You’ll spot dry-aged rib eye, marbled Wagyu, Kobe New York strip...
4131 Ashton Street, San Diego
Any time I find myself in Bay Park during business hours, I wind up wandering into Siesel’s Meats. The place is basically a high-end butcher shop with a gourmet market and full-service deli built around it. A foodie with a fresh paycheck can spend hours strolling the aisles and discovering imported and regional specialties, whether your hankering is truffle oil, San Marzano tomatoes from Italy, or several dozen varieties of barbecue sauce.
Naturally, my first move is to grab a number and stand in line at the meat counter. Fine meat abounds here, and depending on the day you’ll spot dry-aged rib eye, beautifully marbled Wagyu, or a Kobe New York strip that can go for $60 to $70 per pound.
Racks filled with barbecue sauce to complement the main attractions
Such cuts are a pipe dream for this budget diner, but I admire them all through the glass counter. Fortunately, there are options I can afford and still feel adventurous. Many of them are usually in a large freezer at the back of the counter, which is usually stocked with game and other exotics. There, intriguing finds include smoked duck breast, pheasant, and oxtail — things you’re not likely to find in a supermarket. And if you really want to get wild, look for venison loin, elk rib chops, or whole rabbit.
On a past visit I even discovered a package of rocky mountain oysters, as if to remind me that my sense of adventure does have a limit. And, like a number of conscious eaters, I also have some ambivalence about eating veal. I’m accustomed to finding that behind the counter as well, along with sundry poultry, pork, and lamb cuts. But eating calves that had a short, confined lifespan is something I avoid, especially when compared to beer-fed, massaged-daily Kobe cattle.
An array of sausage
On the other hand, I’m a huge fan of sausage, and Siesel’s (along with Grantville sister shop Iowa Farms) makes some of the best in town. Their $4.99 a pound pork bratwurst is terrific, and their $9.99 a pound veal brat is even better.
I think the sausage decision through while I peruse the shop’s dozens of mustards, hush puppy mixes, salad dressings galore, and pickled everything. The sausage contains the leftover parts of the cow, right? So eating veal sausage isn’t for me. But I can embrace the “every part of the animal” principle, especially if I’m craving that ground coriander and mace brat (but still not the “oysters”).
In the end, I split my order between pork and veal brats, plus frozen pork belly, smoked chicken breast, and boneless skinless chicken thighs. I also got a superb Boar’s Head pastrami sandwich at the deli and a can of those San Marzanos, which cost twice the amount of domestic canned tomatoes but taste five times better than fresh in pasta sauce. Adding a six-pack of craft beer, I spent about 60 bucks, knowing I’ll eat and drink well the week ahead.