Red and green? Georgetown Farm promises healthful meat

Sharpen up that steak knife, and fire up the grill. Albemarle's newest meat shop wants you to "eat lean."

Friday, December 13, at 10am marks the grand opening of the Georgetown Farm Market, a fully modern, full-service butcher, deli, and retail store in the Albemarle Square Shopping Center.

And what an appropriate location they picked, just a few light steps from the ACAC fitness center.

Yesiree, in case you haven't heard, red meat is healthy again. Appealing to fat-watchers, cholesterol-watchers, and gourmets alike, the product at Georgetown Farm is the extremely lean, yet still tender and highly flavorful meat of the prized Piedmontese cattle from Italy and of the indigenous American bison.

When we stopped by the new market last Wednesday, we were glad to see that the threat of an early winter snowfall wasn't keeping the enthusiastic employees away. Distributed around the perimeter of the unpretentious 4,000-square-foot space, they were busy stocking cases and shelves with packages of frozen rosemary and garlic sausage, bison steaks, and bottles of wine, olive oil, and fresh milk from Shenville Creamery.

The retail space for non-perishables in the store's center was already outfitted with racks of affordable, western-styled (bison) leather jackets, vests, handbags and– for you big spenders– $800 hair-on-hides. From his mount on the wall, a bison head surveyed the scene, an imposing, all-knowing presence.

"Are you here to apply for a job?" someone asked us as we migrated over to the deli-café. Much as we were tempted by the promise of an employee discount, we had to request a different kind of interview.

Manager and cook Dave Ganoe came forward, warning us he had "literally two minutes" to spare. But he's so passionate about the market's selection of free-range, unprocessed meats, cheeses, hams, and poultry that it ended up being more like 20. Ganoe, who says a lucky fishing trip got him this job, returns to Virginia after studying with Pascal Dionot at the Academie de Cuisine in Maryland and working at Ann Cashion's notable "eat place," Cashion's, in D.C. Despite his quite impressive experience, he refuses to be called a chef.

"I'm a cook," he corrects us. "Chef is a title you earn."

A glance at the deli's inventive chili, salad, sandwich, and hot plate menu suggests he could be on his way. The "East to West" (thinly sliced bison or Piedmont beef on flat bread with fresh wasabi cream, sprouts, and radishes) and the "Braise of Silver Beef Brisket" (slow cooked in red wine with polenta, root veggies, and sautéed greens) give a taste of his talent.

Vegetarian options? This is clearly no "veggie heaven," though Ganoe informs us that a vegetarian did just accept a job (at the retail counter).

Before the meat can be flavored by the cook, it has to be cut by the butcher. That's right, no more settling for pre-packaged cuts at the supermarket– the knowledgeable, old-style butcher is back. For some reason, we weren't expecting a woman. But petite and feisty Brenda Woodward knows everything there is to know about meat.

"I can honestly say I've eaten my way from one end of the carcass to the other," she brags.

Not sure what to order? No worry. Backed by 20 years of experience and assisted by her daughter, Brenda will not only tell, but literally show you the difference between flank and shank, rump and round, and give you tips on how to make even the toughest cut tender. Repeating Ganoe's mantra, she tells us Georgetown Farm Market's number-one goal is "to educate and please the public." Heck, they'll even carry your phoned-in order out to your car. If you become a regular, you'll be so lean you won't need the extra exercise.