Llama, Alpacas, and Elk…Oh My! An Evening at the Exotic Meat Market
If you read my last blog post, you would know that Emily and I just returned from a 2 week California road trip. It was a great trip that took us to many destinations in the Golden State. One of the more memorable stops along the trip was the Exotic Meat Market in California. Those of you that know me personally, or follow this blog are also aware that I am an adventurous foodie and I am willing to sample different types of foods. I may not be as extreme as Andrew Zimmern, but I have tried various insects, reptiles, ocean & swamp offerings, and wild game meats. I even purchased some insect treats while in San Francisco & Pismo Beach (photo below).
With that said, there was no way I was going to pass up the opportunity to finally meet the man behind the Exotic Meat Market, Anshu Pathak. I met Anshu via Facebook through mutual friend that knew of my interest in wild game meats. We struck up a friendship and I became a customer. Anshu also occasionally sends me different types of meats he thinks I should cook and sample while I’m on this culinary journey. There are many foods that I have tried for the first time thanks to Anshu’s Market such as beaver, alpaca sweetbreads, and emu “fan filet”, llama, and a few others.
Anyway, we were headed to San Diego from Los Angeles and arrived to Perris at 5:30 pm; which was much later than expected due to horrible LA traffic . Fortunately for us it was feeding time for the animals at the farm. Immediately upon arriving Anshu and his lovely wife Claudia escorted us to one of their farms to feed the animals, and I was so excited! The farm we visited featured llamas, alpacas, ostrich, emu, heritage turkeys, goats, and a feisty baby lamb that had a close relationship with a teenage alpaca. This seemed obvious as they chased each other around the pen. I thought we were there to watch the feeding, but Anshu informed me that I would be actually helping out that evening, say what?
I was caught off guard but very much willing to get in and help. The animals appeared happy, healthy, and a little shy at first. When I started dishing out the hay the llamas and alpacas nearly knocked me over in their excitement. The goats were a bit more calmer and stayed close to us. I was a little apprehensive about entering the ostrich & emu area since I know they both can deliver a nasty kick if they are provoked. A few of the birds were curious and approached me, but most kept their distance until we exited the pen. This was a really fun and enlightening experience for me, since I had a chance to actually see, touch, feed and learn about the food that I cook and eat.
After feeding the animals at the farm, we returned to the office for a small feast of our own. Claudia bought out a tray with exotic fruits and cheeses that were just plain delicious (did I mention that they own an exotic fruit market as well?). Among the most interesting of the cheeses was one called Swiss Flower – a semi hard cheese made from fresh cow’s milk. During the aging process, dried Swiss Alpine flowers are added to the wheel of cheese. This cheese was served with apple, blood orange, berry chutney, and Fejoia fruit. There was also a cheese plate with organic aged cheddar from the USA, pecorino with black truffle from Italy, and a really good Stilton cheese from England. We then had some freshly harvested alpaca burgers, and they were very tasty. I would certainly love to experiment with alpaca in the kitchen one day soon. The highlight of the evening was the Japanese Kobe steak. Anshu informed me that this was the highest grade of beef on the market. Kobe beef raised in Japan is graded from A1 -A5 , with A5 being the best quality. There is also a grading system called”BMS” (Beef Marbling Standard). The fat marbling of the meat is graded on a BMS scale from 1-12, with marble Score 12 being the highest. This steak that we were about to try was rated A5 with a BMS score of 12, exciting stuff! Throughout the world, Kobe Beef is much more expensive than any other cut of beef. At top Japanese markets, Kobe beef sells for more than $500 per Kg. According to CNN’s Money website, Kobe beef sells for at least $150 per pound. Needless to say, I felt very lucky to be treated to such a steak. I have NEVER tasted a more delicious cut of beef like this before! We ate it sashimi-style with a little soy sauce, which wasn’t necessary but it gave the fat that bit of saltiness while it melted in your mouth, outstanding! I felt like it would be a waste to even cook a steak of this quality.
We finished this fun evening with new friendships, laughs, wine, and a local brew created by one of Anshu’s good buddys. So now it’s off to San Diego we go! I would like to thank Anshu & Claudia for the food and the hospitality that we were shown during our visit. We had a great experience breaking bread with new friends, and hope to do it again soon!
Posted on April 22, 2014, in Foodie Road Trips & Other Fun Things, Wild Game and tagged elk meat, emu, exotic meat market, farm, goat, llama, ostrich, Road trip, wild game. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.