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Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Why Small Slaughterhouses Matter, Why I Should Have Eaten at Sunset Deli 10 Years Ago

Posted By on Wed, Apr 13, 2011 at 7:18 AM

Sunrise Deli's avocado falafel, $5.99. - JONATHAN KAUFFMAN
  • Jonathan Kauffman
  • Sunrise Deli's avocado falafel, $5.99.
Today's notes on national stories, local trends, random tastes, and other bycatch dredged up from the food media.

1. The good meat. Last week, the Bay Citizen ran a good piece about the lack of small, local slaughterhouses to serve small-scale ranchers and farmers ― the kind many in San Francisco's restaurant industry love to talk up. (Basically, if it isn't slaughtered properly, restaurants can't serve it to the public.) The situation appears to be growing dire, since the recession has brought down several smaller slaughterhouses. Washington state now has a few of them.

Small operations don't just benefit farmers ― they bring a measure of respect to the butchery process. If you're not at your desk, you may want to watch this extraordinary video interview with meat cutter Larry Althizer that Liza de Guia just posted on Food Curated. (It's part of a series of three.) Althizer just opened a small operation in upstate New York, and de Guia talks to him as he and his crew kill and break down a cow, a sheep, and a pig. Having seen the process before, I didn't find it hard to watch, but you might; even if you're wincing at some of the scenes, you can't fail to be moved by the care Althizer shows toward his profession. He doesn't pretend butchering an animal is easy, but he does make it seem humane.

Sunrise Deli's avocado falafel, $5.99. - JONATHAN KAUFFMAN
  • Jonathan Kauffman
  • Sunrise Deli's avocado falafel, $5.99.

2. Falafel. Slowly, slowly, I'm eating my way around the Outer Sunset, which I didn't explore thoroughly enough during the first decade-plus I lived in this city. Remedial education activity number 73: eating falafel at the original Sunrise Deli (2115 Irving at 22nd Ave.). Turns out, I should have skipped the Truly Med/Ali Baba's sandwiches I downed and jumped on the N.

Freshly fried, the chickpea rounds in the avocado falafel ($5.99!) I tried had an inimitable crunch ― lacy and grainy at the same time ― that endured, even after they had soaked in a pool of hummus for 10 minutes. They were moist but not gooey, and seasoned just strongly enough to keep me picking at the patties after I was full. If the fixings in the sandwich had been picked with the same care, or perhaps more boldly seasoned, it would have made SFoodie's 92 favorite dishes of the year.

3. Because you can part with 10 minutes of your life. May I suggest you donate them to Charcutroulette?

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Follow me at @JonKauffman.

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Jonathan Kauffman

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