Saturday, April 11, 2009

It's the little things...

Tomorrow is Easter, and I'm so ready! Our Lenten sacrifice was to give up meat aside from one day per week, which was usually Sunday. If you count it out, the 40 days of Lent don't count Sundays, which are "Feast Days," so that's why. It was fine for the first week and a half, but after that, well, let's just say neither of us are cut out to be vegetarians. Or ovolactopescatarians, which is technically what we did. Hubby enjoyed the regular fish. I tolerated it, but being more into shellfish, got more excited about scallops and shrimp than salmon. Tonight, for our last Lenten meal, we're doing grilled Redfish with sauteed baby pac choy and turnips braised in butter, garlic, and veggie broth. Okay, we haven't been suffering that much, especially with the lovely spring produce hitting the markets and the good seafood from Shields and Sawicki's (see below).

I decided to go to the cafe in my office building for lunch on Thursday because I hadn't gotten to eat out yet this week, and I wanted something with French Fries, which they serve topped with yummy garlic salt. There's not much down there for the non-carnivore, so I decided to get creative and ordered a Philly Cheese sandwich with no meat. Yeah, that earned some interesting looks, then laughter, but more in a "we're laughing near you, not at you" sense. They ended up offering to add tomatoes and mushrooms to the onions and bell peppers to make a really good veggie melt. They didn't have to add the extra veggies, but I thought it was great that they got creative and tried to make it better for me.

The veggie melt was so exciting, and my lightly scheduled day so busy, that I totally forgot to call Shields Meat Market (web site not working, but they're in the same building as the CVS at 1554 North Decatur Road) and order the lamb shoulder for Sunday. By the time I remembered on Thursday evening -- while in the shower, of all places! -- they had already sent their orders off. I talked to Geoff, the owner, who offered a leg or a top round, but he advised me that neither would work in the recipe we wanted to do.

Side note: Shields has fantastic Georgia shrimp. They're huge, tender, and a good price. They also have nice vine-ripened tomatoes that taste much better than you typically find out of season.

Random other side note: WTF is going on with the work on North Decatur Road just past Emory and in front of Shields and that entire row of businesses??? It's like the Dekalb roads department has gotten too lazy to finish the job and/or at least stick metal plates over the chasms they've opened up! We drove through there today, and my poor Honda Civic was not happy with the rough terrain.

So, discouraged and dripping, I called Sawicki's in downtown Decatur and spoke to the owner, Lynn, who typically answers her own phone and deals directly with customers. She already had her orders in, too, but she said she'd "forage" for us, and that I should call back at noon the next day. We ended up there for lunch on Friday because we really like the special Veggie sandwich (the one on the board, not the menu). We hadn't bought meat from her before, just seafood, because we were concerned about the prices being too high. She located a lamb shoulder of about the right size and told us she'd call when it came in. The problem was that it ended up being about three pounds too large. Lynn sold it to us at cost because it wasn't exactly what we had asked for even though it was a special order, and she had gone out of her way to get it for us. We were able to partially defrost it and cut a still-frozen hunk off, so we now have a perfect-sized cut for tomorrow's recipe (want to see what we're doing? Click here!) as well as a nice three pound piece in the freezer for a later meal.

So, I'd like to give kudos to Cafe 400, Shields, and especially Sawicki's for great customer service. I admire Geoff for being honest with me as to what would work in the recipe rather than trying to sell me something that wouldn't. That's why I love living in Decatur: local merchants whom you can build relationships with and who have good-quality stuff at good prices. Seriously, try the shrimp at Shields and the scallops and fish at Sawicki's. You won't be disappointed.

1 comment:

Dan said...

I've been designated the marinade guy for the kabobs for 100 guests at the annual church Easter barbecue, so I went with different stuff - citrus-based marinade with cumin and ancho chili for the chicken, and red wine & garlic for the lamb. Should all be great, as long as we can raid the host's wine cellar!