Make Friends with Your Butcher, Fishmonger ...

If you have the opportunity, and I recommend you MAKE the opportunity, make friends with your Butcher, Fishmonger, Cheesemonger, Sommelier, Greengrocer and any other “specialist” that might be available at your local market. I consider myself extremely lucky to live close to Weiland’s Gourmet Market. Weiland’s has been around since 1961. They have expanded a few times since then and currently occupy an 18,000 sq ft store only about 3 miles from my house. I’m often there 2 or 3 times per week. I have spent the time and effort to cultivate conversational relationships with a number of the people there. Its fun, we get to know each other a little and they have been extremely helpful over the years. ‘Why?’ you might ask?

Ever wonder how to cook a particular cut of meat? Looking for something special – maybe a butterflied leg of lamb or a turducken? Know what a turducken is? Have you read a recipe and don’t know exactly what they’re talking about? Like what’s in the case but wish it was cut a little different – thicker, thinner, bigger, smaller? Trying to figure out what size roast you need to feed 6 people?


Do you want to try a recipe that calls for a “firm” white fish? Do you have any idea what that is? Wondering about the difference between a “steak” and a “filet”? Do you know which fish have a strong taste and which have a mild taste? Do you know how many kinds of clams there are or how they’re different? Want to make sure you don’t overcook the shrimp? Know how to clean a mussel?



Ever wonder what bleu cheese is? Is it different from a blue cheese? What’s a goat cheese? What kind of cheese is good for a fondue? What is a fondue? How many kinds of fondue are there? Do some cheeses melt differently from others? What’s the best way to melt a cheese? What’s a “sharp” cheese? How many kinds of feta are there and what are the differences between them?



Want to know how to cook brussel sprouts? Want to know the difference between curly and flat leaf parsley? Ever wonder if there was a difference in taste between green bell peppers and orange, red or yellow bell peppers? How is an English cucumber different from “regular” cucumbers? What’s the best way to cook asparagus? How is Savoy cabbage different from “regular” cabbage? What does fennel taste like and how is it used?



What kind of wine should I serve with (fill in the blank)? What can I serve to drink before dinner (aperitif)? What can I serve as a dessert wine? What does “brut” mean? Do I use sweet or dry Marsala in cooking? Is anything labeled “cooking…” good for drinking. Should I even use them for cooking? How much do I have to pay for a good bottle of wine? What the heck is a “tannin”?

The specialists at Weiland’s can answer all these questions and more. Now, I can’t guarantee that the people in the store where you shop have all the answers. But I’m guessing they know quite a bit and can be quite helpful. How do you cultivate such a relationship? Engage people in conversation. Tell them what you’re trying to do and ask them if they can help. Want to seal the deal? Take them a taste of something you’ve made. It’s well worth the effort.

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