different degrees of "cured".  Shelf stable uncooked dry-cured/fermented meats (salumi, proscuitto, pancetta, etc...) are cured with the addition of nitrate (colloquially #2 cure; time activated) whereas non shelf-stable fully cooked meats (bacon, cooked sausages, pates) are cured with nitrite (#1 cure, temperature activated).  They are both cured in that nitrates extend the shelf life, but the dry-cured do not need to be refrigerated, have lower water content and much higher salt concentration. 

The D'Artagnan label reads: "NO NITRATES OR NITRITES ADDED  except for naturally occurring celery powder".  Bullshit #1

While D'Artagnan maintains that their bacon has no preservatives, salt is most definitely a preservative (salt cod/pork). Bullshit #2.  So is sugar (jams, jellies). Bullshit #3.

Please move this 2nd page to it's own thread. 

  • Like 2
  • Thanks 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, dcs said:

Take it from a butcher: A turducken isn’t worth the trouble, by Greg Herring, November 16, 2018, on washingtonpost.com.

Turducken: Cute concept, but falls squarely into the "Just because you can, doesn't mean you should" camp. Ask DIShGo ... 😲

The word itself sounds perilously close to Frankenstein.

One of the comments in the article says it all: "Face it, most of the appeal is in saying the word. So just say it a few times, or a few dozen times, just to get it out of your system."

Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

×
×
  • Create New...