Day Four • 12 Tastes of Brooklyn
IT’S BEEN A LONG TIME SINCE EVERY NEIGHBORHOOD in the city had its own butcher—someone who took a whole animal carcass (or even slaughtered the animal) and then dressed and cut it into sellable meat. By the early 1960s, meat was being packed and boxed in the Midwest, for handy delivery to supermarkets in plastic wrap. (See Robin Shulman’s Eat the City for more about the fascinating history of meat production in New York City.) Some butchers have hung on in the borough, of course—places like Staubitz Market in Carroll Gardens since 1917, and Paisanos Meat Market in Park Slope, established in 1960.
But in the last five years or so, new artisan butchers have been popping up all over it seems—Fleisher’s, originally in Kingston, NY, now in Park Slope, too; Marlow & Daughters, The Meat Hook. For these butchers, the artisan label is well earned: This is handcrafted meat, using time-honored skills that take a lot of practice to do well. They get grass-fed and pastured whole animals from small, local farms (even a New York City farm, in the case of pigs from Queens County Farm Museum) and are careful not to waste any part, from nose to tail. They are all active in training and apprenticing new butchers—and educating the public, whether in an extensive professional program or individual classes. Tom Mylan, of The Meat Hook (and before that, of Marlow & Daughters), apparently spent a year sleeping at the home of Jessica and Joshua Applestone, owners of Fleisher’s, in Kingston, as he apprenticed with Josh. At The Meat Hook, we met a young woman butcher apprentice who told us her grandfather had been a butcher.
Handcrafted meat will cost 15 percent more a pound, but the customer gets something for that: meat from a sustainable source, advice on cuts that work best for different dishes—or how to cook more inexpensive cuts, and the exact cut you need, trimmed the way you want it.
If you know you’ll need a particular cut of meat for a particular day, do call ahead. Holiday orders, especially, will need to be made at least a week ahead, to be safe.
Fleisher’s Grass-fed and Organic Meats
192 Fifth Avenue, Park Slope
Holiday order deadline: “as soon as possible, since things may go”
Special items: standing rib roast, rack of lamb, goose, duck, plus “all your other holiday favorites”
Marlow & Daughters
95 Broadway, Williamsburg
Holiday order deadline: at least a week ahead; they may be able to do something with less notice, but no guarantee
Special items: local NY goose, pheasant, turkey (must be preordered); dry aged beef; house-made foie gras terrines
The Meat Hook
100 Frost Street, Williamsburg
Holiday order deadline: Sunday, December 16
Special items: rib roast, rack of lamb, goose, guinea hen, capon, Muscovy duck, broad-breasted white turkeys, whole rabbit
Paisanos Meat Market
162 Smith Street, Cobble Hill
Photographs by Basia Hellwig. Date stamp typographic design by Joy Makon Design. The font is Cochin, by Georges Peignot, Linotype, 1912.