2011/02/24

Old Places, New Friends... (Short Ribs in Red Wine & Port)

There are times when I feel like I am seeing the world for the first time.  Or that I am just missing everything that is sitting under my nose.  Can't see the forest through the trees and all that... 

Like these for example...  Short ribs.  Bone in.  Nine pounds...  Not a simple find - or at least I couldn't find them simply.  But my quest finally took me to what should have been the most obvious place.  Where I should have started.  The meat counter at the grocer.  I told him what I want.  He went into the back and pulled out a slab of beef and asked me how many I wanted and how I wanted them cut.  Ten minutes later, I was walking out of the store in a state of wonder.  Who knew???











I got what I wanted.  When I wanted it.  Within the time needed.  And with friendly service.  Just like that.  And then I started wondering why I was so surprised to get service at an establishment whose purpose is to provide service?  Just sayin'












My second ah-ha moment came a few minutes later when I was looking for turtle beans and some other non-standard food items.  I was bemoaning the fact that I would have to drive a half hour to get to the nearest natural foods store when The Runner Girl in all of her 16-year old wisdom said "you can get that stuff at XYZ store".  I looked at her.  Mouth dropped open.  "How do you know that?"  "We used to get my mouthpieces here for clarinet."  "Huh?"  (I wasn't quite sure what the relationship was between clarinets and turtle beans, but I rolled with it.)  Now I have driven by this store probably ten times a week for most of my adult life.  Did I have a clue?  (Rhetorical question).  When I went in and saw all they had to offer, I was as giddy as a kid in the candy store.  And kicking myself for not figuring it all out sooner.  D'oh. 

A week later, I am still befuddled by it all.  I know I should be talking about the ribs and the preparation and all of that.  But the thing that excited me the most about this week's FFwD process was finding someplace that I can get custom cuts of beef and a local store where I can buy my quinoa flakes, turtle beans & teff. 

I know I made beef short ribs.  And cooked them in lots of wine (I DO know how conjure up a good bottle of wine.  HMMMM).  For a very long time.  And served them up with some cauliflower gratin (which was REALLY good).  Maybe when I am less of a neophyte, I can make the ribs again - all sophisticated like.  And speak eloquently about them.  But for now, I am content to hug my package of amaranth and let it know how grateful I was to have found it within a ten mile radius at a price where I did not have to take out a second mortgage to obtain it.  Yeah.  It's like that.     

This post participates in French Fridays with Dorie.  Come check out how the other, less befuddled bloggers made out!

39 comments:

  1. I wish I had thought to ask at the meat counter! I went to a local butcher and paid more than I expected to pay! How fun is it discovering new sources for our cooking stuff?

    I loved this recipe!

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  2. I enjoyed your talk about shopping. Glad your butcher was helpful!

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  3. How great! I asked my Vons' butcher for the ribs too...who knew! So nice to discover a great place, near home...even after years of living there! Your ribs look yummo!!

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  4. Cute post, Cher...glad your daughter was such a help to you (so nice when they surprise you with their knowledge~). Not sure if I qualify as less befuddled, but I enjoyed these, too~

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  5. I'm laughing cos I had a similar experience at the butcher! I asked for the ribs and then he asked how I wanted them cut! I was so impressed with the service! Your ribs look great!

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  6. How funny! I should have asked the butcher behind the counter for short ribs with bones...but the boneless ones I got were still good. Enjoyed reading your post as always Cher and you ribs look perfect!

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  7. It's such a revelation when you find out the meat counter at your grocery store has more than what they put out front, isn't it? I thought it was some well-kept secret the first time I tried it!

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  8. It's an important skill, knowing how to conjure up a good bottle of wine. The rest - eh we'll get there sometime.
    :)

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  9. Enjoyed your post and your pictures!

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  10. Excellent! That's so funny about the butcher and how surprised we all get at something like that. The short ribs look great and I agree that knowing how to conjure up a bottle of wine is a major life skill, nay--a necessity akin to breathing. As always, your post made me laugh and start my day on a bright note! Thanks, Cher!

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  11. I also asked the butcher in the grocery store…he was very helpful and I got what I wanted! Nice post! Lovely photos!

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  12. Great story! Your finished ribs look wonderful and how nice that you found a new-to-you local source for hard to find ingredients.

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  13. Loved your post. Refreshing and energetic. Nice pictures.

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  14. Big week for you! I love a-ha moments. I hope life never stops surprising you. Your daughter sounds bright and shiny and your ribs look fab!

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  15. The meat case at the grocery had one small package of short ribs. I asked the butcher to cut me some more, which he was glad to do (he was already thawing shrimp for me. Service isn't a thing of the past after all, is it?

    I once asked the butcher at the grocery the best way to bone a chicken, and he said, "Here, I'll show you." And he did. So I not only got my deboned chicken for that day, I now know how to do it myself.

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  16. I've been spoiling myself by going to Whole Foods for much of this meat lately because the service is so good and I get exactly what I need. I like that they don't have cello wrapped packages of meat ready to go like at the other stores locally. No butcher service at all there. Great post Cher!

