Lamb riblets from Lefever Holbrook ranch

These lamb riblets!–Plump, juicy, deeply . . . lamby. I did almost nothing to them–seared them, made a mirepoix and braised them over it, and ate them with wild rice. Melt-in-your-mouth delicious.

My riblets were once part of a lamb grazing on the “dry land hills and pastures of Lorena Butte” on the Lefever Holbrook Ranch across the mountains in Goldendale. Paulette Lefever sent me this photo; maybe you can taste that sunset in her meats. I bought the little fellow from her last October (after his one bad day, of course), and she and her 11-year-old son Conor delivered him right to my kitchen. (You’ll hear more about Conor; I gather that the hog operation is his, and I’ll be getting several pork products from him soon.)

They do the slaughtering on the ranch and use Buxton’s Meat Co., in Sandy, Oregon, for the butchering; what actually arrived on my kitchen counter (lugged up my many front steps by Conor himself) was a big cooler full of well-labeled packages for my freezer.

The ranch is a member of the Gorge Grown Food Network, a nonprofit that “connects local people to local foods and local farmers to  local markets.” I heard about Paulette’s wonderful products from a friend in my book club–haphazard! It’s great to know that they have an organization devoted to getting the word out.

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Yarmouth Farms French Creek cheese

Yarmouth Farms, near Darrington, Washington, produces (among other things!) fantastic cheeses. I’m told that Louise Yarmouth is the cheesemaker; I’ll go up and interview her one of these days and get some pictures of her operation. But for now, I’ll just rave about her French Creek cheese. This is a “bloomy rind, surface ripened cheese” (the first I’ve tried–or heard of) that has a liquid center with a (slightly) firmer rind. I tried to cut a slice of it, but ended up just scooping some of its fragrant gloppiness onto a baguette slice. Beautiful burst of flavor: fresh earth, soft rain, warm in your mouth!  So yesterday I went back to get some more, and learned the next big thing about it–it’s seasonal. (This is a goat cheese; goats produce their kids between January and March, and then their milk dries up in late summer. Some producers freeze some milk to be able to produce cheese year-round, but I gather that Louise does not.) I’ll find out when it will turn up again; I can’t wait.

Where I got it:  The Calf & Kid Artisan Cheese Shop, Melrose Market, Seattle. This shop is a real find! Knowledgeable, enthusiastic staff and an incredible array of the world’s finest and most interesting cheeses. See my post of January 23rd about Calf & Kid’s Cheese 101 class! (More about Melrose Market coming soon!)