Problem solved

I like my food, particularly meat. As much as I adore freshly grown vegetables and salad, I can’t do without meat. In the UK I can go to any supermarket or butchers shop and buy exactly the cut of meat I need for a particular recipe. Now here is the problem. When I buy meat in Latvia I have great difficulty in recognising  which part of the animal the meat comes from. This is not unusual. I remember as an eleven year old going to buy meat with my dad in a market in Rovinj, a beautiful coastal town in the old Republic of Yugoslavia. We hadn’t a clue what we were looking at in front of us.

Now it is nearly 40 years since I left catering college and the nearest thing I got to butchering anything was trimming a rack of lamb. Undeterred and armed with a saw from a local diy shop and my trusty set of Global knives I decided to try butchering a whole lamb. Thanks to Dzons Brauns at Jokas Wines I found a local farmer producing what I hope is organic Lamb. I had forgotten how small lamb is. It only weighed 22 kg.

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I persuaded Inta to let me have the dining table for the task, covered in a plastic sheet of course. Suitably armed with the tools of the trade and a diagram obtained from the internet, I set to and 3 hours later the freezer was full. All very uneventful really. I think I must be adapting to life in the Latvian countryside. However it has given me the confidence to try something bigger next time. Not a beef cow, which could be as heavy as 500-600 kg but a pig.

As a footnote we had some lamb chops last night and they were delicious.

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19 Responses to Problem solved

  1. vinebob says:

    I’ve been having the same problem here in Sigulda, yes you can get minced beef, but the only other cuts I’ve found are more suitable for putting on the soles of your shoes. And lamb just doesn’t seem to exist her at all. My brother in law tells me he knows somebody halfway between Sigulda and Cesis who supplies lamb so I’m hopeful, if not I would love to know your suppliers details please Andrew. Regards Bob

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  2. vinebob says:

    Thanks so much. How far away from Sigulda are you? Just wondered if you wanted to meet up sometime over Christmas so VINETA and I can introduce ourselves.

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  3. As our celebrity chef Mārtiņš Rītiņš once said: “The English have 19 cuts of beef, the French have 29, here in Latvia we have 2: front and back” 🙂

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  4. TRex says:

    The only meat I eat is beef nowadays & in small quanities suitable for beef barley soup or Borscht so the cut is not important which is good because I get my red meat from Rigas market and it is simply displayed as a lump of protein. Absolutely nothing that could be identified as a Chuck, Short Loin, Round, Plate, Shank or Flank let alone Sirloin, Tenderloin, Top Sirloin or Bottom Sirloin. Never seen Brisket or ribs, just tongue and liver & bits-n-pieces. There’s always a guy flailing away on something propped up on a wooden chopping block with a huge chopper but I would hardly call that operation a butcher, so, no attempt at conversation is called for.
    I don’t eat lamb or pork but your solution is the obvious one. Have a good look at what you are cutting up is the only way to know for sure what you have on your plate.

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  5. You might try Matadors at Pociems, north of Limbazi but not far, they butcher and you could ask them to cut what you want. On the subject of meat have you tried Wild Boar, I think it is marvellous, but also if you talk to the Hunters you could quite likely find yourself with quite an interesting variety of meats? It is quite the norm to do the butchering yourself here, but a pig is huge we usually just get a section to cut up and even then it is shared between friends. Next thing will be an apple tree at the back door and a few pigs in the orchard 🙂

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  6. Renate says:

    To buy some lamb, You can contact Mikaitas, they are near Limbaži, in Kaijciems. They mostly breed sheep, but meat is sometimes available, so just contact Aija via e-mail. They have biological farm and what I find very interesting, they use herding dogs!
    http://www.mikaitas.lv/kontakti.html

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  7. Joanna says:

    There is an organic sheep farm near us in Ergli too, probably a bit far for most folks. They don’t use herding dogs either, but then they will follow someone with a bucket of grain, even a large number of them. Just in case anyone is interested their contact details are here http://www.erglasparni.lv/1/ It is a camp centre too, but they have many hundreds of sheep, not sure how many these days

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  8. Well, if you would like some beef meat for steaks and alike, you can order here: http://www.saulcerisi.lv/lv/products It’s not cheap by any stretch, but at least there are at least 27 cuts there 😀

    But for more daily use, when you are in Riga, visit the central bazar, the meat section. Although there not as broad selection on the display, if you ask for something specific, they might just have it in store. And if you become a regular customer, you can just pre-order what you want. Yes, you will have to make friends with the sellers, but for a good quality fresh meat it’s worth it 🙂

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