I have been avoiding Tony's Meat (Los Paisanos) on Smith for months because whenever I go there I buy more than I need and spend too much money. But I'd forgotten that going to Tony's is such a happy experience. Why are butchers so nice?
This phenomenon will fascinate me forever. I don't feel happy when I leave local wine shops - I feel cross (with some exceptions). But when I leave the butchery - any butchery, I am smiling and it's not because of what I've bought. It's because of the interaction that has accompanied the bloody transaction.
I saw my friend Pedro the butcher, who interrupted his cutting of steak for another customer to greet me and ask where I'd been, and had I moved and why don't I come by any more, and how about those Vuvuzelas at the World Cup? You guys are doing a great jarb of hosting the World Corp, he said. I beamed. He asked about the weather there, my parents.
Another butcher helped me, fetching lamb from the cold room, weighing it and asking me how I'd like it cut, showing me two ways of butterflying it and holding the bone out - you want it? Yes. He wrapped my beautifully opened out and flattened lamb leg in brown butcher paper and I paid. I had bought too much and paid a lot, as usual. At home I divvied it up into various portions for the freezer. At some point, when the weather cools and my husband is away, I will roast the jointed lamb bones and gnaw away at them in private, with the cat as my solemn audience and a pinch of salt to season my meal.
Then I went to uproot some more garlic on the terrace. Yes, I could leave it longer, they're babies.
Time to gloat at the deep apricot roses...
...and the blue agastache.
I had picked up some Fage yogurt, and rosemary (I can picture a rosemary bush on the roof, soon) and now had the ingredients for the lamb's marinade. One cup yogurt, four new heads of garlic, chopped, three stalks of rosemary, leaves stripped from the stems, salt and pepper.
Schmear over the butterflied lamb and leave for as long as you can. Many hours. Go and plant a roof farm.
Light a fire, add good charcoal, wait till it's grey, add lamb. About fifteen-twenty minutes to a side, and then rest under foil for at least twenty minutes, where it remains marvelously hot and pink.
Carve, eat. We had an onion and terrace parsley salad with it, as well as cubes of mango dressed with lime and hot chile.
And a lot of cold Cotes du Rhone.
Let the week begin.