This is not just an award for a food product, but rather it is for a mentality and an approach to life. We have been very fortunate in getting to know Alan Higgins and Grass Roots Meats and the relationship was established through no fault of our own. Actually, the phone rang one day in our kitchen and Alan was at the other end. He explained who he was and a bit about Grass Roots Meats. To be honest all we heard was that he would like to stop by with some samples and talk about meat. I said sure, come on by, and that has made all the difference.
Alan showed up in his pick up truck with a cooler in the back. He stuck out his hand, waiting for me to shake. I did, but Aki and I were both eyeing the cooler. We wanted to get to the meat and see what kind of product he carried. At that point we still hadn’t found many local producers who were able to meet our needs so the prospect of Alan’s grass fed meats was an enticing one. As he pulled the different cuts of meat from the cooler we realized it was frozen. Years ago I would have said sorry, nothing frozen and called it a day. That was when I was young and arrogant and stood comfortably on top of my soapbox. Instead on that distant day we examined the various meats that he pulled out of his cooler and just started talking about them. I asked questions, he asked questions, Aki asked questions, and occasionally we came up with some answers that looked like they might work.
After Alan left, we thawed out the various meat samples, simply seasoned them with salt and began cooking. I was openly skeptical as we began the process. The steaks and chops were thin, they had been frozen, they were much leaner than prime meats; there was a litany of reasons why the meat would not be up to our standards running through my head. I had no true hopes for the meat. What the heck is going to come from a small grass roots operation in the middle of nowhere? Aki was a bit more optimistic and carefully followed Alan’s admonition to cook the meat gently, at slightly lower temperatures than other meats. As she slid them gently from the pans and off the grill, the steaks and chops were golden brown and surprisingly succulent looking. As they rested, the aroma quietly permeated the air with it’s brown beefy scent and a small pool of juices gathered on the platter. Well, it was the most intensely flavorful and juicy lamb and beef I had tasted in eons and as I slowly savored each bite I also ate a bit of crow. Alan could not have been gone for more than a day and I was already calling and asking about every cut of meat from the simple (rack of lamb) to the obscure (lamb bellies and necks). And the beef is equally flavorful. It is not Kobe or prime with rich marbling. It is something different, tasty, meaty, and juicy. Alan’s meats have a unique character, kind of like Alan himself.
Alan’s approach to meat is bespoke. Tell him what you want, how you want it and that is what you will get with his final approval. It is not worth his time and energy to provide anything but the best. And if he cannot get you exactly what you want he lets you know immediately that there may be problems. He is straightforward and true, as are his meats and his approach to life. That is why we are awarding GrassRoots Meats the Award for The Most Eye Opening Palate Satisfying and Life Inspiring Meats.
A big thank you to everyone at Tasting Menu for taking the time to organize the awards. They were a lot of fun and we learned a lot about food from all of the other bloggers that participated. If you haven't already, please check out the other awards here.