My boyfriend, the butcher makes Saturday night dinner just right

Saturday night's delish dish

I like to look.  At the grocery, that is.

When I'm shopping for food, I'm in no particular hurry. Unless, I'm shopping for a particular menu, I usually don't carry a list.  I know what I want when I see it.

This is no problem for me shopping solo, but if I'm marketing with anyone else - my son, my mother, or any other person who isn't as happy in the kitchen as I am - the going can be tough. I hate to be rushed, so if I'm shopping with anyone who sticks to a list and does a cart dash through the market, I'm more than a little annoyed.

The same goes for when I'm cooking.  Join me in the kitchen for a glass of wine and a chat, but stay out from under foot and - please - don't second guess my seasonings or method.  I won't tell you how to cook in your kitchen and unless I ask, I don't want you telling me how to cook in mine.

Old habits are hard to break.

So when I found myself in front of the butcher's counter at Whole Foods this week, I was doing what I normally do - eying the meat, checking out its color and its texture, making note of its price, basically enjoying the overabundant display.  There's a reason excessive and gorgeous displays of food are dubbed 'food porn.'

One of the reasons I like Whole Foods is the staff is attentive and knowledgeable, although, for me, sometimes too much attention is worse than not enough.  My boyfriend, the butcher, for instance was quick to ask if I needed assistance - not once but twice in the span of five minutes. The third time he asked, I finally woke up and realized he was flirting.  

Please don't flirt with me over the meat counter.  I can't think about possible dates over a bloody cut of meat. Too much multi-tasking.  Plus, my mother was hovering.

None of this was lost on my mother the matchmaker, who despite marrying me off unsuccessfully one or two times before, would still like to see me linked up with some eligible someone. But I really just wanted a lamb roast.  Besides, my mother's matchmaking record is not so great.

Even if my boyfriend the butcher struck out, he gave terrific customer service. I got a lovely boneless roast, hand cut just right for Saturday night dinner. Maybe I ought to reconsider the man behind the meat counter.

Boneless Lamb Roast with Carrots, Parsnips & Brussel Sprouts

serves six

2-3 pound boneless lamb roast

2 teaspoons kosher salt

1 teaspoon fresh ground pepper

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, minced

1 tablespoon fresh parsley, minced

1 tablespoon fresh Italian oregano, minced

1/4 cup olive oil

3 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar

3 carrots, peeled and cut in 1-inch cubes

3 parsnips, peeled and cut in 1-inch cubes

12 brussel sprouts

1. Rub the outside and the center of the roast with the kosher salt and ground pepper.

2. Mix garlic and fresh herbs, then rub the mixture over the roast and in the center. 

3. Place the roast in a glass baking dish and pour the olive oil and white balsamic vinegar over the roast. Cover and marinate over night.

4. Preheat oven to 325 degrees Farenheit. Arrange vegetables around the roast and add 1/2 cup of water to the baking dish. Cover and cook 20 minutes per pound for medium rare (140 degrees on the meat thermometer), 25 minutes per pound for medium (160 degrees), and 30 minutes per pound for well done (170 degrees).

I love the butcher at Brighton Bazaar


Not only is he an expert with the cleaver, he could give lessons in customer service (Ladies, in cured meat and cheeses, please take note.)

He's never too busy to explain his product and what product it is -- dark marbled lamb chops, pale skinless D'Artagnan rabbits ($5.99 a pound), plump-breasted chicken. 

Beautiful glistening mounds of meat greet the carnivores at his ultra-clean counter in a gorgeous display of excess. 

No order is too small (like yesterday's pound of ground beef mixed with pork when what I really wanted was a lovely rabbit).  He is too kind to make any disdainful observation about your market basket and gently dashes your hopes of rabbit with the average price of $30 for a mature roaster. 

I breezed in from the beach, body still tacky with sea salt and hair unkempt, to shop for a few comestibles to take home - pickled mushrooms, a sour cherry and clabbered cream parfait,
the Russian version of ravioli made with veal, latkes, Challah, blackly ripe sweet Bing cherries, smoked chicken.

I love shopping the aisles with the Russian women dressed like they just stepped from the pages of Vogue - even if I feel slightly frumpy by comparison.  Yesterday I negotiated the aisles beside a stunning brunette - with that perfect skin cultivated only in Eastern Europe it seems - in a floor-length, fitted white dress and spike heels that could put an eye out.

But my butcher treats me like one of the glamorous women, giving me a courtly bow and pretending to think I'm Russian by greeting me in his mother tongue then fluently switching to English to accommodate the foreigner in Little Odessa.  He is chivalrous when it is not necessary to be so, and since it is a quality I find sadly lacking in modern life, I lap it up like sweet cream.

And even when he knows (the way a good salesman knows the depth of his customer's pockets) that my choices are utilitarian rather than frivolous, he asks if there isn't something else he can get for me. He assumes there is a day when I will spend more.

Thank you, my beautiful butcher.