J is for JW Treuth & Sons.
You never really know what you're made of until the cardiac tissue hits the cutting board. At least, that's what I found out this past fall when, as part of family vacation, we decided to do a "nasty bits" dinner.
Let me explain.
After one too many episodes of No Reservations (or one too many bottles of wine) Matt and I decided that we were going to try the "unusual dishes" that Bourdain talks up in his books. Then we decided we were just going to cook a whole bunch of "weird" things. Which is how I ended up at Treuth's, a butcher in Oella (Catonsville? Baltimore? Maybe this isn't strictly "hoco" but it's really close by).
Treuth's butchers on site, and they offer pretty good deals. I'd had filet from there before - Jeff brought it over the night several of us did a 100-mile dinner. When I asked, the staff told me the animals came from Pennsylvania (or nearby). The steaks were delicious.
So naturally, when I realized I needed to talk to someone about the dishes we wanted to make on vacation, I thought of them. And while the first visit was wholly exploratory - me asking questions, checking out what they normally have - the staff was really helpful. The woman I spoke with answered all of my questions and urged me to bring in recipes or ask for ideas if I needed them.
A week later (just before vacation) I returned. I left with: a bag of beef bones, cut in 2-3 inch pieces, and a 4.5 lb beef heart. When the guys behind the counter found out my plans, they were pretty entertained - they brought out beef tongue for me to check out, and talked kidneys with me. Seeing as our menu already included fish head soup and chicken feet, I passed on those.
And I did get other things: a nice sirloin that was on special, some sweet italian sausage, and two pounds of bacon (which was amazing and did not last; I should have bought 4 pounds).
I will say that the roasted bone marrow (as I made it) was messy and overrated but the beef heart was pretty tasty - it tasted just like normal steak, perhaps a bit chewier, but perfect for a stew or long marinade (and dirt cheap). I'd buy it again.
But more importantly, I'll go back to JW Treuth's. It's nice to have a local butcher. It's nicer to have people who serve excellent products at high quality and good prices, and who are willing to engage their customers about the food. If you haven't made it to JW Treuth's, and you live in the HoCo, you're missing out. Make some time and visit them (seriously... the "weird stuff" is all optional ;) )
J is for JW Treuth's, an excellent local butcher shop
in near the HoCo.