Lionette’s Market

17.February 2008

Boston's only food market committed to regional products. House-fabricated and cured meat. Meat education.

Regional cheeses. Deli & café.

The market, and its next-door restaurant, The Garden of Eden, run by Jamey's brother, are located in the uber-gentrified South End. But the restaurant, Jamey insists, is for everyone, all classes. He says we have to talk about class when we talk about food. Local food must not be a "boutique product". The restaurant is meant to be comfortable to working class Bostonians, but offering higher quality and local ingredients, including 100% grass-fed beef, than the $60 a plate place "across the street", serving IBP beef.

The tiny market is "airplane-free", a new concept of eco-ethical trade All of the young cheeses are from New England. The only European cheeses are old enough to ride on a boat. Preserved items are all locally made. He knows his 100 purveyors by first name. But it's immediately obvious that Jamey's true love is meat. A chalkboard at the door advertises "Today's Fats", including house-rendered Lard, Duck Fat, and Vegetable Shortening. Jamey buys a half cow a week and a whole pig, grass-fed from Vermont. He makes all his own sausage and cures the bacon and steams the ham and takes up 1/3 of his deli counter to proudly display the side of bacon. Its a whole new world of pig. (In fact, Jamey runs educational events at which he has a talented young butcher demonstrate his art on 1/2 a pig while we drink wine.)

Jamey trades off with the guy who buys the other 1/2 of his cow. Some weeks he gets the flank steaks and some weeks gets the New York strip, from the other side. So it's after the lard is rendered and the sausages made, and he's helped Massachusetts' new farmers learn how to "sell to the city" again, that the real work begins. He stands in the shop and convinces his customers to buy all the other cuts of meat.

We decided to ask him to choose an inexpensive cut for us each week. This means "chuck roll" and "nerve steak" (the part of the New York steak just a little to close to the fat. Usually discarded. He cuts and sells it for 1/2 the price of the New York, but it's the same meat.) We also buy grown-cow osso buco which is fabulous, pork butt, and capon. We buy guanciale to cook with brassicas.

And we live for his bacon. Jamey's fat bacon generates a lot of grease. The bacon ends up cooking submerged in fat, and shatters in your mouth like puff pastry.

Lionette's market is CLOSED