ART hound

Geneva Anderson digs into art

Thistle Meats, downtown Petaluma’s new butcher shop and charcuterie, has opened

Thistle Meats is downtown Petaluma’s new butcher shop.  Co-owner Molly Best took some off Saturday afternoon and stepped outside her bustling shop to greet Jackson with one of Thistle’s sidelines—delectable grass fed liver treats for dogs.  $2.50 per pound.  Pawsome!  Photo: Geneva Anderson

Thistle Meats is downtown Petaluma’s new artisan butcher shop. Co-owner Molly Best took some off Saturday afternoon and stepped outside her bustling shop to greet Jackson with one of Thistle’s sidelines—delectable grass-fed liver treats for dogs. $2.50 per pound. Pawsome! Photo: Geneva Anderson

When I started ARThound four years ago, I said I’d be a hound for art, digging up stories and sniffing out the details.  On Saturday, Jackson, my Rhodesian Ridgeback—the better half of ARThound— scooped me while we were out walking.  Excitedly, he guided me to downtown Petaluma’s new boutique butcher, Thistle Meats, 160 Petaluma Blvd, marked by a life-sized white pig.  It was love at first whiff.  Forced to wait outside while Petalumans entered freely, Jackson uttered a tortured groan and locked busy co-owner Molly Best in a soulful stare.  It worked!  She stepped out to greet him personally with a dried grass fed liver treat that forever put her on his map.  As we left, Jackson did the equivalent of a hound tweet….soon a fetching another ridgeback, Daisy, turned up with her owners and so did an enthusiastic yellow lab, Gunner.  A droolfest for Molly Best!

I’d heard all about Thistle for months—proprietors Molly Best and Lisa Mickley Modica have been on the radar with the arts community due to Molly’s artsy background.  A few years back, when I was covering Cornerstone Sonoma, I discovered her shearing a sheep in a promo clip for the short film, “The Shepherd & the Dollmaker,” about the collaboration between Sonoma’s artists and farmers.  She’s also the grown daughter of local sculptor David Best (art cars and ephemeral temples).  Recently, I was struck by Paige Green’s photograph of Molly and Lisa, accompanying Inside Scoop SF’s update on Thistle—two beaming, talented, and determined women honing a great idea.

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Lisa Mickley Modica has a background in land conservation and small business and non-profit management.  She was introduced to Best through mutual friends in the community and they both have children who are close in age.  “I knew immediately that we would hit it off,” said Modica.  “I really wanted to start something that was central to our community and to bridge that gap between downtown Petaluma and what we’re surrounded by, which is this beautiful agriculture, and our ability to experience it first-hand. Teaming up with Molly was a natural progression from that.”   Thistle Meats, a whole animal butchery—with three butchers on staff—strives to celebrate Petaluma’s local bounty by offering really good locally raised meats from farms and ranchers that Molly and Lisa have selected for their quality.  Thistle will also offer a charcuterie program with a range of unique pates, salumi, terrines and other cured meats as well as local produce and eggs and prepared foods.  The process is incremental, taking time to do it right with an appreciation for traditional methods and flavors and banking on culinary-minded Petaluma following suit.

ARThound is on board—it’s high time that downtown Petaluma balance itself out…how many more upscale thrift and furniture stores do we need?  The small shop has a great clean minimalist vibe to it…white tile walls, expansive glass cases showcasing fresh cuts of meat and poultry, and all the tools of the trade on display.  There’s a gorgeous antique bronze bull head on the wall at the front of the shop…refinished by sculptor David Best who is also responsible for the gifting the pig outdoors, which had been in the family for some time.  “The pig landed in our laps and we just love the character it adds,” said Modica.

Atriaux is one of Thistle Meats’ artisan delicacies.  A rich combination of roughly equal parts of pork, liver, and heart, the mix is wrapped in lacey caul fat—the thin membrane of fat that covers the intestines of pig, cow or sheep—this helps it retain its shape and imparts flavor as is melts into the meat when cooked.  Photo: Geneva Anderson

Atriaux is one of Thistle Meats’ artisan delicacies. A rich combination of roughly equal parts of pork, liver, and heart, the mix is wrapped in lacey caul fat—the thin membrane of fat that covers the intestines of pig, cow or sheep—this helps it retain its shape and imparts flavor as is melts into the meat when cooked. Photo: Geneva Anderson

Business was hopping when I popped in on Saturday afternoon.  An attention grabber was the Atriaux, a gorgeous and traditional Old World delicacy, a 35-32-33 combo of pork, liver, and heart, wrapped in caul fat, a striated lacey fat membrane, resembling fancy stockings, that holds the intestinal lining together.  Chef butcher John Richter, who was working the counter on Saturday, told me that he had started the day with a huge double-stacked platter and, by late afternoon, had just a few patties left.  “It’s just amazing stuff,” he boasted.   I bought a plump one (total cost $2.76) and went home and grilled it and served it with sautéed mushrooms and a wine reduction sauce, all over a bed of greens…yummm.

Knowing full well that both women had been working non-stop for weeks to get Thistle launched, I jokingly asked Modica if they both planned to work in the shop all the time.  She let out a frenzied groan, “Let’s say we are still exploring how to do that in a healthy way.”

Details:  Thistle Meats is located at 160 Petaluma Blvd, see the life-sized white pig.   Hours: Monday –Saturday 10 to 7 and Sunday 11 to 4.  Phone: 707 772-5442.  Not much detail on their webpage yet but visit their Facebook page for the latest updates and specials https://www.facebook.com/thistlemeats

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March 3, 2014 - Posted by | Food | , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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