Oh the little happy dance I did when I found out that a very exciting new butcher was to open in my neighbourhood … Not that there is any shortage of purveyors of meaty wares where I live – there is an abundance of supermarkets, large and small, as well as stand-alone butchers, but it isn’t quantity that I’m after, it’s quality.
If you live in Melbourne (or even visit occasionally and like food), you’ve almost certainly eaten in at least one of Andrew McConnell’s dining rooms: Cumulus Inc, Cumulus Up, Cutler & Co, The Builders Arms, Moon Under Water, Supernormal, Luxembourg, and since late 2015, wine bar, Marion. Makes me hungry just thinking about it.
So where does the butcher come in, I hear you ask? Meatsmith on Smith St, Fitzroy also opened in October 2015, and is for me an extremely welcome addition to the cornucopia of places on this street from whence to procure one’s next meal. They’re open every day until 7pm (5pm on Sundays), which increases the convenience stakes exponentially, since the only other ‘decent’ butcher around here closes at 1pm on Saturdays and isn’t open on Sundays. Making ‘Wake up, go to the butcher’ just never stuck as my Saturday morning mantra …
And they don’t just sell meat. Stocking all manner of things for your larder, like high-quality vinegars and oils, pickles, preserves, and other accoutrements to accompany the cured meats, house-made terrines, parfaits and rillettes that they whip up out back. The meat is mostly pasture-fed and the flavour is amazing. I could go on and on. But this is supposed to be about their country terrine.
Amidst the selection of terrines, the ‘country’ version could give the impression of being somehow lesser-than, if price is all you were going on. But don’t dismiss it in favour of one of its fancier-sounding, higher-priced cousins. The country terrine may be simple fare: chicken liver and pork, and lately they’ve taken to swaddling it in some wafer-thin prosciutto, but it’s no wallflower. Its rich flavour and spicy overtones took me by pleasant surprise the first time I tried it, and now like an itch to scratch, I keep going back for more.
If gluten isn’t your mortal enemy, serve it with some toasted sourdough or a fresh baguette. My fellow-glutards should turn to their favourite loaf, sliced very thinly and toasted, or good rice crackers will do in a pinch. Cornichons are a must. Add it to a charcuterie plate, or have it for lunch or dinner. If you’ve got a glass of something nice to drink, that wouldn’t go astray either.