We arrived in New York with an â€œAlisbayanâ€ box (did you know they had such things?) filled with 200 plus capiz boxes that were to be used as favors at my nephewâ€™s upcoming wedding. That along with three â€œsmugglerâ€ sized suitcases with two more nested within meant we were a liability to any yellow taxi cab at the JFK airport. My brother-in-law surprised us by picking us up with a rented van and we cruised back to Manhattan in mini-van splendor. The following day, the rented van was parked just outside the apartment, just begging for an excursion. In answer to the question â€œWhereâ€™s the Meat?â€ we piled into the van and headed to the borough of Queens (the largest of the five NY boroughs at over 100 square miles), just over one of the midtown bridges in search of the Greek section of Astoria. First stop was the International Meat Market on Grand Avenue in Astoria, Queens.
A medium sized Greek owned butcher packed to the gills with some of the finest meat you have ever seen. The window had a whole side of lamb hanging, sides of beef, whole rabbits, pork and veal on display. The cases within the store held even moreâ€¦ racks of veal, enormous osso buco, tails of young cows, several cuts of pork, beef and lamb. My sister picked up an order for an aged hunk of roast beef which they trimmed in front of us and sliced a few spectacular steaks while leaving a four-rib roast. The meat was a deep deep red or burgundy, the result of having aged and some of the moisture having evaporated, leaving an intensely flavorful meat. This is where the meat wasâ€¦ We also picked up a rack of veal (veal chops are my absolute favorite meat) that was roasted later that day and just simply the best way to sink back into that New York frame of mind.
While we were waiting for the beef, I checked out some of the other refrigerated cases and discovered they carried an extensive selection of products from Dâ€™Artagnan â€“ that famous provedore of foie gras and other gout-causing goodies. They had the most enormous looking Poussin (young chicken, so itâ€™s unusual to see them so enormous), organic free-range chickens, duck breasts (magret), etc. I didnâ€™t see any foie gras but perhaps it was available for special order. This was, by the way, a neighborhood butcher but the selection was just simply superb. The neighborhood must be eating very well indeed.
Besides the meat, the store carried other food products starting .
with gourmet salts, superb olive oils, truffle and other flavored oils, spices, olives, pastas, dry goods and other greek specialties. I purchased some French sea salt and some spices. I couldnâ€™t resist taking this photo of the lamb and close by but not captured were several skinned rabbits that my daughter had the hibbie-jibbies about as she has a pet rabbit at home. The International Meat Market is located at 36-12 30th Avenue, Astoria New York 11103. Ring them at 718-626-6656 if you need more detailed directions.