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  17. Your ribs look fantastic! That is the best feeling, when you can find a good local place and can get good service! :)

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  18. Why is it so hard to ask for service at a meat counter? I am so used to just thinking that everything is out in the case or in the refrigerated sections...but I think they hold out the good stuff and keep it in the back? Thanks for reminding me to ask.

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  19. I find the butcher marvelous too.....I love getting exactly the cut of meat I wanted and am thrilled every single time.

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  20. I loved your post this week. I had a similar experience. When I was at the store searching out short ribs, they only had one pack of four (cut the way I wanted). When I asked the butcher if there was more, he went in the back to cut them for me. This hit the spot for the endless winter, and you got to use parsnips again!

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  21. I actually had to go to two butchers to find these. Apparently they are not commonly called for in Minnesota in February!

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  22. Quinoa flakes? teff? amaranth? I can barely find normal quinoa in this island... Finding flours, seeds and grains is quite an adventure here. Lovely post, Cher :)

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  23. I guess I have another butcher counter story... and yes, asking will get you what you need. Even at the warehouse club! I couldn't really tell them how I wanted my ribs, but I made sure that they got some more out for me. By the way, you made short ribs. I don't think you count as a neophyte anymore!

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  24. I love your whole story. Sometimes, the most interesting thing isn't the end product, but how you get there!

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  25. I am laughing because Nana said she would get the ribs this week and I never imagined that they were expensive OR hard to find...till I read all the links :) Methinks the next spices are on me.... And I love how what you "got" out of the FF this week was not only a great meal, but a new perspective on where to get stuff. I was raving over the ribs (as was the whole family) and Nana simply said "that's braising". My own D'oh moment. Not sure I ever really braised anything but can tell you I don't recall meat tasting like this. That was my "aha" for this week. Stay warm !!

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  26. I didn't realize how hard to find or expensive the short ribs were until I read all the posts. Nana had offered to pick them up and methinks I owe her some saffron...or a Starbucks at least:) Love how you got a new perspective on cooking related topics this week (shopping and such). My "aha" moment was not over just the specific recipe - which Nana and I LOVED.....but the whole braising thing. I was raving about the meat and Nana simply said "that's was braising is". Where has this been all my life :) If it was not for FFWD, I am not sure I would have truly understood what this delivers. Great post. Stay warm !

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  27. That's a great story. It's wonderful to find places that have a great selection and it's also great to get good service when you least expect it.

    I'm curious about your plans for the amaranth, quinoa and teff. I've been experimenting with these in gluten-free baking, myself.

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  28. @ Lizzie - The Runner Girl is one amazing kid (as is her sister, too). It always amazes me what an adult she is turning into...
    @ KB - glad your day started with a smile - every day should! I am glad I could help contribute to yours.
    @ Sis. Boom. I am SO jealous of everyone's access to a Whole Foods - the closest one to here is like three hours away. Sad face.
    @ Pandita - up here, it can be a bit of a task to find "non-standard foods_ - which is why I was SO HAPPY to find something close to home. I hear you!
    @ One Wet Foot - I have lots & lots of plans :-)

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  29. I am puzzling the connection between clarinets and grains!

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  30. What a fun read this was. You tell a good story and make a mean looking short rib! I used to play the clairnet too so that part took me by surprise. How fun!

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  31. The butcher at my local Safeway was a big help too. I think he liked putting his skills to use and doing more than putting meat in a black tray, wrapping it in plastic, and placing in the meat section of the store never to be seen again.

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  32. Too cute! I guess I was lucky to find short ribs at the supermarket; I didn't know until reading everyone else's posts that they were hard to find!

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  33. You gotta love those Butchers! Your ribs look fantastic! Im glad you and your family enjoyed them!

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  34. Oh, sister, I can relate! Sometimes the most obvious things are hidden from us:) I had bad experiences with grocery store butchers who did not know what i was talking about, and then, I had great experiences, especially since we moved to SoCal.
    I cannot wait to see what you do with quinoa flakes (?)
    We shop at 99 Ranch Market for anything Asian and I love that store - huge and cheap (I just need to hire a guide to lead me through it:)

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  35. A very interesting post on finding ingredients for your short rib dish. Your dish looks fabulous,too! I'm sorry I missed this one!

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  36. The layout of your blog is really nice Cher! Who'da thought to just ask the butcher? I guess it makes sense. My husband is a friendly type a guy so he makes friends with all the store folks both behind the meat counter and at the check out lanes. I love that you made cauliflower gratin. That must have been a tasty combo! Great post.
    bonnie

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  37. I have had those ah-ha moments several times myself. Always a shocker. LOVE, love, love your photos and your ribs look divine! Great story too!

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  38. Smart to ask the butcher! I ended up only getting 3 lbs because the big party of people I was going to cook for dwindled to, well, me. This was my first time working with short ribs too. Looks like you did a great job! I really like that picture with the veg.

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